Walking in, I didn't know what would happen between Kirk and Spock, since the last movie was all about the two space heroes trying to work together despite being each others antitheses. I was hoping we wouldn't just see a recycling of that (because it had already been resolved in the last movie) but also hoped that it wouldn't be just left alone. Thankfully, they handled it perfectly. We saw the Kirk vs. Spock quarrels, but with significant twists.
Alright enough of that. Let's have a run-down of the moovie. In the words of Benedict Cumberbach, "Shall we begin..."
We open the curtains with an epic prelude that was could have been its own little short film. Kirk and Bones run through a red planet full of primitive dandruff covered aliens. In an attempt to save the planet from destruction by a volcano, the team must lower Spock into the volcano and freeze it before it erupts, all without being spotted by the alien race. To say the least, Spock goes in and his wire snaps. To beam him out they have to be seen by the alien race. Spock, not wanting to break the rules, wants to be a sacrifice so the team can complete the mission. Kirk, realizing that Spock is more important than the mission at hand, abandons everything to save him. Basically, the Enterprise gets taken away from the team.
From here, (we'll go as spoiler free as we can) a turn a disastrous events cause Kirk to regain his place a captain of the Enterprise and the rest of the team follows. Sent on a mission to track down the cause of the disastrous events, they must search along the edge of enemy borders. That complicated things enough to get Kirk and Spock on another grand adventure.
I loved this moovie for three reasons (my expectations being surpassed aside), the characters, the emotion (by action moovie standards anyways), and the plot. First, let's take a look at the characters. Kirk, the go-with-your-gut, typical action hero. In this moovie Kirk is faced with the consequences of always jumping the gun. Simply put, Kirk develops into a more mature character. Spock, the know-it-all brainiac who will never break a rule. In this moovie, Spock is faced with a villain who can outdo him physically and has greater logic skills. Spock in this moovie has to learn to be more like Kirk, while Kirk has to learn to be more like Spock. I like the message that brings. Abrams did a good job of communicating that there are times for going with your gut, and there are times for thinking things through as much as you can. Benedict Cumberbach really stole the show as the villain in this moovie (and I can't go much farther than that without spoilers). In Into Darkness (say that one five times fast), even the side characters went through some development and had their moments to shine.
Speaking of Kirk and Spock, and character development, there is a scene (no spoilers) between Kirk and Spock that made about 90% of the female audience to start crying. For a Star Trek film, that's quite an accomplishment. This moovie made you laugh and cry, scream and shout. (Technically I did none of those - but you know - some people actually did) Abrams did an awesome job at making you feel what the characters felt. This made you care about the plot (Snyder should have taken notes here for his own moovie).
This leeways us into the third part of the moovie I really enjoyed, the plot. The power of the plot rode mainly on the climax. There was really superb build-up to the climax too, but the climax is what stole the show. I remember actually saying to myself, 'Man, this is really intense.' The plot is much more multi-layered than one would expect, and has enough twists and turns to fill a waterside. Plus, as I said before, the emotional build-up to the climax makes you really care how it turns out.