In the latest "Star Trek" installment, it's all about the chair.

Chris Pine's James Kirk is destined to sit in the captain's spot. But as his superior quickly points out, "You don't respect the chair." And so, in "Star Trek Into Darkness" we get an opportunity to see Spock, Sulu and Pike in the driver's seat.

When Kirk is there, it's in warp speed, in keeping with director J.J. Abrams' new approach.

This, the second installment in Abrams' reboot, is filled with visual treats, retro references and some snappy one-liners that will make Trekkers squeal with delight.

Karl Urban's Bones gets to moan about being a doctor not a (fill in the blank), Zachary Quinto's Spock gets to explore the boundaries of logic and Simon Pegg's Scotty gets to show just how important mechanics are to the whole process.

Toss in Klingons, Tribbles and some sly hat tips to folks like Ray Bradbury and you realize Abrams isn't just any director, he's a tribute artist who's able to leave the galaxy better than he found it.

While "Into Darkness" may borrow its plot a little too willingly from an earlier edition, it does introduce the faithful to Benedict Cumberbatch, an incredibly good actor, as the villain John Harrison. Working within Starfleet, he finds a way to undermine those with more noble, five-year missions in mind. He's a terrorist, able to beat the establishment at its own game. His goal? To reanimate a crew that once helped him explore bold new worlds.

Abrams uses old-school gimmicks (reaching back to a bit from "The Rocketeer") to give the impression this isn't a souped-up version unwilling to remember its past.

Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has a thing for Spock, Spock has a thing for Kirk and Kirk has a thing for -- well, you get the picture.

The special effects (and strangely, the sound) pull you in even when the story is one you've heard before. Pine, too, does an admirable job making Kirk his own while still tipping a phaser to William Shatner's original.

"Into Darkness" is shot at a lot of canted angles and moves so quickly it's frequently hard to tell where, specifically, the characters are. No matter.

With Abrams driving the new ship (as he'll do with the new "Star Wars" film), we're confident all is well in the "Star Trek" world. It even can go to the dreaded Kronos and we'll be along for the ride, assured the year 2259 is going to be better than we expected.

Be sure to get a good seat.



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