J.J. Abrams doesn’t seem to have the itch to start from scratch. He rebooted Star Trek
in 2009 with a narrative loophole that gave him free rein, and yet he still seems hesitant to test just how much rope he has. Abrams’ space isn’t the final frontier: The landscape reads more like, “Haven’t we been here before?” Well, yes, but a whirligig doesn’t go anywhere, either, and it’s still fun to watch it spin. Cumberbatch, playing a Starfleet officer gone rogue, is especially good as the morally complicated villain, and screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and fanboys’ favorite whipping boy, Damon Lindelof, keep the film moving at a quippy clip.There’s really no fat here until the film feints a climax only to lurch the coaster-car back up the hill again. The tentpoles are famous for tacking 20 minutes too long onto their summer cine-spectacles, and Abrams’ is no different. He just does it better. Read a full review of Star Trek Into Darkness.