I now understand that the thing which really primed me to enjoy and appreciate Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) was..Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).
The franchise began almost fifty years ago, and the milieu which gave rise to it -- Kennedy’s Camelot -- began and ended before I was even born.
Although the narrative concerns the future of the 23rd century, the movie is really about today -- the world around us -- and its message is transmitted in the way that contemporary audiences can best receive it: in 3-D, with lots of lens flare, and in J.J.’s preferred mode of expression: pastiche.
The movie isn’t angst-ridden or broody, or particularly dark for the apparent sake of narrative and thematic “maturity.” It isn’t a film about ugliness. Instead, Into Darkness is about finding the best within oneself when times are worst, and that path of light being the key to dispelling encroaching darkness.