'Star Trek Into Darkness' is pure fun at warp speed

Writer's note: I love movies, but I'm not an expert movie critic. I'm a fan of movies and a fan of writing so I'm trying my hand at movie reviews. My goal with these reviews is to help you decide if a movie is worth your dollar, all told from a casual moviegoer's perspective. Warning: This review contains a spoiler.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" reminds me why I love to go to the movies.

I think it's important to mention that I'm not a trekkie. Not even close. Maybe that's why I also enjoyed J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" (2009) while some of my friends with a greater knowledge of all things Trek thought it was a mindless action movie with lots of explosions. I thought it was a tremendously entertaining story. I'd argue the sequel is even more so.

Abrams, who's been picked to direct Disney's new "Star Wars" film and is seemingly everywhere else, returns to take command of the sequel in his rebooted franchise. The U.S.S. Enterprise crew is all here too: Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana, building her resume of alien movies), Dr. "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho of "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" fame) all reprise their roles.

Last time we saw this crew, they battled an evil Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) who was determined to destroy all the Federation's planets by using red matter to create massive black holes.

In "Star Trek Into Darkness", a deadly bombing at a Star Fleet archive forces our heroic team to mobilize against a much tougher foe: Kahn (Kaaaaahhhhn!). English actor Benedict Cumberbatch (star of the BBC series "Sherlock") commands the screen in the show-stealing role and is one bad dude. Seriously.

On our way into darkness we visit all corners of the Star Trek universe, from the gripping opening action sequence on the primitive planet of Nibiru, to the futuristic Earth locales of London and San Francisco. We even get our first glimpse of the Klingon home world. Everywhere we go looks amazing, especially in IMAX 3D.

The movie features plenty of great action, but the dialogue is just as entertaining at times. The emotional, often reckless Captain Kirk and the logical, robotic Spock are the odd couple of the future. When I saw the movie there were several laugh-out-loud moments. That's several more than "Grown Ups 2" will have later this summer.

This isn't your typical Hollywood money-grab sequel with an identical plot structure in different scenery ("The Hangover Part 2" comes to mind). This story kept me guessing from beginning to end. The crew's mission started with a clear objective (hunt down Kahn) and ended with one I didn't expect. The movie's 132-minute running time wasn't too long, either.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is a really fun movie, and light years better than the thoroughly disappointing "Iron Man 3." I know it's early, but this could be my favorite movie of the summer. Let's hope this new franchise lives long, because it's certainly prospering.

Grade: A