With his second “Star Trek,” “Lost” co-creator J.J. Abrams continues to reinvigorate the ageless franchise. The emotional heart of the film is the Kirk-Spock bromance. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto give flawless performances that are both emotional, and at times, hilarious.

The fast-paced action starts at the film’s open and never stops. With a twisty  plot, the crew on the Starship Enterprise hunts down a terrorist among their own, a turncoat. The question is who is the real renegade. The biggest problem is he’s seemingly indestructible. He’s also perplexing when he surrenders so readily.  Unknown British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is strong and convincing as  the traitor. While the rest of the crew from the 2009 version is back, newcomer Cumberbatch is joined by Alice Eve, who’s very reminiscent of Naomi Watts as the admiral’s daughter. To prepare for her brief bra-and-panty scene, she ate pretty much nothing but spinach for 5 months. She’s all business, ignoring the  crew members who hit on her . The big romance on The Enterprise is between Spock and Zoe Saldana’s Uhuru.   

Set in 2259, we get to see futuristic versions of London and San Francisco, amid the explosions, devastation, battle scenes and chases. This film is as much character-driven as it is a strong sci-fi thriller. And the characters are shot in extreme close-ups most of the time. You can almost count the pores in the 3-D IMAX version. As for the 3-D, well, it doesn’t add all that much. It’s strong without it.

While the plot will, at times, have you thinking Spock’s words “highly illogical”, the payoffs are strong. Exciting and smart with lots of humor, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” franchise will most definitely live long and prosper. Beam me up Scotty to #1.

3-and-a-half stars.