Without darkness, there can be no lens flares!
But on a more serious note, darkness is often mistaken for depth. Nonstop action for pacing. Fan service hat tips for reverence to the material.
What I feel was lost from Star Trek as it got older was the vast scale of the universe, the sense that these ships were billions of kilometres from the nearest home base, that any message sent would take weeks, and more weeks would pass before any help could arrive. What J.J. Abrams latched onto was the idea of the Starfleet as a military organisation, leaving the research part of the Starfleet by the wayside. But with the current fetishisation of armed forces, it does have the Trek characteristic of reflecting the moral climate of the age, though I feel it lacks the bigger part of the theme –how overcoming discrimination is the key to success.