No rest in the final frontier it seems, as J. J. Abrams drew sterling reviews with Star Trek, now he is filming Star Wars and if this sequel is anything to go by, George Lucas’s world is in good hands. This sequel returns audiences aboard the Enterprise for another hyperactive sci-fi adventure well worth taking. This film is better than the first and while it’s not flawless, you’ll likely be having too much fun to notice. Star Trek: Into Darkness is realistically all you could want from a sequel, fast, fun and funny and boasting a terrific villain.
The plotting is tight, even if some of the same ground (Kirk and Spock’s rivalry seems to restart) is covered. The script’s constant beaming into comedy never harms the narrative’s occasional moments of seriousness and overall this is winning entertainment. The plot offers a real challenge to Kirk and his crew and even if early scenes whereby the captainship is questioned are quickly rendered as part of a pointless subplot, this is on the most part a great balance. Much like last time, Abrams has made a film fans and non-fans can understand and has constantly inserted little titbits for the die-hards. Trekkies are well served by glorious returns, a tasty twist (which some may see coming) and a subtle hand signal.
The range of appealing characters help the two hour running time zoom by. Kirk is harder and stronger in this film, making more decisions that are difficult, even as soon as the eye-catching opening (worth IMAX recommendation alone). Chris Pine feels to be evolving in this part and strikes a real bromance with Zachary Quinto’s Spock (who again feels perfectly cast). Zoe Saldana feels more substantial as Officer Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban amuses as Dr. “Bones” McCoy and Anton Yelchin, John Chu and especially Simon Pegg (as Scotty) have all had their parts fleshed out. New addition Alice Eve is welcome too, although it would be nice next time to see more of her.
On the evil side of things though is where the film excels better than before, with Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison stealing the film. He is superbly creepy, manipulating and tough as a Klingon’s boot. He offers a part that is likely to please all and that really underpins the film. Harrison is a figure of mystery and pure chaos, that feels set to be one of 2013’s best antagonists and Cumberbatch handles the emotional withdrawal, fight sequences and dialogue beautifully. Genre fans should also look out for appearances by a Star Trek original (guess who?), Peter ‘Robocop’ Weller and Noel Clarke.
Into Darkness is realistically not perfect, a few things are unnecessary and the odd stumble is to be found but this will not ruin what is a near perfect big screen experience. There are gorgeous special effects and immersive landscapes that fill out the big screen and allow the 3D to actually work. The space battles are astounding and the action superb, a mid-air final fight sequence is a particular highlight. Michael Giacchino’s reliable scoring adds the final topping onto a very engaging blockbuster that looks stunning and feels charming and utterly likable. It certainly is not the smartest film ever made but at this moment in time, it just might be 2013’s blockbuster to beat. Set phasers to fun!