Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock return alongside Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana and newcomers Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller in the sci-fi sequel to J.J. Abrams’ beloved 2009 Star Trek reboot. When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home to Earth, they find John Harrison (Cumberbatch), a powerful figure with a thirst for vengeance, has begun to wage a one man war on Starfleet.

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JJ Abrams’ Star Trek not only kept most Trekkies reasonably happy but also reignited public interest in the spacefarers of the USS Enterprise while proving a bloody good watch to boot. With Star Trek Into Darkness Abrams goes two for two, an impressive outcome given his comparatively short directorial career.

Into Darkness quickly affirms that Kirk’s hotheadedness hasn’t quite made him commanding officer material yet. Luckily for the viewer, the consequences of his impulsiveness bring him into direct contact with Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison, instantly credible as a one-man force hell-bent on taking on Starfleet (headed by a great Peter Weller).

The ensuing skirmishes, chases and confrontations add a personal struggle somewhat missing from Abrams’ previous effort, helping to distinguish Into Darkness from its predecessor in replacing boy’s own space adventuring with something more potent, a rivalry fed by differing desires for revenge. That’s not to suggest the scale of the film has narrowed – there might not be an equivalent of Kirk’s dash across the icy plains of Delta Vega in Star Trek, but there’s no shortage of large scale action on offer both on land and in space, including some great city-based carnage and a spectacular spacesuit-clad plummet from ship to ship through a debris field.

Building upon the opportunities afforded by his new timeline, Abrams continues making callbacks to the original Star Trek universe. Some of these will even be apparent to only the casually acquainted (that’d be me!), and as a bonus he’s also tempered his enthusiasm for lens flares – which at this point in such an exciting sequence of films seems like a ridiculous thing to have complained about in the first place.