In the past few months, any mention of J.J. Abrams venturing into space for the rebirth of a renowned science fiction franchise, has been very much Star Wars related, following the hype surrounding the confirmation of the filmmaker becoming the new director of the aforementioned title. However in the meantime, Abrams is back out exploring the universe in Star Trek Into Darkness, the much awaited follow up to his ingenious 2009 offering.
Continuing on from its predecessor, the crew of the Enterprise spaceship return back home, only to discover that the biggest threat to mankind and their organisation comes from within, as former employee John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) launches an attack on the Starfleet head offices. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), alongside his regular crew members Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and co., venture back into space to capture this devastating adversary, though a dangerous game of cat and mouse transpires, as the line between good and evil becomes increasingly blurred.
Star Trek Into Darkness begins much as the first did; with an epic action sequence that instantly compels the viewer, getting us in the mood and ready for what is to come. Instantly you know that this sequel is going to go much the same way as the first, and although many doubted Abrams ability to match what came before, he does very little to disappoint, reuniting us with our favourite characters to great success – certainly helped along by the fact that he doesn't have to worry about the introductions this time around, and instead has the luxury of being able to dive straight in.
Where this picture does come out on top, however, is within the film's antagonist, as Cumberbatch turns in a chilling performance as our lead villain, using his grave, booming voice to great effect. It works because you fear him, as he appears as a seemingly infallible villain – something the first was lacking in somewhat. Meanwhile there is a brilliantly indeterminable section in the middle, where you have absolutely no idea what to believe, as everything is thrown in to the air, with no chance of distinction between what is good and what is evil, making for a hugely tense situation.
What does remain consistent however, is the dynamic between Kirk and Spock, as two characters and actors who bounce off one another so well, with the traditional pairing of a rebellious rogue and a straight-laced do-gooder. Though both Pine and Quinto must be commended, it is truly the Star Trek franchise that takes much of the plaudits in that department, as every character across the board is so well crafted, each bringing their own idiosyncrasies to their role which define them and the story at hand. Star Trek Into Darkness is a very personality led piece, while the way the Enterprise is spoken of as though a ship, with nautical terms such as “captain”, “voyage” and “helmsmen” add to such a camaraderie – imperative is gaining the support of the audience, and it's difficult not to be inspired by the spirit aboard this ship.
What Abrams has also done incredibly well is to build upon this world he had imagined in the first picture, as a film that looks fantastic up on the big screen and in 3D, with an epic future depicted so effortlessly. For two hours you are completely immersed into this world, believing every second of it as you go along – and that is science fiction as its finest. Another aspect of this film that may also look rather impressive, is that of Alice Eve in her underwear – however this immensely gratuitous scene feels entirely out of place, as though forcibly included simply to include in the publicity campaign, certainly proving to be something of a stain on the good work that Abrams has done.
That said, Abrams has more than proved his worth with this effort, and any hesitancy towards his Star Wars involvement has now turned to assurance – just be prepared for a hell of a lot more lens flare in the near future (is he just winding us all up?). You certainly don't have to be a Trekkie to enjoy this movie – it has a fantastic story and you care heavily about the characters, and you simply can't ask for too much more than that.