Solar flares still burst across the screen in J.J. Abrams’ second Star Fleet excursion but – lest we forget we’re in sequel territory – the Enterprise has lost much of its gleam.
If the title hasn’t given it away yet, things are getting darker. Our heroes must struggle with themselves and one another while a new foe, more deadly and unpredictable than the last, threatens some sort of almighty destruction.
We hit the ground running and after a thunderous opening sequence we find our heroes roughly where we left off. Despite their friendship, Spock and Kirk (Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine) remain at odds with one another with the Vulcan’s cold logic still grating on the captain’s human instincts. We learn that Star Fleet is on the verge of war with the Klingons and a deadly fugitive (an underused but mighty Benedict Cumberpatch) is hiding out on their home planet. Revenge is in the air and the crew must ponder what Star Fleet is really for.
Abrams employs 3D here for the first time and for the opening sequence he pulls it off with aplomb – arrows unashamedly flying from the screen in a fashion you might expect from the wide-eyed director – but as the film progresses it all gets a little stuffy. Overall it does lack that lean feeling of the first film – which managed to seem neat and compact despite having a plotline containing black holes, time travel and alternate realities – but Into Darkness is still razor sharp blockbuster cinema; a finely delivered thrill-ride blasted home with Michael Giacchino’s enormous score. Sadly it looks like J.J.’s last stint in the Enterprise’s director’s chair (for the time being at least) as his eyes – and everybody else’s – turn to Lucasfilm, lightsabers and that other great space opera.
Star Trek Into Darkness | Directed by J.J. Abrams (USA, 2013) with Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, and Zoe Saldana. Starts May 9