After proving himself the modern master of the blockbuster with 2009's Star Trek reboot, J.J. Abrams returns to helm the eagerly awaited sequel, which stands in the shadow of the best-regarded Trek film of them all, 1982's Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
When the impulsive Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) breaks all the rules to save his friend Spock (Zachary Quinto) during a mission on a distant planet, he is severely reprimanded by his superiors and loses his command. But a larger threat looms - the mysterious and powerful John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is on a destructive quest for vengeance, and Spock and Kirk may be the only ones who can stop him.
In terms of moment-to-moment big movie mechanics, few directors are as dedicated as Abrams. He keeps things moving forward always, pausing only briefly to serve plot exposition and character development. Although these two elements have a role to play, they are secondary to Abrams' need to keep things exciting. The film doesn't suffer too greatly, character-wise, as the mechanics are well-established. Plot-wise, however, I had some issues.
Where the first film did an amazing job of incorporating the existing mythology into its own universe, this one falters in trying to do the same while still presenting some surprises. So although it's a lot of fun while it goes along, this is losing a star for the hollow feeling I was left with. It's nice seeing Cumberbatch at play in the blockbuster landscape and local lad Karl Urban delivers another appreciably wry performance as the permanently exasperated Bones.
Cast: Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Zachary Quinto, John Cho
Running time: 132 mins
• Star Trek Into Darkness is out now.