Just like the original, Star Trek Into Darkness is an incredibly stylistic adventure, with graphics nothing short of what one would expect from a J.J. Abrams movie. Many movies that go to such lengths end up favouring style over substance which ends up creating an incredibly grand and wonderful experience that ends up being ultimately unfulfilling. Star Trek Into Darkness on the other hand balances style and substance in equal and peak measure.
The story again follows Jim Kirk, recently demoted due to his typically excessive and adventurous escapades, when a particularly devastating and brutal attack, orchestrated by the genius and emotionless John Harrison, (a.k.a. Khan), drives him into a chase that will test his inventiveness, worth to his crew, and relationship with Spock.
The entire film shuttles on at warp-speed pace with a constantly twisting yet watertight and solid plot. But that is not the greatest achievement.
The greatest and most resounding achievement must be the acting. Firstly, the entire story is a test upon the relationships between the characters. For instance, Kirk is willing to break the rules to protect Spock, but as we see early on, Spock’s adherence to the rules could make him undermine Kirk. Kirk’s nonchalance is overly dangerous. Spock’s adherence is overly safe. There is an intricate but fragile dynamic to that relationship, a dynamic that Khan tests, and pushes to the limit. The entire source of the film’s gravity is Spock, Kirk, and the pressure imposed by Khan. So obviously the quality of the leads, and the cast as a whole, is paramount. Chris Pine and Zach Quinto return in the same incredible form as the films predecessor, but the one character that gives this film its edge, the edge that i feel makes it even better than its predecessor, is Benedict Cumberbatch who is fearsome and captivating, manipulating and versatile, formidable and incredible. He carries a Bane-like presence without even the larger-than-life mass. His deep, resonant, captivating voice pulling you in, letting you know that this brutal, savage, amoral human is not anarchist. He has a purpose, he has an aim, and you had better fear him because of it.
Cumberbatch’s portrayal was amazing, but his character was extremely intriguing. The filmmakers did nothing to hide the similarities he bore with the leads. He is the dark version of Spock and Kirk. In Cumberbatch’s own words – “Same coin, different sides”. He has Kirk’s resolve, his “end-justifies-the-means” attitude, accompanied with Spock’s intense rationality and emotionless nature. This renders him almost indestructible, but possibly also shows why Kirk and Spock need each other so much. Khan is genius; intellect and action all rolled in one. He is what Kirk and Spock can be, what they are when they are together, and ultimately it is through that camaraderie, (and eventual understanding of both what they mean to each other, and what they are willing to do to save the other) that they finally defeat him.
The characterisations are fantastic, graphics stunning, acting top-class all round. The recurring theme of “what one is willing to do to save their crew/family” permeates every second of the plot. This is a perfect carry-on from the first instalment, a definite must see, and will definitely be classed as one of the most riveting movies of 2013.