So how was Into Darkness? Absolutely fantastic! The 2009 film did a great job setting the stage for the nuTrek; striking a careful balance between honouring the Trek of before, and enthusing it with new energy and vision. What it lacked though was a villain; Nero was just an angry plot device to get everything else in place. Nothing like that can be said for John Harrison in Into Darkness. I can't say too much about him without drifting into spoilers, but every moment he was on the screen was utterly captivating; Benedict Cumberbatch's performance masterfully shifting between intrigue, charm, viciousness, and a completely commanding presence that dwarfs any other character.
To a greater extent than I anticipated this film was very much a sequel to the first nuTrek movie. The crew are still finding their way, and getting to know each other. While the film remains focused primarily on Kirk and Spock, the rest of the crew are well utilised. The previous film made sure everyone had their moment, and that is true again here, but I was especially pleased to see McCoy getting lots to do. We also have Carol Marcus joining the crew, somehow filling a gap we never knew was there, getting her own moments to shine, and giving us a second female voice in the otherwise male dominated collective of main characters. Admiral Pike, and the new Admiral Marcus, also have important roles to play, but I shan't say more than that!
The most dedicated trekkies should find a lot to love here, with references back to other parts of the franchise ranging from very subtle background details to extremely overt homage. All helped weave nuTrek firmly into the tapestry of the wider Star Trek universe, and offer some intriguing possibilities for where future films might take well know Trek stuff in new directions. There were also some pleasing references to the nuTrek comics and Star Trek: The Video Game.
Like the previous film this one was full action sequences, space battles, comic moments, and scenes that will bring you to tears. I suppose at it's most basic, this is a film lead by the need to understand John Harrison, his character draws us through situations, action, and emotion, so fast you can hardly believe it's been a couple of hours by the end.
Overall I was immensely impressed by this film. I expected it to be at least as enjoyable as the previous instalment, but I think it surpassed it by a long way, giving us more character, more depth, and a beguiling villain that will surely be remembered as one of Star Trek's best portrayals.
Finally, check out the glow in the dark effect on the IMAX print, which reveals the USS Vengeance hiding in the sun (not a spoiler). In the US these will be given away at the the first IMAX screenings ahead of general release. Not quite sure what the deal is in the UK where we didn't have advanced screenings, but they were giving them away at the IMAX screening I went to today!
You can see the normal light version of the print in my previous report on it. Notably my print's space background is blue, rather than the red shown on the online preview.
PS. Find out everything you need to know about Star Trek Into Darkness and its tie-ins, on my Star Trek Into Darkness guide page.