In 2009, J.J. Abrams surprised us with his marvellous reboot of the Star Trek franchise and once again, he embarks on another spectacular ride into space with this sequel. There have not been many Hollywood reboots that have played kindly to audiences in recent years and, quite frankly, neither have many sequels. However, because Abrams’ work on Star Trek was so successful, expectations were even higher for the sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness. In addition, the majority of cast and crew were returning; therefore, it appeared a promising follow-up. It contains the same large-scale production elements as its predecessor and deservedly marks its place as another breath-taking roller-coaster installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise.
The most successful aspect of Star Trek: Into Darkness, like its predecessor, was how director J.J. Abrams had a much broader target audience instead of aiming only toward the avid Trekkies. The original elements from the TV series, such as characters, visual effects and plot, were still included and they would satisfy Trekkies. However, Star Trek: Into Darkness also delivers those features at a more advanced level, which does not go over the top like many Hollywood films today. The eye-popping visual effects bring an even more exciting and fresh experience than its predecessor. In addition, the darker and visually clearer tone behind the film makes it appear more realistic and follows many conventions of human drama; consequently, appealing to a wider audience.
Evidently, the two Star Trek reboots have advanced the entire franchise on a visual level but more importantly, it has now become an emotional series that is not just to satisfy the fans with the original concepts. Particularly in this sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness, keeps a firm grip on the audience with its emotional delivery from the plot, particularly when the film is often portrayed from Kirk’s perspective and intends the audience to emotionally connect to him. Surprisingly, this illustrates signs of friendship that progressively gives audiences a hint of warm satisfaction, such as the chemistry between Kirk and First Officer Spock. On the other hand, it has a realistic touch to it as psychological themes are included, particularly when the character of “John Harrison” gets into the film. Therefore, while Star Trek, Into Darkness has truthful morals behind it, it also illustrates the ugly signs of humanity, which do not occur often in the science-fiction genre.
The majority of the ensemble cast from the 2009 reboot reprise their roles in this sequel, but it also introduces new characters that make it a different installment in the series. Chris Pine returns as Captain James T. Kirk. Knowing Hollywood these days, many of them cast actors in their films purely based on looks in order to gain a wider audience. In a sense, Pine follows in similar footsteps to Chris Evans but the former proves that he can be somebody more than just eye-candy. Also, the role of Kirk is a big responsibility as many Trekkies would expect Pine to portray him in honour of William Shatner’s long-time performance as the character. Still, Pine’s role of Kirk is impressive, who still follows the trademark features of the original character that would satisfy, yet at the same time, applies the performance at a newly reformed level of acting.
Although Zachary Quinto is arguably the only actor to possibly portray Spock due to his identical physical features to Leonard Nimoy, his performance was still remarkable. Like Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto successfully balances the features of Nimoy’s role but makes a difference to the character. Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Antony Yelchin return in the roles of notable Enterprise crew members. Considering the performances are above satisfactory, the stand-out actor in Star Trek: Into Darkness is Benedict Cumberbatch. He portrayed “John Harrison” and gave a sinister, manipulative performance. This character made the film more psychologically engaging that followed down an identical route to The Dark Knight. Cumberbatch appeared cold from the very beginning; therefore, he added a more chilling effect that made Star Trek: Into Darkness a darker successor compared to the previous film.
Unlike almost every other franchise entry, Star Trek: Into Darkness and its predecessor were much-needed reboots that extended the originals further. This sequel progressed further than the previous film due to the further development of emotional drama and visual effects whilst still fulfilling the wishes of Trekkies by including various references from the originals. From start to finish, Star Trek: Into Darkness is filled with excitement and will leave you demanding more. Therefore, the film does not run out of steam. Finally, the announcement of Abrams’ next project Star Wars: Episode VII had initially received a mixed response from worldwide audiences, but following the success of Abrams’ two Star Trek films, we could be in for a breath-taking seventh Star Wars instalment.