Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Rating: A-

Dir: J.J.Abrams
Star: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg

This had a pair of large shoes to step into: due not only to the quality of the first reboot, also because Wrath of Khan was one of the best of the original series. Yet, somehow, this managed to surpass both, building on the strengths of each, yet managing to be entirely its own beast. It’s a remake of Khan, paying tribute to it in a number of ways, both big and small, yet diverts from it in others. It takes some time before you reach the meat: Khan’s retaliation against those whom he blames for the fate of him and his family.

First, we have Kirk (Pine) being relieved of command and there’s a terrorist attack against a Starfleet facility, before Khan (Cumberbatch) shows up to spray their HQ with gunfire, before heading off to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos. To chase him down, Kirk is given back the Enterprise, armed with 72 “special” photon torpedoes, which can taken Khan out without being traceable to the Federation. But neither the mission, nor the torpedoes, are quite what they seem.

Really, this is everything you want from a movie. It’s undeniably cinematic, with any number of visually spectacular scenes. It’s also rather smart, with all the characters having motivations that make sense. And it’s flat-out entertaining, providing such a broad emotional spectrum, I’m hard-pushed to think of any Hollywood movie in the last decade which is its match. Proceedings are certainly helped by the fact we are now familiar with the characters, so the pacing is improved over the first.

But the main improvement over the original reboot is likely Cumberbatch, who makes an excellent villain, something which his predecessor, Nero, really wasn’t able to deliver. Montalban was iconic as Khan, but there wasn’t much humanity to be found: Cumberbatch adds an extra dimension there, and there are times when you are almost rooting for Khan, because the truth is that he probably isn’t the worst example of mankind in the film, shall we say. The overall impact is stellar (pun intended), and if there are any better big-budget movies this year, I can’t wait to see them.