After his successful re-imagining of the Star Trek universe four years ago, Abrams dives even deeper into the mythology, which is thrilling for fans but might leave newcomers feeling a bit lost. This sequel surges forward with action, drama, romance and a lot of comedy while constantly nodding back to the earlier TV series and films. And the smart screenplay finds ways to deepen all of the characters along the way, as well as offering an unusually complex villain.
The action picks up soon after the first film ends, as Kirk (Pine) is once again in trouble for disobeying the Prime Directive not to interfere with a planet's culture. But his punishment is short-lived, as Starfleet becomes the victim of brutal attacks in London and San Francisco, sending Kirk, his first officer Spock (Quinto) and the gang (Saldana, Urban, Yelchin and Cho, with Pegg following later) into enemy space to chase the villainous John Harrison (Cumberbatch). But of course, there's a much bigger story going on, and Harrison has a reason for his violent behaviour, leading to a series of terrifying showdowns as they all return to earth.
While the script is packed with shadowy characters, there's not much actual "darkness" in this movie. It's a pretty bouncy, energetic ride, continually making us laugh at tetchy interaction and throwaway one-liners, all of which are cleverly character-based rather than merely silly gags. This gives each actor a chance to shine, with Pegg and Urban offering much of the humour with their amusing crankiness, while Saldana provides the stereotypical female emotional beats. As usual, the strongest scenes are between Kirk and Spock, and their shifting bromance is well-played by Pine and especially Quinto. But dominating the whole film is a meaty turn from Cumberbatch as a particularly fearsome nemesis who also happens to be both brainy and openly emotive.
Visually, the film looks seamless, and Abrams keeps the special effects in the background where they belong. Except for the sometimes distracting 3D, the spectacular visuals are always put into perspective by the people. Even the unnecessarily crazed fight scene on floating trash barges has a human touch. And this personal approach helps us identify with real characters in extraordinary situations that are both exhilarating and surprisingly emotional.
Run time: 132 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 16th May 2013
Box Office USA: $228.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $467.4M
Distributed by: Paramount
Production compaines: Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures, Kurtzman/Orci, Skydance Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 214 Rotten: 32
IMDB: 7.9 / 10
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Bruce Greenwood as Pike, Peter Weller as Marcus, Alice Eve as Carol, Noel Clarke as Thomas Harewood, Nazneen Contractor as Rima Harewood, Amanda Foreman as Ensign Brackett, Jay Scully as Lieutenant Chapin, Jonathan Dixon as Ensign Froman, Aisha Hinds as Navigation Officer Darwin, Joseph Gatt as Science Officer 0718, Jeremy Raymond as Lead Nibiran, Tony Guma as Nibiran, Kimberly Arland as Madeline, Sean Blakemore as Klingon, Nick E. Tarabay as Klingon, Beau Billingslea as Captain Abbot, Deep Roy as Keenser, Anjini Taneja Azhar as Lucille Harewood, Jack Laufer as Doctor, Katie Cockrell as Girl, Kellie Cockrell as Girl, Jason Matthew Smith as Cupcake, Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk, Jennifer Morrison as Winona Kirk, Seth Ayott as U.S.S. Enterprise Shuttle Ensign, Marco Sanchez as Torpedo Security, Lee Reherman as Uniformed Mercenary, Scott Lawrence as U.S.S. Vengeance Officer, Usman Ally as U.S.S. Vengeance Officer, Nolan North as U.S.S. Vengeance Bridge Officer, James Hiroyuki Liao as U.S.S. Vengeance Bridge Officer, Rob Moran as U.S.S. Vengeance Ensign, Berit Francis as Starfleet Admiral, Akiva Goldsman as Starfleet Admiral, Benjamin P. Binswanger as Starfleet Admiral, Christopher Doohan as Transport Officer, Andy Demetrio as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Gianna Simone as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Rene Rosado as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Jacquelynn King as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Long Tran as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Ningning Deng as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Jodi Johnston as U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Crew, Colleen Harris as Lady V, Jeff Chase as U.S.S. Enterprise Security, Monisola Akiwowo as U.S.S. Enterprise Nurse, Paul K. Daniel as Shuttle Pilot, Ser'Darius Blain as U.S.S. Enterprise Red Shirt, Heather Langenkamp as Moto, David C. Waite as U.S.S. Enterprise Crew, Melissa Paulo as Bar Girl, Cynthia Addai-Robinson as San Francisco Woman, Drew Grey as San Francisco Bar Patron, Douglas Weng as U.S.S. Vengeance Security, Charlie Haugk as San Francisco Resident, Max Chernov as San Francisco Resident, Marc Primiani as San Francisco Resident, Jesper Inglis as San Francisco Resident, Jacob Rhodes as Nibiru Child, Kentucky Rhodes as Nibiru Child, Anthony Wilson as Shaku, Eric Greitens as Starfleet Ceremonial Guard, Melissa Steinman as Starfleet Ceremonial Guard, Adam McCann as Starfleet Ceremonial Guard, Jon Orvasky as Starfleet Ceremonial Guard, Gerald W. Abrams as Starfleet Memorial Admiral, James McGrath as Starfleet Memorial Admiral, Brian T. Delaney as Additional Voices (voice), Arlen Escarpeta as Additional Voices (voice), Chris Gardner as Additional Voices (voice), Joe Hanna as Additional Voices (voice), David Acord as Additional Voices (voice), Joe Moses as Additional Voices (voice), Kevin Michael Richardson as Additional Voices (voice), David Sobolov as Additional Voices (voice), Matthew Wood as Additional Voices (voice), Fred Tatasciore as Additional Voices (voice), Kiff VandenHeuvel as Additional Voices (voice), Julianne Buescher as Additional Voices (voice), Ellie Newlands as Additional Voices (voice), Candice Renee as Additional Voices (voice), Audrey Wasilewski as Additional Voices (voice), Emily Towers as Additional Voices (voice), Gina Hirsch as Additional Voices (voice), Bill Hader as Additional Voices (voice), Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime, Tom Archdeacon as Ensign Spyke (uncredited), Jon Lee Brody as U.S.S. Enterprise Security (uncredited), Britanni Johnson as NYU Nurse (uncredited), Hiram A. Murray as Bar Patron (uncredited)