Star Trek: Into Darkness is a well-executed and thoughtfully written follow up to the 2009 film, with excellent performances and incredible action scenes; sadly, it fizzles out somewhat in the last 20 minutes.
Let's start with one of the best things about this film: the great relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Qunito). It's arguably the best bromance in sci-fi, and it's done to perfection here, especially considering that the two are only just getting to know each other. It's a good demonstration of the give and take that has to be present in any solid relationship, and there are some real emotional moments. Meanwhile, the relationship between Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock is sadly a very minor subplot, and I would have liked to have seen more affection between them -- but then, there is a Vulcan involved, so perhaps that's asking too much.
The film wastes no time moving its plot along, which is a mercy; there is always a danger of dragging things out with films of this length (132 minutes), but every scene has a point, as well as good characterisation. This is especially true with Scotty, played excellently by Simon Pegg, and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) has some great moments too; I found myself growing especially fond of him.
Now, onto the exciting bit: the villain. SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you'd been paying attention, you already knew Benedict Cumberbatch is the bad guy, and that it was rumoured that he was playing Khan, believed by some to be one of the best antagonists in the Star Trek franchise.
To his credit, Cumberbatch plays him well, as he plays all of his acting roles, and he is very believable as the biologically advanced, highly intelligent "super man". He is especially good at getting across how manipulative and complex the character is.
But, and this is a huge but, I had a big problem throughout the film with a blatantly white man playing someone called Khan Noonien Singh.
Of course, when he was first portrayed in 1967, he was played by Ricardo Montalbán - who is not Indian by any stretch of the imagination - but you'd think in 2013 film makers might have advanced far enough to have an actor who fits the name play the role.
It's not as if there are no good Indian actors. Naveen Andrews (LOST) would have been my pick:
But Sendhil Ramamurthy or Sacha Dhawan could have been contenders too. Sadly, yet another role that could have so easily gone to a minority actor - who are always in need of good, complex characters - was instead whitewashed.
That aside, I also felt that Khan wasn't properly dealt with in the finale.
He is a man who can crush a person's head like a tomato, and is barely dented when Kirk tries to beat him up, and yet he is defeated somewhat ignominiously by an unarmed Spock. I know that this is to show how much Spock cares about Kirk, that he finds the strength to defeat Khan for his friend, but it's just not believable when the rest of the film has been raving about how powerful Khan is. Add to this that Khan is ultimately dealt with off-screen, and I feel like we have a poor send off for a very promising villain, which makes the triumphant ending fall a bit flat.
Having said all of this, it is a generally well written film, and it is shot beautifully - especially the scene with a particular spaceship crashlanding - and I would certainly recommend it to any sci-fi fan. 7/10
Watch the trailer here: