There were tangible ripples of excitement and many a face was lit with trekkie-based glee. Finally, four years after sci-fi made its comeback with the first J. J. Abrams directed film, Star Trek is back. Fast-paced, funny and action-packed, the latest adventure with the Enterprise crew kicks off in a bizarre, slightly under-developed land called Nibiru, featuring a rather strange population who have what looks like papier mâché faces. Unfortunately for James Kirk, they’re hot on his heels.

Why are we there? Because a volcano of epic proportions is just about to erupt with the potential of wiping out an entire population. There’s no slow set-up here. Spock gets into hot water (well hot lava actually) within the first five minutes. Jim Kirk saves the day, but his violation of the prime directive (not letting people see the spaceship) gets him in trouble with Chris Pike. Will Kirk have to go back to the academy for further training? Is this the end of his career?

Cue Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the villainous John Harrison: an ex-Starfleet crewmember who randomly orchestrates an explosion at a Starfleet data archive. Although Harrison is declared public enemy number one, it’s not just one big manhunt – there are plenty of other events along the way. We are introduced to stowaway crewmember Dr. Carol Marcus, witness a scene depicting what the Titanic disaster would have looked like in space, and are treated to a scattering of brilliantly delivered Spock one-liners.

The thing about Star Trek Into Darkness is that it somehow manages to cover all bases without trying too hard. It’s by no means faultless: for instance, Karl Urban doesn’t seem to be able to do anything besides frown and stare into the distance, Dr. Marcus has a curiously short-lived and painless broken leg, and the Spock/Kirk bromance is verging on serious over-cheese. Despite these niggles, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a worthy follow up to the Oscar-winning first movie with action, humour and a solid cast. Chris Pine boosts his credentials yet again, Simon Pegg provides the laughs with his slightly ridiculous Scottish accent and J.J. Abrams delivers a master class on how to direct an action epic. The Marvel brigade would do well to take note. The beauty of this movie is that you don’t have to be a trekkie or have seen the first movie to enjoy it. My advice: see it in 3D and see it soon.

4 Stars