Retaining much of what was so successful about the 2009 reboot, Abrams now has an entire universe at his disposal within which to create more interesting character dynamics - and he does so to great effect. There's a tremendously enjoyable, snappy performance from Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura that sees the Avatar actress further develop her on-screen relationship with Quinto's Spock. Yet, it's the continuing bromance between the Vulcan and our well-coiffured Kirk that remains the most compelling. The entire lead cast bounces of each other's performances, topped off by a suitably antagonistic turn by Cumberbatch - maintaining the proud heritage of British villains in Hollywood blockbusters with aplomb.
There are some scenes where you'd be forgiven for questioning whether Abrams has forgotten he's currently making a Star Trek movie and not the next outing of the Star Wars saga; Simon Pegg's Scotty seems to be playing a composite mash-up of both C3PO and R2D2 as he bumbles around a juggernaut starship with his dodgy Scottish accent. The greatest strength of In Darkness, however, lies in its subtexts of friendship and loyalty, making this far more than just a throw-away franchise entry. Whilst it arguably lacks the fresh energy of the first outing, Abrams here seems content to make minor tweaks to a winning formula, all the while keeping his sci-fi space opera accessible to all.