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As The Enterprise returns to earth in the wake of a controversial galactic incident, its brash young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still itching to head back into the stars on a longer mission of peace and exploration. But all is not well on the Blue Planet. A devastating act of terror has exposed an alarming reality: Star Fleet is being attacked from within and the fall-out will leave the entire world in crisis. Captain Kirk leads the Enterprise on a mission like no other, from the Klingon homeworld to the San Francisco Bay. Aboard The Enterprise the enemy among them has a shocking talent for destruction. Kirk and his crew are forced to navigate the lines between friends and enemies, revenge and justice, all-out war and the potential of a united future.

Review by Louise Keller:
It is with grand scale, good storytelling and a real spirit of adventure capturing the essence of the Star Trek brand that J.J. Abrams' second film torpedoes onto the screen in 3D, bringing with it the kind of special effects fantasies are made of. Fortunately, the solid characterisations, humour and relationships are given equal weight, resulting in a no holds barred fabulous sci-fi adventure that satisfies at every turn. There is a great sense of motion and continuity from the 2009 film that emanates from the same cast and crew, enabling us to easily reconnect and re-engage with the characters that have become favourites with fans everywhere.

When the film begins, we are thrown headlong in a majestic and thrilling sequence on a volcanic planet with vivid red soil, leaves and greenery (reddery?) and a striking indigenous species with white painted skin. It's a wonderfully imagined reality and theatrical beginning to an adventure that leapfrogs through the galaxy as Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr Spock (Zachary Quinto) pursue a genetically superior adversary intent on destroying the Starfleet. Pine and Quinto excel in the roles, allowing their specific natures and characteristics to be clear and endearing.

There are many highlights, notably involving the relationship between the fearless Kirk, who relies on his gut instinct to make decisions and the pragmatic, logic-driven half Vulcan Spock who counts on outcome probabilities. Much of the humour (as well as pathos) is derived from their clashes. Love (and its clash with logic) offers more opportunities for humour as the relationship between Spock and Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is going through a rough patch.

Benedict Cumberbatch, with his resonant bass voice and imposing presence makes an impressive and fitting adversary whose secret plays a large role in the main storyline. The rest of the team contribute to the overall with Simon Pegg hilarious as the excitable Scotty (I especially like the bar scene when Scotty is unwinding with a character that looks like a coloured cabbage) and Karl Urban is solid as Bones. Physicists are certainly not four-eyed and drab in the Star Trek franchise: lovely Alice Eve (who played the young Agent O in Men in Black 3) is an alluring addition and I guess may be a potential future love interest for the extremely handsome Chris Pine.

Abrams uses great angles and perspectives in his direction throughout, while music is used to its best advantage. All the production elements are faultless - the editing is superb and as for the special effects, if flying through space is your fantasy, this is as close as you may get to achieving your dream.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's bold and it's ambitious, setting out a complex story with great clarity as it creates its own world, one that's strangely familiar yet not. But it's more about the characters and relationships than the physical future - except of course for the central notion of warp speed space travel.

Knitting together themes of friendship, loyalty, courage and resolve, the story also touches on negatives of human nature, notably negative militarism.

The screenplay sets out to test Capt James Kirk (Chris Pine) and does so in more ways than one. Pine is up to the task. His bond with his key crew, especially Spock (Zachary Quinto) is a constant thread, and Quinto excels at making the enigmatic Vulcan almost but not quite human. Zoe Saldana gets good screen time as the determined Nyota, whose romance with Spock provides humour and relief. Karl Urban is fun in one of the two novelty roles as Dr Bones, and Simon Pegg as Scotty in the other. Collectively, these characters soften the hard edges and fire up comic moments like afterburners.

But there is nothing humorous about Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, a fascinating character written with tons of imagination - and delivered with even more. His crucial role in the story makes it vital that Khan is perfectly cast, which he is, his intriguing face adding tension and interest. Being a Brit, character acting is in his DNA.

The extraordinary effects are superbly integrated and the real photography is also excellent, with some tough challenges in matching various shots. As for the score, it could almost have been John Williams, and that's a compliment.

Hanging off the central story is the moral driver of the work, about the nature of human aggression. The motivations that drive the destructive characters are not all simplistic evil, indeed, some are complex and partly noble. But at heart, the real danger comes from those who can only see conflict resolved by war. Sadly, that makes the screenplay a well observed piece of writing.

Except for the occasional 3D indulgence of things flying at your face, making you wince and duck, Star Trek Into Darkness is, for me, a pleasant surprise; thrilling and engaging, sometimes harrowing and always cinematically satisfying.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Alice Eve, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller

PRODUCER: J. J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

DIRECTOR: J. J. Abrams

SCRIPT: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman,


EDITOR: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino


RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes



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