When a Starfleet facility in London is blown-up, it becomes apparent that the mastermind behind the attack comes from within their own ranks. After a further attack at the heart of Starfleet, the crew of the USS Enterprise are sent on a mission deep within Klingon space to retrieve or kill the attacker. Armed with photon torpedoes with brand new and untested technology they run risk starting a war with the volatile Klingon Empire, but for James Kirk and Spock, the real danger could be far more lethal.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) – Director: J J Abrams

Is Star Trek Into Darkness appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 132 mins

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch

Genre: Science Fiction, Action

 

REVIEW

As the sequel to 2009’s smash hit ‘Star Trek’ (our review of which can be found here), ‘Into Darkness’ comes to cinema screens surrounded by much hype and excitement. With the first movie rebooting the previously established timeline there was a sense that we were no longer in familiar territory. Perhaps to ease the worried fanbase, Director J.J. Abrams has elected not to throw too many curveballs for the sake of it, nor has he gone for a dumbed down crowd-pleasing movie to purely appeal to the newcomers. Instead, Abrams has gone for the middle ground, giving plenty of references to the previous films while keeping the freshness that has defined his directorial style of the franchise. Whether or not you see this as a good move will depend on your preference.

While all the cast turn out strong performances, special mention must be given to Zachary Quinto (as Spock, the emotionally controlled half human half Vulcan ‘ying’ to Kirk’s headstrong ‘yang’) and Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays the movie’s villain, John Harrison). Both are a delight to watch but it is unfortunate that Cumberbatch does not get more screen time. His commanding voice gives a gravity to his presence and the screen sizzles with barely supressed fury during his dialogue.

It is somewhat surprising that, after going to great pains to build up the threat Harrison presents,  ‘Into Darkness’ does not make full use of Cumberbatch’s hypnotic performance. Instead he lurks in the background to such an extent that the film hurts a little from being too coy with his scenes, although the payoff is certainly very satisfying! Simon Pegg, as Scotty, is not quite so endearing in this movie and has a much harsher (and somewhat put-on) accent than his predecessor, James Doohan. This makes him come across as quite aggressive whenever he is annoyed about anything although thankfully he still provides a lot of the comic relief as a counterpoint to the very visceral action sequences, albeit he is inexplicably side-lined for most of the film. One thing that Abrams has successfully installed into Star Trek is a sense of weight. Phaser fire hits with a resounding oomph and the starship battles crunch with destructive glory throughout. There is no ineffectual ‘pew pew pew’ here.

Having re-booted the Star Trek timeline in the previous movie, and therefore granting licence to do anything without hurting previous continuity, it is a little disappointing that ‘Into Darkness’ doesn’t bring more new ideas to the table. There is little different from 2009’s ‘Star Trek’ on display here. The freshness factor has diminished somewhat and it doesn’t appear to have been replaced with any additional depth of content, leaving the experience more a beautiful piece of déjà vu. Indeed, some scenes go beyond simple references for fandom sake and are instead direct re-workings of famous moments, which stand out as completely unnecessary.  ‘Into Darkness’ is a solid movie, if disappointing for not being more adventurous. However, it does everything that a good action/sci-fi/comedy blend should do: keep its audience gripped, excited and breathless the whole way through. Fire up the warp core and let yourself be blasted into deep space.

IS ‘STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Most of the potentially inappropriate content is likely to come from the violence during the action sequences. As might be expected from a sci-fi movie there are lots of scenes where spaceships fire upon each other. This results in explosions which kill many people and instances where people are sucked into space to their deaths. Towards the beginning of the movie, a ship opens fire on a building full of people. Several people are killed and thrown around the room as the lasers hit and cause explosions. During this scene there is an emotional death with one character lingering on the loss for a few minutes. However this is no stronger than your average action movie and should be ok for children used to such things. This may not be alright for younger kids who have not seen many action films.

The Klingons are likely to be quite scary for younger children. Uhura informs Kirk and Spock that if they are captured, they will be tortured, questioned and killed. The Klingons are extremely aggressive and wear skull-like helmets which cover their whole heads. One removes his helmet and has piercing blue eyes, adding to the menacing nature of his character. During this scene, a battle breaks out where characters are involved in fist fights and phaser blasts. One powerful weapon takes away the top half of a character’s body. The charred lower part of his body lands directly in front of the screen as does a detached arm; the shot only lasts a couple of seconds and it is not particularly gory.

Most of the action sequences are exciting and intense. It is not always clear who is going to survive and this may make this movie too frightening for young children. The scene where Kirk is blasted out of an airlock from one ship in order to race through space and enter an adjacent ship (whilst dodging space debris) keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat for around 5 minutes. Another thing to note is that at the cinema, everything is very much amplified.

The intense scenes, with the special effects and loud sounds are likely to be much scarier at the cinema than they might be when watching this movie at home. Even if a child is used to action movies, we would recommend caution for ‘Into Darkness’ due to the frequency and intensity of the action sequences and violent punch ups.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ is an exciting action movie that isn’t just for sci-fi fans. While a lot of the action takes place in outer space and with spaceships, it is the quality of the characters which is the main draw. While it is showing at cinemas, we would recommend this movie for children aged 10 and over as it is potentially a little too violent due to the constant fights and background deaths, however, once it is released on home media, ‘Into Darkness’ is likely to be appropriate and ok for kids aged 8 and over.

  • Violence:  4/5 (several battles between spaceships resulting in dozens of deaths. Fist fights sometimes result in broken bones. One female character has her shin stamped on and she screams out in pain as a cracking noise is heard. Another character has their skull crushed between the hands of their attacker. The camera focuses on the reaction of a different character but loud cracking sounds can be heard)
  • Emotional Distress: 4/5 (more than one established character is killed. These deaths are accompanied by emotional distress by people who cared about them. A scene towards the beginning shows a couple who are devastated by their daughter’s untreatable illness although there is no dialogue so the effect isn’t as strong as it may otherwise have been)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the intensity of the action sequences is quite frightening. The Klingons are scary and several ‘bad’ characters are menacing and intimidating)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (Kirk is briefly seen to be in bed with two pretty alien women and there are bras and underwear strewn across the floor. Later, a female character undresses after telling a male character to look away. He is unable to resist looking at her and sees her in her underwear)            
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (some mild to moderate cursing and blasphemy throughout)
  • Dialogue: 2/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of following orders but questioning them when necessary, betrayal, friendship, doing what is right when others disagree, warmongeringand fear of change

Words by Mike Record

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