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Film review: Star Trek into Darkness (12a)
Running time 133 minutes
Rating:***


Such is the enthusiasm of sci-fi fans that the newspapers reported scuffles between competing groups of ‘Trekkies’ and ‘Star Wars’ groups at a sci-fi convention last week.
Despite the general appreciation of sci-fi as entertainment, even the good folks of Norwich – where the convention took place – must have scratched their heads at such behaviour, perhaps wondering if this was a case of NFN – Normal for Norfolk.
Still, if the fans had seen Star Trek into Darkness, which is the latest in the highly-profitable franchise started by the late Gene Roddenberry back in the mid ’60s, then they might have stopped ‘phasering’ each other for a moment and admired the picture.
If they had, they would have seen more great special effects from Industrial Light and Magic), a good story (lifted and adapted from an television episode and later film) and the sight of some British actors showing how to over-act.
Directed by the highly organised J. J. Abrams, the ever-arrogant Jim Kirk starts the film by viewing the Prime Directive as more of a guideline and gets slapped down because of it, losing his captaincy of the Enterprise, just as a top Starfleet agent called Harrison (Cumberbatch) goes rogue and begins to blow up people for some unknown reason.
The agent is soon revealed to be a genetically-engineered superhuman called Khan, left over from Earth’s genetic wars 300 years earlier. He was awakened and his intelligence exploited to help Earth in a looming war with those warlike Klingons.
Kirk (Chris Pines) goes after Khan, helped as usual by the intensely annoying Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the comedy Scot played by Simon Pegg. There are all the usual background characters and quite a lot of zooming about the galaxy with grim expressions.
All of this is great fun for people of all ages, although the audience in Newbury’s Vue was probably bringing its experience of seeing the original TV series to the film.
There was more humour in this film, even though Mr Cumberbatch does a good line in heavy and superior sarcasm, and Simon Pegg’s performance as Montgomery Scott teeters on the edge of racial caricature.
Still, with everyone paying just a few Earth pounds to see a $190 million film, this must be the bargain of the year, because Abrams shows how to justify the Vulcan greeting of “Live long and prosper” in film industry terms.
Good fun for the whole family, with no bad language and only a little sex (and that doesn’t count because the girl had a furry tail.)



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