Star Trek Into Darkness: live long, prosper

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Star Trek Into Darkness’ is a brisk, no-nonsense sci-fi action sequel built around a conflict between the crew of the Starship Enterprise and a slick, slippery new villain called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Director JJ Abrams revived the Star Trek franchise back in 2009 by taking it back in time (in Trekkie terms, that is; it’s still the future for us), pumping it with wit and style and giving life to younger versions of Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the rest of the space geek dream team. Here, the main focus is internal strife, rather than structural revolution, as Kirk and Spock get catty with each other and Harrison emerges as a disgruntled insider bent on domestic terrorism.

The most striking scenes come without doubt at the start as Kirk (Chris Pine) struggles to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano on a distant planet. We witness a primitive race – carefully colour-coded all white, yellow and red – as they first lay eyes on a spaceship. It’s a powerful moment, and nothing later matches up to it, even if two episodes of city-bashing (first London, then San Francisco) offer their fair share of wide-eyed 3D viewing.

The revived Star Trek films are shaping up to be the opposite of Christopher Nolan’s Batman tales in that they’re light on bleakness and attitude. There are enough gags (Simon Pegg is fun again as Scotty) and wit (the tension between Kirk and Spock is winning) between darker bouts of space fighting and ship-saving to keep the mood airy and unpretentious.

Only when we’re treated to a gratuitous, over-the-shoulder underwear shot of Alice Eve as the Enterprise’s new recruit does this breeziness tip into recklessness. It’s here that we sense the filmmakers’ worry that the whole thing might be a bit too boyish and sexless. That said, the script manages to introduce some thoughtfulness into proceedings via Spock’s morose musings on death and feelings (or lack of them).

All in all, it’s a welcome offering to the franchise that won’t leave send you home disappointed.

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The Dark Knight Rises: Stunning,intellectual and deep but not without fault.

Film Jam

By Kelly O’Brien

The third instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is a stunning and intellectual conclusion to what has become a cultural phenomenon. Currently showing in cinemas across the globe, The Dark Knight Rises is not to be missed.

Beginning with a fantastic opening sequence, a CIA manned plane is hijacked. Liberated by the manoeuvre is Bane (Tom Hardy), a muscular menace with a muzzle: a modern day mix of Darth Vader and Hannibal Lector.
In no time at all, Bane has control of Gotham’s underground and seeks to destroy the city from the bottom up. Assaulting the Stock Exchange and stealing a nuclear bomb, Bane sees himself as Gotham’s liberator, delivering the city back into the hands of its people.

While Bane gathers strength for Gothams “reckoning”, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hides himself away in Wayne manor, seeing no one but his butler Alfred…

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