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EAR WE BOLDLY GO; MOVIES.

Byline: DAVID EDWARDS

STAR TREK Cert 12A, 127mins ****

Kirk and the team boldly go where no Star Trek movie has gone before in a sci-fi epic set to stun fans of the beloved TV show.

Non-believers may find the ride somewhat less thrilling but, wherever you're coming from, this is easily the best Trek film since The Wrath Of Khan back in 1982.

In the same way that Batman Begins turned back the clock on the dark knight's life and times, the action here begins as we meet Captain Kirk's dad at the helm of a ship going into battle with a giant alien enemy.

Amid the fire and photon torpedoes, his wife is going into labour, delivering the future Enterprise captain just as her husband is killed.

It's then fast forward 10 years as we meet the young Kirk tearing up a country road in a stolen sports car.

It looks like a scene from 20th-century America, until a cop on a hoverbike glides into view to arrest the wayward youngster.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the universe, a half-Earthling, half-Vulcan pre-teen known as Spock is being schooled at a futuristic academy in the art of emotion.

We then move on to Kirk and Spock's late teens. A troubled drunk with a habit of hanging out in bars and bedding green-skinned babes, Kirk (Chris Pine) still hasn't come to terms with the tragic circumstances of his birth and seems unable to fill his pop's very big shoes. Yet convinced by a kindly ship's captain that he's destined for greatness, Kirk is persuaded to enrol at the Starfleet Academy where he meets fellow space traveller-to-be Uhura (Zoe Saldana), as well as Spock (Zachary Quinto).

With some dazzling action set pieces, this is one great-looking movie, the highlight being a scene where Kirk and two pals parachute from orbit onto a platform hovering thousands of feet from a planet's surface.

There's also plenty of humour and Trekkie in-jokes. At one point, Kirk's hands are inflated to comedy proportions by an allergic reaction to Bones' medicine, then a power-drunk Spock orders a swaggering Kirk "out of the chair" - ie the Enterprise's seat of command.

Meanwhile, it's amusing to see original Spock star Leonard Nimoy making a cameo, while Britain's Simon Pegg is good value as the young Scotty.

And yet there are faults. The amount of time spent establishing the characters means the Earth versus aliens plot feels rushed when it eventually kicks in, and a lot of that build-up is a slog to get through.

Overall, it makes for an entertaining, if uneven, couple of hours, although non-Trekkies may not find it the intergalactic go-see they'd hoped for.

THE REEL LOWDOWN

BEST QUOTE: Captain Pike to Kirk: "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better." BEST BIT: Leonard Nimoy has a welcome cameo. WORST BIT: Too much backstory, not enough action. IF YOU LIKED... Top Gun, Serenity... YOU'LL LIKE THIS.

CAPTION(S):

GETTING A GRIP: Spock (Zachary Quinto) fends off the enemy
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 8, 2009
Words:516
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