“Star Trek Into Darkness” (PG-13): Big, loud and in 3-D (3-D/IMAX at some theaters), “Star Trek Into Darkness” offers teens a jolt of fun and parents and grandparents many nostalgic pleasures. One could wish the villain – though his roots lie in the 1960s TV series and the 1980s movies – weren’t cast as a terrorist. That’s a tired trope for today.
But despite this, director J.J. Abrams and his perfectly cast actors infuse youth, irreverence and physical daring into this rebooted “Star Trek” world. Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Uban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov embody the original characters while making them new.
The year is 2259. The film opens on the planet, Nibiru, where Spock nearly perishes trying to stop a volcanic eruption from destroying the primitive civilization there. Capt. Kirk violates protocol, risking the Enterprise and its crew to save him. Spock, true to his Vulcan half, reports the incident. Adm. Pike (Bruce Greenwood) strips Kirk of his command. However, a huge explosive attack on Star Fleet headquarters in London intervenes.
A former Star Fleet officer, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), has gone rogue. Star Fleet high command meets to discuss how to stop him and comes under lethal attack. Kirk, promoted back to captain on the orders of hawkish Adm. Marcus (Peter Weller), arms the Enterprise with nuclear torpedoes (a violation of Star Fleet’s do-no-harm philosophy), and follows Harrison to a Klingon planet called Kronos.
Once there, the crew clash with the enemy Klingons, and suddenly Harrison is on their side. Then again, he may be a super-genetically enhanced, age-old Star Fleet nemesis dating back to the old TV show.
The mayhem includes many space explosions and spaceship dogfights, but also features close-up gun and phaser exchanges and skull-cracking fisticuffs. Characters use mild profanity and also drink. Kirk, known for his womanizing ways, turns up in bed briefly with two space-alien women with tails. Characters die in more emotional and slightly bloodier ways than you might expect in a “Star Trek” film.
“Fast and Furious 6” (PG-13): If car chases and tough-talking heroes give high school action fans a kick – especially if they favor all the PG-13-rated “Fast & Furious” films that came before – then “Fast & Furious 6” won’t disappoint. The level of violence and implied death and destruction of innocents make the film problematic for middle schoolers.
We find the street racing buddies far from L.A., living abroad as rich fugitives since their South American adventures in “Fast Five.” Veteran street racer Dom (Vin Diesel), former lawman Brian (Paul Walker) and his love Mia (Jordana Brewster), who is Dom’s sister, live in the Canary Islands. As the film opens, Dom and Brian are street racing to Mia’s bedside – she’s just had a baby. Then up shows U.S. agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who tried to catch them in the last film. He promises pardons for all if they help catch a rogue British agent named Shaw (Luke Evans) who has attacked military convoys in search of a precious and lethal computer chip. Shaw rolls with a gang of ace drivers, and Hobbs thinks Dom and his crew are the only ones who can catch them.
When Dom learns that his one-time love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), whom he thought was dead, is now working for Shaw, he agrees to help in hopes he can bring her back into the fold.
Included are bone-cracking fights and implications of torture, much heavy-caliber gun violence and a car-tank-helicopter chase that crushes many vehicles on a public highway. It’s clear that many innocents would die. We don’t see any bystanders get hurt so the PG-13 rating stays intact. The script features occasional midrange profanity and rude gestures, as well as mild sexual innuendo.