Australian Council on Children and the Media

Star Trek

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Star Trek
  • a review of Star Trek completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 May 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Star Trek
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 122 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Star Trek opens with the U.S.S. Kelvin travelling through space on a routine patrol when a Romulan ship with advanced weaponry appears out of a “singularity” (black hole) and fires several missiles at the ship. The Kelvin’s captain is ordered aboard the Romulan ship where he is killed by Nero (Eric Bana) the leader of the Romulans, who seems confused about the current date and the location of Ambassador Spock. Nero continues his attack on the Kelvin and acting Captain George Kirk orders the crew including his pregnant wife Winona (Jennifer Morrison) to abandon ship. As the escape pods move away from the Kelvin we see Winona giving birth to a son, whom she names James Tiberius Kirk. After hearing his son’s name and saying goodbye, Captain George Kirk rams the doomed Kelvin into the Romulan ship to destroy it.        
The following scenes portray the early years of James Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). Young Kirk is depicted as a rebellious child, while a young Spock battles with controlling his emotions. As a young man, Kirk is still rebellious, but now spends his time in bars chasing women and picking fights. Following a bar room brawl Kirk is approached by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who dares Kirk to join Starfleet. Not wanting to refuse a dare Kirk takes up Pike’s offer and joins Starfleet. Immediately he forms friendships with fellow Starfleet cadets Dr. Leonard “Bone” McCoy (Karl Urban) and communications wiz kid Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and a somewhat shaky relationship with the Spock who is now a Commander.

Kirk and his fellow cadets have no sooner graduated than Starfleet Command receives a distress call from Vulcan. Kirk, Spock and fellow crew members board the newly built Enterprise and head off to do battle with time-traveller Nero who is determined to avenge the future destruction of his home.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Alien worlds; Time travel; Death of a parent

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Star Trek contains intense action violence, bullying, some reckless and life endangering behaviour and infrequent depiction of blood and gore. Examples include:  

  • In a number of intense battles between space ships, ships ram each, lasers and torpedoes hit ships resulting in onboard explosion with debris flying in all directions and crewmembers thrown through the air. Numerous deaths result from the battles with very little blood and gore depicted.
  • Nero spears a defenceless man through the chest.  We do not see the spear reach the man’s chest, but hear that man has been killed.  
  • We see a young boy driving a car at high speed in a reckless manner while being chased by a policeman on a jet bike. The boy deliberately drives the car towards a cliff, jumping from the car just before the car goes over the cliff. The boy clings to the top of the cliff then pulls himself back up.
  • Spock as a young child is bullied by other Vulcan school children who taunt him about his human mother. When one of the bullies calls Spock’s mother a human whore Spock leaps at the boy throwing the boy to the ground and viciously punching the boy a number of times in the face.
  • Kirk starts a fist-fight in a bar when he punches a large man in the face with the force of the punch sending the man flying over a table. A bar-room brawl erupts as a result with glasses and tables smashed, we see one glass smashed across the face of a man. During the fight, Kirk falls against a woman accidentally grabbing her breast with the woman punching Kirk in the face in response. We see Kirk lying across a table while being repeatedly and viciously punched in the face until he is senseless. When the beating is finally stopped Kirk’s face is very beaten and bloody. Later we see Kirk with a wad of bloody toilet paper pushed up each of his nostrils.
  • Kirk, Sulu and a third man jump out of a space shuttle and free fall towards a suspended platform. The third man crashes into an energy beam which instantly incinerates him and we see other men incinerated in a similar manner.
  • When Kirk and Sulu reach the platform they are attacked by Romulans. There is a fist fight between Kirk and the Romulans and we see Sulu with a Samurai sword fighting a Romulan with an axe. Sulu impales a Romulan through the back with his sword.
  • Spock’s mother is killed when the ground collapses from beneath her and she falls down a cliff.
  • Pike is strapped to a table while being questioned by Nero. Pike is tortured into talking when a mind controlling bug is placed into his mouth; we see Pike screaming and convulsing on the table.  
  • We see Kirk deliberately taunting Spock about the death of his mother and the destruction of Spock’s planet. The taunting causes an emotional outburst from Spock resulting in Spock punching Kirk several times in the face and then almost strangling Kirk.
  • Nero’s ship is sucked into a black hole and then torn apart by the forces of the hole. Before Nero’s ship is destroyed we hear Nero say that he would rather die in agony than accept assistance from Kirk.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Images of a pregnant woman in labour sitting on a table with her legs apart screaming with contraction pains while she is told to push. The new born baby placed at her side and she cries.
  • Nero’s ship has a threatening insect-like appearance about it. Nero himself has pointy ears and his face is covered in tattooed designs that make him look menacing, threatening and intimidating.
  • The film contains a number of freakish looking humanoid aliens some with protruding foreheads, long faces, bumpy foreheads, scaly or rock-like faces, and large black eyes.   
  • After having a bad reaction to a vaccine, Kirks hands swell up to many times their normal size, looking like fat sausages.   
  • A man is strapped to a table and an alien creature that resembles a large crawling scorpion is placed into a man’s mouth with the man screaming and convulsing.
  • Kirk is chased across the snow by an alien creature that resembles a ferocious wolf with large fangs. The wolf creature is just about to pounce on Kirk when they are both attacked by even larger creatures.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The film’s prologue depicts Kirk’s father George sacrifices his life by deliberately crashing his ship into a Romulan ship while his crew escapes. We hear him saying goodbye to his wife (as she gives birth to James) and telling her that he loves her as his ship crashes and explodes.
  • Young Spock is psychologically bullied by his peers.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references and double entendres this movie, including:

  • Kirk tells Uhura “I mean you’ve got a talented tongue”.
  • An adolescent Vulcan boy tells Spock that his mother is “a human whore”.
  • A man insults Kirk, telling him that he only has sex with farm animals.  

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Uhura kisses Spock on the lips in a couple of scenes.
  • During a bar brawl, Kirk grabs hold of a woman’s breasts by mistake.
  • Kirk passionately kisses a woman in her apartment with the two stripping down to their underwear.  A second woman walks in on the pair with Kirk hiding under the woman’s bed. We see the second woman take off her top and pull down her pants leaving her in her underwear before she discovers Kirk hiding under the bed; Kirk promptly leaves the room.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Many people drink beer, cocktails and spirits in a night club scene
  • Kirk drinking beer in a couple of scenes.
  • Kirk in a seemingly intoxicated condition in a bar attempts to flirt with Uhura. 
  • Doctor McCoy drinks from a hip flask.
  • Doctor McCoy injects Kirk with a vaccine and then gives Kirk a number of other injections when he develops a bad reaction to the vaccine. McCoy also gives Kirk a tranquiliser injection after which Kirk falls unconscious.  

Coarse language

Star Trek contains some medium level coarse language and putdowns. Examples include: 

  • get your arse back home; human whore; study my arse; who was that pointy eared bastard; god; hell; damn; shit; you bet your arse.

In a nutshell

Star Trek is an action packed science-fiction adventure providing a new perspective on the two leading characters, Kirk and Spock. Established fans of this long-running TV and movie series are likely to be impressed with this film while newcomers may find it difficult to relate to some of the film’s references.    
The main messages from this movie are:

  • We are capable of choosing our own destiny.
  • Sometimes doing the right thing requires putting aside logical thinking in favour of following our own heart and doing what feels right. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Selflessness, bravery and heroism

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • Kirk’s rebellious behaviour as a youth and his willingness to defy authority as a Starfleet officer
  • Kirk’s willingness to cheat, lie and bend the rules if it suits his needs, believing that the end justifies the means and the fact that he often gets away with this

 

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