Australian Council on Children and the Media

Star Trek Into Darkness

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (intense sci-fi themes, violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Star Trek Into Darkness
  • a review of Star Trek Into Darkness completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 May 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable
Children aged 5–8 Not suitable
Children aged 8–13 Not recommended
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group with parental guidance

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 Into Darkness
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 132 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

When a mission involving the Enterprise and its crew ends in disaster, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) loses his command of the Enterprise and is reassigned as first officer to Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood); Kirk’s old mentor. After a secret Starfleet installation is destroyed by a bomb attack, Kirk and Pike are called in to attend a meeting of high ranking officers at the Starfleet headquarters, but the meeting ends in disaster when a rogue agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) uses a gunship to attack Starfleet headquarters killing a number of officers including Pike. In retribution for the attack, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) authorises Kirk to hunt down Harrison, who has fled to the Klingon home world of Qo’noS. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise travel to Qo’noS, and after a short but violent encounter with a party of Klingons, Kirk along with Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) manage to apprehend Harrison and it is at this point that the film’s plot thickens. It is revealed that Harrison is really a genetically engineered superhuman named Khan, who along with seventy two other genetically engineered super-humans (Khan’s crew) was imprisoned in cryogenic sleep three hundred years earlier for attempting to commit genocide on the inferior human race. Apparently Admiral Marcus thawed out Khan, and forced him to use his superior intellect to develop advanced war machines to be employed against the Kilingons with Admiral Marcus using Khan’s crew, who were still frozen in cryogenic sleep as hostages. The remainder of the film revolves around Kirk joining forces with Khan to defeat the real villain of the story Admiral Marcus. Fortunately, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise manage to survive both Admiral Marcus’s and Khan’s treachery and win the day. The final moments of the film sees Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew heading off deep into space on a five year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before.                         

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.

Genetic engineering, super-humans, war and weapons, conspiracy, friendship and loyalty

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 Into Darkness contains science fiction action violence and peril throughout. While there is minimal depiction of blood and gore, there is a high body count and contains several scenes depicting mass destruction. Examples include:

  • Spock wearing a heatproof suit is lowered by a cable from a shuttle ship into an erupting volcano with lava, smoke, flames and fireballs shooting out of the volcano. The cable lowering Spock snaps and Spock falls into the volcano landing on a stone ledge with Spock then arming a cold fusion bomb designed to stop the eruption. Initially Spock is unable to be rescued and we see lava erupting all around him with Spock kneeling down on a stone ledge waiting for his death, but at the last second as the bomb explodes and Spock is beamed to safety and is uninjured. 
  • A large group of Starfleet officers are in a room in a high-rise building, which has a full-length glass window for a wall. A man flying an attack aircraft flies down and blasts the glass window with cannon fire resulting in glass and debris flying in all directions. Canon fire hits a number of the people in the room with the people falling dead to the ground, but no blood or gore is depicted. One man is lying on the ground with a bloody bullet wound to his abdomen and blood dripping from the corner of his mouth. The man dies with his eyes open and in an emotional display we see James Kirk crying in response to the man’s death.
  • In one perilous scene, a number of Klingon airships chase and attack a Federation shuttle. Klingon ships fire their laser weapons, which hit the Federation shuttle resulting in multiple explosions, but the Federation shuttle continues to fly. The shuttle dodges around buildings and flies sideways in a perilous manner through narrow gaps between two buildings in a bid to evade the Klingon ships. 
  • One scene depicts a more brutal hand to hand combat fight between Klingons warriors, three Enterprise crew members and Khan during which: a woman stabs a Klingon in the leg, Klingons are shot at close range with laser guns, characters are punched in the face and body, a man has his head bashed against the ground and Klingon is bashed in the face with the gun stocks.
  • Another scene depicts James Kirk brutally punching Khan in the face and stomach (repeatedly) until Kirk becomes exhausted from his attack and stops; Khan appears completely uninjured from Kirk’s attack.
  • In one brutal fight Kahn stomps his foot down on to the leg of a woman lying on the ground. We do not actually see his foot make contact with the woman’s leg, but hear the sound of bones breaking and hear the woman scream out in pain.
  • A battle scene between two star-ships shows one ship firing its lasers at the other. There is a large explosion and a massive hole in the side of the ship that was attacked, with multiple people killed when they are sucked out into space.

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:

  • The film contains images of a number of alien/humanoid looking characters throughout, some with reptilian faces, some with cabbage/stone-like faces, some with faces painted with a white mud-like substance and red eyes.
  • Images of Klingons wearing war-like metal masks. When the masks are removed the Klingons have an alien appearance similar to Klingons depicted in other Star Trek films but fiercer looking.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • We see a young girl lying unconscious in a hospital bed with her parents standing at her side, her mother emotionally distraught (crying) with the inference being that the young girl was terminally ill and her parents were waiting for her to die.
  • In one emotionally charged scene a main character dies after being exposed to radiation, the character appears very sickly before he dies and dies with his eyes open. A second character is brought to tears as a result of the death.  

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

  • Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

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.

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

Product placement

No product placement of concern

Sexual references

No sexual references or innuendo.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • One brief scene depicts Kirk waking up in bed with two alien women (appearing human with the exception of having feline-like tails). The two women are seen wearing bikini styled underwear with the inference being that Kirk had engaged in sexual activity with them. 
  • In a bar scene there is a very brief image of two aliens (humanoid in appearance with reptilian faces) kissing, long lizard-like tongues protrude from each of their mouth and entwine.
  • A female character asks Kirk to turn around so she can undress. When Kirk turns around and looks at the woman, we see an image of her wearing bikini style underwear.

Use of substances

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

  • The film contains a couple of bar scenes with people drinking alcohol, with one scene showing a main character in a medium-level intoxicated state.
  • One scene depicts a man/father injecting what appears to be blood into his sick child’s IV.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • damn, what the hell, my god, shut up, pain in the arse, bastard, bloody things, bloody son of a bitch, piss you off, shit.

In a nutshell

Star Trek Into Darkness is a science fiction film with plenty of action and adventure. Best suited to those over 15 years because of violence, scary scenes and coarse language. The new Star Trek film is a thrilling and visually stunning action film with fantastic special effects. The film contains the entire original cast from the 2009 Star Trek film, however, secondary characters such as Sulu, Scotty and Chekov are given only token performances with the film focusing on the relationship between Kirk, Spock and Kahn. This film will entertain and satisfy its target audience, Star Trek fans will not be disappointed.

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

  • There are always people ready to harm others, but it is important that in an attempt to stop those people we do not become like them. 


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

  • Throughout the film both Kirk and Spock were willing to sacrifice their lives for the safety of their friends and the greater good.
  • Friendship, acceptance and tolerance – while Kirk and Spock were very different their friendship was such that they were more than willing to accept and tolerate those differences even if the cost of doing so was high. 
  • Kirk’s reckless manner, attitude and behaviour and the real world consequences for these behaviours. In the film Kirk didn’t comply to the rules, or take responsibility for his reckless behaviour and on a number of occasions this behaviour could have, and in real life probably would have, ended in disastrous results. 

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