Star Trek sequel Into Darkness gets beaming reviews
Sci-fi sequel Star Trek Into Darkness has received positive reviews from the British press ahead of its opening in the UK and Ireland next week.
The film, starring Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, has its UK premiere on Thursday in central London.
Britain's Benedict Cumberbatch stars as villain John Harrison, described as a "one-man weapon of mass destruction".
The eagerly awaited follow-up to director JJ Abrams' 2009 series "reboot" will be released on 9 May.
Here are excerpts from the reviews it has received so far.
The Guardian - Andrew Pulver
Director JJ Abrams has followed up his sensational 2009 Star Trek reboot with a sparkling 3D sequel.
Abrams also maintains the glistening visuals of his earlier film; Into Darkness is slathered in so much lens flare it looks like a Kylie Minogue video. And the flashes of crackling, knowing comedy have been retained, punctuating the shuddering fight scenes and chase sequences that are the very currency of the action blockbuster.
People are unlikely to charge out of the cinema with quite the same level of glee as they did in 2009; but this is certainly an astute, exhilarating concoction.
Time Out - Dave Calhoun
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.
It's compulsory for blockbuster villains to be British of course, and Cumberbatch runs with an imperial theatrical haughtiness rather than trying to bury it.
His bad guy is distinctly human, if a little two-dimensional, and he succeeds in showing real ice running through his veins and bringing some weight to a cast that generally offers more geniality than gravitas.
Empire - Ian Freer
Cumberbatch's Harrison may be dressed for a GQ cover but he is, in essence, a one-man army.
It is a testament to the power of his performance that, although his early appearances are greeted with the most over-the-top Evil Musical Motifs imaginable, he manages to make Harrison ambiguous and chilling throughout.
If this is Abrams' final frontier, he has left Star Trek in a good place, both in the fictional universe and as a franchise. In some sense, the title is misleading.
Into Darkness is a blast, fun, funny, spectacular and exhilarating. The rule of great even-numbered Trek movies continues.
Total Film - Matthew Leyland
Mostly, this is fantastic fun: a two-hours-plus blockbuster that doesn't bog down in exposition or sag in the middle. There are reversals and rug-pulls galore, most of them executed with whiplash skill.
Trouble is, at a certain point peril-fatigue starts to creep in, putting the story (like the overtaxed Enterprise) at the risk of burning out.
What's more, this wild, plot-driven ride has a tendency to leave character moments on the back seat. Often, minor figures first time out remain minor figures, some of them left out in the rain until the narrative calls for them to make a reappearance.
But man of the match is, of course, Abrams. His aim with Into Darkness was to mint a standalone adventure, one that welcomed total Trek neophytes at the door. Mission accomplished - there's buried treasure here for long-term fans, but this is a franchise flick that demands fanboy foreknowledge far less than it does slack jaws and high stamina.