Star Trek Beyond promises us one thing going in, a departure from J. J. Abrams’ direction. It of course delivers more, but my main concern was what kind of adventure are we in store for? For too long now I hear complaints from longtime Trekkies upset over the direction of the first two films. Most notably, many dismiss the second film as blasphemy. Rightfully so, but as a new fan to Star Trek I find myself quite fond of Into Darkness (review here). However, with Star Trek Beyond longtime Trekkies are singing songs of praise about this one. From what I hear, they love how closely it reminds them of the old television series (and after digesting the extras I really get that). Therein lies the problem for me, but more about that down below because I still manage to have a blast with this one…mostly.
Star Trek Beyond officially becomes the thirteenth film in the Star Trek franchise, and third in the reboot fashion. It logically follows the events in 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. However, this time out the main difference is the fact that Justin Lin inhabits the director’s chair. Justin Lin is no stranger to action movie fans having done four Fast & Furious films. So rest assure that you’re in good hands here in the action department. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin all return. However, Star Trek Beyond marks one of the final film appearances for Yelchin. He sadly died in a car accident a month ago. Legendary Star Trek veteran Leonard Nimoy also passed away during pre-production of this film. Newcomers to Star Trek Beyond include Pacific Rim‘s Idris Elba and Kingsman‘s Sofia Boutella.
Star Trek Beyond was a winner with the moviegoing audiences. Not only were the box office number been strong, but the film reviews were right in line with the populous. Moviegoers praised the movie for its performances, stunning visual effects and its tributes to Yelchin and Nimoy. When we last left the crew of the USS Enterprise they were to embark on a five-year voyage. In Star Trek Beyond we pick up three years into this voyage. The crew briefly stops at Starbase Yorktown to replenish supplies and partake in some much needed R&R. Yes, this is where we learn about Sulu’s (Cho) um…sexuality. It’s also where we see James T. Kirk (Pine) having the same old conundrum. He’s still trying to find himself, escape his father’s shadow and discover what makes him tick. Yawn, right?
Don’t fret because it’s not all about James T. Kirk. Spock (Quinto) and Uhura (Saldana) are up to their marital-like spats and Scotty (Pegg) is cracking us up as usual. However, this Yorktown rest break does not last long. Before we know it Kalara (Lydia Wilson) appears and tells of her stranded ship’s troubles. To help her out the crew of the USS Enterprise agree to fly in uncharted space through the nebula. Beware! The rescue attempt gets ambushed. As you see in the film’s trailers, massive swarms of ships, led by Krall (Elba), tear the Enterprise apart. The ship crashes to a planet, surviving crew are round up like cattle and James needs to find himself quickly. You picking up what I’m dropping? Only teamwork, smart thinking and creative imaginations are going to save the day now.
After experiencing Star Trek Beyond for the first time I realized how much DNA it shares with Iron Man 3. Sadly, Iron Man 3 is one of my least favorite Marvel films. Knowing that doesn’t bode well for Star Trek Beyond for me then, huh? No, it does not. It’s that all is broke and make something out of scraps that makes Beyond feel like Iron Man 3. That’s not a bad thing, but come on. This is a Star Trek film. I want space adventures, not a film stuck on a lone terrestrial planet (that’s what television is for). The story felt grounded and that’s a bad thing for me when we are talking science fiction, but I digress. I did have fun exploring the character’s relationships off ship and I do get what fans are talking about as far as this one bearing close resemblance to the classic television series.
It feels funny complaining about the terrestrial aspect of Beyond. That’s because the opening alien planet scene was among my favorite in the last film. The whole disintegration of the USS Enterprise so early on in this one bothers me too. It feels like a cheap rehash of Into Darkness. It was too much, too soon for me. However, I get it. The ship has been explored in the previous two films…it’s something new. The other aspect of Star Trek Beyond, which I found lackluster, were the characters of Krall and Jaylah (Boutella). The latter’s performance was nothing compared to how iconic and exceptional she was in Kingsman: Secret Service. I want more from her than this shallow, underdeveloped character we were given here. I just can’t put my finger on it precisely, but Krall did absolutely nothing for me. After three viewings I really still feel no sympathy for his plight of what made him the evil man he was and the wicked way he kept his good looks. Even his exit was unmemorable for me. Good riddance!
I also made mention of this up above. There are the fans who go on and on about saying how closely this one resembles an adventure form the classic television series. Why exactly is that a good thing? This is a movie! I want it to feel like a movie, not a television show. I get the homage and throwback to classic adventures, but what kept me in the game here is the same formula as the first two entries. I’m a sucker for the chemistry of this cast, albeit less funny this outing, and the zany action sequences. The visuals and action sequences throughout here are nothing short of spectacular. I don’t know how they made that many swarming ships, but Krall’s force was quite a remarkable visual feat to behold. Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” always manages to put a smile on my face too. It’s quite entertaining they way they creatively brought this one into the game here for the third time now. However, what happened to Alice Eve’s character? I saw her leave on the voyage three years ago. Remember? Ha ha.
The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the outstanding 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Star Trek Beyond.
- Encoding: HEVC / H.265
- Resolution: 4K (2160p)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Clarity/Detail: I just can’t say enough good things about this presentation. The highlight for me (no pun intended) is the HDR quality of it all, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Detail is sharp and clear throughout here in the character’s skin, hair, outfits, instrument panels, sets, etc. Textures are also all the rage here with authentic like scales on alien figures, chiseled rocks and once we get to the forest world past the nebula detail cuts you like a razor if you’re not careful. The colors open up and the forest invites you into all its realism. Also I would like to note that the explosions, fireballs, etc. all look pretty real and authentic throughout here too in this 4K presentation.
- Depth: Despite the darkness that looms throughout the first half of this feature depth of field still prevails. Foreground characters stand out with three-dimensional qualities against blurred/distant backgrounds and of course there are certain scenes over others that seem to go on forever in the depth world. Examples of such scenes include the cityscapes in the Yorktown space station, the control rooms there with all the illuminated screens and more.
- Black Levels: The black levels are deep and inky throughout this 4K presentation. Despite the many dark moments throughout fine detail is prevalent in all the shadows courtesy of the outstanding use of HDR employed here. I do want to make sure I’m stressing to you how dark this one really is. It’s distractingly dark at times, but that’s how it’s supposed to look. Thank God for the HDR in this one as you’re able to see in the shadows here.
- Color Reproduction: Here’s where the HDR also shines as the wide color gamut is amazing here with many different shades of authentic and organic looking scenes. This one is a dark presentation for the majority of the first half, but rest assured that the bright colors like lights or futuristic looking instrument panels pop against the contrasting tones. The forest world also comes to life on your television with its big, bright, green vegetation.
- Flesh Tones: The temperatures of the characters’ skin tones look natural and authentic throughout. I have zero problems here.
- Noise/Artifacts: There’s absolutely nothing that will distract or disgust you about this 4K presentation. There’s some source noise here or there, but nothing that will ever make you say yuck. Enjoy!
Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the impenetrable 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Star Trek Beyond. Paramount did not skimp in the audio department here. Both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray come armed with a Dolby Atmos surround track.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
- Height: There’s a lot to cover here but moments like the little beasts at the beginning jumping down at James Kirk or the USS Franklin blasting up come alive in your living room thanks to the “height” channel of your Dolby Atmos surround setup. There are many other examples too like water splashing over, escape pods launching upwards, the USS Enterprise crashing, Jayla’s traps spring up and more.
- Dynamics: Star Trek Beyond seems like a no-brainer in the dynamics section here. The soundscape is completely wide open, dialog is prioritized and the chaos is absolutely crazy at times, but this surround track handles it all effectively well. You never even miss a spoken word. There’s nothing to complain about here form the swooping, rousing score to the zany action sequence the dynamics are wound tight and wired for maximum enjoyment.
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is in absolute beast mode here. It rumbles with aggression and the weight of the huge onscreen ships can definitely be felt by the girth and growl the sub woofer channel puts out. Other moments include fight scenes, the USS Enterprise flying through warp speed in a big sonic boom kind of fashion, clamps letting go of the vessel in Yorktown, phasers, blasts, explosions, crashing through the nebula and so much more.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Just like the subwoofer the co-stars of this presentation without a doubt are the rear channels. Obviously any scene involving action and Krall’s swarming bee-like ships sound like a million bucks here, but there’s so much more to write home about. The rear channels also showcase the score, explosions, debris, alarms, motorcycles, blasters, miscellaneous flying creatures fluttering and pretty much everything else you can think of in a summer action blockbuster film.
- Dialogue Reproduction: All spoken words by any race are loud, clear and intelligible throughout. I never once had to strain to hear any of them.
Star Trek Beyond fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes the 1080p feature on Blu-ray disc, as well as an Ultra HD Disc presented in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Atmos. The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film redeemable in both iTunes and UltraViolet formats. In addition there’s over an hour of action-packed bonus content, with featurettes from filmmakers and cast, including J.J. Abrams, Justin Lin, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. You get to go beyond the movie’s incredible edge-of-your-seat action and see how a whopping 50 new alien species were created, including the newest villain Krall and the rebellious warrior Jaylah. You also get to journey through the iconic franchise in celebration of Star trek‘s 50th Anniversary, enjoy a hilarious gag reel and explore deleted scenes you didn’t see in theaters. This set also includes tributes to actors Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. All that’s missing is an audio commentary track. Maybe next time. So in the meantime, check all the extras out in more detail down below.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 1:02) – Go Beyond the final cut of the movie with two scenes you didn’t see in theaters: “Kirk and Scotty In The Terminal” and “Scotty Gets a Bib and Tucker.” Not that you really need it, but there’s a Play All option here too.
- Beyond the Darkness (HD, 10:08) – Here we meet with visionary producer J.J. Abrams, director Justin Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as they discuss the inspiration for the Star Trek Beyond storyline and how it all came to life. It was cool to see J.J. discuss how he was passing the torch to Justin. This one also examines the writing process and collaboration between Simon and Doug. I very much like extras like this. I guess I can see now why people say this is like the television series as it’s explained for us not familiar with the series in this extra. This one also deep dives into the new characters, the canon of Star Trek and even the now “classic” Beastie Boys song.
- Enterprise Takedown (HD, 4:31) – Here’s your chance to experience edge-of-your-seat action and see how a shocking attack destroys the USS Enterprise. This one also talks about the introduction of Kalara, the alien that’s responsible for all of this tragedy. Justin wanted to tear the crew apart and not explore the ship in this film. I guess in that regards great job, Justin. You did just that! This idea was in his head since eight years old according to Justin.
- Divided and Conquered (HD, 8:17) – Here you learn how filmmakers pushed the boundaries in Star Trek Beyond by forcing the Enterprise crew into their most challenging situations yet (hence without their ship and familiarities…aka Iron Man 3 in my words). The cast and crew all talk about the new dynamics of splitting up certain characters, making others uncommonly work together (like Spock and Bones for example) and more.
- A Warped Sense of Revenge (HD, 5:15) – This one is all about the villain and his revengeful plight. Here you will meet Star Trek’s newest villain, Krall, as actor Idris Elba and the filmmakers reveal the backstory behind his character’s terrifying ambitions. While I liked learning more about Krall here in this extra it still didn’t really make me like him anymore as villain than I already did.
- Trekking in the Desert (HD, 3:06) – This one is all about my favorite place! Pack your bags! We’re going to Yorktown in this extra. Here we go on set in Dubai to discover how its real world futuristic architecture became the foundation for the most innovative Starbase yet. The city even has stages now so it’s all set up and accommodating for our Hollywood films. Yay!
- Exploring Strange New Worlds (HD, 6:02) – Here you can tour the incredible production sets of Star Trek Beyond with director Justin Lin and his right hand man, Tom. He’s the one responsible for the look and feel of this film. The set they built in this rock quarry was amazing and huge. I’m “beyond” speechless from watching this extra and seeing how Krall’s base came to life.
- New Life, New Civilizations (HD, 8:04) – This one is all about the aliens, enormous scope of the film and Justin’s introduction to it all. LOL. Here you will see how special effects designers met the challenge to create an unprecedented 50 new alien species (not merely just different heads) for the film to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.
- To Live Long and Prosper (HD, 7:51) – This one is for the fans. Here you will journey through the past 50 years of Star Trek with J.J. Abrams and the cast as they reflect on the evolution of this iconic sci-fi series. The classic footage throughout this extra looked great.
- For Leonard and Anton (HD, 5:04) – Here you can watch a touching tribute to the legendary Leonard Nimoy and beloved crew member Anton Yelchin. It sucks that they’re both gone.
- Gag Reel (HD, 5:13) – Join in on the fun with this hilarious gag reel of on-set bloopers complete with green screens.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a good time to be had for the families and any long time fan. If I may make one recommendation though, I suggest watching this solely in 2D (granted it is the only option in this Ultra HD Blu-ray set). The fast paced action and post conversion 3D job will leave you with a splitting headache. In my opinion, there was too much onscreen for your eyes to ever adjust to. That’s just my two cents. As not a longtime Trekkie fan, what do I know? Nothing! However, I do know this. Blasphemy from the hardcore fans cast aside, Into Darkness is my favorite of the reboot films thus far followed by the 2009 entry. Take that for what it’s worth. Enjoy the ride and watch out for that crash landing! This one looks and sounds like a million bucks in its Ultra HD 4K presentation so you won’t hear any complaints from me. Despite my nitpicks about the film itself up above Star Trek Beyond is a MUST-OWN on the Ultra HD format.
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