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Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray Review)

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Blu-ray-TNBeing a huge Star Wars fan all my life, who has more times than I care to admit called Star Trek boring, dull and lifeless with the exception of The Next Generation episodes Ashley Judd breathes life and beauty into, I was astonished by how much fun I had with J.J. Abrams fresh take on the franchise back in 2009.  In my opinion, he resuscitated the franchise, actually made it enjoyable even to loyal Star Wars fans and brought much needed life and energy back into it, not to mention some really humorous moments too.  And for that, I appreciated J.J. Abrams even more as a filmmaker and didn’t even bat an eye when this sequel was announced back in 2011.  I was so thrilled and taken aback by the first one, 2009’s Star Trek, that I had actually been genuinely pumped, geeked and uber excited for this next chapter in what I would presume to be a trilogy, Star Trek Into Darkness.  So much in fact that I’ve actually seen this one twice theatrically, with the last one being in the preferred 3D IMAX format.  And quite honestly, I never thought I would ever utter those words that I am excited for anything Star Trek.  It feels like a betrayal to everything Star Wars (my life’s gospel) and that goes against all my rooted values, but sometimes you need to spice life up and stop being a hater, right?  Different is good!  Sometimes.  In this case…most definitely!

Film 

So this time out, J. J. Abrams returns to helm the USS Enterprise once again with a script written by Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.  The cast from the 2009 hit film returns with a few new faces.  John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin comprise the star-studded cast, sadly minus my girl, Rachel Nichols.  And in the grand scheme of things, this is actually the twelfth film in the Star Trek series, but make no mistake, this is a direct sequel to the 2009 flick.  Thanks be to God because the other franchises bore the bejesus out of me.

Unfortunately, although the film was heavily promoted as a theatrical 3D release, it’s only a post-conversion one in reality.  That was very disappointing to me because in my eyes it really only meant money grab.  It failed in comparison to the marvelous 3D presentation of this year’s The Great Gatsby, but quite surprisingly, it’s probably the best post conversion job I had ever seen done yet.      But I digress.  We are here to talk about the Blu-ray, not the theatrical presentation from several months ago.  However, there is a 3D Blu-ray version out there too.  Just keep that knowledge of what I just shared with you tucked in the back of your medulla oblongata when you go the store, alright?  And anyway…I have a sneaky suspicion that you’ll like this one regardless of what kind of presentation you see it in, that is if you like non-stop action and a bikini clad, for no reason at all, hot Alice Eve.  Do I have your attention now?  Good!  Read on by all means, please.

With no colons in the film’s title, Star Trek Into Darkness is set after the events of the former film and we immediately find ourselves amidst the heat of the action as the USS Enterprise and its heroes, namely Kirk (Pine) and Spock (Quinto), attempt to save the inhabitants of Planet Nibiru from a volcanic eruption that threatens to wipe out civilization there.  Picture Raiders of the Lost Ark right here.   We open brilliantly in the middle of a high speed foot chase through what almost looks like an exotic pink forest with a hurried sense of urgency and nostalgia that magically transports me back to 1981, watching Indiana Jones flee from the natives in the jungle after taking the golden tiki statue.  Hopefully you’re picking up what I’m dropping here.  I can’t think of a better way to open up a film than to drop you right in the heart of the moment and let you catch up to it while your adrenaline pumps away.  Bravo J. J.!

However, no matter how heroic the actions of James T. Kirk were in the very beginning of this movie, as usual, he is scolded and eventually reprimanded for his inability to follow the rules no matter how successful he is, time after time.  He’s labeled as arrogant and sadly demoted to First Officer under the TLC care of Christopher Pike (Greenwood), who re-assumes responsibility of the Enterprise.  Simply put, Kirk isn’t ready for the chair yet.  Boo hoo.  I asked myself this three times now during each of my viewings…this again?!  However, without dishing any spoilers, we all know this will change.  And change it does after a short couple of scenes involving a certain family and a mysterious man unravels and results in an Enterprise facility in London being attacked (more like annihilated) and Federation officers being targeted.  It isn’t too long until Kirk and team are sent on a tactical, secret mission to a planet far off that I think, deep down inside, every Trekkie wanted to see played out on the big screen once again.  Come on.  You know you did!

So on the surface, sure Star Trek Into Darkness is a blockbuster, popcorn film.  However, to me it’s much more than that.  It’s a rousing visual and riveting space adventure that grabs ahold of you from the beginning and truly never lets you go.    And of course you have to know it’s so much better enjoying it in the privacy of your own home in 1080p on the Blu-ray format, right?  And sure there’s no reason to see Alice Eve’s character bikini clad, but so what if we do?  Those three seconds of beauty were needed to tell this tell of bravery, camaraderie and leadership that touches all too sharply upon the fragile nature of our world currently, namely the fear we live in of terrorism.  Truly no one’s safe.  And wouldn’t it be grand to know that there’s a Federation out there devoted to peace keeping and procurement of aiding lifeforms to ensure their survival?  I think so.  Make no mistakes ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t your father’s Star Trek…it’s mine…and I love it.

I can’t really talk more in depth about the film’s story without ruining any of the secrets, so I’ll keep a tight lid on it just like Disney did with Iron Man 3’s villainous betrayal to all of man kind who have read comic books.  But I will go on record by saying the following.  All the chemistry and humor the majority of us loved about the first film and its tangible character relationships/developments are here once again.  But the stakes are higher.  They’re bolder.  And more importantly, more mysterious.  What’s really the purpose of this secret mission Kirk is sent on?  Is it really to capture this terrorist or is there a hidden agenda the Federation isn’t letting anybody in on?  I’ll leave you to think about that.  That’s all I can say other than I think fans of the original Star Trek films will be relatively pleased at the revelations and events that unfold here.  Please keep in mind that these new Trek films are a reinterpreting of a legendary past franchise, not a butchering or a mockery of them.  This is a Star Trek universe for a brand new generation.  Keep your grumblings to a minimum and enjoy it for all its marvel and spectacular.  And if you have kids into sci-fi, involve them too.  Build memories.  Foster relationships.  Grow those loving and nurturing bonds.  This is why these movies are made…to bring us all together.  Now how about those A/V specs?  Hungry for more?  Good!  Let’s get cracking!

Video 

Whether you like the film or not is none of my business, but trust me when I say there’s nothing you could have any beef with when we’re discussing the out of this world 1080p presentation Paramount delivers here.  The AVC MPEG-4 2.40:1 framed presentation of Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray is absolutely stunning in every which way.  It’s like a wet reference dream.  From the vibrant colors and hues to the darkest outreaches of space, everything is impeccably flawless here.  The black levels are all deep and inky, flesh tones appear normal, contrast is in check and the colors…wow…do they ever pop three-dimensionally!  Whether we are talking about the different color garments that adorn the crew of the Enterprise or the bright a$$ monkey red leaves in the movie’s opening scene, this is a bonafide money shot in every frame.  And the textures and details…need I even go there?  They are razor sharp and crisp throughout from the beginning of the film’s first frames with the crackles in the paint on the alien race’s faces to the intricate panels that litter the Enterprise’s bridge.  Other than some light 35mm grain, there are no problems visually with any artifacts, excessive noise or blemishes to be found anywhere on this print.  So in other words, you’re in for a real treat here better than any ice cream goodie you could ever imagine.  Be prepared to be dazzled and wowed.  And let’s leave the aspect ratio conversation to the people who lose sleep over it.  I’m glad Abrams shot on film here.  I think you will be glad too!

Audio 

Just when thought it couldn’t get any better than the video section above it does…well equally at least since we can’t go any higher than the scale of 5 doggies that we have previously established here.  It’s almost like the sound never lets you go here as all channels are continuously active throughout in this immersive 7.1 Dolby TrueHD surround mix.  From the subtle to the bold, things are both atmospheric, engaging and terrifically bombastic here.  The bass will rock your world through the many explosions, the blasters bing fired upon you and the wild action sequences that never cease to let up until the film’s final triumphant moments.  You sure this is a Star Trek movie?!  I know one thing that’s for sure.  There’s no doubt your system is going to get a much needed workout from this one.  The score’s rousing, emphatic and moving throughout the movie’s runtime, even in your rear speakers, while equally impressive are the dialogue levels that are all loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  With an exceptional audio and video package such as this, how can you refuse exploring the unknown with this Enterprise crew?  You can’t!  That’s how.  All you need to know is this…give the opening a scene a look-see for yourself.  I think you’ll love what you see…and most importantly hear!

Also selectable from the Blu-ray disc’s main menu are audio tracks available in French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital.  English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are also available too.

Extras 

I’m sure by now, all fans of the Blu-ray format reading this review have probably read or at least heard about Bill Hunt’s rant over here.  Now don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of Bill Hunts.  They guy is a really cool cat that I try to visit every year at Comic-Con.  However, as I stated time and time before, the extras are secondary to me as long as I know I’m getting the finest presentation possible of the feature film.  After all, the movie is what we are all buying the Blu-ray for, isn’t it?  If not, then you have some serious issues to sort out in my opinion.  The one thing I do find extremely odd is the fact that the audio commentary Blu-ray aficionados crave is found only in the iTunes Extras of the Digital Copy.  Can I get a WTF on that brainiac of a marketing decision?  Whatevs, I guess.  And let’s not even get into the alternating aspect ratio conversations either.  So skipping beyond the rants of the collectors here, let’s take a closer look under the microscope at the extras you will find on the standard Blu-ray release of Star Trek Into Darkness and not the exclusive editions of the Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and whatnots of the world.  Deal?

  • Creating the Red Planet (HD, 8:28) – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world (think red leaves and volcanic sets), as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film where the crew talks about abandoning plans of shooting this in Hawaii.  This is a gorgeous sequence, by the way.
  • Attack on Starfleet (HD, 5:25) – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters as we get a closer look at the set design, stunt work and action pieces.
  • The Klingon Home World (HD, 7:30) – Spoiler alert!  There are Klingons in this film!  Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation by exploring the set design, the makeup and even the language.  Very cool!
  • The Enemy of My Enemy (HD, 7:03) – Spoiler alert!  Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.  Obviously they teetered here with how to delicately handle this with long term Trekkies and newcomers alike while paying sensitive homage at the same time.
  • Ship to Ship (HD, 6:03) – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.  Now with a sentence like that, how can you not watch this film or this associated feature too?
  • Brawl by the Bay (HD, 5:44) – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.  And let me go on record by saying I fricking love this scene!   The movie went out on a rousing triumphant note because of it in my opinion.
  • The Mission Continues (HD, 1:29) – All you have here is an advertisement for veteran public works service through The Mission Continues program.
  • DVD Copy (SD) – There’s  a second disc for the back of your minivan which contains the feature film in standard definition.
  • Digital Copy – Here you will find the iTunes HD Digital Copy of the film…HELL YEAH…as well as the J.J. Abraham’s audio commentary we talked about above.  Weird, yes?  But it’s there!  My opinion on this subject matter differs greatly from that of the review I found here today, but I do completely agree.  What a waste to put the audio commentary on the iTunes only flick.  However, I will say this, there are over 10 gigs to download here as both the movie and extras are 5 gigs a piece.  And the digital presentation looked amazing through my Apple TV and new Motorola Surfboard modem I bought yesterday.
  • UltraViolet – I would rather not waste my finger tips on this technology.

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And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the unboxing of the Blu-ray set!!!

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The Blu-ray’s posterific and shiny translucent slip case.

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The back of the slipcase.  The cover art on back of Blu-ray case is the same.

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The protective wrap covering the virgin Blu-ray disc inside!

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Are you out of your Vulcan mind?!  Can you contain yourself any longer?! 

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Inserting the Blu-ray disc for the very first time into my beloved Playstation 3.

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And last but not least, here’s the main menu on the Blu-ray disc.  Eat your heart out, Picard!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed the above Blu-ray unboxing pics of Star Trek Into Darkness.  I truly do cherish the magic of opening a new Blu-ray for the very first time and that addictive aroma of the freshly sealed blue plastic that’s finally able to breathe real air.  I think as a consumer it’s cool to see the product and everything you’re getting before it’s actually in your hands.  Don’t you?   And I’m pretty sure no one else does them out there in the Blu-ray review world.  Boo!

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Final 

In conclusion, all I have to say is this is how you do a summer blockbuster, not that lame a$$ Shane Black Iron Man 3 outing or a train wreck like Man of Steel.   Star Trek Into Darkness is a ferocious and unforgiving frenzy of action, mayhem and most importantly a heaping serving of fun.   This is is how you do a summer blockbuster, and it’s probably one of the best this summer…in my opinion.  So drop everything you are doing right now and click here to pre-order this precious cargo.   It doesn’t matter all that much if you haven’t seen the 2009 film, although the references may be helpful, or even if you are not a Star Trek fan in general, because I’m not.   You’re guaranteed to have a rowdy, hooting good time with this one.   There’s no complex time traveling.   There’s no overly long introductions.   We all know who everyone is or supposed to be in case you didn’t see the 2009 one.  It’s just a pure injection of adrenaline from the start to one hell of a knockout finish of an ending with knockout audio and reference video to boot.  This is how you do it, INDEED!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

11 Responses to “Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    “…he resuscitated the franchise, actually made it enjoyable even to loyal Star Wars fans and brought much needed life and energy back into it…” Well said! Couldn’t agree more! The reboot four years ago was a much-needed jolt of adrenaline to the franchise. Why does Chris Pine look cross-eyed on the box cover?

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    He’s also confused by the special features nonsense.

  3. Brian White

    LOL. Thanks for pointing that out to me Gregg. After looking at cover again it’s all I see. Haha. Perhaps I should make a custom cover for it?

    I’ll agree with you to an extent Aaron. This whole extras thing is crazy! What the H is an audio commentary doing ONLY on an iTunes Digital Copy file. While I will admit that I watched it digitally too before submitting my review here and that it looks pristine, that’s no excuse for doing that. As far as extras varying across different store exclusive sets, the blame I feel does not lie solely on Paramount. All the studios have been doing it. It’s extortion to the innocent collector who can’t help themselves on triple dealing. To them it’s like crack and they are being taken advantage of. I remember how split I was with where to buy Django Unchained. And then Sean Ferguson pointed out to me in his Oz review how Disney screws over their customers. I hate to see the different Iron Man 3 editions (not that I’m buying that one) there will be. But perhaps the biggest complaint which for arguments sake I excluded above is the different aspect ratios Paramount has for Star Trek Into Darkness. I’ll leave it at that.

  4. Brandon Peters

    The 1st 2/3 of the movie was great with a very clumsy but still enjoyable 3rd act.

  5. Brian White

    Really? I LOVED the film’s 3rd Act Action bonanza with the ferocity that overwhelmed Spock. Love it! Love it! Love it!

  6. Gregg

    Also another good line from above: “In conclusion, all I have to say is this is how you do a summer blockbuster, not that lame a$$ Shane Black Iron Man 3 outing or a train wreck like Man of Steel.” Iron Man 3 was terrible, heavily due in my opinion to one very lame, very uninteresting villain. What a terrible follow-up to Avengers. Man of Steel excelled at boring me to death. How many flashbacks can we possibly have? How many times are we going to throw each other through brick walls? Repetitive fight scenes and a lack of getting to the point brought that movie down.

  7. Brian White

    I love you today, Gregg. My sentiments exactly. I look forward to seeing if I react differently to Man of Steel during the Blu-ray review, but I’m not hopeful. The way the origin story was told was sloppy and tried too hard to be Batman Begins, which it’s not. A pure linear narrative with some flashbacks would have won me over. I loved how they made you feel what young Clark felt, but the fashioned in which it was told left something to be desired. Shame on Goyer and Nolan for not spending enough time here. And the Transformer’s like 3rd act…well…can’t do much about that. I want to wipe that stupid grin off Superman’s face at the end. “You are going to have to let me do things my way.” Really Supe? Go home. Oh wait! You can’t! I would have rather spent an entire movie on Krypton. That was bomb bad!!!

    As far as Iron Man 3…yawn…just fell asleep on my keyboard thinking about it.

  8. Gerard Iribe

    Too bad they had to ape Wrath of Kahn. It would have been a much better film if it weren’t a remake.

    I still can’t get conformation that the German Blu-ray has the shifting aspect ratio version of Into Darkness yet. I hear that the iTunes version does, which blows.

    And as far as MOS and IM3 go, Into Darkness is crap. Don’t know where those comparisons came from. Here’s hoping that the next Star Trek flick does something original.

  9. Brian White

    MOS and IM3 were mentioned in my review because like STID they were summer blockbuster films, but unlike STID they were boring as wood grain painted white.

  10. Aaron Neuwirth

    I like where Gerard is coming from 🙂

  11. Brian White

    Mexico?