Star Trek: 3-Disc Digital Copy Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (13th December 2009).
The Film

For years the debate has grown heated, what was better? "Star Wars" or "Star Trek", well being a "Star Wars" fan, I'll have to give it to the "Trekkies" (or "Trekkers" as they're called now) on this one, finally they have a film worth praising and rubbing in the face of all "Star Wars" fans... My perception of "Star Trek" for years was that it was old men in space, boring, too technically minded and taking away from the characters (at least "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994) was, the original movies were ok at best and I could never take the original television series seriously). But the filmmakers who rebooted this flailing franchise created a fun and exciting "Star Trek", this is everything that the previous incarnation weren't. The marketing team and Paramount also sold this film incredibly well, touting it as "not your father's Star Trek" tapping into the current youth market. And it all worked, J.J. Abrams fresh new look (that also pays homage to the classic "Trek" aesthetics), spot-on casting, incredibly adept and well structured story and visual effects that's put most other sci-fi films to shame all combined to be the summer's first mega-hit.

"Star Trek" plays out like an origin film, here we meet all the major players that fans have known and loved for generations. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a roughneck with no direction before Pike (Bruce Greenwood) gives him direction to join Star Fleet and be a better Captain than his father. Kirk encounters who would later become his crew during his tenure at the Academy, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Medical Officer Bones (Karl Urban), Communications Officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg) as well as Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). While at the Academy the recruits face an incredible Romulan evil in Nero (Eric Bana), who plans to unravel his plot for revenge that draws Kirk and Spock into an epic battle that spans time and space.

From the first announcement to the glimpses of footage from the trailer and into release, the casting was always going to be a point of contention. Who would play these now iconic characters? Who can possibly separate William Shatner from James T. Kirk, or Leonard Nemoy from Spock, or any of the other crew members from the actors that portrayed them? J.J. Abrams' vision was a fresh start, a reboot, this meant casting a young crew to fill these galaxy-sized boots. Fan favorite Zachary Quinto was among the first to be cast, but nobody really knew Chris Pine (maybe outside of playing one of three crazy brothers in "Smokin' Aces" (2006)), he certainly looked good in the uniform, but aside from that we didn't know what to expect? The rest of the cast shortly filled in with Eric Bana announced as the villain, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana and even Winona Ryder was thrown into the mix among others (I was beginning to wonder what ever happened to her).

Both Pine and Quinto do a remarkable job here, against most odds (rabid fans are the most critical) but I think we can all agree that Pine made the character of Kirk his own. Pine delivers a headstrong and solid performance as our leading man, he's not the Kirk we've been accustomed to, but then again neither is the tone, look and overall style of this "Star Trek." While Quinto's performance was hugely influenced by that of Nemoy's he was a perfect embodiment of Spock without resorting to an all-out impersonation, right down to his mannerisms and "logical" motivations, anything that strays too far off from that would not have worked. These two play off each other creating a hostile relationship and is the central character focus of the film. As we see Kirk progress through Starfleet, he meets what will eventually become his crew.

I was also pleased with Karl Urban's portrayal of Bones, throwing in classic lines "Dammit, man! I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" he pays tribute to DeForest Kelley in the role and shares some funny scenes with Kirk as we see their relationship develop. Simon Pegg provides some additional moments of cheesy hilarity, and Zoe Saldana brings some sexiness to the crew and Eric Bana looks like he's having so much fun playing the bad guy. Fans are rewarded with some references to the series and previous films, both from the characters and also in the film's production design and sound effects, these fun touches are what that brings fans into this new reboot effortlessly.

What separates this film from previous entries from the "Trek" franchise is the action, the space battles are much more intense, fast and hard-hitting, a change from the chess-like speed of the older films. The level of action and special effects set-pieces brings this film into a new and bold direction that never seems boring or uninteresting. Keeping with the "Trek" traditions the action scenes are motivated by strategy and not just brainless action for the sake of it (a stark contrast to the summer's other big hit "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009) also written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman). The effects are eye candy quality from the start, the Enterprise is a magnificent ship and her design for this film also pays tribute to the classic design while bringing a freshness and modernity to it. The interiors are much more futuristic looking, with a clean white color palate, matching the aesthetic is Daniel Mindel's light-soaked visuals, the effect is almost dreamlike. On the flip-side of the coin is the Romulan ship which Nero captains, a nightmare vision, perfectly suited for the protagonist, it evokes terror and pain.

"Star Trek" not only features a great cast delivering impressive performances, excellent effects and design but the film's plot progresses at a natural pace, the story is involving, providing backgrounds on our key players with a time-travelling revenge plot that immerses viewers and even allows for a cool cameo from Leonard Nemoy (it's a shame they couldn't also get William Shatner too). This film has everything going for it and offers up plenty for fans to smile about, but also easily shepherds new viewers into its world. The "Star Trek" series has a new fan in this reviewer as it's easily one of the best films of the year.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer comes to Blu-ray in 1080p 24/fps and mastered using AVC MPEG-4 compression codec. There's only one word for this transfer... wow! This is about as clean, sharp and beautifully detailed as you're going to get. While J.J. Abrams and director of photography Daniel Mindel certainly like to play around with focus and how light manipulates the look by using anamorphic lenses, we get a sort-of dreamlike effect for the bridge scenes on the Enterprise, this can come across as soft at times but it's entirely intentional. The rest of the image displays brilliantly natural colors that are both vivid and bold with deep blacks and solid skin tones. The detail is breathtaking right down to the finer details on the Starfleet uniforms and offering a broad and expansive frame also brings viewers into the epic scope of the space battles and allows us to fully appreciate the production design. The image is crisp and clean from any flaws. This gets my vote for one of the best looking Blu-rays of the year.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its TrueHD track, while I'd have preferred a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, this TrueHD also does the trick quite well offering an expansive range and depth. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, the track's range from quieter more subtle moments to the aggressive nature of the space battles and fight scenes. The track is laced with a plethora of surround activity, from the identifiable sounds of "Trek" including the phasers, the space explosions and score all work in tandem to provide an immersive and powerful experience. The audio feels natural considering almost everything about this film's environments are artificial, but viewers feel like their on the bridge of the Enterprise, or in Engineering, on Nero's ship or on the many locations and planets we find ourselves on. The aggressive and active surround mix is exactly what you'd expect from an epic action-packed sci-fi saga, this trueHD track delivers in spades.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Extras

Paramount has packed this 3-disc set with a ton of worthwhile and innovative interactive features, included is an audio commentary, BD-Live features, many featurettes, and several documentaries, deleted scenes, an interactive tour, a gag reel, theatrical trailers, a digital copy of the film and some video game promos and weblinks. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.

DISC ONE:

First up is a feature-length scene-specific audio commentary by the film's director J.J. Abrams, executive producer Bryan Burk, screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and producer Damon Lindelof. From the start it's evident that these participants are geeks at heart and got to work on something that's close to their hearts. Abrams jumps straight in commenting on the music used to open the film, and how the film was originally scripted to opened and why the changes were made. The scriptwriters comment on the development of the script, the challenges they faced and on creating a fresh new start for the series. They comment on just about every aspect of the production and also joke around a bit keeping this track light and interesting. The engaging participants talk about adding weight to "silent space", creating the world these characters inhabit and also talk about the cast. Abrams talks about the complexity of shooting a film on this scale which incorporates a lot of CG effects, he also provides insight into his directing style and maintaining an energy and intensity on set as well as shares some stories from the production process. Lindelof talks about the importance of connecting audiences to the story and if this reboot were to be successful they needed to attract new audiences and also female audiences. I've seen this film five times now, and on my fifth viewing was with this commentary, it's a great track to listen to, fans will get a lot out of it and it never felt like a chore.

The disc also features "NASA News" a BD-live feature accessible with profile 2.0 only players, this feature is a cool addition to this disc, and viewers can basically log on and check out real NASA updates and information regarding space exploration and missions. For space buffs this is worth looking at.

The disc rounds off with a collection of start-up bonus trailers included for:

- "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" which runs for 2 minutes 39 seconds.
- "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" which runs for 2 minutes 19 seconds.
- "Fringe" spot which runs for 1 minute 4 seconds.
- "Star Trek: D.A.C" video game spot which runs for 50 seconds.

DISC TWO:

Hold onto your captain's chair, disc two is where it gets even more interesting with a collection of supplements that'll keep you busy for hours.

First up is "To Boldly Go" featurette that can be viewed with 4 optional branching pods and runs for 16 minutes 41 seconds, this is more than your average EPK clip that covers the basics of the production, it delves into the challenge of rebooting the franchise, the collaborative effort that made this film possible, on how to re-introduce the character and open this franchise up to new audiences as well as embracing the established fan base and doing so without feeling like it's pandering to the audience and offers up some insightful interviews with cast and crew and some behind-the-scenes footage that brings fans into the process of making the film. The branching sequences can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore them separately, they include:

- "The Shatner Conundrum" which runs for 1 minute 58 seconds. This branching clip looks at the meeting with both Shatner and Nemoy and on how the producers tried to get Shatner in the film, working within the "Trek" cannon and the challenges this posed in trying to get the original Kirk back.
- "Red Shirt Guy" runs for 43 seconds and takes a look at the tradition of the red shirt character dying.
- "The Green Girl" runs for 3 minutes 25 seconds and is a look at the make-up process that Rachel Nichols underwent to transform into her character and on shooting the scene with Kirk in bed.
- "Trekker Alert!" runs for 2 minute 22 seconds, real life "Trek" fans are interviewed as they appear as extras in the film.

Next up is the "Casting" documentary runs for 28 minutes 53 seconds. One of the most integral aspects of relaunching this series was to get the right cast. The filmmakers pose the questions on how to cast these iconic characters, creating the personas and on how much of the cast loves this franchise. Each main actor is explored in-depth as they comment on the roles, being involved in "Star Trek" and what they brought to the roles.

Next up is "A New Vision" featurette that can be viewed with an optional branching pod, the runtime of this clip is 19 minutes 31 seconds, this clip takes a look at the direction Abrams has taken this reboot, the vision for the film and on the director's collaboration. There's a fair bit of back patting informing us on how awesome Abrams is, that gets a bit tedious but we get a neat insight into the director's process and how much fun it was making this film, the filmmakers talk about how to make the spectacle seem real, doing as much of the effects in-camera, scouting locations and not limiting the production to shooting on stages, shooting in anamorphic widescreen which gives the film an expansive and epic feel, using miniatures and matte shots (old school Hollywood techniques) as well as other visual effects tricks among other things. The branching sequence can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore it separately:

- "Savage Pressure" which runs for 3 minutes 8 seconds and takes a look at the integral job of the first assistant director and on coining the term "savage pressure" to describe the shooting pressures.

"Starships" is a documentary that includes 7 optional branching pods, the clip runs for 24 minutes 33 seconds. This is one of favorite features on the disc and takes an in-depth and fascinating look at the design and creation of the starships featured in this film. On how it needed to look consistent to the series, on paying tribute to the original series while taking the design to the next level, creating a "futuristic retro-feel," as we get a look at the key ships from interiors to exteriors this includes the U.S.S. Kelvin, U.S.S. Enterprise, and The Narada which is Nero's Romulan ship. The branching sequences can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore them separately, they include:

- "Warp Explained" runs for 1 minute 22 seconds, the title is pretty self-explanitory, and offers an explanation for those not in the know.
- "Paint Job" runs for 1 minute 14 seconds, here we get a look at the color scheme of the Enterprise and showing it off on camera.
- "Bridge Construction Accelerated" runs for 1 minute 18 seconds, takes a quick look at the complex construction of this set, it's accompanied by music from the film.
- "The Captain's Chair" runs for 45 seconds, we get a look at how cool the Captain's chair and a closer look at it's design.
- "Button Acting 101" runs for 1 minute 44 seconds, the actor's talk about working on their stations on the Bridge.
- "Narada Construction Accelerated" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, a quick look at one of the other complicated set builds, also accompanied by music from the film.
- "Shuttle Shuffle" runs for 1 minutes 46 seconds, the art director takes us on the Starfleet Academy deck which houses the shuttles as we get a closer look at these set pieces.

The "Aliens" featurettefollows and is accompanied with 5 optional branching pods, the clip runs for 16 minutes 30 seconds. This takes a look at creating unique aliens that have never been seen before and the various challenges that posed. The design of the aliens and the actors that can help bring them to life using prosthetics. It also look at the creation of the Vulcans' ears, especially's those of Spock, the challenge of creating the look of the Romulans, as well as the CG created aliens. The branching sequences can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore them separately, they include:

- "The Alien Paradox" runs for 1 minute 40 seconds, a look at creating the movement for the aliens with the use of a movement specialist.
- "Big-Eyed Girl runs for 1 minute 25 seconds, is a closer look at creating facial distortions.
- "Big Bro Quinto" runs for 1 minute 26 seconds, Quinto comments on the casting of his older brother as one of the Romulans.
- "Klingons" runs for 1 minute 57 seconds, a look at a deleted sequence involving the Klingons.
- "Drakoulias Anatomy 101" runs for 1 minute 35 seconds, is a look at the anatomy and design of the ice creature that attacks Kirk.

Next up is "Planets" a featurette with 2 optional branching pods, this clip runs for 16 minutes 10 seconds. Here we get a look at the key planets featured in this film,their look and the locations in which they were shot and the unique obstacles they faced at these locations as well as the digital effects that helped expand the planets' locations. We primarily get a look at Vulcan, Delta Vega and Earth. The branching sequences can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore them separately, they include:

- "Extra Business" runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds, this clip takes a look at the extras and the crew that are in charge of the background people and how important they are in creating a believable world.
- "Confidentiality" runs for 2 minutes 45 seconds, takes a look at the lengths the production went to keep aspects of this film secret.

"Props and Costumes" is a featurette with an optional branching pod, the clip runs for 9 minutes 22 seconds. This is a other very cool clip that focuses on the design of the props, the research they did and the tour of the prop department that looks at the weapons, communicators, earpieces, etc. The clip also looks at the uniforms and alien costumes that were created for the cast and the influence the original series had on this film.

The branching sequence can be viewed as part of the feature or you can explore it separately, it includes:

- "Klingon Wardrobe" which runs for 1 minute 8 seconds, the Klingons were cut from the final version of this film, but in this clip we get a closer look at the design of their evil looking costumes.

Next up we've got "Ben Burtt and the Sound of Star Trek" featurette runs for 11 minutes 45 seconds. The man who created the aural ambience and futuristic sounds of the "Star Wars" series (1977-2005) is brought in to create the sounds of "Star Trek," Burtt brings years of experience and creativity to the film, as we get a look at the research process and a look at the creation of these unique sounds.

The "Score" featurette runs for 6 minutes 28 seconds. Abrams favorite and regular musical collaborator Michael Giacchino discusses his approach to creating the music for this film, we get a sense for his working style and creating motifs and cues that fit the film.

The final featurette is entitled "Gene Roddenberry's Vision" runs for 8 minutes 47 seconds. This clip is a tribute to the man that created this show and characters. It covers his early career and the 1960's which helped define the themes of "Star Trek" especially JFK's speech to land on the moon. It looks at Roddenberry's positive vision of the future, the impact of the original series, the imaginative nature of science fiction as a storytelling tool among other things.

The disc also features 9 deleted scenes that can be viewed with optional audio commentary by director J.J. Abrams, executive producer Bryan Burk, screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, and producer Damon Lindelof. They comment on the scenes and why they were omitted from the final version of the film, these scenes can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option and include:

- "Spock Birth" runs for 1 minute 52 seconds, Spock is born, the Vulcan midwives can't understand why the mother cries. Sarek offers the name Spock for the child.
- "Klingons Take Over Narada" runs for 46 seconds, the Klingons attempt to overrun the ship.
- "Young Kirk, Johnny and Uncle Frank" runs for 1 minute 36 seconds, a young Kirk on the Iowa farm as his older brother tries to leave as Jim pleads for him to stay.
- "Amanda and Sarek Argue After Spock Fights" runs for 38 seconds, Spock's parents argue over their son's actions.
- "Prison Interrogation and Breakout" runs for 3 minutes 8 seconds, this scene is of Nero on a Klingon prison colony, we discover he's been imprisoned for 20 years, and his subsequent breakout after an interrogation.
- "Sarek Gets Amanda" runs for 22 seconds, Sarek pleads her to leave as Vulcan is being destroyed.
- "Dorm Room and Kobayashi Maru" (Original Version) runs for 3 minutes 59 seconds, this is an alternate/extended version of these scenes.
- "Kirk Apologizes to the Green Girl" runs for 54 seconds, Jim encounters Gaila in the halls and apologizes for using her to cheat on the test, but realizes that it's not Gaila that he's talking to but another green girl.
- "Sarek Sees Spock" runs for 12 seconds, Sarek sees Spock Prime briefly.

"Starfleet Vessel Simulator" is an interactive tour of the Enterprise and the Narada Vessels. This is a cool 3D model of each ship which you can explore, some trivia on the workings of the ship also pop-up as you view the models.

The disc features an occasionally funny, but mostly generic gag reel that features the cast flubbing lines, missing cues and having fun on set, this clip runs for 6 minutes 22 seconds.

There are a collection of trailers that feature:

- Teaser trailer which runs for 1 minute 18 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer "The Wait Is Over" which runs for 2 minutes 9 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer "Prepare for the Beginning" which runs for 2 minutes 12 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer "Buckle Up" which runs for 58 seconds.

The disc also includes disc credits which list the people involved in creating this home video package and is made up of 5 text pages.

DISC THREE

This disc includes a digital copy of the film for use on portable media devices.

Pop this disc into your XBOX 360 and you can plat a demo of the "Star Trek: D.A.C." video game. There are also weblinks for the "Star Trek D.A.C." free trial game for PC as well as for PlayStation network.

Packaging

This 3-disc set is packaged in a Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

"Star Trek" was such a surprise and one of the best films of the year, the cast are all great, the story is engaging, the effects and action are a thrill plus Paramount has loaded this release with tons of extras. Exploring these extras brought me back to the early days of DVD when producers where discovering the content possibility of the format, this is truly an exceptional film and an exceptional Blu-ray release.

This disc can be purchased at HD Movie Source. Your HD movie specialists.

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The Film: A+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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