Studio and Year: Paramount - 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13 Feature running time: 131 minutes Genre: Sci-Fi/Action/Adventure
Disc Format: BD-50 Encoding: AVC/MVC Video Aspect: 2.40:1 Resolution: 1080p/24
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller Directed by: J.J. Abrams Music by: Michael Giancchino Written by: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 10, 2013
"Beyond the darkness, lies greatness"
When a ruthless mastermind (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares a one-man war on the Federation, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the daring crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise set out on their most explosive manhunt of all time. It will take everything in their arsenal to defend Earth and eliminate the destructive and deadly threat that if left unchecked could mean the end of mankind.
The crew of the Enterprise is called back home and discovers an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has targeted the fleet and poses a threat to destroy everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a distant and volatile world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
I don’t think I would necessarily qualify as a tried and true Trekkie since I am not the type to visit conventions and so forth. However I have been watching Star Trek in its various incarnations beginning with the original series since I was little and have been hooked ever since. The original series is nearest and dearest to my heart. Seeing the cast of the original show in their own series of films was rewarding because it gave us a chance to see them in a sort of continuance of their adventures that ended after the TV show went off the air. Harkening back to the original series, I always found it fun but also somewhat necessary to look past its cheap sets and low budget effects. I mean it wasn’t THAT big of a deal but watching today you can’t help but wonder what the creative minds and cast from back then could have done with a budget similar to shows of today. Well we will never know however Paramount and director/producer J.J. Abrams have given us the next best thing.
Star Trek 2009 took us back to the story’s beginning, taking place before the original series, and details the assemblage of the crew that would become the heart of the Enterprise. It successfully captured the essence and theme of the TV series with a contemporary narrative spin that reinvigorated its fun, sense of adventure, and endearing quality through its characters. Star Trek into darkness picks up where the first film left off, bringing back the cast members in reprisal of their roles as the Kirk and his crew faced their first real challenge that comes in the form of a nemesis resurrected from Trek lore whose name is synonymous with death/destruction. I saw it opening weekend and came away feeling slightly disappointed in that I felt that the script came up a bit short in terms of story development especially when compared to the first film. What I liked about it then and found even more entertaining this second time around is the interaction among the characters and the mildly interjected references/spins on elements from past Trek works be it the TV or film series.
This isn’t an action film per se but there are ample thrills and suspense to coincide with the rewarding levels of drama, and levity which feel decidedly old school Star Trek. As with the first film I find the cast especially Zachary Quinto (Spock), Chris Pine (Kirk), and Simon Pegg (Scotty) to be excellent and appreciate the solid chemistry they share as well as their ability to make these iconic characters their own. I enjoy watching Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, and John Cho who each add an enriching element to Chekov, Uhura and Sulu. I like Karl Urban’s “Bones” but still feel like he is playing the character more like Deforest Kelly rather than interjecting more of himself into the role. I am a Bruce Greenwood fan and his take on Christopher Pike makes for some of the film’s best moments. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked as he made a noteworthy contribution to the film as a whole. Alice Eve is a welcomed addition that also adds some eye candy to the cast.
While I can’t say that Star Trek into darkness is as conceptually strong as the first film I still found it to be every bit as entertaining and superbly executed. Like the original it effectively compliments the Star Trek franchise and aptly reinvigorates what makes it special to fans. I can’t help but look forward to the next installment.
The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers: REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Low frequency extension:
Surround Sound presentation:
3D Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Dimension (Beyond the screen):
Star Trek into darkness 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
I have watched a variety of 3D high definition video both animated and live action. Prior to the introduction of Blu-ray 3D I was never a big fan of the medium. Upon hearing of its implementation for high definition I was intrigued and looked forward to experiencing it. To this point it has been a bit of a mixed bag with very few instances of what I guess we can refer to as reference quality (on my scale) 3D presentations. Those that I have found to be ahead of the pack have proven to be thoroughly involving visual experiences that enhance the subject matter for which it was created.
Star Trek into darkness is one of those high definition presentations that looks as good in 3D as it does in 2D. Shot in 2D and converted to 3D in post production detail is well preserved as the video retains its high level of clarity with objects, people and backgrounds within the frame appearing delineated and sharp. I was impressed by quality of the three dimensional imagery. The spacing of objects/ people in the foreground/background is lifelike which imparts a natural sense of scale as things of various shapes and sizes occupy the virtual world onscreen. I wasn’t drawn out of the film by odd looking proportions or hokey 3D for 3D’s sake. In fact I would say that it was just the opposite. The cinematography utilizes near field camera perspectives that enhance proportional correlation. There are a variety of sequences that utilize the 3D platform to reach beyond the borders of the screen and the effects are excellent. The extended fight sequence on Kronos and the attack on Starfleet are good examples. Contrast is spot on, blacks are inky with excellent dynamic range and colors are deeply saturated and beautifully vibrant. Comparing these elements to the 2D presentation I saw no difference. The rendering of detail and clarity is the same and I didn’t observe any overt instances of crosstalk/ghosting. Overall Star Trek into darkness makes for a solid 3D experience that enhanced the enjoyment of the film. Kudos to Pararmount..!
Films like this are tailor made for lossless audio’s higher fidelity and Paramount’s 7.1 Dolby TrueHD surround mix doesn’t disappoint. This reference quality soundtrack bristles with active surround sound, extended dynamic range, and punctuated, room energizing bass that makes for an involving home theater experience. Whether it’s the supple texture of dialogue in the background or the weight of a starship suddenly being thrust from warp speed to a stop the auditory is richly basked in sonic clarity and potent dynamic energy. This is an engaging and purposeful sound design that transforms the room into a three dimensional soundstage that creates an immersive listening experience that encapsulates the sweet spot with sounds/effects that seem to emanate from every direction during the films active moments. Excellent balance between the front and rear soundstages enables seamless transference of sounds that pass between the speakers going in either direction.
Superb imaging and channel separation draw out both large and small sounds and allow their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. Michael Giancchino’s music score drives the story and helps set the stage with its perfect blend of evocative instrumentation and rousing orchestration. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or tonal inflection of voices. Low frequencies are rendered cleanly with tactile richness, appropriate extension and on occasion room shaking potential (referencing the aforementioned sequence when the Enterprise is suddenly pulled out of warp on the way to Kronos) that bass fans are sure to appreciate. This is a sterling lossless audio soundtrack that makes for a perfect companion to either Blu-ray presentation.
2D Video Quality:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Black level/Shadow detail:
Star Trek into darkness comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps.
This is a gorgeous and stunning reference quality video presentation from Paramount. Images onscreen exhibit high level detail, razor sharpness and resolute definition that bring out the lifelike textures captured by the camera. At times dimensional perspective has an infinite appeal that is captivating. Primary colors are deeply saturated and vivid with wide variable textures and eye catching quality that are accentuated by the video’s higher contrast which made them stand out among the remaining spectrum colors used. Whites are on the hot side but maintain definable delineation so that details aren’t lost during brightly lit scenes. Flesh tones are mildly affected by this, especially those with lighter complexions, but overall tonal balance isn’t compromised. There are a variety of dark segments in the film and its ability to clearly render its elements under those conditions is essential to getting the most out of it. Blacks are rich and velvety with excellent dynamic range that enhances depth while shadow detail reveals plenty of subtle delineation low level sequences such as the one that takes place on Kronos.
I never saw any distracting effects from mixing CGI content with real people/objects other than some very minor innate softening which never rose to deleterious levels. Those that found the lens flares used for effect in the original film to be annoying will find more of the same here. Personally I am not bothered by it but it is something worthy mentioning. It is far from problematic and unless you go looking for it you may or may not even notice. Bottom line is that this is a superlative video presentation that appears to faithfully mimic the film’s theatrical elements.
(HD) Creating the red planet – 8 minute featurette
(HD) Attack on Star Fleet – 5 minute featurette
(HD) The Klingon home world – 7 minute featurette
(HD) The enemy of my enemy – 7 minute featurette
(HD) Ship to ship – 6 minute featurette
(HD) Brawl by the bay – 5 minute featurette
(HD) Continuing the mission – 2 minute featurette
The mission continues – 1 minute public service announcement for returning war veterans
Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Star Trek into darkness is an entertaining follow up to 2009’s Star Trek and continues to bring Trek fans the type of sci-fi adventure that made the original TV series/films so entertaining. It bursts onto Blu-ray in this 3D/2D/DVD combo pack featuring superlative high definition audio/video, a complimentary 3D conversion and a noticeably light supplemental package that is comprised of a series of production featurettes that offer a glimpse behind the scenes. This is a must have Blu-ray offering that makes for a great companion to the first film while presenting home theater enthusiasts/fans with top flight demonstration material. Highly recommended.
Here is the trailer:
Ralph Potts AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
Thanks for the great in depth review Ralph! I did not see this in theaters so I'm really excited to see this scores a perfect 100 in both 2D video and audio. I'll give a slight warning also: to my neighbors September 10th at approx 9 pm it won't be a spaceship in the sky it's just me cranking up the TrueHD