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Title: Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :5stars:

HTS Overall Score:90

To pair off with “Star Trek 2009” getting a 4K upgrade, “Into Darkness” is also released day and date with that title to make Paramount the proud parent of two genetically superior 4K releases (sorry, I had to do it). “Into Darkness” has also been released several times, with this edition making it the third time the film has been put out onto home video. The first time the movie was out on Blu-ray we had a bit of a frustrating experience. The film’s extras cut up and put out onto multiple different store exclusives, making fans VERY upset at having to track down every store release to get all the extras, or forgo them. Thankfully that faux pa was remedied with the compendium edition (which also included the shifting ratios IMAX scenes) and those same two Blu-rays are in the 4K set AS WELL as the 4K disc housing that same shifting aspect ratio. As usual, the bolded text below is my original thoughts on the film when it was first released, and those thoughts haven’t changed in the last 3 years.

Let me start off by saying that I’m a trekkie to the core. I’ve watched every film and every iteration of the TV show and I LOOOOOOVED the 2009 reboot/remake/sequel/whatever it was. The Trek universe had been stale for years and was losing its hold on the cinematic universe. The Next Generation crew was getting too old (anyone remember “Nemesis” where Brent Spiner had to wear higher collared shirts and use trick photography to hide that Data was getting a BIT chubbier?), and the “Enterprise” show bombed badly enough that no one wanted to see them onscreen anymore. That left them the option to reboot the universe and take it in a totally different direction. Normally, reboots and “new directions” tend to be rather divisive and uninspiring, but this time it ACTUALLY WORKED! Abrahms took the classic Trek universe and set it up on its end, giving us something completely new and fresh, with old characters that had new twists. With the alternate reality going on, they weren’t treading on the toes of the old characters we love so much due to the fact that they’re existing in a different world simultaneously, just with different factors shaping their destinies. Abrahms gave us something that was old and made it fresh and appealing once more. What really made it work was that he didn’t try to re-hash everything that happened in the previous universe, but gave us new villains and new problems to deal with.

Now along comes the sequel, 4 years in the making. Now, I was a bit cautious going into “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. I like the cast, I like the director, but there was the addition of two writers that REALLY had me nervous, Bob Orci and Damon Lindelof. Bob Orci is a 911 truther, conspiracy theorist so I already guessed that we were going to have a “big bad over reaching government plot”, but I wouldn’t mind if it was handled well, but Damon Lindelof is KNOWN for his ability to come up with great ideas, but leave plot holes big enough to fly the enterprise through. Couple that with the fact that J.J. and crew spent years telling us “no don’t worry, the villain won’t be Khan” and then the first trailers have the new villain, John Harrison, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, holding a ship's CANNON in one arm and maniacally trying to take Kirk out (how many genetic superhumans ARE there in the Trek universe who have a vendetta against Kirk?).

However, for the first half of the movie I was pleasantly surprised. We have all the old Trek friends that we know and love back again. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zach Quinto) try and save a tribal culture’s planet from wiping them out with a volcano and end up violating the Prime Directive. Being that Kirk is never exactly known for following orders, Starfleet takes away the Enterprise and gives it back to Admiral Pike. Realizing the potential for greatness in him, Pike arranges for Kirk to still remain first officer on the Enterprise in hopes that he can learn from this mistake and rise back through the ranks again. At the same time, a data storage facility at Starfleet headquarters is destroyed by a Starfleet officer turned terrorist by the name of John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). This brings about a Starfleet leadership meeting that draws all the major players together in order to find him. Horrifyingly enough, this draws all the leadership together in ONE spot, where Harrison can use to his advantage. In one fell swoop, Harrison kills half of the Starfleet command and beams away to Kronos using the transwarp beaming tech that Spock Prime brought with him from the future in the previous film.

Enraged, Kirk begs Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to give him the Enterprise back and take a strike force to hunt down Harrison and bring him back. Admiral Marcus agrees, but on one condition. They take 72 tactical experimental long range photon torpedoes and they finish him once and for all. Still in a bloodlust, Kirk agrees, and they slip off to Kronos. Only problem is that their warp core fails just outside Klingon space and Kirk has to start improvising. On their mission to Kronos, they find out that John Harrison is not the man they thought he was (*gasp) and there is an even bigger threat on the horizon. On one hand, Kirk has a maniac, capable of destroying hundreds of lives, and on the other he’s faced with his own side, both out to get him and both capable of destroying him 10x over.


Now, as I said, the first half of the movie was a Lot of fun. The unique twist on Pike’s demise and the take on John Harrison was intriguing. The flow felt very similar to the first movie and I was really enjoying it. Kirk still hasn’t learned very much from the first film, and was a bit too cocky for my tastes, but he’s still got that flair and panache that made him so likeable from the first film. The second half of the film, from pretty much the moment that Khan…err Harrison (everyone saw that coming a mile away) stepped on board it went from good, to bad, to worse. After Harrison gets on board, it’s like the creative writing team just lost all sense of creativity and started remaking “Wrath of Khan” and “Space Seed” from the Original Series all at once. I don’t mind homages, and re-doing characters, but his went beyond “homage” to just plain lazy writing. It was as if they said “uhhhhhhhhh, not sure what to do here, the fans like Khan, so let’s just give them Khan, and have him do everything he did in the first version, and hey, let’s just remake WHOLE SCENES almost frame for frame!”. The famed “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!” scene was meant to elicit an emotional response, as it did in “Wrath of Khan”, but instead actually made the theater folks start laughing and giggling when it happened on the big screen.

It felt like there was a LOT left on the cutting room floor as well. They mention that Khan is despotic, power mad and violent, yet only show a HINT of how violent he is and leave out the other factors. It’s as if they WANTED to give us the Khan from the original universe, but only had time to kind of roughly introduce him. To his credit, Benedict Cumberbatch did a FANTASTIC job as Khan. It’s not the same, Shakespeare quoting Khan from the original, all suave and charismatic. Instead Benedict plays a much colder character, with a huge penchant for savagery as well as superior intelligence. With Ice water flowing through his veins, Khan is chilling and a force to be reckoned with. His cunning is the only thing that can match his savagery and is a force to be reckoned with. My only problem was the fact that he was such a sympathetic villain. His main goal is to get his family back. Marcus woke him out of sleep, kept the rest of his crew and compatriots captive as leverage and we’re supposed to somehow view Khan as a villain when he’s described as “evil” and “despotic”. It feels as if they were trying too hard to have too many congruent plots, the big bad evil Starfleet, and the big bad evil fan villain and never the twain shall meet type scenario. Now don’t get me wrong, the movie wasn’t some horrible bomb. It was quite entertaining for the first half, and even the second half still had some great scenes in it (just amidst massive plot holes), but it was wildly uneven and flawed.


Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence

Video :5stars:
“Star Trek: Into Darkness” has also been given a top notch upgrade over the original releases in terms of picture quality. The original Blu-ray was no slouch, but the Compendium edition made the distinct change of including in the IMAX framed scenes during the film, which alone had a solid upgrade in visual quality, as those IMAX camera shots looked INCREDIBLE. Now this edition comes with the same version as the compendium edition on Both the Blu-ray discs as well as the 4K transfer. That 4K transfer sports the same wonderful textures and clarity that “Star Trek 2009” did, and the lusciously deep black and beautifully saturated Ipad style bridge scenes look absolutely breathtaking. Skin tones look that much more natural and fine detail is staggering. Honestly I’m sure we’re going to see better transfers as time goes on, but Paramount definitely took two of their best looking (and most popular) films and put their best foot forward with their first two 4K releases.

Audio :4.5stars:
Now did anyone really think that biggest blockbuster of the year for Paramount was going to have some anemic audio track? Their 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track is a pure auditory bliss, enveloping and truly MONSTEROUS, it blasts onto the scene with a track that starts kicking tail and taking names. LFE is truly incredible in this film, as with the previous film. Space ships jumping to warp and phaser blasts just tear the walls down at any given moment. There’s a scene where the Enterprise has to do an emergency drop from warp into regular space that literally had my chest feel like it was caving in! Dialogue is clean and clear, no need to raise and lower the effects on this one. The panning of dialogue and special effects across the front soundstage was purely magical. The lack of an Atmos encode on the original Blu-ray was a crime as it was originally recorded that way for the theater, but thankfully that has been rectified on this release. the Overheads give some incredible directionality, especially in the opening scene with Kirk and Bones escaping from the planet, and the subsequent scene with Spock going into the volcano. Music is natural and flows freely across all the channels, bringing with it a magical sense of immersion that is breathtaking. The one REALLY nice upgrade in this remix is the fact that the 30hz filter seems to have been lifted. I don't think the film goes as low as others in the same genre, but that 30hz filter was blatantly obvious in the first release and seems to no longer be there. I will say that some of the baked in clipping present in the first mix is still there, especially when the Enterprise drops out of warp on their way to the Klingon home world.

Extras :5stars:

Disc 1 Features [2]
• Enhanced Commentary (full 146 minute feature commentary)
- An Island Adventure: With Visual Effects Supervisor/Second Unit Director Roger Guyett and Co-Producer/Unit Production Manager Tommy Harper.
- Mystery Visitor in London
- Tragedy & The Mission: With Editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.
- The Kronos Battle: With Director of Photography Dan Mindel and 2nd Unit Director of Photography Bruce McCleery.
- Enemy in the Brig:
- Ship to Ship:
- Fall of the Enterprise:
-San Francisco Finale:
-The Captain's Oath:
• The Mission Continues (the same extra feature from the original edition)

Disc 2 - Into Darkness features
• Featurette: The Voyage Begins...Again
• Featurette: Creating the Red Planet
• Featurette: Introducing the Villain
• Featurette: Rebuilding the Enterprise
• Featurette: National Ignition Facility Home of the Core (HD, 4:32):
• Featurette: Attack on Starfleet
• Featurette: Aliens Encountered
• Featurette: The Klingon Home World
• Featurette: The Enemy of My Enemy
• Featurette: Vengeance is Coming
• Featurette: Ship to Ship
• Featurette: Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock
• Featurette: Down with the Ship
• Featurette: Kirk and Spock
• Featurette: Brawl By the Bay
• Featurette: Fitting the Future
• Featurette: Property of Starfleet
• Featurette: Unlocking the Cut
• Featurette: Visual Affection
• Featurette: The Sound of Music
• Featurette: Safety First
• Featurette: Continuing the Mission
• Featurette: Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes - Nibiru Captain's Log, Marcus' Office (Alternate Version), Room Attack (Alternate Version), Carol's Accent, Klingon Conversation (Alternate Version), Scotty Cargo Bay Door, and Kirk Meets Girl.
• Theatrical Trailers

Overall: :4.5stars:

While it’s disappointing to be let down this much from a sequel that COULD have been brilliant, the film is still a good piece of eye candy and has a lot of great sci-fi moments to it. It’s nowhere rage inducing as “Prometheus,” and can be viewed as a fun piece of sci-fi if you’ve never seen “the Wrath of Khan” or “Space Seed” from the original series. Its problems tend to be a result of trying TOO hard to please the fan base and missing the mark completely rather than not trying hard enough. With fantastic audio and visuals, it’s certainly a demo disc for sure, especially with the new 4K transfer and Atmos audio. Once again, if you don't have the equipment for 4K or Atmos than it may not be as worth an upgrade UNLESS you haven't picked up the Compendium release, in which this version has the best version of the Blu-ray included as well as ALL the extras that were missing from the first standalone release.

Additional Information:

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller
Directed by: J.J. Abrahms
Written by: Bob Orci, Damon Lindelof
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 132 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 14th, 2016

Buy Star Trek: Into Darkness On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Watch It

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