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Star Trek Into Darkness(2013)
Sequel to the 2009 Academy Award-winning spin-off of the classic 1960s sci-fi adventure series. Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are called back to Earth after a devastating force from within their organisation leaves the planet in chaos and Starfleet in pieces. Determined to settle the score, Kirk embarks on a manhunt with the rest of his crew including Spock, Scotty and Chekov to find the party responsible before their whole world is laid to waste.
For more about Star Trek Into Darkness and the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray release, see Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho
Director: J.J. Abrams
» See full cast & crew
Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray Review
Hunt down this disc 'round the moons of Nibia, and 'round the Antares Maelstrom, and 'round Perdition's flames before giving up on it.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 28, 2013
Your path is yours to walk, and yours alone.
They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That's the best way to introduce Star Trek Into Darkness, a film that absolutely gets everything right and brilliantly re-imagines classic Star Trek lore with pinpoint, precise, and exhilarating modern style filmmaking but also with reverence for and adherence to classic Star Trek events and themes, bending but not breaking only a couple of key pieces. Director J.J. Abrams and Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Into Darkness newcomer Damon Lindelof have succeed beyond expectations in two key areas of need, both improving upon their own Star Trek reboot film and rediscovering the magic of the franchise's most memorable villain and, while not exactly improving on him, recreating him on the outside while maintaining the chilling inner drive of hate, spite, intelligence, and power that made Khan so unforgettable an adversary. Star Trek Into Darkness blends together key ingredients from the original series episode that introduced Khan with ideas and elements from the feature film that made him a household name. Combined with a slew of newly re-imagined drama, action, visuals, and character dynamics, the film plays with an air of familiarity but at the same time a fresh appearance. Yet the one constant is the film's -- and the new reboot series' -- dedication to maintaining Star Trek as it was and should be, not content to merely give it a facelift or a fresh start but positing the ultimate in "what if" alternate scenarios in a universe where anything can happen but where, indeed, things tend to play out similarly no matter how much they may seem to change along the way towards destiny.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is reprimanded and removed from command of the Starship Enterprise following negligent actions on the planet Nibiru that broke a dozen Starfleet rules and regulations. His advocate and longtime friend, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood), is to replace him as Enterprise Captain. Kirk is to remain on the ship as Pike's first officer, meaning a reassignment for Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) to another vessel. Circumstances change when a terrorist attack destroys a Federation archive and decimates Federation command. Ultimately, Kirk regains command of the Enterprise and is ordered to hunt down, with extreme prejudice, the individual responsible for the attack, a man named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). The Enterprise, under orders from Starfleet Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller), is outfitted with an arsenal of advanced torpedoes to help carry out the mission. The crew travels deep into enemy territory but, along the way, unravels the truth behind the attack, the attacker, and the greater purpose both serve, all of which lead Kirk and crew into a dangerous and seemingly no-win scenario against two unstoppable forces.
Star Trek Into Darkness takes some time to really get rolling. It's a bit slow out of the gate, not in terms of kinetic action or excitement but in building the narrative, its characters, and the wider universe necessary to satisfy the story requirements and, ultimately, explode into a final hour of unforgettable action made with fresh ideas and from memories resurfaced and re-imagined, sourced from previous Khan-centric Trek but recreated with both a novelty and respect that should please fans of all types. Abrams manages to capture the same enthusiasm and excitement of his last Star Trek film, here multiplied a bit, even, and without the benefit of that film's unseen freshness but with the familiar universe flair that helped make 2009's Star Trek such a monumental success. Even in foregoing a fully original story in favor of a blend between newly imagined and newly re-imagined, Into Darkness makes for an incredible ride with deep emotional pull by the end, punctuated by intensive action and immersive character drama. After the pieces fall into place within the first hour -- both those that fans of classic Trek will immediately recognize alongside the picture's well-balanced barrage of new ideas and scenarios -- the film suddenly shifts and delivers hard and fast action that will please the most demanding new viewer while satisfying, even dazzling, audiences holding onto what Star Trek was and, thanks to Abrams' vision, still is. The mixture of new and old -- of major scenes recreated, of subtleties incorporated, of daring new visions of a new frontier, of little nods to Trek lore referenced throughout (including a hint at something first introduced in Deep Space Nine) -- is truly spectacular, brought together with a love and appreciation for the history of Star Trek but here envisioned with a modern style that makes it feel new, no matter how much of it is or is not, in fact, truly "new."
The total meshing of new and old is exemplified in Khan. While there are events, scenarios, lines, dramatic occurrences, and actions that recall "Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it's the villain's presence that embodies what the film does so well. Certainly fans will debate the character's appearance, losing his traditional ethnic heritage in favor of a more streamlined and polished, even "unremarkable" figure. Neither is this Khan so devilishly charming as Ricardo Montalbán's take on the character in both the late 1960s and the early 1980s. Bringing him back and making several changes is a high risk/high reward proposition, not only in altering the physical heritage but even trying to reincorporate what is the franchise's most prominent villain crafted both by superb writing and the finest performance in the entirety of Star Trek, with apologies to the likes of Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Avery Brooks, Jeffrey Combs, Andrew Robinson, and Marc Alaimo. Benedict Cumberbatch is no Ricardo Montalbán, for better or for worse, but then again he doesn't have to be. The beautiful thing about the way Abrams and his writers have re-envisioned this Star Trek universe is the liberty they now have to play with ideas, to mold them differently but keep them fundamentally the same. Whether they've gone a little too far with Khan is up for debate, but the end result is deeply satisfying even if it strays from Trek lore just a little bit further than any other element so far seen in the series. Cumberbatch absolutely commands the screen and dominates even the primary cast with his presence, much the same as Montalbán did in Star Trek II. He's self-assured and here, while not so much physically imposing or darkly terrifying beyond his exterior, not so reliant (pun most certainly intended) on his crew but almost entirely on himself. Again, it's that mantra of things changing but staying the same that helps the character and the movie the most. Into Darkness tries, and succeeds, at being Star Trek at its core and regardless of what the outside looks like, folding in pieces of Roddenberry's, Meyer's, Montalbán's, Cumberbatch's and Abrams' visions into a hugely entertaining and satisfying picture in every area.
As with Abrams' previous Star Trek movie, Into Darkness also works on micro levels, whether working in subtle jokes about "red shirts" (the priceless look on Chekov's face when he's ordered to wear a "red shirt" is worth the cost of admission alone, as if he knows that it's the mark of certain death in Star Trek lore), a briefly seen model of the Enterprise NX-01, or the cast's ability to not parrot but rather fully embody the series' classic characters. The performance subtleties are uncanny. The cast gels together beautifully, every one of the actors capturing the essence of their character's namesake, keeping them very familiar but lending a slightly new vibe to them, be it through circumstantial development, relationships, environmental influences, or simply the actors' own little touches to the parts, none of which hinder or harm canon. Into Darkness remains a character-driven film, as Trek has always been, with its primary theme, it seems, being Kirk's brashness and unwillingness to do things by the book. It's a reflection of the "cowboy" sort of mentality that defined Shatner's interpretation and portrayal of the character, which is why the logical, procedural Vulcan, Spock, is the perfect friendly foil and McCoy the ultimate, albeit sarcastic, balance between the brashness and the logical calmness. In Into Darkness, Kirk is reprimanded for breaking free of protocol, bending rules, and ignoring regulations by doing things his way, not Starfleet's way, resulting in not only his admonishment but the proclamation that he's not prepared for command. No surprise, it comes full circle with Kirk -- and his shipmates -- forced to choose, on several occasions, duty or moral obligation, following orders or procedure or dismissing them in favor of an instinct or doing what one knows to be right. Ultimately, these choices bring the crew closer together as they choose what's right, no matter the repercussions, particularly to themselves. All of that contrasts with the selfishly manipulative Khan who, like Kirk, ignores the rules not to follow his moral compass but to further his agenda of genocide and at the cost of the further degradation of whatever soul his genetically engineered body may house.
Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, Video Quality
Does it come as a surprise to anyone familiar with high profile new release Paramount Blu-ray discs that Star Trek Into Darkness looks fantastic? The 1080p, 2.40:1-framed image is a showstopper in nearly every frame. From bright, bold hues on Nibiru to the darkest corners of an alien world, the transfer reveals incredible colors and perfect details in every scene. The film begins on an alien world dominated by leafy red trees and inhabited by aliens covered in flaky white skin and accented with yellow sashes. The blend of colors is terrific, with all three shades richly contrasting and effortlessly dazzling. Bright blue water seen in one subsequent shot looks spectacular, too. Details are precise and beautifully textured, down the finest little crackle of alien flesh "paint," fray in their yellow sashes, or the more perfectly defined lines of Kirk's and McCoy's disguising robes. The image never loses its crispness or perfect definition in any subsequent shots, whether on the bright white and blue Enterprise bridge; in a darkened bar, ship interior, or the aforementioned alien world; or on bright, sunlit Earth streets. Paramount's transfer is so replete with perfectly defined textures that every last fabric detail on the Starfleet uniform tops, each facial line and strand of hair, and every console readout and design touch appear flawlessly presented. The brilliantly colored gold, red, and blue Starfleet shirts stand apart nicely from the bright white backgrounds and never lose even a sliver of vibrancy. Black levels are superb -- particularly in the depths of space -- and flesh tones are natural. Light grain flutters across the image, though an intimate dialogue scene between Kirk and Pike does show a little bit of noise. Otherwise, the transfer is flawless and beautifully executed in every area of concern. This is reference material from start to finish.
Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From the opening notes of Michael Giacchino's now-familiar Star Trek reboot theme, it's clear that Star Trek Into Darkness' Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack means business, and that business is sonic perfection. The track presents every element -- from the broadest action effect and largest musical score piece to the most nuanced sound effect and ambient support detail -- with striking clarity. The track is big, rich, and perfectly defined from the top of the highs to the deepest of the lows. As with the previous Star Trek soundtrack, this one is aggressive and potent without going overboard. Balance is key; never once does bass overwhelm the track, but never does it shy away from delivering the sort of pounding, naturally punishing presentation various scenes demand. There's excellent heft to phaser fire and the digital splattering percussion of hits to flesh. Space battles are even bigger, with dynamic blast effects and deep, high-yield bass in support. Explosions pack plenty of wallop, too. Musical delivery is seamlessly balanced around the stage, naturally enveloping the audience and creating a true 360-degree sound field. The musical surround elements aren't as pronounced as those placed in the front but they do support the main speakers at the appropriate level. Paramount's lossless soundtrack additionally carries movement with precision; the flow of an effect from one speaker to the next is extraordinary, and specific sound placement around the stage is always precise, whether splashed up front or immersing in the back. Dialogue plays with firm center presence and natural clarity in every scene, whether intimate dialogue in a quiet location or under the pressures of loud background music or explosive action. This is a spectacular track in every area and the perfect compliment to an excellent film that makes use of every last bit of sound at its disposal.
Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Star Trek Into Darkness is unfortunately absent a thorough supplemental section. Only a handful of short featurettes are included. Note that some supplement titles contain minor spoilers for the film.
Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Star Trek Into Darkness tops its 2009 predecessor in nearly every way, a difficult task to be sure considering that film's excellence. Into Darkness is huge in scope, infinitely fun, dramatically sound, and very well balanced in terms of recreating critical pieces from "Space Seed" and The Warth of Khan and combining them with new ideas and new execution of favorite old moments, of which there are too many to mention and at the cost of spoiling the surprises. The performances are fantastic, the action is insanely exciting, the special effects are seamless, and the drama is top-notch. It's the perfect Summer blockbuster and a film casual audiences and Star Trek die hards alike will love, even if the film is absent the thematic subtext of A Tale of Two Cities that brought the previous "Khan" film full circle. But then again, Into Darkness tells a different story for a different time with its own themes built around other classic Star Trek, and innately human, themes. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Star Trek Into Darkness features reference level video and audio. A small but enjoyable assortment of extras are included, though the absence of a commentary track (or tracks), deleted scenes, and a larger production documentary is disappointing. Nevertheless, this release earns my highest recommendation with hopes for an expanded special edition later on down the line.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Other Editions
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