Sep 172014
 

This Star Trek “The Compendium” 4-disc set is certainly a cash-grab by Paramount but with a low SRP, those who don’t already own either set might be swayed to get this one as it contains a plethora of bonus features and for big fans, about 30-minutes of IMAX footage on Star Trek Into Darkness. However, if you already own either movie, skip this altogether especially since I’m sure there will be a trilogy set once the third film is released on home video.

 

 

Star Trek: The Compendium
(2009/2013)


REVIEW NAVIGATION

The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG13 – 126 min. / 131 min. – $44.99 | September 9, 2014

MOVIE INFO:
Directed by:
J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): Gene Roddenbury (created by)
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Peter Weller

DISC INFO:
Features:
Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reels, Theatrical Trailers
Number of Discs: 4

Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1/7.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: NA
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

 

THE MOVIES – 4.25/5

Note: Certain portions of this review were copied from previous reviews.

Star Trek (2009) — 4.5/5
Very few films I’ve seen in my young 26 years of life have left me speechless and struggling with words. I’ve seen quite a few great ones. I loved The Dark Knight which redefined the superhero film for today’s audiences. Lord of the Rings proved that nerd fantasy can be Oscar bait. Heck, you’ve even seen me wax poetic on this site about smaller films that are long forgotten by many (for example, The House of Sand and Fog). But Star Trek, J.J. Abrams’ big budget re-launch (and prequel) has performed a cinematic miracle. It has taken a dying franchise (beloved though it may be to its cult of Trekkies and casual sci-fi fans) and turned it into a ginormous, effects-laden action comedy extravaganza that will please fans and general audience members alike.

Star Trek‘s main focus is on reintroducing the classic characters from the original 1966 TV series in new and more modernized ways. The film begins with the childhoods of Kirk (CHRIS PINE) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) and then dovetails into the two joining Starfleet academy. It then introduces the other infamous characters like McCoy (KARL URBAN), Chekov (ANTON YELCHIN), Uhura (ZOE SALDANA), Sulu (JOHN CHO), and Scotty (SIMON PEGG). After the group finishes Starfleet, an emergency happens on Spock’s home planet of Vulcan involving a renegade Romulan named Nero. Nero HATES Spock and is intent on destroying him now… and FOREVER.

The film is basically Batman Begins only Star Trek as we learn how each character came to be and hear all of them utter damn near every famous line we’ve ever heard them say on the show before. J.J. Abrams (who has impressed me by directing all of the best episodes of “Alias” and an couple of “Lost” episodes) does an outstanding job of directing. He makes it looks like he’s already directed ten or more f/x heavy features and its crazy that this is really his first one of this nature. The script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman with a hand or two from Damon Lindelof is mack-tight and never slows down to catch its breath. The audience is hit with either one hilarious comedy beat or one mind-blowing action sequence after the next and sometimes a combination of both as one-liners and laser blasts are firing at 1000 miles an hour at warp speed!

I had my doubts about all of them [the cast] but they all deliver. I’ve never seen Chris Pine before but now I can’t wait to see him again. He never apes Shatner and yet feels EXACTLY like Kirk. He’s great and I think he would make a great Flash or Green Lantern as well.

Zachary Quinto I had some doubts about since I’m so used to seeing him only as Sylar on Heroes but he’s actually MUCH better at this then he is on that show. He’s not quite as good as Leonard Nimoy (but then again who could be, right?) but he crafts his own version of Spock that while not the same is a palpable and great character in its own right.

Karl Urban (who I thought was a tepid actor) is amazing as Bones and I think he’ll be many fans’ favorite character in the flick. He nails McCoy’s mannerisms, speech patterns and infamous lines with no effort.

Cho, Yelchin and Pegg as Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty respectively have the least to do but all get some great scenes and or lines to make it worth it.  As a way of expanding Uhura’s role a bit, Zoe Saldana is asked to be Spock’s girlfriend for this version of the classic saga and while weird at first, it works and Saldana plays the part with grace and a very good amount of warmth.

Rounding out the cast is Eric Bana as Nero the Romulan villain and Leonard Nimoy as Spock (from the future). Honestly, the movie could’ve been done without Nimoy but they’ve managed to make it work and not be contrived. Leonard Nimoy is moving as usual and gives the film continuity with the older series that makes any Trekker with trepidation more forgiving. Nero doesn’t have a whole lot of depth or dimension to him but Eric Bana does a great job with what little he has. At least his motivations are admirable and he’s not just a mustache twirler.

The special effects work and sets look amazing. There is obviously CGI that had to be used but you never feel like you’re looking at a big mess splattered everywhere. Everything looks practical and real without looking cheap.

Does Star Trek have any problems? Not much, just minor quibbles. It’s a hilarious film but I’m not quite sure how hilarious a sci-fi adventure film is supposed to be. At times it was borderline action comedy and the writers and Abrams probably should’ve dialed things back a tad. Also, as I mentioned before, Nimoy’s Spock didn’t HAVE to be in this for it to work. I liked his presence but the story could’ve gone on pretty similarly with Spock written out and with slight rewrite about Nero.

But I digress. Now is a time of nothing but celebration. J.J. Abrams and his team of cast and crewman have saved Star Trek. Not only have they saved it, they’ve breathed new life into it, reigniting the passion of older fans and gaining what are sure to be tons of new ones at the same time.

Live long and prosper my friends and go see Star Trek. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) — 3.75/5
J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to the successful 2009 reboot of the popular franchise, Star Trek Into the Darkness follows in the footsteps of many sequels along the lines of The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight: darker and finds the lead characters going up against a seemingly multipurpose antagonist who goes beyond just being the bad guy.

When our story opens, Captain James T. Kirk (PINE) is back getting into troubles as he, along with Dr. McCoy (URBAN) are being chased by an indigenous tribe as, for some reason, Kirk has taken/stolen some kind of sacred scroll, though he ultimately leaves it behind to facilitate their escape off a cliff and into an ocean where the Enterprise is currently hiding as not to alert its presence to the people.

Spock (QUINTO), meanwhile, is on a shuttle pod along with Sulu (CHO) and Uhura (SALDANA) entering inside a volatile volcano set to erupt which will wipe out the entire planet’s population. Spock manages to get to the surface of the volcano to set off some sort of device which would freeze the volcano’s eruption, but is trapped with the pod in rough shape thanks to the pod and those on the Enterprise unable to transport him out due interference from the volcano. So, Kirk makes the decision to take the Enterprise to rescue Spock and in turn expose the ship to the people which would violate the Prime Directive, a code by the Federation that says there shall be no interference with the development of an alien civilization, an order which has been skirted around, if not completely ignored, throughout the franchise’s history.

The civilization sees the Enterprise streak in the sky and they toss their sacred scrolls and have a new object to worship.

We next open on a couple whose daughter is gravely ill but the father receives an offer from a man named John Harri— oh, who am I kidding… his name is Khan (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH) to cure the daughter in exchange for something deadly: the father, once he sees his cured little girl, goes to work at the Federation and explodes a bomb killing 40 plus in the process.

Kirk, still being a wise-ass, fails to enter this into his official report but Spock does and Kirk gets the third degree from mentor Captain Pike (BRUCE GREENWOOD) and he his stripped of his command of the Enterprise and Pike has been put back in charge. Lucky for Kirk, Pike still believes in him and Kirk is placed as the First Officer. This won’t last long because as part of his plan, Khan knew Federation protocol that senior officers, led by Admiral Marcus (PETER WELLER), would be gathered in one place thus staging an ambush which results in Pike’s death.

So, let’s recount so far: Kirk wasn’t grown up enough to be captain gets demoted to first officer, Pike gets command of the Enterprise, never steps on board, gets killed resulting in Kirk ultimately becoming Captain of the Enterprise once again. Yep, this whole thing occurred over the span of maybe 15-minutes. Oh, and Spock, who had been reassigned to another ship, gets his old position back at Kirk’s request. And in all fairness, I suppose Kirk grew up a little bit seeing his mentor and friend, the only one who believed in him, die, so there was motivation.

And that motivation leads Kirk to be granted by Marcus to find Khan, – located in a desolate area on the Klingon’s home planet of Kronos – and kill him with 72 new photon torpedoes, kind of overkill even for a terrorist… Unfortunately Scotty (SIMON PEGG) is not comfortable putting these torpedoes onboard as he not allowed under the hood and finally resigns where upon Kirk promotes Chekov (YELCHIN) to Chief Engineer.

So Kirk with his faithful crew take the Enterprise into dangerous territory where, after landing a shuttle pod to the surface, due to a malfunction in Enterprise’s engine core, and failing to outrun their ships, we finally are introduced to this new timelines version of the Klingon and honestly, not that bad sticking to the same features but giving them a spruced up, Abrams-afied style. And just when the Klingons are about to obliterate the shuttle crew, comprised of Kirk and Spock, it’s none other than Khan who comes to their rescue and, after the fighting stops, easily surrenders despite having a physical and intellectual superiority over Kirk.

Khan is brought on board the Enterprise which is still dangerously stuck in Klingon territory and Kirk suspects its sabotage. No sooner that Admiral Marcus comes out of warp in a newly constructed U.S.S. Vengeance ship made for minimal crew and, most of all, created for war rather than exploration. You can guess what’s up here…

Now it’s up to Kirk, his crew and an uneasy alliance with Khan to thwart Marcus’ plans, which I won’t divulge here. We also get another cameo by Spock Prime (LEONARD NIMOY), called upon by the new Spock for guidance on Khan. And despite SP wanting his counterpart to find his own destiny, still manages to give some key advice, yet another convenient plot point and downright lazy writing, though it does serve well to give fans a thrill.

Plot elements aside, though, Star Trek Into Darkness still manages to be a fun blockbuster flick, entertaining to fans and general population alike. The main cast share wonderful chemistry with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto once again showing great friendship no better demonstrated in one key scene, while the rest are serviceable, especially Karl Urban who is primarily reduced to quips and one-liners, albeit he does make a discovery at the end, which is a bone of contention for me and made a monumental scene feel a bit cheap.

In regards to Benedict Cumberbatch, he makes for a excellent villain, a challenge for our heroes and somebody who isn’t one-dimensional. He’s not terribly memorable in the role, compared with the illustrious performance by Ricardo Montalban in The Wrath of Khan and I can’t say Cumberbatch has any standout moment or line either. Still, he makes for a perfect counterpart to Kirk and is distinguished enough to make him his own character (not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight).

Once again under the direction of J.J. Abrams, it’s more of the same that we saw in the 2009 reboot/re-imagining. You get plenty of lens flares which only serves to annoy the Internet population, personally I never had a big problem with it, although Abrams hopefully will tamper it down. Outside of the flares, Abrams weaves a good and somewhat compelling story that even when the plot gets wonky, it still manages to keep one’s attention through the relatively lengthy 130-minute running time with each moment having a purpose.

In the end, Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t quite measure up to the 2009 version, but it is wildly entertaining with top notch visual effects, two main characters with great moments and a villain who stands out from most. Some of the plot points are a bit lazy and due to the amount of time devoted to other things, some of the supporting players are one-dimensional, but it makes for a solid sequel that hopefully will lead to a third, and possibly final, entry with this cast.

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.75/5

Inside the digipak, which houses, in overlapping fashion, 4-discs, is a slip with redemption codes for both movies. All features are in HD unless otherwise noted.

Star Trek — 4.5/5
Audio Commentary
– Director J.J. Abrams, Producers Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof & Executive Producers/Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci sit down for a fun chat but also are informative at the same time.

To Boldy Go (16:41) is a behind-the-scenes look of brining back Star Trek with a new vision. Also here are branching pods including one about the possibility of bringing Shatner into the story which is a problem since in Generations, Kirk died…

Casting (28:53) looks at getting the right actors for such iconic characters.

A New Vision (19:31) is about the changes between the movie versus the old series.

Starships (24:33) goes through the variety of ships including designing the Enterprise. There are also several branching pods such as “Warp Explained” and “The Captain’s Chair”.

Aliens (16:30) covers the different species featured in the film and the prosthetics done.

Planets (16:10) shows the planets and locations used to make it otherworldly.

Props and Costumes (9:22) – Here we get a look at the different costumes and props created that are new but in (somewhat) keeping with the series.

Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek (11:45) looks at the sound design.

Score (6:28) is an inside glimpse at the soundtrack by Michael Giacchino.

Gene Roddenberry’s Vision (8:47) is a good profile on the creator of Star Trek from the perspective of both J.J. Abrams and Leonard Nimoy amongst others.

Deleted Scenes (13:30) include nine scenes removed and there’s an optional commentary by Abrams and others.

Also included on the disc is the Starfleet Vessel Simulator game (of sorts), a Gag Reel (6:22) and the Theatrical Trailers.

Star Trek Into Darkness — 4.75/5
Enhanced Commentary
– What was originally available only via iTunes now is on the disc itself where J.J. Abrams and company watch the movie and are able to stop, rewind and basically control the movie as they chat.

The Voyage Begins…Again (2:28) is a short featurette that I’m thinking was a teaser for fans than anything in-depth as it shows some of the sets and first day shooting footage.

Creating the Red Planet (8:28) – This featurette delves into filming the opening sequence as Kirk and McCoy run through the red forest and jump into the ocean.

Introducing the Villain (2:16) looks at this new incarnation of the diabolical Kahn.

Rebuilding the Enterprise (5:31) covers the re-construction of the Enterprise with some changes from the previous movie and also building it on one large sound stage with interconnecting hallways.

National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core (4:32) is more BTS, on-location shooting for the core of the Enterprise at the National Ignition Facility.

Attack on Starfleet (5:25) looks at the early action sequence as the villain attacks the senior leadership at Starfleet.

Aliens Encountered (6:54) covers the various aliens serving on the Enterprise and elsewhere and getting into the make-up process.

The Klingon Home World (7:30) provides insight into the planet Kronos and meeting the Klingons for the first time in this version.

The Enemy of My Enemy (7:03) is about including Kahn as the villain and casting Benedict Cumberbatch into the role and shows the relationship between Kahn and Kirk.

Vengeance is Coming (4:28) delves into building the bad starship featured.

Ship to Ship (6:03) explores the sequence where Kirk and Kahn fly from the Enterprise to the other ship showing it from pre-viz to filming.

Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock (4:08) is a fun little featurette on the make-up artistry for Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto stops by.

Down with the Ship (6:09) goes through some of the stunt work done during the ship crash sequence.

Kirk and Spock (5:36) examines the friendship, and tension, between the two.

Brawl by the Bay (5:44), as you might imagine, examines the fight sequence between Spock and Kahn looking at the storyboards and necessary stunt work.

Fitting the Future (5:03) goes through the costume designs.

Property of Starfleet (4:53) examines the props from the buttons to the phasers.

Unlocking the Cut (5:10) looks at the editing process.

Visual Affection (9:03) is about the visual effects in the film, breaking down the scenes.

The Sound of Music (and FX) (5:26) covers the score and sound effects.

Safety First (2:27) is a practical joke done by Simon Pegg on his fellow cast members.

The Mission Continues (1:29) is a salute to the soldiers who came home and helped build the Interstate Highway and other infrastructure for their country.

Gag Reel (5:48) has some fun on-set antics, flubbed lines and the like concluding with some nifty dance moves.

Deleted Scenes (5:26) – There are 7 deleted and alternate scenes included and eventually cut most likely for time or pacing issues.

Last up are the Theatrical Trailers (5:37) including an announcement, teaser and regular trailer.


VIDEO – 5.0/5 | AUDIO – 5.0/5

Star Trek — 4.75/5
This is the original transfer so nothing has changed. Although the picture looks good including excellent detail levels, bright colors and the like, I did notice some banding especially during the unveiling of the title. Other than that, though this is a fine transfer that still holds up well.

On the audio front, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is an earful with dynamic audio from the quieter scenes to the action sequences which showcase the range. The bulk of the usage comes from the center channel for the on-screen action but even the rear channels get usage from the score to off-screen noises including the humming of the Enterprise.

Star Trek Into Darkness — 5.0/5
The standard Blu-ray packs a nice punch with excellent detail levels, a fine color array that pops off the screen without appearing overly saturated and the picture itself shows no signs of artifacting or other flaws.

An addendum to my original review, this new transfer contains about 30-minutes of IMAX footage which really showcases the vastness of the movie and is a welcome change from the original release. Only one problem: this release does not have the 3D version so if you own that version, you’ll need to hold on to it.

The disc includes a bombastic Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which shows a wide range of audio from the quieter, more dialogue-driven moments to the louder, action-packed sequences. There’s nice depth throughout making use of each channel and even ambient noises, such as the humming of the Enterprise, is low yet gives the appropriate atmosphere one would expect from being in the theater.


OVERALL – 4.5/5

Overall, this Star Trek “The Compendium” 4-disc set is certainly a cash-grab by Paramount but with a low SRP, those who don’t already own either set might be swayed to get this one as it contains a plethora of bonus features and for big fans, about 30-minutes of IMAX footage on Star Trek Into Darkness. However, if you already own either movie, skip this altogether especially since I’m sure there will be a trilogy set once the third film is released on home video.


Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Published: 09/17/2014

 

 

 

 

Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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