Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun summer blockbuster featuring a great cast, decent story (even with some of the lazier plot points) and amazing visual effects. It’s a good addition to the Star Trek franchise and hopefully leads to a third film.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG13 – 131 min. – $54.99 | September 10, 2013
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): Gene Roddenberry (based on “Star Trek”); Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof (written by)
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood
Theatrical Release Date: May 16, 2013
Features: Featurettes, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.2 GB (2D), 41.7 GB (3D)
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot.
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 (CHRIS PINE) is back getting into troubles as he, along with Dr. McCoy (KARL URBAN) are being chased by an indigninous tribe as, for some reason, Kirk has taken/stolen some kind of sacred scroll, though he ultimately leaves it behind to faciliatate 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 (ZACHARY QUINTO), meanwhile, is on a shuttle pod along with Sulu (JOHN CHO) and Uhura (ZOE 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 wiseass, 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, Kahn knew Federation protocol that senior officers, led by Admiral Marcus (PETER WELLER), would be gathered in one place thusly 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 Kahn, – 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 (ANTON 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 Kahn who comes to their rescue and, after the fighting stops, easily surrenders despite having a physical and intellectual superiority over Kirk.
Kahn 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 Kahn 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 Kahn. 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 Kahn 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 – 2.5/5
The 3-disc set is contained in a standard Blu-ray case with lenticular slip cover. Inside is the standard DVD Copy and a slip of paper with the redemption code good for either the UltraViolet or regular Digital Copy (expires on 9/10/2015); More about the DC below.
Unfortunately, and surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot here running only around 42-minutes. These are comprised with cast and crew interviews set against some behind-the-scenes footage and are relatively superficial.
Creating the Red Planet (8:28; HD) – This featurette delves into filming the opening sequence as Kirk and McCoy run through the red forest and jump into the ocean.
Attack on Starfleet (5:25; HD) looks at the early action sequence as the villain attacks the senior leadership at Starfleet.
The Klingon Home World (7:30; HD) provides insight into the planet Kronos and meeting the Klingons for the first time in this version.
The Enemy of My Enemy (7:03; HD) is about including Kahn as the villain and casting Benedict Cumberbatch into the role and shows the relationship between Kahn and Kirk.
Ship to Ship (6:03; HD) explores the sequence where Kirk and Kahn fly from the Enterprise to the other ship showing it from pre-viz to filming.
Brawl by the Bay (5:44; HD), as you might imagine, examines the fight sequence between Spock and Kahn looking at the storyboards and necessary stunt work.
Continuing the Mission (1:57; HD) basically wraps everything up and looks at the final scene.
The final featurette is The Mission Continues (1:29; HD) which has nothing to do with the movie but instead is salute to the soldiers who came home and helped build the Interstate Highway and other infrastructure for their country.
Digital Copy – Normally I would make a brief mention about the DC, and would not include it in my rating, but with the iTunes version, you will have access to an “Enhanced Commentary” where the participants stop and rewind certain scenes and provide behind-the-scenes footage via picture-in-picture. At 5GB, it is a monster download, but if you want anything substantial, it’s worth it.
VIDEO – 4.75/5
The 3D presented for Star Trek Into Darkness is without the shifting aspect ratios from the regular to IMAX versions. However, the 3D aspect looks good showing off nice depth and perception in many scenes, colors look decent without being overly dark and there are certain sequences where the 3D is especially effective such as one of the final sequences in the film.
The standard Blu-ray meanwhile 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. Between this and 3D versions, Paramount has at least released solid reference material.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
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 – 3.5/5
Overall, Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun summer blockbuster featuring a great cast, decent story (even with some of the lazier plot points) and amazing visual effects. It’s a good addition to the Star Trek franchise and hopefully leads to a third film. The Blu-ray offered by Paramount has incredible audio and video transfers but is severely lacking in the features department with only 42-minutes of footage and most of it is superfluous. If you can grab either the 3D or 2D combo packs at a good price, or are a big fan of the franchise, then it might be worth it, otherwise this is strictly a rental in the hopes there’s a double dip in the future.