Next Tuesday the new Star Trek movie comes out on home video in North America. You have a choice of single-disk DVD, 2-disk DVD or 3-disk Blu-ray. Today we review the Blu-ray version, and we also have an exclusive first look at the navigation screens and the Starfleet Vessel Simulator.
REVIEW: Star Trek 2009 on Blu-ray
Back in April I reviewed the film, so you can read that for the full in-depth view, but after repeated viewings, and seeing the film in HD at home, I can say that Star Trek still works. I still feel that JJ Abrams, along with his cohorts Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and the rest of the team, delivered on their promise to re-invigorate a beloved franchise for a new era. And, although it may not stand up to the strictest nitpicking scrutiny, the alternative timeline approach cleverly threads the needle and allowed them to do a sequel, a prequel and a reboot all at the same time.
And repeated viewings of the film allow you to appreciate it in new ways, and the option to freeze frame in HD gives you even more opportunities to analyze the film, in a way only a Trekkie can. Although the directing style of JJ Abrams is impressive, it is so fast-paced, that only now on home video can you truly stop and really take a look at some of the scenes. You never really got a good look at the bridge of the Kelvin, before they blew it up, or the fleet and orbiting space dock. Of course, home video viewing also gives you a chance to get even more frustrated with whatever bugs you, with each Trekkie having his own pet peeves, be it the ‘Bud-gineering’ or the amazing series of coincidences…and where exactly is Delta Vega?
Home video also gives you a chance to really listen to what is certainly the best sounding Star Trek movie ever. You can really feel the Trek love from Ben Burtt, and if he doesn’t win an Oscar, he was robbed. I also have found that Giacchino’s score has grown on me more over time. At first I wanted more of a Trek feel to the music, but now appreciate that the Trek stings were truly earned, and not until the whole crew is together do we get the full Alexander Courage treatment.
Although the home video experience does lend itself to looking at the details, from Easter eggs, to analyzing the seamlessness of how the film blends the real with the computer generated effects, I find that I am still more drawn to the performances and the characters. Star Trek works because we care about the coming together of this family. Take away the gags, the effects, the spaceships and the tribbles, and what you have is a classic romance, or ‘bromance’ of Kirk and Spock meeting in conflict, and fighting through until they bond into that relationship which they are destined to form. Zachary Quinto, and especially Chris Pine, carry the movie in a way that seemed impossible when it was first proposed.
On top of that, the rest of the cast delivers time after time with crowd-pleasing moments like Sulu’s sword, and Karl Urban’s flawless irascible McCoy. But repeated viewings lets you truly appreciate the performance of Zoe Saldana, who is truly the soul of the film. Not only is she a lynch-pin between Kirk and Spock, but she is also the compass by which we can judge the arc Kirk is on, from her dismissive reaction to him during the Kobayashi Maru, to her questioning of if he knows what he is doing after he takes command, to finally calling him ‘captain’ (and meaning it) in the closing moments.
JJ Abrams Star Trek is a fun space adventure, that remains true to the optimistic standard that Gene Roddenberry set over 40 years ago. In the end, although I would still rank it behind Wrath of Khan and it certainly is not a perfect film, the new Star Trek is a triumph and a very worthy addition to the franchise.
This year Paramount has released the previous ten Star Trek feature films on Blu-ray, with decidedly mixed results. However, there are no issues whatsoever with this film, which looks (and sounds) amazing. The 1080p transfer seems flawless. From the subtle hues of the Narada, to the colorful TOS inspired uniforms, to the blinding lens flares, you will not miss any detail, and will possibly see more than you did at the theaters. This is certainly one of those titles that makes you glad you got a Blu-ray player. And the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio truly enhances the experience, where you can really feel like you are on the bridge with sounds coming from all around.
The Star Trek disks uses a navigational style borrowed from the bridge of the USS Enterprise itself, which is also the background for the disks. It is simple and easy to understand, and enjoyably nerdy.
The branching tree structure of the Bonus features disk is very easy to use, and allows you to directly watch the extra Blu-ray ‘branching pods’ or set it so you can select them while watching the main featurettes.
The Blu-ray set also comes with an impressive set of special features. The movie disk has a commentary track and on disk-two there are ten featurettes (each in HD), plus deleted scenes and more.
The commentary track has the full ‘Supreme Court’ of producer/director JJ Abrams, producer Damon Lindelof, executive producer Bryan Burk and co-writers/exec. producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The group has a fun chemistry and it gives you a great insight into their tight-knit collaboration. Although there is a bit too much of the usual talk about how "great" or "amazing" everyone on screen is, the track has a lot of tidbits on the development of the film, especially the post-production and editing decisions. The group are also good at pointing out many of the little Easter eggs, like the Tribble in Scotty’s lab, or the various cameos of friends and family. One of the more interesting bits is listening to the team talk about their influences for various scenes from other films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Star Wars and even Galaxy Quest. And for someone who likes to talk about how he wasn’t really a Star Trek fan before making this film, Abrams surprises with comments about paying homages to specific scenes from The Original Series and Star Trek The Motion Picture. Regular readers of TrekMovie.com will appreciate Bob Orci’s more Trekkie comments and his (and Lindelof’s) various discussions of
parallel universes and time travel. And make sure you listen until the end credits to hear JJ Abrams talk about meeting and working with Majel Barrett Roddenberry, shortly before she passed.
The set comes with nine deleted scenes, all of which have optional commentary from the same team as the movie. Most of the scenes come from the earlier part of the movie and flesh out backstories for Kirk, Spock and Nero. However, after watching them, I have to agree with the decisions to not include them in the film. For example, the scene of Spock’s birth is nice, but opening the film with the attack on the Kelvin was much more powerful. The rest fall into the ‘less is more’ category, to the seemingly pointless (like the Kirk apologizing to the green girl scene). Make sure you listen to the commentary track, which includes some interesting tidbits.
The bulk of disk two are the series of featurettes, which really give you an up close and personal look at the making of Star Trek. Although the movie was notoriously secretive during production, the featurettes really lift the veil on every element of the making of the film (including how they kept the secrets). Abrams had his team of documentarians all over the place, showing you much more than the usual talking-head fest.
The To Boldly Go featurette focuses on the Supreme Court and gives a lot of insight into the decisions they made in finding a way to re-invigorate Star Trek, however if you have been diligent in reading all the interviews, there isn’t a lot new, except for all the great shots from behind-the-scenes. The Casting featurette really gives you a fly on the wall view of what may be the most challenging aspect of this film, including seeing a lot of the early screen tests, and a surprising amount of footage and discussion about The Original Series. The New Vision featurette has a lot of great footage from pre-production, through production and post-production, where you learn a lot about some of the unsung heroes of Star Trek, like First AD Tommy Gormley. You also learn quite a bit about the making of the film, including Abrams strange technique of literally shaking the film magazine of the cameras during certain scenes to enhance the action.
There are six more featurettes that focus on specific elements of the production: Starships, Aliens, Planets, Props & Costumes, Sound (Ben Burtt), and Score. These will likely be the most enjoyed by a lot of Trekkies who really like to get into detail. What comes across from all of them, is that this project was very much a labor of love from top to bottom, with a lot of reverence for the source material. The best of the bunch are the Planets feature (which has a lot of behind the scenes shots from locations), and the visit with Ben Burtt. The Props & Costumes section was a bit dry, and I felt the Score featurette was too short for such an important part of the film.
The last featurette is Gene Roddenberry’s Vision and this was a delight. In addition to the film makers talking about what they did to try and fit their film with Roddenberry’s ideals, there is a lot of great commentary from Star Trek vets like designers Mike and Denise Okuda, Star Trek II director Nick Meyer, Enterprise show-runner Manny Coto, and former Star Trek honcho Rick Berman. The set also has a hilarious gag reel, which gives the sense that it was a lot of fun on the Star Trek set. You also get some trailers, which are still fun to relive, even after you have seen the move.
One of the cooler features, which really shows off the capabilities of Blu-ray, is the Starfleet Vessel Simulator. This interactive feature lets you explore both the Narada and the USS Enterprise, allowing you to zoom into various areas of each ship, with detailed information and animations. You can even fire the weapons and go to warp. As noted in the review, the film goes by so fast you never get a real good look at these ships in detail, so these features are a lot of fun for the detail oriented. Below we have an exclusive first look at the Vessel Simulator.
Bottom line is that if you have a Blu-ray, this is a must-buy. And if you haven’t upgraded to Blu-ray yet, this set (along with all the other Star Trek movies and TOS Seasons released on Blu-ray this year) should be enough for any Trekkie to make the plunge, especially if you already have a HD TV. The Star Trek movie on Blu-ray set is one you will find yourself coming back to again and again over the years. Plus the additional digital copy lets you keep the movie close-by on your iPod or computer.
Now the only question is, do you get the regular Blu-ray set, or one of the special exclusives like the cool badges or Enterprise model.
You can pre-order the regular and exclusive Amazon and Best Buy editions below.
|Star Trek 2009||3-disk set
3-disk set w/ replica
3-disk set w/ badges