Star Trek Into Darkness – Blu-ray review

After much pre-release hoopla, we have our review copy of the Blu-ray of J.J. Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness.

In the wake of a shocking act of terror from within their own organization, the crew of The Enterprise is called back home to Earth. In defiance of regulations and with a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads his crew on a manhunt to capture an unstoppable force of destruction and bring those responsible to justice.

As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Read on for our review of the Blu-ray release.

The Movie

Star Trek Into Darkness is quite the rollercoaster. I agree with the favorite adjective used by anyone in the cast and crew when interviewed about STID during press junkets, it is “relentless.” They aren’t kidding. Into Darkness takes off at a breakneck pace, and with only a few pauses here and there it mostly keeps that pace.

The plot itself is a bit muddled at times, but makes for a great summer blockbuster. Into Darkness seems to be perhaps the most controversial Trek movie yet. I won’t go into a full review of the movie itself, since by now most TrekMovie readers know the plot and already know how they feel about the movie.

The opening scene of running through an alien red forest is great and could sort of be something out of a TOS episode like “The Apple”.


Bruce Greenwood returns as Admiral Pike and has some of the best scenes in the first third of the movie.


After an attack on Starfleet HQ things kick back up into high gear.

The new choice for the externals of the warp reactor is fantastic, I love that they used the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore Labs.


Zoe Saldana as Uhura gets a great moment as she stares down a Klingon warrior while appealing to his sense of honor.


Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus gets to chew scenery and it’s generally a lot of fun and he’s pretty intimidating at times. For example: talking down to Kirk by calling him “son” while staring him down across the viewscreen in his hulking war machine of a ship.


Then we come to Benedict Cumberbatch, in the controversial role of John Harrison (or Khan if you prefer), whatever he’s saying sounds great, his voice and accent really draw you in. Yep, the old Hollywood gimmick of bad-guy-has-British-accent still works.  You really get the sense that he’s sizing a person up with every word he or she says to him, looking for weaknesses both physical and psychological for him to exploit.


Before you know it, who is considered good and bad seem to be flip-flopped, and then we’re off dogfighting around the Sol System, eventually to Earth, to try and save the day once more, but with two megalomaniacs, who have different agendas, to deal with this time.

In the end Kirk and crew are (of course) chosen for the first long-term deep space mission, a 5-year mission, a positive note to end on. One I sincerely hope the writers actually use as a spring board for real unknown exploration (and danger, this is a summer movie after all) in the next movie.



Audio and Video Quality

The audio matches the pacing of the story, it’s bombastic through and through. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless track sounds great and Michael Giacchino’s score never sounded better.

As one would expect for a brand new film, the video looks fantastic. One thing that I personally like about J.J. Abrams is that he prefers to use real film cameras, he likes the style and feel of film. To that end, the movie isn’t always squeaky clean and digitally sharp to the last drop, it has a sharp yet film-like look for most of the scenes.


Now there is one somewhat perplexing decision that Paramount and Bad Robot have made, they made the same decision with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as well, the IMAX scenes are not expanded to full screen 16:9, they kept the aspect ratio constant at 2.35:1. However there is one exception to this, the iTunes version offers the expanded aspect ratio for the IMAX scenes (ala WB’s The Dark Knight The Dark Knight Rises). So much for Blu-ray being the ultimate format for videophilles….  For more on the iTunes download see the Bonus Material section below.


Bonus Material

NOTE: This review is of the general retail Blu-ray edition, not one of the exclusive versions with bonus material (i.e. Target or Best Buy editions).

As previously reported (article 1 / article 2), both the Target and Best Buy copies come with ~30 minutes of different exclusive material. Target’s comes on an actual extra disc while Best Buy’s is only available as digital content from the Best Buy owned CinemaNow service. If I were buying a copy this Tuesday, I’d say get one of the Target versions, since it comes with a real disc of extras, that you can access any time, and will never be taken down.

Also note that the DVD (both in retail box form and included as an extra disc with Blu-ray copies) is the movie only. If you want any bonus features you need to get a Blu-ray edition.

What you actually get without any retailer exclusives is a bit disappointing, to say the least.  There are seven approximately 5 minute (some as short as 2 minutes, one is 8 minutes long) behind the scenes featurettes. In the industry they call this EPK (Electronic Press Kit) material. EPK material are little video bites that are usually meant to go with a news story about the movie, etc. And that’s what most of these feel like.

Some of these are a pretty good look at how practical sets and effects came together with CGI enhancements, it is nice to see that things aren’t all just actors in front of a green screen (*cough* Star Wars prequels *cough*). However, unlike a good commentary, these are all “watch it once, forget about it” kind of bonus content. Most of the supplements are pretty self-explanatory based on their titles.

“Creating the Red Planet” – Huge practical sets were made over a 6-month period, one outdoors with red foliage and one indoors for the volcano scenes, the amount of real set (versus CGI extensions) in each scene is admirable.

“Attack on Starfleet” – Another breakdown of a big action scene, we see that the production crew used a motion controlled rig with lights mounted on it that simulated the spotlights from the attacking jump ship, so there was real interactive light moving on over the set and actors faces.

“The Klingon Homeworld” – Designing the new Klingon makeup and wardrobe, the production team used a huge 40,000 sq. ft. stage to build the Qo’noS set, and some comments on how well Zoe Saldana took to her Klingon language tutoring, they even brought in Klingon language creator Marc Okrand.

“The Enemy of my Enemy” – This is basically rambling from J.J. and the writers semi-justifying why they went with Khan, in the end it’s seems to comes down to “because we wanted to.”

“Ship to Ship” – A look at the scene of the spacesuit run between the Enterprise and Vengeance that Khan and Kirk make over to a very anxiously waiting Scotty (as one would expect the spacesuit part is green screens and wires). We also get to see the giant warehouse that poor winded Simon Pegg has to run up and down multiple times, it’s an impressively simple use of a real-world location. They took an existing warehouse, gave it appropriate mood lighting and painted the floor black, everything else was pretty much left the way it was.


“Brawl by the Bay” – A look at the floating barge where Spock and Khan pummel each other relentlessly (there’s that word again!) at the film’s climax.

Continuing the Mission” – This is a little 2 minute bit on what we reported back in May, J.J. Abrams used four real world US military veterans as the “Starfleet Ceremonial Guard” in the UFP flag ceremony at the end of the movie.


The Mission Continues” – This is basically a PSA for the veterans group that J.J. Abrams supports.


Digital Copy

So for all the dearth of bonus content, there is one minor consolation, which is that all the Blu-ray versions come with a digital copy code. This code can be used to activate either an UltraViolet copy (if you’re already invested in that digital ecosystem) or it can be used to get an iTunes download. I highly recommend you choose the iTunes download. The iTunes code will allow you to get the movie with the bonus commentary version. This is currently the only way we’re going to get a commentary, so you might as well take it.

The iTunes version is called “Enhanced Commentary”, this is because it is in effect an entirely separate copy of the movie with both visual and auditory commentary in the file. It is like getting an internal presentation on the movie from Bad Robot’s production staff. The commenters are actually able to draw on the movie like a sportscaster. There are also times when there is a little picture-in-picture window showing a behind-the-scenes image of the unfinished scene to compare it to the finished version. TrekCore has full details about the iTunes commentary.

Another feature of the iTunes version is that it is the only way to get the IMAX scenes opened up to full screen 16:9. All North American disc releases keep the aspect ratio fixed at 2.35:1. So the bummer here is that iTunes copies are, out of necessity to make it easily downloadable, lower video bitrate than what the Blu-ray versions offer, and it doesn’t have lossless audio. Of course you’ll also need to hookup your laptop to your HDTV or get an Apple TV box to view the iTunes download on a big screen.

Deleted Scenes? Anybody?

Since we’re provided a way to get a commentary that just leaves the biggest let down of Into Darkness on home video, there is no version, retailer exclusive or otherwise, that has deleted scenes. We know at least one existed, J.J. Abrams himself showed it to the public on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show, the infamous Benedict Cumberbatch “Shower of Evil” scene.


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I wondered when this would go up, good job!

TrekCore did a big review of the Best Buy and Target features, too:

Nice review. So, want phase? order from Amazon. Want extra bonus disc? Order second copy from Target.

No deleted scenes? oh that’s just not right.. maybe it’s on a future exclusive?

No deleted scenes? No audio commentary? OK. Definitely, I’m not going to buy

Now we gotta really start being nice to bob o here at TM ,so that MAYBE we can see those deleted scenes online someday.

So, what’s next for STiD?

The Academy Awards!

No matter which disc or downloadable version you choose to buy, how can a person not feel as if they were somehow shorted?
I can only imagine how McDonalds would market a Combo Meal with this marketing gimmick? You want a Big Mac, order of fries with ketchup and a large Coke? Well, this is how you do it.
1) Buy Combo 1 to get the Big Mac and the ketchup packets,
2) Buy Combo 2 to get a Chicken Sandwich and Fries
3) Buy Combo 3 for the Fish Sandwich and Large Coke.
There you have it! A Big Mac, Fries, and Coke. And it only set me back $15. WHAT. A. DEAL. !!!

I am pretty sure the cover says Star Trek into Dark-Ness.

Not Star Trek in Dark-Ness EXTRAS.

Can’t see how you are being shorted. If you don’t like the contents, don’t buy.


I’ve read this write up about the different places to get bonus material and I can’t help but feel that this is JJ and company’s way of flipping off all the star trek fans here in America that have given them so much hell over the past 7 of 8 years.

We’ve demanded that they respect canon and respect the fans and made this one of the hardest reboots possible. I just feel like this is their way of paying us back. We love our Trek and are one of the most vocal fan bases int the world.

I think they f*cked up when they decided (in their Arrogance) to redo Khan. They couldn’t leave well enough alone. Don’t know if they started to believe their own press or just thought they could make it better. Either way they should have done something different.

A whole universe of possibilities and they chose the convenient path. What a waste.

The sad thing is I (for myself) never really liked TWOK. It was okay. And I personally liked this one alot, but you have to respect the fans. They are the one’s shelling out money to support the franchise. They are the ones that have made Star Trek what it is today. Big business and directors forget this.

Like I said. Everyone would have been much happier with something original. It was kind of what we were all hoping for and expecting. Maybe even dreaming would happen.

May next time?!?

I was going to boycott this because of the lame “extras cash grab” by Bad Robot and Paramount, but the Joe Dickerson editorial and the nuTrek haters, including the antics of Amhed-Orci situation, have me so pissed off at the nuTrek haters, that I have now changed my mind and have decided to move forward and get the Blu-Ray next week after all.

And to further spit in the face the nuTrek haters/whiners, I am going to buy the iTunes commentary edition now as well.

This is my “FU back at you” to the nuTrek haters on behalf of my good friend, Roberto Orci, who been so unfairly treated by a small BUT VERY LOUD minority of fans on this site. Shame on all of you — you know who you are!


Not a great fan of the movie, but that’s one beautiful shot of Jupiter. I forget, which moon is that supposed to be?

8. MJ

People change, MJ.

Don’t get yourself all caught up in that.



I assume there is a DVD version. I hope so.

‘“The Enemy of my Enemy” – This is basically rambling from J.J. and the writers semi-justifying why they went with Khan, in the end it’s seems to comes down to “because we wanted to.”’

I guess they feel they need to justify what they have done because of all the shit leveled against them over this interesting decision. One of the wonderful things that must give movie makers such a thrill is actually being given the opportunity to write their own story and be able to bring it to “life” via the audio-visual medium. It is far better this way than to do something “because we didn’t want to”.

@ 12. Keachick – September 6, 2013

“I assume there is a DVD version. I hope so.”

Yep, here is the link to Amazon where you can get the DVD version.

Great review!

Regardless of the squabbles over the movie, it was awesome, fun and beautiful, visually extremely pleasing! I may have my small quips about the movie but as a long time Trek fan, this is Star Trek, and its awesome. I had to see it three times in theatres to get my fill.

Regardless of the lack and spit up of the bonus material (which sucks), its the movie that I am eager to see again. Since I love my blu-ray steelbook’s I will be at Best Buy on lunch day.

Looks like this will be one of the biggest home video sales of the year, if not the biggest.

Guess Abrams and Paramount will not learn their lesson after all. Another win for the producers and studios. And look for all home video packages to be released this way in the future.

But look at it this way, if the dog eats one, or you loan it to a friend and forget, you’ll have several backup copies of the movie to replace them. Or give them as gifts, assuming you know anyone who isn’t rushing right out to buy theirs on Tuesday.

The idea of a boycott was always a joke to begin with.

Well I for one am boycotting the Blu-Ray.

Although I really want it, and I want that iTunes commentary edition as well.

But, but, I just said I was going to boycott all this.

Well, I’m sure I can come up with some transparent, self-righteous excuse to justify both purchases.


As I don’t have the fawning opinion of this film that you do, I suppose that makes me a “hater”. Fine. I am a hater. As a hater, your proposal matters little to me. It doesn’t change my opinion of the film. And, as for your friend Robert Orci, he is your friend and not mine. I am not expected nor obligated to support him. I am thankful that he apologized for his comments. And that is all I will say on that.

@18 “Well, I’m sure I can come up with some transparent, self-righteous excuse to justify both purchases.”

Yes, because you do have “Shatner” in your name, after all.


I don’t have a fawning opinion of STID either. It was a good Star Trek film that came out after a phenomenal Star Trek film which people got spoiled on — just like STIII after WOK in the 80’s — I was there, and a lot of fans had the same arguments, sans the Internet of course.


“This is a good but not great Star Trek movie, a sort of compromise between the first two….The second movie, the best one so far, remembered what made the Star Trek TV series so special: not its special effects, not its space opera gimmicks, but its use of science fiction as a platform for programs about human nature and the limitations of intelligence. “Star Trek III”….has some of the philosophizing and some of the space opera, and there is an extended special-effects scene on the exploding planet Genesis that’s the latest word in fistfights on the crumbling edges of fiery volcanoes.”


Just like I said. ST 2009 was just so damn good, that a good STID movie just can never be good enough for some fans — who instead, because it isn’t quite as good at Trek 2009, choose to falsely claim that this good Star Trek movie completely sucks….which is dishonest, disingenuous and as disservices to all involved…not to mention a “dis” to Bob Orci.

(and then of course we have the small contingent here who didn’t even like Trek 2009…that contingent has been gleefully piling on here lately…it’s been like Christmas in summer for all of them)

I have a birthday coming up at the end of October, so I will ask my wife to pick up the Target Blu-Ray and then get the iTunes download.

That way my daughter and I can enjoy the movie everywhere and anywhere just as we enjoyed it together when we went to see it in the theatre — 3 times!

It’s my 50th this year — so why not celebrate with my favorite collection of Sci-Fi characters aboard the beloved Starship Enterprise!

Companies get away with downsizing and frustrating customers because they can. Typically, fans complain, end up settling, and the bar is lowered for the next time around.

Before you know it, we’ll be paying a premium for 1/4 of a movie at 4 different retailers and you’ll have to buy all 4 parts and reassemble them in order to watch the whole movie. One of the 4 parts will be the “chase” part, so it’ll be marketed as some fun treasure hunt thing. In the end, you’ll realize you’ve spent $80.00 for one movie because you had to spend $19.99 per part!

Less for more is their business. Complaining does nothing. Not buying might.


Actually, VHS’s of Trek movies in the 1980’s were about $80, which would be equivalent to about $200 in today’s dollars. So a $25 dollar blu-ray is 1/8 of the cost of trek movie on the media of 30 years ago.

@ 24. MJ (The Original). – September 6, 2013

Actually, VHS’s of Trek movies in the 1980′s were about $80”

wow $80 , are you serious ?

@25. Yep. That was standard, until the late 80’s when the prices came down to about $40 for an initial release. See:

I am thinking about skipping STID as far as owning a blu ray copy; I really want to see Trek XIII and I hope it will REALLY be more about the characters and less ON the action!!! BTW, I don’t own Trek V on blu ray either, so it’s all good…

BTW, Star Trek BELONGS on TV once again, be it syndication, a network, OR netflix!!! A NEW Series Boldly Going Where None Have Ever Gone Before!!!

I think the term “friend” is used a little too liberally sometimes.

I don’t know if Bob Orci could be my friend or not (one always hopes that another person could be though) and I don’t think anyone else can say that either, unless they have had the opportunity to have met with him on more than one occasion and believed they have both developed a genuine understanding and rapport.

I don’t see Bob Orci as an enemy either. I see him as a usually polite acquaintance who appears to enjoy commenting on some of what people write here, sometimes agreeing with what is written and other times not. Really just doing what everyone else does who posts their comments here.

I think that many of his comments make a bigger impression because he is also so tied up in helping to bring us another iteration of our favourite television/movie series. I think that many of us hope that our opinions and suggestions may make a positive impression on him and guide him to write the next movie using some of the ideas presented to him. However, he is not obliged to…after all, he has many other things to consider as well.

I’m a bit confused at what you are saying in our 16:9 and 2.35:1 quandary? If it was shot in 2.35:1, don’t you want that? Black boxes and all? I know I do, even back on our old 4:3 TVs, I ‘love’ my black lines. I had to get a ‘really’ big 4:3 TV to enjoy my 2.35:1 movies, but I hated all the cropping and fake fading that were added to make them fit.

Granted, 16:9 is a lot closer, but I’d still rather not have my images clipped just to get rid of pretty small borders (these days on the 16:9s).

Unless I’m misunderstanding what you are saying? :\

Thanks for the information about the DVD version.

I hope it might contain some extra features and not just the movie. Having the opportunity to watch it on a small analogue TV while it plays on my $29 TEAC DVD player while I am snuggled up in bed on a cold winter/spring night is just fine by me. It is what I can afford.

Although I think being able to watch all the extra features as well is great, it is the actual MOVIE that really matters.

…yep, the 80’s were conflicting times….it was awesome that my favorite movies and select episodes of my favorite TV series, Star Trek, were one of the first shows to get the video-tape treatment, in both VHS and Beta. But the excitement was short lived as the tapes were the $80 range. Pretty pricey for a kid flipping burgers @ $2.50 an hour. Not to mention the top loading VCRs that you could drop $400 to $600 bucks on, easy…wired remote and all. lol

That fact that my bluray disc and Phaser replica is around the same price of those simple video cassettes is a reminder of just how far tech has come. And the fact that I can afford it is a testament to how far I’ve come! lol.

Cant wait to see it again!

Yeah, VHS tapes used to be insanely expensive back in the day. I actually remember some movies being as high as $100. They would eventually go down to around $30, but only after they’d been out for quite a while (usually 12 months, sometimes sooner than that). That lasted until at least the early 90s, because I remember The Hunt For Red October being super expensive (the tape itself was red and supposedly this was worth extra money). Part of it was to give video rental places a sort of exclusivity period, the idea being if the video was that expensive people would rent it first and then buy it later when the price dropped. And hey, if they were willing to shell out the $79 or $99 to own it, all the better.


Well, I would like to think that Bob is my friend at least in terms of here at Trekmovie. If that sounds dumb and unrealistic, so be it.

And even though you and I get into it now and then, I’d like to think that you and I are kind of friends as well. I know that if something tragic happened to your or others here (even people I disagree with a lot) that I have been conversing with for years, I would be happy to donate time or money to help your or someone in need.

@MJ, Jonboc & sean,

Thanks guys, I grew up in the 90s, so most of that stuff is news to me, the 80s sure sound like fun times :)

and Jonboc, “wired remote”, really ?

15. Ahmed

$15 bucks gets it to my door? Pretty good.

Blingons lol

MJ – I don’t think it sounds dumb, just a little unrealistic perhaps.

Anyway, you are right. If I read that anything bad had happened to you and/or yours or to anybody else here, irrespective of who they were, I would be very upset. I have no desire nor right to wish harm come to anyone.

True, but I think you’re missing the point here, folks. Yes, I suppose I’m “glad” I don’t pay $80 for a DVD, but that’s not the result of some random or benevolent process. Studios predicted cheaper VHS (and ultimately DVD) prices would be a good business move. And they were right. Rarely are outcomes for business and consumer a clear win-win like this. The point is will they be right when it comes to their strategy for movies like STID–a business move (like most) that screws over fans. Remains to be seen.

Besides, the random “$80” example was obviously satire. Even I’m not cynical enough to think we’re going there quite yet.

Derf – the IMAX sequences are closer to the 16:9 ratio, so since the blu ray is presented in 2.40:1, we see cropped versions of those scenes.

There’s a forum on with examples. You can definitely see what is missing, which is why some of us would like to have the IMAX version on disc. Besides, that’s how the movie was intended to be seen.

ST 2009 was far inferior to STID. I mean, a set up movie, as described by JJ and Orci themselves had a thin cardboard villain in Nero. STID was much better.

However, Star Trek Enterprise was a much more fulfilling Trek experience than either of these movies.

I’m definitely looking forward to purchasing my copy of the film. I’ll be one of the first at the local Entertainment store to obtain my copy of it.

It will be better than anything that Farragut Films and Dragoncen has ever released, since that Washington DC based company and its unethical business partner’s slow and unsteady decline since the events of December 2011.

So…what if in Star Trek 3, Harrison’s actually revealed to NOT be Khan.

*mind blown* =P

@25. Ahmed,
“Actually, VHS’s of Trek movies in the 1980′s were about $80″ wow $80 , are you serious ?”

That’s incorrect.

Perhaps TMP was $80, but TWOK set a precedent as being one of the first movies to initially retail for the remarkably low price of $39.95. By 1986, older movies were selling for as little as $19.95.

#24 TWOK was one of the first titles to be priced to sell instead of rental when it was released on home video in 1983. Around forty bucks or less depending on who you bought it from. It jump started the trend of people buying a movie to keep instead of just renting it.

#42 beat me to it. ;)

Will not buy , will wait 5 full years too buy it, period!

If sales are strong they might leave the Budget for Star Trek 3 intact!

Star Trek 2009 sales were up to 100 mil dollars! Pretty sensational!

Yes, I can somewhat understand their (commercial) motives.


STID is only the 2nd installment. The 5-year mission has yet to begin!
[ Side note: Does this mean 5 more sequels at least? ;-) ]

Maybe it would’ve been strategically more valuable to really win and very much so keep the hearts of the – old and newborn – fans by e.g. releasing an ‘ultimate fan edition’ this xmas.

I mean, they did go all the way with the sequel. Why be modest now?

The rollercoaster ought to continue :-)

Cherish the fans.

Love ST.

I for one prefers having just one format throughout. The 2:35 format is great and I didn’t like the aspect ratio changes on the Dark Knight Rises blu-ray. I found that distracting.

Still not getting this until they release a proper version with all the extras in one place. I love my extras! lol! And I do like the movie,but I just don’t like the way this is done. I’ll get the movie illegally for now,lol!