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Star Trek Beyond – UltraHD Blu-ray review

The latest installment in the Kelvin timeline movies comes to physical media Tuesday, November 1 in North America. It will be released in UltraHD Blu-ray, as well as 3D and 2D 1080p Blu-ray packs to cover all the possible ways you might want to consume Star Trek Beyond. Read on for our review of the 4k UHD Blu-ray edition.

The Movie

Star Trek Beyond is the first movie in the new franchise to not be beholden to, or somehow heavily reference, the Prime timeline. The new franchise is finally able to have a unique adventure in the Kelvin timeline. The actors seem comfortable in their roles and are given lots of good bits to work with. Chris Pine really seems to have grown into Kirk, and likewise the character of Kirk finally seems like the grown up captain we knew he would become.

Like many fans, I certainly eye rolled when we heard the Enterprise would be destroyed, however the execution works well and serves the story. The destruction really just helps move the film along to the best act of the film — where the crew is split up, this lets the characters really shine, with small moments that ring true for these versions of the Trek crew. The pairing of Kirk and Chekov is one of the best unconventional pairings, we get to see the now a bit older and wiser Kirk mentor the youngest member of his bridge crew. Jaylah is clearly the breakout character of the movie, she’s gotten the attention of a lot of fans, and rightfully so, she steals the scene nearly every time she’s on screen.

Sure Beyond has plot issues, and relies on a number of tropes both from past Trek and modern-day action movies, however it still feels fresh, has the right amount of humor mixed in, is gorgeous to look at, and has a lot of the right Trek “feels” in a number of scenes throughout the movie.

stb-jaylah-escapes-altamid

 

Video Quality

About UltraHD Blu-ray:
UltraHD Blu-ray is the next generation version of Blu-ray, since it is made for UltraHD resolution (4k) it has to hold quite a bit more data, and so it is not backwards compatible. To play an UltraHD Blu-ray Disc (UHD BD) you must have a new player made for it. UHD BD is much more than just a resolution bump, since the increase in resolution alone is often not really discernible for people at typical TV sizes and seating distances.
The real “killer features” of the UHD BD standard are High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a Wide Color Gamut (WCG). This is something you can see at normal distances, because it has to do with contrast and color, both things our eyes are rather keen on detecting. A new 4k transfer of a movie graded for HDR/WCG can in effect digitally “describe” a film in more detail than we’ve had in a consumer format before.

 

The 4k UHD Blu-ray combo pack includes the UltraHD Blu-ray disc, a standard Blu-ray disc, and a code for a digital copy.

The 4k UltraHD version with HDR is of course the version to view if you have the equipment. The vibrant colors and depth in the image make it the closest you’ll get to having a premium theater experience at home. When HDR looks good, it looks really good, lifelike in a way that SDR content just can’t create. The bonus content is all on the standard Blu-ray disc, switching to it, to view the gag reel for fun after completing our watch through of Beyond in HDR really demonstrated the differences.

Taken on its own, the standard 1080p Blu-ray version looks great, as one would expect. So no matter your equipment you’ll be getting an excellent version of the movie.

stb-approach-yorktown

 

Audio Quality

About Dolby Atmos:
Atmos is a relatively new surround sound standard that is a large technical leap forward from typical surround sound formats. Atmos consists of sound objects that are positioned in 3D space around the listener, it is then up to the decoder in your A/V receiver to handle what speaker(s) these sounds comes from given the number of speakers you have and your room setup. Contrast this to typical surround sound formats which are entirely channel based, a sound is strictly mapped to one of 5 or 7 channels.
Atmos soundtracks are backwards compatible with Dolby TrueHD, so if you’re not ready to make the leap, you’ll get an excellent 7.1/5.1 version for standard speaker layouts.

 

I made sure to see Beyond theatrically with Atmos, because it really can add an extra dimension and fullness to the auditory experience. This home video version recreates that experience just as I remembered it from this summer.

Some examples: the swarm surrounds you and as it does the Enterprise, and later while exploring the crashed saucer, metal creaks and groans around you.

stb-swarm-deflector

Paramount has bucked the trend of only including the Atmos version of a soundtrack on the (premium) UltraHD release, and thankfully includes it on the standard Blu-ray releases too. So people who have Atmos equipment, but haven’t moved to a 4K-HDR display, can still get the benefit of the immersive audio.

 

Bottom Line:

The audio and video quality are top notch, and definitely have sequences that are demo worthy.

stb-trio-look-up

 

Bonus Content

The Bonus Content is found on the standard Blu-ray disc included in the combo pack.

Here comes the not so great. Bad Robot has shorted us on bonus content of substance, and worse, they’ve taken the commentary, which is the one piece of bonus content people have come to expect since the early days of DVDs, and made it an iTunes exclusive.

The bonus content that is included tends to stick to light “press kit” kind of material, but there are some gems in here.

  • Deleted Scenes – There are a measly two short deleted scenes. The first and better of the two, is the deleted scene with Kirk and Scotty (and Keenser) that was shared last month. The second scene, is only 17 seconds long, which has Scotty calling a uniform by British slang (“bib and tucker”), confusing Jaylah even more.
  • Beyond the Darkness – A rather fluffy piece with the big names behind the production: Abrams, Pegg, Lin, and Jung. We haven’t heard much from Doug Jung so it is nice that we get to hear more of him, along with a new voice, producer Lindsey Weber.
  • Enterprise Takedown – This is a disappointing segment, it features a lot of talk about the concepts of the Enterprise/Swarm battle, but nothing about how it was accomplished on screen.
  • Divided and Conquered – The cast and writers speak about how the crew was broken up and then paired up, which gave a fresh perspective on the characters.
  • A Warped Sense of Revenge – This focuses on Krall (and his two loyal crew-mates Manas and Kalara), and delves into his backstory and motivations for his anger. It fleshes out some of what was only hinted at or quickly glossed over in the actual film.
  • Trekking in the Desert – A short piece on filming in Dubai, the city was a natural choice since it had futuristic buildings and brand new state-of-the-art soundstages for the growing film industry, there’s also a bit on the diverse population of the city and the use of local Trekkies as extras.
  • Exploring Strange New Worlds – Tom Sanders (Production Designer) talks about his design process and we get tours of Krall’s basecamp, and the Enterprise and Franklin sets.
  • New Life, New Civilizations – A look at the plethora of aliens in Beyond with alien makeup master Joel Harlow. The segment features interviews with Deep Roy (Keenser), Sofia Boutella (Jaylah), and Lydia Wilson (Kalara). Sadly, one of the more interesting (and important to the plot) aliens — Ensign Syl, is barely seen in the feature.
  • To Live Long and Prosper – The Kelvin timeline cast and crew reflect on 50-years of Trek with TOS and TOS-movie clips interspersed with Kelvin timeline clips to show the parallels and inspirations from the Prime universe in the newer film franchise.
  • For Leonard and Anton – A nicely done 5-minute tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. This one may leave you misty eyed.
  • Gag Reel – This is a pretty good reel of flubs, crack ups, etc. It’s always fun to see behind the veneer of the well executed takes that make it into the polished final version.

What’s missing?

First and foremost there was a commentary recorded for Beyond, however, as with the first disc release of Into Darkness, it is exclusively on iTunes. The digital copy code included with the disc combo packs can be used to redeem the iTunes version, so technically a disc owner can get the commentary, but of course it’s not integrated with the disc copy. This is a big no-no, I thought Bad Robot and Paramount had learned their lesson after the Into Darkness fiasco, but I guess not.

There’s also a retailer exclusive bonus disc, it’s only from a single retailer, so it’s not as out of control as the initial release of Into Darkness was. In the USA, Target will have an edition with a second disc of bonus content. While annoying, if it’s anything like the bonus content included in the standard editions it probably isn’t a big loss, especially if you’ve read the various interviews about the production that were published during the lead up to the theatrical release.


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Hopefully, Paramount can move a lot of these by Christmas and jack up that revenue number!

I don’t know if I agree.

Paramount (or Bad Robot) needs to learn to stop splitting up bonus content around various platforms and have at least one platform (archival friendly like Blu-ray for example) that contains everything. I skipped the Into Darkness release until they create a proper package. I’ll be skipping this one too (and hopefully so will everyone else) because having the only commentary track exclusive to iTunes is too stupid to ignore.

They have at least a $135 million deficit to erase, before they even start earring profit. It will have to sell extremely well …

But didn’t it earn enough money with domestic and international put together? Or was what I read wrong?

Anyone know if all the bonus features made it onto the 3-movie bluray pack?

The disc with the extra content, any idea who has it in the UK?

Another vote for the pathetic lack of commentary. It needs to be ON THE DISK!!!!!!

Good thing I bought it on iTunes!

Good for you. But the consumer shouldn’t have to put up with inferior quality to get something that could easily be included on the disc?

Ok…so what we all need to do is wait for the new compendium edition featuring all three films and ALL the extras from Beyond, which means buying the first two films all over again unless Paramount offers, AGAIN, that edition at a special price for those who already bought the (slightly) bare bones version. Unless of course they actually plan to release a “special edition” in 6 to 12 months that actually has everything on it. Stupid.

I don’t know who the j@(&@$$ is who oversees these things at Paramount, but they need a new line of work.

Thanks to Trekmovie.com for the heads up. Until they release a proper, fully loaded edition, I’ll make sure I rent instead.

The compendium edition would be fine to wait for…. IF they had the 3D versions included. The previous one that had the first two did not.

I’ll be interested in seeing how well some of the dim corridor battle scenes play on the disk vs the theater. Nearly all TREK theatrical experiences I’ve had – and that involves multiple viewings of the first 10, plus one view of ID and two of BEYOND — have been far inferior to blu-ray presentation (one of my TMP theatricals was excellent though, at a 2nd run theater that projected things in a bright sharp way in early 1980, and TFF looked great at Palo Alto Square theater, tons better than it looked at any of the Century theaters), and I’m thinking the visibility in the BEYOND stuff is definitely going to benefit.
When I look at the opening bridge scenes in GEN on disk, I can see everything — whereas in the theater, it looked like everybody was cut off at the waist (the black pants just merged into darkness, and this was at a real theater, not a drive-in.)

There’s an argument to be made that the phenomenon you witnessed in the theater was intentional.

Often home video presents the content in a way the director did not intend.

For ST:Gen the lighting was intentionally darker than it was lit for the TV show. I know as a viewer I certainly didn’t like it. To the point where I had an answer for the scene when Picard asked Troi, “Is there something I can do for you?” her answer should have been, “Yes! You can turn up the lights on the bridge!”
Anyway, the projection at the Century Theaters on Winchester (sadly gone now) was always a standard non digital projection. Any digital theater would likely outdo it on the picture quality. That said, the Winchester domes were always my theater of choice as they had HUGE screens and the image quality was always acceptable. I actually don’t go to nearly as many movies any more because the only theaters left in the area all have screens barely larger than my home theater.

We had very different experiences of the same theaters. TMP looked unbelievably dark at C22. TWOK I saw at C23, and the framing was so wrong that the guy on the second level of the Regula lab was cropped off the screen completely. TUC in 70mm at the C21 was so grainy and ark that the Kirk Bones scene in bunks on Khitomer played BLACK — couldn’t see anything. But Cinema 150 and Palo Alto Square (both long gone, sadly) were really great places to see films like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, 2001 and TFF. I probably saw 2001 5 times in 70mm at the 150 during the 70s, and opening night CLOSE ENCOUNTERS — when one of the speakers blew out during the storm of UFOs over devil’s tower — remains one of my alltime favorite moviegoing experiences. I get that GEN was lit darker, so that you had cinematic qualities, but the E-B scenes seemed immensely darker than the E-D ones, which is not what I see on the blu-ray at all, where you have a picture that looks pretty damn great. I haven’t had many experiences of digital projection that I found satisfactory at all, which contributes to my not seeing films in theaters much anymore. The last really outstanding projection I experienced were in L.A. at reviewer screenings for THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE and THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE, which looked so unbelievably good it just made it that much tougher to go back to the usual crummy screenings.

Digital projection without a doubt is far more consistent than the way we used to watch movies in the 70s, 80s, & 90s, and arguably closest to what the director approved in the screening room at the studio.

Again, I find digital projection to feature massively lower light levels than most conventional projection situations were. The studies indicating most theaters are at 4 footcandles vs the 14 they are supposed to be at bears that out, too. So maybe they are more consistent, but being consistently BAD is not a good thing.

Presumably when Dolby and laser projection become the go-to, all this will change massively, and we’ll see theaters achieving a reasonable standard for illumination. (the only studio-sponsored screening i’ve seen in recent years was for a 3D film, and it was so dim I actually fell asleep on it. 10 months later when I saw it on streaming, the image was a revelation, crisp and clear and full of detail that was just not there in the projected version. This suggests that even when conditions are theoretically satisfactory, audiences are still getting crap projection.)

kmart,

FWIW, I can testify to your experience being mine.

On the older systems that still used filament bulbs, they dimmed them to extend bulb life. On hot days where the A/C increased electrical consumption they confoundly dimmed them more to save on those costs when eyes adapted to the often brighter day needed more not less projected light.

Not sure if the newer light sources can reap any cost savings in replacements or electrical consumption, but I suspect if they can be operated in a dimmer “energy efficient” mode that such will still be engaged during heatwaves.

CC and I, I believe, discussed the older Sony Digital projectors that had to have an add-on to do 3-D projection and how leaving that gizmo in on a non-3D presentation severely cuts down the light projected.

There ought to be a Yelp were theater projected footcandles are measured via phone aps that turns off the noises and lights from the phone itself and reports it in.

Perhaps you are much more of a videophile than I am. I have always enjoyed the huge screen at the 21 or 22 and the quality was always fine. I recall seeing TMP at the 21 and being blown away by the incredible visuals.

Finding a top-notch theater, that kicks the brightness up, has true 4K projectors, masks appropriately for different aspect ratios and can propertly calibrate for 3D, (I hate the headaches from having the image for one eye being brighter or darker than the other) is tough. When you find it, cherish it and cross your fingers the management doesn’t change!

Ill actually probably buy this when I upgrade to 4K and Atmos.

I was hopng for some of the alternate takes from the trailers and tv spots as well,as part of the extras Oh well,guess I’ll have to download those and save’em,lol!

I also wish to add that the Target specific bonus material is ONLY available on the straight blu ray. Not the 3D version or the 4K version.

Ya know, I don’t normally post much here. Especially things like my opinion. But I have to throw it out there that as a “old trek” guy, I thought this was the best of the new movies. It was different, original, respectful to the franchise as a whole and a good popcorn movie that I enjoyed watching. I don’t understand how it didn’t make more money or some of the other negativity that I’ve read since it came out. Mind you, I’m just posting this in general here and not point out anything specific that was said negative about the film. I really think they got it right with this one and I’m looking forward to the next one and hope it gets made (and soon). Just sayin

So after another viewing now that I officially own the film, I have to say, it’s easily my favorite of the Kelvin Timeline films. I LOVED 09 but man, this was a lot of fun and VERY Trek. Things just worked right and meshed well in this film. They felt like they’d finally settled into the roles and the story felt more organic. Why oh why was this not a “bigger” film???

Lack of marketing screwed up it’s overall success. Big time. I mean, this was the 50th anniversary for heaven’s sake! They could have leveraged off this fact and hyped it to the max. It worked for Dr Who, it worked for Bond. But no, we got a too little, too late marketing approach and most of the general folks out there had no idea a new Star trek movie was even out. Remember Treks 25th anniversary in ’91? Now THAT’S how to leverage off hype!

I agree lack of marketing was the biggest problem but people still seem to ignore even AFTER the film opened it just lacked an audience. I mean it dropped 60% in its second week which means the word of mouth wasn’t really spreading and people weren’t turning around to watch it again. By comparison 09 and STID only had a 42% and 45% drop respectively which means people were going to see those again and other people were excited to see it. For this to drop so badly in its second week told you not enough people in general cared sadly.

not lack of marketing, lack of smart marketing. They threw, what, 120 mil at this thing, but I sure didn’t see that evidenced anyplace. Throwing bad money after good, to invert the phrase, seems to be applicable here.

Saw it again as a redbox rental and enjoyed it. So, first time in theater, really REALLY liked it; 2nd time in theater, it just sat there, first home viewing (which was MUCH brighter and clearer than either theatrical), pretty good again. Guess that means I’ll buy it used.

My least favorite of the new movies. The movie felt forced, like they were trying WAY too hard to hit all the broadstrokes to make it “feel” like the original series. Almost to the point of parts of it feeling like a parody. Add to that, a lackluster villain and story and I left the theater oddly unsatisfied, even though I had fun. Only saw it once. I saw Trek 09 seven times in the theater and Into Darkness, three. Having said that, I’ll pick up the bluray to help support Trek when it’s down…and maybe search out the extra content to try and understand how and why the 50th anniversary film of this iconic franchise fell apart at the seams.

‘Like many fans, I certainly eye rolled when we heard the Enterprise would be destroyed, however the execution works well and serves the story. The destruction really just helps move the film along to the best act of the film — where the crew is split up, this lets the characters really shine, with small moments that ring true for these versions of the Trek crew.’

was it worth it to shredding the big E for that?

I agree, I definitely eye-rolled and then I saw it and it felt like watching someone you care about get beaten up and killed. The attack was so savage and the way the swarm really cut into her and the reactions of the crew. It felt more real to me, even the crashing of the saucer it just left me feeling a like I was punched in the gut.

Any chance of getting just the 3D on Blu-ray sometime later?

I hope they left out the teaser trailer.

Sorry. I am just too disappointed by this product to purchase. Perhaps, when I get a 4K box..

Can the digital copy included with the 4k Blu-ray bundle be redeemed on Vudu for the UHD digital version, or is it just HDX?

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