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STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Mark Wiechman

Star Trek:  Into Darkness
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve
Director: J.J Abrams
Audio:  English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD/French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital/Subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese 
Video: 1.85: 1
Studio: Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length: 132 minutes
Release Date:  September 10, 2013

"You think you world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned to have my vengeance. So, shall we begin?"

Film ***1/2

When I first learned that the Stark Trek series would undergo a reboot, featuring the original roster of characters going boldly where they had never gone before, I was skeptical.  In Star Trek we were treated to an “origins” story of sorts, in which we learn that Kirk was a brilliant but troubled young man who disdained rules, McCoy was a divorcee who felt space was his last refuge, and that while Spock was still a logical Vulcan, he and Uhuru could create some heat.  The special effects and action quotients were amped up tremendously, and we were treated to a whole new kind of adventure.  It was old, yet new, and consistent with what we expect from movies of our era.  Indeed, so many films made as recently as the 1990’s can make viewers cringe with poor special effects and corny dialogue.

This successful rebirth of the franchise released its second chapter, Star Trek: Into Darkness with mixed reviews because many components of the story are borrowed from a classic original episode from the 1960’s run.  I knew before viewing the film that Khan was involved and we would expect many plot devices from the classic “Space Seed” episode.  What it lacks in originality, however, it makes up for in many other ways. 

For example, Kirk and Spock are at odds over Spock’s habit of revealing everything to his superiors even when it makes Kirk look bad.  The villain attacks a gathering of Star Fleet offices, with the resulting death of a key character from the prior film.  When Kirk chases the villain and encounters the Klingons, nothing goes as planned.  Scotty as usual tries to warn Kirk not to do something, but Kirk accepts his resignation instead of listening.  But he almost immediately realizes that he acted rashly and this time McCoy uses science to solve the puzzle instead of Spock for once, and his steady hands avert catastrophe. 

The true villain seems like a moving target, much like Brutus and Cassius seeming to be heroes, before Antony slams them as honorable men.  Benedict Cumberbatch is riveting as a powerful man, disdainful of Kirk, who also saves his life more than once.  Zachary Quinto is back as Spock, fighting viciously with Khan with physical persistence and balance that Indiana Jones would envy.  Alice Eve is a beautiful addition to the cast as Dr. Marcus (this time the streams of the prior movies show up) and Peter Weller, perhaps the manliest man in any Star Trek movie is amazing in his performance as her father, who wants to save Starfleet but may end of destroying it instead.

And usually a film that borrows incidents and images from recent actually history usually does not work, but here it is thrilling.  When vehicles crash into buildings, but the people survive, it will remind most viewers of terrorist attacks, but in a way, that is what Khan is---a terrorist.  And it asks the question; would you betray your world and give up your life to save the life of one that you love? 

While it is not a movie that shakes up the whole genre, it is exciting from beginning to end, with the most convincing performance by a villain that I have seen in some time.  The James Bond franchise missed out on Cumberbatch, but their missed casting opportunity is Star Trek’s gain.

Oh, and the Klingons are actually pretty frightening for once…

Video ****

I doubt that younger viewers can appreciate how seamless modern CGI is.  I just could not spot any artifacts or other issues.  If you watch the credits after the film, you will see long lists of CGI engineers who made it happen flawlessly.  Even the light in their helmets seem to reflect moonlight just right.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The 3D release of this movie is a truly spectacular experience...detailed and engrossing, with virtually no flaws.  This version is definitely worth checking out if you have the home theatre for it.

Audio ****

Mostly recorded at Skywalker Studios, the score from Michael Giacchino shines through the never ending explosions and earth-shaking sound effects, but we never lose the dialogue.  Regular readers of this site know how picky I am about this aspect of the film, but even my slightly aged hearing can make out every audio aspect clearly.  

Features **1/2

There appear to be several different Blu-Ray releases that come with slightly different features.  I reviewed the Target version which includes both the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the film as well as an Ultraviolet version to download.  

The Blu-Ray includes featurettes on “The Enemy of My Enemy: The ultimate look at Khan,” “Ship to Ship: Filming the extraordinary space jump sequence,”  “The Klingon Home World,”  “Creating the Red Planet,” “Attack on Starfleet,” “Brawl by the Bay,” “Continuing the Mission,” and “The Mission Continues.”  The last two are related; “Continuing” explains how the ending of the film is connected with the current effort to re-employ veterans, then the actual last feature is a brief ad for the organization itself narrated by Chris Pine. 

Summary:

Don’t believe the lifeless critics who slammed the movie because it is somehow not 100% original.  Is anything 100% original?  I never thought I would admit that the reboot might be better than the first series, but that seems to be the case. 

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