Star Trek: Special Edition (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 29-Oct-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-wth J.J. Abrams, B. Burk, A. Kurtzman, D. Lindlof & R. Orci
Web Links-BD-Live: NASA News
Featurette-To Boldly Go (with 4 Optional Branching Pods) (16:41)
Featurette-Casting Documentary (28:53)
Featurette-A New Vision ( with Optional Branching Pod) (19:31)
Featurette-Starships Documentary (with 7 Optional Branching Pods 24:33)
Featurette-Aliens (with 5 Optional Branching Pods) (16:30)
Featurette-Planets (with 2 Optional Branching Pods) (16:10)
Featurette-Props and Costumes (with Optional Branching Pod )(9:22)
Featurette-Ben Burt and the Sound of Star Trek (11:45)
Featurette-Score (6:28)
Featurette-Gene Roddenberry's Vision (8:27)
Deleted Scenes-with Optional Commentary (13:30)
Featurette-Starfleet Vessel Simulator Interactive Tour
Outtakes-Gag Reel (6:22)
Trailer-Four trailers (6:37)
DVD Credits-Disc Credits
DVD-ROM Extras-Digital Copy
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 126:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By J.J. Abrams
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Leonard Nimoy
Eric Bana
Bruce Greenwood
Karl Urban
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $42.95 Music Michael Giacchino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (3254Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
German
Italian
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, For Nokia
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The following synopsis and similar content to the DVD of this Blu-ray release is derived from the 2-Disc DVD review of Star Trek found here.

     In the last few years popular movie series that have enjoyed success via sequels have found a new way to reprise the success they first enjoyed when those series began. I'm not talking about prequels (the previous deviation of the sequel formula), and, of course, I'm referring to the James Bond 007 and Batman movie series. The phenomenon is commonly known as 'rebooting'. Restarting a movie franchise by having a fresh look at well-known characters has certainly proved to be a hit for Batman Begins in 2005 and Casino Royale in 2006. In 2009, Star Trek has adopted the formula and through the guiding hand of Lost director, J.J. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, we have a new look at how James Kirk (played by Christopher Pine), captain of the U.S.S Enterprise, and Spock (played by Zachary Quinto), its first officer, meet and become friends. In between we have a new villain in Nero (played by Eric Bana), a vengeful Romulan hell-bent on annihilating the Federation out of existence and restoring his home-planet by alternating reality through time-travel. The time-travel idea allowed the writers of the script the leeway to alter entrenched story-lines involving the main characters from the original television series in the 1960s and subsequent movies of the 1970s and 1980s. The success of Star Trek XI ( as it is otherwise known to distinguish it from the other Star Trek movies that preceded it) means that Orci, Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof (previously co-producer of Star Trek XI but co-writer for the next Star Trek film due in 2011) have a freer reign in developing their characters and plot ideas, but in his desire to both please newcomers and fans alike of the Star Trek series, J.J. Abrams has hinted that ideas such as resurrecting Kirk or re-introducing Khan Noonien Singh are not out of the question.

     Star Trek, released theatrically in May 2009 worldwide, achieved great box-office and critical success but it was not without its detractors. Common points of criticism include the addition of humour to the plot through Simon Pegg's characterisation of Scotty and his companion Keenser (played by Deep Roy - yes, the oompa-loompa from Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), the banishment of Kirk onto Delta Vega and his subsequent return to the Enterprise, Kirk's encounter on Delta Vega with Spock from an alternate reality (played by none other than Leonard Nimoy), the lack of character development in the crew and the choice of deleted scenes that were cut from the main plot which lent more back story to the main action are all legitimate issues of concern. However, J.J. Abrams, as can be seen from the visual style of the film parodying modern TV series such as Lost and 24 with many close-ups and shaky, hand-held camera scenes to induce frenetic action, has deliberately chosen to make this reboot of Star Trek an ode to great action/adventure movies, not a reflective moral tale as was creator Gene Roddenberry's intention for each episode of the original television series.

     Despite the quick pacing of the film, there is still enough time to savour Christopher Pine's and Zachary Quinto's interpretations of their characters, Kirk and Spock. Pine's performance is not an imitation of William Shatner's iconic role, but he does bring a youthful brashness to the role. His win-at-all costs mentality is still retained from the original character. Spock, played by both Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy due to time-travel and alternate realities, gets to explore the conflict in his dual Vulcan and human nature. Karl Urban, the New Zealand actor famous for his role as Eomer in The Lord of the Rings and the assassin Kirill in The Bourne Supremacy, has a standout performance as Leonard 'Bones' McCoy.

     Despite the frenetic pace of the film and the tight plot, with perhaps another twenty to thirty minutes that could have been added to the two-hour running time, I still immensely enjoyed this film, both at the cinema and in my many repeat viewings for the DVD and Blu-ray reviews of the film. I can't wait for the sequel!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     J.J. Abrams deliberately chose to not shoot this on digital film, instead retaining the natural look of analogue 35mm film. This means that the film does look slightly grainy in parts where there is an inadequate light source, but the addition of flash effects and quick-paced editing means the viewer won't notice the image transfer being 'gritty' in too many places and more so on DVD than on Blu-ray. The aspect ratio of Star Trek is 2:40:1 using a MPEG-4 AVC/1080p codec. The image transfer is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     Star Trek is intentionally slightly 'soft'; there are many examples of strong exposure from flash effects, dutch camera angles, close-ups and 'shaky' camera effects are employed to simulate disorientation in the plot and the film is fast-paced. Despite this, the average bitrate is higher than standard for Blu-ray (i.e. 25-30 m/b per sec) at 32.70 m/b per sec.

     Colour is standard for a big-budgeted film like this one. Not overly bright for outdoor scenes, or overly dark in indoor scenes, the use of colour in the film overall was meant to portray optimism. Scenes on the Romulan ship, the Narada, are dark and pessimistic, so there are a variety of tones used in the film to augment its themes.

     There are no film artefacts on the video transfer of Star Trek onto Blu-ray.

     Subtitles are available in English, English for the Hard of Hearing, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Alex Courage's original score for the 1960s television series is reprised during the end credits. A 107-piece orchestra was used to record the score. Distorted effects and rare instruments, such as the erhu are also utilised. This is further discussed on the special features second disc on this Blu-ray release.

     The main soundtrack is in English. It is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track encoded at 3603 kbps. Interestingly, as this Blu-ray was released in late 2009, a new trend in 2010 has seen distributors using DTS-HD Master Audio as their lossless codec of choice for the main soundtrack on Blu-rays. The recent theatrical release of Toy Story 3, with its use of Dolby Surround 7.1 offering 8 discrete channels may see a re-emergence in the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec for Blu-ray Home Theatre in 2011. There is an English Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1 track also available and French, German, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 dub tracks each encoded at 640 kbps. The audio commentary is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 kbps.

     Dialogue is easy to follow and audio is synchronised.

     Michael Giacchino released a 15 song soundtrack album featuring music from the film. Two of these songs incorporate the original Star Trek theme. The Beastie Boys' Sabotage, used during the car scene when Kirk is a boy is not included on this soundtrack album but the song does make a memorable impact in this scene (in a similar way to AC/DC's Back in Black in the opening scenes of 2008's Iron Man).

     Surround Channels are used for ambient and subtle effects mainly; the English Dolby TrueHD main soundtrack is not an overly aggressive mix. Rear channels carry discrete sound effects consistently. The subwoofer comes to life for action scenes which feature phaser shooting, fights and of course, explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary by Director J.J. Abrams, Executive Producer Bryan Burk, Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Producer Damon Lindelof

     This commentary from the producers and executive producers of the film is a rollicking conversation between five guys who have obviously formed fond memories from shooting this film. There are many funny anecdotes to do with working with actors, as well as information on deleted scenes, such as the deleted prison scenes for the Romulans, and the production process, including enduring the 2007-08 writers’ strike.

BD-Live: NASA News

     With BD-Live you may access an RSS news feed from the NASA web site. ironically, it would be quicker to just go directly to NASA's site over the internet using a PC.

To Boldly Go (with 4 Optional Branching Pods) (16:41)

     This featurette looks at the Star Trek franchise and how it was re-interpreted for the film so it could appeal to hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Leonard Nimoy features prominently in this extra together with director J.J. Abrams. Additional content can be accessed while watching this extra or separately, these are called Branching Pods and they are found on other extras on the second Blu-ray disc of this release. The four Branching Pods for this extra include The Shatner Conundrum (1:58), Red Shirt Guy (0:43), The Green Girl (3:25), and Trekker Alert! (2:22).

Casting Documentary (28:53)

     'Casting' is a behind-the-scenes look at how the principal casting came together to play the original characters from the television series. Leonard Nimoy, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Bruce Greenwood are the main actors that feature in this extra.

A New Vision (with Optional Branching Pod)(19:31)

     This feature looks at how the Star Wars trilogy has influenced the lively pace of this film, making the film more realistic, special effects, sets and shooting locations, shooting using analogue film and with anamorphic lenses, the use of lens flare in effects shots, shooting using camera-shaking effects and other tricks. The Branching Pod sequence accompanying A New Vision is Savage Pressure (3:08).

Starships Documentary (with 7 Optional Branching Pods)(24:33)

     Starships looks at the interior and exterior look of the ships. This extra focuses on the challenge of avoiding anachronisms in the development of spacecraft and technology while still using modern equipment and a larger budget than the original series. Starships featured here are the U.S.S. Kelvin; the U.S.S. Enterprise and Nero's Narada. Branching Pods for this feature include Warp Explained (1:22), Paint Job (1:14), Bridge Construction Accelerated (1:18), The Captain's Chair (0:45), Button Acting 101 (1:44), 'Narada' Construction Accelerated (1:20) and Shuttle Shuffle (1:46).

Aliens (with 5 Optional Branching Pods)(16:30)

     The production design behind the aliens in the film is explored here, including the many designs used for the Romulans and the Industrial Light & Magic effects for the 'Big Red' beast on Delta Vega which chases Kirk across the ice. The five optional Branching Pods for this featurette are: The Alien Paradox (1:40), Big-Eyed Girl (1:25), Big Bro Quinto (1:26), Klingons (1:57), and Drakoulias Anatomy 101 (1:35).

Planets (with 2 Optional Branching Pods) (16:10)

     Check out the locations used to bring Vulcan and Delta Vega to the screen, as well as Earth's Starfleet Academy and a 23rd-century Iowa. The two optional Branching Pods here are Extra Business (2:29) and Confidentiality (2:45).

Props and Costumes (with Optional Branching Pod)(9:22)

     J.J. Abrams got his prop department to look at the original series and look at adapting phasers, communicators, tricorders, Uhura's earpiece etc. and uniforms for a modern-day audience. The Branching Pod extra is Klingon Wardrobe (1:08)

Ben Burtt and the Sound of Star Trek (11:45)

     The original sound designer of George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983) and prequel films (1999-2005) demonstrates how they made sound effects for the original 1960s series and how he re-created them for this film.

Score (6:28)

     This extra is an interview with composer Michael Giacchino preparing and leading the orchestra during rehearsals and recordings of the score. J.J. Abrams also adds his ideas on the score of the film.

Gene Roddenberry's Vision (8:27)

     This is a tribute to the man that created this show and characters. It looks at the era of the 1960s which influenced the storylines of the original series, particularly John F. Kennedy's promise to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We learn about Roddenberry's optimistic view of the future and the use of science fiction to re-tell stories.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director J.J. Abrams, Executive Producer Bryan Burk, Writer Alex Kutzman and Producer Damon Lindelof (13:30)

     These nine deleted scenes mainly contain scenes that were cut from the film that had to do with back story to the events. This includes the birth of Spock, Klingons taking over the Narada soon after its collision with the U.S.S Kelvin, Kirk's brother Johnny running away from home, scenes with Spock's parents Sarek and Amanda, prison interrogation scenes involving Nero and a more detailed look into how Kirk cheated on the Kobyashi Maru test. These scenes total 13 minutes only, but they make interesting viewing and they provide a fuller exposition behind the events of the main film.

Starfleet Vessel Simulator Interactive Tour of the Enterprise and Narada Vessels

     3D CG models of the Enterprise and the Narada can be viewed from various angles with an option to view trivia facts which discuss the design of each ship.

Gag Reel (6:22)

     This is a sequence of blooper reels from the film. This type of extra is rare these days, but it is a welcome addition to the extras on this Blu-ray as some of these errors are hilarious!

Four trailers (6:37)

     Included is a teaser trailer (1:18) and three theatrical trailers: The Wait is Over (2:14), Prepare for the Beginning (2:17), and Buckle Up (1:03).

Disc Credits

     Disc Credits lists the people involved in authoring the Blu-ray release for the Home Video Market. The credits are 5 pages long.

Bonus Digital Copy

     The third disc of this Blu-ray allows you to download a digital copy of Star Trek to your portable device (Windows Media Player or iTunes compatible) for Windows or Mac.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Star Trek has been released in Region Free Blu-ray formats in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and The Netherlands. These editions are essentially the same, with minor variations involving languages, subtitles and the inclusion of a digital copy.

Summary

     Despite the quick pacing, shaky camera and tight plot, Star Trek is a winner that will entertain fans and newcomers alike.

     The extras here are much more comprehensive than the 2-disc DVD release. The re-inventing of the background to the characters we all know and love from the original 1960s TV series has succeeded overwhelmingly amongst fans and newcomers alike. It's no surprise to know that a sequel is already in the works for 2012, with another film planned after that.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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