Star Trek appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Virtually no problems emerged during this strong presentation.
Sharpness consistently looked solid. The vast majority of the film offered excellent delineation, with only a few slightly iffy shots on display. Those were exceedingly infrequent, as the movie usually seemed tight and concise. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies. Both edge haloes and source flaws were also absent.
Within its stylized palette, no dominant colors emerged. The hues varied quite a lot through a mix of settings. For instance, the Romulan ship came bathed in sickly greens, while the Enterprise was more of a bright, white place. The tones looked good and came across as intended. Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows were smooth and well-developed. This was a fine presentation.
Similar praise greeted the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Star Trek. With a lot of action on display, the mix boasted multiple opportunities for involving material, and it took advantage of these. Of course, the big space battles used the soundscape the best, as those became vivid and involving. Crafts, explosions, and weaponry zipped around the room to form a terrific sense of the action.
Other scenes worked well, too. The audio conveyed atmosphere in a fine way, as we felt immersed in the workings of the various ships. Across the board, the track made the places seem accurate and engrossing.
Audio quality was also more than satisfactory. Speech was natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues to detract. Music appeared lively and full, and effects worked spectacularly well. They always sounded vivid and dynamic, with clean highs and some serious bass. This was a very positive soundtrack.
Most of this three-disc set’s supplements appear on Disc Two. However, Disc One does include an audio commentary from director JJ Abrams, executive producer Brian Burk, producer Damon Lindelof and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. All sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast/characters/performances, set and visual design, music and audio, effects, costumes and makeup, script/story areas, deleted/altered sequences, “rebooting” the franchise and dealing with Trek canon, and other influences.
Despite a lot of happy talk – evidence by frequent remarks about how the participants love this or that about the film – we get a good examination of the flick. The commentary definitely covers a wide array of subjects, and I especially like the focus on screenplay, plot and character issues. I could live without all the self-praise, but there’s more than enough useful content to make this a solid chat.
A few ads open Disc One. We get clips for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, GI Joe: The Rise of COBRA, Fringe and the Star Trek: D-A-C videogame.
Over on Disc Two, most of the content comes in the form of featurettes. Many of these include optional branching content. When activated, these “pods” split off from the main program and offer additional info.
First comes the 16-minute and 41-second To Boldly Go. It offers notes from Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman, Lindelof, Burk, and actor Leonard Nimoy. They discuss some issues with the reboot and the story. A few new tidbits emerge, but I feel like most of this already appears in the commentary. It’s still a good featurette; it just feels a bit redundant. I do like the shot in which Nimoy tells new Spock Zachary Quinto that he’s stuck with Trek for life; he laughs as he tells Quinto “you’re screwed”, but you know he kinda means it.
“Boldly” comes with four branching pods: “The Shatner Conundrum” (1:58), “Red Shirt Guy” (0:43), “The Green Girl” (3:25), and “Trekker Alert!” (2:22). “Shirt” is just a silly piece of fluff, but “Girl” is a good look behind the scenes; it shows how the makeup folks transformed actor Rachel Nichols. “Conundrum” gives us thoughts about why Shatner didn’t appear in the film, while “Alert!” shows some Trekkies on the set.
Actors come to the fore in Casting. This show runs 28 minutes, 53 seconds and features Abrams, Burk, Orci, Nimoy, Kurtzman, original castmember Nichelle Nichols, 1st AD Tommy Gormley, and actors Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, Zoë Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg. We learn about the cast and what they brought to their characters. A fair amount of praise emerges here, but more than enough good content compensate. We find some decent insights into the casting process, and a lot of behind the scenes footage adds impact.
After this comes the 19-minute, 31-second A New Vision. It offers statements from Abrams, Burk, Orci, Kurtzman, Gormley, Nimoy, Pine, Urban, Saldana, Quinto, production designer Scott Chambliss, executive producer Jeffrey Chernov, visual effects supervisor/2nd unit director Roger Guyett, director of photography Dan Mindel, ILM visual effects supervisor Russell Earl, and ILM animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh. “Vision” gets into the film’s tone and inspirations as well as various visuals aspects like photography, locations, and effects. In the latter area, practical effects come to the fore, and those offer some of the most interesting aspects of the piece; it’s fun to see the old-fashioned methods used in the flick.
One “Branching Pod” shows up here. “Savage Pressure” (3:08) features Gormley and Abrams. The piece focuses on Scottish Gormley’s vocal affections and provides a mildly amusing glimpse at the AD.
In the next few programs, we dig into technical areas. Starships fills 24 minutes, 33 seconds with info from Abrams, Nimoy, Chambliss, Burk, Guyett, Earl, Kavanagh, Pegg, Chernov, Pine, Urban, Kurtzman, Yelchin, Saldana, Cho, Orci, Bana, supervising location manager Becky Brake, visual effects art director Alex Jaeger, digital model supervisor Bruce Holcomb, digital models and simulation John Goodson, Viewpoint supervisor Russell Woodall, and actors Faran Tahir and Jennifer Morrison. As expected, this show looks at the design and execution of the movie’s starships. We get a good mix of facts about locations, effects, and other techniques used to create the variety of vehicles. I especially like the discussion of the new Enterprise’s bridge design.
Seven “Branching Pods” appear with “Starships”. We find “Warp Explained” (1:22), “Paint Job” (1:14), “Bridge Construction Accelerated” (1:17), “The Captain’s Chair” (0:45), “Button Acting 101” (1:44), “Narada Construction Accelerated” (1:20) and “Shuttle Shuffle” (1:46). The two “Acceleration” clips are interesting since they show time-lapse glimpses of set creation. The other bits offer decent thoughts, though they tend to remain insubstantial. I do like “Acting”, as it discusses the goofiness of pretending to fly starships.
During the 16-minute, 29-second Aliens, we hear from Guyett, Pegg, Nimoy, Quinto, Bana, Kurtzman, Kavanagh, Delta Vega creatures, Romulans, insect and aliens designer Neville Page, Vulcans and Romulans creator Joel Harlow, and aliens designer and creator Barney Burman. Once again, we find a featurette with a self-explanatory title. This one examines the design and execution of the movie’s alien races. We learn about makeup, prosthetics, costumes and effects used to bring these characters to life. I’d like a little more about the more obscure species – Vilcans and Romulans dominate – but we still find lots of nice info here. In particular, it’s cool to hear Nimoy critique Vulcan ears.
Five “Branching Pods” accompany “Aliens”. We locate “The Alien Paradox” (1:40), “Big-Eyed Girl” (1:25), “Big Bro Quinto” (1:26), “Klingons” (1:57) and “Drakoulias Anatomy 101” (1:35). All offer interesting tidbits, though I especially like “Klingons” since it’s our only glimpse at those characters, as the final film omits them.
Planets goes for 16 minutes, 10 seconds, and features Chambliss, Quinto, Brake, Guyett, Earl, Burk, Pine, Cho, Chernov, assistant location manager Kathy McCurdy and special effects supervisor Burt Dalton. The program examines locations and attempts to create alien worlds as well as a futuristic Earth. By this point, we know what to expect from these featurettes, and “Planets” delivers another informative program. It gives us good details and fleshes out the techniques well.
This area offers two “Branching Pods”. We get “Extra Business” (2:29) and “Confidentiality” (2:45). “Business” looks at the work of extras on the set, while “Confidentiality” examines efforts to ensure that info about the film didn’t emerge. Both are good, though I particularly like the borderline paranoia necessary to keep Internet nerds from exposing everything about the flick in advance.
With the nine-minute, 22-second Props and Costumes, we locate details from Burk, Abrams, Kurtzman, Orci, Saldana, property master Russell Bobbitt, and costume designer Michael Kaplan. The show examines communicators, phasers, tricorders, ear pieces, and different outfits. All the material works, especially when the participants discuss attempts to remain fairly true to TOS designs.
Only one “Branching Pod” accompanies “Props”. “Klingon Wardrobe” (1:08) offers another quick look at the deleted characters. It’s another fun peek at how this film would’ve used the notable Trek villains.
Audio dominates in Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek. It goes for 11 minutes, 45 seconds as we hear from special effects and montage sound designer Burtt. He talks about the audio used in the original series and lets us know what he did to update those elements. Burtt is pretty much the best in the business, and it’s always fascinating to hear him get into his work.
We learn about music in the six-minute, 28-second Score. It includes remarks from Abrams and composer Michael Giacchino. We get notes about the film’s music in this engaging and informative piece.
Finally, Gene Roddenberry’s Vision lasts eight minutes, 47 seconds. It features Nimoy, Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman, Lindelof, Trek graphic designers/historians Denise and Michael Okuda, science consultant Carolyn Porco, Trek producer Rick Berman, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer, and Enterprise executive producer Manny Coto. The participants discuss the era in which Roddenberry came up with “The Original Series” and looks at his goals/work for the series. While I obviously respect Roddenberry’s legacy, “Vision” gives us a pretty generic take. We don’t really learn much about Roddenberry and generally get bland thoughts here.
Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 13 minutes, 30 seconds. We find “Spock Birth” (1:52), “Klingons Take Over Narada” (0:47), “Young Kirk, Johnny and Uncle Frank” (1:36), “Amanda and Sarek Argue After Spock Fights” (0:38), “Prison Interrogation and Breakout” (3:08), “Sarek Gets Amanda” (0:23), “Dorm Room and Kobayashi Maru (Original Version)” (3:59), “Kirk Apologizes to the Green Girl” (0:54) and “Sarek Sees Spock” (0:13).
Most deleted scenes are inconsequential trims, and that’s true of some of these clips. However, the Trek cut sequences prove to be much more interesting than most. We find an entire deleted subplot that involved Klingons, and we watch more of Kirk and Spock as kids. Expect to find a lot of fun bits among this intriguing collection of segments; they hint at different directions the film might’ve taken.
We can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Abrams, Lindelof, Kurtzman and Burk. (I guess Orci went out for a sandwich.) We get info about the sequences, find out why they were cut, and a few wisecracks. They continue to offer fun, useful notes.
An interactive component arrives via the Starfleet Vessel Simulator. This allows you to check out details of the Enterprise and the Narada. Via these, you can inspect the ships from various angles and read text notes about their components. This turns into a good way to learn more about the two vessels.
Next comes a Gag Reel. The clip lasts six minutes, 22 seconds as it shows various forms of silliness from the set. It’s pretty typical blooper material, so don’t expect anything particularly interesting.
Disc Two finishes with some Trailers. This area provides four clips. We get the teaser as well as three theatrical trailers.
Disc Three gives us a Digital Copy of the film. As always, this allows you to slap the flick on your computer or portable viewing gadget. I’m running out of things to say about this feature.
As a series reboot, Star Trek came as a tremendous financial success. Does it work as well in terms of its creative side? Yes and no. While it’s a rousing adventure, it just doesn’t feel enough like Star Trek to totally satisfy. The Blu-ray provides excellent picture and audio along with a terrific set of supplements. Though I have a few reservations about the 2009 Trek, I still think it’s an enjoyable movie, and this Blu-ray brings it home in fine fashion.