Star Trek Blu-ray: Review By Brian Gallagher

This terrific BD set, with an enormous amount of special features, will surely bring out the inner Trekkie in everyone… even those who weren’t Trekkie’s to begin with.
  • OVERALL
    5.0
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Honestly, EVERYTHING is good about this title.
THE BAD
I really wanted an extensive featurette on Greg Grunberg's voice role as the stepfather... just kidding. There is absolutely NOTHING bad about this awesome three-disc set.
THE FEATURE
Space, and its proverbial final frontier, was something I really wasn't looking too forward to revisiting when I had first heard about J.J. Abrams rebooting this classic sci-fi franchise. I was never a huge sci-fi guy, or a huge Star Trek fan, per se, and perhaps I still had the rancid taste in my mouth from the dreadful Star Trek: Nemesis seven years prior. I thought for sure that would be the death of the franchise as we know it, and I guess I was right, in a way, because Abrams' fantastic remake reminded us not only how great a filmmaker he really is, but also how great this franchise really can be, and presumably will be for years to come.

With his trusty writer-producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman at his side, Abrams proceeded to inject this franchise with a much needed dose of life that only someone like J.J. Abrams can. This film simply pops, brimming with life that I haven't seen in a Star Trek film in ages. While Abrams is primarily known as a TV wunderkind, his film work shouldn't be slighted at all (Mission: Impossible III would've done eons better at the box office if its star would've just sat on Oprah's couch...) and this film is surely Abrams calling card that he can make films that are just as sensational as his TV programs.

We go back to the beginning with this film, even before Captain Kirk was born. We're shown how Kirk came into this world, by the sacrifice of his heroic father and we see that growing up without a real father didn't do young Kirk many favors as a child. We see the rebellious ways of a very young James Tiberius Kirk (Jimmy Bennett) stealing his stepdad's car (we hear the familiar voice of longtime Abrams compadre Greg Grunberg voicing the stepdad) and when we get to the present-day Kirk (the fantastic Chris Pine), we can tell that not much has changed when he gets in a barroom brawl with some Starfleet cadets, after trying to win the heart of the lovely Uhura (Zoe Saldana), in embarrassing fashion. Young Kirk gets a break though when Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) realizes who this angst-ridden young man is, and offers him a chance at a fresh start in Starfleet. From there we see how Kirk struggles with authority, especially with the testy Vulcan, Mr. Spock (played to perfection by Heroes baddie Zachary Quinto) and Uhura who he doesn't give up on either. Of course, we get a wealth of other Star Trek classic characters in new, younger incarnations with Anton Yelchin's Checkov, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu and one of my personal favorites in the film, Karl Urban as the cranky doctor Bones, with a performance unlike anything I've seen from the normally-stoic Urban before, which was quite delightful to watch. Of course, these guys need someone to fight with (besides each other), and we get that in spades with Eric Bana's wonderful turn as the Romulan villain Nero and his #2 Ayel, played by one of my favorite character actors working today, the chameleonic Clifton Collins Jr. I honestly can't say that there is a weak performance amongst the group. Even "smaller" roles, like Winona Ryder as Spock's mother, Chris Hemsworth as Kirk's heroic father (a role that lead to a huge hammer-wielding role of his own) and the incomparable Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime, are given more than ample time to shine, even with such a monstrous cast as this one.

Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have been on quite a phenomenal roll over the past few years, but surely is one of their finest achievements to date. With a mythology so revered and worshiped as Star Trek's is, they managed to tread hallowed ground and come out not only unscathed, but praised by the Roddenberry faithful, but by regular popcorn-munching summer moviegoers alike. Like all of Orci and Kurtzman's films, Star Trek has an incredible sense of pacing and they manage to cram so many sub-plots and characters into the spiffy 127-minute runtime without making the story drag for a second. Orci and Kurtzman definitely did their homework as well, with brief nods and references to the earlier TV series and films aplenty here. I remember when I watched it in the theater, there were several instances where only pockets of laughter would burst out amongst the crowd, nods that I didn't understand but nods that the Star Trek faithful seemed to fully embrace.

Director J.J. Abrams needs to stop futzing around and creating hit TV show after hit TV show so he can start making more damn movies. This guy is really the best of ALL worlds of cinema. He gives you dashes of Michael Bay with pulse-pounding effects and CGI, the eye for detail of a Speilberg, a knack to bring out the very best in his actors that few can and also a fantastic working relationship with two of the hottest writers in the industry. TV audiences have known for years that you really can't go wrong with a J.J. Abrams series, and film lovers will start to embrace this fact real soon, if they haven't already.

Star Trek just might be one of the most absolute perfect summer movies of all time. We get all the popcorn fun we expect from a summer thrill ride, only the weird thing is, Abrams realizes that you don't have to sacrifice a compelling story for huge A-list actors or an overwhelming amount of CGI.
THE EXTRAS
They definitely didn't skimp on all the goodies for this three-disc BD set. OK, one of the discs is a Digital Copy, but the enormous capacity of BD discs means you get a lot more for your buck, especially compared to the other two standard DVD editions. Among the Blu-ray exclusive special features we are treated to include The Shatner Conundrum, which discusses the highly-publicized decision to not include Star Trek legend William Shatner in the film, featurettes on The Red Shirt Guy and The Green Girl, a featurette on Props and Costumes, with a custom "branching pod" (which appear on several of the featurettes) to a Klingon Wardrobe featurette, a featurette with legendary sound designer Ben Burtt, who discusses how he created all of the sound effects for the film and a featurette on Gene Roddenberry's Vision, which is a roundtable with director J. J. Abrams, Leonard Nimoy and other Star Trek luminaries discussing how this film continues the legacy started by original series creator Gene Roddenberry. We're also treated to a very special, high-tech treat with Starfleet Vessel Simulator, which can be accessed simply by holding the BD packaging up to any standard webcam that gives you a 360-degree holographic tour of the U.S.S. Enterprise and also the Romulan vessel, The Narada. This is truly an amazing and innovative breakthrough and I have to imagine we'll be seeing more DVD/BD's equipped with this kind of technology in the coming years.

This BD disc also comes with all of the standard DVD features like a Gag Reel, which is pretty damn funny, widescale featurettes like To Boldy Go, Casting, A New Vision, Starships, Aliens and Planets, all of which feature these nifty "branching pods" that will take you even deeper and explore more of these aspects of the film. We also get a selection of Deleted Scenes and the Digital Copy disc also includes a free demo of the new Star Trek video game for the Xbox 360. There's simply NO way you WON'T get at least your money's worth out of this fantastic three-disc set, with all this has to offer. This might be one of the most comprehensive new release titles of the year, as far as I'm concerned. It's actually rather refreshing, after seeing so many DVD/BD releases coming out with minimal features, to see a release like this - especially in this economy - go for broke on the special features. Kudos to all involved on these fantastic features!
THE VIDEO
The film is presented in the widescreen format, enhanced for 16x9 widescreen televisions. I must say that this 1080p transfer of the film is truly remarkable, capturing every spectacular nuance of J.J. Abrams film in the clearest, crispest possible version imaginable.
THE AUDIO
The sound is phenomenal as well, presented in the Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 format. The sound quality on this BD disc is just as impressive as the immense picture quality you get in this high-definition format. It doesn't matter what they set their phasers to, it sounds out of this world.
THE PACKAGE
This is definitely a no-frills package here, but with all that you get inside this spectacular package, it's well worth it. The front cover just has a big huge title card over the whole cover, but with a subtle image of Chris Pine's Captain Kirk embedded in the background, which is a very nice touch. The back has a small image of Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock, plus a synopsis, a very detailed special features listing and the billing block and tech specs.
THE FINAL WORD
The final frontier has never looked better than on this 1080p transfer of J.J. Abrams fantastic reboot. This terrific BD set, with an enormous amount of special features, will surely bring out the inner Trekkie in everyone... even those who weren't Trekkie's to begin with.

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