Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (2013)

Actors: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg
Director: J.J. Abrams
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Multiple Formats
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
Region: Region A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: September 10, 2013
Run Time: 132 minutes




Okay Star Trek fans, I understand you’re a hard bunch to please and I know this whole reboot thing has been difficult. But calling Star Trek Into Darkness the worst Trek movie of all time is pure lunacy!

How quickly you forget the depths to which this franchise had sunk . . . so deep that Paramount almost closed the whole thing down until J.J. Abrams rode in on a white charger. Into Darkness continues to make good on the promise of his first effort: marrying classic Trek elements with new sensibilities and a tinge of 21st century paranoia to help it go down smooth.

The biggest problem comes with the finale: a brazen rehash of The Wrath of Khan devoid of the attendant authenticity. It’s a rare misstep in a largely masterful film, but certainly it can leave a bit of a bad aftertaste. That’s five minutes out of two-plus hours, however; a key five minutes to be sure, but hardly enough to undo the terrific entertainment surrounding it. Once again, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew face a dangerous threat, this one buried deep in the heart of the Federation. Its head is Benedict Cumberbatch’s mysterious ubermensch, but it goes far deeper, testing the will of Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew past their considerable limits.

Abrams continues his clever reimagining of the Trek universe in the process, giving us glimpses of redesigned Klingons, awesome warships and burnt-out planets in every frame. But like all of the best Trek films, he still keeps the characters front and center. Here too, the film plays elegantly with new dynamics, further exploring the relationship between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and developing what might happen if Scotty (Simon Pegg) finally has had enough.

The performers continue their exemplary work from the 2009 film, embodying their own versions of these characters rather than simply imitating the “classic” cast of the 1960s show. (Series newcomer Peter Weller also makes a welcome return to the big screen; where ya been Pete?)
The multi-layered textual commentary is in full evidence as well, with sly references to Trek’s pop culture status hidden in the straight drama. Witness Chekov’s (Anthony Yelchin) horror at being put in a red shirt, for example, or further references to Kirk’s penchant for sexy space chicks. Abrams is smart enough to make the reference without going full-bore Meta on us, preserving the integrity of the universe while still having some fun with our preconceived notions.

Put them all together and it confirms this reboot as a Trek for our times. Into Darkness definitely lives up to its name, infusing a pervading sense of gloom into Gene Roddenberry’s previously sunny universe. This Federation has been touched by the events of the first film and seems willing to surrender its principles on a whim in exchange for feigned safety. Kirk and the gang battle against that despair of the soul as much as their more direct foes, and their struggles help give this entry some distinction.

The more straightforward action, while a little derivative, still holds its own as well (the occasional Abrams lens flare notwithstanding). The ship-to-ship battles are as awesome as anything the series has produced, while Kirk’s standout flight through a debris field is one of the best set pieces of the year.

And yet despite its various sterling qualities, the Trekkies still turned on it with all the hate and vitriol their slighted hearts could muster. Complaints about the finale hold some validity, but they toss so much of the baby out with the bathwater that their arguments become moot. This is a first-rate entry in the venerable franchise, with the energy and creative dynamic to continue for some time. The fans should consider that before letting their hyperbole run away with them . . . and ponder the alternative were this director not at the helm. The Blu-ray gives them a chance to reconsider this stellar effort, and perhaps cut it the tiniest bit of slack.

THE DISC: Considering the size of this movie, the disc itself is a bit of a let-down. A series of behind-the-scenes featurettes totals less than 45 minutes of new material, along with the DVD and digital copies. But that’s not the irritating thing. Apparently there are more additional features, as well as an audio commentary from Abrams and the cast. Where? Spread across a series of different versions of the Blu-ray: one available at Target, one at Best Buy and one downloadable on iTunes. That means buying multiple versions if you want to get all the bells and whistles: a shameless marketing ploy that taints the otherwise sterling picture and sound quality of the film itself. It’s an awful precedent that won’t do much to endear Into Darkness to slighted fans.

WORTH IT? Considering Paramount’s ugly tactics around the Blu-ray, I’d say stream it or wait for premium cable. It’s a pity, because the film itself deserves much better.

RECOMMENDATION: If the film itself is all you want, then you can probably get away with a purchase. Just make sure you know which extras you’re getting before you pick it up.

- Rob Vaux



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).