Saturday, November 7, 2009

Star Trek [2009] – Blu-ray Disc Review

The Movie Itself is a “reboot” of the “Star Trek” franchise which originally started with the television show “Star Trek: The Original Series“, created by Gene Roddenberry. Directing this is J.J. Abrams, the man behind such popular films as “Cloverfield” and television shows such as “Fringe” and “LOST“. Joining him as both writers and producers are Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who are also responsible for the television shows mentioned before as well as writing the screenplay for the “Transformers” films. It at first scared most every “Trekkie” (or “Trekker) when they heard they were going to make a new film, especially when they heard it was going to start the franchise over or “reboot” as it has now become known as in the film industry. I’ll admit, even I myself, a fan of the original “Star Trek” series and films as well as fan of all the previous works mentioned done by the folks responsible for this new film had my skepticism going in to this film but I’m happy to say that it’s a very good film that excites me and seems to really have other fans as well.

Taking on the roles of the crew members are the following actors and actresses. Playing “James T. Kirk” is Chris Pine. Playing “Spock” is Zachary Quinto” (of TV’s “Heroes” fame). Playing “Nyota Uhura” is the lovely Zoe Saldana. Playing “Sulu” is John Cho (of “Harold and Kumar” film fame). Playing “Montgomery Scott” (a.k.a. “Scotty“) is Simon Pegg (of “Shaun of the Dead” fame). Playing “Pavel Chekov” is Anton Yelchin. And last, but far from least, playing lead medical officer “Bones” is Karl Urban. Joining our new crew members in this supporting cast are folks such as Winona Ryder playing the mother to “Spock“, taking on the authority role of “Captain Christopher Pike” is Bruce Greenwood. The cast is rounded out with quite a sick twisted villain by the name of “Nero” played by Eric Bana of “Munich” and “HULK” fame. All of the cast do a great job and pay homage to the original “Star Trek” television series here.

In closing, the film really works, thanks to an explanation of how an alternate reality of sorts exists we learn near the mid-section of the film or so. The portrayals of each character by the new actors playing the roles are very nice and pay homage to the “Star Trek: The Original Series” cast of characters. This technically the 11th “Star Trek” film definitely gets a “reboot” and it leaves you very, very, very excited as a “Trekkie” to anxiously await the obvious sequel. Major kudos here to first off J.J. Abrams for doing a great job directing, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for writing and producing and second to the primary cast like Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. The cameo by Leonard Nimoy I feel I can discuss and it not really be a spoiler as the internet has made this information known already months ago. It’s great to really see an original cast member from the original series back to sort of “pass the torch” along to a new cast (crew of the “U.S.S. Enterprise“). This is just the beginning, reintroducing us as fans or new audiences to these characters and leaving us wanting more much like the original series did as a television show and eventually series of films before it was guilty of “passing the torch” for the first time to the “Next Generation” crew for four films. It’s great to see the “Star Trek” series be done justice, now 4 decades after it’s original creation by Roddenberry.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. IMDb shows that this was shot on traditional 35mm film using Panavision cameras. This makes for a really nice transfer to Hi-Def from 35mm which an obvious cool color tone being used and quite a bit of lens flare on lights being emphasized heavily throughout the film in the cinematography done by Daniel Mindel. Another film Mindel worked on as cinematographer has this type of cool tone and lens flare emphasis on lighting, the 2005 Tony Scott film “Domino” (also available on Blu-ray). This has a solid black level, which is very important when you consider it’s not just any Sci-Fi, it’s “Star Trek” where the blackness of Outer Space serves as the location most of the film is supposed to take place in. Fleshtones and the color palette both seem pretty accurate despite the cool image tone. The amount of film grain here is very minimal, no visible flaws here in terms of compression either. This really is an impressive video presentation that you’d expect, it earns a very solid “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Kudos to Paramount on yet another job well done in terms of 35mm to Hi-Def transfers.

Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround. It should come as no surprise that this is definite “demo material” in terms of audio presentation. The amount of rear channel usage and LFE presence is excellent here. Dialogue is delivered solid throughout never requiring any volume adjustment of any sort. The sound effects from the original series are back here but there are some new and amplified sound effects such as that of phasers being fired which is downright loud and monstrous enough to make your subwoofer rumble. The film’s original music done by Michael Giacchino sounds excellent, getting a great mix throughout primarily the front 3 center channels with decent rear channel presence. Giacchino’s original music which pays great homage to the music of the original series also has it’s own unique sound as well and it’s presented brilliantly here in Dolby TrueHD. There’s really a lot of excellent material here in terms of soundscape and enough to leave fans in all honesty, extremely pleased. It’s really up there with the likes of “Star Wars” in terms of sound quality, especially since it’s actually also done by the same sound designer Ben Burtt who worked on those films. This “boldly goes” to great extremes and earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. It is definitely one of my new favorite “demo discs“, that much for sure!

Bonus Materials are presented in High Definition (HD) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound — unless otherwise noted.

    Disc 1 includes:

  • BD-Live is included on this release which requires the user to be on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc Player to access online content from the studio, in this case Paramount. Something new and extremely innovative on this title is the inclusion of NASA News which will give users real-time updates on the latest real-life space missions. These features will not be enabled until street date and I’m writing this over a week before that date so I cannot tell you too much further regarding this aside from what is described to me on the packaging and menu.
  • Audio Commentary by Director J.J. Abrams, Writers & Producers Roberto Orci, Producer Damon Lindelof and Executive Producer Bryan Burk
    Disc 2 contains featurettes, some of which include sub-menus called “Branching Pods“. These will be listed below a featurette denoted with a “*“.
  • To Boldly Go” (16:41) is a nice “making of” style featurette.
    1. * – “The Shatner Conundrum” (1:58)
      * – “Red Shirt Guy” (0:43)
      * – “The Green Girl” (3:25)
      * – “Trekker Alert!” (2:22)
  • Casting” (28:53)
  • A New Vision” (19:31)
    1. * – “Savage Pressure” (3:08)
  • Starships” (24:33)
    1. * – “Warp Explained” (1:22)
      * – “Paint Job” (1:14)
      * – “Bridge Construction Accelerated” (1:18)
      * – “The Captain’s Chair” (0:45)
      * – “Button Acting 101” (1:44)
      * – “Shuttle Shuffle” (1:46)
      * – “Narada Construction Accelerated” (1:20)
  • Aliens” (16:30)
    1. * – “The Alien Paradox” (1:40)
      * – “Big-Eyed Girl” (1:25)
      * – “Big Bro Quinto” (1:26)
      * – “Klingons” (1:57)
      * – “Drakoulias Anatomy 101” (1:35)
  • Planets” (16:10)
    1. * – “Extra Business” (2:29)
      * – “Confidentiality” (2:45)
  • Props and Costumes” (9:22)
    1. * – “Klingon Wardrobe” (1:08)
  • Ben Burt and the Sounds of Star Trek” (11:45) takes a look the famed sound designer who is also responsible for the “Star Wars” films.
  • Score” (6:28)
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Vision” (8:47) has the director J.J. Abrams, actor Leonard Nimoy, as well as previous writers of “Star Trek” films and television shows discussing how they believe they have carried on the vision that creator Gene Roddenberry originally had four decades ago.
  • Deleted Scenes” (13:30) feature Optional Audio Commentary
  • Starfleet Vessel Simulator” is an interactive feature that allows the user to browse through extensive data on the “U.S.S. Enterprise” as well as the “Romulan” ship, the “Narada. You’ll get a 360 degree view of both vessels here as well as obvious technical information.
  • Gag Reel” (6:22)
    Disc 3 contains:
  • Digital Copy is included of the film on a third disc (DVD-ROM) which is compatible with both Mac and PC, iTunes and Windows Media portable devices. As always, this digital copy lasts exactly 1 year after street (release) date.
  • A Free Game Trial of “Star Trek: D-A-C for XBOX 360 is actually included on this DVD-ROM. Sadly this is not compatible with PlayStation 3 directly like it is with the XBOX 360 but it does offer a weblink to the free trial for PS3 and PC if you insert the DVD-ROM disc in a computer and follow the instructions.

Overall the bonus materials are pretty darn impressive considering they include OVER 3 HOURS of Hi-Def supplemental material alone. Plus they include audio commentary, a demo to a “Star Trek” game, a Digital Copy and the BD-LiveNASA NEWS” function is very cool. Most every “Trekkie” (or “Trekker“) should be pleased with what they get here in terms of bonus material.

Blu-ray Disc packaging: