Star Trek Into Darkness 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Like director J.J. Abrams, I never had more than a passing interest in Star Trek. When J.J. Abrams’ first STAR TREK hit theaters in 2009 I was impressed with the visuals, the style and the charisma of its young leading cast, but it didn’t remind me of anything I knew of Star Trek from watching the old movies with my dad or watching reruns of The Next Generation as a kid. His follow-up, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, is more of the same. The visuals are incredible, the story is fast paced and all of the actors involved provide enough charm and charisma to make it easy to look past the lackluster dialogue and the underdeveloped subplots. This new incarnation of Star Trek is all about shiny visuals, over the top special effects and exciting situations. I know some of the die-hard Trekkies aren’t crazy about it, but I thought it was a blast.
We pick up with the crew of the Enterprise as they’re attempting a dangerous and daring mission on a far off planet. Against orders, they save the planet, only to report back to earth and receive disciplinary action for their efforts. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is demoted and the ship goes back to Commander Pike (Bruce Greenwood). This is all very dramatic, but I’m not sure it was necessary. Almost as soon as you can complain, the Federation is attacked by Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Kirk gets his ship back. This sets off a cat and mouse game across the galaxy as Kirk is hell bent on bringing Harrison to justice and avenging the lives lost during his attack.
The crew eventually captures Harrison, who reveals himself to be Khan, that of THE WRATH OF KHAN from the Shatner days. Khan is a worthy adversary for the crew since he has super-human strength and intelligence thanks to genetic experiments hundreds of years earlier (Khan was awoken from a cryogenic cylinder). The relationship between Khan and Kirk is a highlight in the film, with most of the best moments coming from Kirk’s one-liners as he debates with himself and tries to measure up to Khan. Of course, all of this is made possible by the commanding performances from Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch, the latter of which became one of my favorite actors thanks to this role.
If you start to peel back the layers and look beneath the glossy surface, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS may disappoint. Most of the character development is focused on Kirk, who is still written as a cocky, knee-jerk leader that can’t seem to grow up. You’d think being made Captain at such a young age would accelerate his development but it has actually hurt it. I don’t believe the Captain Kirk we’re familiar with would lie on a debriefing report, but this one does. But he has an undying devotion to his crew, making some of his decisions confusing. I like Chris Pine’s Kirk, but I’m not sure he’s getting the proper treatment in terms of character development. Screenwriters are sticking with the Spock and Uhura romance, but their relationship is more of a punch-line in the sequel than anything. Neither character gets the attention they might deserve, but it’s hard to complain about that. Too much time on any of the supporting players would detract from the fast pace and fun action, which were two major positives in the film.
The style of J.J. Abrams, lens flares and all, fits the Star Trek universe very well and is one of the things that really works in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. This is a shiny, glossy summer blockbuster that doesn’t necessarily provide anything new or make you strain to figure out the plot, but it is a fun film that embodies what a summer blockbuster should be. Trekkies may not enjoy it for its general anti-Star Trek feel, but the rest of us should have a fun time with the new crew of the Enterprise.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: As I mentioned in the 4K Ultra HD review of STAR TREK, the Trek films were the perfect way for Paramount to jump into the 4K format. And like the original film, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS looks brilliant on 4K Ultra HD. It didn’t take long for this release to impress me. As Kirk was running through the forest while being chased by natives, I instantly noticed more detail in his robe as well as a level of detail in the leaves and branches in the forest that I had not noticed on the Blu-ray edition. It didn’t stop there. Watching Khan take on a small army of Klingons was also a revelation as we got more detail and a smoother action sequence than what I had previously seen. Early 4K adopters are going to be very impressed with the Trek films and Trekkies still debating the format should easily be swayed to 4K.
Audio: Again, the Dolby Atmos track is a nice upgrade, but not nearly as much of an improvement as the video advancements.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but the set does include a Blu-ray of the film and you can read our STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray Review by clicking the link
Click 4K Ultra HD to read more of our 4K reviews.