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Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed By J.J. Abrams

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) breaks the Prime Directive and loses command of the Enterprise.  Meanwhile in London, John Harrison, a Starfleet officer turned vicious terrorist, bombs a top-secret test facility killing forty-two.  Starfleet High Command gather in San Francisco to come up with a plan to deal with Harrison, but he has plans of his own and attacks the conference, killing Admiral Christopher Pike, Kirk’s mentor.  With his command reinstated, Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise track Harrison to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos, and after a deadly encounter with the terrorist that leaves many Klingons dead, the crew realizes that all is not what it seems.  Who is John Harrison?  Why does Starfleet want him dead?  And what connection does he have with twentieth century genetically engineered superhuman Khan Noonian Singh?

As the second film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, Into Darkness doesn’t have to muck around introducing the concept and the characters, which allows it to jump right into the story, so in that spirit lets jump straight into the review.

The Good.  It’s kind of cool seeing an all new interpretation of the Khan story we all know and love from Star Trek The Original Series: Space Seed and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and I like the way the writers don’t let us forget that the destruction of the planet Vulcan in the first movie has had continuous and far reaching consequences indeed.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan?  Well what can be said that hasn’t already been said?  He’s freaking brilliant, cold, calculating, emotional and deadly.  He’s no Ricardo Montalban, but then few are.  All the performances are decent really, but Cumberbatch stands out and just owns every scene he’s in.  The story is tight and fast paced, the visual effects are fantastic, especially the “warp drive” effect, and the set design is slick.

The Bad.  A few minor nit-picks really.  Apparently the warp drive now works at the Speed of Plot.  It seems to take only a few seconds to fly to and from the Klingon Homeworld, a planet that (to be conservative) is probably at least a thousand light years from Earth.  It also seems extremely lucky that when the warp drive malfunctions, the ship is only seconds from its destination.  And the whole idea that the personal communicators that Starfleet officers carry can call from the Kronos all the way to Earth without any delay seems highly unlikely, but I guess waiting an hour for a reply doesn’t make for particularly good drama.  Also, that would make for one hell of a roaming charge, especially if you’re with Rogers.  I understand this is Science Fiction/Fantasy, but is it too much to ask for the Science parts to have a little consistency?

The Ugly.  Didn’t much like the re-design of the Klingon battle-cruisers.  To me they looked kind of junky and unfinished, and reminded me way too much of something that would look much more at home in one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies than in the Star Trek universe.

Audio/Video.  The 1080p 2.40:1 image is freaking flawless, blacks are as inky as they should be, colours and skin-tones are perfect, and I could find no evidence of macro-blocking, banding or any unsightly artifacting.  Textures on the uniforms, lines on faces, hairs on heads… the video on this blu-ray is reference material.  The audio is more difficult to review.  The packaging reads English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, and well, I’ll just have to take their word for it as my A/V receiver recently “popped” itself to death, so until I replace it I’m running though TV speakers, so I won’t even bother to say how much that sucks.

Special Features.  Fuck Paramount, I mean really.  For this blu-ray release the studio executives decided to screw the consumers by spreading the special features over many different “exclusive retailer” exclusives so the only way to get all the special features that should have been put on a single release to begin with, one has to buy at least three different versions on disc and at least one on download.  So seriously Paramount, FUCK YOU.

Overall.  Is this the best Star Trek flick?  No.  Don’t be stupid, Wrath of Khan is the greatest Star Trek film of all time.  Is it the worst?  Not by a long shot, but I do wonder how much longer the franchise can last if it is the plan of the filmmakers to “re-imagine” existing stories from Star Trek lore.  Be that as it may, Star Trek Into Darkness gets 3.5 unfrozen genetically engineered supermen out of 5.  

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