Star Trek Into Darkness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc - usually. The filmmakers shot about 30 minutes of the movie with IMAX cameras, and that used a ratio around 1.43:1. For those scenes, the 4K expanded to 1.78:1 - it’s not the full IMAX image, but it’s closer than 2.40:1.
At all times, sharpness delivered strong images. Virtually no signs of softness arose here, as the movie remained crisp and tight even in the widest shots.
Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t occur, and the movie lacked edge haloes or other distractions like print flaws; it was always clean.
Expect a heavily teal palette here. A few earthier tones occasionally occurred – like some prominent reds – but the chilly blues dominated. However one feels about those choices, the disc reproduced them in a positive fashion.
Blacks were tight and rich, and low-light shots offered smooth, well-defined elements. Everything here soared and gave us a fine transfer.
Note that the IMAX material looked stronger than the 2.40:1 footage. The IMAX shots boasted stunning clarity and vivacity that clearly exceeded the 2.40:1 material.
That contrast became noticeable enough to make the 2.40:1 shots less pleasing than I’d like. While they still looked very good on their own, they couldn’t live up to the heights of the IMAX shots.
We get ample pleasures from the thrilling Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Darkness. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix made vivid use of all available speakers to create an involving, immersive experience.
With lots of battles and space components, the information popped up in logical places, meshed together smoothly and created a wonderful sense of the situations. The soundscape was consistently an active presence and really brought us into the story.
In addition, audio quality excelled. Speech was natural and distinctive, while music sounded robust and full.
Effects did the heavy lifting and added real punch to the package; with clean highs and deep lows, those elements sounded great. I couldn’t have asked much more from this impressive soundtrack.
Two separate Blu-ray releases of Into Darkness occurred: the original 2013 version and a 2014 “Star Trek Compendium” reissue. The two differed due to the addition of many new supplements as well as the IMAX version of the film – the 2013 Blu-ray kept the entire film at 2.40:1. For comparisons, I opted to view the 4K UHD vs. the 2014 “Compendium” release because both used the same alternate ratio presentation.
In terms of audio, the Atmos added a little kick, and visuals also worked better for the 4K – though some “drawbacks” came with the upgrade. This occurred because the higher resolution of 4K meant the differences between the IMAX shots and the 2.40:1 material looked more noticeable.
Still, the 4K looked great, so don’t view these variations as a problem – the 4K still demonstrated very good to great delineation. Colors also got a boost – mainly during the occasional moments where the movie veered away from teal. As good as the Blu-ray looked, the 4K topped it.
One other comparison should occur: between the 4K and the 3D version. As much as I enjoy 3D, I preferred the 4K in this case. The 3D imaging for Into Darkness added a little spark but didn’t dazzle me – and it also provided just the 2.40:1-only film. The increased resolution and the IMAX shots made the 4K the best available Into Darkness.
Virtually no extras appear on the 4K, but we do get plenty of materials on the Blu-ray copy, a two-disc affair that replicates the “Compendium” edition. On Blu-ray One, we get an enhanced commentary.
This combines picture-in-picture capabilities with a varying roster of participants. These split into nine chapters with a total running time of two hours, 42 minutes and 46 seconds.
“An Island Adventure” (16:39): visual effects supervisor/2nd unit director Roger Guyett and co-producer/unit production manager Tommy Harper discuss alien character design, various effects and sets/locations.
“Mystery Visitor in London” (2:28): composer Michael Giacchino talks about the score and changes made to his original cues.
“Tragedy & Mystery” (42:25): editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey cover story/script/character areas, cast and performances, editing, deleted scenes and reshoots.
“The Kronos Battle” (9:51): director of photography Dan Mindel and 2nd unit director of photography Bruce McCleery get into camerawork, lighting and other technical areas.
“Enemy in the Brig” (15:25): composer Michael Giacchino tells us more about his music, with an emphasis on Khan’s theme.
“Ship to Ship” (21:41): director JJ Abrams offers general thoughts about the film’s creation that spotlight the elements required for the scene in question.
“Fall of the Enterprise” (17:23): producer Bryan Burk and writer/producer Damon Lindelof go over story/character elements, the rationale for the film’s use of Khan, and other filmmaking choices.
“San Francisco Finale” (15:19): director JJ Abrams gives notes about IMAX photography, effects, stunts, cast and performances, and sets and locations.
“The Captain’s Oath” (11:35): composer Michael Giacchino finishes with additional notes about music and the use of the original Trek theme.
In addition to the commentary voiceovers, the picture-in-picture side delivers footage from the shoot and other background elements. The piece also allows the participants to freeze the image to spotlight various elements; they can use telestrator capabilities to circle/highlight different bits as well.
While interesting in theory, the various visual elements don’t add a lot to the package. Occasionally they let us better understand details but these moments don’t add up to a lot of worthwhile pieces.
As for the commentaries themselves, they tend to be up and down. The best chats come from the editors and from Abrams, while some of the others tend to be a little dry and technical.
In addition, Burk and Lindelof joke too much, and a fair amount of dead air occurs at times; this becomes a particular problem after the Mindel/McCleery chat as well as before/after some of Giacchino’s moments.
Even with some flaws, though, I think the “enhanced commentary” becomes worthwhile. It covers a lot of topics and delivers a nice array of insights. While I suspect it would’ve worked better as a more traditional commentary, it remains a mostly compelling compilation.
On Blu-ray Two, we locate a series of 21 featurettes. Via a “Play All” option, these run a total of two hours, two minutes, 14 seconds.
We find The Mission Begins… Again (2:28), Creating the Red Planet (8:28), Introducing the Villain (2:16), Rebuilding the Enterprise (5:31), National Ignition Facility Home of the Core (4:32), “Attack on Starfleet” (5:25), Aliens Encountered (6:54), “The Klingon Home World” (7:30), “The Enemy of My Enemy” (7:03), Vengeance Is Coming (4:28), “Ship to Ship” (6:03), Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock (4:08), Down With the Ship (6:09), Kirk and Spock (5:36), “Brawl By the Bay” (5:44), Fitting the Future (5:03), Property of Starfleet (4:53), Unlocking the Cut (5:10), Visual Affection (9:03), The Sound of Music (And FX) (5:26), Safety First (2:27) and “Continuing the Mission” (1:57).
Across these, we hear from director/producer JJ Abrams, executive producer Jeffrey Chernov, greens gang boss Roger Prater, art director Lauren Polizzi, creature designer Neville Page, unit production manager/co-producer Tommy Harper, pyro forepersons Anthony Simonaitis and William Aldridge, first assistant photographer Serge Nofield, costume designer Michael Kaplan, stuntmen Mike Massa and Daniel Stevens, electrical engineer Arnold E. Peterson, producer Bryan Burk, production designer Scott Chambliss, visual effects supervisor/second unit director Roger Guyett, dimmer operator Joshua Thatcher, art director Andrew EW Murdock, makeup effects artists Barney Burman andJamie Kelman, language consultant Britton Watkins, consultant Marc Okrand, writers/producers Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, previs and postvis supervisor Bradley Alexander, VFX producer Ron Ames, first AD Tommy Gormley, fight choreographer Marcus Young, NIF principal associate director Ed Moses, assistant location manager Kathy McCurdy, art director Jason Stewart, electrical engineer Arnold E. Peterson, special makeup effects artists Lance Anderson, Heather Langenkamp and Will Alvin, makeup sculptor Glen Eisner, hair department head Mary Mastro, visual effects art director James Clyne, makeup department lead David Anderson, 2nd unit director of photography Bruce McCleery, visual effects/editorial Adam Gerstal, prop master Andy Siegel, props department Melissa Harrison, assistant editor Robert Stambler, first assistant editor Julian Smirke and Rita DeSilva, editors Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, art department Amelia Brooke, ILM compositing supervisor Jay Cooper, ILM CG supervisor Daniel Pearson, ILM animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh, compositor Bryan Begun, ILM digital matte supervisor Barry Williams, composer Michael Giacchino, orchestrator/conductor Tim Simonec, supervising sound editor/sound designer Ben Burtt, and actors Karl Urban, Jeremy Raymond, Zachary Quinto, Bruce Greenwood, Chris Pike, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Noel Clarke, Sean Blakemore, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Kimberly Broumand, April Marie Eden, Deep Roy, Leonard Nimoy, John Cho, and Peter Weller.
These cover sequel-related challenges, story/character areas, sets and locations, creature, costume and art design, various effects, camerawork, cast and performances, stunts and action, makeup, editing, music and audio, and some other topics. When I reviewed the original Blu-ray, I indicated that I liked the collection of featurettes but thought they seemed a little on the skimpy side.
I can’t make that complaint now, as the nearly two hours of material covers a broad array of subjects. These offer a strong examination of the movie’s creation.
Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 26 seconds. We find “Nibiru Captain’s Log” (0:46), “Marcus’ Office (Alternate Version)” (0:48), “Room Attack (Alternate Version)” (0:50), “Carol’s Accent” (0:23), “Klingon Conversation (Alternate Version)” (1:20), “Scotty Cargo Bay Door” (0:49) and “Kirk Meets Girl” (0:22).
To call the added footage insubstantial would be an understatement, as nothing here offers anything important. That said, the clips give us entertainment value, especially when we get to see the fabricated captain’s log Spock mentions in the theatrical cut.
We also find out what became of the little girl near death early in the film. These bits become fun to see but they don’t expand the story in a notable manner.
In addition to three trailers for Into Darkness, we see a Gag Reel (5:48). Should you expect anything other than goofs and giggles? Nope.
While not as good as its immediate predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness provides an enjoyable adventure. It comes with a few questionable choices but packs enough action and fun to make it a winner. The 4K boasts superb picture and audio along with a strong roster of bonus materials. This 4K doesn’t blow away the “Compendium” release of Into Darkness, but it does become a pretty decent upgrade.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS