Release Date(s)2016 (November 1, 2016)
Studio(s)Bad Robot/Paramount (Paramount Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D+
Three years into the five-year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is having a birthday-induced mid-life crisis. Having joined Starfleet on a dare, he’s bored with deep-space exploration and he’s starting to wonder why he and his crew are doing it at all. But during a routine visit to the Federation’s new Yorktown base, an alien woman arrives at the station requesting help in rescuing her crew from a treacherous uncharted nebula, that only the Enterprise can navigate safely. The mission goes badly, however, when an attack by a hostile alien force destroys the ship, leaving Kirk and his crew stranded on a strange planet where they must fight to save not only themselves... but the Federation itself.
We’ve already reviewed Star Trek Beyond on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format here at The Bits (see this link), so please refer to that review for our comments on the film itself. What you want to know now is: How does the film look on Blu-ray 3D format? And the answer is… complicated.
Star Trek Beyond was shot digitally in 2D using ARRI Alexa XT and Red Epic Dragon cameras (at 3.4K resolution and 6K for select shots). Its post production and visual effects were done in 2K and the final Digital Intermediate was finished in that resolution. The film is presented here on Blu-ray 3D downscaled to 1080p HD at the original 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio, with 3D provided by a post-production conversion (by Stereo-D, if I’m not mistaken). The actual 3D effect is quite good, with lots of separation and a strong impression of depth that at times borders on the extreme. This is by design and is especially obvious during the many forced perspective shots of the Enterprise itself. The problem here is that the black levels are seriously wanting. This film is dark by design; it’s just not properly lit to maximize 3D effectiveness. As a result, between the image brightness increase necessitated by the use of active-shutter glasses, the reduction of light transmission due to glasses themselves, and the film’s lighting, even the darkest blacks in this 3D image all have a grayish cast. I wouldn’t say this is a bad 3D presentation, but the standard Blu-ray image is far more pleasing, and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray image is definitely my preferred way to view the film.
The good news here is that the both the Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D presentations include the same English Dolby Atmos soundtrack found on the 4K UHD release. It’s a big wide presentation with exceptional clarity and staging, lively panning and atmospherics, and terrific use of the Atmos height channels during the space battles and the Yorktown climax. Audio options are also available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, as well as English Descriptive Audio, with subtitles available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Note that the package also includes a regular Blu-ray Disc, as well as a DVD version of the film, and a code for a Digital HD copy. The Blu-ray Disc includes nine behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel, and two deleted scenes – about an hour in all (in full HD, though with terribly weak black levels) and mostly paint-by-numbers. The featurettes include Beyond the Darkness (10:08), Enterprise Takedown (4:31), Divided and Conquered (8:17), A Warped Sense of Revenge (5:15), Trekking in the Desert (3:06), Exploring Strange New Worlds (6:02), New Life, New Civilizations (8:04), To Live Long and Prosper (7:51), and For Leonard and Anton (5:04). That last piece is definitely the best of the lot. The two deleted scenes are brief (just 1:02 in all) and neither is compelling. At least the gag reel is cute (5:13). But none of this content is remotely satisfying. The only fitting word for these extras is disappointing.
Star Trek Beyond is not perfect by any means, but if you go into it with your mind open and willing to have fun, you should enjoy it quite a lot – especially if you’re a longtime Trek fan. It’s another big-screen rollercoaster ride, that’s filled to brimming with Star Trek’s heart and spirit… if perhaps not quite enough of its substance. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray 3D presentation is a decidedly mixed bag. If you have 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray capability, that’s your best image quality option.
- Bill Hunt