Star Trek: The Compendium

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Aug 25, 2014
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

J.J. Abrams

Release Date(s)

2009/2013 (September 9, 2014)

Studio(s)

Bad Robot/Skydance (Paramount)

Review

Paramount’s new Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray set collects both of the J.J. Abrams reboot films, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness, in a single package, each finally as full and proper special editions. You’re all familiar with these films already, so I won’t bother going into the details on the stories here. If you want to read my in-depth thoughts on each film, you can do so here (Star Trek) and here (Star Trek Into Darkness) in my previous Blu-ray reviews here at The Bits. The bottom line is… either you love these films for what they are (while overlooking what they’re not), or this really just isn’t your brand of Trek.

I’m also not going talk too much here about the two Star Trek (2009) discs in this set, except to say that this is essentially the exact same 2-disc Special Edition released previously on Blu-ray, simple with new art on the discs. Disc One contains the film in 2.35:1 high-definition with optional feature-length audio commentary by Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci. Disc Two contains all of the documentary featurettes, the branching pods, the interactive Starship Simulator, the deleted scenes, the gag reel, the trailers… everything that was on the previous BD release. Again, you can check out my review of that set here for a more detailed rundown.

Let’s get right to what you really want to know: How is the long-awaited Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray special edition? The short answer is: Pretty great. Finally!

Disc One of Star Trek Into Darkness includes the IMAX 2D version of the film, which shifts back and forth from the 2.35:1 scope theatrical aspect ratio to the 1.78:1 IMAX frame for select scenes.  Watching this on a large front projection system, I’m actually surprised at what a difference the larger frame makes. You’re getting much more image area during those big action sequences (including the volcano sequence on Nibiru, the attack on Starfleet, the battle on the Klingon home world, the starship battle, and the final chase sequence in San Francisco) and it really enhances the epic scale of those scenes. The aspect ratio shift is a little bit distracting when it happens within a scene. For example, during the volcano sequence, the aspect switches from 1.78 of Spock in the volcano to 2.35 of Kirk and McCoy on the Enterprise. By and large though, the overall effect on the film experience is a positive one. The 1080p video quality is excellent, with refined detail, accurate and vibrant colors, and deep detailed blacks. Audio is also reference quality, available in English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Descriptive Audio in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles come in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as English captions.

Disc One also includes a pair of extras. The first is the excellent “enhanced” audio commentary that was previously only available as an iTunes download exclusive. The way it works is that different groups of production team members comment on different sequences – you can play them all a once to get the full commentary experience, or just play the sequence you want. When you do, you watch the film while listening to the comments, and occasionally the person talking stops the image and draws on the screen to point out different things, or you might see picture-in-picture video showing production artwork or behind-the-scenes footage. It’s fairly effective. Participants include director J.J. Abrams, composer Michael Giacchino, VFX supervisor Roger Guyett, co-producer Tommy Harper, editors Maryann Brannon and Mary Jo Markey, DP Dan Mindel, 2nd unit director Bruce McCleery, and producers Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof. The other extra on Disc One is an HD promo video for The Mission Continues, which is a group that helps veterans returning from overseas continue serving in their own communities (1:29).

Disc Two, you’ll be pleased to know, includes all 23 of the behind-the-scenes HD featurettes that were scattered to the winds over the different retail BD SKUs when the film was originally released on disc. When you play them together, you get what is essentially a 2-hour documentary on the making of the film (2:02:14). In order, these include: The Voyage 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). You also get a Gag Reel (5:48). Some of this material will be new to you, and some of you will no doubt have tracked it all down online or on the different BD retail versions. In any case, it’s all great behind-the-scenes content that I think really enhances your enjoyment and appreciation of the film. It covers virtually every aspect of the production, features looks at all kinds of different things you don’t see as well the films (props, costumes, etc), and features interviews with all of the major participants.

Moving on, Disc Two also includes 7 Deleted Scenes in full HD that run about 5 minutes in all (5:26 to be exact). These are just little trimmed and alternate bits and pieces – I won’t spoil them for you, though most of them have been available for viewing online before. I will note, however, that the so-called “Shower” scene isn’t here, and before people get bent out of shape about that, it’s because it’s not (nor was it ever) an actual deleted scene. It’s just a joke that Abrams and Cumberbatch shot for the director’s appearance on Conan. It’s seriously just like one 10-second shot and you can easily find it online. Finally, there are the 3 Trailers in HD: the announcement trailer, and the two full trailers. There was originally an image gallery listed on the press release for this title, but that was an error on the release – it’s not on the set. Subtitles for all of the extras on Disc Two are available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Note that you also get Ultraviolet Digital Copies of each film, accessible via a pair of codes on an insert in the packaging.

If I had once complaint about this new Compendium set, it’s that packaging. It looks terrific, but it’s not a standard blue plastic BD case with a slipcover. It’s a pair of plastic disc trays glued into a hardcover book cover that’s embossed with an overhead view of the Enterprise. The problem is that it seems a little bit fragile. These sorts of glued-in disc trays have a tendency to come unglued from the cover over time. But again, it’s a minor nitpick.

Now then… let’s talk rebate. For U.S. customers who have purchased any of the previous Blu-rays of Star Trek (2009) or Star Trek Into Darkness, you’re eligible for a $5 rebate via mail. Go to this web page, download the PDF form available there and print it out. All you have to do is fill out the form as instructed, including the UPC numbers from the back of any of the BDs you’ve purchased previously, and attach the itemized store receipt (or presumably the Amazon invoice in the package) proving that you’ve purchased the new Compendium BD set. Mail it all in per the instructions and you’ll get a rebate check in the mail within 12 weeks. The rebate offer is good until 11/30/14. Unfortunately, it’s only available to U.S. residents at this time.

When you pull all of the Star Trek Into Darkness extras together into one place, it turns out you end up with a mighty fine special edition of the film. Added to the already excellent special edition for Star Trek (2009), and this is nearly the perfect Blu-ray set for fans of the reboot film series. A couple more notes: This set does not include the Blu-ray 3D version of Star Trek Into Darkness, nor does it include the regular 2.35:1 2D version. So if you’ve already purchased one of the Blu-ray 3D Combo SKUs that includes those versions of the film, I would hang on to it. It also doesn’t include the Digital Copy/Star Trek: DAC game trial disc from the original 2009 BD set, though I doubt anyone will miss it. In any case, when you add up everything you do get here and factor in the $5 rebate, this is a pretty great Blu-ray release.

As many of you know, it was my review and reporting about the original Star Trek Into Darkness BD release here at The Bits (which included a couple of good rants that subsequently went viral), not to mention the reaction of fans online and the coverage in the mainstream press that followed, that first made Paramount realize they’d made a mistake in splitting all of the extras up and giving them out as retail exclusives. That let to a lunch meeting at Paramount, in which the powers that be at the studio asked for my advice on the best way to make the situation right with Star Trek fans. Naturally, I gave them a detailed list of things they could do, which included the outline of a real special edition and the idea of a rebate for those who’d purchased the other BD versions. Not only did Paramount listen, this set represents damn near every suggestion I made to them. So I have to give Paramount a ton of credit for making a real effort to remedy things with fans. And all of you as fans need to appreciate how rare it is these days for a studio to care enough to make that kind of effort.

Star Trek: The Compendium probably isn’t going to please every Trek fan, and some of you may decide to wait until Black Friday to get a better deal on the set. Still, I think for most of you, this is the Blu-ray set you’ve wanted from the start. As such, it’s well worth adding to your collection.

Star Trek (2009): A
Star Trek Into Darkness: B+

- Bill Hunt

 

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