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page added: 12/1/09



Blu-ray Reviews
Blu-ray Disc review by Bill Hunt and Barrie Maxwell of The Digital Bits

Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 (Blu-ray Disc)

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Star Trek: The Original Series -
Season 3

1968-69 (2009) - NBC/Desilu (CBS/Paramount)
Released on Blu-ray Disc on December 15th, 2009
Also available on DVD

DTS-HD MA

Program Rating: A
Video (1-20): 18
Audio (1-20): 18
Extras: B+


After its terrific Season 1 and Season 2 Blu-ray releases, CBS Home Video has now completed Star Trek: The Original Series' debut on Blu-ray with a fine Season 3 BD release. Star Trek's final season features several excellent episodes, including The Enterprise Incident, Day of the Dove, The Tholian Web and All Our Yesterdays.


Once again, all are presented in full 1080p high-definition video, pilar-boxed to maintain the original 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio. Using the set's menus, you can select to view either the original broadcast versions in HD, or the new "remastered" versions with enhanced special effects. Depending on which version you select, the audio switches from the original Dolby Digital 2.0 mono to full 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The quality of both the video and audio presentations is excellent - a perfect match to that of the Season 1 and 2 Blu-ray sets. Color and contrast are both superb, and detail is excellent on the whole, with even the new effects shots revealing a layer of fine grain to blend more properly with the original filmed footage. As before, there's little doubt whatsoever that this is as close to perfect looking as these episodes will ever get.

In terms of bonus features, here's what's included (and NOT included) from the previous DVD releases...

Missing from the original DVD release of Season 3 are the Okuda text commentaries on The Savage Curtain and Turnabout Intruder, the hidden Red Shirt Log Easter egg featurettes, the A Star Trek Collector's Dream Come True featurette and the production art gallery. The set DOES include all the other featurettes and preview trailers from the original set, as well as the Collectible Trek featurette that was originally included on a Best Buy bonus disc.

From the more recent "Remastered" DVD only release of Season 3, this new Blu-ray set carries over almost everything (including both versions of The Cage, which are now in HD), except that the A Star Trek Collector's Dream Come True featurette is once again omitted. Billy Blackurn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Moments, Part 3 is also now presented in high-def.

Newly included for this Blu-ray set is the usual BD-Live access to additional online content (including galleries, many of the missing Red Shirt Log featurettes and other new material). You also get something VERY cool: The never-before-seen original extended version of the show's second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before. The print for this version was purchased by a German collector several years ago, who had the generosity to inform CBS and Paramount of its existence and make it available for HD transfer. This transfer was completed in Germany, and the resulting master was digitally restored and graded by CBS for inclusion on this Blu-ray set. It's not dramatically different than the version you've seen before, but the opening features a different Kirk "Captain's Log" voiceover, different music, 1960s TV-style act breaks and a slightly extended action sequence. It is, however, a very cool and unexpected exclusive for the Blu-ray set that fans should really appreciate and enjoy. As with the Season 2 Blu-ray, this set is also enhanced with Mobile Blu, which allows you to control the player with an iPhone or iPod Touch, provided that you download the free Mobile Blu app (from the iPhone app store) and connect to the same wireless network as your player. Unlike the Season 2 set however, there are no Mobile Blu-exclusive featurettes. Instead, all of the set's SD featurettes can also be viewed on the go via Mobile Blu.

Discs 1-4 also have at least one obvious Easter Egg a piece. They're all short featurettes and are worth your time. As with Season 2, there may be additional Easter Eggs as well that require the input of numerical codes via your remote. We'll let you know if we uncover any. There's also a teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Trek Online MMOG game on Disc One, and a paper insert in the packaging includes a registration code that will allow eventual players of the game to download an exclusive Wrath of Khan-style Admiral's uniform for your playable Captain character.

Here's the complete breakdown of contents on the Season 3 Blu-ray set...

DISC ONE - Episodes: Spock's Brain, The Enterprise Incident, The Paradise Syndrome, And the Children Shall Lead and Is There in Truth No Beauty?. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

DISC TWO - Episodes: Spectre of the Gun, Day of the Dove, For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, The Tholian Web and Plato's Stepchildren. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

DISC THREE - Episodes: Wink of An Eye, The Empath, Elaan of Troyius, Whom Gods Destroy and Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

DISC FOUR - Episodes: The Mark of Gideon, That Which Survives, The Lights of Zetar, Requiem for Methuselah and The Way to Eden. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

DISC FIVE - Episodes: The Cloud Minders, The Savage Curtain, All Our Yesterdays and Turnabout Intruder. Additional extras: Original broadcast previews for each episode (SD), Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig, Chief Engineer's Log, Memoir from Mr. Sulu and Captain's Log: Bob Justman featurettes (SD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

DISC SIX - Episodes: The Cage, The Cage (Extended Version) and Where No Man Has Gone Before (Unaired, Alternate Version). Additional extras: To Boldly Go... Season Three, Collectible Trek and Star Trek's Impact featurettes (SD), David Gerrold Hosts 2009 Convention Coverage, The Anthropology of Star Trek Comic-Con Panel 2009, The World of Rod Roddenberry Comic-Con Panel 2009 and Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories, Part 3 featurettes (HD), BD-Live and Mobile Blu enhanced

I'm thrilled to say that CBS has absolutely delivered with their release of the original Star Trek on Blu-ray. My hats off to everyone involved. But now that they've completed the series' release in HD, one wonders what's next for the franchise on the format. Given the appearance of one of its episodes on the Season 2 set, Star Trek: The Animated Series seems a possible Blu-ray release for 2010, though Star Trek: Enterprise is far more likely (and I'd certainly welcome the chance to have that show on Blu-ray, hopefully with some additional special features - like new featurettes or episode commentaries giving the show's cast the chance to reflect back on their experiences). I'll certainly be curious to see what CBS announces next. In any case, if you've been collecting original Trek on Blu-ray so far, this set is a must have. And if you're new to classic Trek in HD, you can get all three seasons on Amazon for just $192 (40% off the retail price) - not bad! Either way, Season 3 is very highly recommended.

Bill Hunt, Editor
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




My Sister's Keeper

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My Sister's Keeper
2009 (2009) - New Line (Warner Bros.)
Released on Blu-ray Disc on November 17th, 2009
Also available on DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Film Rating: A-
Video (1-20): 17
Audio (1-20): 17
Extras: C


Jodi Picoult's 2004 novel, My Sister's Keeper, tells a poignant tale of a family whose whole life is centred on 16-year-old daughter Kate who is slowly dying of leukemia. Her younger 11-year-old sister Anna is a conscious product of her parents, via in vitro fertilization, to serve as a bone marrow match for her sister as required during Kate's various relapses.


After 11 years, however, Anna decides that she no longer wants to be a donor and files suit against her parents in order to gain control over her own body. The novel is a thoughtful study of the ramifications of such a suit upon all members of the family, although its impact is diminished by a couple of things. One is the contrivance at its ending that mutes the story's very real evocation of family dynamic and entwined emotions, while the other is the novel's awkward and distractingly annoying device of continually switching the story's narrative voice among all the main characters.

The book was recently filmed by New Line with Nick Cassavetes directing and co-writing the screenplay, and the result is a substantial improvement on its source material. The ending has been changed from the novel and particularly seems right now; it flows naturally from both the events that unfold and the nature of the characters we experience on screen. An attempt has been made to reflect the switching narrative voice of the book, but it works more effectively on screen because it's used both sparingly and in such a way that it seems to flow naturally from the events unfolding rather than as an abrupt jump in them. The film contains a number of flashbacks like the book, but they are clearly delineated and the switching timeframe adds a texture to the presentation that deepens our understanding of and empathy with the story. The family for the most part is portrayed impressively. Cameron Diaz conveys the at-times irrational passion of the mother well and Jason Patric as the stabilizing father is quietly effective. Most impressive are Abigail Breslin as Anna and particularly Sofia Vassilieva as Kate. Alec Baldwin as the lawyer that Anna engages and Joan Cusack as the judge both provide nicely restrained performances, although the film does not allow their characters (particularly Baldwin's) to be developed as well as one might like.

As with real life, the film is an emotional journey of ups and downs throughout, but it is not a shameless tear-jerker. There is a restraint that develops in a family that has been through the emotional wringer over many years, and the film conveys a similar restraint almost throughout and a quiet sense of relief at the end.

Warner Bros.' Blu-ray 2.4:1 presentation is a very satisfying effort. Colours are rich and consistently accurate, giving the image a warm and inviting look throughout. There are a few soft-looking scenes, but for the most part and particularly in close-ups, sharpness and shadow detail are very good. Black levels are deep and luxuriant. There is no evidence of digital sharpening or edge effects. This is not demonstration-quality material, but nevertheless is a very fine representation of the film's non-showy look. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio clearly and crisply delivers the film's dialogue whether in the few louder sequences or in the mainly quiet ones. Directionality and balance seem spot on. There are several sequences of muted ambience (notably one on the beach) that are very nicely conveyed with a subtly immersive soundfield.

Supplements are modest. There are eight deleted scenes whose exclusion from the completed film seem appropriate. A short featurette (about 15 minutes) includes thoughts from Jodi Picoult on the book and the film, plus Nick Cassavetes' perspective on the screenplay and its changes from the novel. A digital copy of the film is included for those who care about such things.

My Sister's Keeper is a film that for once improves on its source material. It tells an emotional tale with restraint, powered by a cast that is for the most part impressive. Warner's Blu-ray presentation is a faithful rendering of the New Line theatrical release and is recommended.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com
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