"Your father was captain of a Starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother's and yours. I dare you to do better." - Captain Pike to a young James T. Kirk
J. J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek arrives on 4K Ultra HD thanks to the good folks at Paramount. While it's by no means a perfect movie, it is action-packed and a lot of fun for new and old fans alike and it both looks and sounds fantastic in on this HDR enhanced disc.
The film's rather convoluted plot begins with the Federation Ship Kelvin encountering a large and impossibly advanced Romulan ship. With the captain dead the young first officer, George Kirk, assumes command and uses the ship as ram, sacrificing himself so that the crew, including his pregnant wife, can escape in shuttles.
Twenty-two years later, James T. Kirk is an aimless rebel. He's gifted and smart, but spends his time in bars picking up girls and getting into fights... until one day when a Star Fleet Officer, Captain Pike, dares him to join the Academy and become an officer. On his first day as a cadet he improbably meets two people who, longtime fans know, will become his lifelong friends: Uhura and Dr. McCoy (whose ex-wife took everything in the divorce and only left him his bones.) Things are progressing well until, three years after joining the Academy, the Romulan ship appears once again and destroys the Vulcan fleet. With an emergency on-hand, the senior cadets are assigned ships and the fleet goes to aid their allies.
Arriving at the planet Vulcan, it's revealed that the Romulans are from the future and, having captured the Ambassador Spock who comes from their same time line, plan to destroy his home planet in order to take revenge for the destruction of their home planet, Romulus. With their superior technology, they then plan to destroy the entire federation. A young Spock (from the current timeline) along with Captain Pike, semi-disgraced James T. Kirk and the crew of the newly commissioned Starship Enterprise are the only things that stand in their way.
There's a lot to like about this movie. It's a lot of fun for both old and new fans of the franchise. If you have no idea who any of the characters are, that's fine... you'll still understand the plot without any problems. Fans of the original series, whether casual or hard-core, will find numerous nods to the franchise's origins. From Captain Pike himself to the fate of the red-shirted enlisted man who goes on a mission with Kirk and Sulu, there are a lot of homages to the series that make the film a lot of fun. The casting is especially impressive, with a talented crew of actors who actually look like younger versions of the characters from the 1966 show.
It's action-packed too, starting off with a bang and hardly taking time to slow down. With space battles, attacks by giant monsters, vicious Romulans, and even a sexy green alien, this has all of the ingredients viewers have come to expect from summer blockbusters.
That's not to say the film is without flaws. The script could have used a little work, with some of the plot points arriving, not because it was a logical next step, but just because the authors had written themselves into a corner. For example, at one point the Enterprise is traveling at warp speed to a rendezvous point but they need to introduce two characters who are not on the ship. What do they do? Spock gets irritated with Kirk and, instead of having him thrown in the brig, he orders him to be marooned on an ice planet with no supplies. Yeah, that makes sense. (Granted the planet does have a Starfleet outpost, but it's over seven miles away from where he lands, and the two, count 'em, two people stationed there never even realize he's landed. It was basically a death sentence.) There are several things like that (the Romulans just waited on their ship for 25 years without attaching??) when you add in the time travel aspect the story can appear a bit muddled in places.
The Ultra HD Disc:This two-disc set includes the movie on both 4K UHD as well as two standard Blu-ray disc, the second devoted to extras.
The 4K disc arrives with a 2.40:1 image preserving the aspect ratio that it was originally exhibited with. Filmed on 35 mm and scanned at 2K, the resulting file was then upscaled to 4K for this release, and HDR enhanced picture looks really good. The colors are bright and vivid and the blacks of space are inky and deep. The opening of the film where the Kelvin first encounters the Romulans is an impressive way to start off the film with totally dark space punctuated with bright stars, and a Federation ship. The 2D image also has a great feeling of depth, in no small part to the HDR and expanded color gamut. Overall this is an impressive looking disc that really shows off a 4K set up.
The 7.1 Dolby Atmos track is even more impressive than the great looking image. This is a movie with a lot of sonic *umph* and it's apparent in almost every scene. The space battles are of course dynamic with the full soundstage being utilized, but the more sedate scenes also fill the room with directional sound. The shots that take place on the bridge of the Enterprise are a good example, with computer noises and various incidental sounds coming from all corners of the room. They've done a good job filling in the audio landscape.
There is only one extra on the 4K disc, the audio commentary by director J. J. Abrams, but the Blu-rays have ported over all of the bonus material from the recent HD release. These are generally good, but they come in small chunks, as is the trend today. Instead on one really good making-of feature, we get a dozen mini-featurettes. They include:
To Boldly Go
A New Vision
Props and Costumes
Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek
Gene Roddenberry's Vision
Starfleet Vessel Simulator
There is also a series of deleted scenes with optional commentary, a gag reel, and some trailers.
Though it's not perfect, this film is a lot of fun for both old Trek fans and people who have never seen the original show. The 4K Ultra HD disc looks amazing and sounds fantastic. This gets a very high recommendation.