While not perfect, director J. J. Abrams reboot movie Star Trek (2009) was undeniably entertaining. In 2013 he released the second in the new series, Star Trek Into Darkness, which like the first was flawed but still a lot of fun. Both have now been released on 4K BR (you can read my review of the first movie here) and they both really look and sound amazing.
A year or so after the events in the first film, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is captain of the starship Enterprise and the ship is still crewed by the familiar names including Spock (Zach Quinto), his sort-of girlfriend Uhura (Zoe Saldana), the medical officer Bones (Karl Urban), the chief engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg), and the bridge staff including Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). Kirk is still a brash young upstart, and when he breaks Starfleet regulations to save Spock's life, he ends up nearly getting kicked out of the fleet. He doesn't instead he just loses his command, and is demoted to being first officer on the Enterprise under Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood).
Things take a turn for the worse when a Starfleet Archive is blown up by an ex-Starfleet officer, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Fleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) calls a meeting of Starfleet captains and their first officers to hatch a plan to track down Harrison, when the man attacks the meeting and kills Pike along with several other officers and then teleports to the one place where No Starfleet ship can go: the Klingon Homeworld. Marcus reinstates Kirk to the Enterprises helm and allows him to go after Harrison. The Admiral does give him some strict orders however: the Enterprise is to go to the edge of the Klingon Neutral Zone and fire newly developed stealth torpedoes to kill Harrison and then skedaddle back to Earth. Of course things aren't quite what they seem, and Kirk was never really good at following orders.
This is a movie that does have some problems, from the twist in the plot (that a surprising number of reviewers revealed, but that I won't) which is only a surprise if you know the original series, to the fact that many of the crew have little more than glorified cameos, to the silly plot points that are hard to swallow (communicators working across a many light year span (and with no delay!), someone waltzing into a top secret military base with no planning and not getting caught, and teleporters that only work when the plot demands it ('If you can't beam him up, why don't you beam me down!') and the list goes on.
Having said that, this movie is a lot of fun if you can hold back your desire to pick apart the plot. It starts with an Indiana Jones-style flight from savage natives, goes to an adventure inside an active volcano that's about to explode, and we get to see the Enterprise emerge from an ocean... and that's just in the first ten minutes. The film is filled with spectacle and some really beautiful space scenes, and that's all supported by a plot that is strong enough to allow viewers a good time. If you go in expecting to have a good time, you will.
The Ultra HD Disc:
This release comes with both a 4K Ultra HD disc and two Blu-rays discs in a single-width keepcase. Unfortunately, the 3D version is not included. Since the majority of 4K displays (as well as the only 4K BR player that has been released so far) support the format, it's a little disappointing that the 3D version isn't included too.
A majority of the movie was filmed on 35mm but some sequences were captured on 65mm IMAX cameras. The result was scanned at 2K and that file was then upscaled to 4K for this release. The movie shifts aspect ratios between 2.39:1 and 1.78:1 as it was originally intended to do (the IMAX shots are in the latter aspect ratio). The images was then enhanced with HDR and the resulting picture looks really good, with the IMAX portions looking astounding, even though they went through a 2K intermediate. The colors are bright and accurate, with the red trees and white-skinning natives of the opening sequence really popping nicely. The level of detail is also very good. For example the streams of 'smoke' that the Enterprise leaves behind when it shoots off at warp speed have texture and fine detail that really looks great. You can definitely add this disc to the pile that you head to when you want to show off your system. (I can only imagine what it would have looked like if the whole thing was mastered in 4K.)
The film arrives with a Dolby Atmos track (which plays as a Dolby TrueHD track if you don't have an Atmos setup like yours truly), and like the 4K release of the earlier film, the results are very impressive. They really went to a lot of trouble to fill the room with directional sound. This is not like the big action scenes that immersed the viewer in audio that seemed to come from everywhere, something that first impressed me when DVD was a new technology (though there is some of that). This mix is more refined. Sounds are emitted from all corners of the room, with beeps from computers coming from behind the viewer while the scene is on the bridge and phasor blasts panning from one corner to the other. It's quite impressive and a lot of fun to listen to. Needless to say there are not audio defects that my ears could detect. A very impressive mix that accents the picture wonderfully.
The only extra on the 4K disc is a 2-minute PSA, The Mission Continues. The first BR disc includes an 'enhanced commentary track.' I actually liked this; it's a different way to do a commentary. Different sequences of the film are discussed by various members of the production. They can stop the action to point out something in the frame, draw on the screen, or even rewind the action to give viewers a better look at something. It's pretty neat.
The second BR disc is filled with bonus material. As is the tendency nowadays, instead of having a making-of feature that lasts between 30-60 minutes, they break up the information into a dozen short featurettes. I really prefer the longer format, but I'm happy that they're still taking the time and effort to make supplemental material. The featurettes are:
The Voyage Begins...Again - 2 min
Creating the Red Planet - 8 min
Introducing the Villain - 2 min
Rebuilding the Enterprise - 6 min
National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core - 5 min
Attack on Starfleet - 5 min
Aliens Encountered - 7 min . The Klingon Home World - 8 min
The Enemy of my Enemy - 8 min
Vengeance is Coming - 5 min
Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock - 4 min
Down with the Ship - 6 min
Kirk and Spock - 6 min
Brawl by the Bay - 6 min
Fitting the Future - 5 min
Property of Starfleet - 5 min
Unlocking the Cut - 5 min
Visual Affection - 9 min
The Sound of Music (and FX) - 6 min
Safety First - 3 min
Continuing the Mission - 2 min
Gag Reel - 6 min
Deleted Scenes - 6 min
There have been several 4K releases that really show off the latest technology, and this is one of them. The scenes filmed with 65mm IMAX cameras look amazing and really show off a system. The movie itself is good, but not great, but fans of the reboot will be happy to add this to their 4K disc shelf. A strong Recommended rating.