Star Trek: The Compendium – Blu-ray Edition

star trek the compendiumStar Trek directed by J.J. Abrams:

As a non-Trekkie I was not rushing out to see this film, but when I heard all the positive word of mouth about it and the fact that I love director J.J. Abrams work I broke down. After seeing the film I am still not a fan of the series and am thinking that maybe I should have gone without being pumped up by other people’s ravings. Maybe that is the danger of reviews….hmmm….

It is the year 2233 and an evil and mentally unstable Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana – The Other Boleyn Girl, Hulk) is trying to wreak vengeance on the Federation. He lures the Enterprise into his clutches, damages the ship and take the Captain hostage. While all this panic and chaos is going on newly appointed Captain George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth – from television’s Home and Away) is dealing with a wife (Jennifer Morrison – from television’s House) that is about to give birth and trying to save his ship. While he is not able to save the ship; he makes the ultimate sacrifice (his life) to save that of his wife, son and much of his crew.

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine – Smokin’ Aces, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement) is a wild child from the beginning. While in a bar fight, he catches the eye of Starship Enterprise Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood – I’m Not There, National Treasure: Book of Secrets), who suggests that he join the Federation training facility. After hearing that his father was a hero saving 800 lives in his 12 minutes as Captain, Kirk is inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps.

At the same time a young half Vulcan, half human is growing up on the planet Vulcan and learning the Vulcan ways. Realizing that he will never be fully accepted as a Vulcan, Spock (Zachary Quinto – from television’s Heroes) decides to join Starfleet.

After they meet and butt heads at Starfleet, Kirk and Spock have to put their differences aside when all cadets are needed to support Starfleet’s rescue attempts of the planet Vulcan. Kirk, who has snuck onto the Enterprise with Dr. McKoy’s (Karl Urban – Doom, The Bourne Supremacy) help, realizes that this is very similar to the experience his father went through. He tells Captain Pike that is must be Nero and his rogue band of Romulans again.

It is déjà vu when Captain Pike is taken on to the Romulan ship and Spock is left as Captain. Spock and Kirk butt heads again over strategy and Spock makes the decision to dump Kirk onto an ice-covered planet. There Kirk meets the Spock of the future and figures out what the Romulans are attempting. He has to try and get back to the Enterprise, with the help of engineer Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg – Run Fatboy Run, Hot Fuzz), and warn the others.

The backstory of the Enterprise is wonderful and a nice addition to Star Trek series. It starts off as energetic and fun, but then gets bogged down a bit. The tired Sci Fi clichés about time travel and the like are pulled out and brings all the energy down to a crashing halt. The story gets a little messy at the point where there are two Spocks (not very logical in my books) and some scenes make me think that Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) is just trying to squeeze in some special effects. Tsk, tsk!

I also have to say that the cinematography was quite disappointing for a big budget action film. Some of the angles were odd and distracting. I won’t even go into some of the so-fast-its-blurry editing. Even some of the scenes of the ship and such were quite fake looking.

Now, the film is still worth a watch, but it certainly does not go boldly into strange, new territory – as I had hoped.

Star Trek: Into Darkness directed by J.J. Abrams:

While many were blown away by J.J. Abrams’ first revival of the Star Trek film series I was underwhelmed. Going into the second one I adjusted by expectations accordingly and was surprised by the quality of Star Trek: Into Darkness.  It is more like the original Star Trek with more of a reliance on exploration and interpersonal relationships rather than special effects and space battles.  There is some of the latter, but Into Darkness certainly places an emphasis on the story rather than CGI.

After a mission on a planet that involves saving it from total destruction due to an exploding volcano that goes not totally according to plan, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine – Unstoppable, People Like Us) and his crew return to Earth.  He and Spock (Zachary Quinto – from television’s Heroes) are summoned to Admiral Pike’s (Bruce Greenwood – The Place Beyond the Pines, Flight) office.  Kirk believes they will be getting a prestigious new assignment, but is brought back down to Earth when Pike tells him that due to Spock’s report he knows what went on with the last mission and that the Enterprise is being taken away from him and that he is to go back to Starfleet Academy.

Things go from dark to light back to dark again over the span of a short period.  Kirk’s ship is taken away from him, but Pike, who has been made captain of the Enterprise, asks him to be his first officer and then at a meeting called to decide what to do about the attack on the Star Fleet archive building the highest ranked officers come under attack.  The man behind the attack is the same one responsible for the attack in London, former Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch – Atonement, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

Admiral Pike is killed during the attack. Kirk and Spock survive.  John Harrison is waging a one man war against Starfleet.  Scotty (Simon Pegg – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Hot Fuzz) discovers that Harrison has transported off of Earth to Kronos, the Klingon home world.  Kirk wants the Enterprise back and permission got go after the man who killed his mentor.

Kirk is allowed to take the Enterprise, with Spock once again as his first officer, park on the edge of Kronos and lock in on Harrison using long range photon torpedoes to kill him.  Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller – Robocop, Naked Lunch) also assigns Dr. Carol Wallace (Alice Eve – She’s Out of My League, Men in Black 3) to the Enterprise.

Once Kirk decides to capture Harrison to return him to Earth to stand trial and takes an away team comprised of himself, Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana – Avatar, Colombiana) things begin to unravel and the crew of the Star Trek and all of Starfleet is in jeopardy as everything and everyone is not as they seem to be.

The focus on character development and inter character relations really should be applauded.  There is plenty of repartee between characters and even a hint of Spock embracing his human side.  Abrams allowed the film to return to its much more philosophical (rather than just brawn) side.  Friendship, family and humanity are larger and more universal subjects broached upon.

Bottom line is that the story is strong and that holds up everything else that J.J. Abrams is trying to do.  Yes several of the twists are quite predictable, but I do not expect perfection from films.  It left me wanting more and looking forward to the next film in the series.

Another point that has to be mentioned is the quality of the villain.  Benedict Cumberbatch is finally getting the recognition he deserves from Hollywood.  That man is one talented son of a gun.  He is a chilling and note perfect villain.

This is a film that uses modern filmmaking techniques but really uses the established style of Star Trek from back in the day.  J.J. Abrams juggles everything beautifully making it an action packed film that will not alienate long time Star Trek fans.

Special Features:

  • To Boldly Go — Taking on the world’s most beloved science fiction franchise was no small mission. Director J.J. Abrams, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, producer Damon Lindelof, and executive producer Bryan Burk talk about the many challenges they faced and their strategy for success.
  • Branching Pods:
    • The Shatner Conundrum
    • Red Shirt Guy
    • The Green Girl
    • Trekker Alert!
  • Casting — The producers knew their greatest task was finding the right cast to reprise these epic roles. The cast, for their part, talk about the experience of trying to capture the essence of these mythic characters. The piece concludes with a moving tribute to Leonard Nimoy. A New Vision — J.J. Abrams’ vision was not only to create a Star Trek that was a bigger, more action-packed spectacle, but also to make the spectacle feel real. Every aspect of production—from unique locations to the use of classic Hollywood camera tricks—was guided by this overall objective.
  • Branching Pods:
    • Savage Pressure
  • Starships — Abrams and production designer Scott Chambliss were careful to pay tribute to the design of the original Enterprise, but they also wanted to make it futuristic and cool for a modern audience. This chapter focuses on the unique stories behind the creation of the film’s starships.
  • Branching Pods:
    • Warp Explained
    • Paint Job
    • Bridge Construction Accelerated
    • The Captain’s Chair
    • Button Acting 101
    • Narada Construction Accelerated
    • Shuttle Shuffle
  • Aliens — Designers Neville Page and Joel Harlow talk about the hurdles they faced creating new alien species, recreating the Romulans and Vulcans, and designing the terrifying creatures on Delta Vega for the new Star Trek.
  • Branching Pods:
    • The Alien Paradox
    • Big-Eyed Girl
    • Big Bro Quinto
    • Klingons
    • Drakoulias Anatomy 101
  • Planets — From the frozen landscape of Delta Vega to the desert plains of Vulcan, Scott Chambliss and the art department had a number of radically different planets to create. Abrams’ desire to shoot on real locations whenever possible led the production team to a number of strange and surprising locations.
  • Branching Pods:
    • Extra Business
    • Confidentiality
  • Props and Costumes — Property master Russell Bobbitt had the unique challenge of designing props that were both true to the original series and pertinent to today’s technology. Likewise, costume designer Michael Kaplan talks about how he designed costumes that paid homage to what came before yet were relevant and timeless.
  • Branching Pods:
    • Klingon Wardrobe
  • Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek — When famed sound designer Ben Burtt was hired to create sounds for the first Star Wars film, he took his inspiration from the original Star Trek series. Burtt jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to the sounds that sparked his career with the sounds he created for the new Star Trek.
  • Score — As a fan of the original series, composer Michael Giacchino embraced the challenge of creating new music for Star Trek while preserving the spirit of Alexander Courage’s celebrated theme.
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Vision — J.J. Abrams, Leonard Nimoy, previous Star Trek writers and producers, and scientific consultant Carolyn Porco describe and commend the optimistic and enduring vision of Gene Roddenberry.
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Starfleet Vessel Simulator — Explore extensive data on the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Romulan ship, the Narada. Submerse yourself in breathtaking 360° views and close-ups and review detailed tech information.
  • Gag Reel
  • Trailers
    • The Voyage Begins… Again — Go behind-the-scenes as filming begins on the next Star Trek adventure.
    • Creating the Red Planet — Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.
    • Introducing the Villain
    • Rebuilding the Enterprise — See the design and construction of a bigger, interconnected Enterprise set.
    • National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core — Location shooting at the National Ignition Facility.
    • Attack on Starfleet — Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.
    • Aliens Encountered — The design and application of alien makeup.
    • The Klingon Home World — Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.
    • The Enemy of My Enemy — Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.
    • Vengeance is Coming — A comprehensive look at the design and production surrounding the black ship.
    • Ship to Ship — An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.
    • Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock — Leonard Nimoy makes a cameo appearance and reflects on his history with Trek.
    • Down with the Ship — Discover the stunt & VFX work involved to make the Enterprise roll over.
    • Kirk and Spock — Explore the dynamic relationship between the film’s heroes.
    • Brawl by the Bay — Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.
    • Continuing the Mission — An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.
    • Unlocking the Cut — A discussion with the film editors about their monumental task.
    • The Sounds of Music (and FX) — A discussion with film composer Michael Giacchino and sound designer Ben Burtt.
    • Visual Affection — A comprehensive look at the creation and implementation of visual effects.
    • Safety First — A prank pulled on the cast.
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • NEW! Deleted Scenes
    • NEW! Gag Reel
    • NEW! Fitting the Future — A look at the film’s out-of-this-world costumes.
    • NEW! Property of Starfleet — Sourcing and tracking the film’s myriad prop

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