Star Trek Into Darkness [Blu-Ray] J.J. Abrams

Star Trek Into Darkness [Blu-Ray] J.J. Abrams
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As a big, dumb, flashy, brute force spectacle, Star Trek Into Darkness provides smash and dazzle with the best of them. J.J. Abrams' second turn at the helm of the first of the big two sci-fi franchises he now holds in his obstinately lens flare-loving hands certainly showcases his strength as a consummate craftsman of exceedingly broad popcorn entertainment. His jaw-dropping eye for extraterrestrial design and videogame-ready action should make a perfect fit for Star Wars. However, for the brand that hangs its reputation on boldly going where no one has gone before, a nostalgic, fawning revision of some of the most iconic material in all of geekdom is more than a bit of a letdown. The red herring wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a marketing campaign doing damage control that is Khan — not a spoiler, since it's on the back of the case — left a sour taste for viewers annoyed that Benedict Cumberbatch's character turned out to be exactly what the film's creators said he wasn't, making the whole endeavour feel somewhat perfunctory. Putting those feelings aside for a second viewing, Into Darkness is easier to enjoy as a simple, pretty blockbuster diversion with deliciously scenery-chewing performances by Peter Weller, Karl Urban and, especially, Cumberbatch, who effortlessly oozes gravitas. Half-heartedly grafting a home-grown terrorism plot onto some good old fashioned corruption of authority, father figure revenge and the strict conditions of repurposing story points from original series episode "Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this tentative second step into the rejigged timeline of the Star Trek universe is far too weighed down by, and enamoured with, the past to flesh out any articulate comment on the military industrial complex. After Kirk (Chris Pine) is sent on a covert mission to track down a rogue agent terrorizing Starfleet — at the risk of sparking a war with the Klingons, no less — the film becomes a game of spot the winks and parallels for the initiated and a convoluted bit of energetic eye-candy for those foggy on series lore. Disappointingly, for fans hoping for an immersive experience, while it looks fantastic, the Blu-Ray isn't heavy on special features. All take the form of production features in a single menu — there are no commentary tracks, enhanced viewing modes, classes on how to build a phaser or bed a green alien. What is included is of quality at least. "Creating the Red Planet" details the making of the volcanic tribal world in the film's opening, while "Attack on Starfleet" features Bruce Greenwood, Abrams and others describing a scene in which many people are shot, then the crew steps in to show us how it was done. A similar format is employed for "The Klingon Home World," "Brawl By the Bay" and "Ship to Ship," with asides on the extensive pre-visualization used for Kirk and Khan's debris-dodging flight through space, Quinto's training (Spock is very hands on this time around) and other such behind-the-scenes tidbits. Breaking form slightly, "The Enemy of My Enemy" tackles the Khan question head on with vaguely evasive answers and all fingers pointing to Cumberbatch's performance, which doesn't exactly make sense; he could have played anyone. Visibly wounded and defensive after frequent fan-boy coal-rakings, co-writer Damon Lindeloft makes sure to mention his expectation for more of the same from viewers displeased with his storytelling devices. Finally, "The Mission Continues" is an out-of-place piece of military community service propaganda. Now, about that "boldly going" business… (Paramount)