Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-Ray Review

Jeremy Lebens

Reviewed by:
On September 19, 2013
Last modified:October 27, 2013


J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness is a bigger and much louder sequel, which sacrifices brains and character building for expensive spectacle. Not the finest summer blockbuster, but a decent one nonetheless.

star trek into darkness review Star Trek Into Darkness Blu Ray Review

Star Trek Into Darkness is J.J. Abrams’ big and loud sequel to the highly entertaining Star Trek reboot. With Star Trek, Abrams was able to please longtime fans, while also entertain a whole new audience, thus creating a new summer blockbuster to get behind. Star Trek Into Darkness is Abrams learning nothing as a filmmaker and simply revisiting moments that worked in the first film, while regressing in terms of character building. Into Darkness has bigger and better action, but it sacrifices what little smarts this new series had for popcorn-munching sci-fi that’s far from intelligent. Still, Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun summer blockbuster, even if it’s a little dumb at times.

Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) are back, alongside their other crew members as they must now face their most dangerous enemy yet. Only this time the enemy comes in the form of mystery, as Kirk, Spock and the crew are introduced to many new faces that make them question just who exactly they can trust.

This, along with Kirk’s general rebellious nature makes Star Trek Into Darkness a film that focuses much more heavily on Kirk and his personal problems and doubts. Kirk still doesn’t know or believe in himself, despite those around mostly sticking to his word, even when he does something foolish and selfish. Now, Kirk must lead his entire team into the darkness as they face something that will test them as individuals and as a team.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness is the long-awaited sequel to his successful Star Trek reboot. In that film, we were re-introduced to the team and thrown right into the heat of the action. In Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams puts the plot on the backburner as he wastes most of his time doing cheap fan service, plus beefing up the action and spectacle.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a beautiful-looking film. Make no mistake about that. It’s an expensive-looking film that Abrams fully utilizes his seemingly endless budget on, but none of that really matters when he’s simply blowing up and sparking things for the fun of it. Nothing about Star Trek Into Darkness sticks on a thematic level, leaving us with empty action sequences that are great to watch, but not that worthy of sinking your teeth into.

Chris Pine’s Kirk is again the most interesting character of the film, especially when he goes back and forth with Zachary Quinto’s Spock, but here they’re simply re-doing stuff that worked so well in the first film. The two have great on-screen chemistry, but their problems in this film feel far from natural and instead rather forced. I get that Kirk’s ignorance and general uncaring of his crew is a key element of the plot, but it seems like Abrams was too busy on keeping certain characters under wraps that he forgot what to do with the rest of the crew.

Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg are all minimized to brief side roles, while the rest of the crew is mostly shifted into the darkness, alongside the film’s story. See, Star Trek did a good job bringing the team together, while familiarizing outsiders with the characters and pleasing the die-hard fans with something that’s much more light and fun, but still smart and science fiction.

Star Trek Into Darkness is just big and loud and incredibly dumb. The plot takes a giant step back with the team building dynamic, pretty much copying the first film beat-for-beat when it comes to bringing everyone together… again. The rest of the film focuses too much on a mystery character that isn’t all that mysterious and Abrams doesn’t make matters any better when he decided to make everything part of his mystery box marketing campaign.

There’s still an okay movie buried deep down underneath all of Abrams’ fancy lighting and airtight camerawork. Star Trek Into Darkness is never a full-fledged bad movie, but instead it’s just a decent one that has boring stretches and a weak story. I’d still take it over most blockbusters being pumped into circulation, but after seeing Star Trek it leaves you wondering why this one turned out so much weaker. Sequels rarely hit that same sweet spot and Into Darkness is looking more and more like a writing problem and less like a directing one.

Abrams did whatever he could with the script, which is simply polishing a turd and making it a little less smelly. Maybe next time they’ll focus on the stuff that matters and less on making another forgettable summer blockbuster.

Star Trek Into Darkness1 Star Trek Into Darkness Blu Ray Review

Paramount brings the film to Blu-Ray with another flawless 1080p video transfer. This is yet another remarkable-looking film, from top-to-bottom. Black levels are smooth and deep, while Abrams’ trademark lens flares make way for some crisp and bright photography. Skin textures are richly detailed, while the deep ocean of space has never looked so stunningly beautiful. Chalk this one up as another winner.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track commands the speakers from start to finish. Dialogue is loud, clean and clearly understood on the front channels, while action is constantly pumping into the surrounding channels. The film’s composed score sounds lovely and the general consistency of background noise is highly impressive.

Here’s a full list of bonus material found in this combo pack:

  • Creating the Red Planet (HD)
  • Attack on Starfleet (HD)
  • The Klingon Home World (HD)
  • The Enemy of my Enemy (HD)
  • Ship to Ship (HD)
  • Brawl by the Bay (HD)
  • Continuing the Mission (HD)
  • The Mission Continues (HD)
  • DVD Copy
  • UltraViolet Digital Copy or Digital Copy

Star Trek Into Darkness is typical sequel business. The film takes a giant step back when it comes to the story and its characters, but it looks and sounds a million times better, thanks to Abrams’ much larger budget and Paramount’s fine-tuned Blu-Ray release. The package comes rounded with a short amount of supplements, which makes this one a solid rental, but not so much a purchase.

J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness is a bigger and much louder sequel, which sacrifices brains and character building for expensive spectacle. Not the finest summer blockbuster, but a decent one nonetheless.
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  • Chris

    I have mixed feelings on your mixed review. Good notes on video/audio but you got the movie wrong. I know we have our opinions but Star Trek into Darkness is bigger but it doesn’t sacrifice the substance at all! It retains the fantastic performances, character dynamics and chemistry that make this a great movie, the breathtaking action sequences are only the icing on top of a meaty cinematic cake for the summer!

  • chrisx

    imo, this movie was a major letdown for trekker fans. Too much lens flare, fancy explosions, fast pace and incredible scenes… but less substance. Waste of time, I have already forgot the movie’s plot, I found it rather dumb and boring… Shame!

  • Binnie

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  • Ben Cramer

    This review had few things I agreed with, like the crisp cinematic look of the Blu-Ray. That’s about it. I cannot believe you think this movie was a letdown and that you thought it had a dumb story line with minimal character development. WERE YOU WATCHING THE SAME MOVIE AS ME?! Abrams’ directing COMBINED with the strong plot is what made this movie the best one of the summer. I couldn’t help but catch your snippet of a review of Man of Steel (RT). You liked that one more??? Because it was gritty and realistic the iconic role??? Clearly, you are getting the quality of the storytelling from these two summer blockbusters mixed up…

    First of all, the character development was what kept the story compelling. Not just the spectacle. In fact, the action sequences itself made for key moments of character development! Like Kirk choosing to save Spock in the very beginning of the movie…..or Captain Pike dying later on, which bolstered Kirk and Spock’s character (Kirk wanted justification for his death. Spock later revealed that he read Pike’s emotions upon his death).

    Another thing: Are you seriously saying Kirk doesn’t care about his crew?! That’s major B.S. man. In the beginning, Kirk’s brash, wild, and foolhardy leadership costed him. But since Pike believes so much in Kirk, he gives him another chance. Then Pike dies…which initiates the development of Kirk’s arc. He learns along the way – THROUGH THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS (i.e. his CREW) – some sort of weakness within his flawed character. And it’s not just Kirk that grows. Spock does too. He actually shows emotion towards the end when Kirk “dies”.

    When it comes to a big movie with a big cast, of course not EVERY character is going to be fully developed. Carol Marcus was my biggest example/problem. But you can’t say that Scott, Uhura, and Bones weren’t a key factor in the story. I even think Bones had MORE lines than he did in the first movie. Uhura not so much, but her relationship with Spock was hard to ignore. Scott had a moment with Kirk when he resigned, but then comes back to help save the crew. So in that regard…..I have no idea what gave you the idea that the minor characters were barely present.

    Overall, I am honestly baffled by how much less you thought of this movie compared to the first. Yeah, maybe the first was better, but you can’t deny that this sequel did the franchise justice.

    By the way, I’m not even a Trekkie nerd. I just know a good movie when I see one.