Star Trek Beyond Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Third time's a charm
It's taken three films but we finally get to see the crew of the Enterprise on their five year mission.After Star Trek rebooted the timeline and following on from the darker tone of the aptly named Star Trek Into Darkness, we finally get to have some fun in Star Trek Beyond. For the third outing there has clearly been a deliberate attempt to get the franchise back to what made the original series so good – fun stories that relied as much on the chemistry of the cast as it did on action and effects. Co-writer Simon Pegg is a self-confessed Star Trek fan and he manages to include plenty of nods to the original series in the franchise's fiftieth anniversary. He also ups the joke factor, adding plenty of laughs along with the action and excitement. The cast have settled into their roles and now get a chance to simply have fun and the nature of the plot means that unlikely partnerships are formed as the crew are paired off for various reasons. New character Jaylah is a great addition and Idris Elba's villain is both a credible threat and has a backstory that resonates with other characters in the film.Fast and Furious director Justin Lin gives the film a massive adrenaline boost with some imaginative direction and a breakneck pace that makes even J. J. Abrams' films seem slow in comparison. The production design, costumes and effects work are all excellent, with genuinely impressive set pieces. It's a shame that poor old Enterprise gets yet another pasting but narratively it makes sense. In the original series, setting episodes on the ship saved money but in a film you need to get off it as soon as possible in order to open up the story. Ultimately Star Trek Beyond does exactly what it sets out to do, capture the spirit of the original series whilst updating it for a new generation. It's also a fitting send-off for both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, whose untimely death cast a shadow over the film's theatrical release. Ultimately it's a fun sci-fi romp that effortlessly combines action, character and humour to deliver a film that plays like a big budget episode of the TV series.
Picture QualityStar Trek Beyond was filmed digitally using the Arri Alexa XT and Red Epic Dragon cameras at a resolution of 3.4K and 6K respectively and was finished using a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI), which presumably formed the basis for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The film is presented at a resolution of 3840 x 2160p and in its correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed Star Trek Beyond on an LG 65E6 Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Although this review is of the US release, the UK disc should be identical.
It's a shame that despite having a fairly hefty budget in excess of $150 million, Paramount couldn't find enough money to finish the film at 4K. As a result, just like the other two Star Trek films released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, this release uses a 2K DI as its source. However fine detail is excellent and there is a shade more definition to shots when directly compared to the regular Blu-ray. This means that close-up are excellent with fine detail in facial features and it's easy to see the differences between the latest version of the classic uniform and the ones in the previous films. The extensive make-up work is also displayed in exquisite detail, although some of the rock faces on the planet's surface do look a bit fake but that just reminds you of the original TV series, so perhaps it's deliberate.
Although not quite reference, it's another great transfer from Paramount
Despite being rendered at 2K, the effects work is also impressive, especially the attack on the Enterprise and scenes at the Yorktown star base. Occasionally some green screen work looks a little obvious but nothing like as bad as Independence Day: Resurgence. The use of HDR adds greater impact and detail to certain shots, especially explosions and skies but overall the image doesn't have quite the same pop as the other two Star Trek films on Ultra HD Blu-ray. However the brightly lit Enterprise looks great, with the various screens and displays really standing out, whilst black levels are excellent and there is plenty of detail in the shadows, especially in the scenes aboard the USS Franklin. The HDR certainly helps give the images on the Ultra HD disc greater definition when compared to the same scenes on the regular Blu-ray.
The colours are bright and saturated but also retain a degree of subtlety, so the primary colours of the uniforms appear more nuanced than they do on the regular Blu-ray. The scenes on the planet are also impressive, with plenty of realistic colours and natural lighting that gives them greater impact, along with some deliberately stylised colours on certain rocks and around the villain's main compound. Flesh tones, at least for the human characters, appear natural and overall this is a great example of how a wider colour palate can add to the visual experience. The transfer also appeared free of any banding or other compression artefacts and naturally the digital source was pristine. This is a great picture overall and whilst not quite reference it certainly does the film justice.
Sound QualityStar Trek Beyond was released theatrically with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and that has been used for both the Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray releases. Although we are reviewing the US release, the UK disc appears to be identical. We reviewed the Ultra HD Blu-ray using a Denon AVR-X7200WA AV receiver and a 7.2.4 immersive audio setup.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is impressive, with a number of standout sequences
This is another cracking Dolby Atmos soundtrack and, like the tracks included with Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, it provides an exciting, dynamic and highly immersive audio experience. Like the film itself, the soundtrack is great fun with a wide front soundstage that delivers effects, music and dialogue very effectively. Thanks to the object-based nature of Dolby Atmos, the sound designers can steer effects around the room with precision, taking advantage of all the available speakers to deliver some very active and very directional surround sound.
This is especially true during the attack on the Enterprise and the later attack on the Yorktown star base, with ships swarming all around the sound field and extensive use of the overhead channels. The low frequencies and LFE channel are also very well mixed into the overall soundtrack, adding impact where necessary but not over-powering everything else. In fact the overall mix is extremely well balanced with both subtlety and dynamic range. Star Trek Beyond has a great soundtrack and is definitely worthy of demo status for anyone looking to show-off the capabilities of their new Dolby Atmos system.
ExtrasThe Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Trek Beyond comes in a two-disc set with the Full HD Blu-ray included. The Ultra HD Blu-ray is region free, as is the regular Blu-ray, and all of the extras are on the latter disc. Although this is the US release, the UK disc appears to be identical. The extras are reasonable but there is an enhanced commentary track available on iTunes for those that buy the Digital HD version, which is annoying – studios really should be including all available extras on a premium format like Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Deleted Scenes – A couple of short scenes that were presumably cut for pacing: Kirk and Scotty in the terminal (00:44) and Scotty gets a bib and tucker (01:02).
Featurettes – There are nine short featurettes which include contributions from all the principal cast and crew and cover various aspects of the production, as well as a nice little tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. The featurettes amount to just under an hour in total but there's no 'play all' feature, so you have to watch each one individually. The featurettes are: Beyond the Darkness (10:08), Enterprise Takedown (04:31), Divided and Conquered (08:17), A Warped Sense of Revenge (05:15), Trekking in the Desert (03:06), Exploring Strange New Worlds (06:02), New Life, New Civilisations (08:05), To Live Long and Prosper (07:51) and For Leonard and Anton (05:04).
Gag Reel (05:13) – The usual collection of mistakes, accidents, flubbed lines and laughter but it's actually quite funny and should be a treat for fans.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictStar Trek Beyond brings the franchise back to its roots as we finally get to experience the crew's five-year mission in a film that plays like a big budget episode of the original TV series. The screenplay is both fun and funny, the principal cast are comfortable in their roles and the direction is inventive and dynamic. The new characters add to the story, the villain is a genuine threat and the production design and effects are excellent. Add all that up and you get an exciting two hours of sci-fi entertainment that is a fitting entry during the franchise's fiftieth anniversary and a nice tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.
A fun film and an equally enjoyable Ultra HD Blu-ray with great picture and sound
The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Trek Beyond does the film proud, with great picture and sound quality. The film was finished using a 2K DI but the Ultra HD Blu-ray still delivers a highly detailed image and makes effective use of the higher dynamic range. The wider colour gamut adds greater saturation and nuance to the image and the 10-bit video depth keeps the pristine digital source free of compression artefacts. Although Star Trek Into Darkness remains the best looking of the three films, this is is still a fantastic transfer. The accompanying Dolby Atmos soundtrack is superb, with a well balanced mix that takes full advantage of the overhead channels to deliver a demo-worthy immersive audio experience. The extras are reasonable but it's disappointing that neither disc includes the enhanced commentary available on iTunes. However overall this is a great Ultra HD Blu-ray package and a must-have addition to any fan's collection.
You can buy Star Trek Beyond HERE
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
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