The Main and Root Menus are animated with a computer display of the Enterprise in the background, and non-music/dialogue sounds playing.
Rated "PG-13" by the Motion Picture Association of America
(sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content)
In the year 2233, the Federation starship U.S.S. Kelvin was quickly destroyed after encountering a massive unidentified vessel which purportedly appeared from out of a lightning storm in space. Only 800 members of the crew survived, including civilians. This single event would change the course of the future forever…
25 years later, two young men met at Starfleet Academy on Earth- the human James T. Kirk, a survivor of the Kelvin disaster with a taste for adventure, beautiful women, and cynicism; and Spock, a brilliant half-human, half-Vulcan ridiculed by his full-Vulcan peers all his life for having emotions. Destiny would draw these two and many others together for the first time aboard the United Federation of Planet’s newest exploration starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, as she answered a distress call coming from the planet Vulcan. The Enterprise arrives late to find the rest of the Starfleet ships assigned to the rescue mission quickly exterminated by the Romulan mining ship, Narada- the same one which had destroyed the Kelvin decades earlier! The rescue mission fails as the Narada successfully destroys Vulcan, and the Enterprise is forced to retreat without Captain Pike, who is now a hostage. With Spock in command, he disagrees with Cadet Kirk’s rash and illogical actions, and abandons him on Delta Vega. Once landed, Kirk coincidentally comes across an older version of Spock from 154 years in the future, who explains that both he and the Narada fell through an artificial black hole and were transported into the past. The elder Spock tells a stunned Kirk that it is his destiny to command the Enterprise and he must force his younger self to give that up. Using a jury-rigged ultra-long-range transporter designed by a disgruntled Montgomery Scott, Kirk arrives back on the Enterprise, and forces Spock to relinquish command. The Enterprise’s crew formulates a plan to both ambush and destroy the Narada now in orbit over Earth, and rescue Captain Pike at the same time… thus fulfilling their fate to boldly go where no one has gone before.
The film’s audio is presented primarily in 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, with options for French and Spanish audio tracks.
Additionally, a single running filmmaker’s commentary is included, featuring director J.J. Abrams, executive producer Bryan Burk, writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, and associate producer Damon Lindelof, who all provide their insight and stories into the making of “Star Trek”, and how the project came to be. (The commentary was recorded approximately one month after the film entered theaters in July 2009, according to the crew themselves in this track.)
The movie is broken down into fifteen chapters.
The filmmaker’s commentary can also be activated/deactivated from this menu as well.
A New Vision is a short documentary on how the filmmakers wanted to update the 40-year old franchise without betraying all that had come before, and yet allow newcomers into the fold so that they didn’t have to go back and run through 5 TV series & 10 movies worth of material. By making the movie about an altered reality (now being labeled by Trekkies as the “J.J.-verse”), this allows the closing vice of continuity- which was slowly choking the Star Trek universe into its own demise- to be freed up, whilst still remaining true to it. Some of the highlights include shaking the camera as if the movie was being filmed with a real person documentary-style rather than on now-standard stabilizing cranes & dollies, intentional lens-flares to make the world feel bigger than the camera could take in, using in-camera miniatures & stand-in children, using real locations for much more including a beer brewery and electric power plant for interior shots of the Enterprise, and having Leonard Nimoy once more resuming his iconic role as the elder Spock (referred to as “Spock Prime” in the credits to differentiate him from the younger Spock, played by Zachary Quinto).
A Gag Reel is also included [on-camera goof-ups, kidding around on-set between takes, and off-set; mostly set to pop music, an original soundtrack from “Star Trek IV- The Voyage Home” (1986), and director Abrams frequently tapping on a stage microphone to his own beat]. An extended moment at the end shows Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine intentionally goof-up their scene in the Jellyfish ship’s cockpit with exaggerated Irish accents.
All swear words are bleeped out.
Previews include two Paramount Pictures films, “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” (2009) & “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009), a commercial for Fox TV’s paranormal/sci-fi- “Fringe” (2008-present, another J.J. Abrams project), and an advertisement for the up-coming real-time strategy video game “Star Trek D.A.C.” based on the film. (All of the Previews are seen before the Main Menu boots-up, but can be skipped through.)
Again, the Main and Set-Up menus are animated with a different computer display of the Enterprise, and sound effects taken from the film.
Subtitles for English, French, and Spanish are included for the hearing-impaired.
Ten Deleted Scenes are included. These all interrupted the flow of the film once in the editing process, needed to be cut for time, or were not needed after other changes were made. They include the birth of Spock, Kirk’s older brother running away from home, the Klingons capturing the Narada and the Prison Planet sequences, Sarek and Amanda arguing before young Spock, an extended/alternate version of the Kobayashi Maru scenario, an extended version of Kirk’s affair with a green Orion classmate & his apology later on, and a moment where Sarek thinks he saw an elder Spock (Prime) in the hangar.
To Boldly Go is an extended behind-the-scenes documentary, going into greater depth about the making of the film and some of the challenges faced in rebooting the franchise.
Casting explores how the iconic characters were recast with younger actors, and shows some moments where they got to meet some of the original actors. Leonard Nimoy’s involvement is further explored here, and how he made his choice to return as Spock Prime since the last time he did in “Star Trek VI- The Undiscovered Country” (1990).
I noticed that little-if-any attention is paid to the younger versions of Kirk and Spock (Jimmy Bennett and Jacob Kogan, respectively), and Ambassador Sarek (Ben Cross) & Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder). [And only in various commentaries and documentaries is Majel Barrett Roddenberry (widow to Star Trek-creator Gene Roddenberry) even mentioned or acknowledged for her contributions and portrayal once more as the Starfleet Computer’s voice, herself passing away just before this newest film was completed.]
Aliens explores trying to avoid the bumpy-forehead E.T. cliché of Star Trek whilst still giving us a wide variety of exotic life-forms, both real and digital.
Score delves into composer Michael Giacchino’s efforts in creating a new original soundtrack. Director J.J. Abrams makes an unexpected visit during the interview, leaving after the day’s work. Giacchino mentions how he used to watch “Star Trek: The Original Series”, and followed the career of Alexander Courage afterwords, who wrote the classic intro theme for the 60s TV series.
The Digital Copy is a copy of the film which can be placed either directly onto your computer, or transferred from there to a multimedia player or cell phone. Unfortunately, I could not activate this feature for whatever reason, even though it can be run on a computer without a player device (such as the iPod and/or iPhone), so I do not know what features it may have beyond what I have covered above. (The instructions are pretty clear, but it doesn’t show me the options that they say will be there for a PC! What the hell-?) Equally-so, I was also unable to run the “Star Trek D.A.C.” free demo, but that’s because I do not own an Xbox 360, and so I do not know anything about that. (Poor, poor me…? Maybe so.)
(Oh… and I wasn’t able to find any Easter Eggs either. Searching online suggests there may not be any in this specific DVD set.)
Conclusions & Comments
I am a Trekkie, and so own all of the Special Collector Edition DVD sets to the previous ten films. These were comprehensive & very satisfying in their coverage of interviewing the actors (sometimes both then and now on the same disc) and giving in-depth looks at forming the stories, set design, visual effects, deleted/alternate scenes, and pre-/post-production work across over-20 years of filmmaking. This DVD set, however, is not one of them- it is a first-wave 2-disc set that is aimed at the general populace rather than being a collector’s piece with the more detailed material(s) which Trekkies crave. And it shows too… The first disc by itself is fine, but teamed with the second disc you can tell immediately that the first was meant to stand alone. The biggest indicator of this inconsistency is the fact that you get two making-of documentaries which more-or-less cover the same ground but were made for different functions; To Boldly Go plays as a proper second-disc-set extended documentary, but does not integrate well with the first disc’s. (I.e., if this had been a proper “collector’s edition”, there would have been no special features on the first disc at all, only on the second.) The other thing I found is that, even though it may be good to have the Digital Copy (personally, I don’t want/need it) and Xbox 360 demo (I repeat: “…”), I found that something was seriously missing here, and that was there was no documentary, commentary, or even mentions anywhere on the second disc about the special effects, audio effects, sets, or props! These are all very important to Star Trek as much as casting and locations and the energy of the cast & crew in making a film, and considering the massive scale on which the franchise has been changed by said film, I was amazed that no mentions are made! (I actually took extra time to research if I had a busted DVD, thinking it was a glitch that I couldn’t see buttons leading to said documentaries.) Very few of the crew from previous films/series were involved here as Abrams brought his own experienced team in, and to have such a sudden shift and not help to explain some of that away in a two-DVD set is surprising and makes for a very large gap for Trekkers who follow things like that (including myself). I am guessing that, eventually, Paramount Pictures will succumb to Trekker pressure and give us a proper Collector’s Edition which will cover all of this and more [including dedications to the-late Majel Barrett Roddenberry (various Starfleet computer voices, Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi) and James Doohan (Ch. Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott), as of the posting of this review]. I have not seen it yet, but I also suspect that the Blu-Ray 2-disc set currently being offered may have additional features in order for Paramount Pictures to help force attract Trekkers into buying the newer DVD format… which I would not approve of at all, if it turns out to be true.
Overall, however, the “Star Trek” 2-Disc Digital Copy Special Edition performs well for casual viewers into the J.J.-verse, but may not be as satisfying to ‘hardcore’ Trekkies who enjoy their DVD special features… but isn’t that the whole point of this film: to reintroduce the franchise to a new generation?