Blu-ray Box Set Review: ‘Star Trek: The Compendium’

The DigiPack packaging of Star Trek: The Compendium. (C) 2014 Paramount Home Media Distribution

On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Paramount Home Media Distribution released Star Trek: The Compendium, a four-disc box set with two reissued Blu-ray discs (BDs): the 2009 Star Trek “Kelvin reboot” and a “new and improved” home media version of 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Coming out less than a year after Paramount’s original home media release of J.J. Abrams’ “alternate timeline” take on the conflict between a young Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and a genetically-enhanced “superman” from Earth’s past (Benedict Cumberbatch), Star Trek: The Compendium was a major course correction on the part of a major studio after a bungled home media release of a Star Trek film.

When Paramount Pictures’ Home Media Distribution division released the Blu-ray edition of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in the fall of 2009, it created several editions which varied in price. Some, like the one-disc edition, were low-priced but still offered a standard set of extra features like an audio commentary track and a couple of making-of featurettes. Others were multi-disc sets with an additional extra features disc and a third disc with a digital copy and a “Star Trek D-A-C” game trial. 

Paramount also created  more expensive versions as exclusive offers for Target and other retailers, but in all of them the extras on the feature film disc, including the commentary track, were standardized.

In 2013, a new team took over Paramount’s Blu-ray department and incurred the wrath of many Star Trek ans by dividing the extra features, including the enhanced commentary and most of the behind-the-scenes featurettes, and parceling them out to iTunes, Walmart, and Target. 

As The Digital Bits’ Bill Hunt said in his June 23. 2014 column,:

“[M]any of you will no doubt recall that, back when Star Trek Into Darkness was first released on Blu-ray, we here at The Bits were critical of the way all of the special features content was split up and given away as exclusives to different retail partners, making it nearly impossible for fans to get all of the extras..”   

Paramount Listens!

Fortunately, Paramount paid attention, and after inviting Hunt to discuss how the studio could improve the home media release of Star Trek Into Darkness, reversed course. Under pressure from the studio, Paramount Home Media Distribution created a better version of its Star Trek Into Darkness BD set.

The result: the 4-BD “Star Trek: The Compendium” box set. 

Star Trek: The Compendium

Star Trek: The Compendium is a 4-BD box set comprised of 2009′ Star Trek reboot, the 2009 extra features BD, the Imax edition of 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. and all of its extra features finally rounded up in the extra features BD. This disc also has several new extras, including a look at the props used in the film and a gag reel.  

(Star Trek: The Compendium also included the now-expired code for Paramount’s Ultraviolet digital HD download or streaming versions of both films. These allowed viewers to watch the movies on HD TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones. The codes expired September 9, 2016.)

The DigiPack

The 4 BDs come in an attractive black-and-silver DigiPack case. There’s an almost 3-D rendition of the USS Enterprise next to the “Star Trek: The Compendium” logo.  Since the reboots are set in an alternate timeline based on Star Trek: The Original Series, the logo is rendered with the font used in the 1960s TV show’s main titles.

The BDs are stored in two-disc holders in the inside “covers” of the DigiPack case. Star Trek and its extra features disc are “stacked” on the left inside cover, while Star Trek Into Darkness’ two BDs are on the right inside cover. The top disc overlaps the bottom one and helps hold it in place. However, it’s advisable to make sure the discs are tightly secured so they don’t get loose in the DigiPack during handling.

Content

As far as content goes, Star Trek: The Compendium focuses more on fixing the self-inflicted problems in the original Star Trek Into Darkness BD release. Accordingly, 2009’s Star Trek is essentially a repackaged version of the 3-BD edition without the “Star Trek” Xbox free game trial/digital copy. No new extras were made, nor was Star Trek reissued in 2016 along with Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.

The Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray, on the other hand, includes the IMAX edition of the 2013 blockbuster that reimagines the scenario of the original TV series’ 1967 episode “Space Seed” and its feature film follow up, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Though writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof received flak for bringing back Khan Noonien Singh instead of creating an all-new story, Star Trek Into Darkness is the franchise’s most successful film, earning over $460 million worldwide.

Although Paramount didn’t go the “Director’s Cut” route and add deleted scenes, it chose the IMAX-enhanced edition of Star Trek Into Darkness in lieu of the regular theatrical release version. The characters and the plot are the same, but when Abrams’ incorporates the scenes shot with the bigger IMAX cameras the picture fills the entire screen. This makes the viewing experience more immersive, especially on larger TVs connected to home theater sound systems.

As mentioned earlier, one of the more controversial issues that dogged the original BD release of Star Trek Into Darkness was the decision to not include a commentary track on the various editions. This has been remedied by the inclusion of the iTunes exclusive enhanced commentary track. 

This feature is reminiscent of Warner Home Video’s Maximum Movie Mode in which filmmakers use the Picture-in-Picture function to insert video clips or other visual aids to share insights into the making of their movies. Here, Abrams and various members of the production crew discuss various elements of Star Trek Into Darkness and how it was made. Sometimes the commentary focuses on the technical aspects of the special effects and music. 

In other sequences the producers have humorous exchanges about tips of the hat to Star Trek II and where the seat belts on the bridge chairs are stowed when not in use.

The other extras blend the featurettes from 2013’s retailer exclusive releases and some all-new ones created for Star Trek: The Compendium.  Some, like “The Enemy of My Enemy” and “The Klingon Home World,” were included in the general release BD set. Others were available only in the Walmart or Target exclusives. In all, there are 20 featurettes in the 2014 Star Trek Into Darkness bonus disc.

Star Trek: The Compendium is not a must-get re-release for casual viewers who already own the original BD or DVD releases of the two Abrams- directed “Star Trek” films. There’s no new plot-twisting footage in either Star Trek or Star Trek Into Darkness, so buyers who aren’t into audio commentaries or behind the scenes probably don’t need this set.

For die-hard Kelvin Timeline fans, though, Star Trek: The Compendium is Paramount’s atonement for a poorly conceived business move and making Star Trek Into Darkness worth getting for the approximately 30 minutes’ worth of eye-popping IMAX footage and the complete collection of behind-the-scenes extras.

Star Trek is one of Paramount’s (and CBS Studios’) crown jewel franchise, so it is nice to see that studio executives paid attention to reviews and corrected the Blu-ray division’s mistakes.

Star Trek; The Compendium – List of Contents

Disc 1

  • Star Trek in high definition
  • Commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci

Disc 2

  • 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.
  • Warp Explained
  • Paint Job
  • Bridge Construction Accelerated
  • The Captain’s Chair
  • Button Acting 101
  • Narada Construction Accelerated
  • Shuttle Shuffle
  • Branching Pods:
  • The Alien Paradox
  • Big-Eyed Girl
  • Big Bro Quinto
  • Klingons
  • Drakoulias Anatomy 101
  • 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.
  • Extra Business
  • Confidentiality
  • Branching Pods:
  • Klingon Wardrobe
  • 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:
  • 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:
  • 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

Disc 3

  • Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX Version in high definition
  • Enhanced Commentary

Disc 4

  • 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 props.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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