4K UHD Blu-ray Box Set Review: ‘Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline’ (2020)

(C) 2020 Paramount Home Media Distribution

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Paramount Home Media Distribution released Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline, a six-disc (three 4K UHD, three 2K Blu-ray discs) box set which rounds up the three Star Trek films set in a version of Star Trek: The Original Series’ universe in which the 23rd timeline in which James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Nyota Uhura, Hikaru Sulu, and Pavel Chekov exist is altered by an encounter between the USS Kelvin and a deadly foe from an unexpected origin – the 24th Century.

When the U.S.S. Kelvin is wrapped up in a temporal anomaly, the path of Starfleet and the future of the universe as we know it takes off in a new direction: the Kelvin Timeline. Up against the Romulans, the superhuman Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), and the alien warlord Krall (Idris Elba), it’s all hands on deck for the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, led by the young and headstrong Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), McCoy (Karl Urban), and Scotty (Simon Pegg). J.J. Abrams’s reboot of the classic franchise has received dozens of accolades, including an Academy Award. For devoted fans of the beloved benchmark sci-fi series, all three films now come together in the Kelvin Timeline Trilogy – a bold, new beginning and a must-have in anyone’s Star Trek collection. – Back cover blurb, Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline.

Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline consists of:

  • Star Trek (2009), written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, directed by J.J. Abrams
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, directed by J.J. Abrams
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016), written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, directed by Justin Ling

Although actors Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (McCoy) Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), and the late Anton Yelchin (Chekov) step into the roles played by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, the Kelvin Timeline films do not erase The Original Series’ canon because they exist in a separate timeline triggered by an intrusion of the Narada, a 24th Century Romulan vessel, into the 2240s.

The resulting Kelvin Incident – in which the USS Kelvin’s destruction changes the destinies of James Tiberius Kirk , Spock, and the rest of what will become the crew of the USS Enterprise – transforms the Federation and Starfleet and takes both of these iconic organizations down a darker path than the one seen in the 1966-1969 television series and the six theatrical spinoff films Paramount released between 1979 and 1991. As a result of these changes, the 23rd Century in which the crew of the Enterprise boldly goes where no one has gone before seems more dystopian – at least on the surface – than Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek.

The Box Set

(C) 2020 Paramount Home Media Distribution. STAR TREK is a trademark of CBS Studios.

Paramount Home Media Distribution bundled the individual 4K UHD Blu-ray discs that had originally been released in 2016 (Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness in June, and Star Trek Beyond in November) along with the original 2009, 2013, and 2016 BD-50 Blu-ray discs (BDs). Unlike Paramount’s recent Star TreK: The Original 4-Movie Collection, this Is not a box set with a pressed slipcover and separate multi-disc cases for the 4K and 2K discs.

Instead, Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline packages its six discs in the industry’s standard black-for-4K multiple disc jewel cases, with the three 4K discs in the first three disc-holders, and the 2K BDs in the other three.

The 4K UHD discs have stark white-on-black disc labels with each film’s title, Motion Picture Association (MPA) rating, and other indicia but no cool art. The 2K Blu-rays come either in silver on gray (Star Trek) or silver on gray (Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond). Like the 4K discs, the Blu-ray editions bear the movies’ stylized logos, MPA ratings, and other indicia with no other graphics.

For those of you who understand audio-visual technical specifications, here you go:

Video

  • Codec: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 2.39:1, 1.78:1
  • Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

Star Trek 4K

  • English: Dolby Atmos
  • English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
  • French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Star Trek Into Darkness 4K

  • English: Dolby Atmos
  • English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
  • French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)

Star Trek Beyond 4K

  • English: Dolby Atmos
  • English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
  • French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles

  • English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Discs

  • 4K Ultra HD
  • Blu-ray Disc
  • Six-disc set (3 BD-66, 3 BD-50)
  • Digital
  • Digital 4K
  • Digital copy included

Playback

  • 4K Blu-ray: Region free
  • 2K Blu-ray: Region A

My Take

As I mentioned earlier, Paramount Home Media Distribution released Star Trek Trilogy: Kelvin Timeline in Spring 2020 as a more economical bundle reissue of the 2016 4K UHD sets. The three films – 2009’s Star Trek, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and 2016’s Star Trek Beyond – have not been remastered either on the 4K BD-66 discs or their older BD-50 counterparts.

I already owned two versions of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness – in the individual releases and the 2014 Star Trek Compendium – and the 2016 Star Trek Beyond in 2K Blu-ray, but I wanted the Kelvin Timeline films on 4K. Because box sets are often less expensive than getting each individual title separately (At a retail price of $50.99 – $31.99 at Amazon – consumers save $16.01.), I opted for the Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline bundle.

Video Quality

Visually, the three Kelvin Timeline Star Trek reboots have never looked better on home video. Even accounting for J.J. Abrams’ stylistic idiosyncrasies – he loves to use lens flares in most of his films – Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond look absolutely stunning even on a modest-sized 4K UHD TV set like mine. In fact, Star Trek (2009) was Paramount’s first 4K UHD release, which explains why the studio made sure the quality of the the UHD transfer surpassed that of the older 1080p Blu-ray’s.

Per Blu-ray.com’s Martin Liebman’s 2016 review of Star Trek:

The UHD release retains a gorgeous cinematic texturing, boasting a refined and complimentary grain structure that accentuates every detail and visual effect. The image is otherwise clean and sharp, beyond a few soft shots that remain (Spock at film’s end being the most obvious example). Skin textures are remarkable. Close-ups are so intimately complex as to astound; whether Romulan tattoos or fine pores and facial hair, any viewer would be hard-pressed to find a home video image — 1080p or 2160p — that can match this one’s level of revealing intimacy.   

Audio Quality

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that my 4K UHD TV is not – and probably never will be – connected to my ONN soundbar; I can’t do it myself, and I can’t really count on anyone here to do it for me. So I can’t vouch for how good the Dolby Atmos sound mix is in this 4K bundle.

All I can say is that audio performance will vary depending on how good your home theater setup is. If you have a high-end sound system with a 5-speaker layout, I’m sure that this set’s Dolby Atmos audio mix will be, ahem, out of this world. On my TV…well, it sounds okay, but that’s because I must rely only on my set’s speaker.

Extra Features

(C) 2009 Paramount Pictures/Paramount Home Media Distribution

As is often the case in these multiformat bundles, the extra features are unevenly divided between the 4K UHD discs and the 2K BDs. The 4K UHDs for Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline don’t have much beyond the audio commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto OrcI. The high-definition 2K Blu-ray is almost identical to its 2009 forerunner, except that it doesn’t have the featurette on Star Trek’s genesis as a soft-reboot.

The other two films follow the same pattern, although in the case of the 2K releases, the mix of extras is better. The 4K disc has an audio commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. This was included with the Star Trek Compendium reissue of Star Trek Into Darkness but omitted from the original 2013 Blu-ray release, which is the BD included in this bundle.

On the other hand, at least that Blu-ray has some cool if perhaps perfunctory behind-the-scenes bonus features.

(C) 2013 Paramount Home Media Distribution

Here, for instance, is what you’ll get in Star Trek Into Darkness’ extra features:

  • Creating The Red Planet
  • Attack on Starfleet
  • The Klingon Home World
  • The Enemy of My Enemy
  • Ship to Ship
  • Brawl by the Bay
  • Continuing the Mission
  • The Mission Continues
(C) 2016 Paramount Home Media Distribution

Perhaps because Star Trek Beyond underperformed at the box office in 2016 – when Paramount released it theatrically as part of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, the 4K UHD has no extras at all, not even an audio commentary track.

The 2K Blu-ray from 2016 – which is identical to the disc in this Kelvin Timeline bundle – at least comes with a set of bonus features. Like those for Star Trek Into Darkness, the ones on this disc are skimpy but still of interest for fans.

Here’s what you get in Star Trek Beyond supplements section

  • Deleted Scenes & Gag Reel
  • Beyond the Darkness
  • Enterprise Takedown
  • Divided and Conquered
  • A Warped Sense of Revenge
  • Trekking in the Desert
  • Exploring Strange New Worlds
  • New Life, New Civilizations
  • To Live Long and Prosper
  • For Leonard and Anton

It would have been nice if Paramount Home Media Distribution had invested a bit more in additional material; I would have loved to hear Justin Lin’s insights about stepping into J.J. Abrams’ role as director (Abrams had been hired to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the hiatus between Into Darkness and Beyond.), but I suppose the studio didn’t feel it was necessary to throw more money at a film that did not become a huge box office success.

(C) 2020 Paramount Home Media Distribution. STAR TREK is a trademark of CBS Studios.

Nevertheless, for fans who did not own the individual 4K releases of the Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline movies, this 2020 bundle is a good bargain. I still like most of the films with the original cast more than I do the reboots, but the “Kelvin” films are part of the canon, and they have their own charms as movies. I recommend this set with a bit of muted enthusiasm due to its unimpressive mix of bonus features, but it’s still a nice one to get.

Source: Martin Liebman, Star Trek (2009) 4K UHD Blu-ray Review, June 10, 2016, Blu-ray.com

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.

4 thoughts on “4K UHD Blu-ray Box Set Review: ‘Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline’ (2020)

  1. I’m not a huge fan of the Kelvin timeline, although I love Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and Karl Urban. I didn’t like Chris Pine, but I think that’s because of the way Kirk was scripted in this timeline. They also tried to cram too much into a few movies, instead of developing the story more. Granted, we weren’t going to get a 3 season build-up for the characters, but I really felt like there were problems with how they were developed. I don’t have the 4k set. I do have a blu-ray though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look at it this way: warts and all, the Kelvin Timeline films revived a nearly-dead franchise. After Nemesis flopped in 2002 and Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled at the end of the fourth season, Star Trek as a visual story was dead. Or close to it.

      I would have written Kirk’s story arc much differently than Kurtzman and Orci did. I also do not like the oversized design for the Constitution-class starship. Star Trek: Discovery’s version is better.

      Still, the Kelvin Timeline films still entertain me, though not as much as Star Trek II, III, IV, and VI.

      Maybe it’s just not our Trek, y’know?

      Liked by 1 person

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