If there’s one thing the folks at Bad Robot have proven through two previous home video releases of their Kelvin Timeline films, it’s that they know how to put together quality special features – even if finding a way to watch them all is sometimes an aggravating experience.

That truth is once again evident in the wide release of Star Trek Beyond to home video. While Target stores will carry an additional disc of content in their retailer-exclusive edition – which we’ll review once in stores – every Beyond Blu-ray will include nine expertly produced behind-the-scenes featurettes detailing every aspect of the film, as well as two brief deleted scenes and a blooper reel.

Beyond may not arrive on Blu-ray in North America until November 1, but these primary features are included in today’s iTunes digital release of the film, now available for viewing.

1. “Beyond the Darkness” (10:07)

As a fan of the show, I assumed they would hang out off screen somewhere, but I felt like if I was ever going to make a Star Trek film, I wanted to see that on screen. I wanted to move the camera and put it on these characters. – Justin Lin

That quote perfectly sums up how director Justin Lin approached his filmmaking duties when he was brought on board, with very little notice, to helm Star Trek Beyond. In “Beyond the Darkness,” the longest of the eleven extras featured on Beyond’s standard home video release, we hear extensively from Lin and the entire executive team behind the film.

“Beyond the Darkness” is ultimately a standard behind-the-scenes featurette that broadly covers Beyond’s initial production phase and story development. While the video doesn’t tread any new ground in style or substance, it does a great job of demonstrating how Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung coalesced as a team.

The feature is a solid introduction to the creation of many of the film’s key elements, including the Yorktown Station, the Franklin, Jaylah and a villain who is basically “a deconstruction of the Federation.”

The video includes quite a few sound bites from Doug Jung, who does a great job of highlighting the creative team’s goal of “showing the friendship, not just talking about it” – a reference to their initial target to differentiate themselves from Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness.

We also hear from executive producer Lindsey Weber, who shows up in a number of features on the disc. She offers a fresh perspective from what we saw in the film’s press junkets, including her realization that Jung was “just the right person” to play Sulu’s partner in the much-discussed plot development regarding Sulu’s same-sex relationship.

The featurette closes with a goosebump-inducing comment from Lin, who shared executive producer J.J. Abrams’ advice when he handed over the reins: “Be bold; make it yours.”

Our take: With no background details on the film’s hands-on production team, this story-driven discussion at the executive level feels a little bit light.

2. “Enterprise Takedown” (4:30)

“…in a very literal way we were tearing it apart, and tearing all the characters apart.” – Justin Lin

One of the first criticisms from fans regarding Star Trek Beyond, before the movie was released, was the apparent destruction of the Enterprise. In the “Enterprise Takedown” featurette, the executive producers and writers discuss their motivations for this early plot twist. The feature includes sound bites from Lydia Wilson, who plays Kalara, the double agent who sets the entire plot in motion, and her big bad boss, Idris Elba (Krall).

Even though we also hear from editors Greg D’Auria and Dylan Highsmith, the feature only really hits on the motivations behind the ship’s early destruction in the film. It fails to delve into the technical machinations that were required by the production staff to pull off the complex array of visual effects and tricky character movements in and around the ship.

Our take: A lack of production focus doesn’t help this piece rise to the next level, and instead it is a bit of a rehash of the plot motivations for destroying the Enterprise.

3. “Divided and Conquered” (8:16)

“The scenes between Spock and Bones are, in my opinion, really quite at the heart of the picture.” – Karl Urban

This meaty vignette includes a cornucopia of cast interviews, film clips and on-set production outtakes, all of which allow the viewer to get a real feel for how the producers and writers approached each character’s storyline, as they work in pairs to get the gang back together.

The intricate discussion moves briskly as it explores Bones and Spock trying to survive the Altamid canyons, Scotty and Jaylah creating their strong partnership, Kirk and Chekov working to regain their footing, and Uhura and Sulu resisting Krall and his drones.

The bittersweet inclusion of Anton Yelchin discussing Chekov’s strong story arc will leave you feeling both happy and sad: thankful for his incredible contribution to the Star Trek franchise, and devastated by his tragic loss.

Our take: A wonderful behind-the-scenes feature in all the ways you want a behind-the-scenes feature to be, including a large number of third-camera production views of the crew in action.

4. “A Warped Sense of Revenge” (5:14)

“The philosophy of Krall was one of the instruments Justin was using to make a film that felt a little bit challenging to the whole Star Trek universe. Some of those lines are really digs at the structure of Star Trek.” – Idris Elba

One of this reviewer’s favorite elements of Star Trek Beyond was the layered, complex motivations of Krall, the film’s villain, and the surprise reveal that he was once a Starfleet captain and MACO soldier. In “A Warped Sense of Revenge,” everyone responsible for this character’s development delves deeply into both his motivations and the mechanisms he uses to enact his plan.

The feature doesn’t focus on the make-up or production design of Krall’s world, but that’s not an issue here, as the complexity of Krall’s character receives the attention it deserves with a number of lengthy interviews with Elba. The vignette also features a great sound bite from Joe Taslim (Manas), who explained his character’s allegiance to Krall as his “captain, brother, best friend.”

Our take: An insightful examination of Krall’s motivation and structure. Should be required viewing for anyone who didn’t comprehend those deep layers in the film.

5. “Trekking in the Desert” (3:05)

“It could have been an easy choice to say, ‘Hey, let’s make the Yorktown on a soundstage; let’s make everything CG.’ But I felt it was important to make everything tactile, to make everything real.” – Justin Lin

During the production shoot for Star Trek Beyond, it was widely reported (and promoted) that a number of scenes would be shot in the city of Dubai for the first time. And there’s no way to miss it in the movie: Dubai’s “outrageous, vertical and futuristic” architecture featured prominently in basically every shot on the Yorktown Station.

In addition to Dubai’s stunning cityscape, Lin also used the city’s massive sound stages to shoot a number of other tricky green-screen scenes, including the zero-gravity fight between Kirk and Krall. Watching Idris Elba and Chris Pine soaring majestically on wires across the span of a humongous green screen is the kind of production background shot people who watch special features are looking for.

The highlight, though, of this strong featurette is its shots of the local extras reveling in their chance to be a part of the Star Trek universe. One proud background artist interviewed in a large outdoor plaza pointed gleefully at a building to say, “The office I work in is right there.”

Our take: A fascinating (but too short) video that showcases the many different ways Dubai helped make Star Trek Beyond such an amazing-looking feature film.

6. “Exploring Strange New Worlds” (6:01)

“I’m used to coming up with ideas, even in the process of shooting, and you’re like, ‘Fine. Let’s go shoot on this street corner.’ But in Star Trek you can’t do that. Every idea is a build.” – Justin Lin

This fantastic look at Tom Sanders’ epic production design for Star Trek Beyond is one of the more impressive features in this release. Interviews with Sanders and much of the cast (Pine, Quinto, Urban, Yelchin, etc.) are accompanied by a number of interesting before and after shots of the large outdoor sets on Altamid.

· A massive quarry converted into yellow canyons and a blue planet with huge mushroom/sand dollar platforms? Check.
· A crashed Enterprise hull (pictured above) towering seven stories tall? You got it.
· Revolving Enterprise sets that allow the actors to scramble in any direction along the walls? Yep.

All of these epic designs as well as the specific elements of the Franklin interiors are discussed and shown in detail throughout this special feature, as are Sanders’ extraordinary miniature models that he uses as part of his creation process.

Our take: The film’s production design clearly aimed high and scored big. It’s one of the film’s many strengths and it is showcased in all its glory in this great vignette.

7. “New Life, New Civilizations” (8:03)

“With Jaylah, there was a very conscious effort to make her distinct, to make her iconic. And the elegance of the lines on that make-up is what makes it really stand out.” – Joel Harlow

You can say that again! More deep-dive production goodness here as makeup designer Joel Harlow narrates the entire piece and discusses the exquisitely intricate work of his crew in Star Trek Beyond. From initial design, to sculpting, to molds, to re-designs, this featurette does a superb job of showcasing the art of creature design. Fifty unique aliens were created for the film, and you’ll quickly lose count trying to spot them all in this packed special feature.

Additional interviews from Sofia Boutella (Jaylah), Deep Roy (Keenser) and Lydia Wilson (Kalara) add to the piece. The only slight disappointment is the lack of any discussion on what went into the amazing design of Ensign Syl, the crab-head alien who ended up being a pretty major plot point in the film. Unfortunately there are only a few fleeting shots of Syl in the entire piece.

Our take: Seeing Harlow’s brilliant creature design coming to life in the workshop is what makes this video a true behind-the-scenes classic. It’s fantastic – minus the odd exclusion of Syl.

8. “To Live Long and Prosper” (7:50)

“The core of Star Trek is a powerful, simple idea of what happens if we all work together.” – JJ Abrams

Wow. Just wow. We’ve all seen clip reels before, but this celebration of 50 years of Star Trek, with a strong amalgamation of shots from Original Series television episodes, the first six Trek films, and the Kelvin Timeline movies – as well as sound bites from the entire Beyond cast and crew – might just surpass them all.

From “I don’t believe in the no win scenario” to “There be whales here,” this adrenaline-fueled video gets your blood pumping and pulls at your heartstrings. And the beautiful juxtaposition of Uhura extolling Krall that “there’s strength in unity,” with a clip of Kirk berating Kruge with “If we don’t help each other, we’ll die here” shows the deep connection from The Motion Picture all the way through to Beyond.

Our take: When Doug Jung says, “Ultimately, Roddenberry presents this hopeful universe. We are the answer. We are the thing that will evolve and will bring about a better way of living,” all you can do is nod your head in agreement. That’s Star Trek.

9. “For Leonard and Anton” (5:03)

“I’m grateful every day that I’m on set. This is what I do and I love it very much. I’m always with my friends and it’s been the loveliest thing. I’m so grateful, because they’re such good people and they’re so much fun to be around and they make me happy.” – Anton Yelchin

You literally can’t make a more moving tribute. From the opening one-minute shot of Spock’s awakening at the end of The Search for Spock to the powerful reflection above from Anton Yelchin as he is surrounded by his friends, it’s the perfect tribute for the Trek family coping with the loss of their elder statesman and their ebullient young star in an unfathomable confluence of sadness.

Our take: Tears. And more tears.

10. Gag Reel (5:12)

“Captain, we are not engaged for this level of engagement!” – Zachary Quinto

A gag reel for the ages, with a perfect mix of short bloopers, fits of laughter and lines repeated ad infinitum that the cast just can’t get right. Based on these clips, it’s quite possible Chris Pine only said “Fibonan” correctly on one take, and that’s the one they used in the film.

Our take: Laughter. Lots of laughter. (You’ll definitely watch this more than once!)

11. Deleted Scenes (1:04)

While nearly half an hour of content may have been trimmed from the final cut of Star Trek Beyond, there are only about one minute’s worth of deleted scenes included here.

Deleted scenes usually serve only as a curiosity for fans and completionists, and are rarely essential to the final product (and often make it worse). In the case of Star Trek Beyond’s very slight inclusion of two short deleted scenes, all of the above is true.

It’s probably a good thing “Scotty in the Terminal” (released to the web in late September) didn’t make it into the final film.

While the early attention paid to Kirk’s ongoing angst works fine and Mr. Scott’s reference to his friendship with Lt. Romaine is a fun Easter egg, the inclusion of Keenser’s toxic mucus sneeze would have been excessive (and would have dumbed-down even further his eventual role in the Uhura/Sulu jailbreak).

However, in “Scotty Gets Bib and Tucker,” any chance to get even one additional line of Jaylah dialogue is well worth it. The 19-second scene provides an unnecessary explanation as to how Scotty and Spock suddenly appear in uniforms from the Franklin, but hearing Jaylah say: “Your words are really strange, Montgomery Scotty,” makes it a winner. Jaylah never disappoints.

Our take: Surprisingly only two deleted scenes are included, and as with most cut footage, they add very little to the overall package.

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If you can’t wait for the Beyond Blu-ray release next month, you can purchase Star Trek Beyond on iTunes now and watch all these features today. Here’s a few preview clips of these features which Paramount has released ahead of this week’s digital debut:

Be sure and come back to TrekCore on November 1 when we’ll cover all the additional features included in the Target bonus disc, along with the iTunes-exclusive enhanced audio commentary track!

REVIEW OVERVIEW
"Beyond the Darkness"
5
"Enterprise Takedown"
5
"Divide and Conquered"
9
"A Warped Sense of Revenge"
7
"Trekking in the Desert"
7
"Exploring Strange New Worlds"
8
"New Life, New Civilizations"
7
"To Live Long and Prosper"
9
"For Leonard and Anton"
9
Gag Reel
8
Deleted Scenes
4
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  • Ben

    I think I’ll wait for the bluray, though some sound interesting

  • Charlie Oakes

    That 2nd clip won’t play.

  • Newdivide1701

    For me the destruction of the Enterprise so early on really hit so many. As they said you lost a central character early instead of late left a void, an empty chair you might say, throughout the movie. It wasn’t just the loss of a character or their home, but the loss of the unity of what kept them together.

    Being captured and separated diminished the sense of hope the crew had where even just sticking together they could get through this is gone. They had to rebuild from scratch. Albeit they were still in a much better position than Commodore Matt Decker.

    It was so much different with the Enterprise as the last 2 times we saw an Enterprise destroyed, the crew were able to stick together — let alone having the ship destroyed near the end. This is one of countless things that separates Star Trek Beyond from other Treks and allows it to stand on its own two feet.

    • scotchyscotchscotch

      my girlfriend (who is not really a Trekkie but I’ve been pulling her over), said to me after we saw it together, “did it hurt when the Enterprise got destroyed?” she hit it on the head… for all the gripes about design in the Kelvin universe etc, it is still the Enterprise and seeing her without her nacelles floating through space does hurt

      • Credo

        Same here. It has become one of my top favorite scenes from the Entire Star Trek Canon we have available, not because it just gets destroyed, but because it is just filmed so well. To hit you hard, the music, everything. I would be really happy IF Justin Lin returns for the 14th movie. He and everyone else involved really have done a great job.

        • Joe E Dangerously

          Well I think most of the newer movies are just a lot better from a technical standpoint so it’s not really surprising that it was done so well. Remember the old movies were moderately budgeted so they didn’t have a lot to work with. I mean they made it work for what they had but these movies are so much bigger and grander and more epic so I think it’s only natural that the destruction of this Enterprise would be the definitive one. The score is just worlds better too and really just everything they’re doing gives a scale and sense of stakes the old films just didn’t have apart from maybe II and VI in a sense. It’s just bigger and grander and it puts us into the world of the film and I think that’s what you need to do if you’re going to do something as bold as destroying Enterprise.

          As an aside, I really do like these new movies and I have no problem accepting them as Star Trek. This is Star Trek to me. And I’ve grown up with Kirk and his crew. This is Star Trek with a modern sensibility and it’s just what we needed. This is how to keep Star Trek alive. I think it deserves to be alive. And if this is how to do it, sign me up.

      • Aaron

        I think, in a strange way, it was also destroyed “well.” What I mean by that, is the ship held her ground as much as she possibly could. Even after the deflector dish was destroyed, even after the nacelles had been ripped off, even after the engineering section had been severed from the saucer, the Enterprise was still going, trying desperately to escape. Hell, even after gravity pulled her into the planet, she survived the fall to an extent – remaining intact with power and thruster use. As painful as that scene was, it was gorgeously filmed, the music was brilliant, and the acting was top-notch.

        • Reign1701A

          Right, as opposed to the E-D’s unceremonious demise at the hands of an old BoP. I always dislikedthe apparent fragility of warp core stability in the TNG-era shows. In contrast, I loved how Beyond showed the Enterprise as a sturdy force, still “kicking and screaming” so to speak even after having so many of its components torn off.

    • zeeman1

      Why don’t they offer a interactive tour of all the ships and main locations in the film? Who wouldn’t love a tour of the Enterprise interior? The special features on ST:’09 were far superior.

    • (Roc) Wayne Alford

      And 100% Justin Lin had to convince Pegg to make it so, It was brilliant!

  • Pipe’sIDIC

    I like!

    And the dig at people who won’t understand the film or Krall’s ideology.

    And Jung, that’s Star Trek.

  • Eric Cheung

    How was the audio commentary?

    • As we mention at the end, our take on that will be part of the next feature review. 🙂

  • scotchyscotchscotch

    i LOVE that still of Pine cracking up!

  • iMike

    I’m going to wait for the Blu Ray but thank you TrekCore for your always amazing reviews!! You’re the best!!

  • (Roc) Wayne Alford

    In a few years this movie will move up to #1 in the franchise

    • human8

      I don’t think so.

      • (Roc) Wayne Alford

        Of course it will with all these trekkers pushing 75yrs old

  • Aaron

    In some way I hope the next movie puts an end to the Kelvin-timeline. The first of the movies was fun, if not particularly “Star Treky,” Into Darkness was just weird…I don’t hate it like others do, but using Khan drastically overshadows what had the potential of being an interesting and timely story – the debate around using advanced torpedoes to kill an enemy of the state is very similar to the current debate around drone strikes, the Federation admiral looking for war is somewhat similar to various political talking heads calling for war/invasion against various sovereign nations, etc. Unfortunately, Khan became a major plot point, transporters can be used over light years, and then Kirk died…and things just unraveled. Star Trek Beyond was a LOT better – was the first of the Kelvin-timeline movies to actually feel like Star Trek. Chris Pine’s Kirk actually acted like Kirk, the crew finally clicked and acted like the crew of the flagship, etc.

    However, with a new TV show starting next year in the Prime-timeline, and movies only coming out every few years, it seems silly to maintain two distinct timelines that could very easily confuse more casual viewers. I think if Into Darkness had faired better with the fans (which probably would have translated into Beyond doing better at the box office), the Kelvin-timeline might have had good momentum – and the new TV show could have been based in the Kelvin-timeline (perhaps in the TNG era?). Alas, that did not happen, and I think the Kelvin-timeline has run its course.

    With the next movie bring back George Kirk, I could see them somehow undoing what happened in the first movie – and thus erasing the Kelvin-timeline. But we shall see!

    • (Roc) Wayne Alford

      Every Time someone states “I hope they are restoring the timeline” I try to imagine how you could do that. If you run over a raw egg with a truck can you restore it? Even if you collect every drop of liquid and every piece of the shell can you restore it? The answer is NO! And what happens to the new actors? Does everyone throw on a pair of gogo boots and return to the Austin Powers TOS of the 60’s ?
      In 2019 they are not restoring the timeline and even if they did it would still be totally rebooted so get over the restore fantasy.