Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 47 Min Read

Review by: Daniel Pulliam

Plot: What’s it about?

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

My history goes back a long way with “The Motion Picture”. I can still remember the good old days of renting the film from my local VHS store and being awed by what I then considered to be the first voyage of the crew of the USS Enterprise. I’d not had any experience with The Original Series up to that point, so I was going into this first feature with no baggage, so to speak. One of the many reasons I feel that “The Motion Picture” has been so unfairly criticized in the subsequent years since its release three decades ago (I am now officially old, by the way) is that it’s viewed primarily in the shadow of the series which spawned it as opposed to a standalone film. As the former, it can hardly help but fail on a multitude of levels. As the latter, though, it actually manages to succeed in ways that, frankly, some of the future voyages fell short. As Trek films go, the plot of “The Motion Picture” is a comparatively ambitious one: that of a seemingly malevolent super-machine that is journeying back to Earth to find its creator. On the trip home, the knowledge it accumulates becomes something more than its sum and turns the machine into something bordering on sentience. What it needs to evolve is a human capacity for which logic cannot solely account. There are obvious comparisons to be made here with Original Series episodes such as “The Changeling”, but even so, this first film remains as original as any silver screen incarnation that Trek has ever seen. The overall plot has rather ingenious parallels with Mr. Spock’s personal journey of self-discovery throughout the film. There is, of course, the issue of the film’s pacing. Deliberately slow and methodical, this first film takes on a nearly 2001-esque view of space travel, and that likely turned many fans away initially. That said, it’s my belief that many filmgoers today forget just how slow-paced the series actually was in the 1960’s. They were hardly grandiose, high-flying adventure by today’s rapid fire cutting standards. But at its heart, the film contains the very core belief on which the series began in the first place. It was Gene Roddenberry’s steadfast assertion of the beauty and poignancy of the human spirit and our potential to ultimately overcome our failings that made Trek transcend average sci-fi conventions and become something more, and I believe that same foundation to be alive and well in this first big screen adventure.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

My first memory of “The Wrath Of Khan” was watching it on television, my mother’s hands over my eyes when Khan uses the Ceti Eels to take over the minds of Chekov and Captain Terrell. Ever since then, my impression of the film has been somewhat re-colored, as such experiences tend to do at such a young age. I always saw Khan as the film I was never supposed to see in its entirety, and it always felt thrilling and dangerous for that very reason. Of course, as time went on, the power of that scene has diminished greatly for me (though I doubt it can be argued that Trek has ever been more sadistic), but the net effect has stayed with me. I still love the idea of “The Wrath Of Khan”: to take an episode like “Space Seed” from The Original Series and turn it into a tale of Khan’s insatiable thirst for revenge against James T. Kirk, with a virtual doomsday device of a weapon thrown in for good measure. That’s just a great setup any way you slice it, and Nicholas Meyer directs the film with an almost breathless intensity (certainly when compared to the first film). If “The Motion Picture” was an exercise in deliberate pacing and awe-inspiring scenery, “The Wrath Of Khan” is a tightly-edited roller coaster ride that doesn’t have the time, luxury or inclination to stop and stare endlessly at star fields. Pretty much everything was overhauled after the first film, right down to the crew’s uniforms. The acting is top notch all around and includes Ricardo Montalban’s signature and defining moment as Khan, a role that has since become legend. It is worth noting that Kirk and Khan are never physically in the same scene a single time for the duration of the film. That all involved managed to keep the tension as high as they did given that fact is a testimony to how efficient an entertainment machine “The Wrath Of Khan” is designed to be. What small beats of humor the film has are expertly timed and come off beautifully, unlike some later entries in the series (more on that later). If I had to muster one caveat about this second film, it would be that it’s much more of a b-movie than is “The Motion Picture”. It’s far more engaging in just about every way imaginable, but it looses much of that first film’s wonder in the translation. Still, this second film remains the high bar by which all other Trek movies are judged to this day, and rightfully so.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

“The Search For Spock” was the first Star Trek film I ever saw in a movie theater. I still remember the experience. For that reason, this third entry will always hold a special place in my heart. “The Wrath Of Khan” is an extremely hard act to follow, especially when the continuation happens to be your directorial debut, but Leonard Nimoy does a fantastic job here nonetheless. Like “The Motion Picture”, I think “The Search For Spock” has gotten an unfairly bad rap over the years. It’s situated directly between what many believe to be the best Trek film and what is unarguably the most accessible, a place in which it has thanklessly languished for years, being largely written off and lumped into the “odd Trek movie curse” category. I have never quite understood this. To bring back a character like Spock and do it in a logical way (if you’ll forgive the pun) is a pretty tall order, but somehow this film managed to do just that. Using a tiny thread of dialog from the second movie as its anchor, “The Search For Spock” uses the clever device of having Spock’s consciousness stored inside Dr. McCoy. This allows the film a few moments of levity. One such scene is when McCoy inexplicably speaks off-screen in Spock’s voice, causing the entire crew to shoot him a look. It’s a great moment in an otherwise dark storyline. And let us not forget that this film dared to do something that no other episode of The Original Series or film had done up to that time: it actually destroyed the USS Enterprise. I was too young to really appreciate how it felt at the time, but I have to imagine seeing the ship disintegrate like that had to be shocking and traumatic for hardcore fans back in 1983. The film also wraps up the story of Kirk’s son David in an unexpected and tragic fashion that has repercussions all the way through to “The Undiscovered Country”. Oh, and there’s that pesky issue of bringing Spock back from the dead as well. Not bad for a “filler” film. But let’s not forget that this is also the middle chapter of the “Genesis Trilogy”, which I’ve always held as a high water mark for the series. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed “The Search For Spock”. It has the misfortune of being a transitional film, but it’s still solidly put together and executed, and it’s certainly a worthy addition to the franchise.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

I have a theory that Spock’s re-maturing Katra in “The Voyage Home” may have inspired the character of Data in “The Next Generation”. The child-like humor of both characters works for many of the same reasons. The fish out of water element of Spock in this film (one damn minute, Admiral!) is easily one of the movie’s highlights, and that’s in a film that features some of the most enjoyable moments in Trek history. I think the most impressive thing about “The Voyage Home” is how much the film relies on its audience’s investment in these characters. Without that element firmly in place, nothing would work. This is a Star Trek movie after all, and aside from a few scenes at the beginning and another few at the end, we don’t even see space at all. That’s a tough pill to sell to a sci-fi crowd, but somehow, everything gels perfectly in this installment. We get a great setup once again, with the crew being forced to time travel back to 1986 (in a Klingon bird of prey no less), retrieve two humpback whales, and take them back to the 23rd century. The fact that the 1980’s have aged so poorly has actually helped this film age extremely well, as many of the “alien” concepts to the crew are becoming more and more so even now in 2009 (unless rainbow-colored Mohawks are back in style now and I just haven’t noticed). The implications of reintroducing an extinct species into the ecosystem aside, this plot device was positively inspired and it allowed Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike to enjoy the film equally. A brief opening scene even explains why the crew aren’t onboard the Enterprise for any who may not have followed the series up to this point. And hey, we even get a non-preachy environmental film out of it, too, which is quite the rarity as films with messages go. All things considered, this might have the most replay value of any of the Trek films simply because its story is so basic and doesn’t rely so much on tension or back-story as most of the crew’s other adventures. It’s highly enjoyable and makes for a nice, lighthearted film right in the middle of a technologically heavy film series. But more importantly, this was just what Trek needed after grappling with death and life, and it ensured that the franchise would live and breathe ? for three more years anyway.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Poor William Shatner. Who could honestly blame him for believing he had a great Trek movie in him? Here’s a guy who had just had a career resurgence in the 1980’s, both with TJ Hooker and with the phenomenal success of the previous three Trek features. He was even about to start hosting duties on “Rescue 9-11” for CBS, a series that would go on to stay on the air for seven seasons. His longtime friend and co-star Leonard Nimoy had sat on the perch twice now with great results. And Shatner had to know the ins and outs of Kirk and Co. better than anyone, right? Well, apparently, that logic fell on Spock’s deaf ears, and the rest of the world followed suit. “The Final Frontier” failed to do much of anything it set out to do, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. It’s painfully obvious that this film was well-intended and tried desperately to be some amalgamation of Treks II through IV. But what no one apparently realized when making this movie was that those films worked because they did one thing (action, drama, and humor, respectively) and did it well. “The Final Frontier” attempts to mesh everything into a two hour film and it almost collapses under the weight of its own ? quite literally ? lofty ambitions. I say “almost” because I am in the minority of critics who don’t hate this fifth film (though I readily understand why so many others do hate it). The characters still have chemistry and that carries the movie a far greater distance than it really deserves. I simply feel that nothing much could have been done with what was attempted, even if a more appropriate budget had been afforded the production. Explaining the plot of this film as the crew of the Enterprise attempting to “find God” beyond the “Great Barrier” that surrounds the “Center Of The Galaxy”, it occurs to me that I’ve already used several quotation marks too many. This is a bit high-concept for Trek. And yet the otherwise intriguing plot is played for humor more often than not and attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Sadly, the humor generally doesn’t work, and it makes the film even less accessible to the masses than it would have been had Shatner stuck to his guns and gone the fully cerebral route as Robert Wise had done with the first picture. That might have elevated this mediocre entry into something that had a reason for being. As it stands, it’s a weak link, though I’d argue that it isn’t the complete train wreck that many claim it to be.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek was experiencing something of a resurgence in the early 90’s. With “The Next Generation” in full swing, “Deep Space Nine” on the horizon, and Nicholas Meyer back at the helm of this sixth ? and ultimately final ? original crew big screen adventure, things seemed to be looking up for “The Undiscovered Country”. All things considered, the film still holds up very well, though it’s not nearly as close to “The Wrath Of Khan” in quality as some would like to imagine. The story centers on the perilous state of the Klingon Empire and the subsequent efforts to iron out a peace treaty between the Klingons and the Federation. Naturally, Kirk is sent to facilitate the peace talks (though he’s probably the least likely candidate imaginable that Starfleet would have ever picked for such a mission given his history), and things go almost immediately wrong. Throw in an ill-timed assassination and a conspiracy that involves people on both sides who stand to lose from peace, and you’ve got a nice little political espionage thriller disguised as a Star Trek movie. The problem for me is that this was never what Star Trek was best at for me. I want to see these people encountering new species, saving the world from impending calamity or resurrecting crew members while defeating arch-nemeses in the process. The inner workings of Starfleet Command, murder trials and evil Klingons who only want to destroy Kirk’s ship so that there’s “no peace in our time” aren’t the most interesting points on which to hinge one last adventure. Not for me at least. I also find the humor, where it is placed, to be of the “Final Frontier” variety this time around. That is to say, it’s a bit self-conscious and not very funny. Now, all that said, this film succeeds spectacularly in almost every other respect. The plot, whether it’s a story I personally would have wanted told or not, is constructed with competence, the actors are as comfortable in their roles as ever, and the scenes on the prison planet and in the space battles are handled exceptionally well. The coda is also pitch perfect and leaves one with the impression that the film was better than just the sum of its parts ? the mark of a truly worthy ending to what had, for a few fleeting moments, been a truly glorious series of films.

Video: How does it look?

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

One could hardly tell from watching this film based on image quality alone that it was the oldest in the series. What we have here is a (mostly) phenomenal-looking video presentation, with one major problem. But let’s focus on the positives first. Detail is truly outstanding, and color accuracy and saturation are absolutely top-notch on this release. There is a bit of black crush due to the increased contrast, but the positives far outweigh the negatives in this reviewer’s opinion. A quick comparison with the previously-released DVD Special Edition demonstrates an astounding quality difference that left me with little doubt that I’d be hard-pressed to ever put the older version in my player again, Director’s Cut or not. The image on the Blu-ray is so breathtakingly clean that I could hardly believe I was watching a film made in 1979. Ironically, however, this is also the disc’s biggest problem. It’s too clean and too perfect to be an accurate presentation of this particular film. Indeed, upon closer inspection, I detected an anomaly that became the lone (but major) distraction as I continued to view the film: Digital Noise Reduction has been employed to such a degree here that the grain pattern literally moves with the actors’ motions. It’s as if the characters are under a thin sheet of mesh and affect it as they move around. From a comfortable viewing distance, and at a relatively modest screen size (mine is 46″), this may not be very noticeable. And to be fair, I did have to get right up to my screen to see the effect. But once I did, it was unavoidably distracting. A friend of mine who also has the set, for example, told me he wished I’d never pointed it out to him. But this is what I’m here for, so keep it in mind before making your purchase. It’s hard to adequately explain how a Blu-ray with such amazing levels of fine detail can also exhibit DNR of this magnitude, but I assure you it does just that. As such, I find this an extremely difficult title to grade visually. On the one hand, it leaves the DVD in the dust in almost every conceivable way. On the other, the one problem it does have is a rather egregious one.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

The only film in the collection to receive a full restoration, “The Wrath Of Khan” looks far better than any other in the set, though not quite as incredible as I had hoped. The main gripe I have here is the inconsistency of the negative (admittedly not the fault of the disc). From shot to shot, things change quite notably, from sharpness to black levels to fine detail. That said, for a film that obviously required a great deal of love and care to prepare it for the high definition realm at all, the good shots that are present look extremely good, and there are quite a few of them to offset the ones that aren’t quite as spectacular. When all things are going right with this transfer, it has a life-like, filmic feel that, quite frankly, leaves one to ponder what might have been had the same attention been afforded to the other five motion pictures. DNR, when it is present, is used so tastefully (in other words, very sparingly) that it never distracts from the film at all. Also, the film has been rather magnificently color-corrected throughout, revealing a far more pleasing palette that was always turned too far to the hot end of the spectrum on previous releases. Also of note is that, while the image has obviously been cleaned up substantially, Paramount has wisely stopped short of employing any edge enhancement to detract from the experience. With an image that is as sharp as Khan is at its best moments, I’d typically expect to see at least some halos, however minor, but not so here. Those expecting “Star Trek II” to look like, well, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, may be a slight bit disappointed. Personally, I much prefer this presentation with its true-to-the-source take on the material with minimal digital manipulation. In any case, this is absolutely the best “The Wrath Of Khan” has ever (or likely will ever) look at home, and once again, it easily wipes the floor with its DVD counterpart.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

It’s quite the dark irony that, as the Trek films progress on Blu-ray, their respective image quality somehow manages to diminish accordingly. “The Search For Spock” shares many of the visual qualities of the first two transfers, but sadly, it appears to have gotten the worst of both worlds (if you’ll forgive yet another pun). The gorgeous color and saturation of “The Motion Picture” are back here, but so is the excessive DNR of the first film (complete with the aforementioned distracting grain anomaly) and shot inconsistency of the second (though the latter issue isn’t nearly as prevalent as it was in Khan). Also, some minor sharpening appears to have been done to the image in post to make the DNR’ed visuals appear more natural. This, of course, has quite the opposite effect on the finished product. Lastly, as a side-effect of dialing the DNR down just slightly from the levels seen in “The Motion Picture”, we’re left with a small bit of film grain. The problem is that the grain doesn’t move in any kind of natural way due to the post-processing. What we’re left with is a visual experience that’s just got one too many issues to garner a full recommendation. Now, to be sure, “Star Trek III” has still, even with these unfortunate issues, never looked this good before on any format. And again, the image here doesn’t look “bad” so much as it exhibits several bad-looking characteristics that will offend the most discerning videophiles. But rest assured that if you’re just looking for a striking upgrade from the DVD release, you’re still likely to come away a satisfied customer.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The law of diminishing returns unfortunately continues with “The Voyage Home”, one of the higher artistic points of the series. Essentially, what we have here is more of the same from “The Search For Spock”, but with the DNR cranked up to an extreme, unavoidably distracting level. So scrubbed is the image, in fact, that the effect is even noticeable when viewed on a moderately-sized display. The opening shots on Vulcan, for example, actually look more like a moving painting than an even marginally accurate representation of a feature film. Nearly every minute detail has been smoothed out and flattened, taking virtually any life the image might have originally contained with them. Now, I did notice the effect getting less and less severe as the film progressed, but the overall impression is regretfully one of mere softness finally being exposed more clearly, not of a veil having been lifted as I had hoped. Contrast is also a bit duller than in the first three films. Whether it’s a side-effect of the noise reduction itself or something inherent to the print isn’t certain, but it hardly matters as the end result is the same: this is a very plain, flat, and minimally dynamic visual presentation, more especially compared to what we’ve come to expect from the best high definition transfers. Now, once again, just to keep things in perspective, this is by far the best that “Star Trek IV” has ever looked at home. It’s light years ahead of the DVD on vibrancy, timing, and compression fronts alone, and it doesn’t?really?look all that bad. It’s just bad for blu-ray, and when it comes to high definition, viewers are far more discerning about otherwise minor technical details that are simply not capable of being revealed in standard definition. That said, it’s a shame that such a strong film was given such a lackluster treatment.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

In what is sure to prove the salt in the wounds of the most discerning videophiles, the video transfer on “The Final Frontier”, unarguably the worst film of the bunch, is a clear and decisive step up from “The Voyage Home”. DNR, while still present, has been thankfully dialed back on this installment to the point that we can actually distinguish that this is, in fact, film that we are watching. There are many similarities between this transfer and that of the third film (I noticed some instances of frozen grain, for example), but “Star Trek V” fares a quite a bit better on several levels, undoubtedly benefiting from being a five-years-younger production. I’d say it falls somewhere between the first and third films in terms of overall quality, with a touch less processing than either of those – which is to say it looks quite good. Detail is greatly improved due to the more limited nature of the filtering, and contrast is again top notch, if perhaps a bit hot from time to time. That said, it’s difficult to know how any of these films are truly intended to look, the comparatively washed-out and murky DVD editions being the only medium against which to compare these new versions. On that front, this disc once again delivers in spades. The opening scene at Yosemite, for example, is as breathtaking as I’ve ever seen it. In fact, if I had to fault this transfer with anything, it’s that it’s a transfer for “Star Trek V”. I guess you can’t have everything.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

And here once again, a decided jump in artistry is met by an at-least equal drop in visual quality. I’m sure it was never Paramount’s intent to do this, but had they tried, I don’t think they could have bestowed a less desirable series of wildly varied transfers on these five films (I’m not counting Khan as it was done separately from all of the other efforts here). It’s not hard to notice that, for the most part, the better films tend to fare the worst in the set and vice versa. And what a shame here. First, the good part: the powers that be have finally, after 18 years, seen fit to release the (far superior) theatrical cut of “Star Trek VI” in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This in and of itself is all I need to ensure that I will never again put the old DVD edition into my player. Also, contrast and color saturation and timing are once again stellar across the board. The overall clarity of detail is likewise far better than I’ve seen before. On the other hand, the revealing nature of blu-ray once again only serves to accentuate the many problems that exist once one begins to look beneath the surface a bit. “The Undiscovered Country” brings back the dreaded DNR, and it is yet again used to horrible excess. Check out the first few minutes of the crew’s meeting with Starfleet near the opening of the film. The closer you look at the images, the less and less film-like they begin to look. What’s worse, once you know what to look for, you’ll swear you’re watching a rotoscoped animated film rather than live action. It’s that severely ? and distractingly ? filtered. Edge enhancement is also on display here, though it’s not as offensive as it could be. Also, unlike the other films in the set, “Star Trek VI” appears to have been derived from a 1080i source. Note the stair-stepping effect on Sulu’s mug in the very first close-up of the film. That shouldn’t happen, but it does. All in all ? and not to sound like a broken record here, but ? “The Undiscovered Country” does make getting rid of the old DVD an easy decision, but it still deserved better than the transfer it received in this box.

A quick note: to be fair, a quick glance at my DVD’s has left me with the impression that, for the most part, the same, overly processed transfers were almost certainly used for those versions as well, but the lower resolution of that format made spotting their more unnatural-looking aspects a bit more challenging back then. Long story short: replace the DVD’s. They look simply awful compared to these discs, DNR and all. Just don’t expect anything approaching demo material and you’ll come away at least pleased, if not entirely thrilled. English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are available on all of the features.

Audio: How does it sound?

While I felt that the visual distinctions of all six films warranted a lengthy discussion of each disc, the 7.1 TrueHD audio presentations are thankfully far less complicated and more consistent throughout the series. As this review is already running away with me, I”ll keep this as concise as I can and encapsulate all six films with the following: the audio is superb. No one buying this set for the aural improvements will be disappointed in the slightest. In fact, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” starts things off with one of the set”s strongest soundtracks (undoubtedly helped by the recent multi-track remastering done for the 2001 Director”s Edition). Fidelity, clarity, and spatial transparency are simply astounding to my ears, and I”ve owned these movies on every format since VHS. Dialog is crisp and clear, no matter how action-oriented things might get. The soundstage has opened up vastly from previous versions, with the films” respective scores finally and definitively given the breathing room necessary to truly encompass and achieve the type of visceral punch just not possible before lossless audio tracks. Surround use is also a bit more aggressive than I typically associate with films of this vintage. But perhaps most importantly, these soundtracks aren”t gimmicky or showy just for the sake of it. What they do instead is to noticeably enhance and augment what you”re used to hearing with a tasteful subtlety that still manages to raise the eyebrows from time to time. Excellent. French Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 audio options are also available.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” contains a newly-produced audio commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman. Next up are several newly-created featurettes: “The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture”, “Special Star Trek Reunion”, and “Starfleet Academy Brief: Mystery Behind the V-Ger”. Also, several deleted scenes, storyboards, two trailers, and a few TV spots are included. The “Library Computer” is a new blu-ray exclusive, with which you can view text information throughout the movies. There is also a “Star Trek I.Q.” interactive trivia game you can download if your player is Profile 2.0 compliant.

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” contains two commentaries, one with Nicholas Meyer by himself and another one new to this set with both Meyer and Manny Coto. A slew of both old and new featurettes are up next: “Captain’s Log”, “Designing Khan”, “Interviews”, “Visual Effects”, “James Horner: Composing Genesis”, “A Novel Approach”, “Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics”, “Starfleet Academy Brief: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI”, and “A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban”. There is also a storyboard section included. Another “Library Computer” feature is included with Khan and works just as it does with the first film, as does the “Star Trek I.Q.” game. The film’s theatrical trailer is also included.

“Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” contains a commentary by Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Charles Correll, and Robin Curtis. There’s also a second commentary with Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor. There’s also another roundup of featurettes: “Captain’s Log”, “Terraforming and The Prime Directive”, “Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek”, “Spock: The Early Years”, “Space Docks and Birds of Prey”, “Speaking Klingon”, “Klingon and Vulcan Costumes”, “Star Trek and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame”, and “Starfleet Academy Brief: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer”. Also on deck are two photo galleries, a storyboard section, the theatrical trailer, and a few BD-Live features.

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” features two audio commentaries, one by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and a second by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. There’s another “Library Computer” feature, followed by another extensive series of featurettes: “Future’s Past: A Look Back”, “On Location”, “Dailies Deconstruction”, “Below The Line: Sound Design”, “Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments”, “Time Travel: The Art of the Possible”, “The Language of Whales”, “A Vulcan Primer”, “Kirk’s Women”, “Star Trek: Three Part Saga”, “Star Trek for a Cause”, and “Starfleet Academy Brief: The Whale Probe”, “From Outer Space to the Ocean”, “The Bird of Prey”, “Roddenberry Scrapbook”, and “Featured Artist: Mark Lenard”. Finally, there is a production gallery, storyboard sequences, the theatrical trailer and a BD-Live section.

“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” features the previously-released commentary by William Shatner and his daughter Liz, and a new commentary with Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman. Another “Library Computer” feature follows, as does the long featurette lineup: “Harve Bennett’s Pitch to the Sales Team”, “The Journey: A Behind-the-Scenes Documentary”, “Makeup Tests”, “Pre-Visualization Models”, “Rock Man in the Raw”, “Star Trek V Press Conference”, “Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute”, “Original Interview: William Shatner”, “Cosmic Thoughts”, “That Klingon Couple”, “A Green Future?”, “Star Trek Honors NASA”, “Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan”, and “Starfleet Academy Brief: Nimbus III”. There are also four deleted scenes, a short production gallery, storyboards, two trailers, a few TV spots, and a BD-Live section.

“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” once again comes equipped with two commentary tracks. The first features Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn. The second, newer track is by Larry Nemecek and Ira Steven Behr. The “Library Computer” feature is back once more, as are the multitude of featurettes: “The Perils of Peacekeeping”, “Stories from Star Trek VI”, “Conversations With Nicholas Meyer”, “Klingons: Conjuring the Legend”, “Penny’s Toy Box”, “Together Again”, “Tom Morga: Alien Stuntman”, “To Be or Not To Be: Klingons and Shakespeare”, “Starfleet Academy Brief: Praxis”, “DeForest Kelley: A Tribute”, and “Original Interviews”. A brief production gallery is included, as are storyboards, two trailers, a vintage convention reel by Nicholas Meyer, and the aforementioned BD-Live functionality.

On the seventh disc is a newly-created documentary called “Star Trek: The Captains’ Summit”. It amounts to a roundtable discussion with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. It’s actually a bit more entertaining than it might seem on the surface, with most of the discussion remaining generally engaging throughout, even while clocking in at over seventy minutes. It’s also an exclusive to this box and a welcome overall addition to the set.

Despite most of the films falling a bit short in the video quality department, “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection” still manages to offer fans of this series the things that ultimately matter most: a big step up in technical quality for each film (in both sound *and* image quality), a retention of virtually all of the previously-released bonus materials included on the DVD versions, and a substantial and interesting batch of newly-produced supplements to sweeten the pot. Also, on a side note, I personally love having the original, theatrical versions of “The Motion Picture”, “The Wrath Of Khan”, and ? most especially ? “The Undiscovered Country” for the first time ever on any digital format. The theatrical version of “The Motion Picture” is better than you may remember, and “The Wrath Of Khan” is essentially a wash. The real gem, though, is “The Undiscovered Country” which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is a vastly better movie in virtually every way in its theatrical form. With all of the fixation these days on “extra footage” that amounts to little more than unnecessary narrative padding, “Uncut” versions that exist solely to add a line of profanity, and “Director’s Editions” that add a few cool things while bastardizing other cherished details (I’m looking at you, George Lucas), I personally think it’s great to see a collection that honors the original experience for a change. It reminds me of a time back before anamorphic and non-anamorphic, and before terms like “noise reduction” and “edge enhancement” were commonplace. Indeed, I actually remember a time when I gladly watched 2.35:1 letterboxed movies on a 13″ tube television that (gasp!) wasn’t completely flat. Back then, those letterbox bars represented the actual borders of the movie theater to me ? the borders within which lay a film that I cared more about watching than technologically scrutinizing. And it’s that history that allows me to appreciate just how spoiled the next generation (sorry) has become and just what an incredible time it truly is to be a film fan. It’s a time when films look and sound so good that we can actually ? literally ? split hairs over transfer quality. While the new Trek box may alienate some purists, I contend that it may just appeal to a few others for different reasons. For those who can’t get beyond the DNR issues, this isn’t the set for you. For those who appreciate the upgrade, even if it doesn’t quite represent the pristine release that it could have been, this collection still earns my recommendation.

Disc Scores