Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/6/22;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
$55.99 Blu-ray, $125.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney

In conjunction with the Blu-ray release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut, Paramount is also releasing all six films featuring the original “Star Trek” cast in 4K for the first time.

The first four movies — the Star Trek: The Motion Picture 1979 theatrical cut, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — were released on 4K in a boxed set last year. For this new round of re-releases, each is included on 4K and Blu-ray in a new six-movie collection, and are also being released as individual 4K discs. So the 4K newcomers are 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The six-movie collection includes two separate cases: a seven-disc case for the 4K discs, and an eight-disc case for the regular Blu-ray versions; the extra Blu-ray is the bonus disc for Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut.

The disc releases for Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut are covered in a separate review here.

The six-film set includes a total of five discs for Star Trek: The Motion Picture — the director’s cut on both 4K and Blu-ray, the theatrical cut on both 4K and Blu-ray, and the director’s cut Blu-ray bonus disc. (This version does not include the 1983 television edit, which is exclusive to the 4K disc of the theatrical cut in the new “Complete Adventures” boxed set of the 1979 film).

The included Blu-rays are remastered versions of the films, not repackaged Blu-rays from earlier releases, though the bonus features are the same. The menus have been changed to feature the poster art for the films. As with previous Blu-rays, the Star Trek II discs offer both the theatrical and director’s cuts.

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Aside from the director’s cut of the first film, the most notable addition is director Nicholas Meyer’s extended cut of Star Trek VI, which adds about four minutes of footage back in, among other minor tweaks. Like the 1983 version of the first film, the extended version of Undiscovered Country was the only one available for years on home video (on VHS). It’s most notable for the revelation that an assassin in the film was a human posing as a Klingon, which included a line specifically pointing out differences between the color of human and Klingon blood. Klingon blood is presented in this film as pinkish-purple, expounding on a continuity rift with the rest of the franchise where Klingon blood was depicted as red.

The extended version is available only on the Star Trek VI 4K disc; the regular Blu-ray is just the theatrical cut.

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One notable exclusion from this new re-release is the Blu-ray bonus disc from the “Star Trek” 50th anniversary boxed set that offered additional featurettes about some of the films. Those could have been ported over to the new discs of their respective films, or the disc could have been added, but it was not to be. Fans wanting to have that extra content will need to hold onto that disc, or track down the boxed set if they don’t already have it (containing the original live-action and animated “Star Trek” series as well as the six movies on Blu-ray, the collection runs for about $200 online).

Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition: The Complete Adventure

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/6/22;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
$106.99 UHD BD Three-Disc Set;
Standalone $19.99 BD, $30.99 UHD;
Rated ‘PG’ for sci-fi action and mild language.
Stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney, Persis Kambatta, Stephen Collins.

The fully remastered Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut finally arrives on HD disc in a nifty boxed set that also includes previous versions of the film, some solid bonus materials.

An extensive review of the remastered film and its history are available here from when the director’s cut debuted in 4K on Paramount+ earlier this year.

Director Robert Wise’s film that brought the crew of the Enterprise to the big screen looks and sounds just as stunning on 4K disc, which offers a few viewing options not available via streaming.

The standard Blu-ray and 4K releases for the director’s cut include the film and commentary on one disc, and a bonus disc of extras (which is a regular Blu-ray Disc for both the 4K and Blu-ray versions).

The movie is presented with two audio commentaries as well as a text commentary offering trivia and other information about the film.

The first audio commentary is from the 2001 DVD release of the director’s cut and features Wise, visual effects artists Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra, composer Jerry Goldsmith and actor Stephen Collins. It’s presented as a compilation of interviews, not a group discussion. Wise gets the most airtime and really delves into his intentions for the film and how they came up short originally.

The second audio commentary is a newly recorded group discussion with David C. Fein, Mike Matessino and Daren R. Dochterman, who led the 4K restoration efforts, and is a fun listen since they’re also big fans of the film.

Another audio option is an isolated track of Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful music for the film. Since so much of the film involves immense visual effects sequences (and characters reacting to them), just the score on its own is almost enough to tell the story. Given how film’s main theme went on to be used for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” it has over time become as much associated with “Star Trek” than the music from the original series. Interestingly, the music track seems to have sourced audio from the scoring sessions, as the scenes begin with an announcement of which cue the orchestra will play.

The bonus disc includes a great eight-part documentary, running 48 minutes total, about the creation of the director’s edition and how it was ultimately restored to 4K after a 20-year wait. The disc also includes new presentations of deleted scenes, effects tests, costume tests and computer display graphics, as well as a ton of legacy bonus materials from the original DVD.

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The “Complete Adventures” collector’s set includes the 4K movie disc and the Blu-ray bonus disc, plus a third disc of the original theatrical cut in 4K.

As a special treat, this 4K disc of the theatrical cut also includes the 144 “Special Longer Version” of the movie that is essentially the extended version created for ABC in 1983 (running 12 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and eight minutes more than the director’s cut). The longer version has also been cleaned up for 4K, including finishing previously incomplete visual effects — most infamously, the scene of Capt. Kirk leaving the airlock in a spacesuit in which the surrounding soundstage is clearly visible. The scene is now complete thanks to digital effects, though there’s still a continuity gaffe as Kirk’s spacesuit is different from the one he’s wearing a few minutes later (which is why the scene was originally cut in the first place — it’s a remnant of a previous iteration of the scene that was reworked because the visual effects were too complicated). The unaltered version of the scene is offered as an extra.

For many fans, the ’83 cut was how they first saw the movie, as after the television airing it was the only version released on VHS for several years. The added scenes were released on DVD only as deleted scenes, so finally having it available in its full configuration on disc offers quite a dose of nostalgia, even if it isn’t the best way to experience the story. Comparing the three versions, however, does offer some interesting insights on the process of editing a film into its best presentation.

The special longer version is included on disc only in the “Complete Adventures” set; it’s not available with any of the standalone releases of the director’s or theatrical cuts, or the new 6-film 4K boxed set.

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The theatrical cut comes with a previously available audio commentary from a slew of “Trek” experts, plus the isolated score.

The “Complete Adventures” set comes in an outer sleeve containing hardcover slipcase that features a fold-out cutaway map of the Enterprise, with slots to house the discs. The slipcase also has a reformatted note from Wise originally from the 2001 DVD, plus a pocket that contains a booklet of production art and a bevy of collectibles, including a mini-poster, reproductions of promotional photos from the film, and stickers.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition

STREAMING REVIEW: 

Paramount+;
Sci-Fi;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney, Persis Kambatta, Stephen Collins.

The 4K restoration of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture director’s cut is the culmination of a journey nearly 50 years in the making.

The “Star Trek” franchise would not be what it is today without the boost in popularity the original series experienced in the 1970s. The resurgence that began with syndicated episode reruns and fan conventions would eventually result in the first “Star Trek” film being released in 1979. But getting there was a tumultuous journey involving studio politics, a potential new series, and a major paradigm shift in the movie industry. Even so, the film would have to wait more than 20 years to be finished.

What eventually evolved into Star Trek: The Motion Picture began in the mid 1970s as a potential pilot episode for a new “Star Trek” series that would have anchored a fourth network started by Paramount. Scripts were written, sets designed, costumes made and new crew members were cast. After plans for the network fell through and the relaunch was scrapped, the studio bosses became enamored with the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the box office. Viewing “Star Trek” as a potential franchise that could reach the same audience as those blockbusters, Paramount execs repurposed the preparations for the new series into pre-production for a movie that would transition the cast of the original series to the big screen.

Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise, no stranger to intelligent science-fiction having helmed 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, was brought on board to guide the new “Trek” movie. However, the studio had already locked the film into a firm premiere date of Dec. 7, 1979, and could not delay it lest it be sued by theater owners for millions of dollars. With its budget already absorbing development costs for the aborted TV series, the film was plagued with numerous production problems, most notably its complicated visual effects. The delay in receiving a number of finished sequences until close to the premiere date prevented the film from being edited to the satisfaction of Wise, who began his career as an editor on such films as Citizen Kane.

Even Jerry Goldsmith’s constantly evolving musical score was still being recorded just a few weeks before the film’s release.

As George Lucas is fond of saying, films aren’t finished so much as they’re abandoned when the time comes to release them. When the clock struck on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in clocked in at 131 minutes.

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The film tells the story of a mysterious energy cloud heading toward Earth, and William Shatner’s now Admiral Kirk returning to the starship Enterprise to lead the mission to investigate it. While the success of Star Wars might have been a major impetus in the decision to make a “Star Trek” film, the actual story and visual aesthetic is more akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its ponderous pacing and long, drawn-out shots of starship models slowly flying by the camera. There’s even a lengthy scene of the Enterprise entering the cloud that seems a cousin to the “stargate” sequence of entering the monolith in 2001.

A 1983 television edit for ABC added 12 minutes of deleted scenes back into the film, which added depth to the story but included many incomplete effects shots.

In 2001, Wise revisited the film to refine the edit and enhance the visual effects with CGI. His updated vision, coming in at 136 minutes, was released on DVD in standard-definition.

Wise died in 2005.

With the advent of Blu-ray in 2006, prospects for seeing the director’s cut in HD were dashed by the fact that the new visual effects were finished in a lower resolution to save money. Thus, they would have to be re-rendered in order to be presented in HD and, eventually, 4K. Rather than spend the money to do so, Paramount simply released the theatrical cut on Blu-ray. It wouldn’t be until the launch of the Paramount+ streaming service before the funds were made available to probably upgrade the director’s cut to 4K.

The results are stunning. The film has never looked or sounded better, and the tighter editing, which adds several key scenes while eliminating a few extraneous ones, gives more agency to the characters. The film remains a ponderous one, and viewers wary of extended visual effects sequences such as Kirk’s shuttle flying around the Enterprise, will not find much relief here. The need to make the film a big-screen spectacle is a primary reason it relies so much on its visual effects — which are meant to be seen on a big screen and taken in with awe at their grandeur.

It should be noted that the visual effects were not vastly replaced with superior modern CGI. Rather, many of them are simply cleaned up from the original elements. So there are the occasional matte lines around some of the spaceship models.

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As subsequent films are better regarded by a majority of fans, Star Trek: The Motion Picture doesn’t get as referenced as much in later “Trek” canon. It certainly remains a bit of an odd duck among the “Trek” films involving the original series. For the second film in 1982, the cast would receive the iconic red uniforms that became a staple of the franchise, replacing the utilitarian pajama-style unis of TMP. This film is as distinctly an artifact of the 1970s as the original series was of the 1960s.

However, TMP does have an epic scope that the subsequent films don’t quite match. This may be due to the sheer number of sets that were built to depict many rooms on the ship that weren’t strictly needed to be seen for the scene to work in propelling the story forward. This likely owes to the film’s origins as a TV episode, and creator Gene Roddenberry writing scenes in a number of different sets in order to justify building them in the pilot for use down the road. (Unfortunately, many of the elaborate sets aren’t seen again in subsequent films).

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was also the source of many tropes the franchise now takes for granted. Chief among them is the Enterprise being the only ship close enough to be able to stop the advancing threat. Goldsmith’s theme for the film would be re-used eight years later for the main titles of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” This film is also where we get the redesigned look of the Klingons for the first time.

The biggest issues with the upgraded version stem less from the film itself and more with its treatment by Paramount+. Many fans reported having trouble finding it on the service, as it wasn’t initially given a prominent position on the service’s home pages and had to be searched for. There also seem to be some issues with the film cutting off early before it ends.

Still, this is the definitive version of the film and definitely worth a watch from “Star Trek” fans. If any problems with watching on Paramount+ persist, it will be released in theaters for a special engagement in May, and is slated for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in September.