1974 William Shatner Horror Flick ‘Impulse’ Due on Blu-ray March 12 From Grindhouse and MVD

The 1974 horror flick Impulse, starring William Shatner, will be released on Blu-ray Disc March 12 from Grindhouse Releasing and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the film, Shatner stars as Matt Stone, a deranged gigolo who preys on rich women, unable to control his murderous psychosexual urges. Directed by legendary exploitation filmmaker William Grefé (The Death Curse of Tartu), and co-starring Jenifer Bishop (Al Adamson’s The Female Bunch), Ruth Roman (Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train), Harold “Oddjob” Sakata (Goldfinger) and William Kerwin (Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast), the film is restored in 4K from rare archival 35mm film elements.

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Special features include interviews with director William Grefé; “Kingdom of the Shatner,” William Shatner live in Santa Monica, Oct. 9, 2022; interviews with producer and make-up artist Doug Hobart (Flesh Feast, Scream Baby Scream) and art director Roger Carlton Sherman; audio commentary by William Grefé; an alternate French soundtrack; hours of rare cinematic treasures from the vaults of William Grefé; two bonus features, The Devil’s Sisters and The Godmothers; an illustrated booklet with liner notes by underground filmmaker Jacques Boyreau; an embossed slipcover with new art by painter Dave Lebow; still galleries; and trailers.

Masters of the Universe: Revolution


Not rated.
Voices of Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Melissa Benoist, Liam Cunningham, Lena Headey, Diedrich Bader, Gates McFadden, Stephen Root, Griffin Newman, Tiffany Smith, Ted Biaselli, Meg Foster, Keith David, John De Lancie, Jeffrey Combs, William Shatner.

The latest chapter in the “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” saga is a blast of “He-Man” awesomeness that fans of the franchise have been awaiting for nearly 40 years.

“Revelation,” a continuation of the 1980s “He-Man” lore spearheaded by Kevin Smith, offered a nostalgia-driven storyline that updated many of the characters, though some fans complained that He-Man was sidelined in favor of focusing on Teela and her unique destiny in Eternian lore.

“Masters of the Universe: Revolution” should appease the concerns fans had with the “Revelation” by putting He-Man back in the center of the action. When binged, the five episodes of “Revolution” play like an epic two-hour “MOTU” movie.

When tragedy befalls the royal house of Eternia, Prince Adam (Chris Wood) must decide whether the best path forward would for him to assume the mantle of king, or to remain Eternia’s champion in his alternate identity of He-Man. Teela (Melissa Benoist), meanwhile, adjusts to her ascension as the new Sorceress of Grayskull, and sets out to restore Preternia, an afterlife where warriors’ souls can rest in peace. But their plans are once again threatened by Skeletor (Mark Hamill), whose new scheme promises to pave the way for the evil Hordak (Keith David) to invade the planet.

Aside from one extremely boneheaded decision by Prince Adam, there’s a lot here for the franchise’s fans to love, starting with an outstanding guest turn by William Shatner as a key figure in the secret history of Eternia’s royal house.

The references to the original “He-Man” toy line and the Filmation cartoon based upon them fly fast and furious. But the creative team also weaves in elements from other “MOTU” storylines, such as the 1987 live-action film.

It culminates in one of the most satisfying final sequences that a 1980s toy property could possibly yield, while also providing a path for future storylines should Netflix continue the series.

Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection


Street Date 9/6/22;
$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


Street Date 9/6/22;
$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.

SeaQuest DSV: The Complete Series


Mill Creek;
$85.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Stephanie Beacham, Stacy Haiduk, Don Franklin, John D’Aquino, Royce D. Applegate, Ted Raimi, Marco Sanchez, Rosalind Allen, Edward Kerr, Kathy Evison, Michael DeLuise, Peter DeLuise, Michael Ironside, Elise Neal.

The success of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the late 1980s gave rise to all sorts of knockoffs and attempts to cash in on the subsequent sci-fi adventure craze that flourished in the early 1990s. NBC’s entry into this zeitgeist, premiering in 1993, was “SeaQuest DSV,” which was essentially just “Star Trek” underwater.

Set in the “far off” year of 2018, the show starred Roy Scheider as Nathan Bridger, captain of the SeaQuest, a massive submarine (deep-submergence vehicle — the DSV of the title) that patrolled Earth’s oceans conducting military defense and scientific studies. In the SeaQuest future, mankind had taken to colonizing Earth’s oceans, leading to the formation of a global government called the United Earth Oceans Organization, which was tasked with keeping the peace against rogue nations and pirates.

Scheider was an inspired bit of casting to lead the series, given his association to aquatic adventures from the “Jaws” movies. Steven Spielberg was one of the executive producers of the series and no doubt lent it more credibility in that regard.

The series certainly didn’t skimp when it came to guest stars, boasting a line-up that included William Shatner, Mark Hamill, Michael York, Kent McCord, Dom DeLuise, Shelley Hack and Charlton Heston. The pilot movie was directed by none other than Empire Strikes Back helmer Irvin Kershner; this would be the final directing credit of his career (he died in 2010).

The cast also included Jonathan Brandis as Lucas, a teenage prodigy who served as the ship’s computer expert. Tossing a kid into the mix to appear to younger viewers, despite how much it strained credibility, was practically a requisite for these kinds of shows following the prominence of Wesley Crusher on TNG. The move paid off for the show, as Brandis became a popular teen idol in the 1990s, but he would ultimately succumb to the pressures of being a child actor, killing himself in 2003 at the age of 27 after a stalled career led him to start drinking heavily.

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The show’s most notorious element was the character of Darwin, a highly trained dolphin that could speak to the crew thanks to a translation program in the ship’s computer. He was most commonly referred to as the show’s “talking dolphin,” which was a bit of a misnomer as the technology as presented in the show could theoretically be used to communicate with any number of dolphins.

The first season of 24 episodes dealt more with the scientific themes such as conservation and climate science that originally inspired the series. Noted oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard, aka the guy who found the wreckage of the Titanic, served as the technical advisor and would appear at the end of episodes to present factoids about marine science. The show was also one of the first to make heavy use of CGI for its visual effects.

While it was an expensive series to produce, “SeaQuest” wasn’t a ratings juggernaut, prompting extensive meddling from the network. The show’s tone and creative direction ended up being re-tooled every year it was on.

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The second season of 22 episodes veered the show more into the realm of science-fantasy, with storylines involving genetic engineering, ESP and aliens. In the season finale, the sub is literally plucked from Earth by an alien ship and dumped into the middle of a civil war in the ocean of a far-away planet.

This prompted the final overhaul of the series — renamed “SeaQuest 2032” in season three, which only lasted 13 episodes. While the storylines were more grounded, the show’s tone was more militaristic, as SeaQuest was tasked with leading efforts to contain a growing dictatorship encroaching on the UEO. Bridger was replaced by Capt. Oliver Hudson, played by Michael Ironside, as Scheider appeared in only a handful of episodes due to contractual obligations.

The bigger sin of the third season, however, is that it ditches John Debney’s Emmy-winning theme tune. It’s a sweeping melody that instantly captures the spirit of seafaring adventure, even it sounds a lot like the “Star Wars” theme with a few notes altered.

This great-looking Blu-ray set marks the first North American disc release of the third season. The first two seasons were released on DVD by Universal more than a decade ago.

Those DVDs included some deleted scenes that are also presented on the new Blu-ray, which also includes several new interviews with the creative forces behind the series, including Debney, series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, and directors Bryan Spicer, John T. Kretchmer and Anson Williams (the latter best remembered for playing Potsie on “Happy Days”).

Each interview is presented as a separate featurette that runs about 10 minutes and provides some fun insights into the creative direction of the series and the state of sci-fi television at the time.

The 57 total episodes are presented mostly in airdate order, with a few adjustments to fix some major continuity problems with episodes that were originally shown out of order by the network.

Shatner Reigns During Comic-Con Day 1

SAN DIEGO — William Shatner had himself a day at Comic-Con.

The 91-year-old actor best known for playing Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek” spent the opening day of San Diego Comic-Con International, July 21, reflecting on his career at several events promoting an upcoming documentary about his life, and even officially joined the ranks of the “Masters of the Universe,” while being feted by fans and colleagues.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith summed up Shatner’s impact with his introduction to the “Shatner on Shatner” Hall H panel that closed out the first day of Comic-Con’s return as an in-person staple of summer fandom, with the 2020 and 2021 shows relegated to online events due to the pandemic.

Kevin Smith moderating the “Shatner on Shatner” Comic-Con panel July 21

“How does it feel to be home kids? Welcome back,” said Smith, a longtime staple of Comic-Con. “Three long years waiting for this moment and the summer’s finally been redefined, and tonight we’re going to do one of the most Comic-Con things you can do at Comic-Con, we’re going to sit down and talk to a living legend, ladies and gentlemen. If there is a pop culture Mount Rushmore, and you just have to pick four faces, his face is definitely one of those faces.”

Smith, who served as executive producer and showrunner for Netflix’s “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” earlier in the day announced that Shatner had joined the cast for its upcoming sequel, “Masters of the Universe: Revolution,” for a mystery role.

That announcement was made during the “Masters of the Universe” 40th Anniversary panel also hosted by Smith, who repeated a story he told about working with Shatner in the voice booth. As showrunner, Smith doesn’t normally direct the voiceovers for the show, but couldn’t resist the opportunity “years from now to say I directed Captain Kirk!”

With Shatner preparing to read his lines, Smith recalled, “I said, ‘Hey Bill, do me a favor, on this line do it like super fast like you’re frustrated or something like that.’ And he goes, this is my favorite thing that ever happened — we were doing it on Zoom, so he’s in a booth at a recording studio, I’m on a laptop at my home; my wife is literally just off to the side reading a book, disinterested until what happened happened, and he goes, ‘Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. In a moment, you will have the honor of directing me. Let me work through this first.’”

Smith continued: “And so I stepped back and gave the man his space, and I looked over at my wife who had put her book down to stare at me wide-eyed. And I look at her and I pressed mute, and she said, ‘It took Captain Kirk to get Silent Bob to shut up!”

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The main topic of discussion for the “Shatner on Shatner” panel was a new documentary being made about Shatner’s life in conjunction with Legion M, which is touted as the first fan-owned entertainment company, and Exhibit A pictures.

In discussing why now was the right time to do a documentary about him, Shatner reflected on how it’s becoming harder to remain active as he gets older.

“My breath is short, I’m 91 years old, and this wonderful gentleman came along in the knick of time,” Shatner said, then joked, “All these autographs I’m doing are going to be worth a lot more money when I die, and the documentary on my life, think of how quickly you’ll sell it if I should die on the panel. Imagine everyone’s good fortune if I should die right here.”

“None of us want that sir, but that would be amazing,” Smith retorted. “People would be like, he died like the legend he was.”

The documentary came about shortly after Shatner became an advisor to Legion M, according to VP of development David Baxter.

“We talked about this idea of a fan-owned company and he’s like, you should talk to my people, and we did, and once that dialogue started going back and forth about the power of the fans, the fact that they’re the ones who consume all this media, so why shouldn’t they have an upsell, he was intrigued,” Baxter said.

Legion M used equity crowdfunding to produce films, TV shows and VR projects, and is owned by 35,000 investors who can join the company for as little as $100. Legion M also helped Smith make 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and recruited him years ago to interview the late Stan Lee for an Icons documentary that is still being completed.

“Shatner on Shatner” panelists included (L-R) moderator Kevin Smith; Legion M co-founder/president Jeff Annison, and VP of development David Baxter; Exhibit A Pictures’ Kerry Deignan Roy and Alexandre O. Philippe, producer and director, respectively, of the upcoming documentary about William Shatner; and William Shatner.

Baxter recalls mentioning Shatner’s involvement with Legion M to Exhibit A’s Alexandre O. Philippe, the director of another of the company’s productions, Memory: The Origins of Alien, a documentary about Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi thriller.

“He said, ‘My god, I’ve always wanted to make a documentary about William Shatner,’” Baxter recalled. “I said, ‘Let’s see what we can do.”

Shatner said he agreed to do the project after discussing it with Philippe.

“I was betting on you guys and I knew Alexandre’s reputation. I was going on faith,” Shatner said. “The management of this company is terrific. This is a group of vital, young, intelligent, creative people.”

“I grew up watching Bill on a black-and-white television in Switzerland, and I’ve been a fan for a long time,” Philippe said. “I’m really a fan of Bill the human, and I’m really a fan of your observations on life, on the nature and the universe, on these connections, these things that connect us all in strange and mysterious ways. So I started really thinking about what is the best way at least from my perspective to make a film about Bill, and I was thinking about his wonderful autobiographical songs.

“Basically I decided to structure the doc around a number of songs, and delve into essentially a number of themes that I felt were really important, and so the film is really a celebration of Bill the human and his career of course. So it’s going to be a very lyrical film, a very poetic film.”

Added producer Kerry Deignan Roy: “It’s amazing the energy this man has, and it’s been a joy just to work with him, and to share this moment in time. We spent three days together in a studio grilling him, and he shared a lot.”

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In the afternoon, Shatner took the time to stop by NBCUniversal’s display across the street from the San Diego Convention Center promoting its Covi TV FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) channel with the car from “3rd Rock From the Sun,” on which Shatner guest starred.

In the morning, as part of Legion M’s activities to promote the documentary, Shatner participated in a handprint ceremony at Theatre Box San Diego, where the lobby is adorned with signatures, handprints and footprints of Hollywood icons dating back decades. An afterparty was held at the venue following the Hall H panel.

Shatner, an accomplished equestrian, said he had been competing in a horse show in San Francisco the day before.

William Shatner imprinting his hands in cement at Theatre Box San Diego July 21

“My hands are swollen,” Shatner joked. “I’m really afraid that when I put my hands in the cement it will stick and I’ll be like in a kneeling position for the rest of my life.”

Among the special guests in attendance at the handprint ceremony were legendary film critic Leonard Maltin, and actor Paul Wesley, who is taking on the role of Capt. Kirk in the new Paramount+ TV series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

“We all know Mr. Shatner is a Broadway star, a Shakespearian performer, an equestrian, an author, a recording artist, an astronaut, among many many other credentials,” Maltin said, before discussing Shatner’s role in a 1997 radio production re-creating Orson Welles notorious War of the Worlds broadcast based on the HG Wells book.

“Who’d it star? William Shatner,” Maltin said. “I had a bit part as a radio announcer. I wasn’t very good. He was great. And there is an art, a technique to radio acting. It doesn’t just happen. Not every actor is automatically good acting without being able to use your face. Without being able to use body language, gestures. He acquired that art.

“It just says that William Shatner is the complete actor. He can do anything. Whatever he does, you know he’s going to do it well. That’s why we love him.”

Wesley said Shatner was supportive of him taking on the role of Kirk.

(L-R): Captain Kirk actors William Shatner and Paul Wesley

“How do you replace a legend? Well, you don’t. It’s simply not possible, and why would you try? Instead you promise to safeguard the legacy entrusted to you, and then you go out and do the work. You find some way to make the role your own while finding some way to honor the history that it carries,” Wesley said. “Precious few roles in television and film present such a daunting challenge. One of them is certainly ‘Star Trek’s’ James T. Kirk. This character’s place in entertainment history is indelible. It’s a fixed moment in our collective memory. No matter where you go, no matter where you are, an image of Capt. Kirk brings instant recognition. Why is that? Because for nearly 60 years that role has been personified by a man of equally renowned stature, Mr. William Shatner.

“Attempting to re-create an iconic screen role is a tall order. You’re following in the footsteps of gifted actors who blazed the trail you now walk. But if we tread where they’ve already been, it does no justice to the role or those who inhabited it before you. Actors who took the words written on the page and embodied them with everything they possessed as artists. You’re expected to do nothing less. And in fact you’re expected to bring something more. Something previously unseen and perhaps something unexpected. While at the same time paying homage from whom you’ve taken the mantle.

“Now that is a tough gig on any normal day, but for a day on ‘Star Trek’ where you’ve been asked to take on the role of Captain Kirk, it is both a challenge and the opportunity of a lifetime. And I can’t imagine taking on such a character, and everything it means for countless fans, without having the support of the man who first brought him to life. Thankfully, Bill, or Mr. Shatner, the original captain himself, went out of his way to make a newcomer like me feel welcome, and for that I will forever feel grateful.”

On the other hand, Shatner didn’t mince words at the Hall H panel when asked if there were any standout performances from the “Star Trek” shows that came after his.

“Nothing,” Shatner said. “I got to know [“Star Trek” creator] Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well … but he’d be turning in his grave at some of the stuff.”

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


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.

Remastered ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition’ Arrives on Paramount+ April 5

The 4K restoration of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut will debut exclusively on streaming service Paramount+ on April 5

Five months later, in September, the studio will issue the film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with extensive new bonus content, details of which will be released on a later date. 

Fans will also have the opportunity to see the remastered Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut on the big screen when Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures bring it to theaters for an exclusive two-day event May 22 and May 25. Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 8 at FathomEvents.com.

Originally released in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the fourth top-grossing movie of the year and earned three Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Original Score.  The film brought the “Star Trek” franchise from television to the big screen, but due to a string of production problems and an ironclad release date it was rushed to theaters with incomplete visual effects and forced editing choices, clocking in at 131 minutes. Many critics felt the film’s pace was slow and ponderous. A 1983 television edit for ABC added 12 minutes of deleted scenes back into the film.

In 2001, director Robert 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, but has never been available in high-definition until now, as the new visual effects had to be re-rendered in 4K. Restored by producer David C. Fein with preservationist Mike Matessino, both of whom originally collaborated with Wise, the film has been prepared for presentation in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) and a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack.  Fein and Matessino assembled a team of special effects experts, led by returning visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman, and utilized the resources in the Paramount Archives to re-create the effects not just in HD, but in Ultra HD.  

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“I couldn’t be prouder and more thrilled to have completed the film in 4K,” Fein said in a statement. “Paramount offered unprecedented access to the original elements and exceptional support and the results are stunning.  Utilizing the latest discoveries and innovations of modern film production, The Director’s Edition delivers so much more today than was previously possible.  It’s an adventure you’ll never forget!”

The April 5 release date marks “First Contact Day,” the date in the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact when the Vulcans first made contact with humans on April 5, 2063, near the town of Boseman, Mont.

‘Star Trek’ Icon William Shatner Becomes Oldest Person to Fly Into Space

William Shatner, whose portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on the starship Enterprise in the 1960s TV show “Star Trek” made him an icon, landed midmorning Oct. 13 in west Texas aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard space ship built and funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Shatner, 90, becomes the oldest person ever to enter space. The Canadian-born actor, along with Audrey Powers, VP of Blue Origin, and two paying customers, flew into space on the 11-minute flight — Blue Origin’s second manned flight — to reach a peak altitude of 66 miles above Earth.

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Upon landing, Shatner was overcome with emotion, calling the trip bigger than his presence and something everyone should experience. He said the contrast between space’s blackness and the blue of Earth underscored the fragility of the planet’s atmosphere and sustaining life.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” Shatner told Bezos after exiting the space craft. “I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s just extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this.”

‘Star Trek’ Pioneer William Shatner Headed to Space Aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Craft

“Star Trek” captain James T. Kirk is headed to outer space for real. William Shatner, the 90-year-old actor who played the venerable space explorer, will be aboard the second flight of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shepard NS-18 space craft when it blasts off Oct. 12.

Joining Shatner will be Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s VP of mission and flight operations, and crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries.

“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner said in a statement.

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William Shatner

Shatner’s career as an actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist and horseman has spanned 60 years. He originated the role of “Captain Kirk” in 1966 for the television series “Star Trek.” The series spawned a feature film franchise in which Shatner returned as Kirk in seven of the “Trek” movies, one of which he directed. He has long wanted to travel to space and will become the oldest person to have flown to space.

Shatner is currently the host and executive producer of “The UnXplained” on The History Channel. From the producers of “Ancient Aliens” and “The Curse of Oak Island,” the one-hour nonfiction series explores the world’s most fascinating, strange and inexplicable mysteries.

Amazon founder Bezos, his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk were aboard the inaugural Blue Origin flight that takes about 11 minutes and soars past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.