The Blu-Ray Dissection - Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection
Posted by Chad Webb on 06.06.2009
The 6 films featuring The Original Series cast members arrives on Blu-Ray! Is this the definitive box set fans have been waiting for? Click to find out.
William Shatner: Captain James T. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy: Mr. Spock
DeForest Kelly: Dr. McCoy
George Takei: Mr. Sulu
Nichelle Nichols: Uhura
James Doohan: Scott
Walter Koenig: Pavel Chekov
Kirstie Alley: Lt. Saavik
Ricardo Montalban: Khan
Stephen Collins: Commander Willard Decker
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
DVD Running Time: 702 minutes
These reviews may contain spoilers.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Directed By: Robert Wise
Written By: Harold Livingston
The history chronicling the first Star Trek film is a bumpy road to say the least. Talk to finally make the movie had begun many years before fans actually saw one. The number of script re-writes the story endured is legendary in Hollywood. Eventually, a clause in the contracts of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner kicked in that gave them script approval, so in addition to daily re-writers from regular studio execs and producers, you had Nimoy and Shtaner changing things daily. Director Robert Wise was not a happy man, and had it not been for him on board, the film would never have been finished.
Eventually, the final story made it to the screen, and it went something like this: An enormous and strange looking cloud emerges, and descends upon 3 Klingon vessels. It gets rid of their ships with some sort of energy bolt. The Epsilon IX Space Station alerts the Federation, but soon enough they too are wiped out by the alien cloud. It is vastly approaching Earth, and no one knows what to do. The only ship in the quadrant prepared to intervene is the Enterprise. Now and Admiral, James T. Kirk, assumes the Captain post of the Enterprise from Willard Decker (Stephen Collins), much to his chagrin. The Enterprise has been re-modified in many ways, and Kirk finds he must get used to the new look. He is joined by his old crew, along with Lt. Ilia (Persis Khambatta). It has been 3 years since Kirk last commanded a ship, and some feel that this will jeopardize the mission. Nevertheless, they set out to intercept the cloud as it nears Earth, and hope to stop it.
Though the director's cut is superior, I have always found the first Star Trek film to be highly underrated. The hatred surrounding is definitely unfounded and exaggerated. Maybe it was too thoughtful, too patient, and possessed too much heart for fans. Call me crazy, but Star Trek is always located in the science-fiction section in DVD stores, and if you accept that, then embracing the plot of The Motion Picture should be a bit easier. Robert Wise was not new to the sci-fi genre. He had given the world a masterpiece in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it was this type of atmosphere, the fear of the unknown, that he brought so wonderfully to Star Trek. Many have described it as boring and pretentious, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is not an action film. I have labeled each of the original Star Trek films as having identities in specific genres other than science-fiction. Wise took his time with certain sequences. The unveiling of the Enterprise is stunning and the steady entering of the cloud accentuates the epic nature of the film. This has numerous similarities to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but in a positive way. It does copy or mimic the style or messages of that film. A new spin is given to them and they are tossed in the Star Trek universe. I found this to be extremely satisfying, especially the reveal of Voyager VI, which was very creative. There is nothing wrong with preferring a more action based effort, but this allowed the rest of the franchise to go in a more precise direction, and without this introduction, sequels never would have occurred.
Final Rating = 8.0/10.0
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer
Written By: Harve Bennett and Jack B. Showards
No one can dispute the brilliance of this second installment. If The Motion Picture was a sci-fi drama, The Wrath of Khan is a sci-fi action film. Director Nicholas Meyer took the series in a logical direction, and it paid off.
Admiral Kirk is now a Starfleet Academy instructor, and Captain Spock serves as a cadet training officer, while in command of the Enterprise. Kirk is also going through his midlife crisis, but it is soon interrupted. At the same time, scientists aboard Space Station Regula 1 are conducting the Project Genesis experiment, and the U.S.S. Reliant is assigned to the Genesis project. The experiment involves life from lifelessness, and in order to pull it off successfully, they need a planet with no living things. While surveying what could possibly be that planet, Commander Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield) beam down the 6th planet in the Ceti Alpha star system. Upon arrival, they discover cargo containers, which housed refugees from the Eugenics Wars of the 1990’s where a man named Khan was in charge. Khan was exiled on this planet by Captain Kirk, and he vows to avenge this by attacking the Enterprise, and getting his hands on project Genesis.
By recalling a villain from The Original Series (Episode "Space Seed”), you have instantly won the affections of fans, but Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer knew enough to make this sequel accessible to casual followers in the process. It is arguably one of the top 10 sci-fi films ever made. As is the case with most sequels, the characters slip more comfortably into their roles, and each person is examined with more depth. On the surface, it may be a standard good vs. evil storyline, but this is a much more calculated and deliberate approach to that standard. William Shatner gives a superlative performance, and Khan, played splendidly and slightly exaggerated by Ricardo Montalban, is a delight. Nicholas Meyer instills a fitting change of pace from the first film in that he pumps action and adventure into the mix. Most of you know the ending, but I won’t reveal it. I’ll just say it was extremely poignant. If one were to have the desire for some Star Trek late one night, this is probably the movie they would pop in the DVD player. It uses elements of the 60’s series, has a terrific score from James Horner, and very sexy Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik. I can think of no glaring problems here, aside from campiness, but that is what makes The Wrath of Khan so much fun.
Final Rating = 9.0/10.0
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
Written By: Harve Bennett
The third installment of the franchise is basically a filler movie, and would later be described as the middle part of a trilogy, although no one associated with the filming prepared for a trilogy then. And if Star Trek II was action based, The Search for Spock is in many facets, a B-movie as it incorporates plenty of cheesiness that is true to that form.
After the battle with Khan at Genesis, the Enterprise has been heavily damaged, and the morale is low due to the loss of Spock. They return home to find out some bad news from Starfleet Commander Morrow (Robert Hooks): the Enterprise is to be decommissioned. If this wasn’t enough, Dr. McCoy is acting strangely, and after a visit from Sarek (Mark Lenard), Spock’s father, it is revealed that Bones is carrying Spock’s Katra, or spirit. Kirk immediately wants to return to the Genesis planet and retrieve Spock’s body, but permission to do so is denied. This does not stop him as he disobeys orders and goes anyway. After embarking on this quest, Klingon Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) sets his sights on obtaining project Genesis' secrets. He will let no one stand in his way. A battle with the Klingons leaves the Enterprise in bad shape, and worse, Kirk’s son David (Merritt Butrick) and Lt. Saavik (Robin Curtis) have been captured by Kruge. Meanwhile, the quarantined Genesis planet has little time left before it is destroyed, and Kirk must rescue his family and friends before it is too late.
I found much to dislike here, but it was all for the most part entertaining and humorous fun. The crew displayed more chemistry as a unit in this film than in the previous two, and that can be seen from the marvelous hijacking of the Enterprise scene. Christopher Lloyd was incredibly over the top as the Klingon villain, but he was shown in short enough bursts that prevented him from being overly irritating. The Klingons as a group were funny and ferocious at the same time. The themes of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice are more substantial than the action this time around. My only complaint is the death of Kirk’s son, which was not moving and/or compelling at all. We did not see him die, and it was quite sudden. Robin Curtis replaces Kirstie Alley as Saavik, and it is a dreadful switch, but I dealt with it. Silliness was prevalent in this sequel, and that ties in with my view of it as a B-movie. It is not literally mind you, but in execution and scope, I could make a strong case for this. Proof can be found by watching the fight between Kirk and the Klingon commander, the planet being destroyed, a rapidly aging Spock, and the Enterprise crew breaking the rules to finish their quest. It was mighty difficult to follow Wrath of Khan, and this suffers because of that burden, but it still has its moments.
Final Rating = 7.0/10.0
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
Written By: Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy
The Voyage Home is generally regarded as the most accessible Star Trek of the original franchise, and therefore the most likable. It is the comedy film of the series, and it embraced a much needed lighter tone.
Upon leaving Vulcan, the crew is back in place. Spock has returned, but it not his usually self just yet. The gang heads back to Earth to face the consequences of their rule breakings. As they near Earth, it seems that a mysterious alien probe has been wiping out the power sources of everything that stands in its way. It approaches Earth and attempts to communicate with something, but no one knows how to answer. With no response, the probe threatens to evaporate the oceans and destroy the atmosphere of the third planet from the sun. It is discovered what the probe’s call means, and thus Admiral Kirk and his crew decide to risk time travel. They must go back to the past to 1986 San Francisco in order to find what they need to save Earth in the 23rd century.
Up until J.J. Abrams' recent Star Trek, The Voyage Home was the most successful and one of the most acclaimed of the series because it gave non-fans a reason to test the waters. One of Star Trek’s biggest faults is in rarely breaking routine, which means it keeps catering to normal fans. Star Trek IV changed that, albeit briefly, and it paid off tremendously. The more relaxed and funfilled methodology was wise, and resulted in many of the franchise’s most memorable moments. Spock using profanity, Kirk learning about money, Scotty teaching engineering, and Bones curing certain illnesses are all hilarious segments that make this sequel a riot. A love interest for Kirk is also introduced in Catherine Hicks, but it is not overdone thankfully. This is Leonard Nimoy’s second directorial job in the franchise, and his peaceful and restrained style suits the series well. Apparently he was given almost total control here. The storyline is incredibly preposterous when explained, but it is one that you must see in order to appreciate. The performances remain terrific. Since we have grown to be friends with the crew at this point, the moments on Earth they experience are that much more entertaining. The absence of a clear villain was an intelligent choice for this venture as it did not make the audience feel like the films became repetitive or redundant.
Final Rating = 8.5/10.0
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Directed By: William Shatner
Written By: William Shatner and David Loughery
Every series that has run as long as Star Trek is likely to have a poor entry of the pack, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is that installment for this series. At this point, The Next Generation had just finished its second successful season, and it looked as if original crew’s days were numbered after this ridiculous piece of science fiction.
The story begins on Nimbus III, “The Planet of Galactic Peace”, where a rogue Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) is gathering followers for an invasion of the planet’s only city. He also has an innate ability to see someone’s pain and use it to control them. Meanwhile on Earth, Kirk, Bones, and Spock are enjoying some shore leave. They sit around the campfire, exchange stories, and sing songs. Soon enough, the rest and relaxation of the break is interrupted when Starfleet requests that Kirk and the half-working Enterprise enter Nimbus III because Sybok has taken 3 people hostage: 1 Romulan, 1 Klingon, and 1 Human. At the same time, the Klingons have dispatched a ship as well with a power hungry captain named Klaa (Todd Bryant), who would like no more than to knock off Kirk. The rest of the plot is too lengthy to describe in detail, but suffice to say, Sybok’s ultimate goal is to find Eden, or God, or something.
I have made the claim that the first four films in this series each had their own identity to succeed. One was a drama, the next action, followed by a B-movie, and then a comedy. The fifth installment attempts to mix all of those, and ultimately fails. This is a premise that could have resulted in another great triumph for the franchise, but it was totally inexplicable and largely retarded. It begins with an intriguing Vulcan villain, who takes the crew hostage, only to lead them to “Eden.” Most say the first half was perpetual and irrelevant, and perhaps that is true, but I enjoyed it somewhat. He was a baddie that became an ally, and that was creative. The Klingon villain Klaa looked like a reject from the band Gwar. This sequel was directed by William Shatner, and unfortunately he does not have the touch that Nimoy had. However, it is not all his fault. Paramoun held him back with a cheap budget, and a weak story that was filtered through a number of people. This is the worst so far in the series, and even though it is not a complete disaster, I would still say this is easily forgettable. The attempts at comedy were horrendous as a cardinal rule was broken. We were laughing at the characters, not with them. The score was adequate, but that is a minor high in an ocean of lows. The ending was quite bizarre as they search for “God” and examine the Eden planet, but this is not what one would picture for Eden. The setting was a desert, and God turned out to be a Wizard of Oz reject that shot lightning from his eyes. The special effects did not help this. Not totally worthless, but the plot holes, stale script, and the ludicrous song prevent it from a definite recommendation.
Final Rating = 6.0/10.0
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer
Written By: Leonard Nimoy and Nicholas Meyer
Every group of legends needs a send off, and for the original crew of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is that film. In retrospect, I am sure many people lost hope after The Final Frontier, and entered the theater for this with pessimistic expectations, but this is an offering that I feel ages better with repeated viewings.
In this final journey, peace may be at hand between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The incident that stirs this hope occurs when the Klingons key energy production facility, the moon Praxis, explodes, damaging the Klingon’s home planet’s atmosphere. This explosion means that the entire ozone will be depleted in 50 years. Spock sees this as an opportunity to terminate years of aggression, and the Klingons cannot cope with the disastrous consequences. Kirk however, is opposed to peace talks, since he is unable to forgive the Klingons for the death of his son David, 8 years earlier. He is nevertheless ordered to escort Kronos One, the ship carrying Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner), to Earth for the talks. While en route, Kronos One is fired upon, and the Chancellor is assassinated. All pieces of evidence point to the Enterprise-A as being the instigator, and when Kirk and Bones try to help, they are arrested and put to trial. They are found guilty and sentenced to life at the gulag Rura Penthe. But Spock is certain that this has been a conspiracy, and he takes the Captain’s chair and begins investigating the ordeal. Meanwhile, Kirk and Bones’ lives hang in the balance.
The Undiscovered Country returns to what we love best about the franchise. The trend of establishing a distinctive identity is revisited here, and this is certainly a mystery film more than anything else. The action is rich and lively, the themes are more political, and the dialogue is filled with wit and literary quotes. The chemistry and dynamic that Spock, McCoy, and Kirk share is irreplaceable. They rank up there with the top trios in cinema and television. This also marked the second time at the helm for Director Nicholas Meyer, and he evokes a more subdued and confidently conservative approach. I think a dud was needed to kick the crew back in gear to what they do best. Christopher Plummer is quite satisfactory as General Chang, David Warner is solid as Chancellor Gorkon, and Kim Cattral is adequate as Lt. Valeris. This is non-stop entertainment, and was a worthy wave goodbye. Its allegorical nature should not be a shock. The Klingons have always represented the Soviet Union, and the Federation has always been the United States. Regardless, this is still effective and pleasing. I noticed a couple plot holes, and of course certain sequences were corny, but that is the beauty of Star Trek. The acting is pretty normal as everyone clocks in with their usual terrific work, especially Shatner, who is more reserved. My favorite parts displayed the friendship of Spock and Kirk straining, the concluding starship battle, and Sulu getting his own ship. Many have described this sequel as too nostalgic, but I enjoy it for that reason. I feel that this is an underrated and pleasing final mission for the crew.
Final Rating = 8.5/10.0
The Captain’s Summit
This is a 70 minute conversation between William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes, which is hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. You can watch it in 3 separate parts, or all as one. I thoroughly enjoyed it even if they do not dwell on any questions Goldberg throws out to them. She does toss some edgy ones in the fray, and it makes for riveting discussion.
The highlight is obviously when Shatner admits to not seeing a single episode of The Next Generation, but they also talk about obsessive fans, the impact of the films, and the experience of directing a show or movie. To be fair, a rare sitting such as this could have gone on for hours and still been gripping, but this one does wrap up after about an hour. I’m just glad they decided to throw this in the box set at all.
Chad’s Favorite Star Trek Movies (from this box set)
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
6. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Now, I don’t have a top of the line stereo and entertainment center to watch these movies, but I do have a satisfactory set that enables me to reviews Blu-Ray adequately. I will leave my comments on this set to a whole, and then display my rating out of 10 for each disc. When I first saw the Star Trek films, it was on a mixture of DVD and VHS, but nearly all possessed a washed out and soft appearance to them that certainly could tarnish the experience. In this Blu-Ray box set, I am pleased to say that they all look good, but I am writing this to specify the different levels of good. First things first. We need to remember that films have varying degrees of grain depending on the type of stock used, lighting, and so forth. The stock always deteriorates over time, no matter how it may be stored. People nowadays are probably accustomed to grain free images on the screens they own. To prevent disapproval, video engineers apply DNR, or Dynamic Noise Reduction, which eliminates grain. How much they use is the problem. If they don’t use enough, the disc will not sell, and if they use too much, it will affect the intricate details of the picture.
For these DVDs, I will answer one question right off the bat. Are they better than the standard DVD’s? Yes, but they are far from perfect, and for collector’s who were anticipating these releases, it can be frustrating. Others will simply not notice. Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan were given the most care. They look exactly how a fan would want them to look. The Motion Picture is clearly superior in this area as the direction offers the most epic shots to accentuate the video. Colors on these two are rich, black levels are deep, and the contrast is superb. From Star Trek III onward, the problems commence. Too much DNR was used on Star Trek IV and Star Trek V. On Star Trek VI, the quality picks up again, but barely. The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country offer more colors and bright visuals, so they look better, but you will only get the “Blu-Ray effect” as I like to call it, and will only notice the difference on the first two films. The others will simply look “good.” I am not as crazy a video guy as others, so this is minor to me, but it is worth mentioning. Star Trek III and Star Trek V are the worst, and it shows. The original aspect ratios, 2.35:1, are presented here with wonderful results.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 9.5/10 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 9/10 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 7.5/10 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 8/10 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 7/10 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 8.5/10
The quality of the audio will vary depending on which movie you are watching and how much background noise and/or action it contains. The audio engineers have remixed soundtracks using lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Again, like the video transfers, these are solid, but not great, when they could have been mind-blowing. Star Trek III and Star Trek VI come out on top in the sound department. Both have terrific bass, and the speakers receive a hearty workout. Elsewhere, the rest of the films are fairly clear, with no distortion, fuzziness, or other defects. All the dialogue is lucid and understandable, my volume knob rested at a comfortable position for each, and the dialogue is not drowned by the score. With many Blu-Ray releases, you can feel as though you are inside a theater, but here the results are slightly below that, and that is a disappointment, but certainly not bad.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 8.0/10 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 8.5/10 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 9/10 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 7.5/10 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 7.5/10 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 9.5/10
Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection is distributed in a cardboard box that houses 7 super slimline blue cases and the Star Trek symbol on the front. They are not the typical Blu-Ray case, but about half the size in terms of thickness. Around the box is a clear plastic shell that slides over top of everything. It displays a piece of paper that wraps around displaying the contents of the box set. Sadly, it is only held together by a few dabs of glue. Inside with the cases are a handful of advertisement sheets for Blu-Ray updates and other Star Trek products. The menu screens are quite uniformed and easy to navigate. You can access them while the feature is still running via pop-up menu.
Each disc has a feature called “Library Computer”, which offers little bits of trivia for you as the movie plays. Personally, I love extras like this. The extras are divided into sections and sub-sections, but they are not all consistent with each disc, and displaying them here would be a pain for you the reader. Suffice to say that “Production” gives most of the “making-of” mini-documentaries and “The Star Trek Universe” delves into the material only Trekkies will care about. The rest of the sections are self-explanatory. It is also important to note that most of the extras below are recycled. To avoid confusion, and to help those who are considering buying this set, I will type in all caps [NEW] when an extra is brand new for this release.
Audio Commentary [NEW] - This track features Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Darren Dochterman, all of whom are/were Star Trek writers and experts. They discuss a variety of topics, many of which are not scene specific, but among the topics are the history of the production, their personal memories, and critic’s reactions. They also mention that this is one of the last films to include and overture. For a group commentary, this has too many dead spots.
The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture [NEW] (10:00) - This is a standard “making-of” featurette which says that Roddenberry first mentions the idea of a feature film in 1968, but at that time it was to show Kirk and Spock entering the Academy. The Motion Picture’s many stages are discussed here such as the “Planet of the Titans” script, the story taken from the planned Phase II show, and the constant re-writes when they eventually had a firm idea. You get to see a list of the directors they wanted, and people of praise the work. Some say they were trying too hard, but it would have been difficult not to.
Special Star Trek Reunion [NEW] (9:37) – William Shatner introduces this segment that joins together a group of extras reminiscing on the fan appreciation scene they included in this film. They all talk about how they got there, and it is interesting.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 001: Mystery Behind V’Ger [NEW] (4:24) – This is the first of many of these stupid short extras that have a phony Starfleet person basically summarizing the plot of the movie contained on the disc. They are all pointless.
Deleted Scenes (8:02) – I would list the names of the scenes, but for those just skimming my review, it would be pointless to read through meaningless titles. You have 11 scenes in all here, and none of them stand out, but of course “The Director’s Cut” of this picture might have incorporated some of them. I can’t really recall.
Storyboards - Included are 3 storyboards: Vulcan, Enterprise Departure, and V’Ger Revealed. Storyboards are neat to glance at every now and then to get a better idea of what the planning was like.
Trailers - The “Teaser Trailer” (2:18) is not much shorter than the full length “Theatrical Trailer” (2:29). Both are pretty bland, but back then, most trailers were.
TV Spots (3:39) – You have 7 TV Spots: “Hardware”, “Startle Your Senses”, “Enterprise”, “Cast/Human Adventure”, “Spiritual Search”, “Spiritual/Startle Your Senses”, and “Spiritual/Human Adventure”.
Audio Commentary - The first track features Director Nicholas Meyer on his own, while the second includes Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto. Meyer reiterates some of the same points in both tracks, but this is relatively engaging. He chats about his occupation at the time, the production script history, and Kirstie Alley just to name a few. He does address some scene specific material, which is nice. In the second track [NEW], he goes in depth about his Naval approach to the film, learning from Robert Wise, and his thoughts on the first flick. He mentions Jules Verne as an influence. Manny Coto doesn’t do as much talking, but he basically gives his perspective and opinion on things Meyer says.
Captain’s Log (27:21) – This is an old featurette that covers the “making-of” the film. Interviews with cast and crew are inserted, and Harve Bennett offers the most insight. They mention the “Space Seed” episode and include clips. Also mentioned is the fact that Leonard Nimoy might not have been in any Star Trek films after this. The death scene with Spock was going to be at the beginning. The evolution of the script is fascinating stuff, and what I find hilarious is that they forgot to call Ricardo Montalban until much later after realizing the character would be returning. Great bonus.
Designing Khan (23:54) – Nicholas Meyer discusses the style he was going for with this sequel, and how “it had to look real.” He also touches on an operatic and dogfight approach. He said that Horatio Hornblower was a heavy inspiration. Many members of the crew lend their thoughts on art direction, maintaining the look, clothing updates, creating the ranks (awesome segment). Every aspect of the ship is talked about from the keyboards to the torpedo.
Original Interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Ricardo Montlaban (10:56) – These interviews are from 1982 and were made to promote the film obviously. Rumors about the ending are covered, as well as character changes, and so forth. Nimoy has one wild suit here too.
Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (18:14) – Mark this under pointlessly long titles of extras. Geez. This is self-explanatory. They cover everything from using models for the ships to storyboards and back again. They used a Vistavision camera for the effects, and also included in the featurette is creating the Genesis, the nebula, and the Reliant.
James Horner: Composing Gensis [NEW] (9:33) – James Horner lends a mesmerizing interview about knowing the previous composer, crafting a new theme, getting Khan’s music right, establishing a war-like atmosphere, and etc. The dry dock sequence was his favorite to score.
Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics [NEW] (11:05) – This is straightforward. A host picks up and discusses various items that can be found in the 6 warehouses once storing Star Trek props.
A Novel Approach (28:55) – Greg Cox and Julia Echlar are two Star Trek novelists who were lucky enough to get their own extra. I found this fascinating because rarely do you see any footage of the people who pen these unofficial novels. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and many other franchises have them. Cox’s books cover the Eugenics Wars and Khan more importantly (hence the reason he is here). Echlar’s books cover the Kobayashi Maru test, which was shown in the recent movie. At the time though, it was just referred to. They discuss how they write these while remaining faithful, rules of thumb, dates, and so forth. These two seriously know Star Trek.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 002: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha Vi [NEW] (3:08) – As I stated above, these are dumb.
A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban [NEW] (4:44) – I am sure this was a good natured and heartfelt tribute from Director Nicholas Meyer, but never before have I seen someone have so much trouble reading from cards. He is so blatantly reading from something that his monotone voice makes this hard to watch.
Theatrical Trailer (2:22) – This is a fairly typical trailer for the period. In my opinion, most Star Trek trailers were poor until recently.
Audio Commentary - The first track features Director Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Director of Photography Charles Correll, and Robin Curtis. This is led by Nimoy, and the rest are just excerpts of interviews from the others. Nimoy touches on the history of the project briefly, the themes, the accessibility factor, and more. Sadly, this is not very scene specific, and most of the contributors just add their persona experiences, such as Curtis. This could have been better. The second track [NEW] features Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor. This is another fan like perspective. These two would go on to be involved with future installments, but they both stress that they had nothing to do with this sequel. This is better in that these two are together and go over details of scenes, the emotions evoked, and the trilogy aspects.
Captain’s Log (26:13) – Interviews with the cast and crew are included of course. Nimoy says this film got one of the fastest greenlights he’d ever seen. He discusses his first time at the helm, but funnier are William Shatner’s stories on how he made Leonard’s career. Shatner is truly the highlight on some of these discs. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the film is graced upon, and apparently a fire occurred at the studio in which Shatner was one of the people to help put it out! Christopher Lloyd’s role is chatted about, and he provides his thoughts, in addition to Robin Curtis and her recasting. I loved this featurette.
Terraforming and the Prime Directive (25:53) – This is one of those bonus features I look forward to because it explores the truth and possibilities in some of the concepts these films present. Featuring interviews with NASA employees and scientists, they discuss the Genesis planet accuracy, what terraforming means, and so forth. Most of the featurette goes over Mars, and the stages it would take to support life. This is highly recommended.
Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek [NEW] (13:50) – A special effect extra is included on almost every one of these discs, and for good reason. On this one, they talk about designing the warp speed streaks, the various lights, contrasts, large scale models, and destroying the Enterprise.
Spock: The Early Years [NEW] (6:22) – This is an extra entirely devoted to the younger actors that portrayed Spock in this sequel, specifically Stephen Manley. He played the Spock who Ponfarred with Saavik. Hearing his memories was fun.
Space Docks and Birds of Prey (27:49) – This goes further in depth on the huge scale models of the ships, and how exactly they achieved certain shots. Remember, in Star Trek III, we have the Excelsior as well. We look at sketches and designs of the ships, and they also give us a glimpse at creating the phasers. This was cool stuff, especially if you love special effects.
Speaking Klingon (21:04) – This might be the best and most inventive extra on any DVD set, whether it be old or new. This features Mark Goldcran (I probably spelled his name wrong), the man who developed the languages for the Star Trek universe of Klingon and Vulcan. He covers everything you can imagine. He makes sure to use terms from previous stories, and so forth. This is just fantastic, and worth the price of this disc.
Klingon and Vulcan Costumes (12:16) – A woman named Maggie, describes in detail how she formed the clothing lines for the various races and characters. She talks about her goals of the styles, the alien marks, Roddenberry’s opinions, and more.
Star Trek and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame [NEW] (16:52) – Harve Bennett and some dude from the Seattle Times sit down at the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame and converse on his contributions to Star Trek. They go on to chat about the sci-fi genre as a whole.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 003: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer [NEW] (2:42) – They get shorter, and more obligatory.
Photo Gallery - You have two photo galleries, and they are titled: “The Movie” and “Production.”
Storyboards - Here you have 10 sets of storyboards ranging from the main titles to the Katra ritual.
Theatrical Trailer (1:12) – An oddly brief trailer, but whatever.
Audio Commentary - The first track is with Director Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. They talk about the tone going into this movie, the absence of a bad person, Shatner’s skepticism of time travel, various minor roles, locations, backstage happenings, and so forth. Again, this has frequent dead spots, but this is the superior commentary. The second one [NEW] includes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, chiming in with another perspective from an outsider (so to speak). They touch on the consistency of the characters, everyone has a significant part, the memorable moments, and the law of inertia, and other random observations.
Future’s Past (27:32) – The most commonly used word in this featurette is fun, because everyone involved had a lot of it while filming this sequel. One can see this in the finished product. The story is discussed in this “making-of” mini-docu, along with casting Catherine Hicks, the insertion of so much humor, and so on. Superb interviews with the cast and crew make this an informative and enjoyable bonus.
On Location (7:26) – Most of the cast and crew liked this shoot because they finally were able to get outside a little bit. One funny story about the extras occurs when Chekov is asking various people where the “nuclear wessels” are. Nimoy’s direction was for no one to answer, but one woman who was not an extra did answer, and it was kept in the film. The aquarium build is also a nice portion of this brief extra.
Dailies Deconstruction (4:13) – This is self-explanatory. You have a split screen of the dailies of certain scenes, and it is very short. This is nice for aspiring directors.
Below the Line Sound Design (11:45) – It seems that Nimoy was a stickler for sounds on this sequel, and the man behind those sounds talks openly about working with Nimoy, the absence of a score for the climax, acquiring the whale songs, and other nifty sound bites.
Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments [NEW] (6:09) – An interview with Walter Koenig has him talking about his finest moments, and responding to backlash about his accent.
Time Travel: The Art of the Possible (11:15) – Three prominent physicists were asked if time travel were possible, and in this extra they chat about wormholes, blackholes, quantum physics, warp drive, and other Star Trek terms that make time travel possible. I was hoping this would be longer, but the fact that it was included at all is terrific.
The Language of the Whales (5:46) – A woman who evidently works with fish a great deal briefly converses about cetaceans, the various types of endangered whales, and their dialects. If you love Star Trek and whales, this is the best extra for you.
A Vulcan Primer (7:50) – Here you have another novelist discussing their area of expertise in the Star Trek universe. In this case, it is Vulcans, their emotions, mind melds, aging, and everything else you can imagine within this timeframe.
Star Trek: Three Picture Saga [NEW] (10:12) – Here they only touch upon the topic of the trilogy as a whole, which is very intriguing. Interviews with screenwriters and other crew members mention the pattern of the films, the accidental trilogy term, the inconsistencies, Spock’s baby, and more.
Star Trek for a Cause [NEW] (5:40) – Greenpeace lends a short contribution documenting the influence of this film in their cause. They talk about their goal which is to show how we live on this planet with other creatures. They also talk about photographing the atrocities.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 004: The Whale Probe [NEW] (3:42) – More pointlessness.
From Outer Space to the Ocean (14:43) – This begins with a story overview, and then goes into the building and buying of the mechanical whales in the film, the challenges of the production, perfecting the probe, and the early computer effects of the time travel head sequence.
The Bird of Prey (2:48) – For some reason, we get a recycled extra all about the Klingon ship, in case you missed it last time.
Original Interviews - Three interviews are included: William Shatner (14:33), Leonard Nimoy (15:40), and DeForest Kelley (13:02). These are just promotional discussions, and each man is very vague about the details. It is the type of interviews you’d see on late shows, only minus the comedy.
Roddenberry Scrapbook (8:17) – Roddenberry’s son talks about his father’s legacy, and what growing up with him was like. He talks about Gene’s preference of the original pilot, his influences, and his victory with The Next Generation.
Featured Artist: Mark Lenard (12:44) – This was a welcomed bonus featuring Lenard’s wife and daughters discussing Mark’s contribution to Star Trek, the memorabilia he kept, and so forth. Clips of each episode and movie he was in are included as well.
Production Gallery (3:55) – This is a montage of backstage photos and memories. This is fluff, but we’ll take it.
Storyboards - Here we can flip through 8 sets of storyboards.
Audio Commentary - The first track includes Director/star William Shatner and his daughter Liz Shatner, who apparently wrote a book about his experiences in making this film. This is actually an excellent commentary because unlike most on this set, it is very scene specific. Granted, they go off on tangents of memories and behind the scenes happenings, but they had fun doing this, so it was a terrific listen. The second track [NEW] features Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Darren Dochterman , all of whom are/were Star Trek writers and experts. You can definitely sense what they all feel about this sequel, but they do a fine job of locating the high points without bashing. Among the topics are cigarettes and Romulans to name a few.
Harve Bennett’s Pitch to Sales Team (1:42) – The title says it all I think, but here Bennett explains the Vulcan hand signal and so forth in preparation for the film.
The Journey: A Behind the Scenes Documentary (28:55) – Interviews with the cast and crew make this one of the best documentaries on a Star Trek film since this is the worst of the pile. Harve Bennett, who seems like a very nice person, was always quick to pat himself on the back for the hits of the series. Here he and the rest of the crew try to push a lot of the blame onto Shatner. Nevertheless, the conversations are great. Bennett says he was skeptical of the story, but later says he liked how it all turned out. Shatner discusses the massive cuts taking place, but others claim he was thinking too big. It makes sense that the star and director would think big after the last sequel was the biggest grossing film in the franchise. The newer crew members do not seem to mesh with the Star Trek universe, but others afford praise anyway. Many admit they were in awe of seeing “Captain Kirk” in regular clothes. The special effects are touched upon. , as well as deleted scenes, the original ending, and Uhura’s Tina Turner-esque song number.
Makeup Tests (9:50) – This is simply photos of aliens and characters in costumes and makeup preparing. No dialogue or music is used.
Previsualization Models (1:41) – This shows the special effects team playing with the models. No dialogue or music here either.
Rockman in the Raw (5:37) – This contains early sketches, animatic skulls, and removed footage of the Rockman creature that Shatner wanted to use. In the above documentary, he expresses his reaction when the finalized costume looked nothing like his sketch, and when they could only give him 1 instead of the proposed 10. Still, this looks horrible, and I feel sorry Shatner. His ideas were not backed up.
Star Trek V Press Conference (13:42) – Executive Producer Ralph Winter states that this takes place on the last day of photography. The cast appear and are sort of in character, and many field questions, but we can’t hear the audience members ask them. This is like viewing a party you were not invited to and feeling awkward.
Herman Zimmerman: A Tribute (19:09) – He served as Production Designer and Art Director on multiple Star Trek films and shows. Here, he gives an interview on his childhood, job history, and so forth such as working on The Days of Our Lives and Land of the Lost. He says he went through the desks of other art directors to learn what to do.
Original Interview: William Shatner (14:37) – Shatner sits atop a rock in Yosemite Park and talks about rock climbing. He’s very passionate about it, but unless you are as well, this might get old.
Cosmic Thoughts (13:05) – This has various science fiction authors and scientists discussing and debating the mysteries of the galaxy, searching for more knowledge playing God, the “gosh” numbers, and much more. It deals with the themes covered in this film, but you probably knew that.
That Klingon Couple (13:05) – Todd Bryant and Spice Williams, who portrayed Klaa and Vixis, talk about their experience in playing Star Trek characters, and what it was like during filming.
A Green Future? (9:24) – In this featurette, officials from Yosemite discuss the filming that took place there, and the optimism it showed in hoping that the park still stands in the future. It then moves on to Global Warming.
Star Trek Honors NASA [NEW] (9:57) – Astronaut Terry Virks, who was a fan of Star Trek, talks about its influence and connection on him and NASA as a whole. It’s nice to see these organizations working with the crew on these DVDs.
Hollywood Walk of Fame: James Doohan [NEW] (3:10) – This is self-explanatory. Various speaks converge to pay homage to Mr. Doohan receiving his star.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 005: Nimbus III [NEW] (3:02) – Only one of these to go!
Audio Commentary - The first track includes Director Nicholas Meyer and screenwriter Denny Martin Flinn, whose primary area of discussion is the Chernobyl/Russian connection to the story. They do touch on things such as the score, title, credits, and Sulu’s being a Captain as well. Overall, it was pretty standard. The second commentary is by Larry Nemecek and Ira Steven Behr [NEW], who are just fans since they had nothing to do with this film, but would go on to work on various Star Trek shows. This was the superior track for this movie because it incorporated humor. They do talk about the CGI usage, how the film stands up over time, and more, but this was just a fun listen.
The Perils of Peacemaking (26:33) – This is a mini-documentary all about the connection between the Chernoble incident in Russia and how it relates to the storyline of Star Trek VI. An expert on the field discusses how countries and their people should respond to such situations in the future, and what it means. I found this very intriguing, but many might be bored.
Stories from Star Trek VI (57:09) – This is basically a documentary “making-of” featurette, but it is divided into 6 sections. The first topic is how they were in bad shape following The Final Frontier, and how many did not know whether a sixth film would be greenlit. The Starfleet Academy film was discussed, but ultimately did not happen. Leonard Nimoy became involved with the story, and he approached Nicholas Meyer, and together they came up with a scenario. The Shakespeare aspects, the prejudicial themes, the special effects details, and the fact that it was the final farewell are all segments that should not be missed here. One of the best parts was Shatner voicing his distaste for the “Let them die” remark Kirk utters. He claims that Meyer broke a promise to make that seem more believable from Kirk.
Conversations with Nicholas Meyer (9:33) – Here, Meyer briefly talks about his career, how he directs actors, and what it was like to come aboard the Star Trek franchise.
Klingons: Conjuring the Legend (20:46) – This is an entire featurette about the Klingons, who created them, how their appearance was shaped over the years, the costumes, their underlying meaning, and more. Michael Dorn is of course a big interview candidate here, and it is another solid extra.
Federation Operatives (4:53) – This is a short bonus about actors who have played multiple parts within Star Trek such as David Warner, Kurtwood Smith, and Brock Peters.
Penny’s Toy Box (6:06) – This is another extra about the various props Paramount houses, and how they are protected under numerous locks.
Together Again (4:56) – This is about the relationship between Christopher Plummer and William Shatner. Appoarently, they flourished Montreal and had similar paths before attaining stardom.
Tom Morga: Alien Stuntman [NEW] (4:57) – This guy has played more aliens than anyone else in Star Trek, and here he chats about getting into makeup, his experiences, and more.
To Be or Not to Be: Klingons and Shakespeare [NEW] (23:04) – I kid you not, this is 23 minute extra about people who actually put on a Klingon version of Hamlet due to the line uttered by David Warner in this movie. My fiancée proclaimed this as the nerdiest thing I’ve ever watched. I can’t argue.
DeForest Kelley: A Tribute (13:19) – There are one of these on every disc, and this one focuses on Bones himself. I liked it because it showcased his other films. I never knew he had an affinity for westerns. Everyone says he was a gentle and nice human being.
Original Interviews - This has a total of 8 interviews ranging from about 45-50 minutes. You have: William Shatner (5:05), Leonard Nimoy (6:26), DeForest Kelley (5:03), James Doohan (5:33), Nichelle Nichols (5:39), George Takei (5:28), Walter Koenig (5:31), and even Iman (5:07). Everyone is given questions which are displayed via white text before they answer. Nichols and Shatner discuss how taboo it was when they kissed on the series, while Kelley and Doohan mention their influence on doctors and engineers.
Production Gallery (3:24) – I appreciate these being included, but it could have been integrated into a “making-of” or something since it’s so short.
Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 006: Praxis [NEW] (2:37) – Hooray, I’m done with these!
Storyboards - You have 4 of them here to peruse.
Trailers - The “Teaser Trailer” (1:28) and the “Theatrical Trailer” (2:23) are both ok considering the quality of the previous ones.
1991 Convention Presentation by Nicholas Meyer (4:49) – Here he talks about his opinion of Star Trek and how he got into it. We have heard this before, so this gets old quick.
The Films: 8.0/10.0
The Video: 8.5/10.0
The Audio: 8.5/10.0
The Packaging: 8.5/10.0
The Extras: 9.0/10.0
The 411: Until I started watching the extras, I had forgotten about the theory that all the odd numbered Star Trek movies were bad, and the even numbered ones were good. I definitely disagree with this, but that’s me. I had a lot of fun watching these movies over again, especially with these new clean transfers that made the viewing ten times better. The problem is, Paramount is obviously setting up fans for a double dip, and they are trying to conceal this, which makes me angry. These are the theatrical versions, but you need to research a bit to figure that out, and the technical specifications are fine, but leave enough room for improvement in the future. Would it have been difficult to include the director’s cuts? No, but I digress… And of course, The Next Generation films have yet to be released on High-Definition formats at all, so expect the updated versions as more Star Trek reboot sequels unravel. A definite annoyance is that every disc opens with the trailers for Abrams' Star Trek, and The Original Series Blu-Ray release. The music is permanently ingrained in my head. I doubt I would upgrade, since I have this now, but if you have not purchased anything yet, my advice is to wait. The original cast offers the movies that become increasingly fun over the years. And with Star Trek, even the worst of this lot is still enjoyably campy. In the extras department, you will have countless hours worth of entertainment as most of the discs have 2 commentary tracks. Granted, some of the extras go deep into Trekkie territory, but they are still worth a gander.