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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition

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#1 of 268 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted August 30 2004 - 03:09 AM

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Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1994

Rated: PG

Length: 117 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphic

Audio: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 English; English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, Commentary track

English subtitles; Closed Captioned in English

Special Features: Commentary by Brannon Braga and Ron Moore, Text Commentary, Many featurettes, deleted scenes

SRP: $19.99 USD
Release Date: September 7, 2004

Star Trek: Generations would have been a better movie if it wasn’t a “crossover” film. It’s not that I didn’t like seeing the old crew again (or, at least, part of it). It’s just that, no matter what device the writers could have come up with, uniting the two captains from different eras seems contrived. The Next Generation films have not delivered the magic, for me, that the best of the original films did, but they are solid outings, just the same.

That said, Generations has the strongest story of the TNG films, and is an enjoyable film.

I doubt there is anyone reading this review who isn’t already familiar with the film, but here is a summary:

It is the 23rd century. Retired Starfleet officers Captain James T. Kirk, Montgomery Scott and Pavel Chekov are guests of honor aboard the newly christened Enterprise B. What was supposed to be a leisure cruise turns bad when the Enterprise receives a distress call from two ships stuck in a mysterious energy ribbon called the Nexus.

During the perilous rescue mission, Kirk is lost, swept out into space.

Some seventy years later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D rescue an El Aurian physicist named Soran (well played by Malcolm McDowell). What they don’t know, however, is that Soran is obsessed with the Nexus, and will do everything in his power to enter it - no matter the cost. Soran endangers the lives of not only the crew of the Enterprise, but also of millions of inhabitants of the galaxy in his quest to enter the Nexus.

Star Trek Generations is anamorphically enhanced, and is displayed in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

Colors are beautifully saturated, showing off the wonderful theatrical lighting by John Alonzo. This production went all out to differ itself from the confines of the television series, and it really shows in the production and lighting design.

Contrast is excellent, with good detail in the shadows and bright and accurate whites. Occasional blemishes appear throughout the film, to a noticeable but not to a distracting degree.

What is distracting, unfortunately, is that the picture is oversharpened. The result is not only the usual artifacting in the form of halos around sharp edges (they are there to varying degrees), but also in frequently visible moire effects. While many people viewing on a display smaller than 32 inches may not find these artifacts to be objectionable, they are plainly visible on displays 32 inches and larger. I have to say that I found the moire effects more objectionable and noticeable than the ringing. Neither problem is quite bad enough to cause me to recommend a pass on this title, but I have to say I am disappointed in the processing. I expect more from a “Special Collector’s Edition.”

DTS. This is a rarity on a Paramount title, but you’ll find it here, along with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, Dolby English Surround, French Surround and a commentary track.

The Dolby Digital track sounds wonderful and spacious, with deep LFE effects for a room shaking experience. Frequency response is excellent, with clear highs in the music. Directional cues are adequate and convincing. It’s a nice mix.

The DTS track is mixed several dB hotter, so if you switch tracks on the fly, beware. The DTS is very similar to the DD track, with a bit more refinement in the directional cues. It is difficult to do a direct A/B comparison, because the DTS track is so much louder than the Dolby Digital track. The DTS seems to provide a subtle improvement over the Dolby Digital.

Special Features

On the Feature Disc:

Commentary by Brannon Braga and Ron Moore

I sampled about 20 minutes of select scenes for this commentary, and it is interesting enough for me to revisit this at a later time (I didn’t have time to listen to more). Brannon Braga and Ron Moore are as intimately involved in TNG as anyone, and are an ideal choice for a commentary. They provide interesting anecdotes and behind the scenes information, and seem to have a good time reminiscing for us, the viewers. This one is worthwhile.

Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
There isn’t much to say, here. This is the usual Okuda text commentary - some interesting tidbits that tie the film in with past episodes, information on set design and recycled shots, and more.

On Disc Two:

Scene Deconstruction

The following scene deconstructions include interviews with key people involved in creating the scenes, as well as storyboards, concept art, pre-visualizations, etc.

Main Title (3:32)
Dan Curry talks about his main title design - the floating CGI bottle.

The Nexus Ribbon (7:08)
Alex Seiden, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor, discusses the creation of the Nexus Ribbon - given only the description “energy ribbon.”

Saucer Crash Sequence (4:50)
Patrick Sweeney, Visual Effects Director of Photography, ILM, discusses the crash sequence, showing storyboards, motion control model shots and compositing. While some of the ships in Generations were CGI, the Enterprise saucer in this sequence is a model shot.

Visual Effects

Inside ILM: Models & Miniatures (9:39)

A visit to the ILM studios to see the re-vitalization of the Enterprise D model, and the addition of battle damage as they shoot the battle scenes. Includes interviews with model makers and photographers, and footage of motion control photography.

Crashing the Enterprise (10:44)
John Knoll, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor, and others at ILM, describe what is happening on the set during the filming of the crash sequence with large scale models. It is interesting to see ILM work on outdoor sets with large-scale models, since so much of what we have seen is done with smaller, indoor models and motion-control cameras.

The Star Trek Universe

A Tribute to Matt Jefferies (19:37)

Michael Okuda, John Eaves, Herman Zimmerman, Doug Drexler and other members of the Star Trek family remember Matt Jefferies’ contribution to Star Trek. He is the man most responsible for the look of the original series. Included are interviews with Jefferies, recalling his years with Star Trek.

Very interesting are the early conceptual drawings by Jefferies, and the fact that his final design influences Star Trek models and sets to this day. Also, his bridge design influenced real-world military designs.

This is a wonderful tribute to the man who gave us the Starship Enterprise.

The Enterprise Lineage (12:48)
A nice little piece about the Enterprise ship lineage, both fictional and in reality. Included are interviews with Matt Jefferies, Michael Okuda, John Eaves, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, along with footage of actual ships to bear the name “Enterprise,” and images of the various Star Trek incarnations of the name. Also included is footage of the Space Shuttle Enterprise’s test flight.

Captain Picard’s Family Album (7:05)
A look at the actual Picard Family Album, as seen in Generations. An interesting collection of pictures and documents relating to the Picard family. It is amazing how much detail that went into this scrapbook, especially given that so little of it is ever seen on film. Many of the photographs are from the families of the art department that worked on the book.

Creating 24th Century Weapons (13:47)
Gil Hibben, knife-maker and “Official Klingon Armorer” talks about designing and forging the Klingon blades of Star Trek in this fluff piece.


Production Gallery

A collection of production photographs.

Enterprise B
Worf’s Promotion
Two Captains


Uniting Two Legends (25:38)

This exploration into the uniting of two generations of Star Trek includes interviews with most of the cast of the film, as well as Rick Berman and David Carson. Also included are scenes from the premiere. It’s an interesting piece, partly because it’s always interesting to see interviews with the actors in the more minor roles - and we see some of them here.

Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion (9:23)
This discussion of the larger, grander stellar cartography (as compared to what we saw in the series) includes interviews with Patrick Stewart, Herman Zimmerman and John Alonzo. We see the huge, backlit photo positives created for the scene, as well as footage of blue-screen shooting for the animated effects. Zimmerman explains that the script was very vague about this set, but that he, Berman and others decided to make the scene something grander, since it set up the rest of the film.

Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire (22:41)
Discussion revolves around the location shooting at The Valley of Fire, and the difficulties encountered there. Included are interviews with cast and crew, as well as documentary footage of the shoot.

Deleted Scenes

These scenes add up to over 30 minutes, including added prologue and commentary by Rick Berman, William Shatner, James Doohan, Walter Koenig and Herman Zimmerman. There is a “Play All” feature.

Orbital Skydiving (the original opener)
Walking the Plank
Christmas with the Picards
Alternate Ending

NOTE: While the feature list on the packaging indicates the inclusion of two trailers, these trailers are nowhere to be found in this two disc Special Collector’s Edition.

Final Thoughts
Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation may find things to like in this average Star Trek film outing (perhaps the best of The Next Generation films), and there is a really nice selection of special features. Unfortunately, the missing trailers and the disappointing video processing left me wanting. While I can live without the trailers, the video quality is less than I expect of a Collector’s Edition DVD.

#2 of 268 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted August 30 2004 - 04:07 AM

I just picked this one up but have only looked at the video and not really listenened to the audio. Thanks for the review.
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#3 of 268 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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Posted August 30 2004 - 04:25 AM

I really enjoyed this and I'll double-dip for it. Thanks for the review Scott. DTS? Is that right?
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#4 of 268 OFFLINE   Andy_MT


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Posted August 30 2004 - 04:50 AM

funny, funny stuff. have waited a long, long time for this release. stayed away from current release for obvious reasons. and guess what, they fcuk it up! is it really too much to ask for a decent (read professional, not amateur) presentation ? this is star trek, not a small, unknown title, nor is this a small, unknown distributor, so what gives ? studios really can be **** sometimes!

#5 of 268 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted August 30 2004 - 05:00 AM

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#6 of 268 OFFLINE   Andrew Chong

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Posted August 30 2004 - 05:39 AM

Thanks for the review, Scott; I had completely forgotten about this title. It looks like a feature packed dvd title. It’s commendable that the producers of Star Trek dvds continue to make tributes to the series’ important contributors, Matt Jefferies here. I'm glad dts was included, however, it sounds as though it was done so at the slight expense of the video here. I suppose there’s always that tradeoff. I can accept that. Malcolm MacDowell and Brent Spiner were great in this. (Patrick Stewart is great in just about anything he does) I look forward to the Stellar Cartography scene. It took my breath away when I saw the movie in the theatre. What an upgrade! Stellar Cartography in the movie was much different from Stellar Cartography in the series.

#7 of 268 OFFLINE   Matt Czyz

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Posted August 30 2004 - 05:51 AM

Honestly, I don't even *remember* Stellar Cartography in the series. I thought it was new for the movie.

#8 of 268 OFFLINE   Todd_B


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Posted August 30 2004 - 06:11 AM

Thanks for the review, however I just received an email from DVDEmpire stating Paramount has changed and recalled the release of this. Anyone know why? Todd B
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#9 of 268 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted August 30 2004 - 06:15 AM

I'll bet a nickel give you a strip of gold-pressed latinum that it has something to do with the lack of trailers on the disc, though it's clearly advertised on the packaging.
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#10 of 268 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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Posted August 30 2004 - 06:35 AM

Another great review, Scott! I'm still jealous that you get to review all the Trek stuff! Not only was I disappointed to hear of the lack of trailers, this transfer sounds like it leaves a lot to be desired. Pretty sad since Generations along with First Contact are my favorite Next Gen installments. Any truth to the recall thing? Hopefully they will fix both problems! Although Bill Hunt said that Paramount was reporting that the lack of trailers was a clearance issue of some kind and that the packaging was inadvertantly mislabled. If a recall is true, hopefully they're not gonna just correct the packaging! Ric

#11 of 268 OFFLINE   Douglas Bailey

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Posted August 30 2004 - 06:50 AM

Here's the text of the e-mail from DVD Empire:
I wonder if this is just to add the trailers or whether they're going to address the video quality as well. Let's hope for both...
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#12 of 268 OFFLINE   Darren Haycock

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:27 AM

I like your optimism. I'm more of the mind that it will be simply to correct the packaging so that it doesn't mention trailers, but hey, time will tell.
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#13 of 268 OFFLINE   Matt Czyz

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:36 AM

I'm with Darren on this one. Fixing the packaging costs the least, and then people who don't read dvd forums will never have known that the trailers were erronously listed in the first place.

#14 of 268 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:38 AM

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath that they will address either issue. Ric

#15 of 268 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:40 AM

I've got a note in to Paramount, re: a recall. I'll let you know what I know. -Scott

#16 of 268 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:47 AM

Thanks Scott. I hope its not too long a wait... I was just reading the Ed Wood thread and it took them 8 months to correct their version after having to dump a not so special feature. Ric

#17 of 268 OFFLINE   EnricoE


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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:52 AM

thanks for the review Posted Image

and to paramount: i can't believe you screw this title up. edge enhancement galore and no trailer? wtf is wrong at paramount? you better fix this dvd for good Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#18 of 268 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted August 30 2004 - 07:56 AM

I think it was shown briefly in that episode when Picard was dating that lady who played the piano. She, IIRC, came on board to head the cartography stuff.

#19 of 268 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted August 30 2004 - 09:14 AM

I sent an e-mail to PHE as well about the recall. Hopefully we'll soon hear the full reasons why. In the meantime, here's the link to DVD Empire mentioning the recall:


Updated at 4:58 p.m. - Official word from Paramount Home Entertainment:
"No, there is no recall. However, it was under discussion this morning because of the trailers being listed on the packaging, when they're not on the discs."
"I have in my heart what it takes to run with the big dogs in this life, and nobody can say otherwise."

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#20 of 268 OFFLINE   Tim_P_76


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Posted August 30 2004 - 10:33 AM

Boy wouldn't it be nice to hear from Mr. Blythe...if the man still has his job..Posted Image
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