Posted May 04 2009 - 01:51 AM
Random observations from a good friend regarding The Cage and other aspects pertaining to the remastering effort....
In the past my one "complaint" about the remasters has been how much story gets cut out to make way to display the enhanced visuals. This is due to the fact that more time is alotted for advertising than was the case when the episode was first made. That gripe holds for this episode perhaps more than any other. The whole scene of the recreation of the fight on Rigel VII was cut out. The scene outside Mojave, Arizona was severely shortened. In the end, this is one reason why I think that I can eventually justify acquiring a boxed set of the remastered episodes. To combine the story with the enhanced effects seems worth it to me.
In seeing what was cut, I realize really just how "cerebral" this pilot really was and how little of it was devoted to visual effects. This is true for a good many Trek episodes, and is my leading theory as to why we really only got about two seasons worth of broadcasted remasters.
I would have to watch the remastered "The Menagerie" to be sure, but I think we saw the same opening scene here. The one where the approaching Enterprise comes into view and we get our first glimpse of the bridge by peering in through the bridge dome. In the original it was not possible to create the effect of coming in through the top precisely. Instead we got a side view as the camera closes in, not bad for a television show from 1964. The remastered effect tried hard, but what you get is what looks like a flattened side view that is then stretched out to normal. Sort of misses the mark still, but a good try to clear it up.
I am glad they did drop the one cringe worthy scene I mentioned earlier on and instead gave us an exterior view of the ship approaching Talos IV. One very nice fix was when Vina and the illusory survivors vanish. In the original you get this blurring, wavy effect when Vina disappears and the survivors and their camp just "pop" out of existence. The remaster duplicates the effect of Vina's disappearance with the rest of the camp.
As has been common, beam weapon fire has been among the most frequently cleaned up effect. Also true here, however I was surprised that the effect of the phaser "cannon" firing on the Talosian elevator only seemed to do this with the beam and not with animated "flash" effects. Should they have tweaked that? I don't know, but the fact that they did not suggests that it was a hard effect to improve upon and that the skill of the animator(s) of that original scene was top notch (for some reason the animation always makes me think of "Forbbiden Planet").
Another well done effect was the scene towards the end where the Talosians are scanning the Enterprise's data banks. In the original you had only b/w pictures and graphics. This time they interspersed color images, a nice update.
Lastly, the scenes we did have of the Enterprise moving through space were, in the original, clearly a model most of the time. One that often looked very plastic and did not seem to line up right some times. The digitized space scenes really are a good deal easier to look at, even though I personally don't mind the primitive effects all that much. I have been and will be fine with watching these shows in their original form.
All in all I have to hand it to the people involved in remastering Star Trek. They have done it with respect and kept the integrity of the series intact. It has been a joy to watch these enhanced episodes with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm that harkened back to when I was a kid and watching them for the first time.