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. Video 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.” Audio 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. Archives Production Gallery A collection of production photographs. Storyboards Enterprise B Worf’s Promotion Two Captains Production 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.