Boldly going in Ultra High Definition. 4.5 Stars

Paramount and CBS Studios deliver, at long last, the first four Star Trek cinematic adventures on Ultra High-Definition disc for the first time. The results won’t vault these films to your ‘showcase collection’ for what 4K can do, there’s far too much going on with the source material for that – including the notoriously rushed effects work for The Motion Picture – but what it does deliver is as close as I have ever seen of what these films are supposed to look like, flaws and all. There are moments where the image is of such brilliant quality that you’ll marvel at the clarity and color density and black levels and color balance. The 4K look of some of the optical effects is less forgiving, but that’s no reason not to embrace this collection as the best these films have looked, perhaps even than the quality of the original theatrical presentations, at least for II, III and IV.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Released: 08 Dec 1979
Rated: G
Runtime: 132 min
Director: Robert Wise
Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Writer(s): Gene Roddenberry, Harold Livingston, Alan Dean Foster
Plot: When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.
IMDB rating: 6.4
MetaScore: 48

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 122/(113/116)/105/119
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Card case surrounding UHD and Blu-ray multi-set boxes
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 09/07/2021
MSRP: $77.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The Production Rating: 4/5

“I think we gave it the ability to create its own sense of purpose out of our own human weaknesses, and the drive that compels us to overcome them.”

A mysterious, dangerous, and deadly ‘cloud’ is on a direct course to planet earth. Everything that crosses its path is destroyed and the Federation’s only hope is the crew of the USS Enterprise. Her maiden voyage, following a complete refit, is to be captained by Decker, but Kirk, recognizing the gravity of the threat to Earth, convinces Starfleet to hand the Enterprise back to him for this mission. They have only hours before the massive and powerful cloud reaches earth. They head out to intercept and to uncover the mystery of what the object is, what it wants, and how they can save the world.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture can be a difficult film to appreciate as a Star Trek film. It is at once a bravura science fiction concept explored through the directorial prowess of one of cinema’s gifted filmmakers, Robert Wise, while also not quite being tuned into who the characters we loved from the television series were to us. The duality continues with its lavish production design, alluring visual effects, and one of the grandest and most resplendent film scores to grace a film of any genre that also happens to occasionally be a lumbering experience. As the first feature film for the Original Series of Star Trek’s crew, it lacks the color, passion, and familial feeling one would always find in the weekly adventures of the Enterprise crew. It’s a hexagon shape trying to fit in an oversized octagon hole, and the ill-fit can feel like the handbrake being left on while trying to drive at full speed. It both is and is not itself as an adventure with Kirk and crew. And I have to tell you, despite all that, I love every minute of the experience, even when the film feels out of step or focus for the characters I had come to love from the TV show.

Star Trek on television, during its original three-season run, explored such rich science fiction concepts but never had the budget or scale to realize them fully. The effects work was solid for the resources it had, but the Trek transition from the small screen to the big screen in 1979 gave fans not only their beloved crew gracing cinemas, but a giant leap in the quality of visual effects work. They are striking for its day and, frankly, still a delight to witness all these years later even if they were rushed and sometimes unfinished, despite the advances we’ve seen in the effects craft. The scale and quality of the sets, the stunning refit of the Enterprise, the magnificence of the model work, and the departure from the limitations of television gave audiences, fans of the Trek show, something wonderful, and through that lens, The Motion Picture is a marvel. While the course correction we get in Star Trek II was a better marriage of the big screen and our beloved crew, The Motion Picture and its earnest, fascinating science fiction idea, still gives me goosebumps.

Performances from the core crew are somewhat modulated and the energy and ‘spring in their step’ flair from the show had cooled, but Kirk, McCoy, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura are generally close to who we knew. Spock’s journey is different given his pursuit of the Kolinahr prior to rejoining the Enterprise for this mission and, as a result, gives us a more aloof Spock than we’d come to love. Nimoy is terrific in the role anyway and is the final piece for the film once he arrives on board. William Shatner does exceedingly well as Kirk on the big screen, a role he has always owned but really becomes something special in the films, perhaps never better in Star Trek II and IV. DeForest Kelley’s gruffness as McCoy is also a welcome refreshment to the cast upon his appearance. Walter Koenig’s Chekov and George Takei’s Sulu are underused as usual, but this experience would be completely lacking without them. Of course, James Doohan’s Scotty is fine and fun as expected and Nichelle Nichols always on point. New additions to the cast for this outing, Persis Khambatta as Lt. Ilia, and Stephen Collings as Captain Decker are very good, with Khambatta becoming not only a key part of the film’s plotline, but a distinctly memorable character in her own right.

Robert Wise delivered a Trek experience for the big screen unlike anything fans had seen, and really, unlike anything we’ve seen from cinematic Trek since. It was a bold, brave gamble in execution and budget, and against all odds, the gamble did pay off. There’s something grounded about the experience, with the careful pacing and how it is enamored by the visual effects creations as the Enterprise flies into and inside the gargantuan ‘cloud’ to decode the mystery. Those shots play awfully slow now (and probably did back then) but I am forgiving of a filmmaker who chooses to soak it all in, especially when all that time, money, and effort has resulted in a visual experience light years ahead of what had been possible on the tight television budget of the series.

I can appreciate the differing opinions on The Motion Picture, but, and this is an important part of our individual film appreciation, I saw this film after falling in love with The Original Series in reruns in the UK at a critical moment in my life, and was enraptured by the experience, even as a young boy. That nostalgic love and appreciation has only grown over time and was enhanced by the Director’s Cut edition released on DVD in 2001. Setting that personal adoration aside, there’s too much good cinema in The Motion Picture to dismiss and too much for Trek fans to connect to for it to be dismissed.

 

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The Production Rating: 4.5/5

“Surely, I have made my meaning plain. I mean to avenge myself upon you, Admiral. I deprived your ship of power, and when I swing around, I mean to deprive you of your life.”

James T. Kirk (William Shatner), having given up command of the Enterprise with his promotion to Admiral, is restless. Overseeing Starfleet trainees, with his former First Officer, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), helping to usher the next generation of standard bearers for the United Federation of Planet’s explorers and peacekeeper, and the rest of the former crew of the USS Enterprise having stepped away from crewing missions into the unknown.

Across the stretches of space, First Officer Chekov (Walter Koenig), serving aboard the USS Reliant under Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield) in search of a lifeless planet to test the Federation’s Genesis Device (to create life from lifelessness), stumbles upon a former enemy of Kirk and the Enterprise – Khan. Khan, a genetically modified human from earth’s distant past (the 1990s), once tried to overthrow Kirk and take control the Enterprise but was beaten and left to survive on a lush planet for the rest of his days with his loyal crew of fellow genetically modified humans. But Chekov, checking out faint signs of life on a storm-ridden and hostile planet without realizing it was the the once lush world where Khan was deposited, is captured and mind-controlled along with Capt. Terrell, forced to do Khan’s bidding. The USS Reliant, now under Khan’s control, sets off to hunt down the man who had beaten and abandoned him 15 years earlier to exact his vengeance upon him.

Following the modest critical praise and relative financial success of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which reportedly cost Paramount a stunning $43MM to make), Paramount sought to continue the work of Star Trek on the big screen with a considerably smaller budget (under $10MM) and brought in TV producer Harve Bennett to help make that happen. Harve promised to deliver at that price (the eventual cost would be a little more than $10MM), and while Wrath of Khan’s overall box office take was lower, the profits were much higher. And despite the noticeable cost cutting (by comparison to The Motion Picture), Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan was a hit with fans and critics alike – and a bona fide cinematic franchise was (re) born!

On board as Director was Nicholas Myer. His assured hand in the director’s chair ushered in the third and perhaps most resonant phase of Star Trek’s existence. The first phase was born with the television series – colorful, potent science fiction premises and a near-utopian future where adventure, fisticuffs, and beautiful women lit up the small screen. Robert Wise’s lofty and grand The Motion Picture represented a short but distinct second phase as Kirk and crew were launched on the big screen with high-minded concept science fiction and a leap in scale. The third phase, arriving with Khan, adjusted the tone and conceptualization of Starfleet, more explicitly embracing the military framing of the organization through a naval paradigm, and executing the action – particularly the standoff between the USS Reliant and the USS Enterprise – as an “Enemy Below” inspired submarine-like tale, echoing the original series episode Balance of Terror, and recapturing a genuine spirit of adventure along the way.

A drastically reduced budget from the grandiose The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan becomes a legendary example of the economy of excellence. Serving as the first of its kind – a sequel film to an episode of television (The Original Series’ “Space Seed”), the stripped-down sets and ‘bottled’ nature worked to emphasize an intimacy to the action and bring the audience closer to the characters through tight mining of character interactions. Along with a brilliant return to the Khan role by Ricardo Montalban and his masterful dance of dialogue, The Wrath of Khan was faster, sleeker, and decidedly more akin to the tone of the Star Trek audiences fell in love with from the series. With The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek was both familiar and new.

Even for non-Trek fans, The Wrath of Khan is an absorbing tale with the cast delivering fine performances, served by a tight and meaningful script. The special effects and model work from Industrial Light & Magic is of impressive quality, and to this day – in cinema drenched with boundless computer-generated imagery – holds up well, with shots of the Enterprise locked in a stealth battle with the USS Reliant inside the Mutara Nebula, standing out.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan represents in the least boundless way possible, everything that Gene Rodenberry (and the other many creative talents who brought the Star Trek series to life in the 1960s) aspired to; an examination of humanity through the lens of adventures in the unknown universe. Death and rebirth, action and consequence, choice and regret – it’s all deeply mature and, through smaller in scale and execution, ultimately equals the philosophical underpinnings of The Motion Picture’s V’ger premise. The difference here is a genuine sense of action and adventure, and a crew of characters given space to more formally reprise – and expand – the roles they delivered on the legendary Original Series. William Shatner, under Myer’s direction, is perhaps the finest he has even been as Kirk; welcomingly restrained in some ways, emboldened in others, and in the embrace of his aging – his performance sustains the philosophical flavors of the story well. Leonard Nimoy too, having returned for what he saw as his final turn as Spock, was flawless. Nimoy and Shatner as Spock and Kirk exchange moments here that underlie the philosophical theme of time and regret, and ultimately give rise to the potent and gut-wrenching final moments between them in the film.

The fresh faces in the film, Saavik played by then-newcomer Kirstie Alley, the lovely Bibi Besch as Dr. Carol Marcus, the late as David Marcus (Merritt would later show up on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the first season episode, “Symbiosis”) and Paul Winfield as Captain Clark Terrell, deliver precisely what the film calls for (Paul Winfield would also appear on The Next Generation in the highly regarded 5th season episode, “Darmok”).

The story, pacing, direction, performances, special effects, modesty of production, and script, augmented by James Horner’s magnificent brassy and bold score, conspire to create a quintessentially exciting adventure for the crew of the USS Enterprise and a worthy claimer of the title of very best Star Trek film.

Both the Theatrical and Director’s Cuts of Khan are available on the 4K disc.

 

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

The Production Rating: 3.5/5

“What you had to do, what you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.”

Reeling from the heroic death of Spock, the Enterprise solemnly makes its way back to Federation space. In the meantime, the Genesis planet, born from Khan’s detonation of the Genesis device near a dead planet, has become a galactic controversy, and while Kirk and crew wish to immediately head back to the planet following their arrival at a Federation star base, they are denied, informed the Enterprise is to be decommissioned, and left with no options. With Dr. McCoy becoming unstable (the result of a mind meld with Spock before his demise), Kirk and crew’s plans are solidified following a visit from Sarek, Spock’s father, who help them understand exactly what’s happening with McCoy. They defy the Federation, steal the Enterprise, and embark on a journey that could very well bring Spock back. But a nefarious Klingon Commander, Kruge, with ambitions of securing the secrets of the Genesis device as a powerful weapon, wreaks havoc on Kirk’s plans with deadly results.

The Search for Spock is really chapter two of the three-part arc that would culminate in the very different style of The Voyage Home. Directed by Leonard Nimoy, this third cinematic adventure of the Enterprise crew feels a little like it is enjoying inertia from the potency of the second film and, while there is a great deal to admire, it all feels like what it is, a direct continuation of the previous story without the complex villainy and internal character contemplations. Where Wrath of Khan was a much smaller production (and budget) compared to The Motion Picture, The Search for Spock really becomes the most intimate of all the big screen adventures of the Enterprise, with the first act almost entirely, save for the introduction of Kruge and the Klingon aggressors, being character based. That’s a welcome element of the film as spending quieter moments with the characters is an important part of what helped fans fall in love with them in the first place (along with captivating science fiction storylines and an embrace of human possibility, of course).

The highlight of this film has always been the stealing of the Enterprise. It’s a delicious showcase for each of the characters; playful while being fun and serious, and it’s genuinely thrilling. I wonder what this film could have been if that heist was a more central element of the overall plot, or rather, a more elaborate and significant set piece. Regardless, it’s a great sequence, with one of the very best cues from James Horner’s score and manages shows off the brilliant work of Industrial Light & Magic delightfully (their model work would continue to get more complex and creatively clever all the way through the first few years of the CGI revolution).

The cast are uniformly excellent with a far better showcase so far for our crew in full swing and some excellent supporting performances from Christopher Lloyd as the brutal Commander Kruge and Robin Curtis’s Saavik in a far more attuned performance in the role she takes over from Kirstie Alley. In the end, The Search for Spock is a solid, well made, interesting Trek film that doesn’t match the heights of the series but avoids the pitfalls of the least enjoyed. It’s solidly middle ground.

 

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The Production Rating: 4/5

“Admiral, if we were to assume these whales were ours to do with as we pleased, we would be as guilty as those who caused their extinction.”

With the return of Spock, the renegade crew of the now-destroyed Enterprise, after a three-month exile on Vulcan, have decided to return to the Federation to face the consequences of their actions. In an adapted Klingon Bird of Prey, the spoils of their hard-earned victory over Commander Kruge, they head for Federation space, with Spock choosing to join his human crew companions on their journey to face the music. But a strange probe stationed above the earth with cataclysmic results on earths power and weather systems, interrupts their plans. Decoding a mysterious message directed to earth’s oceans from the probe, Kirk and crew recognize the only hope earth has will be for them to travel back to the “latter half of the 20th century” to secure whales, return to their present day where whales have been extinct for hundreds of years, and hope the whales ‘answer’ the deadly probe’s call.

With no villain, no space battles or grand philosophical mysticisms or examinations of the human condition, The Voyage Home is the most unusual of all the Star Trek films in the best possible way. With the message of humanity’s impact on earth’s species, whales in this case, there was a deeper connection to the short-sightedness of mankind and its ecological impact that served to comment on the world of the day (1987) in a universally accepted way (something near impossible to find these days). It is a film with heart and humor, taking our beloved Enterprise crew and placing them in a delightfully fish out of water situation. The film’s bookends also close out the recurring storyline from the two previous films, ending a connected trilogy within this cast’s six and a half movie adventures.

The humor and time-travel concept also helped expand the audience for the film beyond traditional Trek audiences, coming just as a new Enterprise crew was making their debut on the small screen with Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It was a perfect time to be a Trek fan, with such wonderful stories and new blood and energy injected into the franchise. We’re in another of those moments as of this review (late 2021) and it’s just as wonderful now as it was then.

Star Trek IV is also the best opportunity afforded every member of the crew. Sulu (Takei) and his time securing the Huey helicopter, Scotty (Doohan) and McCoy (Kelley) tracking down what they need for the whale tank, Chekov (Koenig) and Uhura (Nichols) infiltrating the United States Navy aircraft carrier, Enterprise, for the radioactive material needed to reenergize the Klingon warp crystals, are all fun and compelling, as much I’d say as the main journey of Kirk (Shatner) and Spock (Nimoy) working with the Cretacean Institute’s Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), on finding and saving ‘her’ two humpback whales.

Besides being highly entertaining, The Voyage Home is also superbly executed. Nimoy handles the proceedings with his most assured hand, giving his principal cast welcome focus and attention and cleverly embracing the fundamentals of the Enterprise crew, the tenets of Trek, Roddenberry’s grand vision, and the splendor of engaging science fiction adventure with a light tone.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 4.5

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 5

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: 4.5

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: 4.5

Here’s the great news. This collection premiering the first four films of the Enterprise crew’s adventures on the big screen represent the best these films have appeared on home video. I’ve owned these films on every format they’ve been available, from VHS, DVD, Blu-ray and now these 4K discs, and they’ve always looked sort of okay, processed, and tinkered with and smeary in the Blu-ray days, but okay enough (I know, I know, there’s a good portion of you who won’t co-sign that statement). Now, mercifully, the digital noise reduction and smoothing that marred previous releases has been greatly avoided in favor of preserving the films as they should appear.

The films are newly remastered (from original elements) and graded for Dolby Vision® and HDR-10. Overall, the films look terrific, though the complicated history of their filming does present some challenges today. The Motion Picture, if you’ve read anything about its production, was replete with complex optical effects work, that, combined with a hard and fast release date from Paramount, meant there was precious little time to refine the effects work, or even screen for test audiences to get reactions to tweak and trim the film potentially. We’ll see a better look at what the film could have looked and been paced like when The Director’s Cut, first release on DVD in 2001 (and we’ve not seen a 1080p version because the new VFX for that version were completed at SD resolution only), makes its way to the 4K format next year, apparently. The director’s cut is the version I have watched most these past 20 years. It’s actually a very long time since I’d seen the theatrical version, but I was still very impressed with the effects work they pulled off under such impossible circumstances. In UHD, there’s softness and the effects ‘seems’ noticeable, but easy to forgive if you enjoy the film, frankly. The color timing on the 4K release of The Motion Picture is a little warmer in key scenes, and the blacks and blues of the inner workings of the cloud are wonderfully contrasted (and I LOVE the blue).

The new 4K disc release of the Kahn offers both the Director’s cut (featuring a few new scenes and extensions of existing scenes that add roughly 3+ extra minutes to the run time (116 mins)) along with the theatrical cut (113 mins). The 4K of this film was previously available as digital only, and the disc offers a slight improvement in detail from that digital version. There’s a delightful array of sharp contrast, beautifully saturated colors, intact grain structure and detail that “show you something that will make you feel… young — as when the world was new.” The opening sequence featuring Saavik taking the Kobayashi Maru test is still a bit darker than my recollection, and Spock’s skin tone is much cooler than it appears in the rest of the film, but this is a fine presentation.

The heavy-duty red uniforms (a welcome improvement over The Motion Picture’s bland costuming) pop nicely. Black levels are deep, the star field (notably during the opening credits) crystal clear, and skin tones warm but still very natural. Certainly, there is softness to be found, but attributable to the source not the remastering. There are moments in this film where the image looks flawless (several of them being close-ups of Kirk!) Generally, this takes the already fine Blu-ray edition sourced from a 4K scan and offers it with improved detail and some nice depths afforded the HDR grading.

Star Trek III and Star Trek IV benefit nicely from the remastering and showcase moments in the films where the detail is absolutely sublime. Close ups of ILM’s model work look more like the models they are than ever before, but with that comes a showcase of just how terrific the ILM work was. I was impressed with how the unstable Genesis planet looked in this edition, with the mixture of sets, matte painting extensions, and model work combined to create a planet destroying itself. Again, seams easier to see than ever, but the quality of the effects work for its day still a joy to see. The fourth Trek, particularly the showcasing of late 80s San Francisco (despite inconsistent weather from scene to scene, which, if you’ve ever been to San Francisco, isn’t as far fetched a thing), is very good. The scenes in the city are bright, highly detailed, and crisp.

The look of the Star Trek films is as good as it’s ever looked, more authentic to its original look but also clearer in its original flaws and imperfections. When it’s good, it’s quite stellar, but frequent soft shots show up. In the third act of The Search for Spock there are gorgeous moments. Close ups of Kruge barking commands, Kirk, and remaining crew’s arrival on the Genesis planet, are genuinely amazing.

In summary, you’ll see a far more faithful looking set of films preserving of the original film grain with deeper, richer colors than you’ve seen before in these films. Challenges from production and shooting, with some soft-focus shots and tough opticals to work with, you’ll also see imperfections. There are also some questionable shots here and there that could be source issues or grain management, but they are fleeting. In aggregate, these are terrific looking discs and undoubtedly the best these films have ever looked on disc spinning in your home theaters. I already want to watch them again!

Audio: 4.5/5

Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 4.5

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 4.5

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: 4

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: 4.5

This collection of Trek films features English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio, and while an audio upgrade to Dolby Atmos would have been fun, particularly for The Motion Picture, what we have on offer still sounds terrific. The series, with plenty of surround effects driven by the action and adventure, healthy rumbles of the bass, almost uniformly excellent scoring (the weak point being Star Trek IV’s score which is good, but not great like the others), and what I found to be good detail in the spacing across the adventures (this was particularly strong in Khan).

These original audio mixes, first found on the 2009 Blu-ray editions, remain strong, especially in presenting the scores. Goldsmith’s score for The Motion Picture is one of the best scores every produced for a film. It should have been nominated, and won, the Academy Award. It’s that good, and in this 7.1 audio manages to fill the audio space nicely. Same with the other scores, and hearing James Horner’s rollicking score abound in 7.1, with his brassy, celebratory sound, use of Alexander Courage’s theme from the show, and main theme brilliantly triumphant and spirited, it’s such a joy. Horner’s score for The Search for Spock builds upon his inaugural excellence with a deepening of his themes, brilliance in his mysticism-infused Vulcan scenes, and measured heroism as for the fight and escape from the dying Genesis planet. I wish Horner had agreed to score Part IV, but alas he chose not to return, and director Nimoy relied upon his friend, Leonard Rosenman (Robocop 2), with mixed results.

The soundtracks are a core element of Trek for many, and they sound delightful on these discs still. Directional effects of ship flying by at warp speed, battles in the Mutara Nebula, the surround effects of dying planets and science vessels destroyed by careless Klingon gunners, and the clarity of dialogue focused in the center channel all add up to a worthy audio offering. I’ll also call out the audio in the sequence where the Bird of Prey (dubbed the HMS Bounty) decloaks over the whaling ship to protect the whales, George and Gracie. The mix of music, ship sounds, and the alarmed whaling vessel, really come together to make a gripping moment in the film along with the striking visual.

Special Features: 4/5

The collection of special features on these discs represents most of what has been previously available on home video, with some omissions along with a new special feature by way of isolated score in Dolby 2.0 for The Motion Picture.  A good number of the special features, if you own the previous sets, you’ll remember are in standard definition, while the rest are in high definition. The commentary tracks are standouts among the offerings, particularly those from the original crew (including Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner), and other commentaries from Ronald D. Moore and Manny Coto bring some of the newer (at the time) Trek crew into this rarified space to talk about these cinematic adventures with fresh eyes.

Special features like the almost 30-minute documentary, “The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan,” that dives into the development and production, are also welcome. Producing newer special features would have been especially hard during the last almost two years with the pandemic, cost pressures on studios, the rise of streaming challenges and the demands on Paramount and CBS on expanding or standing up streaming services, so I can forgive this set for being light on new extras. What I’d love to see is examinations of what it took to bring these into the UHD era, the mountain they’re climbing working on the Director’s Cut, and preservation of the Trek legacy for the new world (what I really want now is Deep Space Nine in HD, but that’s a wish for another thread).

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

UHD

  • Isolated score in Dolby 2.0—NEW!
  • Commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Daren Dochterman

Blu-ray

  • Isolated score in Dolby 2.0—NEW!
  • Commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Daren Dochterman
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
  • The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
  • Special Star Trek Reunion (HD)
  • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: The Mystery Behind V’ger
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboards
  • Trailers (HD)
  • TV Spots

 

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

UHD

  • Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version)
  • Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)

Blu-ray

  • Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version)
  • Commentary by Director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director’s Cut)
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
  • Captain’s Log
  • Designing Khan
  • Original Interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Ricardo Montalbán
  • Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • James Horner: Composing Genesis (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
  • Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics (HD)
  • A Novel Approach
  • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 002: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI (HD)
  • Farewell
  • A Tribute to Ricardo Montalbán (HD)
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

 

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

UHD

 

  • Commentary by director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve Bennett, director of photography Charles Correll and Robin Curtis
  • Commentary by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor

Blu-ray

  • Commentary by director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve Bennett, director of photography Charles Correll and Robin Curtis
  • Commentary by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
  • Captain’s Log
  • Terraforming and the Prime Directive
  • Industry Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek
  • Spock: The Early Years (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
  • Space Docks and Birds of Prey
  • Speaking Klingon
  • Klingon and Vulcan Costumes
  • Star Trek and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (HD)
  • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 003: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production
  • The Movie
  • Storyboards

Theatrical Trailer (HD)

 

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

UHD

  • Commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
  • Commentary by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Blu-ray

  • Commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
  • Commentary by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
  • Future’s Past: A Look Back
  • On Location
  • Dailies Deconstruction
  • Below-the-Line: Sound Design
  • Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
  • Time Travel: The Art of the Possible
  • The Language of Whales
  • A Vulcan Primer
  • Kirk’s Women
  • The Three-Picture Saga (HD)
  • Star Trek for a Cause (HD)
  • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 004: The Whale Probe (HD)
  • Visual Effects
  • From Outer Space to the Ocean
  • The Bird of Prey
  • Original Interviews
    • Leonard Nimoy
    • William Shatner
    • DeForest Kelley
  • Tributes
  • Roddenberry Scrapbook
  • Featured Artist: Mark Lenard
  • Production Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Overall: 4.5/5

We can thank Star Wars for coming along at just the right time that Paramount scrapped plans for a new TV series of Star Trek in the 70s in favor of bringing the crew of the USS Enterprise to the big screen. Since 1979, Trek on the big screen has seen plenty of ups and downs, but when its up, the experience is something special. This collection of the first four films, while at first blush seems an unusual set when there are 6 full original films, represents the launch and connected trilogy for the legendary crew. I’m not sure if that was the thinking or these first four were what were ready in time to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Star Trek. Regardless, what we have here showcases some inconsistent image quality driven largely by the source material, but when it’s good, oh boy is it good. These films, for the first time I can recall, look like film as we’d see it projected in a great theater.

My favorite of the original crew’s films switches between The Wrath of Khan and The Motion Picture depending on where I am in life, and right now, The Motion Picture has taken the top spot again (for entirely nostalgic reasons). Whatever your favorite of the first four, they are head and shoulders above the previous Blu-ray releases. It’s not even close.

I look forward to what we’ll get with the Director’s Cut of The Motion Picture, hopefully next year, and the remaining Trek films, Shatner’s troubled The Final Frontier, the redeeming Undiscovered Country, and the collection of The Next Generation films that could look spectacular in 4K. With the expanding slate of Trek on television and the future filled with more cinematic Trek on 4K, the future has never looked brighter for fans of Star Trek.

Recommended.

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Published by

Neil Middlemiss

editor

View thread (104 replies)

Bryan^H

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Not sure when how long it will take to arrive or when I'll get to watch it after it does but the reviews I've read certainly make me want to check these out.

I've never seen Star Trek III or IV before so half this set is new to me. :)
IV was the first Trek movie I ever saw, and it still stands as my favorite. Love the sci-fi plot, and humor. I can't wait to hear how you feel about it.
 

Nelson Au

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Thanks for the great review Neil! Noting your post in the Star Trek thread, I did see a few typos. :). I imagine you were pushing hard to see each disc to do this write up as quickly as you could. :). Thanks for the effort!

There is one thing you said and other reviewers I’ve read have been saying about The Motion Picture and why in the last 20 years and more so in the last decade, that for me it’s the best film in the series. It’s very measured in its pacing, though of course, Wise didn’t get to fine tune the edit. But more so for me, it’s simply the epic nature that the film has. It had the budget and a serious science fiction idea. It had a big idea that was new at the time. So while Star Trek 2 does bring the characters back to form, the other films just didn’t have the same impressive epic feel. I loved Wrath of Khan when it came out and was super excited to see it and to see it over and over. Each new Star Trek film became an event where the day was planned to see the first showing the first day. But over time, The Motion Picture just has more depth to chew on.

By the way Neil, I don’t think you made any comments about the color grading of TMP. Maybe I missed it. If the iTunes version is any indication, I thought the remaster looked very warm compared to the old blu ray. And I‘d guess it is what it is supposed to look like. I thought it looks great. I’d be curious if RAH comments on the remastering and look of the effort made to restore The Motion Picture.

I hope to get my set soon!
 

Martin Dew

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Excellent, detailed review, Neil. I totally agree with your comments about The Motion Picture. I also saw it for the first time in the UK in 1979 and it's still my personal favorite despite its misgivings. Robert Wise was a master of marrying images to music, and you don't get much 'higher-concept' than what this film offers. My set is arriving this week from the US.
 

Konstantinos

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Disappointing that there is no original audio (if I understand correctly).
Do we know if these 7.1 mixes feature new sound effects?
 

Kyle_D

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It looks like this may be another 4K set impacted by supply chain bottlenecks. I pre-ordered on Amazon the day it was announced, but I still don't have a ship date, and Amazon is now listing it as Temporarily Out of Stock. I'm having the same issue with The Thing.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I don’t think so. I’ve been living with these mixes since 2009 so it’s been ages since I’ve heard the original ones but at the time nothing seemed untoward. To my ear, it appears they went back to the original stems and just repurposed the existing material to fit within the newer industry standard 7.1 container. It doesn’t sound as if the mixes have been redesigned or re-recorded with new elements.

The only exception to that that I’m aware of is the DVD of the Director’s Edition of TMP, which features a new sound design that removes or plays down a lot of the harsher sounding computer voices in the background throughout the film. Presumably the 4K Director’s Edition coming next year will also feature a revised sound design, but I don’t have an issue with this as the goal of that project has never been fidelity to the original theatrical release.
 

Josh Steinberg

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It’s not just Amazon on this title - no one seems to actually have it in stock, and review copies went out late too. Replication capacity issues + pandemic supply and logistics issues + Hurricane Ida related transportation issues.
 

Bryan^H

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It’s not just Amazon on this title - no one seems to actually have it in stock, and review copies went out late too. Replication capacity issues + pandemic supply and logistics issues + Hurricane Ida related transportation issues.
True, but I've been getting this kind of service for years before the pandemic.
 

Josh Steinberg

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There have been plenty of times when Amazon has had petty squabbles with suppliers and left their customers to bear the brunt of it - no argument from me on that point!
 

dpippel

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It’s not just Amazon on this title - no one seems to actually have it in stock, and review copies went out late too. Replication capacity issues + pandemic supply and logistics issues + Hurricane Ida related transportation issues.
Mine shipped out today from Bull Moose.