To coincide with the release of the new Star Trek movie Paramount has released the six original cast movies on Blu-ray for the first time in the ‘Star Trek Original Motion Picture Collection.’ Each film comes loaded with extras. There is a lot to cover, so read on to see how Paramount did with the original crew Trek movies in 1080p HD.
REVIEW – STAR TREK ORINGAL MOTION PICTURE COLLECTION ON BLU-RAY
Review broken down into categories
Paramount chose to use packaging similar to many Warner and Universal boxed sets with 7 ultra slim snap cases — one for each movie plus the “Captain’s Summit” bonus disc. The front has a lenticular graphic of the refit Enterprise that appears to move as you turn the box.
The slim cases themselves have a pseudo-holographic look with a lightly embossed silver portrait photo of a crew member (one for each disc case) that only starts to become clear at a certain angle.
The load times for the disc are quite reasonable (~30 seconds). However there are effectively two loading sequences because every disc starts with a Paramount High Definition animated logo (which is not skippable) and then a Star Trek (2009) trailer as well as an advertisement for TOS on Blu-ray (thankfully these are skippable by pressing the Pop-up Menu key).
The menus are clean and simple somewhat like other Paramount movies such as the Mission:Impossible series and Transformers Blu-ray menus. The menu opens with a star field and the name of the movie and it zooms past stars and planets and eventually it pulls back out to show that this is all contained in a delta shield which slowly rotates while the menu bar pops up at the bottom of the screen. The background music is a selection from the soundtrack of the specific movie.
Paramount stored the soundtracks in Dolby TrueHD lossless compression with new 7.1 surround mixes. The audio quality on all of the films is fantastic, they have never sounded better.
Going through the 6 movies back-to-back over a few days time for this review really showed how each film has a different sound design. The Motion Picture benefits the most from a new mix. Finally TMP feels like the big epic movie it is. The dialogue intelligibility is good and is better then any other version. Surround use is plentiful: the excellent Jerry Goldsmith musical score fills the room, transporter sound effects swirl around you, the engine room throbs with power, etc. Both of Nick Meyer’s films (TWOK and TUC) take a much quieter approach to sound design, the movies (especially Wrath of Khan) have a closed in “submarine feeling” when on the ship. Not surprisingly The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home sound similar since the same basic team directed and produced both. The Final Frontier also falls into this same sound design feel.
Firstly, the movies are all presented in their theatrical cuts, this is a first for both The Motion Picture and The Undiscovered Country. And with the video transfers, the set starts to vary quite a bit. Not all the movies are given equal care. Only The Wrath of Khan was restored for this set, where all the rest use what appear to be the existing masters. None of the films have been given the treatment you would want to see on a Blu-ray set. They all have been digitally scrubbed (Digital Noise Reduction) giving most of the movies a very digital look, rather than a natural film look that better restorations have [see this excellent DigitalBits article on DNR]. However all of the movies have a noticeable increase in detail over their DVD counterparts.
Since each movie has different levels of tinkering I’ve included my comments on each movie below.
The Motion Picture — The upgrade in detail for TMP is superb. Even though there is some DNR use, it generally seems appropriate. The contrast is different than any other version of the movie, it runs a bit darker (resulting in less detail in the darker portions of a scene) and the color can be a bit oversaturated. The detail of the Klingon ships is fantastic and the models have tons of small texture and detailing. The shuttlepod fly-over of the refit Enterprise is stunning.
The Wrath of Khan — The new remaster of TWOK gives a very good clear picture. The new color timing is different (with a currently trendy steelier look that has an emphasis on blues and yellows). There is some DNR use, but it seems appropriate.
The Search for Spock — Again a nice clear picture. There is more filtering with over-sharpening that can be seen in the faces of the actors, but it is not too distracting.
The Voyage Home — This one has a sharp picture, however there is more filtering with over-sharpening that can be seen in the faces of the actors. This gets worse once we see the crew and the HMS Bounty. Faces start to get waxy looking (a bit like figures in a wax museum, a side effect of all the noise reduction and resharpening after) especially when they’re filmed in the natural light of the daytime.
The Final Frontier — Shatner’s film has it a bit better in terms of the waxy faces. TFF also has a darker contrast than the DVD (or any other release to date), sometimes significantly so.
One scene in Star Trek V is particularly affected by the tweaks. The strobing blue light of the “god” creature is blown out and drowns out the scenes, making detail hard to see, the old man face is barely visible. The entire scene is quite hard on the eyes in a darkened room.
The Undiscovered Country — For the final film in the set, the waxy look of TVH is back. You can also watch film grain freeze and then change randomly (a sign of poor application of DNR), this is disappointing since the movie is such a great send off of the TOS crew.
This set is jam packed with extras on every disc, making this very likely the ultimate collection of extras for the 6 classic crew movies. For the complete list see our press release article.
The Captain’s Summit
By far the longest (70 minutes) new special feature is the 7th disc. This is a round table discussion between William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes, chaired by Whoopi Goldberg.
The summit is broken into three approximately 23 minute sections. It opens with a montage of clips from both the TOS and TNG films in high definition giving us a tantalizing look at the TNG movies in HD and a gorgeous CG rendering of the Enterprise-E passing below the camera and then cutting to a shuttlecraft swooping down to present day New York City, where the summit was filmed.
What ensues is a fun relaxed discussion with Whoopi Goldberg moderating and commenting along the way. It is often a hoot. The four men joke and are clearly comfortable with their lives post-Star Trek. The topics of discussion include crazy fans, on-set nicknames, the costumes (uncomfortable TNG seasons 1 & 2 spandex), dealing with being a celebrity, going to conventions, what it is like to be a director as well as an actor, and more.
Tons of featurettes
Most of the extras from the previous DVDs are ported over (at SD resolution of course). But each movie also comes with its own brand new featurettes, and these are done in HD. There are too many to list, but here are some of the highlights:
There is a new Starfleet Academy feature on each disc, which is basically a quick overview of the events of the movie done by a woman in a Star Trek style uniform briefing people on the “historic events” of the movie.
Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle (Star Trek III disc) – we get a tour from the curators plus an interview with Harve Bennett while touring.
ILM Profile (Star Trek III disc) – Great stories from the teams that had to make amazing space battles without CG.
Costumes and Prop Collecting (Star Trek II disc) – Lots of peeks at prop collections, including showing off the collections of Alec Peters and Phase II’s James Cawley.
To Be Or Not To Be: Klingons and Shakespeare (Star Trek VI disc) — a look at a Minnesota theater group that mounted a production of Hamlet in Klingonese. We get to see some of the updated soliloquies from Hamlet acted out on stage. It’s quite a hoot if you’re a fan of Shakespeare or live theater.
Every movie gets a new commentary in addition to including the previous commentary from the DVD release (except for TMP). All the new commentaries are quite good. TMP’s commentary is a Trekker’s delight with Mike & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman (longtime TMP fan and part of the team that created the TMP DE DVD). This is a standout commentary by Trek pros that have tons of “geekcred” (like when the group gets a giggle out of the original matte paintings of Vulcan and it having moons).
Nick Meyer’s new commentary for TWOK starts off well but just ends up a gripe fest about the A.D.D. youth of today and how storytelling has become impossible with their short attention span. Another interesting commentary is for Star Trek IV with the writers of the 2009 Star Trek film, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman. They show their love of Trek and wax poetic about where they were as teens when TVH came out and seeing it in the theater. They both say that TWOK (and then the Genesis 3-part arc) was what really made them pay attention to and connect with Trek.
Library Computer — Library Computer adds a computer graphic user interface that runs across and down the side of the screen which pops down different topics as they occur in the movie. For example when Spock is on Vulcan in the beginning of TMP the topics of Kolinahr, Vulcan Mind Meld, Vulcan Elders, Spock, and Vulcan all appear.
Selecting one brings up a small description and picture at the bottom of the screen. Much of the information is pulled from the Okuda text-only commentaries that were on the DVDs.
BD Live : Online Extras — BD Live is an optional component to Blu-ray that allows for extra content and interactive features to be downloaded or streamed over a high-speed Internet connection. You must have a BD Live (also called Profile 2.0) player and the requisite 1GB (or more) of flash memory connected to your player for download space.
During the review period there was only one BD Live feature available but there were spots for more): Star Trek IQ. As advertised on the product box you can take quizzes, make your own, and post them for others to take. To save quizzes you must first setup a user name and password with Paramount’s BD Live website from a PC. The quizzes relate the specific disc you have in and it pulls clips from the disc that are usually relevant to the questions.
Featured quizzes on the TMP disc have titles like:
Star Trek in the ‘70s
The Enterprise Crew
True or False
Example of quizes from the TUC disc:
Location, Location, Location
Because of the less-than-ideal treatment of digital transfers, it is hard to out-and-out recommend this set, and much may depend on your HDTV set-up. There is certainly a noticeable increase in detail from the DVD sets which makes the set very much worth considering. How much you see the overprocessing of the new movies is dependent on how large your HDTV is and how close you sit. People with a display over 50″, or a home theater projector, are going to see the artificial look pretty clearly. However for smaller HDTVs you will probably not notice the problems and just see the higher detail. And for those with a killer surround sound system the new audio mixes are a real selling point, as the Trek movies have never sounded better. Also, the extras alone make this set worth recommending and they are a lot of fun with interesting features, rather than fluff, with the The Captain’s Summit disc being probably the best extra of the set.
So right now the six movie set (along with the 7th disc with the Captain Summit) is selling for $75 on Amazon. Although there are issues with some of the transfers (especially noticeable on bigger HDTVs), the Star Trek Original Motion Picture Collection on Blu-ray is still a pretty good deal.