This week Paramount released a new box set for all four of The Next Generation movies on Blu-ray, which is a partner to the The Original Series crew movies boxed set released in May (see TrekMovie review). In addition to the HD versions of the movies, the set is packed with new special features and commentaries. Find out if it is worth adding to your collection in our review.
REVIEW – STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION MOTION PICTURE COLLECTION ON BLU-RAY
Paramount kept the same style of packaging as the TOS movie set which uses ultra slim snap cases — one for each movie plus the “Star Trek: Evolutions” bonus disc. The box front has a lenticular graphic of the Enterprise-E and a Borg sphere that appears to move as you turn the box.
The slim cases have an embossed silver portrait photo of a crew member (one for each disc case) and details for the specific movie on the back.
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 the third Star Trek (2009) trailer which ends in a splash screen that says it is available on DVD and Blu-ray now (which is incorrect, but will be for the European release of the TNG movie set which is timed to come out with ST’09 in November) as well as an advertisement for the TOS Movies on Blu-ray, thankfully these are skippable by pressing the Pop-up Menu button on your remote.
The menus are identical to the TOS Movies. 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 offers up the soundtracks in Dolby TrueHD lossless compression with 5.1 surround mixes. All of the movies sound great, owing much to the fact that they all were produced recently enough to have modern 5.1 surround mixes.
Here’s the good news — unlike the TOS movies, all 4 of the Next Generation movies look quite good. Insurrection is the only one that looks “processed”, it has been hit with some digital noise reduction and then re-sharpening. Thankfully Insurrection isn’t nearly as bad as the TOS movies. Generations, First Contact, and of course Nemesis (being the newest) look fantastic, with Insurrection only a tiny bit behind.
The new HD transfers bring to light a slight irony — the most recent movies (Insurrection and Nemesis) use somewhat primitive CG (by today’s standards) which can actually look a bit worse than the tasteful mix of CG and physical models used in First Contact.
Each movie gets all of the previous DVD special features ported over, naturally those are in standard definition. There are typically five new special features per disc which are in HD.
As with the TOS movies set, the slightly cheesy “Starfleet Academy” feature for each movie is back, which is basically a quick overview of the events of the movie done by a woman in a post-Star Trek: Nemesis style uniform briefing people on the “historic events” of the movie.
Each film also gets a round-table discussion lead by author Larry Nemecek. The panel includes our own editor-in-chief Anthony Pascale, Jeff Bond (Geek Magazine and Trekmovie contributor), and Charlene Anderson (The Planetary Society). These tend to be pretty decent discussions about each movie, the production surrounding it and little tidbits, etc. Each are around 10 mins.
As noted before, each movie disc has additional brand new featurettes in HD (for the complete list see our press release article). Most are pretty interesting. Below are just a sampling of some of what you can expect
“Industrial Light & Magic — The Next Generation” (First Contact disc) — This is the companion piece to the TOS movies ILM documentary. Here the ILM folks discuss their work in Generations and First Contact. Touching on how they redid the Enterprise D in Generations to give it enhanced detail on the big screen. The transition to the Enterprise E on First Contact and the balance of CG and physical models. Interesting fact: the Borg Cube model was only 30 inches wide!
“Greetings from the International Space Station” (First Contact disc) — this is an interview from space with commander Mike Fincke (who had a cameo on Star Trek Enterprise) of the 18th mission to the ISS, discusses his love for Trek and how the ISS is the start of working internationally in space. He also talks about the risks and challenges of working in space.
“Westmore’s Legacy” (Insurrection disc) — Michael Westmore is the go-to makeup man for Trek from the TNG era. His family has done movie makeup for generations. Fun fact: the makeup crew on First Contact made the Borg eye pieces blink out different cast and crew names in Morse code so that they would all blink differently.
In addition to the existing commentaries from the DVD editions a new commentary has been recorded for each film as well.
Generations has David Carson (director) with Manny Coto (fan/Star Trek: Enterprise producer and 24 producer). Nice insights from Carson on the production and the fan perspective from Manny.
First Contact has a fan commentary with Damon Lindelof (producer of Star Trek 2009 and Lost) and Anthony Pascale (editor of TrekMovie.com). This is quite the chatty session with Damon cracking lots of jokes, including ribbing Tony wearing a full on Klingon outfit and drinking bloodwine at the recording session. The pair also riff on the odd and even rule of Trek movies and Lindelof talks about becoming a fan through TNG. There is also serious talk about how Picard is capable of learning and being affected by trauma and discussions (and joking) about time travel, timelines, and continuity (including discussing the new Star Trek movie).
Insurrection has a new commentary from director Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis for Insurrection. The pair have great chemistry and lot energy and a really fun time discussing the movie, including mocking things a bit (like going through and talking about everyone, including sniping about Patrick Stewart getting an
Associate Producer credit). Frakes pimps his own directing job, but all in good fun. Sirtis confides that she hadn’t seen the movie since the premier. They make a few jokes about the Ba’ku all being Swedish since they’re mostly made up of light-skinned light-haired people.
Nemesis has a new trivia filled commentary from designers and Star Trek historians Michael and Denise Okuda. As always the Okudas are a wealth of Trek knowledge. Tons of details on the background of the production and bits of Trek trivia, such has how the wedding scene was filmed on the same soundstage that TOS filmed most of its planetscapes.
The 5th Disc — Star Trek Evolutions
As with the TOS set, there is a bonus disc, this time it contains 7 extra documentaries about the Star Trek movie universe.
The Evolution of the Enterprise — A walkthrough of various Enterprise ships rendered in CG. A narrator gives an overview of what we know about the missions of the ship. Trek designer John Eaves is interviewed about the different designs.
“Villains of Star Trek” — Discusses the villains of the 10 Trek movies. Nick Meyer, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman are interviewed about Trek villains.
“I Love the Star Trek Movies” — How various production/writing crew on other Trek projects (DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and Trek 2009) fell in love with Star Trek through the 10 movies.
“Farewell to Star Trek: The Experience” — this is a documentary from the performers of The Experience about the last day of the attraction in September 2008. You also get two additional features about Star Trek: The Experience, in the form of walkthroughs of the “Klingon Encounter” and “Borg Invasion 4D” rides.
“Charting the Final Frontier” — this opens with an interactive 3D chart of known space in Star Trek with markers where the events of each of the 10 movies took place. Selecting one launches a discussion about the area of space by “Star Trek Star Charts” author Jeffrey Mandel.
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. This functions just like the TOS movies version but with a TNG computer (LCARS) style. For example: in the opening of Generations you get Dom Perignon, champagne, christening, and Enterprise-B. 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.
BOTTOM LINE – Blu-ray
Paramount clearly intends the TNG set to be part of a larger set with the TOS movies. The menus and special features are all a continuous experience. Unlike the TOS movies, I can give an unqualified “thumbs up” on the TNG boxed set. Paramount packed in the special features and the movies look and sound fantastic.
If you have any of the 1st editions of the movies on DVD they don’t hold up well at all to being displayed on an HDTV, I would say run, don’t walk, to the store and grab the new Blu-ray versions. Those with the newer special editions have a little bit of a tougher time since they look quite a bit better, than the first DVD editions. However, if you want to see the most detail you’ve seen from these movies since watching them in the theater, this is how to do it. With a street price of around $45-$50 this makes it quite a good deal for a Blu-ray boxed set.