Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition has come home in three editions. A 2-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray set, a 2-disc standard Blu-ray set, and a special limited edition 3-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray set called “The Complete Adventure.” This review will focus on the Ultra HD Blu-ray set and the US version of the limited edition box set.
The Motion Picture
Before there was a movie franchise, there was simply Star Trek: The Motion Picture. As the name states, this was a film based on Star Trek: The Original Series, released 10 years after the series was canceled, it was an almost unheard idea to not only bring back a canceled TV show but do it on the silver screen. Rushed to theaters in December 1979, the cerebral style and more quiet pacing make it stand apart from the later Trek films. Yet TMP seems to have undergone a reevaluation in the last 10 years — more people seem to like it, with less complaints about it being the “motionless picture.” Due to the grand scale and scope of Robert Wise’s film, it is also the most fitting to have a near-total rework done to unleash the visual and aural splendor that was hiding underneath the hazy veneer of the rushed post-production. There’s much more that could be said of the The Motion Picture and this latest Director’s Edition, if you’re interested to read more I highly recommend reading my colleague Brian’s review when the 2022 DE was released on Paramount+ earlier this year.
The Director’s Edition in Ultra HD
This brand new for 2022 edition is based on the blueprint of the previous 2001 standard definition DVD Director’s Edition, but everything has been worked on with modern tools for 4K and HDR. Perhaps most importantly, this time the DE team was able to recover a significant amount of the original visual effects footage, and were thus able to re-composite a number of visual effects shots, making those shots look amazingly clear. No less importantly, the team also found a significant amount of original dialog replacement (ADR) recordings, and recordings of background audio that were to be used in comm chatter if time hadn’t run out in 1979. It’s hard to convey just how much is different and yet the same with this edition. It’s like the movie we all knew but it’s been heightened.
NOTE: Most of the screenshots included in this article are from the 1080p trailer video. The 4k HDR versions look even better. Staring at still frames of a motion picture isn’t exactly how a film is intended to be watched, so take these as general demonstration of the changes.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray set
The standard retail edition contains two discs: the main film, and a disc of bonus features.
The new 2022 Director’s Edition is a stunning film, using modern remastering tools, along with the re-composited original elements and new renders of the CGI scenes that were inserted for the DE. The film is gorgeous. The movie looks sharp and clean, with a level of detail and color (yes there’s rich saturated colors in the film, despite the ’70s color palette used for the costumes) that’s never been seen before. The film looks noticeably better in the extremes, like the dark blues of the V’Ger interior and the bright explosion as the Enterprise emerges. Thanks to HDR that brightness is quite bright, but never overwhelms the details inside the transformation. These high complexity, high brightness scenes are where the streaming version on Paramount+ started to break down (getting blockier), thanks to the high bitrate of being on disc, there aren’t any such issues here.
If I had to quibble, I would say things look perhaps a bit too clean for a movie from 1979. A lot of grain reduction was done to the 35mm elements, while not in a way that compromises image quality, it’s just a bit surprising to see very subtle film grain in a movie of the era. I assume the intent was to make everything match the fine grain 65mm visual effects elements that they were able to pull from the archives.
Just as impressive as the remastered visuals is the brand new Dolby Atmos audio mix. As mentioned above, this isn’t just a new mix of the existing audio elements, there are a lot of new sounds/dialog thanks to the team finding director Wise’s preferred dialog takes, new background chatter recordings, etc. Jerry Goldsmith’s score really makes the film, and it has been lovingly crafted into the brand new Atmos mix by legendary music producer (and Goldsmith collaborator) Bruce Botnik. I’m going to quote Brian’s review since he described this new mix so deftly earlier this year:
Every environment is more sonically active. The Enterprise is full of many different sounds that really gives you the feel of being on starship, and V’Ger itself has far more of an auditory presence and feels more menacing and mysterious.
The music cues from Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary score have been remixed under the supervision of engineer/producer Bruce Botnick, a longtime colleague of Goldsmith’s who was part of the original scoring sessions in 1979. Some of the cues feel like they’ve been remixed in a way that favors a particular instrument, but by and large the score remains the same and sounds better than ever.
On the main feature disc you get a new audio commentary from the Director’s Edition crew along with legacy commentaries, and an isolated score feature. Here is the full breakdown:
- Audio Commentary by David C. Fein, Mike Matessino, and Daren R. Dochterman (NEW)
- Audio Commentary by Robert Wise, Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Jerry Goldsmith, and Stephen Collins
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
- Isolated Score
Things get even better: no matter which version you buy, you get a second disc, a standard Blu-ray filled with new and legacy features.
There’s a new 8-part documentary titled “The Human Adventure,” which runs about 48 minutes in total. This includes new interviews with the DE team, and others. Notably we hear from visual effects pioneer John Dykstra, who split duties with the late Douglass Trumbull on the visual effects for TMP.
Most exciting for hardcore TMP fans are going to be the deleted scenes the DE team was able to unearth. First and foremost is the long-assumed lost scene of Decker and the Ilia probe in engineering (a portion of which can be seen in the embedded promo video at the bottom of this review). Additionally, the team found the scene where the security guard is killed by the V’Ger probe — which frankly isn’t all that interesting. And video only of the corresponding scene at the end of the movie where the security guard is mentioned in the casualty list.
Also neat are the little vignettes of the screen tests of the effects and costumes. For graphics nerds, there’s a very cool feature of all the bridge (and one or two sickbay) animated display graphics scanned from the original film sources that were looped behind the displays on set.
Here is a complete breakdown the new special features:
- The Human Adventure
- Preparing the Future (HD – 4:13)
- A Wise Choice (HD – 4:04)
- Refitting the Enterprise (HD – 6:57)
- Sounding Off (HD – 6:47)
- V’ger (HD – 6:53)
- Return to Tomorrow (HD – 6:04)
- A Grand Theme (HD – 7:14)
- The Grand Vision (HD – 6:02)
- Deleted Scenes
- Ilia & Decker in Engineering (HD – 3:16)
- Security Guard (HD – :39)
- Three Casualties (HD – :35)
- Effects Tests (HD – 3:30)
- Costume Tests (HD – 4:40)
- Computer Display Graphics (HD – 3:10)
Notably, this includes the two TMP-centric parts of Roger Lay Jr’s excellent documentaries from the 50th anniversary boxed set.
- The Star Trek Universe
- Phase II: The Lost Enterprise (SD – 12:39)
- A Bold New Enterprise (SD – 29:41)
- Redirecting the Future (SD – 14:06)
- The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture (HD – 10:44)
- Special Star Trek Reunion (HD – 9:37)
- Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: The Mystery Behind V’Ger (HD – 4:24)
- The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek (HD – 30:01)
- Maiden Voyage: Making Star Trek: The Motion Picture (HD – 29:13)
- Vulcan (HD)
- Enterprise Departure (HD)
- V’Ger Revealed (HD)
- Additional Scenes: 1979 Theatrical Version
- Trims (SD – 6:08)
- Outtakes/Memory Wall (SD – 2:49)
- Vulcan and Starfleet (SD – 4:15)
- Attack on the Enterprise (SD – 2:36)
- Cloud Journey (SD – 3:31)
- V’Ger Flyover (SD – 5:04)
- Wing Walk (SD – 4:48)
- Deleted Scenes: 1983 TV Version
- Sulu and Ilia 1 (SD – 1:06)
- Sulu and Ilia 2 (SD – :27)
- Kirk’s Quarters (SD – :21)
- Officer’s Lounge (SD – :13)
- Attack on the Enterprise (SD – 1:08)
- Intruder Transformation (SD – :32)
- A Huge Vessel (SD – :47)
- Kirk Follows Spock (SD – 1:13)
- Ilia’s Quarters 1 (SD – 1:05)
- Ilia’s Quarters 2 (SD – 1:20)
- Its Creator Is a Machine (SD – :17)
- Teaser Trailer (HD – 2:18)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:29)
- TV Spots (SD – 8 spots – 4:13 in all)
- Startle Your Senses
- Cast/Human Adventure
- Spiritual Search
- Spiritual/Startle Your Senses
- Spiritual/Human Adventure
- Event/Common Experience
The Complete Adventure
“The Complete Adventure” limited edition has everything in the regular Ultra HD Blu-ray set and adds a lot of fun extras. It includes reproductions of stickers and mini lobby cards from 1979, along with a nice booklet of behind-the-scenes information showing concept art, costumes, makeup, and matte paintings from the making of The Motion Picture. The discs are contained in a recreation of the awesome refit Enterprise cutaway poster.
Most importantly, the set adds another Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with 4K versions of the Theatrical and, exclusive to this set, the Special Longer Version. The various small “longer version” scenes are inserted to the theatrical version via seamless branching. So it’s all on one disc, when you first insert the disc you choose which of the two versions to play.
Since this disc is based upon the Theatrical version previously released, it contains the same legacy commentary with Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman. The SLV has no commentary track available.
The Special Longer Version (SLV) was last released on LaserDisc. Since then it hasn’t been on home video. There’s good reason for this, considering its origins as a padded “special edition” made for ABC to broadcast in 1983 for their “Sunday Night Movie” program. Basically, every viable deleted scene was thrown back into TMP, whether they added anything to the story, and in some cases whether they even made sense from a continuity perspective, for a special presentation of the movie on ABC. This version was then marketed on home video as the “Special Longer Version.”
If you grew up watching TMP on VHS as I did, then you probably know this version fairly well. In the USA for quite some time it was the only version of the film sold. It’s really rather amazing that Paramount agreed to have this alternate version put together in 4K. It’s really only for completists, but I do like the idea that I have every major version available to me.
The video quality is effectively the same as the standard theatrical 4K release from 2021, since that’s what this is disc is built upon. The SLV bits seem to have been cleaned up to about the same level as the theatrical version.
Likewise, audio quality is the same for the theatrical version, with the same Dolby TrueHD lossless 7.1 audio as the 2021 disc. However, when you choose the Special Longer Version, it is limited to a more basic stereo track.
The SLV has a rather infamous scene that was reinserted that has a major continuity error, and was totally unfinished. The scene is of Kirk deciding to follow Spock in an EV suit. This scene is actually from the scrapped “Memory Wall” sequence, which featured different spacesuits. So Kirk is seen suiting up with a different EV suit than when he ends up catching Spock — which is from the final cut with the more familiar EV suit design (seen again in TWOK). Kirk is seen jetting out of a hatch with obvious scaffolding around the portion of the set that was built. If the scene has made it to the final cut, it would have been inserted into a matte painting of the hull of the Enterprise, since it was scrapped, no such shot was made. For this new 4K version of the SLV, as a surprise for fans, this was fixed by adding digital matte of the Enterprise hull. If you want to see the difference, the original unaltered version is offered as “deleted scene.”
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition was released in the USA on Tuesday, September 6 and you can pick it up at Amazon for $25.96. The standard Blu-ray edition is selling for $17.99. The limited edition “Complete Adventure” boxed set goes in and out of stock at Amazon, there is also limited stock at local Best Buy stores for $83.99, so check both sellers.
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Paramount has released a portion of the deleted scene where Kirk prepares to broadcast a message down to engineering in the hopes that it will sway the Ilia probe.
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