Hoooo boy! I bet you had forgotten what movies were like in 1979, right? Let me sum it up for you then: slow moving, and brown. The contrast in cinematic styles alone is shocking – this movie is full of long, long, long 20 second shots accompanied by ear-straining orchestrals; contrast this to the frenetic pace of today’s movies where camera angles change every three seconds and you’ll see how film styles have evolved in the 20 years since this movie was made to match waning attention spans. The highlight of this fil… for me was Spock uttering “Resistance would be futile, Captain…” Now we know where today’s producers get their ideas.
Enough about the style though, let’s get digital: this is a great DVD release. Trek fans should buy it, without question. The movie features new scenes in the “Director’s Cut,” new visual effects, and a mountain of extras. One of the best things about this release is that the production crew worked with the mandate that they wouldn’t do anything that couldn’t have been done in 1979; as such the new scenes blend seamlessly with the rest of the movie. Contrast this with the Star Wars re-releases of a few years back where painfully new looking CGI animations attempted and failed to co-mingle with original footage; seamlessness makes this re-release a masterpiece (see the “Redirecting the Future” documentary included on the second DVD for more on this).
The sound is good, as judged by all of the usual criteria. Solid 5.1, but no DTS. My one complaint is that bass is quite inconsistent; maybe it’s the orchestral scores, or maybe it’s the mastering work, but big booming bass comes out seemingly at random and leaves the rest of the audio sounding anemic by comparison.
Video is good, but somewhat inconsistent in terms of restoration work. Some of the scenes inside the alien spacecraft, for example, are quite grainy. Presumably the blue haze of the alien spacecraft made fixing up these scenes difficult as these are the only serious example of graininess that I could find. Second comment: colour appears to be really washed out in some scenes, great in others. Starfleet HQ, for instance, looks really flat; colours are muted to the point that the picture appears to be losing contrast. Other scenes, conversely, are fantastic: the Enterprise bridge has fantastic display screens on it, and the reds of the wormhole scene come out very well against the starscape. Space scenes have deep gorgeous blacks throughout the movie, with stars that shine brilliantly. Overall, not a bad effort, considering the 22-year-old source celluloid.
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry does a great interview in the documentary “Phase II: The Lost Enterprise,” which is an interesting piece on the evolution of the Star Trek movie series from the TV show. Interesting comments on censorship and studio politics make this one worth watching. The sfx crew gets a great documentary in “Redirecting the Future,” which details how this “Director’s Cut” re-release was created. This is a very interesting story – the sfx team dug up the original Star Ship models, storyboards, and all sorts of other neat stuff to redo some of the new scenes in the movie.
The extra features also include a bevy of TV spots for the movie, which are quite amusing. One thing that they highlight is that the film is called “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” What else would it? “Star Trek: The Oil Painting?” Perhaps the were worried that people would be expecting the Thunderbirds instead, i.e.: “Star Trek: With Puppets.” Or, “Star Trek: Claymation.” At any rate, the crappy TV spots are redeemed by a more worthy promotional video for the new “Enterprise” TV series; pretty cheesy, but some good scene excerpts.
The last of the extras include audio commentaries for the movie, which I didn’t take the time to examine. One of them is by the author of the “Star Trek Encyclopedia,” though, so its on my list to check out. There’s also storyboard archives, and some extra scenes. The deleted and alternative scenes look deceptively like the ones in the movies, but if you pay attention to the details, so interesting differences jump out. For instance, when Chekov torches his hand, in the movie there’s this goofy scene where poor old Ilia gives him some spiritual healing. In the alternative (“Deleted”) version, Ilia is mercifully left out.
Good release, buy it. It’s not expensive either, which makes it all the more worthwhile given the best-as-can-be expected video and audio, and the pile of bonus material.
Special Features List
- New 1.85:1 Presentation
- New scenes, new visuals, remastered video
- New 5.1 soundtrack
- Group commentary by original production crew
- Commentary by “Star Trek Encyclopedia” author
- New retrospective documentaries
- TV commercials, and trailers
- Deleted scenes and additional scenes
- Star Trek Enterprise promo video