Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with STAR TREK..the original movies, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, I watched all of the original series and THE NEXT GENERATION growing up, and I loved a lot of it, and yet there’s just something special about this particular journey of Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his entire Enterprise crew.
The entire movie series has had a rough journey but that’s also what I kind of like about it. I seem to be a lone defender of THE MOTION PICTURE, for example, as it has a bunch of classy old-school epic filmmaking elements along with Douglas Trumbull’s legendary visual effects work. Definitely a different time back then, and I love it.
All of these movies are now lovingly restored on 4k Blu Ray once AGAIN (to replace a pretty solid box set released in September 2021 containing the first four movies only) so the love for STAR TREK and all of its spinoff series keeps on going.
About the 4k Releases:
For the purposes of this review I’ll be focusing on the entire STAR TREK care package that was sent to me. I was lucky to get a big care package from Paramount with not only the box set containing all six feature movies, but also the individual releases. The main selling point of the individual releases is that it features the original poster art and feels in tune with the original releases from the 80s and early 90s. And I mean this is a joke, Paramount, but I can actually READ the description and tech features of the individual discs; the box set typeface is so tiny I would need a magnifying glass for these old eyes to even read it!
This new 4k release of THE MOTION PICTURE is an important one, as it’s a full restoration of the late Robert Wise’s full vision for the movie, completing some visual effects work and adding/removing a few sound effects. Now, while I love some of the changes and this is in no way comparable to the embarrassing work George Lucas did on the STAR WARS special editions, I actually DID like some of the original sound effects (especially the warning alarm of the wormhole sequence, or the two “Viewer Off” commands by Kirk).
Previously only available in a standard definition version which Wise and his team worked on, great care has been taken and even some new restoration work (as noted in the additional end credits) was performed for this release. There was also a small theatrical re-release for this as well that sadly never opened in my city, but hopefully it comes back here in a revival screening one day.
And like with last year’s 4k release, this overall looks pretty great in a full on Dolby Vision/HDR10 master in its original 2.39:1 anamorphic aspect ratio. THE MOTION PICTURE was already released last year in a box set with just the first four movies so I was pretty familiar with the look and design of these movies, and it’s easy to say that these have the best these movies have looked. For THE MOTION PICTURE, this was shot very well in anamorphic but also note that this is shot in the late 1970s and Wise liked to use a lot of soft filters, split diopter shots (more famously used in Brian DePalma pictures) as well as lots of optical effects work that is far from perfect in comparison to movies made today. 4k definitely shows this at the sharpest level possible, but DO forgive some VFX blemishes or some scenes with softer focus which is a product of the time.
The soundtrack has also had a bump from its last release as well. THE MOTION PICTURE has had a full on Dolby Atmos remix and boy does it impress. There’s some surprisingly powerful surrounds and deep bass here, and Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary score seems to be more full bodied in this case and remains one of my favourite movie scores. All of the other movies appear to have the same soundtracks as the last release, and the latest additions of V and VI especially have more dynamic soundtracks reminiscent of their 70mm Dolby magnetic presentations.
From what I can tell, TREK II-IV are all the same masters from the last year. I was quite impressed with the look and design and like with THE MOTION PICTURE, KHAN and SPOCK have a very lived-in, red-heavy look with lots of film grain. It gets a bit more polished with THE VOYAGE HOME and thankfully a far cry from the older widescreen transfers that accidentally showed too much picture information at the top and bottom and endured “splice marks” at every shot change.
New to 4k are the infamous PART V directed by William Shatner and Part IV: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY which returns TREK II’s filmmaker Nicolas Meyer to the helm. THE FINAL FRONTIER is only a pretty decent 4k transfer but showing a lot of the fine-grain detail and the shoddy visual effects work. TREK VI was shot in the Super 35 format and the overall look and design is very different here and comes across as a better transfer for the new additions to 4k.
The box set thankfully DOES include the same discs from the individual releases including both the Special Edition and theatrical version. With that said, there’s also a bit of confusion over what is where. The individual release of THE MOTION PICTURE 4k contains a bonus disc loaded with new documentaries and the original features, and the individual release does NOT contain the Blu Ray (the bonus disc IS in the box set but in the Blu Ray section). The theatrical cut of THE MOTION PICTURE also can only be found in the box set and is not included in the standalone release. All of the other individual releases from II to VI contain the additional Blu Ray disc. There is also an Apple TV code that does redeem the Director’s Edition and is be backwards compatible with the theatrical version but just in HD (ironically, the 4k Apple copy of last year’s THE MOTION PICTURE contains a Standard-Definition of the Special Edition!) and do contain most of the features for each film. Not confusing at all!
My thanks to Paramount PR for sending over a huge TREK care package for review. I am certainly hoping that we can continue the series in 4k and FINALLY get a UHD of FIRST CONTACT soon!