BluRay/DVD Reviews

STAR TREK MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY

By • Jun 2nd, 2009 •

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Gotta start with the best news. STAR TREK: THE VOYAGE HOME, in my estimation the best of the series, has always looked shitty on home video. The former DVD was soft and a bit washed out. There was a lot of fog used in the film, particularly inside the Star Fleet ship, and it proved too great a challenge for the mastering machinery. Even the easier scenes didn’t pop the way they should have. But now, and I knew and hoped it would be the case, the Hi-Def transfers eliminated all that visual disappointment, rendering the most problematic scenes crisp and satisfying.

The mildly bad news about THE VOYAGE HOME. And there’s far less of it, but while the new mastering cleared up the resolution issues, it also made some of the matte shots look like what they are, paintings. Matte artists were always told to dumb down the detail of their work, because film stocks just couldn’t enable the real portions of the frame to live up to ultra-sharp matte-work. Well now the opposite has taken place, in that the sharpness of Hi-Def has highlighted the intentional softness of the mattes. Check out Chapter 4, the opening shot. Enough said. But in the balance of virtues with defects, this release is probably as good as it’s going to get, and it’s wonderful.

In case anyone was worried that the old supplementals were going to be dropped – fear no more: it’s all there. Nimoy and Shatner conversing on the commentary track, plus lots of new stuff.

I remember having a breakfast interview with Leonard Nimoy for ‘Films in Review’ when he was in NYC promoting THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK. A warm, intelligent guy, he effectively dodged my every attempt to eek out what became of Spock at the end of the film. It was, to my knowledge, his first attempt at directing, and it was adequate. Whatever he learned from this experience, he applied to the next installment – THE VOYAGE HOME – and really did a great job.

After I saw SEARCH FOR SPOCK, I wrote Nimoy a letter asking if he was influenced by CITY LIGHTS. The ending, when Spock recognizes Kirk, is so like the final scene in Chaplin’s film, when the flower girl, no longer blind, recognizes the tramp as her benefactor.. He wrote back, telling me that he did not have that in mind, but that he saw the similarity and thanked me for the compliment.

Book-ended here are the two ST contributions by Nicholas Meyer. The clever screenwriter of TIME AFTER TIME did a fine job directing WRATH OF KHAN (which many feel is the best of the series) and co-authored THE VOYAGE HOME. It’s in VOYAGE that you can really feel his particular brand of fanciful narrative and wonderful humor, as the crew journeys back to the Flower Child era to recover a whale for the security of the future. But you can find Meyer on the commentary track of WRATH, along with other extras such as a ‘Tribute to Ricardo Montalban’ featurette which is new to BluRay.

Also timely on the new BluRay releases is a trailer for J.J. Abrams’ STAR TREK film. The new movie captures the humor, humanity, and energy that made the series such a success. A pleasure to see a teaser in front of this classic trilogy.

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