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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Nicholas Meyer
Cast:
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Kim Cattrall, Mark Lenard, Christopher Plummer
Writing Credits:
Gene Roddenberry (creator), Leonard Nimoy (story), Lawrence Konner (story), Mark Rosenthal (story), Nicholas Meyer, Denny Martin Flinn

Tagline:
The battle for peace has begun.

Synopsis:
Prepare to boldly go where no man has gone before with the Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection, an action-packed box set featuring the six films in their original theatrical versions starring the U.S.S. Enterprise's legendary crew. The films have been digitally remastered and The Wrath of Khan has been fully restored in high definition with brilliant picture quality and 7.1 Dolby TrueHD.

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Domestic Gross
$74.888 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:
Audio:
English Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Monaural
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $139.99
Release Date: 5/12/2009

Available Only as Part of the “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection”

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary from Director/Co-writer Nicholas Meyer and Co-Writer Denny Martin Flinn
• Audio Commentary from Star Trek Expert Larry Nemecek and Star Trek Writer Ira Steven Behr
• “Library Computer” Interactive Playback Mode
• “The Perils of Peacemaking” Featurette
• “The Star Trek Universe” Featurettes
• “The Perils of Peacemaking” Featurette
• “DeForest Kelley: A Tribute” Featurette
• Original Cast and Crew Interviews
• Trailers
• 1991 Convention Presentation by Nicholas Meyer
• Production Gallery
• Storyboards


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Original Motion Picture Collection) [Blu-Ray] (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 10, 2009)

1989’sStar Trek V: The Final Frontier darn near killed the franchise. Actually, I originally thought it did kill the franchise, at least as far as the original series went: the film was such a critical and financial failure that it seemed to spell the end of the road for the original cast. By the time Frontier hit multiplexes, Star Trek: The Next Generation was doing quite well and its cast seemed poised to make the leap to the big screen.

Of course, they would make that move before long, but the original group wasn't ready to call it a day just yet. Amazingly, the crew returned from the dead – figuratively - and came up with one more film. In a parting shot equal to Ted Williams belting a home run during the last at bat of his storied career, the original cast ended their 25 year turn with 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a film that stands among the finest productions within the series’ pantheon.

At the start of Country, a Klingon moon explodes, and this leaves their empire badly damaged. They can no longer support themselves as usual, so their Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) extends a peace offering toward the Federation. Starfleet needs someone to escort the Chancellor to the peace conference, so they send noted Klingon-hater Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner).

After an awkward first meeting between the Klingon and Starfleet crews, disaster strikes. First it appears that the Enterprise attacks the Klingon ship with a torpedo, and then two crewmembers beam over and assassinate Gorkon. When they board the Klingon vessel to assist, Kirk and Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley) become prisoners who soon undergo a trial to determine culpability in the crime.

The Klingons find the Starfleet officers guilty and send them to exile on the frozen prison planet Rura Penthe. There they plot their escape. In the meantime, Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) takes control of the Enterprise and attempts to find out who executed the Chancellor and led this activity. Spock also tries to keep tabs on Kirk and McCoy as part of a rescue attempt. The film follows these threads as it builds toward a climax at the peace conference.

Country offers something that most of the other films and much of the series lack: a terrific sense of excitement. Oh, Star Trek always includes its share of action, but they seem to find a way to make these elements something less than scintillating. They move the plot along and make the films more interesting, but they never accelerate your pulse the way the best scenes of films like Star Wars or Die Hard did. There’s something kind of drowsy about the action in some of these Trek productions.

That is most definitely not the case with Country. The film moves along at a crackling pace and rarely lets up. While watching this film, you sense that its participants knew that this was it for them and they wanted to go out with a bang. That they did. The race-against-time ending cranks the excitement factor to a level unimagined in such sedentary fare as Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Some parts of Country seem a little silly. I mean, do we really need to see Kirk beat a baddie by kicking him the alien in his privates? In addition, a few of the flick’s primitive digital effects haven’t aged well; I never realized how fake the zero gravity Klingon blood looked. I used to find Country to be at least on a par with 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but in retrospect, the older film remains clearly superior; it lacks Country’s hokier elements.

Nonetheless, Country still stands as great Trek entertainment. It lacks the emotional richness and intellectual depth of the best Trek, but it presents some much needed spark and excitement. It provides a rollicking adventure that prove Trek can match up with the best action movies. Star Trek VI continues to entertain and delight.

Story complaint that never hit me until I watched the two films back-to-back: the treatment of the Klingons. At the end of Star Trek V, the crew of the Enterprise seemed to gain a new appreciation for their foes. Scotty shared a drink with General Korrd, while Sulu and Chekov lusted after Vixis. Jump ahead to Country and all of our Starfleet friends behave like they’ve never associated with Klingons. Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this lack of continuity, but it does kind of bug me.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A-

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not flawless, the transfer seemed quite good.

The use of digital noise reduction rendered a few shots just a bit soft, and that technique also meant faces occasionally looked a little clay-like. Nonetheless, neither issue was a serious concern. Instead, the majority of the flick appeared tight and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no issues with edge enhancement. Source flaws were absent in this clean presentation.

Colors seemed strong. The film presented a nice array of hues and made them look bright and vibrant. From the deep reds of the uniforms to the purple Klingon blood to the green lighting of the Klingon bridge, all the tones were detailed and concise. Blacks also seemed dense and tight, while low-light shots appeared detailed and well depicted. The minor softness kept the transfer from “A” level, but I felt pleased with it.

Though not a spectacular track, the Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1 mix worked well after more than 17 years. One of the first films to boast a Dolby Digital track during its theatrical run, the soundfield presented a nicely smooth and seamless affair. The score offered nice stereo delineation, while effects appeared logically placed and they meshed together accurately. Throughout the different settings, the elements popped up in natural locations and created a great sense of atmosphere. From more subtle moments like the Klingon trial to louder ones such as the explosion at the flick’s start, the track provided an active and involving feeling.

The surrounds only sporadically gave us stereo imaging, but they seemed like a reasonably active affair. The back speakers offered a lot of reinforcement of the front and kicked in nicely during the action scenes. They added a solid sense of involvement to the piece.

Audio quality also was excellent. Speech consistently came across as distinctive and natural, and I noticed no signs of edginess or concerns connected to intelligibility. Music was dynamic and bright, with a good sense of range. Effects really excelled throughout the flick. They always were crisp and clear, and I thought they represented the material well. Bass response seemed particularly terrific. Low-end was always deep and impressive, and those elements lacked distortion or boominess. Ultimately, the audio of Country provided a fine piece of work.

How did the picture and sound quality of this Blu-ray Disc compare with those of the prior SE DVD release? As was the case with the prior five Trek Blu-rays, the lossless audio packed a bit better punch than its predecessor, but both remained pretty similar.

Visuals provided bigger improvements. The Blu-ray was tighter and noticeably cleaner. It also offered the first home video Country presented in its original aspect ratio; all prior widescreen renditions went with a compromise 2.0:1. In addition, this marked the first time we’ve gotten Country in its theatrical cut; all prior versions went with a slightly extended version. I’m very happy to finally see the original cut and especially the original aspect ratio.

In terms of extras, the Blu-ray mixes elements from the prior SE DVD with new components. If a feature comes with an asterisk, that means it’s new and didn’t appear on the SE. If an extra is written in blue, that indicates it’s both a new piece and it’s also exclusive to the Blu-ray Disc.

We start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from co-writer/director Nicholas Meyer and co-writer Denny Martin Flinn, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific track. They cover subjects such as the historical subtext of Country - particularly how it connects to the early Nineties Soviet Union – as well as variations from the original script and the writing process, approaching Trek as outsiders, and dealing with the series’ mythology. The conversation occasionally becomes enlightening, but it drags too frequently and suffers from too much dead air. The pair provide a moderately useful chat but not a terribly strong one.

For the second track, we hear from *Trek expert Larry Nemecek and Trek (TNG, DS9) writer Ira Steven Behr. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They offer an informal and entertaining take on Country. Most of the Trek facts come from Nemecek; Behr offers some connections to other Trek series, but Nemecek clearly knows a lot more about all related subjects.

And that’s fine, as Behr acts more as Trek ombudsman. Some of these new commentaries have been little more than collections of praise, but both Nemecek and especially Behr are happy to criticize Country. They clearly like the film, but they still can cite its various legitimate flaws. They do all this with wit and style, so they make this an informative and enjoyable chat.

Another running feature arrives with the Library Computer. This “interactive playback mode” allows you to learn about various elements that crop up throughout the movie. It gives us notes about characters, technical pieces, and other connected tidbits. Some of these are tightly ingrained – such as facts about main characters – while others are more tangential. Because of the changing circumstances of the film’s world, some of the same subjects arise multiple times; for instance, new information about Valeris comes up as story elements affect her.

All of these come via links; the title of a subject appears, and you select “enter” to read about it. You can examine these in two different ways. If desired, you can have the links crop up at the appropriate times during the movie. You still have to hit “enter” – there’s no option to let them play without viewer input – but this shows the notes in tandem with the onscreen material.

The “Library” also presents an “index”. This posts the links in alphabetical order. This is a more efficient option if you want to watch the movie without interruption, but it’s less connected to the story.

Either way, the “Library” includes some nice details. It’s pretty dry, but it throws out a lot of background facts and gives us a satisfying glimpse of Trek information.

Next comes a documentary called The Perils of Peacemaking. In this 26-minute and 31-second piece, we get movie clips, various production and historical photos, and interviews. We hear from Meyer, actor/executive producer Leonard Nimoy, Georgetown University professor Dr. Angela Stent, and Ambassador Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They discuss the historical context of the film, particularly as it connects to the Soviet Union of the era in which they flick was made. They also discuss diplomatic endeavors in general, as they apply to modern times, and get into how all these thoughts affected the story and characters. Ross’s insight seems especially valuable, but all the participants go over the material well in this unusually intelligent and insightful discussion.

Although Stories from Star Trek VI breaks down into six smaller programs, we can view it straight through via the “Play All” option, so I decided to examine it as one long documentary. Taken that way, they run a total of 57 minutes and nine seconds. These incorporate movie snippets, archival materials, and comments from Meyer, Nimoy, Flinn, co-producer Ralph Winter, Star Trek V screenwriter David Loughery, co-producer/second unit director Steven-Charles Jaffe, cinematographer Hiro Narita, editor Ronald Roose, production designer Herman Zimmerman, scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda, Paramount project coordinator Penny Juday, composer Cliff Eidelman, and actors William Shatner, Christopher Plummer, and Todd Bryant.

Through all of these pieces, we learn of many different areas. The featurettes cover possibilities for a new Trek direction, the origins of the story, issues about the film’s racism and militarism, working with Meyer and his approach to Trek, the movie’s use of Shakespeare and Plummer’s work, details of the production design and effects, the score, and concluding the original cast’s run. Some of the material repeats information heard elsewhere, but that doesn’t occur too frequently. Instead, we get good notes on the creation of the film, as “Stories” largely acts as a reasonably comprehensive examination of the flick. It’s a solid program overall that seems consistently entertaining and informative.

Within The The Star Trek Universe, a mix of featurettes appear. Conversations with Nicholas Meyer runs nine minutes, 31 seconds, and presents his thoughts on subjects such as films in general, working with actors, and his place in the Trek world. It’s a reasonably good piece, though some of the notes from the commentary reappear here.

Klingons: Conjuring the Legend lasts goes for 20 minutes and 43 seconds. We get the usual behind the scenes shots, images from movies and shows, and interviews. We hear from Nimoy, Next Generation and DS9 makeup supervisor Michael Westmore, TNG and DS9 costume designer Bob Blackman, production designer Lee Cole, TNG and DS9 special effects producer Dan Curry, author Michael Jan Friedman, New Books editor Marco Palmieri, Klingon Language Institute founder Dr. Lawrence M, Schoen, and actors Plummer, William Campbell, and Michael Dorn. In this fun and informative program, we learn about the origins of the Klingons and their development through the movies and various series. We find out about the conjuring of the language and the changes in physical appearance. We also get good notes from the actors about their approaches to the roles; since he played the most prominent Klingon in Trek history, Dorn’s remarks become especially useful. Overall, “Legend” provides a tight and entertaining synopsis of Klingon history.

Many actors portrayed different roles in various Trek incarnations over the years. The four-minute and 51-second featurette Federation Operatives details the ones who appear in Country and elsewhere. It shows their Country roles and parts in other series and movies. Oddly, it misses a couple – we don’t hear of the other characters played by Todd Bryant and Mark Lenard – but it’s still a fun and informative piece.

Paramount archivist Penny Juday reappears in Penny’s Toy Box. For this six-minute and four-second program, she leads us into the vaults and shows us many of the props from Country. Nothing special shows up, but Juday gives us a fairly interesting little tour of the materials and adds enough information about their creation and use to make the journey worthwhile.

For the next component of “Universe”, we find Together Again. In the four-minute and 55-second program, we learn through interviews with them that actors Plummer and Shatner knew each other in their early days. We hear about their interactions back then in this short but cute featurette.

*Tom Morga: Alien Stuntman runs four minutes, 57 seconds and features info from stuntman Morga. He started on ST:TMP and continued through other movies and series. Morga discusses his experiences in this informative and enjoyable perspective.

Next we find the 23-minute, four-second *To Be Or Not To Be: The Klingons and Shakespeare. It includes notes from Commedia Beauregard artistic director Christopher Kidder, director Sasha Wolloch, and actors Matthew Glover and Garry Geiken. We follow the production of a full Klingon version of Hamlet. Why? I have no idea, but it’s kind of fun to watch this unusual edition of the play.

“Universe” finishes with *Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 006: Praxis. It goes for two minutes, 37 seconds as it tells us a little more about the Klingon moon. Prior “Briefs” haven’t been particularly interesting, and this one doesn’t improve on the format. It largely just repeats info from the movie and it doesn’t bring much new to the table.

One piece appears in the Farewell domain. DeForest Kelley: A Tribute goes for 13 minutes and 18 seconds as we see clips of the actor’s work and hear others discuss him. We find reminiscences from Plummer, Nimoy, Meyer, Winter, Campbell, Juday, Okuda, Loughery, Zimmerman, Shatner, producer Harve Bennett, and producer AC Lyles. They give us a minor career overview and some personal thoughts on Kelley. It’s a sweet and touching send-off to the actor.

Original Interviews presents comments circa 1991 from actors William Shatner (five minutes, three seconds), Leonard Nimoy (6:24), DeForest Kelley (5:01), James Doohan (5:31), Nichelle Nichols (5:37), George Takei (5:26), Walter Koenig (5:29) and Iman (5:05). Except for Iman, each one tells what they think of this being the last voyage – most don’t believe it. Otherwise they mostly go over general Trek topics, with a couple of specific subjects as well; both Nichols and Shatner discuss their famous kiss on the original series. Frankly, I expected these interviews to offer little more than promotional fluff, but they’re actually fairly introspective and intriguing.

Though I expected the Production Gallery to present stills, instead it mostly shows behind the scenes footage from the set. The three-minute and 24-second compilation seems moderately interesting but no better than that. Storyboards presents art for four scenes: “Praxis” (18 stills), “Assassins” (37), “Rura Penthe” (37), and the ”omitted” sequence “Leaving Spacedock” (28). These accumulate a decent little collection of art.

Inside the “Promotional Material” area, we get both the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers. We also locate a 1991 Convention Presentation by Nicholas Meyer. This four-minute and 48-second clip appeared at a convention to act as a teaser for the upcoming theatrical release. Meyer offers a fairly literary interpretation of the Trek mythos and we see a little behind the scenes footage from the flick. It doesn’t tell us much, but it’s an interesting historical curiosity to find it here.

Lastly, the disc opens with some Previews. We get ads for the 2009 Star Trek feature film and for Star Trek: The Original Series Season One Blu-ray.

Does the Blu-ray lose anything from the SE DVD? Sort of. It drops a text commentary, but the “Library Computer” provides the same kinds of information found there. Nonetheless, I wish the Blu-ray still included the text track, as the “Library” didn’t duplicate all the same material; the prior commentary comes with a more conversational, less dry tone and digs into Trek connections better. It also moves along without the need to constantly press a button, so I think it proves more satisfying.

Arguably the best Star Trek flick, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has lost a little luster over the last 17 or so years. Nonetheless, most of it works nicely, and it remains one of the most exciting and fun of the series’ movies. The Blu-ray provides strong picture and sound as well as a long list of good extras. The Blu-ray isn’t flawless, but it’s definitely the best edition of the film yet released.

To rate this film visit the Director's Edition review of the STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main