William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins
Gene Roddenberry (television series, Star Trek), Alan Dean Foster (story), Harold Livingston
The human adventure is just beginning.
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.
$11.926 million on 857 screens.
English Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Runtime: 132 min.
Release Date: 5/12/2009
Available Only as Part of the “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection”
• Audio Commentary from Star Trek historians Michael and Denise Okuda, Star Trek Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Artist/Visual Effects Supervisor Daren Dochterman
• “Library Computer” Interactive Playback Mode
• “The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture” Featurette
• “Special Star Trek Reunion” Featurette
• “Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 001: Mystery Behind V’Ger” Featurette
• 11 Deleted Scenes
• TV Spots
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
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.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Original Motion Picture Collection) [Blu-Ray] (1979)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 26, 2009)
Time for a quick synopsis of my troubled history with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When this epic hit movie screens in December 1979, I eagerly went to see it and apparently liked it very much. Frankly, I don’t recall the exact feelings it inspired in my 12-year-old self, but I do know that I went on a major Trek binge after that. I constantly watched episodes of the syndicated program - back in the old days when it was just Star Trek and we didn’t need to call it “The Original Series” - and I even read tons of the show novelizations.
My Trek ardor cooled after that, though I remained moderately interested in the movies. Actually, I came to feel that I liked the films but not the TV show, an emotion that peaked with 1991’s terrific Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That flick rekindled my desire to revisit its predecessors, so I dropped some big bucks on a special laserdisc package that bundled the first five movies. That 25th anniversary set offered nothing particularly compelling other than a nice case and a couple of doodads, but it saved me some money off the purchase of the LDs separately, which I felt justified it.
I always felt I needed to rationalize my acquisition of all five movies because of ST:TMP. I don’t know when it happened, but sometime between 1979 and 1991 I came to dislike the flick. The new viewing of it that accompanied the LD purchase didn’t alter this opinion. While some of the other films in the series had their problems, I thought that ST:TMP was by far the worst of the bunch. Bloated and boring, the movie went nowhere and seemed like a total dud.
Perversely, I tended to check out ST:TMP again every couple of years. Between screenings, I’d start to convince myself that the movie wasn’t as bad as I recalled, and I’d give it another chance. Then I’d realize that it really was that terrible. I’d file away the LD until my memory failed sufficiently to merit another spin.
When the Trek flicks started to appear on DVD, I ditched that LD set, so I didn’t watch ST:TMP for at least four or five years prior to its 2001 DVD release. I then avoided it for about seven and a half years until this Blu-ray ended up in my hands.
And I’ll probably stay away from it for the better part of another decade, as I still find myself disenchanted with the film. Star Trek: The Motion Picture follows the reunited crew of the Enterprise. A mysterious force steadily approaches Earth, and it destroys pretty much everything in its path. The Enterprise is still going through a refitting, but they’re the only ship that can possibly intercept the cloud.
After a few years as a desk jockey, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) badly wants to get back on the bridge, so he uses this calamity to wrest back control of the Enterprise from young Captain Decker (Stephen Collins). This doesn’t sit well with the junior officer, but he has no choice other than to suck it up and go along with the decision. He remains on board as science officer when a mishap kills the Enterprise’s already-designated employee.
Slowly - and I really do mean slowly - the film conspires to bring back all of the show’s old regulars. It appears that most of them - Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Chekov (Walter Koenig), Scotty (James Doohan) and Sulu (George Takei) - already worked on the redone Enterprise, along with more obscure figures like Doctor - formerly Nurse - Chapel (Majel Barrett) and Lt. Commander - formerly Yeoman - Rand (Grace Lee Whitney).
However, Kirk’s main compatriots come aboard via different means. Retired from Starfleet, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) has to be drafted to return, while Mr. Spock comes back for more personal reasons. After years on his home planet of Vulcan in pursuit of the Kolinahr discipline - which would purge all emotions from him - he fails to pass a test, largely because he senses the presence of the V’Ger spirit. As such, he rejoins the crew largely to find his own answers about this mysterious entity.
Another dynamic occurs when Lieutenant Ilia (Persis Khambatta) joins the crew. A Deltan - apparently a very sex-oriented people - she and Decker once had a fling, and her presence stirs up some old memories and emotions.
All of that exists as a backdrop to the Enterprise’s attempt to reach, contact, and deal with V’Ger. Does any of it really matter? No, for the very simple story is told in such a turgid manner that all considerations become subsumed to the dull pacing.
Defenders of ST:TMP like to tell us how intelligent it is, which implies that non-fans must be too moronic to comprehend its intricacies and depth. Feh! In truth, ST:TMP does possess a moderately intriguing story. The questions that surround V’Ger seem interesting, and Spock’s relationship to the entity also boasts some potential. Add to this Kirk’s burgeoning midlife crisis and the interactions between Ilia and Decker and you should have something.
Onscreen, the reality seems totally different. The movie remains short on story and long on endless special effects shots.
Oh my, does ST:TMP pour on the visual imagery! The Enterprise doesn’t even leave port until well into the movie, and much of the reason for that delay relates to the interminable glimpses of various elements. The movie should have been called Star Trek: Check Out Our Bitchin’ New Budget. It feels as though so much time was devoted to impressing us with effects that blow away those from the old show that no one bothered to notice how terribly boring they were.
This tendency does have its defenders as well. As a waiter in my college years, I worked with a serious Trekkie, and he felt that the never-ending early shots of the Enterprise were warranted because the die-hard fans wanted to see them. I’m sure that’s true, and I’m also sure that they loved the intricacy of the imagery. However, it’s not good filmmaking. These shots - and many more like them throughout ST:TMP - do absolutely nothing to further the plot, and they slow down the movie immeasurably.
Frankly, ST:TMP has a story that easily could have fit into a regular episode of the show. In fact, what we find comes across as little more than a regurgitation of one of Trek’s basic plots. It features an apparently omnipotent force that has to be outwitted by Kirk’s ingenuity. We saw this tale many times during the original series, and ST:TMP does nothing to improve upon the archetype.
If anything, it seems like a poor variation on the story, mainly because the film drones on for so long. Some wags have dubbed this film Star Trek: The Motionless Picture, and it’s hard to disagree with them. The movie moves so slowly, and little really happens. The picture’s more about reaction than action. While I didn’t expect it to be a slam-bang effort ala Star Wars - or the 2009 Star Trek, for that matter - it should have struck a more satisfying balance.
That would have to wait for the film’s sequels, all of which improved upon this clunker. Yes, I include much-maligned efforts such as 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. For all their faults - and they include many - they simply feel more like real Trek than does ST:TMP.
The latter comes across like imitation Trek. The series was always accused of being too serious and without humor, but that wasn’t the truth. However, ST:TMP offers Trek foes evidence of their theory with its flat pacing and lack of charisma.
Despite its recycled plot and frighteningly slow progress, I could have gotten into ST:TMP had it displayed any sign of the original show’s spark. However, that wasn’t the case, as the long-time collaborators in the cast felt like virtual strangers here. I get no sense of the original show’s fine camaraderie or spirit, as everyone appears morose and unenthusiastic. The scenes that focus on Kirk, McCoy and Spock - the triad at the heart of the old series - come across as bland and drab.
Nimoy seems most unhappy to be on the set; he constantly looks like he really doesn’t want to be there. In his 1995 autobiography called I Am Spock, Nimoy claimed that he was happy to do the flick, but he made his concerns known:
Once filming commenced, it seemed like we actors stood forever on the bridge of the Enterprise, staring at a blank screen, which later would be filled with wondrous special effects. This work was very tedious, and frankly, not much fun. What was this gloom? This depressed atmosphere? This lack of attack, fun, élan?
I think it came out of a sense that we were doing something Historic and Important. Somehow, although the TV shows depended heavily on the day-to-day energy of the creative community - writers, directors and actors - the movie seemed to have been taken out of our hands. And our energy was sapped by an unwarranted reverence. We were passengers along for the ride on a voyage we could never quite fully manage or understand.
Of the movie’s premiere, Nimoy added:
What do I remember of the movie that I saw? Incredible shots of the Enterprise, looking more massive and awesomely beautiful than she ever had.
And then more shots of the Enterprise, looking massive and beautiful.
And more shots…
Eventually, the special effects became downright tedious. A great cheer came up from the audience when the ship went into warp speed, but unfortunately the story never really took flight - and the chemistry between the characters was never taken advantage of.
And those comments essentially encapsulate everything that’s wrong with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It stands as a monument to special effects wizardry, as it looks about 10 billion times better than anything we ever saw on the original show. However, it falls so deeply in love with those visuals that it leaves room for little else, and the wonderful spirit the cast displayed on the series is nowhere to be found.
I’ve always preferred the original show to The Next Generation and the others series because of that chemistry. Admittedly, some of the performers on the newer programs can act rings around those found on the old one, but I never felt they were able to duplicate the fine spark the original showed. There was a sense of fun, excitement and distinctive character that seemed to disappear somewhat on later iterations; for all the talent involved, subsequent Trek series never came across with the same spunk and charm.
Unfortunately, neither did Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and it made the original cast look nearly embalmed. As a Trek fan, I owe the film a debt of gratitude. It essentially resurrected the franchise and allowed us to partake of the many more satisfying efforts that came over the last 30 years. Nonetheless, it remains a bloated and boring flick that’s as dull and pointless as ever.
Odd footnote: I don’t know the characters name, but did anyone else think that one of the prominent aliens who served on the Enterprise bridge looked a lot like comedian Steven Wright?
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B-
Star Trek: The Motion Picture appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While a little up and down, the transfer usually satisfied.
The main erratic aspect of the image related to sharpness. Though most of the film seemed reasonably crisp and accurate, this element was inconsistent. At times, the image came across as somewhat blurry and soft, and it could look a bit indistinct. Most of the movie appeared quite detailed, but the fuzziness seemed a little distracting at times – and perplexing given the unpredictable nature of the softness.
Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. Much has been made about the use of digital noise reduction across the first six Trek movies, but I didn’t feel it became a significant issue here. I thought the flick remained acceptably “film-like” and didn’t often suffer from the flat, artificial look that mars transfers subjected to excessive DNR.
Print flaws became a minor distraction. I noticed an occasional speck and a few small scratches. These weren’t frequent issues, though, as the movie usually appeared clean.
In terms of colors, ST:TMP went with a fairly neutral, earthy palette. It certainly lacked the vivacious hues found on “The Original Series”, but that wasn’t necessarily a negative. The transfer replicated these tones with good accuracy and clarity. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows appeared well-defined. The softness and minor print flaws made this a “B+” image, but I felt it looked great most of the time.
Even more impressive was the Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Its soundfield provided a surprisingly active and involving experience. Music displayed excellent stereo separation and presence, while effects showed solid distinction and accuracy. The forward spectrum offered a realistic - within the sci-fi environment, at least - and engaging presentation that gave us a good sense of atmosphere. The surrounds were more restricted, but they added a nice feeling of reinforcement, and they became pretty active partners at times; for example, the wormhole sequence seemed very satisfying.
Audio quality also seemed excellent for the most part, though one area was a minor disappointment: speech. Most of the time, dialogue sounded fairly natural and distinct, but on a few occasions, the lines became a little edgy and rough.
Otherwise, the sound seemed terrific. Music was consistently bright and rich, as Jerry Goldsmith’s score appeared dynamic and distinct. Low-end response was quite solid, and the highs came across as clean and vivid. Effects worked equally well, as they packed a solid punch and seemed consistently accurate and showed fine presence. It was hard to believe this was a 30-year-old soundtrack, as it sounded great.
How did the picture and sound quality of this Blu-ray Disc compare with those of the original 2001 DVD release? Both worked better here. The audio wasn’t a huge upgrade, but I thought the new mix seemed a little cleaner and more powerful.
Visuals offered a bigger step up in quality. Some of this came from the basic increase in resolution afforded Blu-ray, but I also thought the new transfer cleaned up the old one in a number of ways. Source flaws were less prevalent, and other elements were clearer. The Blu-ray definitely topped the old DVD.
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 an *audio commentary from Trek historians Michael and Denise Okuda, Trek writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and artist/visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the development of the film, cast and crew, sets and locations, effects and visual design, a mix of production issues, connections to other Trek, and their personal reactions to the flick as fans.
With all that Trek expertise at our disposal, one would expect a wealth of information to emerge here. One will probably be disappointed by the result. We do learn a fair amount of decent facts, and I particularly like the tidbits about elements adapted from the aborted Phase II series. However, the track tends to sag at times, and it concentrates so much on technical minutiae that we don’t get a really broad view of the flick. Fans will still want to give this one a listen, but they should temper their expectations.
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 Spock comes up as story elements affect him.
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.
Under the Production banner, we get one featurette: * The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture. In this 10-minute and 44-second show, we hear from Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, associate producer Jon Povill, screenwriter Harold Livingston, and actor Walter Koenig. “Longest” tells us about the extended development of ST:TMP. Some of the same information appears in the commentary, but “Longest” gives us a tighter overview of these issues. It proves satisfying.
Two components appear within The Star Trek Universe. *Special Star Trek Reunion goes for nine minutes, 37 seconds and involves a gathering of fans and folks connected to Trek who played extras in the film. Introduced by William Shatner, we meet Fred Bronson, Bjo Trimble, Christopher Doohan, David Gerrold and Jo Ann Nolan. They tell us how they got into the flick and their brief experiences on the set. They throw out some fun memories and allow a fan’s eye view of the production.
*Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 001: Mystery Behind V’Ger lasts four minutes, 24 seconds. This gives us a little tutorial that presents a five-cent overview of Voyager and how it became “V’Ger”. It’s vaguely interesting, though it seems redundant if you’ve seen the movie.
11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, two seconds. We find “Sulu and Ilia 1” (0:53), “Sulu and Ilia 2” (0:27), “Kirk’s Quarters” (0:21), “Officer’s Lounge” (0:11), “Attack on the Enterprise” (1:05), “Intruder Transmission” (0:33), “A Huge Vessel” (0:44), “Kirk Follows Spock” (1:11), “Ilia’s Quarters 1” (1:03), “Ilia’s Quarters 2” (1:17) and “Its Creator Is a Machine” (0:17). One thing ST:TMP doesn’t need: more footage. Actually, the first “Sulu” clip is kind of cute, as it shows how the character feels smitten with the sexually charged Deltan, but most of the clips seem pretty forgettable.
Within the Storyboards area, we get illustrations for three sequences. These cover “Vulcan” (15 frames), “Enterprise Departure” (30 stills), and “V’Ger Revealed” (39 shots). They’re surprisingly cartoony, but they should be satisfying for fans of the flick.
Some ads finish off the set. We find two trailers - teaser and theatrical – as well as seven *TV spots. Interestingly, I believe that Orson Welles narrated the teaser. Lastly, two Previews open the disc. 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 drop anything from the 2001 Special Edition DVD? Yes – so much, in fact, that it’s easier if you just consult the old review to observe the changes. In short, we lose an audio commentary, a text commentary, and a few good featurettes.
Of course, the Blu-ray presents a different version of the film as well. The DVD included a “Director’s Edition” of ST:TMP that created moderate changes in the movie. It wasn’t any better, but it created a slightly different take on things and boasted some improved visuals.
I suspect those differences are the reason the Blu-ray drops the original commentary. The Special Edition DVD releases of Trek II and Trek VI also offered non-theatrical versions, while the Blu-rays feature the original cuts. However, the altered renditions of those two make only slight changes, while the differences between the theatrical ST:TMP and the 2001 edition are more significant.
I guess that meant it became much more difficult to adapt the “Director’s Edition” audio commentary for the theatrical cut. I wish those involved with this set had made the effort, though, as it was a decent chat; it certainly offered much more information than the track found here.
I don’t know why the Blu-ray omits the various featurettes, though. Perhaps there’s a logical reason that these fail to reappear, but I can’t think of it. Since the other five Trek Blu-rays include virtually everything from their respective DVDs, the absence of these materials becomes perplexing.
I’ve always wanted to like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and I’ve given it repeated chances to win my affection, but it always fails miserably. The flick consistently appears cold, clinical and sterile, as it displays few signs of the joie de vivre and energy seen on the original program.
As for the Blu-ray, it offers generally good picture with excellent sound as well as a few decent extras. In terms of movie presentation, this is unquestionably the strongest version of ST:TMP ever released, but fans will still need to hold onto the DVD. Not only does it offer many supplements that fail to reappear here, but also it includes a unique cut of the film.
To rate this film visit the Director's Edition review of the STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE