Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (1982) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Paramount || PG - 335 minutes - $65.99 || May 12, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-18


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy
Writer(s): Gene Roddenberry (created by); Star Trek II: Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards (story), Jack B. Sowards (screenplay); Star Trek III: Harve Bennett (written by); Star Trek IV: Leonard Nimoy & Harve Bennett (story), Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes and Harve Bennett & Nicholas Meyer (screenplay)
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Kristie Alley, Ricardo Montalban, Christopher Lloyd, Robin Curtis, Catherine Hicks


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 6 Audio Commentaries
  • 36 Featurettes
  • 29 Storyboards
  • Interviews
  • Production Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Library Computer
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

|| STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1981) || ****½ / *****
Plot: Feeling that the future holds nothing close to what the past once did, Admiral James T. Kirk begins to believe that galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young. Yet on a routine inspection of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth. Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

I can say with little equivocation Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of the best sequels ever made behind only The Godfather Part II, The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back. I hadn’t seen the movie in several years so much of it felt new, but I was fully immersed, not an easy task when you watch several movies every week.

What makes Star Trek II head and shoulders above the first movie is it is filled with fantastic action, gripping suspense and a true heart at its core with an ending in which if you do not shed even a single tear, you are not human. I can’t think of a single thing where this sequel was not better than the original. Its 112-minute running time was perfect telling an interesting story with a cruel villain played by the late and great Ricardo Montalban. Add in the life-long friendship between Kirk and Spock (played to perfection by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy), and you have a great and memorable movie.

The movie was directed by Nicholas Meyers, Star Trek II also features a solid supporting cast including DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei and Kirstie Alley. I know many are/will be disappointed that the director’s cut was not the version used in this set, and while I share the feeling, getting this theatrical version on Blu-ray is still great, but I’m 99% sure that one will come to Blu-ray and hopefully as a standalone release.

|| STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) || ***½ / *****
Plot: In the wake of Spock’s ultimate act of sacrifice, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise returns to Earth from the newly formed Genesis planet. Upon arrival, the crew learns that life back home will not be easier. Scotty gets reassigned, Dr. “Bones” McCoy appears to be going insane, and the Enterprise is to be decommissioned. It is only when Kirk is confronted by Spock’s father that he learns his old friend may have another chance at life if the crew can survive the Klingon interference and return to the Genesis planet.

The third entry in the Star Trek franchise, and one that takes place almost immediately after the events of Star Trek II, is a good movie, but nothing more. It lacked the excitement, the humor and the emotions of the previous entry. Unlike the Wrath of Kahn, an action-adventure more than anything, Search for Spock is pure science-fiction which may be a turn off for some viewers, though sci-fi fanatics may appreciate it more than others.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock has some decent moments but at only 96-minutes (w/o credits), it seemed like more story could’ve been told and when the climactic scene finally unfolded, it was nice, even sweet, but ultimately ineffective. I’m not sure if this was due to Nimoy’s direction or Harve Bennett’s screenplay, but this could’ve been a better film if only more care was put into it.

The cast seemed to go through the motions. Even William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, after a devastating event, didn’t come close to his heart wrenching and heartfelt performance after the sacrifice his best friend made for him and the Enterprise crew. Hell, nothing will ever match his blood-curdling “Khaaaaannn!” scream. As for Leonard Nimoy, he’s actually not in it that much (maybe 10-minutes, max and only a few lines) but his presence was always felt and the only thing that propelled this film and made me care about what the Enterprise crew’s venture to find Spock.

|| STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) || ***¾ / *****
Plot: Branded as fugitives by the very Federation they swore to protect, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise dutifully returns to Earth to face charges for crimes committed in the course of rescuing a resurrected Spock. But en route, it is learned that the Earth is being ravaged by a strange alien probe demanding a response from a life form that no longer exists. Commandeering a captured Klingon Bird of Prey, Kirk and his crew bend time and space to save Earth and rediscover the meaning of friendship.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the conclusion to the “Spock Trilogy” in which our intrepid crew go back in time to the late 20th century to an uncivilized population with bad manners and use course language. Their mission is to get a couple humpback whales (which are extinct in the 23rd century) take them back to their own time to stop an alien probe whose 'attack' is based upon trying to communicate with the whales.

I’m not a Trekkie by any stretch, though I’m pretty sure the original series did get that asinine with its plotline, the story for this was just a tad... strange even by Star Trek standards. That said, once you can roll with what the Enterprise crew is trying to accomplish, you will find at its core a fun (and funny) movie that is a modest improvement over the ho-hum previous entry. It doesn’t come close to Star Trek II, but it does right the ship.

Again directed (and co-written) by Leonard Nimoy, it would seem his skills are more honed or confident. Sure, it’s not some masterful piece of filmmaking in terms of style, but Nimoy shows great comic timing without being hokey (my favorite is Scotty trying to communicate with a mid-80s computer, which has a double sense of humor during this day and age).

Taken as a trilogy (Star Trek II – IV), it might not hold a candle to the likes of Star Wars or anything, but it’s a good compilation of movies that fans and non-fans alike can enjoy.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The “Motion Picture Trilogy” comes packed in a shiny and partially reflective slip case and the discs are housed in digipak holders. The discs are exactly the same as the one’s available in the “Motion Picture Collection”.

All three films feature the following:

Library Computer (Profile 1.1/2.0) – This is just some text trivia on various subjects (Kirk, Spock, V’ger, Vulcan, etc) that you can select from a menu on the side while watching the movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

BD-Live with the Star Trek IQ – This allows users to post their own IQ tests to take. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Each also includes the theatrical trailer for the new Star Trek movie and a promo for the “Star Trek” Season 1 Blu-ray release.

|| STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) || ****½ / *****
There are two feature commentaries the first is from the initial DVD release with director Nicholas Meyer and the other, a new one, with Meyer and Manny Coto, producer of “Enterprise”. With rare exceptions, I always prefer 2 person (or more) tracks, but Meyer’s solo track wasn’t too bad. The second track -- a ** NEW FEATURE ** -- is great as the two have a nice conversation about the movie from the perspective of a fan (Coto) with Meyer given another opportunity to talk about his love for various topics.

“PRODUCTION” (5 Featurettes):
Captain’s Log (27:21) goes over the origins of Khan from his debut on the “Star Trek” series in the episode ‘Space Seed’ and re-introducing the character in the Star Trek sequel. It also covers Leonard Nimoy’s refusal to be in the movie and the one thing that interest him was the death of Spock; Nicholas Meyer’s coming on board which also was a reason for Nimoy’s involvement.

Designing Khan (23:54) – The director, production designer, costume designer, art director and other members of the crew describe the look of the Star Trek universe trying to create a future look. Topics range from the costumes to the ships.

Original Interviews (10:56) with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and Ricardo Montalban were filmed in 1982 to promote the upcoming Star Trek II release.

Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II (18:14) is fairly self-explanatory featuring interviews with those involved with the visual effects with some cool archive footage of the model designs and how certain techniques were done back the early 80s. I actually found this more interesting than most of these other featurettes.

James Horner: Composing Genesis (9:33; HD) features comments from the composer about his involvement with the sequel and explains how he even sat in on sessions with Jerry Goldsmith during his work on the original movie. ** New Feature **

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” (3 Featurettes):
Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics (11:05; HD) takes a look at the collectable memorabilia of the props and costumes of both the series and movies. ** New Feature **

A Novel Approach (28:55) covers the novels released featuring interviews from two Trekkies about their love for Star Trek.

Starfleet Academy Scisec Brief 002: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI (3:08; HD) is a simple Wikipedia-like featurette with a chick standing in front of a green screen about Khan and the planet he was deserted on. ** New Feature **

Lastly we get a nice Tribute to Ricardo Montalban (4:44; HD) ** New Feature ** with comments by Nicholas Meyer; 12 Storyboards; and the theatrical trailer (2:22).


|| STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) || ****½ / *****
Again, we get two feature commentaries. The first was ported over from the DVD release and includes director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve Bennett, director of photography Charles Correll and actress Robin Curtis. The participants are spliced in together, unfortunately, but it’s still an interesting track. The second one, and a ** NEW FEATURE **, is with producer Ronald D. Moore (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Michael Taylor, neither had nothing to do with the making of Star Trek III, but offer their insights into the universe as they had involvement with the series or future movies.

“PRODUCTION” (4 Featurettes):
Captain’s Log (26:13) is a basic overview on the making of Star Trek III and how Leonard Nimoy came to direct the third movie, coming up with the story and all the behind-the-scenes elements. Interviews include with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner (at his most humble moments), Christopher Lloyd and others.

Terraforming and the Prime Derivative (23:53) is an introspective look at the Star Trek universe and how it translates to current society. It features interviews with various people from an author to someone at NASA about the Genesis project and the real life possibilities.

Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek (13:50; HD) goes over the effects used over the course of the films and how it has progressed through the years and the difficulties on some shots. ** NEW FEATURE **

Spock: The Early Years (6:22; HD) covers the four actors used as Spock through his transformation on the Genesis project. It features an interview with the actor who played Spock, Age 17. ** NEW FEATURE **

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” (5 Featurettes):
Space Docks and Birds of Prey (27:49) – With an increase in the budget, filmmakers were able to make better models for Star Trek III, this includes the space dock and the Birds of Prey ship.

Speaking Klingon (21:04) features a guy who actually created the Klingon and Vulcan language used in Star Trek II and subsequent movies.

Klingon and Vulcan Costumes (12:16) goes over how the costumes (obviously) are made and features interviews with the costume designer.

Star Trek and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (16:52; HD) is an interesting look at the museum in Seattle with a bunch of memorabilia, cool exhibits and the like for all science-fiction fans to behold. Well, sort of. It’s just an interview with a Star Trek writer intercut with footage from the movies. ** NEW FEATURE **

Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 003: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer (2:42; HD) is another pointless featurette with info you can easily get from a Trek fansite. ** NEW FEATURE **

We also get a photo gallery on the production and movie, 9 storyboards and the theatrical trailer.


|| STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) || ****¼ / *****
The Blu-ray contains two feature commentaries the first ported over from the DVD featuring Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner and the other, which is a ** NEW FEATURE ** with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, writers of Transformers and the new Star Trek film. Both tracks are actually good in different ways. The Nimoy/Shatner track is part technical/part analytical about the characters while the second is from a fan perspective as well as the perspective as writers. However, there was too much dead air time with them so that was annoying.

“PRODUCTION” (5 Featurettes):
Future’s Past: A Look Back (27:32) – This is a retrospective ‘making-of’ featurette about how the project came to be with comments by Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Harve Bennett amongst others.

On-Location (7:26) goes over filming during the current time period in San Francisco. The featurette includes some fun behind-the-scenes footage of them filming at the four corners in San Fran.

Dailies Deconstruction (4:13) – Here we just check out alternate angles for various scenes.

Below-the-Line: Sound Design (11:45) – A much more extensive featurette than I expected, we get to hear from the sound effects editor on how some of the sounds were created such as the alien vessel making whale calls.

Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments (6:09; HD) features Walter Koenig talking about his character in Star Trek IV and how he had a more substantial role. ** NEW FEATURE **

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE”
Time Travel: The Art of the Possible (11:15) - In August of 2002, three prominent Quantum Physicists were asked, “Is time travel possible?” Actually time travel has always been fascinating to me so this was interesting to watch.

The Language of Whales (5:46) – This is a simple featurette explaining whale noises/language and the different types of whales filmed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A Vulcan Primer (7:50) – An author analyses Spock and other Vulcans who have appeared on the series and movies.

Kirk’s Women (8:19) chronicles some of Captain Kirk’s lady friends in the eyes of the women who played the roles and why Kirk was so charming.

Star Trek: Three Picture Saga (10:12; HD) – This explains how Star Trek II morphed into a trilogy, though it wasn’t planned. As a couple writers out it, it was an “accidental trilogy”. There are a lot of interviews with the crew involved with all three movies. ** NEW FEATURE **

Star Trek for a Cause (5:40; HD) covers the humanity touched upon in Star Trek IV with a pitch by Greenpeace. ** NEW FEATURE **

Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 004: The Whale Probe (3:42) – You know the drill: green screen, semi-cute chick, wash, rinse and repeat. ** NEW FEATURE **

Under the category of “VISUAL EFFECTS” we get 2 more featurettes: From Outer Space to the Ocean (14:43) and The Bird of Prey (2:48). The first one shows us the process of the effects with photos and interviews, some filmed on the set in the mid 1980s. The second featurette is shorter and just gives a glimpse how The Bird of Prey was visualized.

Next up, there are original interviews (43:15) with William Shatner (14:33), Leonard Nimoy (15:40) and DeForest Kelley (13:02). Only plus to watching this is seeing how young each of them looked.

Last up we get a hodgepodge of features which I’ll touch on quickly: There are two “TRIBUTES”: Roddenberry Scrapbook (8:17) with comments by his son, and Featured Artist: Mark Lenard (12:44) about the man who played Spock’s father, Sarek from the perspective of his family.

And finally there is a production gallery (3:55) where we get to see a nice cast/crew picture with some random pictures on the set; 8 storyboards and the theatrical trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

|| STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) ||
The Blu-ray release of Star Trek II has been given a 1080p high-def transfer (with its original 2.35 aspect ratio) and has been restored (versus remastered like the rest). Comparatively, while the DVD release was not at all bad, if not a tad too saturated, this one has better color distribution and skin tones look just right. It’s not a visual blast but there is definitely nice depth in every scene with only momentary bits of dust or scratches (and it’s minimal). Note: There’s not a hint of DNR work on this release. -- ****¼ / *****

I was less impressed with the audio, compared to The Motion Picture, but the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 is still good, just not fantastic. I found some dialogue to be a little muffled and even James Horner’s score didn’t have that “boom” in comparison with Goldsmith’s work on the original. Sound effects are solid but like the dialogue it didn’t have the big impact I came to expect, but again, it isn’t too bad for a 27 year old movie. -- **** / *****

|| STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) ||
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock actually looks good in 1080p high-def but like the first movie, it did receive the DNR treatment to the chagrin of many fans. However, while it is concerning that we couldn’t be given a restoration like Star Trek II or The Godfather movies (well, the first two), I will say it’s not a bad looking film. Skin tones looked just right while colors on various objects like the uniforms or on the Enterprise looked excellent, especially since this is now 25 years old. This may not be reference material, but I was fairly impressed, though as I said, I wish Paramount avoided using DNR. -- ****½ / *****

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track sounded pretty good with an immersive experience between James Horner’s wonderful – if not slightly forgettable – score, and the sound effects as the Enterprise takes on some Klingon blasts. For some reason, I actually found this audio track to be slightly better than the one for Star Trek II, which is surprising since it didn’t receive the same treatment. -- ****½ / *****

|| STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) ||
This is by far the worst of the video transfers, more on that later, but on to the technical aspects: The movie is presented in 1080 high-definition with its original 2.35 aspect ratio. I did notice the use of DNR as the noise level is minimal, though I noticed some major amount of pixilation during some scenes. The colors look pretty good without exactly popping off the screen and details were half-decent, but it doesn’t look as sharp by comparison with its predecessors.

I luckily haven’t had the displeasure to experience drastic amounts of edge-enhancements on previous Blu-rays... until now. Although this only occurs a couple of times, it’s actually quite ridiculous how much was used especially during this one scene. The scene in question is when a whale hunting boat is going after a couple humpback whales you can see almost a yellowish glow around a couple of the actors. It is absolutely inexcusable. -- ***¼ / *****

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track fares much better, though. It’s not a ‘blow-your-mind’ kind of audio experience but the score, by Leonard Roseman (replacing James Horner who replaced Jerry Goldsmith), sounds fantastic from the opening credits while sound effects are good and dialogue is clean. -- ****¼ / *****



.::OVERALL::.

Although it is disappointing that Paramount didn’t give this the same kind of treatment of The Godfather when it debuted on Blu-ray. Plus, one cannot ignore the fact we only get the theatrical versions rather than director cuts which I’m 99% sure will see the light of day in high-definition.

With that said, this set does contain some great – and substantial – new features including new commentaries on each one as well as porting over everything from the previous sets. I think this would’ve easily been a must-buy if the studio had gone all out.