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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Space Opera > Star Trek – The Original Motion Picture Collection (1979 - 1991/Paramount Blu-ray)

Star Trek – The Original Motion Picture Collection (Paramount Blu-ray)


Picture: B (B- on III & V)/Sound: B/Extras: B/Films:


Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979) B-

Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan (1982) B+

Star Trek III – The Search For Spock (1984) B-

Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home (1987) B

Star Trek V – The Final Frontier (1989) B-

Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country (1991) B



After an animated series revival that was a success cut short and Philip Kaufmann feature film ironically cancelled just before the original 1977 Star Wars was huge hit, Paramount finally got the original live-action crew of the 1960s Star Trek TV show into a feature film series.  Though the 1979 film made money, it was a critical and fan flop, hurting the franchise and it is only because of Wrath Of Khan that a series emerged at all.  The original cast lasted six feature films, all collected on Blu-ray for the first time in Star Trek – The Original Motion Picture Collection.



Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979) was under the creative control of Gene Roddenberry and directed by a Robert Wise whose directorial powers had weakened, but the studio put up much money for a film that was less colorful (all the shades of grey emphasized by the new wardrobes) and the result was more a recycling of 2001: A Space Odyssey on a pedestrian level than anything groundbreaking or innovative.  Roddenberry slowly lost control of the franchise after this in a way that would almost kill it until the 2009 revival prequel film that finally pulled it out of its boring, military porn state.


The film has some great set design, a look all of its own, is shot to be a very big screen film and thought it could be the smart Star Wars as much as the James Bond film Moonraker (the same year) was trying to be the most extravagant space action film around.  Both did big business, but did not keep most audiences happy.  In the case of this first Trek film, fans who disliked it dubbed it “Star Trek – The Motion Sickness” for its relentless use of optical warp effects without a story to back it up.  This “trippy” gimmick was is even a problem for Disney The Black Hole (also the same year) but that was not as monotonous in that respect.  However, this is how Hollywood tried to catch up to George Lucas and these films are the evidence.


The original Enterprise crew is reunited to stop an unstoppable force that is unknown and only their science and experience has a chance to stop.  The story winds-up being a disappointment when we find out what “it” is, but Persis Khambatta steals the show as the in-love crew member who is killed and has her body taken over as a rebuilt sentient being that communicated with the rest of the crew.  She is underrated here, totally convincing and one of the reasons to still see the film.  Of course, to see the cast together again is a plus and it looks like they are truly happy to be together.  Even with its flaws, it is ambitious, the money is on the screen, the studio was serious about backing it and its pluses out-weight its negatives.



Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan (1982) is the best film in the series without a doubt, delivering the kind of raw fun space opera even Star Wars could not as Kirk’s old enemy Khan (Ricardo Montalban, reprising his role from the “Space Seed” episode of the original show in a really great performance) happens to resurface by chance when Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Capt. Terrell (Paul Winfield) accidentally land on the wrong planet.  Taking over their Starship, they find Enterprise and the battle begins.  By this time, the original cast is at full speed with their chemistry and the film everyone had hoped for in the first place finally materialized.  Despite a few aspects of the film dating, the core holds up extremely well, from the shoot to the production design, the nice new costumes and suspenseful, smart screenplay.


Merritt Butrick is underrated as Kirk’s son, while Kristie Alley gives what is still her best performance ever as the original Lt. Saavik.  The flow of the editing, the energy of the whole film and best directing co-writer Nicholas Meyer ever did remains a high watermark for him and all involved.  Shatner also proves even he can act when challenged and given good material.  Note that this is not the director’s cut version.



Star Trek III – The Search For Spock (1984) is a sequel that simply wraps up the previous film’s storyline, includes Christopher Lloyd as a none-too-memorable villain, but it is still a watchable film though you should really see Khan first or this will not play as well by any means.  It was safe enough for Leonard Nimoy to take over as director, which turned out to be part of the deal and gave him a brief cycle of directing success inside and outside of the series.  Harve Bennett’s script hits all the expected notes and Robin Curtis replaces Kristie Alley as Lt. Saavik doing her best, but the feeling was Alley was expected to continue in the role and be a permanent new Enterprise crew member.  That was not to be.



Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home (1987) is the grossly underrated comic Trek that upset some fans, but was the first to suggest some fans need to take the franchise in moderation when it comes to being serious about it.  Ironically, the new sequel TV shows would take themselves more seriously than anything that had been seen with the original cast, giving this film a whole new value.  Often known as the Trek film “with the whales”, it was not always technically accurate when it came to the history of the franchise or loaded with much science or action, but it was a hit and Nimoy proved his handling of the last film was no fluke.  Catherine Hicks’ performance is a comic gem and is a one of a kind Trek the new cycle of pretension will never allow to happen again.



NOTE:  Films 2 – 4 have been issued on Blu-ray as a trilogy.



Star Trek V – The Final Frontier (1989) was a bomb on arrival, but time and some revisionist thinking that has just started up is finally giving the film its due for what did work.  William Shatner actually directed, later complaining he did not have enough money to do the film and that still shows.  Recycling some of the first films mistakes, the real reason to see the film is over interactions with the original cast.  Because it is not as big a production, they are more laid back and that plays well in ways no one gave it credit for then.  No, it has not dated well, but seeing the cast together in ways that work (even when the film does not) has appreciated in value and it is worth a new look.



Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country (1991) was previously reviewed on the site in its DTS DVD set and you can read more about the film at this link:





The 1080p 2.35 X 1 image on all 6 films disappoint in one way or another.  All have softness and grain issues, plus the optical visual effects have extra grain.  Some of this can be fixed in a lab.  Other issues have to do with what looks like older HD transfers for cable.  The smearing and softness on III and IV in particular are terrible and will make some fans mad.  II would probably look better if these were the longer prints.  All were shot in real anamorphic Panavision except VI, which was Super 35mm, but all were intended for 70mm blow-up prints and there is no excuse for this material to look this bad and what you see here would have never been used for a 70mm blow-up.


As for the camera work, Wise reteamed on the first film with Richard H. Klein, who previously teamed up on The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Soylent Green (1973), explaining why this worked because those films are among the best they ever did.  Meyer had large-frame format specialist Gayne Rescher on II with spectacular results, then Hiro Narita (The Arrival, The Rocketeer) on VI with decent results as well.  Nimoy turned to Charles Correll (Animal House) on III and Donald Peterman (Flashdance, Men In Black) for IV and gained fine results in both cases.  That leaves Shatner with Andrew Laszlo (The Owl & The Pussycat, First Blood, Remo Williams) saving his film from being worse.  All of them deserve better transfers of their Director of Photography work.



The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound upgrades might be overdoing it a bit and though new sounds were not added as they were too often on the James Bond restorations, the first five films originally had 4.1 Dolby mixes intended for 70mm blow-ups, with IV and V having the added advantage of analog Spectral Recording noise reduction, while VI was a 5.1 70mm blow-up film that also was a nearly demo for Dolby Digital 5.1 in some cases.  The sound is more consistent throughout across the Blu-rays, but having 7.1 tracks shows how much more dated dialogue and some sound effects are to the disadvantage of the films.  However, other sound effects are fine and the music scores usually benefit.  Jerry Goldsmith scored the first film, the new theme song was recycled for The Next Generation then he returned for IV& V, while James Horner’s music for II was a career breakthrough for him, so he did III as well, leaving Cliff Eidelman doing what remains the best work of his career on VI.


Extras are many and the set adds a 7th Blu-ray with interviews of the captains throughout the franchise to tie the set with other films and TV series, while all the Blu-rays of the films add BD Live interactive features, audio commentaries by scholars and those involved in the making of the films and at least three new HD featurettes on each film.  Montalban gets attribute piece on II and all are decent, though II and IV could have even had more and they are loaded.  That might maker fans happy, but the film playback is a major issue, so only serious fans should apply.


For more Trek, try these links:


Season One Original Series Blu-ray Set



The Animated Series DVD Set




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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