September 6, 2021

STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL 4-MOVIE COLLECTION: A Nearly Definitive Upgrade

STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL 4-MOVIE COLLECTION (4K UHD/Blu-ray Review)
1979-1986 / 585 min (4 movies)

FROM PARAMOUNT

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Star Trek in 4K was inevitable, of course. And predictably, the films included in this set have never looked better on home video. Right after popping-in the very first disc, it’s immediately obvious Paramount has put the same effort into this one as they did with the recent Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection.

But a few things perplex me. First, why just the first four movies? There are six films featuring the cast from the original series, and while I’m sure everyone besides William Shatner is content to forget Star Trek V, it’s a shame they aren’t all included because Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is one of the franchise’s underappreciated gems. 


Second, the set features the original theatrical cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, arguably the second-most maligned entry in the series. Why not include the vastly superior 2001 Director’s Cut overseen by director Robert Wise? That version not-only featured newly-created special effects to remedy rush-job done back in 1979, his editorial changes and audio flourishes made it a much better film. Even so, of all the films in this set, The Motion Picture benefits most from the 4K treatment, the most striking example being the still-awesome sequence where the Enterprise travels through the V’Ger cloud. Disc one also includes the lone new bonus feature of the entire set, an Isolated Score option showcasing Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible music. 


The set features both the Director’s Cut and theatrical version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (another reason I’m vexed over why they didn’t do the same for The Motion Picture). While I agree this film is probably the high-point of the entire franchise, I’m in the minority opinion regarding the Director’s Cut. The four minutes of restored scenes are interesting, but do nothing to improve the film. And for the sake of journalistic integrity, I must confess taking a shortcut for this review: Having seen Wrath of Khan so many times over the years - in theaters and every video format - I only checked out how certain key sequences look in 4K. 

I always thought Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was one of the more underrated films in the franchise. Granted, it ain’t as rousing or action-packed as the previous film, but that was obviously a deliberate move, since the overall theme of friendship dictates that the story would be more subdued and humanistic. For the first time in the series, Admiral Kirk comes across as a fallible, vulnerable human being rather than a stoic, fearless superhero. And considering Shatner’s reputation for overacting, he gives a remarkably low-key performance (which he’d also carry into the next film). This film also looks amazing in 4K, particularly the sequences set on the disintegrating Genesis Planet, as well as the first appearance of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. I always knew the ship was green, but I’d forgotten how green.


Perhaps "What does this button do?" should remain a rhetorical question.
Finally, there’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the conclusion of a three-film story arc that began with Wrath of Khan. Though affectionately known today as “the one with the whales,” the film’s comedic tone and environmental message were not-only a big surprise back in ‘86, its appeal extended beyond the Trekkie crowd, even if some newbies weren’t quite up-to-speed on the story. Though the characters and humor are still charming and its themes more relevant than ever, The Voyage Home looks more like a product of its decade than any other film in the franchise, but that’s obviously due to its present-day setting. Catherine Hicks is still annoying, though.

The set also comes with digital copies and Blu-ray discs of each film, where all of the bonus features are located. While there’s a ton of ‘em, be advised that none of the extras are new, all carried over from previous Blu-ray releases. Additionally, those who already have the films on DVD should still hang onto them, since some of those discs’ supplemental material are not included here. But all four films look outstanding in 4K, and if the best possible picture is paramount to you (no pun intended), this nicely packaged boxed set is definitely worth the upgrade. Only the omission of the last two movies keeps it from being definitive.


EXTRA KIBBLES 

4K, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL COPIES (all movies)

“LIBRARY COMPUTER” MODE (all movies) - This was my favorite featurette from the previous releases, which allows the viewer to access various text info while watching the film.

AUDIO COMMENTARIES (all movies) - ST: TMP has one, all the others feature two.

ORIGINAL TRAILERS (all movies)

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE:

ISOLATED SCORE

“PRODUCTION” FEATURETTE - “The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture”

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” FEATURETTES - “Special Star Trek Reunion”; “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: The Mystery Behind V’Ger”

STORYBOARDS

11 DELETED SCENES

TEASER & TV SPOTS

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN:

THEATRICAL & DIRECTOR’S CUT

TEXT COMMENTARY (Director’s cut only) - This is another great goody from previous releases, sort-of a “Pop-Up Video” features with trivia related to the film and the Trekverse.

“THE GENESIS EFFECT: ENGINEERING THE WRATH OF KHAN”

“PRODUCTION” FEATURETTES - “Captain’s Log”; Designing Khan”; Original Interviews”; The Visual Effects of Star Trek II”; James Horner: Composing Genesis”

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” FEATURETTES - “Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics”; “A Novel Approach”; “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 002: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI”

TRIBUTE TO RICARDO MONTALBAN

STORYBOARDS

STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK:

“PRODUCTION” FEATURETTES - “Ken Ralston on Models and Creature Effects”; “Captain’s Log”; Terraforming and the Prime Directive”; “The visual Effects of Star Trek”; “Spock: TheEarly Years”

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” FEATURETTES - “Space Docks and Birds-of-Prey”; “Speaking Klingon”; “Klingon and Vulcan Costumes”; “Star Trek and the SciFi Museum and Hall of Fame”; “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 002: The Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer”

STORYBOARDS & PHOTO GALLERIES

STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME:

“PRODUCTION” FEATURETTES - “future’s Past: A Look Back”; “On Location”; Dailies Deconstruction”; “Below the Line: Sound Design”; “Pavel Chekov’s Screen Moments” (Walter Koenig still sounds resentful over his minor role in the franchise)

“THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE” FEATURETTES - “Time Travel: The Art of the Possible”; “The Language of Whales”; “A Vulcan Primer”; “Kirk’s Women”; “Star Trek: The Three-Picture Saga”; “Star Trek for a Cause”; “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 002: The Whale Probe”

2 SFX FEATURETTES

ORIGINAL INTERVIEWS - Individual interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy & DeForest Kelley, running about 15 minutes each.

TRIBUTES - “Roddenberry Scrapbook”; “Featured Artist: Mark Lenard”

STORYBOARDS & PRODUCTION GALLERY


KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.

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