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More than twenty years after the fact, Paramount gave director Robert Wise the chance to revisit STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and create a definitive director’s edition of the film. But first, a look back at the film released in 1979… After a long gestation period in which Paramount planned to bring back STAR TREK as either a new television series or a theatrical film, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE went into production with an incomplete script and a tight schedule to make a Christmas 1979 release date. While STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE did make money for Paramount, the completed film wasn’t a totally satisfying experience for fans or critics alike. Many referred to this film as Star Trek: The Motionless Picture because an endless series of "reaction shots" in which cast members gaped at the film’s special effects. With THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION, Robert Wise was able to fine-tune the editing of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, removing some of the repetitive "reaction shots" and adding back some of the footage shown in the network television version, which fleshed out both the plot and characterizations. Additionally, THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE adds a number of new special effects that the filmmakers were unable to complete in the crunch to make the original theatrical release date.

As STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE opens, a seemingly hostile object of unbelievable size and power is on a direct course for Earth. With no other starships in range, Admiral James T. Kirk forces Starfleet to give him command of his old ship- the U.S.S. Enterprise, which has spent the last eighteen months being refit in Earth orbit. Kirk also manages to "draft" retired Starfleet doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) for this critical mission. With most of his original crew in place, Kirk sets off in the Enterprise to stop whatever it is that is heading for Earth. In route to the unknown object, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the last member of the original Enterprise crew, volunteers his services as science officer for the mission because he sensed some aspect of the alien entity calling to him across the vast distance of space. For the remainder of the film, Kirk and crew try to find a way to deal with the alien entity and save the Earth from possible destruction. The cast of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE also features TREK regulars James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney, as well as newcomers Persis Khambatta as Lieutenant Ilia and Stephen Collins as the displaced Captain of the Enterprise- Will Decker.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a very good transfer of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, but it isn’t perfect. The majority of the film’s special effects were produced optically in 1979, so grain and other imperfections that were printed into the effects work are still apparent in this presentation. Also, some shots within the film appear softer than others; again this is due to the effects work. However, the majority of the film is rendered in a very crisp and well-defined fashion. There is some graininess in the principal photography and the film elements display some blemishes, which serves as a reminder that STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE is more than twenty years old. Colors tend to be nicely rendered, despite the filmmaker’s decision to use a limited palette. The production design leans towards creams, silvers and grays, although more intense hues do appear in the film to provide contrast. Flesh tones are largely realistic and appealing. All of the colors are stable, and they are reproduced without noise or smearing. Blacks are deep and inky, plus the picture produces very good contrast and more than respectable shadow detail. Impeccable authoring keeps all traces of digital compression artifacts well disguised.

For this release, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE is presented with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack, which remixes the original sound elements from the ground up. The sound designers were even able to utilized unused sound effects that were recorded for the film’s original track in this new mix. This is a very engaging mix that shows that there can be plenty of life in older recordings, that is, if they are properly utilized. Channel separation is quite good, with precise sound effects placement. Audio pans are very convincing, plus there is some very subtle, but very interesting utilization of the surround channels. Dialogue reproduction is very clean and more transparent than on previous video incarnations of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. Of course, the true highlight of the track is Jerry Goldsmith’s impressive score. The music has a wonderful sweep and is integrated into the sound mix with a greater sense of fidelity than it had in the past. Now, one can truly appreciate more nuances in orchestrations than they were able to in the past, I am particularly delighted with how well the film’s overture sounds on the DVD. The bass channel is truly deep and floor shaking, augmenting both sound effects and the film’s score. An English Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a solid supplemental section. Most of the supplements are contained on a second DVD, but disc one does contain a couple of treats. Starting things off is a running audio commentary featuring director Robert Wise, special photographic effects director Douglas Trumball, special photographic effects supervisor John Dykstra, music composer Jerry Goldsmith and actor Stephen Collins. There is a lot of good information on the track, with all of the participants providing their own particular insights into the production. Even more informative is "text commentary" which appears on a subtitle data stream. Michael Okuda, who is the co-author of The Star Trek Encyclopedia, is responsible for the "text commentary," which provides every scrap of information that a Trek is going to need to know about the universe of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE.

Moving over to disc two, one will find plenty of video supplements. The documentary section includes Phase II: The Lost Enterprise, which provide more than ten minutes of interviews, in which the participants talk about a proposed second STAR TREK television series that evolved into the motion picture. Running under a half an hour is A Bold New Enterprise, which features new interviews and looks at the production the movie. Redirecting The Future runs about fifteen minutes and takes a look at the production of the new special effects that were created to complete THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION. Disc two also includes a teaser trailer, a full theatrical trailer and a new video trailer for THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION. Eight original television commercials are also provided, although they look as though the come from a vhs dub. A number of deleted scenes from the movie are included on disc two, as are some outtakes and trims from the film. The majority of the scenes come from the original theatrical version, which have been altered or removed from THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION. Also provided are snippets that were included in the 1983 television broadcast version, but did not make the final cut of THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION. A storyboard archive closes out disc two’s supplemental section.

It is great to finally have STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE available on DVD. THE DIRECTOR’S EDITION improves the film, without sacrificing the integrity of the original production. Fans are going to be delighted with the DVD, which offers them something no other STAR TREK DVD has ever included- supplements! The video and audio presentation of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE is superior to everything that preceded it, making this a must have disc for rabid TREK fans and genre buffs in general.


Star Trek - The Motion Picture


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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