Star Trek: Original Motion Picture CollectionParamount Pictures (Blu-ray)
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.
While the new Star Trek is enjoying immense success at the box office right now, Paramount has seen it fit to release the first six films to Blu-ray as part of a great box set. These films depict the adventures of the original crew with the later films expected to be hitting Blu later this year hopefully. I grew up with these films and have enjoyed all of them in my time but as I’ve grown older only a few have really stood the test of time. Like many Trek fans my favorite of the bunch continues to be Part II, which was the darkest film. But all deliver solid sci-fi thrills that continue to entertain even today.
Each of the six films sports a 1080p AVC encode, but with the exception of Star Trek II, they don't look nearly as good as Star Trek: Season One on Blu-ray, which went through extensive reconditioning a couple of years ago. (Apparently, Star Trek II was in the worst shape, so it received more restoration work than the others.) None of the films are razor-sharp, but they are a substantial improvement over the "Special Edition" DVDs with better color reproduction, blacker blacks, and superior contrast. Unfortunately, it looks like extensive DNR (digital noise reduction) has been applied at the expense of high-frequency detail, which softens up facial features and blurs the definition in fabric and hair. Sure, grain has been minimized by this process, but the result is a less film-like presentation.
The Motion Picture has the most print damage of the six films with the occasional nick and scratch, and there are a couple of moments that appear as if Vaseline is obscuring background detail, but most of the time it looks pretty good. Another nit to pick is in Star Trek VI, which has what seems to be interlacing artifacts—specifically, in chapter two when Captain Sulu raises his cup of tea, the cup's curved rim exhibits jaggies. This is a possible indication of a 1080i source with poor deinterlacing to 1080p on the disc, but those with displays under 50 inches probably won't notice these anomalies.
Each film sports a 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that is impressive, especially on the last two films. The Motion Picture is very front-loaded with inconsistent dialog and dynamic range befitting the age of the film. The next three movies show an improvement with slightly more ambience from the surround speakers and more robust bass, but the dialog can sound strained and thin in Khan. The last two films offer the best audio experience with clearer dialog, an immersive surround environment, and expanded frequency response with crisper highs and deep room-shaking bass, especially when Praxis explodes.
Paramount has packed the 7-disc set with a shipload of bonus materials, many of which are carried over from the special-edition DVDs. In addition, every movie offers new HD featurettes made especially for this Blu-ray release. If you're a fan of audio commentaries, there are no fewer than 11 spread across the six films, with the best coming from director Nicholas Meyer on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There are many behind-the-scenes featurettes discussing the writing, music, cast, special effects, costumes, locations, sound design, art, and many other topics. New HD features include the "Starfleet Academy Briefs," which look at a specific item from the film. For example, the Brief for The Motion Picture is the "Mystery behind V'ger," and for Star Trek IV, it's "The Whale Probe."
There are a number of tributes to the fallen members of the Star Trek family, including creator Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991), Mark Lenard (1924-1996), who played Spock's father Sarek, DeForest Kelley (1920-1999), James Doohan (1920-2005), and Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009). Roddenberry's tribute features an extensive interview with his son, while Kelley's looks back on his career and how he was well liked by anyone he came in contact with.
A couple of Blu-ray exclusive features include a Bonus View "Library Computer" viewing mode, which provides technical and background information on Star Trek indexed by topic—a Trekkers delight! For those with BD-Live players, there's a Trek trivia game with clips from the films. You can even create your own quiz and have it rated by other viewers.
Last but not least is the seventh disc in the set, "The Captains' Summit." It's a taped interview with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes with Woopie Goldberg moderating. The 70-minute featurette includes the former captains—yes, Spock and Riker were captains eventually—talking about Star Trek's effect on their personal and professional lives, the fans, and the friendships they've developed because of Gene Roddenberry's masterful universe—a must watch for every Trekkie!
Star Trek—The Original Motion Picture Collection is the most extensive collection of Trek in the universe, but it does have a few problems. I wish every film had received the same restorative treatment as Khan and The Original Series so that all the films were more pristine, but maybe my expectations are too high. Regardless, each film is a big upgrade over its DVD counterpart in both audio and video, and the additional HD supplemental features are a nice bonus—especially "The Captains Summit." If you're a Trekkie, this boxed set is worth every penny, even with its warts. Highly recommended.