Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Director's Edition (1979)

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Released 5-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Star Trek Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Robert Wise (Director) et al
Subtitle Commentary-Michael Okuda
Featurette-Phase II: The Lost Enterprise
Featurette-A Bold New Enterprise
Featurette-Redirecting The Future
Notes-Documentary Credits
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Director's Edition Trailer
Trailer-Enterprise Promo
TV Spots-8
Deleted Scenes
Storyboards-3
Booklet
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 130:51 (Case: 141)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:11)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Wise
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley
James Doohan
George Takei
Majel Barret
Walter Koenig
Nichelle Nichols
Persis Khambatta
Stephen Collins
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Greek
English
Spanish
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Italian
Portuguese
Slovenian
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
English Text Commentary
Spanish Text Commentary
French Text Commentary
Italian Text Commentary
English Titling
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is very hard to look objectively at a film such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Films that have become ingrained in the popular conscience, such as this one, are so well-known (or at least known of), that it is impossible to watch them without considering their legacy. It is something like going back to the start of a favourite television series, and seeing one's favourite characters in a much younger form. The first time I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I was already well-aware of its legacy of sequels and television series. Contemplating what it must have been like to see it for the first time without knowing what it would become, one can only speculate that it was a breath-taking experience. Even today, the special effects present in this movie are incredible, so twenty years ago they must have been absolutely mind-blowing.

    The story of this first Trek instalment starts roughly two years after the conclusion of the original television series. The former Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is now an Admiral, Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has retired from starfleet and gone back to Vulcan to finally throw away the emotions of his human side, and the Enterprise herself has undergone a total re-fitting and re-build under the direction of new Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins). Into this situation comes a "thing" (as McCoy so eloquently puts it, "Why is any object we don't understand always called a thing?") - a giant energy cloud of roughly the same diameter as the Earth's orbit. This energy cloud is destroying anything in its path...and its path is leading it straight toward Earth. As is often the case for Star Trek, the Enterprise is the only ship in interception range, so Kirk returns to take command and head out to meet the "thing" (which turns out to be known as V'Ger) to discover what it wants, and if necessary, to attempt to stop it.

    This was an ambitious film in a number of ways. Firstly, while it was certainly pushed into production following the success of a little space opera named Star Wars, it could not be more removed both in style and story. While Star Wars is high fantasy in a science fiction setting, being little more than Lord Of The Rings in space, Star Trek is a treatise on what it means to be alive, or more precisely - what is the meaning of life? Where Star Wars targets the child in everyone, Star Trek is a very much more mature film, attempting to get people to think, not just react. Finally, while Star Wars is a rollicking action-adventure, Star Trek is very much a slow (at times so slow it is more akin to plodding) character drama. Additionally, Star Trek took the science part of its genre very seriously, right down to having not only a NASA consultant on hand, but also the famed science fiction writer Isacc Asimov as science advisors. Despite all these differences, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was an extremely successful film for Paramount, obviously so as it has launched a series of ten movies (well, ten come December 2002), not to mention four television series, and arguably the most fanatical and loyal fan-base of any movie series. While it is not the most profitable movie series of all time (that honour goes to the famous secret agent 007, thanks largely to a whopping 19 movies), and does not feature any box-office records, it is quite possibly the most loved by its fans.

    Despite these successes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is an ultimately flawed film. While some of the most successful moments in this film are the long sequences of little-to-no dialogue filled solely by the fantastic Jerry Goldsmith score, the slow and thoughtful nature of the film does work against it. Certainly one of the greatest moments in the film is the initial reveal of the Enterprise to an extended version of the famous Star Trek theme - it brings an ear-to-ear grin to my face every time - and the V'Ger fly-over is equally impressive. However other sequences like this, although usually shorter, are not as effective and serve only to slow the progression down. Additionally, there are many scenes that serve little-to-no purpose and that feel really quite out of place. The film takes over half an hour to launch the Enterprise, and then another twenty minutes passes before the V'Ger cloud is reached. For a film where the number of key story points can be almost be counted on one hand, this is far too slow.

    In the end, any complaints about the pace of the film are far outweighed by the nature of the film, the fact that it encourages you to think, and that it presents some of the greatest special effects ever created (the self-lighting Enterprise is truly a sight to behold). This movie was a fantastic start to a great series that just keeps going from strength to strength.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    As can reasonably be expected, the video presented for Star Trek: The Motion Picture has its share of problems, but in general this is an excellent transfer and really helps bring the film to life.

    Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is quite sharp, showing very good detail, even for small items such as the uniform insignia and the control consoles. Given the age of the film and the low lighting conditions for much of the shoot (the bridge had to be lit softly to prevent washing out the "computer screens" that were actually rear-projected images), this is a pleasant surprise. Grain only makes a few noticeable appearances, all brief, most of these concurrent with the multi-layer optical effects shots such as at 68:58, and during the attack of the V'Ger probe. The only other times that sharpness becomes an issue are when director of photography Richard Kline employed the use of a "split-diopter" lens, allowing focus on two points simultaneously. This produces an extremely obvious effect, and probably explains why the technique is not more widely employed. Shadow detail is also good, and given the amount of darkness present in this film (we are in outer space after all), that is a good thing. There was no low-level noise detected.

    Colours are very good, being nicely subdued for the Enterprise interiors, but coming across very vibrantly when needed, such as the opening scenes on Earth, and when the Enterprise jumps to warp.

    The only compression artefacts present are a slight amount of pixelization during the dark and grainy effects shots, but the effect occurs infrequently enough not to be a problem. Film-to-video artefacts consist only of some minor aliasing, such as on the rear of the Enterprise from 19:48 to 19:55, but it is so minor and so infrequent as to be a non-issue. The only real problem with this transfer is with film artefacts. From start to finish, the film is covered with them, and they come in all shapes and sizes. As with grain, they are most prevalent during the multi-layered optical effects shots, but that does not prevent them from appearing everywhere else in the transfer as well, such as the vertical line that runs through all of Spock's close-ups during the sick-bay scene, such as from 95:03 to 95:06. While most of the artefacts are small and don't individually create many problems, their frequency is sufficient that they do become annoying. Adding to the problem is that there is not an insignificant number of larger, far more noticeable artefacts.

    The subtitles are (very) large, easy to read, and are well paced. They follow the spoken word quite closely, only dropping insignificant words, so the effect of the dialogue is never altered.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change taking place at 73:11 during Chapter 21. The change is very good, as it occurs on a static shot and as all sound ceases, so it is barely noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a very good audio transfer, and when the age of the source material is taken into account, it can be considered truly amazing.

    There are five audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue, and dubs in Spanish, French, and Italian all in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448 Kbps, and an English audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround at 224 Kbps.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand at all times, and has been extremely well re-mastered to still sound natural in the new surround mix. Often surround mixes based on old stereo mixes will tend to make the dialogue seem a little "detached", but that is not the case here.

    Audio sync is a little problematic, but that is explained somewhat by the fact that the majority of the dialogue was looped for this film due to the high noise-levels on set from the "computer screen" projectors (and the words spoken by the Vulcan elders were changed from English to Vulcan in post-production!). It does not really cause too many problems, although on occasions such as at 38:23, it does become quite obvious.

    The score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture is provided by Jerry Goldsmith, and it is for the most part a brilliant and beautiful score. Goldsmith really revelled in the opportunity to work with the numerous long dialogue-free sequences, such as the reveal of the new Enterprise, and the V'Ger fly-over, and produced some very stirring and beautiful music. The reveal of the Enterprise is worth getting this disc for alone. There are a few occasions when the use of "experimental" sounds in the music are not as effective as they may otherwise have been, but overall the musical accompaniment is excellent.

    There is a very good use of surround sound here, including some directional rear channel use. The surrounds are also used extensively to support the score. As is to be expected from a re-mastered stereo soundtrack, there is little use of ambient surround (although it does happen on occasion, and is quite effective when it does), but this certainly does not detract from a very nice surround mix. The only real problem is that there is a fair amount of background hiss present from the surrounds for much of the time they are not being used. Obviously, this comes from the 20-plus year old source, but it can be a little distracting.

    The subwoofer is not given an extensive workout here, but it does come in handy to back up some of the more extravagant effects noises, although most of the time it is inactive - but then again, for what is essentially a dialogue-driven drama with action elements thrown in, that is not a real surprise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This 2-disc set presents a fantastic selection of extras that really enhance one's understanding of the film, and what it takes to get a film made. There is enough here to keep Star Trek fans happy for hours.

Menu

    The menus are themed around the Star Trek series, animated, 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio. The animation is quite simple, but is extremely effective, making these some of the best examples of menu screens for DVD.

Audio Commentary - Robert Wise (Director), Douglass Trumbull (Special Photographic Effects Director), John Dykstra (Special Photographic Effects Supervisor), Jerry Goldsmith (Composer), Stephen Collins (Actor)

    This is billed as a "group commentary", but what that means is that all the participants were recorded separately and then spliced together for the final commentary. For the most part it works very well, although the numerous voices can become confusing at times. It is certainly a very interesting commentary, and would make just the first disc worthwhile, even without the second.

Text Commentary - Michael Okuda (Co-Author: The Star Trek Encyclopedia)

    As with many text commentaries, there are a number of occasions when the text flicks by so fast as be almost impossible to read (and is then followed by relatively large gaps), and it is certainly too hard to try to read all the commentary while either watching the movie or listening to the audio commentary, but despite that it is a fascinating read, and is well worth playing the movie through again for. In fact, the text commentary is probably even more interesting than the audio commentary.

Disc 2

Featurette - Phase II: The Lost Enterprise (12:38)

    This documents the events that lead up to the decision to create what would become Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Phase II refers to the name of the never-realised television series that later became the movie. It is a fascinating look at the process by which the decision to make a movie is arrived at. It is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Featurette - A Bold New Enterprise (29:40)

    This second documentary covers the making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture itself, from the tight budget to the even tighter deadline, and the efforts that had to be made to bring the film to life. It is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Featurette - Redirecting The Future (14:05)

    The third documentary looks at the making of this director's cut of the film. It partners with the previous two documentaries to provide almost an hour of in-depth history and information about the film. It is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Credits

    This is two static pages of credits for the makers of the documentaries.

Trailers

    This section contains four trailers as follows:

TV Spots

    This section contains eight TV spots as follows:     All are presented at 1.33:1, are not 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Additional & Deleted Scenes - 1979 Theatrical Version

    This section presents 5 scenes from the 1979 theatrical version that were altered for the Director's Edition. The scenes are as follows:     Also presented in this section are Trims (5:29) which contains scenes present in the 1979 theatrical version that were eliminated for the Director's Cut, and Outtakes (2:42) that presents the only competed footage for the abandoned Memory Wall sequence. All selections in this section with the exception of Outtakes are presented in 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio. The Outtakes sequence is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and does not contain any audio.

Additional & Deleted Scenes - 1983 Television Version

    This section presents 11 scenes that were inserted into the 1983 television version that have been taken out again for this Director's Edition. The scenes are as follows:     All scenes are presented at 2.35:1, are 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Archives

    This section presents a selection of storyboards split into three categories - Vulcan, Enterprise Departure, V'Ger Revealed.

Booklet

    This is a four-page booklet (in other words, a single sheet of paper folded in half) that contains a full listing of extras, a chapter listing, and a few paragraphs from director Robert Wise.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Essentially, both discs are identical - in fact, the layer change is at the exact same spot on both the Region 4 and Region 1 DVDs, but there are a few differences worth noting. Firstly, the Region 1 DVD uses burned-in subtitles for the Klingon and Vulcan dialogue (and the "Earth" placecard). The font used for these is the famous Star Trek font, and is very nice indeed, while the Region 4 version uses a not very attractive subtitle stream font in these places. This was done so the same disc could be used across Europe. Secondly, but more importantly, the visual appearance of the Region 1 is not quite up to the standards of the Region 4. It is not quite as sharp, the colours are not quite as good, and the film artefacts and grain seem more noticeable.

    Based on a strict feature comparison, the two discs are even (unless you cannot speak or read English - but given you're reading this review, that's probably not an issue), but on a direct comparison, the Region 4 is the (slight) winner.

Summary

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a very good (although very slow) film that is the stepping stone for one of, if not the, greatest popular culture creations of all time.

    The video quality is very good, although with the amount of work that was done on it, it is quite disappointing to see the numerous film artefacts.

    The audio quality is extremely good, presenting a fantastic 5.1 remix of a stereo source.

    The extras are both plentiful and extremely interesting. There are hours of entertainment here for Trek fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Monday, July 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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Comments (Add)
Re-edit -
Cinema Experience + Region 1 version - Rod W (Suss out my biography if you dare)
NERDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - REPLY POSTED
Trek - Jock (read my bio)
Star Trek is now just Paramount's cash cow... - Dean M (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.) REPLY POSTED
ST movie story lines -
A Message For Ih8StarTrek -
What I like about ST:TMP... -
Robert Wise + Nerds - Rod W (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan -
MST3K... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
Original series? - M.E
TOS Boxed sets throughout 2004 - Christopher
Original version -