Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Director's Edition (1979)
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
Trailer-Director's Edition Trailer
|Year Of Production||1979|
|Running Time||130:51 (Case: 141)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Robert Wise|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
English Text Commentary
Spanish Text Commentary
French Text Commentary
Italian Text Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
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.
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.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All 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)|