Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition, 1979.
Directed by Robert Wise.
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins.
The Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture has finally received its 4K upgrade, which includes many new updates to the effects work that was done back in 2000. Paramount also commissioned some new bonus features, including a new documentary and a fresh commentary track. Highly recommended.
Paramount has finished bringing the original cast’s Star Trek movies to 4K with a new batch of releases that start with Star Trek The Motion Picture: Director’s Edition. Originally released on DVD in 2001, the Director’s Edition required Paramount to upgrade the new special effects from standard-definition to 4K; the studio also took the opportunity to do even more new effects work on the film, which was a nice touch.
You won’t find the theatrical version of the film in this set, since Paramount issued it last year as part of their Original 4-Movie Collection (which I reviewed here), nor will you find the longer version that originally aired on TV, although that’s part of the Complete Adventure set that’s also available now. The Complete Adventure has all three versions of the film, along with some nice physical swag, so it’s worth hunting down if you’re a serious fan of this film.
As for me, I’ve always preferred Star Wars to Star Trek, but I do have a major soft spot in my heart for the adventures of the original cast, since I grew up on reruns of the 1960s era TV series. Having the theatrical cut and the Director’s Edition of The Motion Picture in 4K is good enough for me.
I won’t belabor a recitation of the plot, but I will say that TMP has grown on me over the years. It’s still a very different animal from its sequels, but it’s still an enjoyable film in its own right. I’m sorry that director Robert Wise couldn’t be around to see his vision fulfilled in 4K — as you might imagine, the film looks beautiful in the new format.
In addition to commissioning new effects, Paramount also went the extra yard by adding some new bonus features that you’ll find on the included Blu-ray platter. (There’s no Blu-ray version of the Director’s Edition found here, although you do get a code for a digital copy.) The new extras lead off with the 48-minute documentary The Human Adventure, which is split into eight parts and covers both the 2001 version of the Director’s Edition and the new one, with plenty of new and archival interviews included. Trek fans will also enjoy some of the little things that have been included here, such as audio from an ADR session with Leonard Nimoy and Wise.
Moving on, 4.5 minutes of deleted scenes have been added to the treasure trove of excised footage found in past editions (and ported over here). Some of it has missing audio, but sub-titles have been included in those situations. You’ll also find effects and costume tests (the latter includes the “caveman” version of Spock that was briefly considered during pre-production) along with footage of the original computer graphics that were displayed on the Enterprise’s screens.
The following extras were ported over from previous editions:
• The Star Trek Universe (140 minutes): This is an exhaustive documentary that covers the long and winding road that finally led to The Motion Picture’s 1979 release. There were actually plans to bring the TV series back as part of a new Paramount TV network in the mid-70s, but those efforts were eventually scuttled. (Imagine the path the entertainment industry might have taken had Paramount been the fourth major network instead of Fox.) However, the enormous success of 1977’s Star Wars prompted Paramount to put a Star Trek movie on the fast track for a Christmas 1979 release, which led to a lot of issues that plagued the movie, such as starting production without a finished script and issuing the film with some not-quite-done special effects.
• Deleted scenes from the theatrical cut and the 1983 TV version: These total around 29 minutes and seven minutes, respectively, and cover a wide variety of footage that was sliced for the theatrical version as well as added when the film debuted on network TV in 1983.
A teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, and a batch of TV spots round out the Blu-ray platter.
Before I close this review, I’ll need to backtrack to the 4K disc and note that, yes, it comes with the two commentary tracks previously issued, along with the isolated score track. There’s also a new commentary track with producer David C. Fein, audio editor Mike Matessino, and visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman; the three of them talk about not only their love of this film and its history but also the parts they played in bringing it to 4K.
The legacy audio commentary, which is from the 2001 DVD of the Director’s Edition, features Wise, effects guys Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and actor Stephen Collins. As you might imagine, they dig into the history of the original film as well as the changes made for the newly enhanced version. There’s also a text commentary with Michael and Denise Okuda, which provides plenty of bits of trivia for those who want to really dig deep with their Trek.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★