Star Trek: The Next Generation 4-Movie Collection
Directed by David Carson, Jonathan Frakes, and Stuart Baird.
Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Malcolm McDowell, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Alice Krige, F. Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy, Anthony Zerbe, and Tom Hardy.
The four films in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series have gotten their big 4K Ultra HD debut, with beautifully remastered image quality that was also used for the Blu-ray platters included here. You also get codes for digital copies as well as tons of bonus features that were ported over from the 2004 DVD and 2009 Blu-ray editions. This one is a must-have for fans, and it arrives just in time for the anniversary (or pre-anniversary) of first contact.
I’ll confess I never got into later iterations of Star Trek the same way I enjoyed reruns of the original series when I was a kid in the 70s. I still land on the side of Star Wars in that age-old “Which franchise is better?” debate (I find such debates a waste of time, honestly), but five of the first six Trek movies will always occupy a special place in my heart next to all the other genre films I loved during my formative years.
That said, I still find Star Trek: The Next Generation enjoyable. I’ve always appreciated the follow-up series’ approach to remaking the crew of the new Enterprise, leaving behind the trio that dominated the original cast in favor of an ensemble approach. Just like I don’t have much use for Star Wars vs. Star Trek debates, I don’t care much for Kirk vs. Picard arguments; each of them is an interesting, fully developed character in his own right.
When the Next Generation movies began to appear, I went along for the ride, although it felt like they petered out, rather than conclude on a rousing finish like the original cast’s films did. That was a bummer, but perhaps it was for the best: It paved the way for the reboot trilogy, and now Trek thrives as a group of streaming series. In today’s modern media world, perhaps Trek (and Star Wars, to be honest) is best enjoyed as an episodic series.
If you’re a fan of the Next Generation movies, however, you’ll want to get yourself a copy of this new four-movie collection that presents the post-Star Trek VI films with spectacular 4K visual quality. The remastered films are also found on accompanying Blu-ray discs, along with a heaping helping of bonus content ported over from previous editions. If this is the end of the line for Trek movies on physical media, it’s a fine way to go out. And as with previous Star Trek films on 4K UltraHD, codes for digital copies are included too.
Star Trek Generations (1994)
Meant to pass the baton from the original cast to the new one (although without half the former), Generations is a bumpy opening to the next phase in the movie series, much like Star Trek: The Motion Picture was when it kicked off the film franchise. However, unlike ST: TMP, which has aged pretty well, Generations remained a “meh” experience when I revisited it.
I hope I’m not spoiling anything for anyone when I note that while the film opens with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov, only Kirk ends up meeting Picard and helping him save the day in the end, thanks to an interstellar ribbon that traps him in a kind of stasis for nearly one hundred years. Kirk’s death (again, this isn’t a spoiler, right?) during act three is a bit of an anti-climactic moment given the way it happens, but the ending sets up the potential for more entries in the series.
The bonus features include a pair of audio commentaries, a text commentary by Denise and Michael Okuda, a bunch of featurettes, several deleted scenes, and more. As with the other movies in this set, none of the extras are new, having been ported over from the 2004 DVD and 2009 Blu-ray editions, but it’s nice to have them all in one place. And they’re so exhaustive that I’m not sure what else Paramount could have included here.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★★★
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
This one is my favorite of the four films in this set. Time travel stories are always a blast, especially the Trek ones, and this tale is unique in that the crew of the Enterprise-E travels to our future, the year 2063. That’s the year humans launched a spacecraft that first achieved warp speed, garnering the attention of some passing aliens (thus “first contact”) and setting the stage for our journey into space.
The date of first contact is actually April 4, which, unsurprisingly, informed the release date of this set. (It’s also my dad’s birthday, so I have to give a shout-out in his memory; he died in March of last year.)
The Borg also factor into this story. They’ve gone back in time to assimilate the Earth, since humans couldn’t defend themselves against such an onslaught in the past (not sure why they didn’t just do that during The Next Generation’s run on TV), leading our heroes to chase them. James Cromwell turns in a great scenery-chewing performance as Zefram Cochrane, the pilot and ship builder responsible for such a momentous historical event. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t quite live up to the image that the Enterprise-E crew has of him.
First Contact also has a nice big batch of extras, including three commentary tracks, the Okudas’ obligatory text track, tons of featurettes, and deconstructions of three scenes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★★
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Unfortunately, the Next Generation film series started going into a tailspin here. Insurrection feels like it should have been a two-part TV episode, complete with all-CGI effects that don’t hold up well today. Rather than go big and bold, the powers that be decided to go small and old.
In this outing, Picard and his crew must intervene in the lives of the peaceful Ba’ku people, who have eschewed all modern technology, after Data seems to malfunction while conducting an undercover assignment to observe them. It turns out that a Federation Admiral is in cahoots with the Son’a people, who want the Ba’ku’s secret for longevity for themselves.
I’ll confess that I don’t remember if I ever saw this film, so it seemed new to me when I watched it. Maybe it was so bland that it slid out of my brain shortly after I originally saw it. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie — it’s a decent one, but there really isn’t much that elevates the story to “This should be a big-budget film” status.
The bonus features include a commentary track, the Okudas’ text commentary, deleted scenes, and a bunch of featurettes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★★★
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
The last film until the 2009 reboot, Nemesis is a more interesting outing than its predecessor. The story involves a human named Shinzon who lives among the Remans, a slave race of the Romulan Empire. Shinzon leads a revolt that culminates with him taking control of the empire, and he seeks to confront Picard, from whom he was originally cloned.
That’s quite a setup, of course, and the story does delve into a “nature vs. nurture” theme as Picard tries to convince Shinzon that he could choose a different path, but the whole thing just feels a bit blah. Like Insurrection, it’s not a bad film, and it actually has a story worthy of the big screen, but I’ve never found it very engaging. Next Generation fans may beg to differ with this one, as well as the other three movies in this set, to which I say, “To each their own.”
The extras include no less than three commentary tracks, the Okudas’ text commentary, and a bunch of featurettes. As with the other films in this set, it’s nice to have all the previous extras in one place.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★