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STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL 4-MOVIE COLLECTION

Paramount // PG-13 // September 7, 2021
List Price: $90.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted September 16, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movies:


Paramount goes back to the Star Trek well with this new set, an eight disc collection reissuing the first four theatrical films from the franchise on UHD for the first time and on remastered Blu-ray. There isn't much here at all in terms of new extra features, but the presentation quality is very strong across the board. But first, the movies…


Star Trek: The Motion Picture:


Directed by Robert Wise and released in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is set in the 23rd century and the story begins when the Starfleet's Epsilon 9 monitoring station discovers an alien presence inside an energy cloud heading to Earth. A trio of Klingon war ships moves in but are promptly destroyed and when Epsilon 9 intervenes, it too is destroyed.


Meanwhile, on the very planet that the energy cloud is heading towards, The U.S.S. Enterprise is being updated, upgraded and repaired. Captain Kirk (Willaim Shatner) has been promoted to Admiral and is now the Chief Of Starfleet Operations in San Francisco. Command tasks The Enterprise with stopping the energy cloud before it can do further harm, but its new systems haven't been fully tested yet, making this mission even more dangerous. Kirk pulls rank and takes the Enterprise back under his command, much to the dismay of Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins). Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Montgomery 'Scottie' Scott (James Doohan), Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), Hikaru Sulu (George Takai) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) are all along for the ride. When the new systems malfunction and two crew members are killed, Decker becomes increasingly irate with Kirk, who isn't familiar with the new systems the way that Decker is. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) arrives to replace one of the fallen, a science officer of course, and makes a strange connection to the energy cloud.


When The Enterprise approaches the cloud, it's attacked by the alien ship inside it, and the ship's navigator, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), is killed in the fray, further upsetting Decker. The ship sends in a replica robot version of Ilia called V'Ger to The Enterprise, further complicating things for the crew.


The first film in the set is not the best. It's overly talky and it can be a little tough at times to get too worked up about seeing the crew of The Enterprise go up against what is, for a large chunk of the film, a cloud. It could have easily been tightened up in editing, the running time feels too long for what we get out of the movie, although there are some very interesting ideas here that keep it from being a total waste of time, Spock's story arc and the subplot involving Ilia/V'Ger being two good examples of some creative storytelling on display. The production values are pretty solid here. The effects look good even if they do show their age and there's some interesting, though not always completely successful, costuming on display. The Enterprise looks very cool here and both the score and the cinematography are strong across the board.


Of course, the main draw here is seeing the original cast members reprise their iconic roles for what was, in 1979, for the first time since the original TV series went off the air. There's certainly plenty of appeal to the movie for that fact alone, and they all do great work here, as dependable and fun to watch as they ever were and not lacking in any of the chemistry that made the TV series as enjoyable to watch as it still is to this day.


Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan:


Directed by Nicholas Meyer and released in 1982, the second film in the collection gets moving when Admiral James T. Kirk assists Spock in training some new recruits in a simulator session. In this session, Lieutenant Saavik is put in charge of The Enterprise to basically role play a scenario requiring the new team to rescue the crew of the Kobayashi Maru which has been ravaged in a Klingon attack. Afterwards, McCoy catches up with Kirk to celebrate his birthday and notices that he isn't quite himself. It seems that Kirk just isn't cut out for a desk job and is better suited to command a ship's crew.


Elsewhere, the Reliant and its crew are exploring the outer reaches of space to hopefully find a planet without any life on it so that the Genesis Device can be tested there. The goal is to prove that the device can turn an uninhabitable planet into one capable of supporting life. Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell head down to check out the planet only to get kidnapped by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), who was exiled by Kirk years ago for an attempted coup. When things went wrong and Khan lost his wife and many of his crew members, he held a grudge. Using some mind control bugs that he puts into Chekov and Terrell's ears, he is able to control them and effectively takes over The Reliant before then learning about, and then proceeding to try to get his hands on, the Genesis Device. This, of course, is the impetus for Kirk to get back in the Captain's chair of The Enterprise.


A much more engaging and entertaining film than its predecessor, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is a pretty solid watch. Khan proves to be a great foil for Kirk and company and, even if Montalbán's performance here isn't exactly subtle, he's a lot of fun to watch in the part and very well cast as the film's nefarious villain. The script is stronger, doing more to expand on the relationships between the core characters, and giving all of the key Trek players more to do and more depth to do it with. The picture is much better paced than the first movie as well, it goes at a good clip and never feels padded. Without going into heavy spoiler territory, the film's ending also hits with a pretty strong emotional punch and makes for one of the strongest moments out of all of the four films in this collection. Again, we get pretty solid production values as well. Not all of the costumes are perfect here but the SFX work is pretty good and all in all, this second film works really well.


Star Trek III: The Search For Spock:


Directed by Leonard Nimoy himself, the third film in the collection, released in 1984, begins when The Enterprise makes its way back to Earth after the battle with Khan and the events that revolved around the Genesis Device. Spock has been given his last rights and his coffin launched from the ship into the depths of space only to land on a planet that the Genesis Device created. When The Enterprise lands on Earth, McCoy's behavior becomes erratic and brings him and lands him a detention of sorts, while Admiral Morrow lets the crew know that The Enterprise is being mothballed and that the crew is bound by an oath of silence regarding the Genesis Device.


David Marcus (Merritt Butrick), who is Kirk's son and one of the lead scientists who worked on the device, and Lieutenant Saavik (Robin Curtis) explore the recently created planet where they find life growing that they didn't expect to find. They also find that the Genesis Device has brought Spock back to life as a child. When they realize how quickly Spock is aging, they figure that something has gone wrong and that they planet has only hours before its own life span will end. Complicating matters is the presence of a Klingon commander named Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) who wants to get his hands on the Genesis Device on hopes of exploiting its military potential.


Meanwhile, Kirk meets with Spock's father, Sarek (Mark Lenard) where they make some interesting discoveries about Spock's connection to McCoy that tie into the fates of both men, causing Kirk to have to go against Starfleet orders to steal back The Enterprise and save his friends, which of course, leads to a run in with Kruge and his Klingon crew.


A very worthy follow up to the second film, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock is a film that is pretty epic in scale and that, despite a few minor quibbles here and there, works very well. It isn't quite as character driven as the second film but there's still enough interplay and character development here to make sure we want to know what's going to happen, and this is nicely balanced with some pretty strong action set pieces as well. Nimoy's direction is good and he manages to capture the spirit of the earlier TV show pretty nicely. There's an optimism to the storyline that makes it interesting and enjoyable, but you do wonder if it could have been a leaner and better film had things been trimmed up a tad, as there is a lot of exposition in the film. Again, we get an appropriately 'big' score and some nice effects set pieces, and if the core cast members are starting to get on in years by this point, they're still plenty charming and it doesn't diminish at all the entertainment value that they bring to their iconic characters.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:


The fourth and final film in the set, directed again by Nimoy this time in 1986, begins when a giant cylinder moves through space, somehow cutting power to every ship it nears and sending out a signal that no one is able to understand. It closes in on Earth and begins to orbit the planet, and in doing so, cuts the planet's power and creates a massive storm.


Meanwhile, on Vulcan, the onetime crew of The Enterprise remains in exile, but not for long. Spock spearheads a mission where they take the Klingon Bird Of Prey that they'd previously captured and head back to Earth to stand trial. When Spock receives a warning from Starfleet about what's happened on Earth, he's able to match the signal from the cylinder to that of a humpback whale. This sets into place a plan to travel back in time and bring back one of the whales to answer the signal, at which point Spock, Kirk and the rest find themselves in the San Francisco of 1986m, the Bird Of Prey (which they've renamed The Bounty) cloaked but out of power, trying to figure out how to find and return with a massive whale.


A fun film with a good message behind it, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a very entertaining picture that finds a really strong mix of action, adventure, drama and humor all performed by a cast who at this point could play these roles in their sleep (and probably have). The quirkiness of the different main characters really comes out in this installment, and to the film's betterment and if it doesn't have as much outer space action and is a more grounded entry in some ways, that doesn't take away from the enjoyment and entertainment value that the film offers up in heavy doses. Again, seeing the main cast do their thing here is a blast, and Nimoy and Shatner really do some of their best work as Kirk and Spock in this picture, even if the concept behind the idea is fairly ludicrous.


The UHD Disc:

Video:

All four Star Trek movies arrive on UHD from Paramount Pictures, each on their own 100GB disc. The UHD discs use HEVC (H.265) encoded 4k 2160p transfers with HDR and Dolby Vision and are framed in their original 2.35.1 widescreen aspect ratios in presentations that looks very strong. Right away you'll notice considerably stronger detail in each of the four pictures than what we have seen on past home video releases, providing a nice upgrade over even the already very nice looking past Blu-ray versions. The HDR and Dolby Vision encoding really make the colors pop, there are times where the color reproduction in this set really is gorgeous. Black levels generally look perfect as well, with an inky deep tone to them that looks great. Oddly enough, in the fourth film there are times where the colors shift a bit, looking gorgeous in one scene and then flat in the next, but this doesn't happen in the earlier three movies, indicating that it is likely an issue with the original elements. Regardless, detail is much improved and we get impressive depth and texture throughout. Contrast always looks very good here as well, and skin tones appear lifelike throughout, always looking very natural. There are no obvious issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement problems, and compression artifact aren't ever an issue here either. There's very little print damage to note outside of a few specks here and there, and overall, all four films in the set look great.


Paramount has also included individual 50GB Blu-ray discs for each movie in the collection as well. These use 1080p AVC encoded versions of the same restored transfers used for the UHD discs. Obviously they don't look quite as nice as the 2160p versions, but they still look very good.


Sound:

Audio options for each film are provided in English language Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for each movie and generally speaking they sound very good. It would have been nice to have the original Stereo tracks offered for each movie but the 7.1 mixes stay surprisingly faithful here, really only using the rear channels to spread out the score and the effects while keeping the dialogue up front in the mix. Dialogue is always nice and clear, and everything is properly balanced. The Blu-ray discs in the set appear to have identical audio options when compared to the UHD discs.


Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks are offered in French, Spanish, and Japanese and a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track is offered in German. Optional subtitles are provided for each film in English, English SDH, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.


Extras:

Extra features, pretty much all of which are carried over from previous home video releases of the four films in the collection, are spread across the eight discs in the set as follows:


Star Trek: The Motion Picture:


The UHD disc for the first movie includes an isolated score in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (the only new extra in this entire collection, everything else for all four films having been seen on previous home video releases) as well as an archival audio commentary featuring Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman.


The score and commentary are also found on the Blu-ray disc, as well as a host of other extra features. When enabled, the Library Computer Viewing Mode option allows, via the remote control, access to different facts and trivia about various aspects of the movie and those who made it as the film plays out. Production: The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture is an eleven minute piece that looks into what went into bringing the TV series to the big screen and getting the script put together and polished enough for production. Also look out for a ten minute Special Star Trek Reunion where some of those involved in the film look back on their work while the Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: The Mystery Behind V'Ger is a four minute is an amusing fluff piece where a STNG officer discusses the events in the film.


Finishing up the extras are eight minutes of deleted scenes, a selection of storyboard, a theatrical trailer, a teaser trailer and seven TV Spots.


Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan:


The UHD disc contains an audio commentary featuring Nicholas Meyer and a second audio commentary (available on the theatrical cut) with Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto.


Again, those commentary tracks are also included on the Blu-ray disc as well as a bunch of other supplemental material starting with a text commentary on the director's cut version from Michael and Denise Okuda. We also, once again, get a Library Computer Viewing Mode available for the theatrical cut only. The twenty-eight minute The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath Of Khan featurette looks at what went into getting the film made and serves as a nice behind the scenes piece. The twenty-seven minute Captain's Log segment is more behind the scenes material that gives us a good look at what went into making the movie. The twenty-four minute Designing Khan featurette looks at the design work that went into creating the ships, sets and costumes that appear on screen in the movie. There's also eleven minutes of vintage interviews here with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and Ricardo Montalbán in a section simply titled Interviews. Next up is Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects Of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan which is, as you'd probably guessed, a look at the special effects work featured in the picture. In runs eighteen minutes. The ten minuet James Horner: Composing Genesis piece spends some time with the composer discussing the score for the picture. The eleven minute Collecting Star Trek's Movie Relics shows off a neat collection of props and related materials from the franchise's history, while the twenty-nine minute A Novel Approach featurette goes into quite a bit of detail about what all was involved with the different novelizations that were written for the series over the years. The three minute Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 002: Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI is similar to the Starfleet Academy featurette on disc one, just tailored to the events in this second movie.


Closing out the extras for the second film is the five minute Farewell: A Tribute To Ricardo Montalbán retrospective piece, a selection of storyboards and the film's theatrical trailer.


Star Trek III: The Search For Spock:


The UHD disc features an audio Commentary featuring Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Charles Correll and Robin Curtis as well as a second audio commentary, this one featuring Ronald D. Moore amd Michael Taylor.


Those two audio commentary tracks are also included on the Blu-ray disc as well quite a bit more, starting again with the Library Computer Viewing Mode option. The twenty-six minute Captain's Log segment is another general making of/behind the scenes pieces, while Terraforming and the Prime Directive, which also runs twenty-six minutes, looks at the science behind the potential of humankind actually, one day, terraforming the Red Planet. The fourteen minute Industry Light & Magic: The Visual Effects Of Star Trek looks at what ILM did behind the scenes to pull off the film's ornate effects work. The six minute Spock: The Early Years is a quick piece that catches up with the different actors that have played the iconic Vulcan in different phases of the character's life. Space Docks And Birds-Of-Prey spends twenty-eight minutes going over details of the effects work and model work that went into bringing the difference space ships featured in the movie to life, while the twenty-one minute Speaking Klingon looks at how the Klingon language has evolved over the span of the series and become an important part of the series. Klingon And Vulcan Costumes is a twelve minute piece that goes over the different costumes created for the film's two primary alien races, while the seventeen minute Star Trek And The Science Fiction Museum And Hall Of Fame heads to the titular museum in Seattle, Washington to show off the different Star Trek related exhibits that are part of the museums collection.


Closing out the extra on the Blu-ray disc for the third film is a selection of Photo Galleries, the three minute Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 003: Mystery Behind the Vulcan Katra Transfer, an Easter egg featuring Ken Ralston On Models And Creature Effects , some storyboards and a trailer for the feature.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:


The UHD disc for the fourth film in the collection once again features some commentary tracks, this time around with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and the first track and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman on the second track.


The Blu-ray features those same commentary tracks as well as the, by this point, requisite Library Computer Viewing Mode option in addition to a plethora of other material starting with the twenty-eight minutes Future's Past: A Look Back that is a retrospective piece made up of cast and crew interviews wherein the participants reminisce about the making of the movie and tell some interesting stories from their time on the shoot. On Location is a seven minute piece that explores the locations that were used in San Francisco for the production, while the four minute Dailies Deconstruction looks at a few different takes and alternate angles for some of the key scenes from the film. Below-The-Line: Sound Design is a twelve minute segment that explores some of the sound design work featured in the picture, while the six minute Pavel Chekov's Screen Moments gives Walter Koenig a few minutes to look back at the character he's famous for playing and the career that it has given him. Time Travel: The Art Of The Possible spends eleven minutes with a group of physicists that discuss the science behind time travel and if it's something that we'll ever actually be able to accomplish. The six minute The Language Of Whaleslooks at how whales communicate and how this was worked in the movie, while the eight minute A Vulcan Primer is a quick history and exploration of the series' most popular alien race. Kirk's Women is an eight minute featurette that interviews a handful of the actresses that have acted alongside William Shatner since he took the role of Captain Kirk, while the ten minute Star Trek: The Three-Picture Saga explores the connections between the second, third and fourth films in the series and how they work together. Star Trek For A Cause is a six minute segment that looks at how the movie raised awareness for the environmental issues that it so clearly addresses. From Outer Space To The Ocean is a fifteen minute piece that looks at some of the effects work featured in the film, which ties into the three minute The Bird-Of-Prey pieces that further explores some of the effects related to the ship. There are also some vintage interviews in here as well: a fifteen minute piece with William Shatner, a sixteen minute piece with Leonard Nimoy and a thirteen minute piece with DeForest Kelley, all of which are interesting and worth checking out if you haven't seen them on the various other releases that they've made it onto over the years.


Closing out the extra on the Blu-ray disc for the fourth film is the four minute Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 004: The Whale Probe, the eight minute Roddenberry Scrapbook, a thirteen minute tribute to Featured Artist: Mark Lena, a production gallery, some storyboards and a trailer for the feature.


Included inside the boxed set with the eight discs is an insert card containing a download code redeemable for digital HD versions of each of the four films in the set.


Final Thoughts:

While Paramount didn't really do much in terms of new extra features for their UHD/Blu-ray release of Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection, the 2160p transfers for each of the four films in this collection are all very nice upgrades over what we've seen before, and pretty much all of the extras from the past special editions have been carried over. The four films themselves remain as entertaining and well-made as they've ever been, making this set easy to recommend for those interested in a 4k upgrade.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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