STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION)
Reviewed February 29th, 2004 by Brian White
What a difference thirteen years makes. Since Star Trek VIís release in 1991, the once-successful Star Trek franchise seems to have run out of steam. The fifth Star Trek series is pulling in very poor ratings, and might actually not see out its intended seven year run. The last Star Trek feature film, 2002ís Nemesis, did very poorly at the box office.
In 1991, it was all different. Star Trek VI opened during the twenty-fifth anniversary of the franchise. On television, Star Trek: The Next Generation at the peak of its popularity, and entering its creative garden period. Sadly, Star Trek VI is also dedicated to Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry, who died during the anniversary year. Despite the Star Trek love, VI is one of the less successful films in the franchise. It is also one of the best.
Nicholas Meyer was wisely approached to helm the film. He had jump started the faltered film franchise when he wrote and directed Star Trek II. The first film did well at the box office, but it was ridiculously expensive and many on the inside felt that it lacked the spirit of the sixties television show. Meyer wrote and directed a sequel to an old episode. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan became a huge hit, and many Trek fansí favorite flick of the series.
On his second Trek film as a director, Meyer helmed a flick that does what the old series did best: allegorize the current world. With the Berlin Wall falling, and Glasnost in full swing, it seemed appropriate to see the Klingons reaching out to the Federation after their own Chernobyl.
In Star Trek VI, we see the last adventure with the complete original cast, their characters on the eve of retirement. They go about this political intrigue with all the charm and character that made the show so great. The story is very literate, with Klingons quoting Shakespeare, and ample dialogue between Kirk and Spock discussing their usefulness in the new world order.
The first DVD release of Star Trek VI featured the original Dolby Digital 5.1 mix used in the theater, a non-anamorphic print and a trailer. The Special Edition release gives this film the respect it deserves.
The video on the DVD, presented in anamorphic, 1.85:1, is great. Meyer uses a film stock that is somewhat grainier than that used on other Trek films, but the image is still very clear, colorful and detailed.
I cannot really tell the difference between this Digital 5.1 mix, and that on the original DVD release. The mix is good, though not as active as more recent Trek DVDs. During the explosion at the beginning, your sub rumbles, and there is lots around you. Youíll know it is 5.1, but will not be blown away.
For extras, this two-disc set boasts plenty of original documentary footage, as well as current interviews with actors, the director, and creative team. A feature-length commentary with Meyer and screenwriter Denny Martin Flynn is included. Now God bless Nick Meyer for making two fine Trek films, but HOLY CRAP this is a pretentious track. Listening to these two prima donnas compare themselves to Gilbert and Sullivan makes you want to throw that universal remote through the screen. As is usual with these special editions, there is a text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda.
The second disc contains several documentaries about the film making, as well as about aspects of this film that run throughout the series, like the featurette about Klingons, and the touching tributes to DeForest Kelly. Thereís a cool feature called Pennyís Toy Box where the Paramount archivist shows us some props from the film that are in storage. There is also a featurette with interview footage where Christopher Plummer and William Shatner discuss their earlier years acting in Montreal and at the Stratford Festival. For a pre-DVD theatrical release (and one of ten films), there is plenty of interesting material contained on this two disc set.
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