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Reviewed October 25th, 2001 by John Randall


In my youth I was a very big fan of Star Trek’s original series and the original cast movies. Then when Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the small screen, I took in even more of an interest. Like one of the documentaries say on this DVD, without this movie, none of the other movies or Star Trek series would have ever been made.

Originally supposed to be a new Star Trek series called Phase II, Star Trek: The Motion picture was Paramount’s answer to the great first Star Wars film.

The basic plot line is about the original crew (Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest) who team up on a refitted Enterprise to stop a mysterious space cloud with awesome powers before it can get to Earth.

To me, this film is not near as strong as later Star Trek films – like my favorite Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This film had a much different look compared to the original series and from other later Star Trek films.

Acting was great and if you haven’t seen this movie in awhile, you may have forgotten that Star Trek: The Next Generation stole their theme music from it.

With all of that said, let us take a look at this new DVD version.

For starters, Robert Wise and the rest of the crew were extremely rushed to finish the film when it was originally released (sound familiar?) and did not get to incorporate all the shots they wanted to. Now, a team of CGI artists have gone back and have retouched or in some cases totally redo some of the shots in the film.

The most dramatic difference to me was the shots of Spock on Vulcan at the beginning of the film. What used to look like a volcanic mess has been replaced with great statues and even a sun. A sun? Yep, originally Spock holds his face up to block the sun out of his eyes but then we see the sky had no light. The addition is much better.

One of the next changes happens when the Enterprise fires a torpedo at the asteroid and then gets out of the wormhole. The end of that sequence is ten times better with an explosion that is more believable with an exterior shot of the Enterprise to boot. Awesome compared to the original.

A CGI model of the Enterprise was also done for some of the shots when the Enterprise gets to the V’Ger space cloud. And we even get to see a new shot of inside V’Ger as well as an exterior view of the vessel itself that was never seen before (minus the clouds).

Most of the major effects changes can be seen (new versus old) in the wonderful documentary “Redirecting The Future” that is on disc 2.

The audio soundtrack has been redone in Dolby Digital 5.1 and blew me away. During the theme song the bass was strong and use of the surrounds was very evident throughout the film.

The video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and is indeed 16:9 enhanced. My thoughts on the actual video quality vary. There still seems to be a lot of grain in some of the shots. There are also some film specks that can be seen on some of the space shots. I would have thought they would have gone back to clean up those digitally. Even though this seems to be the very best quality video wise as I have ever seen, I think it still could have been better.

This two-disc edition includes some good extras. Of course you can count the new CGI edits as sort of an extra.

On disc 1 there are two commentaries. The first one is a group effort by Robert Wise (director), Stephen Collins (actor), Douglas Trumbull (special photographic effects director), John Dykstra (special photographic effects supervisor), and Jerry Goldsmith (music composer). The other is a text commentary by Michael Okuda - who co-authored the “Star Trek Encyclopedia”.

On disc 2, the highlight is the “Redirecting The Future” documentary which shows the new changes. Two other documentaries called “A Bold New Enterprise” and “Phase II: The Lost Enterprise” show a behind the scenes look at the making of the film.

Also included on the 2nd disc are 3 trailers for the film (teaser, theatrical and a new Director's Edition trailer). Next up are 8 television commercials, 5 additional scenes from the original 1979 version, 11 deleted scenes that were once included in the 1983 TV version, a storyboard archive where you can flip through storyboard drawings, and more.

Paramount really did a great job on this DVD set – even though the video quality could have been a bit better. It really is easy to recommend this film to all you DVD lovers out there. It will inform you and entertain.

The new cut runs 136 minutes (5 minutes longer than the original) and is rated PG. Highly recommended.


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