Star Trek: The Motion Picture appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision image became an up and down presentation.
The film underwent a fair amount of “grain management”, and that turned into a moderate concern. While some scenes felt natural and essentially unaffected, others more clearly displayed tampering.
For one, this meant grain levels varied quite a lot, and for little obvious reason. In addition, the noise reduction impacted definition.
Much of the movie offered good accuracy, but more than a few shots – usually on the bridges of various crafts – lost delineation. Though this never became the “clay face” image of the 2009 Blu-ray, it still felt less true to the source than I’d like.
Otherwise, the image fared pretty well. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns. Print flaws remained absent.
In terms of colors, ST:TMP went with a fairly neutral, earthy palette. The transfer replicated these tones with good accuracy and clarity. The disc’s HDR added range and impact to the tones.
Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows appeared well-defined. HDR contributed power and clarity to contrast and whites. Without the grain management, I would’ve been more pleased with this presentation, but it seemed generally positive nonetheless.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, I felt even more impressed with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as its soundfield provided a surprisingly active and involving experience. Music displayed excellent stereo separation and presence, while effects showed solid distinction and accuracy.
The forward spectrum offered a realistic - within the sci-fi environment, at least - and engaging presentation that gave us a good sense of atmosphere. The surrounds added a nice feeling of reinforcement, and they became pretty active partners at times. For example, the wormhole sequence seemed very satisfying.
Audio quality also seemed excellent. Dialogue occasionally felt a little dated, but the lines usually appeared natural enough.
Music was consistently bright and rich, as Jerry Goldsmith’s score appeared dynamic and distinct. Low-end response was solid, and the highs came across as clean and vivid.
Effects worked equally well, as they packed a solid punch and seemed consistently accurate and showed fine presence. It was hard to believe this was a 43-year-old soundtrack, as it sounded great.
On the 4K disc, we find two audio commentaries. Recorded for the 2001 DVD, the first comes from director Robert Wise, special photographic effects director Douglas Trumbull, special photographic effects supervisor John Dykstra, music composer Jerry Goldsmith, and actor Stephen Collins. All five men were recorded separately for this edited but largely screen-specific track.
Overall, the commentary seems decent but erratic. It starts well, as the first third or so of the movie includes a lot of good information.
Wise dominates, as he adds nice notes about his involvement in the film and interesting topics like the dubbing and translation of the Vulcan speech and his rationale for some of the storytelling. Wise also provides comments about the changes he made between the original theatrical cut and the “Director’s Edition”.
Goldsmith and Collins add little, but Dykstra and Trumbull provide useful material about the effects.
After a while, however, the commentary starts to fade. Pauses between remarks become longer and more frequent, and the statements themselves seem less compelling.
Wise often simply relates the on-screen action, though he usually offers reasonably interesting information, and the effects guys continue down the same path as earlier. This becomes a little redundant after a while, but it remains acceptably useful.
Collins and Goldsmith continue to be MIA for the most part. In fact, Collins only appears once before the film’s “climax”, so during that period, we hear a little more from him, but he’s still a minor participant. Overall, the track seems sporadically entertaining and noteworthy, but it appears generally average.
New to the 2022 release, we get a commentary from ”Director’s Edition” producer David C. Fein, “Director’s Edition” visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman, and restoration supervisor Mike Matessino. Recorded in March 2022 for this new release, they talk about changes made for the “Director’s Edition” and technical challenges.
While some useful insights result, a lot of the commentary feels like praise for various aspects of the production and those involved. I can’t claim to find a lot to make this a particularly engaging chat.
In addition, the movie can be viewed with a text commentary. Created by Michael Okuda, the co-author of the Star Trek Encyclopedia, this piece provides a lot of little factoids at the bottom of the screen throughout the movie.
Most of these stick with technical facts, as special effects, sets and props dominate the commentary. In addition, we learn some interesting tidbits about the cast and crew as well various film-related trivia.
For example, we find out about the backstory created for Ilia and Decker, and also hear how it got transmuted into the affair between Riker and Troi in The Next Generation. Overall, this becomes a nice little track that offers some good details.
Finally, the 4K offers an Isolated Score that plays Jerry Goldsmith’s work via Dolby 2.0 audio. While a nice extra, it would’ve been better with lossless sound.
Additional features appear on a Blu-ray Disc, though not that this package does not include the “Director’s Edition” of TMP on Blu-ray. While Paramount produced a separate Blu-ray with this cut, it does not appear as part of this set.
On Disc Two, we open with Legacy Features, a collection of materials that appeared on the 2001 DVD as well as other releases, and the opening one takes a look at the project’s early genesis as a new TV show.
Phase II: The Lost Enterprise runs 12 minutes, 39 seconds and relates details about this almost-aired production through stills, some test footage, and interviews with some who participated in it.
We hear from Roddenberry’s widow and Trek actress Majel Barrett, story editor Jon Povill, co-producer Harold Livingston, secretary Michele Billy-Povill, actor David Gautreaux, and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, authors of a book about the program.
The show offers a decent look at the aborted version of Trek and integrates it into the start of ST:TMP, but it felt a little rushed and superficial to me.
Next up is A Bold New Enterprise: The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This 29-minute, 41-second piece provides comments from actors William Shatner, Walter Koenig, Stephen Collins, and David Gautreaux, director Robert Wise, editor Todd Ramsay, associate producer Jon Povill, writer Harold Livingston, former Paramount executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Tom Parry, effects supervisors John Dykstra, Douglas Trumbull, and Richard Yuricich, and composer Jerry Goldsmith.
As with the show about Phase II, “Bold” feels a little glossy and without depth, but it provides a reasonably nice depiction of the movie’s progress. It omits much notice about the problems that arose, other than the usual complaints about the rushed production, and it also suffers from repetition after the commentaries.
Nonetheless, it’s good to hear some different viewpoints, and a mix of new material appears, such as the presentation of a music cue rejected for the film. Goldsmith altered it slightly to create the theme we now know, and I enjoy tidbits such as that.
Entitled Redirecting the Future, the next piece gives us information about the alterations made for the “Director’s Edition”. The 14-minute, six-second featurette mainly examines the updated and completed effects shots.
It combines interviews, archival material, and shots that compare the original material with the new images. We get some minor comments from actors Shatner and Koenig, director Wise, and editor Ramsay, but most of the show concentrates on those involved solely with the “Director’s Edition”.
We hear from Matessino, Fein, Dochterman, and a bunch of folks from Foundation Imagery, the effects house that worked on the new version: Adam Lebowitz, Ron Thornton, John Teska, David Morton, Trevor Pierce, Robert Bonchure, Sherry Hitch, Bob Quinn, PJ Foley, and Lee Stringer.
“Redirecting the Future” is probably the most satisfying of these first three programs, largely because it’s the only one that seems fairly complete. It shows the effects updates in a clear and efficient manner, and it complements the verbal discussions heard during the commentary.
Wise iterates the story changes he made, and here we can see the visual alterations. Ultimately, it’s a good piece for those who want to compare the two versions of the movie.
Next comes The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture. In this 10-minute, 44-second show, we hear from Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, associate producer Jon Povill, screenwriter Harold Livingston, and actor Walter Koenig.
“Longest” tells us about the extended development of ST:TMP. Some of the same information appears elsewhere, but “Longest” gives us a tighter overview of these issues. It proves satisfying.
Special Star Trek Reunion goes for nine minutes, 37 seconds and involves a gathering of fans and folks connected to Trek who played extras in the film.
Introduced by William Shatner, we meet Fred Bronson, Bjo Trimble, Christopher Doohan, David Gerrold and Jo Ann Nolan. They tell us how they got into the flick and their brief experiences on the set. They throw out some fun memories and allow a fan’s eye view of the production.
Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 001: Mystery Behind V’Ger lasts four minutes, 24 seconds. This gives us a little tutorial that presents a five-cent overview of Voyager and how it became “V’Ger”. It’s vaguely interesting, though it seems redundant if you’ve seen the movie.
After this we find The New Frontier, a 30-minute, one-second program that involves Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Gerrold, John and Bjo Trimble, 50 Year Mission authors Mark A. Altman and Ed Gross, writer Dorothy “DC” Fontana,These Are the Voyages author Marc Cushman, VFX, makeup and graphic artist Doug Drexler, Star Trek Communicator former editor Larry Nemecek, Enterprise executive producer Manny Coto, Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady, Creation Entertainment co-founder Adam Malin, fanzine editor/convention organizer Devra Langsam, Flash executive producer Gabrielle Stanton, Starlog publisher Kerry O’Quinn, Gene Roddenberry’s assistant Susan Sackett, novelist Michael Jan Friedman, writers Harold Livington and Alan Dean Foster and publicist Fred Bronson.
“Frontier” looks at late 1960s efforts to save Trek as well as its move to syndication/growth in popularity and its path back to life in the 1970s. These are well-trodden topics but “Frontier” offers an appealing synopsis with a few new insights.
Maiden Voyage goes for 29 minutes, 13 seconds and offers statements from Parry, Altman, Gross, Katzenberg, Sackett, Wise, Livingston, Coto, Prady, Chris Doohan, Bronson, Gerrold, Return to Tomorrow author Preston Neal Jones, technical director Tom Barron, visual effects cinematographer Richard Edlund, Voyager/Enterprise producer Mike Sussman, and film critic Scott Mantz.
This expands “Frontier” to formally view the process by which the earlier efforts to revive Trek stretched toward TMP and aspects of its production and release. Again, we already know some of this, but enough fresh material appears to make it worthwhile.
Within Storyboards, we find images for the following sequences: “Vulcan” (15 frames), “Enterprise Departure” (30), and “V’ger Revealed” (39). They’re surprisingly cartoony, but they should be satisfying for fans of the flick.
Additional Scenes 1979 Theatrical Version comes with seven segments that fill a total of six minutes, eight seconds. These represent elements dropped from the original version of the film for the “Director’s Edition”, though we also get some outtakes.
While nice to find, they come with dodgy picture quality that doesn’t appear upgraded from the DVD. That makes the clips less useful.
More alternate footage appears under Deleted Scenes 1983 TV Version. This compilation of 11 snippets occupies eight minutes, 13 seconds.
None of these offer anything terribly substantial, but there’s some interesting material in here. I especially like a sequence between Sulu and Ilia.
“Legacy Features” finishes with two trailers and eight TV spots.
With that we go to New Features and a collection of eight featurettes under the banner of The Human Adventure. Viewed via “Play All”, these span a total of 48 minutes, 17 seconds and offer notes from Matessino, Dochterman, Fein, Wise, Gene Roddenberry, Trumbull, Katzenberg, Dykstra, Goldsmith, cinematographer Richard Kline, production designer Harold Michelson, production illustrator Andrew Probert, miniatures Pat Dow, sound effects creator Alan Howarth, effects props and miniatures artist Pat McClung, Atmos sound mixer Michael Babcock, visual effects historian/archivist Gene Kozicki, production illustrator Syd Mead, photographic effects cameraman Douglas Smith, supervising visual effects colorist Alexis Van Hurkman, and Atmos music mixer Bruce Botnick.
Across these, we hear more about the creation of the “Director’s Edition” and its 2022 update, thoughts about Wise and his work on TMP, the updated Enterprise, sound design and the Atmos mix, elements of V’ger, the rushed/incomplete post-production and 2022 fixes, music, and valedictory thoughts.
Throughout these, we get snatches of worthwhile information. However, a lot of “Adventure” just feels like an extension of the praise for the 2022 update found in the Fein/Dochterman/Matessino commentary. We find some good stuff but it becomes a bit of slog to get there.
Three additional Deleted Scenes appear: “Ilia & Decker in Engineering” (3:16), “Security Guard” (0:39) and “Three Casualties” (0:35).
As implied by their brief running times, “Guard” and “Casualties” don’t give us much. A bit of Kirk subterfuge, “Engineering” works better.
Next we get three minutes, 30 seconds of Effects Tests. Accompanied by comments from McClung and Kozicki, we see a mix of raw effects work. It becomes reasonably interesting.
Costume Tests fills four minutes, 40 seconds and provides remarks from Matessino, Fein and archivist Rob Klein. They tell us a little about the work as we view film footage and stills. This offers an engaging take on the topic.
Finally, Computer Display Graphics goes for three minutes, 10 seconds and lets us see the material that played in the background on Enterprise shots. It doesn’t seem fascinating but it still becomes a cool addition.
Despite repeated chances to win my affection, Star Trek: The Motion Picture always fails to gain my affection. This “Director’s Edition” of the film does not change that, as it offers just as slow and dull an experience as the theatrical cut. The 4K UHD presents erratic but generally good visuals along with excellent audio and an informative set of supplements. Maybe someday I’ll embrace this film, but it won’t happen today.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of the STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE