Star Trek – Original Motion Picture Collection [DVD]

By Clint Morris

Possibly for the first time, we can now all admit to having been ‘beamed up six times over in the one sitting’. ”Star Trek: the Original Motion Picture Collection” is a set that any Human, Vulcan, or Mind Meld novice will no doubt kill to get their hands on. It’s the classic films as you’ve never seen them before – beautifully restored, blemish-free and ready and willing to hump your DVD player!

If you’ve never seen the films that preceded J.J Abrams’ fantastically epic ”Star Trek” (2009) prequel, this is the way to go.
I guarantee you’ll have a hell of a time with this 6-movie set – all the big-screen voyages (bar ”Star Trek: Generations” – which, though it did feature Captain Kirk, was essentially a ‘Next Generation’ movie) of Kirk and crew are here, and there’s not a dull moment to be had in any of them (well, maybe one – it’s called ”Star Trek V : The Final Frontier”).

This is also the only way to buy the first six Star Trek movies is their newly remastered form (have I tooted enough about how splendid the transfers look yet!?). In other words, if you’ve been buying all those ‘Special Edition’ versions of the discs separately – you’re about to turn a shade of pink. If not, you’ll discover one of the best bargain box sets of the year!

I’m anything but a Trekkie, yet, and like a lot of other folks, plonk me in front of any of the ”Star Trek” movies and I guarantee I won’t hear you when you call me to put the rubbish out (not that I rarely do respond to that request). They’re all – bar that slightly dodgy ”Star Trek 5” (and I completely blame that on Shatner) – very entertaining affairs; a couple of them might even be considered classics.

Umpteen years after it was canceled as a series, ”Star Trek” was given a new lease of life as a film franchise – and it’s all thanks to ”Star Wars”. With Twentieth Century Fox/George Lucas’s space saga raking up big bucks at the box office, Paramount quickly scrambled to see if there was anything they had that ‘like it’.
Much to the surprise of the cast – Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner et al – and crew – the show was created by the late Gene Roddenberry – Paramount (I’d say ‘Quickly’, but that’s not exactly the case – they were actually a little unsure about Star Trek being their new science-fiction film series) called to say they’d all be required back on, er, deck.

The sixth films in the series are pretty solid.

”Star Trek : The Motion Picture” was a reasonably good big-screen intro for the crew of the Starship Enterprise (though it’s awfully dated!) – it has enough to keep the fans happy. It’s not one that warrants repeat viewings, like a couple of the other chapters, and mainly because it plays less like a movie and more like a backdoor pilot for a new Trek series (which, ironically, it was planned to be originally), but it’s still a worthwhile debut.

”Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan” is where the real fun is at – and when the franchise really kicked into high gear. This, one of the best science-fiction flicks of all time, and quite possibly one of the top five sequels in existence, sees Kirk going up against an old enemy, Khan (Ricardo Montalban). It’s brilliantly performed, very tense, and, despite only coming a couple of years after the first film, proves how quickly technology can change. The thing looks very good.

”Star Trek III : The Search for Spock” isn’t a bad flick either. In it, the gang go looking for their old Vulcan buddy – who, though presumed dead, is evidently living on a planet that can resurrect, er, pointy-eared shipmates.

”Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home” is a corker! (And quite possibly my personal favourite). In it, the gang head to San Francisco circa 1987 to save the Whales. Yeah, a tad preachy, but very, very amusing (see Spock put the Vulcan death-grip on a noisy Punk riding the bus!). Good to see Kirk (Shatner) find some time for romance too.

”Star Trek V : The Final Frontier”, the one-and-only chapter directed by star William Shatner, is an absolute stinker – in it, Capt. Kirk and his crew must deal with Mr. Spock’s half brother who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God. It’s quite an exhausting chapter – and I mean that in a ‘I don’t think I’ve ever got through it in one sitting’ way. It’s no wonder Shatner wasn’t invited back to direct another (or if he was, thank god he passed!).

The Enterprise’s final voyage (well… you know what I mean), ”Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country”, is a terrific note to end on. It’s a murder mystery wrapped in a science-fiction wrapper. This one is all about peace – long-time adversaries the humans and the Klingons have decided to kiss and make-up, but there’s a plot to prevent a peace treaty between them in the works. Christian Slater’s gratuitous cameo (his mother was the costume designer, from memory) is a bit off-putting, by otherwise this is one of the highlights of the entire collection.

Extras

Each film comes packed with extras. There are commentaries, deleted scenes, storyboards, vintage promo material, trailers, and numerous featurettes. You’ll have seen a few of the extras on the previously-released discs, but there’s a few new additions too – like, for instance, a featurette on the many drafts they went through of The Motion Picture which is super interesting; some newly-recorded commentaries (Nick Meyer and Manny Coto get together for ”Khan”, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, writers of the latest ”Trek” movie, provide the track for ”The Voyage Home”), and quite a few featurettes (some tributes to the series’ fallen stars) that haven’t been seen before.

There’s also a bonus disc called ”Star Trek: The Captain’s Summit”, which is a 70 minute round-table discussion with Star Trek stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, as well as Next Generation stars’ Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes. Whoopi Goldberg is the host. This is such fun. They share some wonderful stories, rag on each other (It’s an absolute pisser to hear Shatner confessing to never watching The Next Generation – much to Stewart and Frakes’ disgust) and even speak a little about their lives outside of the franchise that made them all household names.

Shatner also relays the amusing story of how Nimoy discovered the ultimate bargaining chip when they wanted him to come back for the third film. “Spock came back to life – with a directing assignment!”, Shatner says, referring to Nimoy’s position as director on the third (and fourth) films in the series.

If you don’t own the recently-released special edition versions of the Star Trek films already, or, you’re just filthy rich and want to “have everything” – then ”Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection” has your name written all over it (just below Gene Roddenberry’s).