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Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (Blu-ray Review)

23 Jun, 2009 By: John Latchem

$104.99 seven-disc Blu-ray
Stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig.

Once upon a time, in the days of VHS, a high-end gift set of the first six “Star Trek” films, featuring the cast of the original series, would have sold for $200. How far technology has come in just 15 or so years.

The high-definition versions of the films offer a trove of extras, including new commentaries from a veritable all-star team of “Trek” creative veterans. The most worthwhile extra is a new "Captains Roundtable," in which franchise stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Whoopi Goldberg reflect on their experiences.

The remastering of the films, while generally very good, has yielded mixed results, some of which were probably unavoidable. While high-def has brought out details many fans may not have noticed before, the enhanced resolution also exposes several flaws in the original visual effects models and matte work, particularly for the first and fifth films.

In some cases, there is virtually no grain, which is surprising considering some of these films are more than 20 years old. Such an aggressive digital scrub doesn’t come without some drawbacks. Image detail is not as fine as it could be, and in the case of Star Trek VI, the characters’ faces at times seem to have a sheen akin to CGI.

The Blu-ray set contains the original theatrical versions of the films, marking the first time this cut of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has made it to home video. All earlier versions added a ridiculous “Scooby-Doo”-type ending that simply doesn’t belong.

It does beg the question, though, considering director’s cuts of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country have been released on DVD, why weren’t the alternate versions included via seamless branching? One can only assume such an advanced Blu-ray version couldn’t be ready in time for this release, which was timed to take advantage of buzz around the new Star Trek movie.

Those who aren’t hardcore fans can choose a less-expensive alternative with the Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy set, consisting of the second, third and fourth films, for $29.99 on DVD and $48.99 on Blu-ray.

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