Customer Review

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts from an anal-retentive lover of Star Trek, July 26, 2009
This review is from: Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (Star Trek I, II, III, IV, V, VI + The Captain's Summit Bonus Disc) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I can't possibly think of much more that can be added that hasn't been said but I will try. Some reviews are almost completely technical-oriented-ignoring what the everyday casual fan/viewer might think. Other reviews are based on what viewers 'think' movies on blu should look like (that they should be completely grain-free) and neglect the techincal aspects...I will try to bridge both together for this review/opinion.

First off, I think the quality of the packaging is very nice. Some people complain about the uniformality of the discs and while the on-screen menus on the discs are all similar they do show the individual title of each film on each disc. However, this is a boxed set so I like how the disc cases and the on-screen menus are uniform (and they don't look cheesy at all IMHO). There is a preview for the new 2009 'Star Trek' and for the TOS coming out on blu on each of the discs but I was able to bypass these right away with my menu buttons on my blu ray remote and go right to the menu.

As for the films themselves...

I am one of those people who grew up watching TOS re-runs on T.V. as a kid and fell in love. When the movies came out on VHS I bought them all, watched them constantly and memorized all the lines. When they came out on DVD I was there buying them all and then again when they had the Special Editions and Director's Cuts. Just as the DVD releases had their own problems, the positives far outweighed the negatives and this is exactly how I end up feeling toward this blu ray release of the first six Trek films.

Before getting too specific I will say that I have been through all six films and I found each to look much, much better than any previous version I have seen to this point. I'm not going to deny there may have been things done to the films to make them more enjoyable to the blu ray viewer who may be more interested in a clear, sleek looking picture, but when I put these discs in I was truly wowed...especially after what I have read in some of the reviews.

The first clarification I will make is that all of these films are shown in HD. Perhaps Paramount should have worded the packaging differently but by now most people understand that all of the films (except TWOK) have been transfered and remastered in HD. TWOK alone was restored and remastered (meaning they went back to do an entirely new transfer from a negative instead of using one that already existed). I could really delve into tech speak at this point in the whole process, but it's already been done so let's talk about how the movies look and sound.

TMP looks (and sounds) just incredible. The difference from the SE DVD to blu is drastic and looks far better than the SE DVD shown in upconverted format. I will admit it almost looks too clear and smooth for the purist (and I understand their complaint) but it's far better than any previous version I have ever seen; it's kind of an 8 steps forward 2 steps back kind of thing but overall I was amazed. As for the complaints about DNR on these films I am not saying it was not used, but as someone who has seen each of these films hundreds of times I found myself seeing far more detail and noticing far more new things and not once noticed anything that was lost as far as detail (and this goes for the entire six films in this set).

Because of the clarity and detail you do notice a lot more 'issues' in TMP that look bad or out of focus but this is the direction and photographic effects of the filming and not the transfer. In addition, some composite shots with special effects in them still look grainy due to the way these were filmed in those days but there isn't much that can be done without damaging the detail of the shot (which tells me they were thoughtful not to over use filters, DNR in the processing of the film for blu). One example in TMP is the scene in which the 'probe' from V'ger comes onto the Enterprise and ends up taking Lt. Ilia. The quality of this scene looks no better than what was on DVD but once the shot is over the amazing blu ray picture comes back once the effects shots are done. This is more distracting than before but all the other parts are so good I am not swayed otherwise.

The only real problem I have seen in TMP are tracking shots of the Enterprise leaving spacedock and a few other exterior shots of the ship-there are these odd, stationary black spots in the picture that look like they must be on the print as they are in the same place on the various 5 or 6 tracking shots of the ship in different places throughout the film.

Yes I understand why people might be mad the Director's Cut is not included, but personally I like the Theatrical version better-heck, I wish the extended cut was included on blu but we do at least get the deleted scenes from that cut on this disc. And, there is the issue of the resolution of the new effects that were added to the DC version not being suitable for blu.

I do wonder why the same people who refuse to purchase this set because they are irritated by the films not being an accurate, true representation as far as being accurate transfers go are not upset about the fact that both visual and audio special effects were cut and added to TMP when they released the Director's Cut. I find this contradictory to be so concerned about preserving the original film so perfectly but feeling it ok to add in special effects, cut scenes and change sound effects years later. All IMHO of course.

TWOK: The beginning of this film does look bad as some have said-it looks no better than an upconverted DVD for the first part of the film. After the first few minutes though the image becomes much better. There is grain throughout but it seems like a very 'natural' grain. I think this film best represents what the critics on both sides are complaining about: On one hand for the purist this is probably the best, truest transfer of the set with the least amount of DNR/filtering. However, to those who want the clear, grain-free picture this film probably looks the worst of the set (but still much better than any DVD versions). Detail and color are still far superior in every way. So the purists will wish all of the films looked like this one and all of those wanting grain-free images will want it the way TMP looks.

A quick mention about the hue/color timing of TWOK. This is a much 'cooler' look than previous DVDs but after watching TWOK and TSFS back-to-back I find the color hue and timing of TWOK to be much, much more consistant with that of TSFS so I was very pleased. I always thought the early DVD versions of TWOK were much warmer than I remembered the film being.

As for the remaining films I found them similar in quality...kind of between TMP and TWOK. They were not quite as clear as TMP but did not contain as much grain as TWOK. Again, composite shots with effects in them still have some grain and stand out, but every movie in the set is far superior visually to anything I have yet seen. I didn't notice enough difference between III, IV, V and VI other than that III seemed perhaps just a bit sharper than the rest and it was a pleasure to see planet Genesis come alive in sound, color and detail. Some have said that the shots of San Francisco in TVH didn't come alive as much as they had hoped but it was still far, far better than the most recent DVD and I would say was an easily discernable improvement.

The only other main issue I have read and seen is regarding some of the capture photos many have posted up on the web showing what looks to be waxy faces, heavy DNR and filters applied to shots. I have seen these shots and was actually worried and was second guessing buying this set. However, while watching the films I never noticed any scene looking as bad as any of the screen captures show. I'm not saying they are not real captures, but I was simply unable to pick this out or notice this during my viewing the film and I was looking for it in the spots/scenes I have seen these screen captures from. Perhaps on a very large screen it is noticible but on my 32" LCD I did not notice this (I am only about 5 feet away from the screen so I am still relatively close).

So, from someone who was very hesitant, without reservation I recommend this set. With the quality that I see in these films I was very happy (even excited) seeing and hearing each film. It's a pretty comprehensive set so I would not expect Paramount revisiting these on blu anytime soon. I do understand the complaints from the purists and I began watching these as a skeptic but I was unable to really pick out any noticable issues that have been brought up. Again, 8 steps forward for the detail and picture, 2 steps back for no Director's Cuts (when possible) and for the issues like the purists mention. Compared to the DVDs, this is still a 5-star product.

Hope this helps those sitting on the fence leaning one way or the other.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 24, 2013 11:00:49 AM PDT
jsharbour says:
Those are a LOT of concessions and disclaimers for one review that is apparently positive about this packaged release. I intend to buy this set because I never got around to buying them on DVD. (I had watched the VHS set a million times and was kind of a "tired fan" in the 00's). I watched them all on Amazon Video with the kids and enjoyed them. TMP was really a mess in some places, though. I assume that was the digital version of the blu-ray. The scene with V'ger probe isn't the only one, if I remember right, just before or after the wormhole scene the screen went totally blurry, not just a down-sample but a complete mess for a few seconds. I felt this was inexcusable for a so-called HD release. And your review proves it with so much disclaim needed. I appreciate your detailed summary but I would expect a better job. It must be that Paramount didn't want to spend any more money on these. Maybe TWOK was a test case and they didn't get a return on the investment for restoring that one.

Posted on Jun 12, 2014 7:56:56 AM PDT
Too many acronyms for me. I would have found it easier to read if the movies were numbered instead: I, II, III, etc.
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