Star Trek: The Motion Pictures Collection (Motion Picture/ Wrath of Khan/ Search for Spock/ Voyage Home/ Final Frontier/ and more)
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Spanning two decades and countless light years of interstellar adventure, Star Trek: The Motion Pictures Collection is a testament to the enduring goodwill of Gene Roddenberry's optimistic sci-fi concept. Long before Star Wars sparked an explosion of big-screen science fiction, Roddenberry had planned a second Star Trek TV series; the project fizzled, but its pilot script evolved into the first film in Paramount's most lucrative movie franchise. Despite its sluggish pace and bland "pajama" costuming, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) offered a welcomed reunion of the "Classic Trek" cast, packed with Douglas Trumbull's still-dazzling special effects. Trekkers were even more ecstatic when The Wrath of Khan (1982) revived the spirit of the original series, even though director Nicholas Meyer was a Trek neophyte. With Leonard Nimoy directing, The Search for Spock (1984) began where Khan left off, with a thrilling (albeit contrived) obligation to resurrect the formerly ill-fated Mr. Spock.
A box-office smash, Nimoy's The Voyage Home (1986) is the franchise's most accessible adventure--a high point offset by William Shatner's comparatively dreadful Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989). Meyer (and his penchant for quoting Shakespeare) returned for The Undiscovered Country (1991), a conspiracy thriller that put the series back on track, inspiring fans to invoke the "even number" rule in rating their franchise favorites. Generations (1994) gracefully passed the torch to TV's The Next Generation, bidding farewell to Captain Kirk with honor and integrity intact. Highlighted by the evolving humanity of Brent Spiner's android Lt. Cmdr. Data, First Contact (1996) explored Star Trek history with a logical (hint) surprise encounter, and Insurrection (1998) provided an adequate expansion of the successful NextGen series. Taken as a whole, these ten films demonstrate the consistent vitality of Roddenberry's original vision, stoking any Trekker's appetite for "ongoing missions" in Nemesis and beyond. --Jeff Shannon Most of the feature films were released early in the DVD era, but are represented here in their vastly improved two-disc special editions, which boast widescreen anamorphic pictures, director's cuts of the first two films, numerous commentary tracks by cast and crew, humorous and informative trivia subtitle tracks by Michael and Denise Okuda, and a wide variety of new and vintage documentaries and galleries.
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Star Trek: The Stardate Collection is simply the consolidation of these two 'Star Trek' boxed sets; nothing more, nothing less. The 12 discs (10 movies and 2 bonus discs) are packaged in two tri-fold cardboard/plastic disc holders, which in turn slide into a sturdy cardboard box, taking up very little shelf space. Somewhat annoyingly, the discs are "stacked" two per plastic casing, so that one has to remove the top disc in order to get at the bottom disc. This is especially annoying considering that, with the 'Star Trek' film franchise's "even-number rule," the discs on the bottom are precisely the ones you're probably going to want to get at more often!
This boxed set is clearly for casual fans as opposed to die-hards, who would have all these movies/bonus materials already. Some fans (on Amazon and elsewhere) have been complaining that Paramount is releasing all the films again, without any added special features, and none in their director's cuts. I ask these fans plainly and simply: Would they rather have the studio re-release all these films just as they were presented in their previous home video editions, or would they have the studio add a few token bonus features so that they, as true fans of the series, would feel obligated to buy all the movies again, thus eating up money and shelf space? I am not saying that this excuses Paramount for not releasing the director's cuts on Blu-ray; I am simply saying that, in my opinion, some fans are missing the point of this release.
The bottom line, as I see it, is as follows: If you are a casual 'Star Trek' fan, or a 'Trek' fan new to Blu-ray, then this is the set for you. If you already have all the films on Blu-ray--especially in the two boxed sets mentioned above--then you will find (both literally and figuratively) nothing added in this collection. Either way, The Stardate Collection represents the best, most complete 'Star Trek' film franchise anthology available to date, although fingers remain crossed for director's cuts in HD.
One final note: This movie compilation has nothing to do whatsoever with the book series of the same name. Star Trek: The Stardate Collection, Volume 1 is, rather, an omnibus of 'Star Trek' comic books, volume one of which is being released this October.