Paramount // 1998 // 103 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // May 21st, 1999
The battle for paradise has begun.
This installment of the Star Trek series is not as entertaining as some, but not nearly as blasé as many others.
The video portion of this disc is, thankfully, presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs. If you will recall, a collective (pun intended) roar of approval went up when Paramount they would re-engage (intended again) the anamorphic drive and begin pumping out enhanced discs again. While this is great in theory, the folks behind the bench still need a little practice to iron out some of the difficulties presented in this transfer.
If you want to see exactly what I am talking about, then insert your disc and start the movie. Check the haystacks in the opening scene. They look like a big beige blob, especially with the camera moving. Now, granted, this is a very difficult type of shot to get right in a digital medium. There just aren't enough bits to really convey every strand of hay as it is moving past the screen. But, the folks that did this transfer for Paramount could have done better. Additionally, colors seemed washed out and faded a bit during outdoor daylight scenes. Now, the scenes shot inside the space ships were outstanding. It looks like the transfer was maximized for these moments without realizing the negative effect on the well-lit scenes. Hopefully this will improve with time as the artisans entrusted with these transfers gain more experience with their equipment.
The audio was pretty good as well, with a few room shakers to really give your effects channels and subwoofer a work out. The dialogue tracks were well placed within the space and clear. The front channels got a decent workout too. All around a pretty good Dolby Digital 5.1 disc. Also worth noting here is the fact Paramount has included a separate Dolby Surround soundtrack for those without Dolby Digital processors. This is a welcome sight and something I have not paid enough attention too in the past. I promise to track this info from here on in.
Most of the acting was pretty much in line with what we expect from this crew (there I go again). Patrick Stewart is his usual Picard, save for a romantic interest that was not exploited enough in the script. I liked the added human element it conveys upon him when he is interested in a woman. Brent Spiner provides some comic relief as Data, as per usual for the film version of this series, or so it would seem. The rest of the crew seems to waltz through and hit their marks on cue. One moment worth mentioning as a bit of a touching moment was LaForge tearing up a bit on seeing his first sunset with his own eyes. LeVar Burton, thankfully, did not overplay his hand, and the shot worked quite well.
It was also very nice to see Anthony Zerbe as Admiral Dougherty. He does a fine job in this role. This brings up a touchy subject for me. I have a really tough time looking past previous characters in some actors' lives to let them give me their best in the present. As an example we will probably always remember Alan Alda from M*A*S*H above and beyond anything he will ever do. I have a similar problem with Zerbe. The man has been in sixty-two films according to the Internet Movie Database, and I will always remember him for his role as Matthias in The Omega Man, a 1971 Charlton Heston vehicle about the fallout of a nuclear holocaust.
The last thing I really liked about parts of this disc, was some of the writing. As an example, there is a dialogue between Picard and Anij (played by Donna Murphy) where they are discussing what it would be like to live forever (she is over 309 years old). She tells him what its like -- "you stop reviewing what happened yesterday, stop planning for tomorrow" and that it lets you life in and for the moment, as it is happening now. This may seem rather corny, but I was quite wrapped up in the movie by this point, and I thought it was an intelligent statement. How nice would that be, living forever? I guess it could be a blessing or a curse, but this movie chooses to look at it as a blessing, where artisans graduate to their station only after 30-40 year apprenticeships -- a very interesting concept.
The extras on this disc are a bit sparse. Paramount includes a theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer, which is nice. Why the trailers are in 1.85:1 while the movie is 2.35:1 I don't really know. If anyone knows of a reason for this, please let me know. The disc also includes a "behind the scenes featurette," if you want to call it that. This was about a five-minute spot, which really did not show us anything of value that went on "behind the scenes." Sorry gang, but you'll have to do better than that next time.
Another disappointment was some of the "special effects" work that was done for the movie. As an example, cue up the disc to chapter 4 and check out the death spiral spin move of the two shuttles locked together. The shots out the window were just terrible. Just a minor complaint really considering the rest of the effects work was pretty good. Nothing earth shattering, but solid work most of the way around.
This is an entertaining movie. You Star Trek fans probably already own it, but those of you who only buy the "better" Star Trek films, I would include this on among them. Otherwise, definitely worth a rental.
Acquitted. Video needs some work, so the transfer team is relegated to work detail before they release Braveheart with this type of transfer (please, God, help them to figure it out by then).
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean McGinnis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Two Trailers
* Behind The Scenes Featurette
* Official Star Trek Site