Our reviews of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Collector's Edition (published February 13th, 2004), Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (published October 19th, 2009), and Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection (Blu-Ray) (published May 18th, 2009) are also available.
The battle for peace has begun…
What was to be the final Star Trek film with the original cast also became one of the best in the series. After the disappointing Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the series was in need of a final "hurrah" to send off Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew (though Shatner would return to play Captain Kirk one last time opposite Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Generations). Luckily for fans, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country didn't disappoint. With a good script and the usual good performances, the sixth film in the series became a great finale for one of the most beloved casts in movie history. Paramount has released Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on DVD. Let's "discover" how it stacks up.
Facts of the Case
For the sixth outing of the Star Trek franchise, The Enterprise is doing its final trek to make intergalactic peace with the dreaded Klingons, lead by Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner from Titanic). See, the Klingons have roughly fifty years of life left in their race. On their local moon of Praxis, a toxic gas leak has happened and soon they will have depleted their air supply. The Klingon economy cannot support plans for a solution, so basically they're up Tantok River with out a Rower-goc (that's Klingon for "they're in deep shit"). Gorkon offers a negotiation for a peace treaty (as the Klingons and The Starfleet Federation have had much hostility over the years).
As that hits the fan, Kirk (Shatner) is shocked to find out that he has been picked to be "the olive branch," or ambassador of peace to meet with Gorkon and his team. Kirk, of course, likes none of this. The Klingons killed his son years ago (or, in Paramount years, Star Trek III), and Kirk feels they can't be trusted.
But, because he is under the command of The Federation, he goes to meet with the Klingons at a dinner that would rival Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro's in Meet The Parents. The dinner is so colorful it looks like a blacklight threw up on their plates (no pasta tonight, as the Klingon delicacy looks like moose droppings). After dinner, the Klingons return to their ship only to be attacked by masked individuals. The Chancellor is shot and killed, with Kirk and crew to blame.
Soon Kirk and Bones are taken prisoner by the Klingons and sent to prison on an isolated planet, which has the weather forecast of Chicago in December multiplied by 10.
The race is on to discover the culprits of the crime and free Bones and Kirk before it's too late. The old Enterprise makes one last trek in this final chapter of one of sci-fi's most famous space crews!
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was directed by Nicholas Meyer, who was also responsible for one of the other great films in this series, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn. It's been said that the even number films in this series are the good ones, and the odd numbered being the sucky ones (Hmm…Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier…yeah, I'll buy that, odd ones suck). Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country takes the cake as being the best of the whole series (with Star Trek: First Contact not far behind). The plot doesn't lag much, and the action is always well done and fast paced. The plot is a different take of the Cold War situation that had just ended (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was out in 1991), and the humor that always permeates the series is still intact.
The performances are, as usual, well done (they better be…these actors have been playing these same characters for six zillion years). Shatner still speaks in breaks and edges, reminding us once more why Captain Kirk is the only character he can play (aside of showing up in zany comedies like Airplane II: The Sequel and National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1). Spock (Nimoy) and Bones (DeForest Kelley) are still along as his straitlaced sidekicks doing what they do best (insert your own Bones/"I'm a doctor, not a…" joke here). The rest of the crew does fine work, especially Scotty (Doohan), who is a gas to watch every time he's onscreen. There always needs to be a great villain, and in part six we get Christopher Plummer as Commander Chang of the Klingon army, acting with great gusto even though he only has one eye.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, but, alas, is non-anamorphic. The quality of the transfer is generally good. Colors were bright with no bleeding; however there was some grain spotted as the film progressed. Blacks were solid and deep with no digital artifacting to be found. My only complaint is that the black bars on the bottom and top of the screen are a bit uneven with the bottom bar being much wider than the top. It was a bit annoying, but after a while I got used to it (or maybe I'm just a nitpicky little ninny. You decide). Audio is mixed very well, and this being an action picture that will matter for you home theater fans. Music score and effects never drowned out the dialogue, and the sound was crisp and clear. A great mix by Paramount (now let's get on 'em about that whole anamorphic thing)!
Paramount has given us two trailers, one a teaser and the other a theatrical trailer. The teaser trailer is full frame and a bit scratched up, but it's a fun watch with a little encompassing of all the films in the series. The theatrical trailer is widescreen, and…well, you know, it's a trailer. Whoop-dee-doo. Okay, Paramount, this whole "we're just givin' you guys trailers" but is getting old real fast.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I have no negative comments on the film itself, but for the transfer I think Paramount could have done a better job cleaning up the print (and making it anamorphic). And what's the deal with the trailers? That's it? The Star Trek films have been one of the most profitable series for the studio (with a built in fan base, I might add) and all Paramount can do is release a bare-bones version of one of the best in the canon? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
An obvious must for you Star Trek fans, this is one of the best (if not THE best) of the Star Trek movies. Without an anamorphic transfer or any good extras, you may want to skip on this and rent it every time you get the itch to watch it.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is just barely released, as it would be a shame to have the other running around and this one incarcerated. But Paramount, you need to get your act together and give credit to where credit is due. Do right by Star Trek already, will ya?
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