Computer, please make Judge Clark Douglas a nice cup of Earl Grey, hot.
Our reviews of Star Trek: First Contact (published July 28th, 2000), Star Trek: First Contact: Collector's Edition (published March 15th, 2005), Star Trek: Insurrection (published May 21st, 1999), Star Trek: Insurrection: Collector's Edition (published June 7th, 2005), Star Trek: Nemesis (published June 2nd, 2003), Star Trek: Nemesis: Collector's Edition (published October 10th, 2005), and Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection (published October 19th, 2009) are also available.
"Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair."
Hot on the heels of the Blu-ray release of the first six Star Trek films comes another collection offering the next four flicks. Is this second set worth checking out? Let's take a look at Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection!
Facts of the Case
Star Trek: Generations opens precisely where you might expect it to: aboard the Starship Enterprise. It's the late 23rd Century, and the Enterprise is now in the hands of a new young crew. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner, Boston Legal), Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig, Babylon 5) and Montgomery Scott (James Doohan, Loaded Weapon 1) are onboard the ship, but only as honored guests. Their official careers as members of Starfleet may have concluded, but they soon find themselves caught up in a dangerous rescue mission. In the chaos of the affair, Captain Kirk is seemingly killed. We then fast forward 78 years to an era in which the Enterprise is commanded by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart, X-Men). Picard's latest mission is to stop a dangerous madman named Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange), but to do so he's going to need the help of none other than the late Captain Kirk.
In Star Trek: First Contact, the villainous Borg (exceptionally dangerous cyborg-like beings) lose an epic battle against the Federation thanks to Captain Picard's savvy thinking. In a last-ditch effort at victory, the Borg travel back in time with the hopes of altering a key event in human history. Can Picard and his crew stop their enemy's chilling scheme?
Star Trek: Insurrection places the crew of the Enterprise in something of a moral dilemma. Picard has been ordered to forcibly remove a peaceful alien race known as the Ba'ku from their homes in order to give the Federation access to the considerable healing powers the Ba'ku's planet seemingly possesses. Unfortunately, this order violates the Prime Directive, which states that the Federation should never interfere with the natural lives of other civilizations. Will Picard follow his orders or his moral code?
Finally, Star Trek: Nemesis opens on a rather happy note, with the marriage of Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). However, the Enterprise is soon thrown into yet another troubling situation, as what initially appears to be a diplomatic mission to Romulus quickly turns into something much more sinister. Could this be that challenge that finally proves too overwhelming for Picard and his crew?
Let's take these bad boys one by one…
Star Trek: Generations
The previous Blu-ray collection of Star Trek flicks received some criticism for failing to provide truly definitive transfers for most of the films included. Fortunately, this collection is a good deal more consistent in that department. Unfortunately, Star Trek: Generations is probably the weakest transfer of the bunch. The use of DNR is somewhat excessive, giving many of the characters that irritating "plastic doll" look. Flesh tones are also considerably off, as everyone looks too red/purple throughout. Meanwhile, the pale android Data frequently looks like the dead girl from Goldfinger, which is particularly distracting. However, it's not all bad news. Blacks are rich and deep, the level of detail is exceptionally strong, and the sequences that really need to look awesome generally do. Audio is excellent, despite a handful of moments in which the subwoofer threatens to overpower everything else. While Dennis McCarthy's limp score is one of my least favorite of the franchise, it's well-distributed and mixes quite nicely with the sound design and dialogue.
In terms of supplements, there's a pretty generous amount of new material included on all of the films. This disc offers a new audio commentary with director David Carson and Manny Coto in addition to the old commentary with writers Ron Moore and Brannon Braga. New featurettes include in "Scoring Trek," "Next Generation Designer Flashback: Andrew Probert," "Stellar Cartography on Earth," "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 1," "Trek Roundtable: Generations," and "Starfleet Academy: Trilithium." Old featurettes included are "Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire," "Uniting Two Legends," "Inside ILM: Models and Miniatures," "Crashing the Enterprise," "A Tribute to Matt Jeffries," "The Enterprise Lineage," "Captain Picard's Family Album," and "Creating 24th Century Weapons." You also get scene deconstruction of three different key sequences in the movie, deleted scenes, production galleries, and trailers. Blu-ray exclusives include a "Library Computer" option that lets you dig through Trek trivia while watching the film and a "Star Trek IQ" interactive quiz option that can be accessed via BD-Live.
Star Trek: First Contact
The folks at Paramount have given First Contact the Wrath of Khan treatment in terms of the transfer, offering an image that is pretty close to perfect. Pretty close, mind you. The image is a bit soft at times and there are individual shots that seem to struggle, but overall everything is superb. Detail is terrific throughout, flesh tones are thankfully warm and accurate this time around, blacks are deep and inky, and the image looks considerably more natural than Generations. Audio is excellent, particularly during the opening battle sequence. If you're looking for something to rock the room, look no further. Both aggressive and impressively well-balanced, I have no complaints with this track. First Contact also marked the return of composer Jerry Goldsmith, who turned in an excellent musical effort and a very memorable new theme. The climax of the movie gives Goldsmith a chance to carry the imagery in a way no Trek score had since Star Trek: The Motion Picture
In terms of supplements, First Contact offers a new audio commentary from Damon Lindelof and Anthony Pascale to go along with two older commentaries (one from director Jonathan Frakes, one from writers Brannon Braga and Ron Moore). New featurettes include "Industrial Light and Magic—The Next Generation," "Greetings from the International Space Station," "Spaceshipone's Historic Flight," "Brent Spinder: Data and Beyond Part 2," "Trek Roundtable: First Contact," and "Starfleet Academy: Temporal Vortex." Older featurettes include "Making First Contact," "The Art of First Contact," "The Story," "the Missile Silo," "The Deflector Dish," "From A to E," "Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute," "The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane," "First Contact: The Possibilities," "Unimatrix One," "The Queen," and "Design Matrix." You also get scene deconstruction for three different sequences, storyboards, a photo gallery, Library Computer and Star Trek IQ.
Star Trek: Insurrection
The transfer is more or less on a par with First Contact…95% of the time, anyway. For some reason, there are a few scenes that are exceptionally soft and weak, and these moments are slightly distracting. For the majority of the running time, the transfer rocks pretty hard, benefiting once again from excellent detail and generally well-defined imagery. The film is the most colorful and diverse of this set from a visual perspective, and the broad palette is conveyed quite well throughout. The audio might just be the best of the set, offering a very rich and well-balanced combination of active sound design, score and dialogue. Jerry Goldsmith's work is another very successful outing for the composer, as he blends colorful action scoring with the sort of memorably tender primary theme that he provided with such frequency during the later portion of his career.
Okay, let's check out the extras. A new audio commentary courtesy of Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis is provided, which is surprisingly the very first commentary that the film has received. New featurettes include "Westmore's Legacy," "Marina Sirtis: The Counselor is In," "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 3," "Trek Roundtable: Insurrection," and "Starfleet Academy: Origins of the Ba'Ku and Son'a Conflict." Older featurettes include "It Takes a Village," "Location, Location, Location," "The Art of Insurrection," "Anatomy of a Stunt," "The Story," "Making Star Trek: Insurrection," "Director's Notebook," "Westmore's Aliens," "Star Trek's Beautiful Alien Women," "Drones," "Shuttle Chase," and "Duck Blind." You also get deleted scenes, storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers and tv spots, an archival promotional featurette, Library Computer and Star Trek I.Q.
Star Trek: Nemesis
Nemesis sports yet another solid transfer that yet again mimics the many strengths and the few weaknesses of the two films that precede it. Sure enough, there are a handful of soft moments that are underwhelming, but everything else is pretty superb. I will note that Nemesis is perhaps the darkest film of the set from a visual perspective, attempting to create a pretty grim atmosphere though never actually achieving that thanks to the lack of tension in the plotting. The darker scenes benefit from superb shading and deep blacks, maintaining A-grade clarity at all times. The audio is also on par with the other films in the set, delivering an aggressive and involving mix that I found quite satisfying. The only disappointing factor is the Jerry Goldsmith score, which proves a good deal less memorable than his other contributions to the franchise.
Trek experts Michael and Denise Okuda contribute a new commentary for Nemesis, which is included alongside two older commentaries from director Stuart Baird and producer Rick Berman. New featurettes include "Reunion with the Rikers," "Today's Tech Tomorrow's Data," "Robot Hall of Fame," "Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 4," "Trek Roundtable: Nemesis," and "Starfleet Academy: Thalaron Radiation." Older featurettes include "Nemesis Revisited," "New Frontiers—Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis," "Storyboarding the Action," "Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis," "Build and Rebuild," "Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier," "Screen Test: Shinzon," "A Star Trek Family's Final Journey," "A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier," "The Enterprise E," "Romulan Lore," "Shinzon and the Viceroy," "Romulan Design," "The Romulan Senate," and "The Scimitar." You also get deleted scenes, a storyboard gallery, production photos, a props gallery, trailers, Library Computer and Star Trek I.Q.
Star Trek: Evolutions—Bonus Disc
The packaging is the same attractive deal as the Original Motion Picture Collection set, putting each film in its own slim Blu-ray case and collecting all of the cases in a sturdy cardboard box with a plastic slipcover. It looks good on the shelf, the discs are well-protected and it won't take up too much space.
Though the films in this collection are pretty inconsistent, you and I both know that anyone who regards themselves as a Trek fan is going to want this box set. While the most casual followers of the franchise might want to stick with the solo release of First Contact, everyone else should be pleased that generally strong transfers and generous new supplements make this set easy to recommend. I'm still convinced a bigger and better, truly "definitive" set of all the Trek films will be released in the future, but this set is impressive enough to satisfy those who don't want to wait a couple of years.
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What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
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