With a brand-new Trek in theaters, it only makes sense for Paramount to take advantage of you, the consumer, by releasing some absolutely wonderful new Blu-rays of your favorite Star Trek films. In this case, as with the new film, Spock is featured as the main thrust of the stories. Though seeming a bit random, the boxset produces a somewhat self contained story, which should be pleasing to both the hardcore trekker, as well as the “ooww, these are Star Trek films people like “ME” , a non trekker, like”.
First up is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the theatrical version), which takes its title character from an earlier original series character in the episode Space Seed. For both fans and non-affiliates, this is the Star Trek film that anyone can enjoy. It plays out much like a Shakespearian revenge/tragedy, with an exquisite performance by the late-great Ricardo Montalban, and top notch additions by the rest of the regular cast.
Spoiler: Spock dies at the end.
Of course, it is no surprise (until you see the documentaries) that the next film would be called Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, an excellent follow-up to the Wrath of Khan, if a little uneven purely from the technical stand point of its first time director, Leonard Nimoy. Still, the film has its high points, with a particularly creepy performance by Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon. The film also features some wonderful set pieces as well as visual effects, though still slightly dated.
Spoiler: Spock returns.
The third and final film, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, takes place immediately after the events of the last film, as a giant probe threatens to destroy Earth before Captain Kirk and the others return to it. They soon discover that the signal coming from the probe is that of Whale-like language, however all whales in the 23rd Century are extinct (yes, the dreaded social conscience message, but fear not, it is not overly dwelled upon). SO, the crew journey back in time to pickup some of those blubbery bastards, while trying to fit into 1980’s San Francisco culture real-discreet-like. They are mistaken for weirdo-hippie-cum-crazies from the 1960’s, Spock makes out with a pregnant whale, Catharine Hicks drinks a lot of beer, Shatner does his thing, and somehow the film is still coherent and fun. And so the adventures continue….
Ok, so let’s be clear, there are A LOT of special features to cover, so I shall try to be concise here. There are the commentaries from the previous releases, as well as a new one on Voyage Home, which features my personally distasteful ‘two smug pricks’ who ruined the Transformers good name, as well as all the documentaries from the previous DVDs, including the trailers, photo galleries, vintage interviews etc.
In the new features department, on Wrath of Khan, there is a new interview with composer James Horner, a huge Star Trek nerd shares his collection of props, an awkward tribute to Ricardo Montalban by the director, The Library Computer (which will tell you everything, in case you don’t want to watch the movie…?), as well as a weird Starfleet Academy video that gives you little tidbits about some of the technical/cultural aspects of the films (sort of like Dharma videos on LOST). Unfortunately, they did not include the Director’s Cut of the film, which can only lead one to believe they will be doing so at a later date, buyer beware.
For the Search for Spock, there is a new Visual Effects featurette, Spock the Early Years interview with the guy who played 17 year old Spock, Star Trek Museum of Science Fiction tour, as well as Starfleet Academy and Library Computer.
Finally Voyage Home has the previously mentioned commentary, Chekov’s Screen Moments, The Three Picture saga, Star Trek for a Cause, Starfleet Academy and Library Computer.
WWWhhhheewww, alright, well as for the Blu-ray transfers, they look as bright and sharp as 20 year-old films can look, with some minimal grain and noise in the red and black areas. The sound is pretty impeccable in True HD (particularly Wrath of Khan), as those laser blasts and beaming-up sound pretty groovy. Overall it’s an excellent value for either the trekkers or the good cinema seekers. Live long and prosper Paramount!