Star Trek has been a part of my life since I was a young boy in Borden, Ontario. It was the late 70s when I first discovered the series on Saturday mornings, my first episode was a rerun of Miri, and I loved the show every time I found it on one of the three channels we had.
Shortly after I’d been introduced to the series, there was the announcement of a movie (!), and while some people felt it was ponderous, it utterly enchanted me, there were my friends on the big screen, and look how beautiful the U.S.S.Enterprise was! To say nothing of Jerry Goldsmith’s now iconic score.
It was a revelation to me as a child, and every few years when I could catch up with the crew of the Enterprise it would be a delight each and every time to see them on the big screen. When The Original Series, and The Next Generation were remastered for blu-ray it was a revelation yet again, neither series had ever looked so amazing. Now the Human Adventure continues as Paramount Pictures unveils yet another revelation, an absolutely stunning 4K transfer of the first fourn cinematic adventures of the original crew of the Enterprise.
1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture (whose beloved Director’s Cut is getting a 4K upgrade for 2022) has NEVER looked better. The images are sharp, clear, with levels of detail and nuance that were not noticeable before, it sounds fantastic, and the one thing that I was truly excited about – there’s an isolated score – and it makes you just want to crank your sound system.
Sure people ragged on the uniforms and the pace of the film, but for me, it’s always been one of my favourite entries n the series. It’s the most like the series with its sense of mystery and exploration, and as a child, and even now, I can close my eyes, and imagine what it would be like to step out on that bridge, to walk the corridors, and join Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy (DeForest Kelly) on a grand adventure.
Nicholas Meyer came in to direct the second film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and in 1982, this was one of the first grown-up films I was allowed to go see on my own (I’d been allowed to go see family friendly films and matinees before this, but 1982 was the year that I got to stretch my imagination by going to see some of the amazing genre films that were released that year). This time out, the film serves as a follow-up to the episode Space Seed, while ruminating on age. It introduced a naval visual style that has permeated the franchise since, and upped the series action quotient.
And of course, there was the killing off of a major character (even if it was for only one film).
The 4K of The Wrath of Khan includes the theatrical and director’s cut, and again, the picture upgrade, much like The Motion Picture’s, completely trumps the previously released blu-rays.
In 1984, right before I left the country to begin a life changing adventure of my own, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (found him! He was in the director’s chair) was released. James Horner delivers a second musical score, continuing the nautical feel he introduced thematically in the second film, and Christopher Lloyd menaces as the Klingon commander Kruge, who proves to Kirk that he can be hurt.
There are some great sequences in III but it feels a little unbalanced and rushed, if the running time had been a bit longer and there was a bit more going on with the characters this could have been an amazing entry. Though, like the other two, I remember my theatrical sceenings of this one fondly.
And again the picture upgrade lets you see things on models, fabrics, and more that were never visible before. and it really gives an increased reality to the franchise.
In 1986 Nimoy returned to helm the fourth film in the series, and the final film in this collection, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. It’s the lighted entry in the series, and has the sense of fun that The Original Series had with its characters. Treks II, III and IV form a loose trilogy which explains why they are bundled in the collection, though it’s a little bit of a bummer that Trek V and Trek VI aren’t included in the set, which leads me to long for a 4K release down the line.
This time out Kirk and company tackle an environmental tale that sees them travelling back to the late 20th century to find a pair of humpback whales to bring them to the furture to repopulate the species, and perhaps save the Earth from destruction.
Each one of the films look better than they ever have, and the image is completely stunning, layered, and amazing. In terms of extras, which are included on the blu-rays in the collection, most of them from both the DVD and blu-ray releases are here, there are a few omissions especially for The Motion Picture, but with the Director’s Cut coming, one hopes that everything will be included on that one. But that isolated score on The Motion Picture makes up for a lot!
This collection is (for the moment) the definitive 4K edition of the first four films of the long running franchise, and is being released just in time for its 55th Anniversary on 8 September, 2021. And having been devouring all things Trek since late 1977, I can categorically say, that my beloved ship and her stalwart crew have never looked better.
Star Trek: The Original 4 Movie Collection on 4K is available today from Paramount Canada. Boldly go…