El Cosmico here from Butt-Numb-A-Thon, our man Derek Flint has been kind enough to send in a review of the upcoming Star Trek: The Motion Picture DVD. It's a film I've always enjoyed, as much for its weirdness as for anything else. It seems that it will be receiving a suitable treatment. Here's our pal Derek:
There’s been much debate about the virtue behind George Lucas tinkering with the “Star Wars” trilogy for those “special editions” of his. Some found it obsessive, while others complained it was just a shameless marketing tool to get us all to plunk down money again for three movies everyone knows by heart.
As far as the other sci fi franchise “Star Trek,” the one presently dismantled and run into the ground by Rick Berman and his band of inept brothers, there’s never been any outcry over tinkering with any of those movies. (Personally, if there were some way to use CGI to remove Berman from “Star Trek” altogether… I’d cheer.)
A few months back it was announced that “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” would be going through some sort of overhaul and enhancements for its home video release on DVD. I don’t think it caused a whole lot of excitement out there, probably because nothing about “Trek” is. It feels so over. We owe a big thank you to Rick for that.
Also, a lot of people don’t love “ST: TMP” in comparison to other films in the series. It’s slow and rambling, devoid of the traits of the characters we all know and love, but it was also completed in haste. Even the legendary director Robert Wise wasn’t pleased.
From what I know of “Trek” history, the picture released was essentially their “first assembly.”
As far as improvements, “Star Trek – The Motion Picture”could only go up… and gone up it has.
I was able to sneak a peek at what’s being called “The Director’s Edition” of “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” and was very excited by what I saw. I have no idea whether they’ve toyed with any sort of theatrical release for this version; my guess is not given the general malaise surrounding the “franchise.”
Still, for me there is no “franchise,” there’s only Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the gang. I can still remember the cheers which welcomed their appearances on screen back when I was a kid in ’79 when “ST: TMP” first came out.
Seeing “The Director’s Edition” gave me a sincere wish.
I wish THIS were the version that could have been released originally almost twenty years ago.
The film has been edited tighter. Sure, it still takes awhile to fly around the Enterprise near the beginning, accompanied by the strains of Jerry Goldsmith’s majestic score. The same applies to the now infamous V’Ger flyover, which has always served as the ultimate intermission, giving everybody the chance to use the restroom, grab popcorn or just plain close your eyes for a few minutes.
Still, these sequences have been pulled up a bit and play much better within the context of this more focused version.
Some of the fabled deleted scenes that made their way onto the TV versions and home video releases are in here, and a lot of the dull, redundant banter has been chopped out. I missed nothing. There’s also been re-editing of scenes, including the “Spock crying” part near the end that basically validates what you’ve been watching for the past two hours.
What everyone will be talking about, besides the incredible new sound mix with layers and layers of improved material, is the new and enhanced special effects that are sprinkled throughout “The Director’s Edition.” Every one of these shots vastly improves the experience. Gone is that cheesy matte shot which first introduced Vulcan. In its’ place is a breathtaking vista which would draw cheers from an audience, if only they'd release this version to theaters.
The same applies to the new sequence that shows Kirk’s shuttle zipping over San Francisco. It’s incredible, and hands down beats any of the SFX you’ve seen in the “Star Trek” films that followed this one, including “The Next Generation.” CGI rules.
There’s also love for TOS to be found throughout this“enterprise.”
Look in the corner of the San Francisco shuttle bay and you’ll notice an original series style shuttle resting there. Unfortunately, it’s too small in frame to see whether or not it’s “The Galileo 7” but I’ll bet you it is.
It’s clear the people involved in this love the original “Star Trek” and know more about its’ history than those currently extinguishing its proud flame.
I remember reading the novelization of “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” before the movie came out, then being as disappointed as everyone else was with the movie… even though we couldn’t entirely bring ourselves to admit it. This version of the same movie lives up to that book, especially during the finale where the scenes involving V’Ger FINALLY have the breathtaking opticals that make the ending climatic, as opposed to anti-climatic. The “space walk” sequence as Kirk and company journey from the Enterprise dish over to V’Ger has been rendered exactly as originally conceived, and is marvelous.
There are numerous changes and additions, and my favorite remains what you see outside the window during the scene where Kirk asked Spock to “please sit down.” Unlike the first “Star Wars” movie where the new material kept pulling me out of the film on my initial viewing… this made me feel like I was finally seeing a finished film.
:”Star Trek – The Motion Picture” is well worth revisiting. All those moments which always worked, seeing the crew reassembled and dear DeForest Kelley beam back aboard with a beard, are there… but now the movie doesn’t flat line after the Enterprise leaves dry-dock.
Ultimately, you may still like “The Wrath Of Khan” or “TheVoyage Home” more than “Star Trek – The Motion Picture,” but I guarantee you’ll probably wind up watching “The Director’s Edition” more than any of the other TOS “Trek” movies, thanks to the wonderful work of all those involved. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sample whatever extras will be on the DVD release… but I’m sure they’re stellar.)
All’s well that end’s well. “Star Trek – The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition” finally end’s well.