Paramount set a high bar with the Star Trek Movie Collection featuring the original series cast earlier this year. Those standards carry through to the second half of the complete series run, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection.
This series of films 7-10 begins with a passing of the torch from Kirk to Picard in Generations and then moves full warp ahead with the new cast in fan-favorite and my pick for the best film in the set, First Contact. Insurrection represents a creative step back for the franchise with less mass appeal, and the darker Nemesis is the most forgettable live action Star Trek film and consequently was the last before the J.J. Abrams reboot in early 2009.
The Next Generation DVD transfers were heavily knocked for being overly digitally manipulated with less than stellar results. Paramount has applied some slight artificial cleansing in the form of noise reduction and edge enhancement to the Blu-ray transfers likely out of necessity, yet done so as elegantly as imaginable to make up for past mistakes.
Generations, First Contact and Insurrections are unnaturally clean without a hint of grain while Nemesis carries a slightly more film-like image. Astonishingly even with the film grain removed, fine detail remains relatively strong when lighting conditions allow it to. Data’s almost glittery makeup and Geordi’s contact lenses are especially mesmerizing to stare at. Could detail be stronger? Perhaps some, but not enough to gripe about the picture quality which is across the board a substantive upgrade from the DVD editions of these films.
Each film has been bestowed with a new 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track and not one of them is a letdown. The aggressive use of bass and surround in the mixes tends to improve ever so slightly with each successive film into Nemesis which takes the cake when the Enterprise falls under attack. There are no noticeable instances of dialogue drowning out or improper panning of sound in any of the films. Film purists might argue the tinkering with the video but there are no complaints to issue in regards to Paramount’s handling of lossless audio.
There are over 3 hours of new bonus features evenly spread across the entire set, all in high definition, as well as 7 hours of previously released material from the older DVD editions. Even the most serious Star Trek fan should be pleased with the extensive offering Paramount has put together for its flagship franchise. The list below represents only the new material attached to each film!
Star Trek Generations
- Commentary by David Carson and Manny Coto
- Scoring Trek
- Next Generation Designer Flashback: Andrew Probert
- Stellar Cartography on Earth
- Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 1
- Trek Roundtable: Generations
- Star Fleet Academy: Trilithium
Star Trek First Contact
- Commentary by Damon Lindelof and Anthony Pascale
- Industrial Light & Magic: The Next Generation
- Greetings From the International Space Station
- SpaceShipOne’s Historic Flight
- Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 2
- Trek Roundtable: First Contact
- Starfleet Academy: Temporal Vortex
Star Trek Insurrection
- Commentary by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis
- Westmore’s Legacy
- Marina Sirtis: The Counselor is In
- Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 3
- Trek Roundtable: Insurrection
- Starfleet Academy: Origins of the Ba’ku and Son’a Conflict
Star Trek Nemesis
- Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda
- Reunion with the Rikers
- Today’s Tech Tomorrow’s Data
- Robot Hall of Fame
- Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond Part 4
- Trek Roundtable: Nemesis
- Starfleet Academy: Thalaron Radiation
A fifth disc titled Evolutions is dedicated to newly produced bonus features exclusive to this set. The packaging is identical to each of the individual film thin Blu-ray cases and not ideal, but the content covers the evolution of various Star Trek people, places and things through not only the Next Generation years but the entire film saga.
The Evolution of the Enterprise (14:23, HD) – The Evolutions disc kicks off with this fun feature which covers a topic that has likely crossed the mind of many casual Trek fans at one time or another. New CG animation walks through the various Star Trek Enterprise models while voiceover narration and interview snippets with crew members dissect the key components and changes of each design.
Villains of Star Trek (14:04, HD) – Much of this feature is dedicated to discussing Khan and the Borg, and rightfully so given their place atop of the list of Star Trek film villains. One of the writers who narrate this piece finds the villain in Star Trek IV the most intriguing. Their name? Humans.
I Love the Star Trek Movies (4:34, HD) – Producers and writers share their favorite Star Trek films and moments. Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek are included in the participants.
Farewell to Star Trek: The Experience (28:06, HD) – A visual ode to the Las Vegas Hilton Star Trek Experience exhibit and rides that closed on September 1, 2008. This piece is equally cool for those who saw the exhibit with tons of behind-the-scenes footage, and those who never did with an inside look at what it was all about.
Klingon Encounter (3:29, HD) – A video camera records the actual Klingon Encounter portion of the Star Trek Experience. It is the next best thing to having been there – though the camera operator could have used a steadicam.
Borg Invasion 4D (5:12, HD) – Another Star Trek Experience attraction from the point of view of a visitor. The 4D effect is not quite as thrilling as having been there but the point gets across.
Charting the Final Frontier – This interactive map lets you jump around the universe to locations from all the Star Trek films. The map is a bit confusing to read and will likely only appeal to hardcore Star Trek fans.
The Star Trek The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection on Blu-ray Disc is a classy release all around and perfect compliment to the Movie Collection. The films, of questionable uneven creative quality to non-Trekkies, look and sound better than they ever have, there are hours of new and old bonus features, and even the packaging with a lenticular Starfleet Emblem is a winner. If you have to own them all then grab this set and engage.
– Dan Bradley