Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered
review by Zach B.
After an integral explosion on one of the Klingon's moons, Praxis, the Klingons believe they have only about 50 years before their race will be extinct. This means that in order to survive, they need to have peace with the Federation. But the idea of peace talks bring some skepticism to Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) due to his own personal tragedy.
However, things take a turn for the worst when the Klingon Chancellor's ship is escored to Earth by the Enterprise-A crew. The Chancellor is assassinated and the Enterprise-A is held accountable for attacking his ship. Kirk and McCoy are sentenced for the assassination and sent to a prison camp. Was there a framing going on? Will peace actually happen between the two sworn enemies?
Fun Fact: The original subtitle for "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn" was actually "The Undiscovered Country."
Presented in 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Star Trek VI" features a pretty good, spruced up transfer. I'll get the bad out of the way first: the picture is a very grainy, there is some very slight edge enhancement, edge halos and noise are a problem and the print has specks, dirt pieces, scratches and other little annoyances. Still, colors are very well saturated, detail is excellent and fleshtones are dead-on. Despite the good, the bad does overwhelm it a bit at times. Thankfully though, it's not unwatchable.
I was very impressed by the English Dolby Digital 5.1 remix. The dynamics and fidelity of the track is very impressive, as well as the full force of surround sounds. The swooping of ships, computer beeps in the background, voices coming from the rears and a ton of great action which really immerses the viewer well: explosions, firing of guns and the whole nine yards. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while Cliff Eidelman's powerful score is done justice through the channels. While I don't think it's as discrete as 5.1 tracks for current movies, it suits this fine and is a very strong remix that is sure to please those who have decent home theater systems. Also included are English and French Dolby surround tracks, plus English subtitles and closed captioning.
The latest "Star Trek" film re-released by Paramount, the original Enterprise's true final film outing is given some strong treatment. The first disc has two commentaries. Once again there is a Text Commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, authors of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. The information does come out a fairly good rate and has a ton of intricate tidbits. To be honest, since I'm not really a "Star Trek" fan, I wasn't exactly fascinated. But what's put on the screen is sure to please all you die-hards out there who love this kind of detailed information that goes over so much - though I'm sure a lot of you know most of this stuff already.
The Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Nicholas Meyer and Co-Writer Danny Martin Flinn is pretty good and is satisfying overall. Meyer talks about his creative choices and mentions a bit of his work on "The Wrath Of Kahn," while Flinn mainly focuses on story elements. Meyer is big on making a lot of comparisons and doesn't exactly seem to be a natural commentator, but he does bring up some interesting points. It's worth a listen to if you're a fan of the movie, but it is a bit dense at times and I think some of you can take a pass at this track.
Moving on to the second disc, The Perlis Of Peacemaking is a twenty-six minute feature is actually a very unique piece that talks about art imitating life essentially. Using clips from the movie, stills and actually news footage, Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy and even a Georgetown Univeristy professor and a ambassador compare the sixth "Star Trek" movie to some real life, political history. I found this pretty fascinating, as it lends into the film's story itself and the origins of the movie. This is a very really different and creative way at looking at the storytelling process - I was surprised and impressed with this. This all may seem like a turn-off to some of you since it can be "educational," but do watch this - there's a lot to be discovered here. But why was this shown in non-anamorphic widescreen?
Stories From Star Trek VI are actually six featurettes that can be seen apart or together, and last about an hour totally, complete with film clips, stills and interviews with William Shatner, co-producer Ralph Winter, Danny Martin Flinn, Leonard Nimoy, screenwriter David Loughhety (he wrote the fifth movie), editor Ronald Roose, art supervisor Michael Okuda, Christopher Plummer, cinematographer Hiro Narita, production designer Herman Zimmerman, co-producer Steven-Charles Jaffe and Nicholas Meyer. They all give frank interviews in the pieces, but the first focuses on the film's plotline and putting it in gear. Many in this featurette agree that "Star Trek V" was underwhelming and needed a kick for the 25th anniversary. The idea of a prequel was discussed, but the main portion of this turns into what the story became and why. Using stills and clips from the movie, this is nicely done.
"Prejudice" is yet another unique focus as far as prejudice in the movie, and how William Shatner didn't exactly agree with Nicholas Meyer's take on a key scene. A few more controversial points are discussed, all of which are really interesting. "Director Nicholas Meyer" is pretty much what you'd expect - a focus on the film's co-screenwriter and director. The cast and crew give him all kinds of praise, and what made him such a strong director for the movie. A nice ass-kissing session more or less, but it's hard not feel passionate about everyone's warmth toward the filmmaker.
"Shakespeare & General Chang" focuses on Christopher Plummer and his role in the movie (as well as the Shakespeare references with it), and how Plummer really appreciated the movie - even if Nimoy insists Plummer wasn't so keen to do it at first. "Bringing It To Life" is a bit more technical as far as the film's shooting style, the sets and other ways to make the film seem a bit different. Finally, "Farewell & Goodbye" talks about the film's last scene - which was actually on the last day of the shooting schedule - and what the end was going to be like.
The Star Trek Universe has five more featurettes. "Conversations with Nicholas Meyer" lasts nine-and-a-half minutes and profiles the director, and why he loves being a filmmaker so much, and what filmmaking brings out in him - he comes across as a very intelligent, well-spoken and insightful man. "Klingons: Conjuring The Legend" is a bit over twenty minutes and talks about - yep, you guessed it - klingons. The introduction to them in the original "Star Trek" series, their evolution in the films and much more. A lot is brought across here using stills, clips from the movies and shows and a whole host of interviews with various production members on the "Star Trek" shows and movies that give a lot of details in their part and changes within the franchise.
"Federation Operatives" is a fun featurette in that it makes connections from cast members in the movie who had other roles in other "Star Trek" series and films (it runs about five minutes). "Penny's Toy Box" (six minutes) focuses on "Star Trek" archive-woman Penny Juday - she has a lot of surprises to show you from what's in the archives, so enjoy. Finally, "Together Again" (five minutes) features interviews with William Shatner and Christopher Plummer - and Shatner and Plummer's weird connections. These are just fun recollections from the two men that are entertaining to hear about.
Farewell has "DeForest Kelley: A Tribute" (a little over thirteen minutes) where as you'd probably expect, the late actor is remembered by his fellow cast and crew members, as well as a few others. With clips and interviews, everyone here praises the man, his characteristics, roles other than "Star Trek" and his great acting abilities - very sweet and nice. "Original Intrerviews" has interviews on the set from Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Doohan, Nichols, Takein, Walter Koeing and Iman - all of which add up to a good chunk of time. If you're a fan of these actors, you'll definitely want to watch these - even they were probably meant for press materials, they are informative and entertaining.
Under "Promotional Material" you'll find a Teaser Trailer (full frame) and Theatrical Trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen), as well as 1991 Convention Presentation By Nicholas Meyer. Lasting about five minutes, this artifact was screened at a 1991 Star Trek convention and was to give fans a sneak peak at the latest adventure. Meyer has a good sense of humor in this piece, and it's topped off with a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage. Definitely worth a watch.
Finally, Archives has "Production Gallery" which is a three-and-a-half minute montage of behind-the-scenes footage while "Storyboards" is broken up into four sections ("Praxis," "Assassins," "Rura Penthe" and the omitted "Leaving Spacedock") where you can view a bunch of stills.
Simply put, these are the best batch of supplements yet on a "Star Trek" DVD release. They are well-produced, have lots of details and most importantly, are incredibly insightful. I was really taken aback (in a very good way) in how the material was presented and what was given across on the supplements - well done.
With a vast amount of extras and a fine presentation (let alone a fantastic retail price), this is the best "Star Trek" movie re-release on DVD yet. "Generations" is coming next on the re-release block, so stay tuned...
Retail Price: $`19.99
Specs: 2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)
Released: January 27th, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 113 minutes
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nomoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Kopeing, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Kim Cattrall, David Warner and Christopher Plummer
Written by: Nicholas
Meyer & Danny Martin Flinn
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer