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Uniquely positioned as an anti-Star Wars, Star Trek’s first feature length endeavor borrows liberally from 2001, yet mistakes awe, wonder, and pacing for intellect.

There’s an error, undeniably, in assuming what worked for 2001 so readily transfers to Star Trek. Yet, it’s not without grandiosity. Much as the ponderous first trip around the Enterprise stalls any sense of narrative, when Jerry Goldsmith’s sensational score increases tempo, what’s created is a monument to pop culture. And, to Star Trek’s credit, its famously unlocked racial and gender barriers make the Enterprise matter when compared to the raw commercial appeal of the Millennium Falcon.

Star Trek is capable and positive-looking, space-faring storytelling

Comparisons though are tired, something for the fan bases to dispute online among themselves. Star Trek is capable and positive-looking, space-faring storytelling, rejecting an inherently evil antagonist for a more thoughtful, eerie presence. The approach is atypical Hollywood as the Enterprise takes logical measures in dealing with a potentially planet-eating threat. No missiles or lasers – just thinking and rationality. What’s lost in traditional excitement is gained in character building.

It’s a smart script, putting Kirk (William Shatner) in the Captain’s chair, then immediately forcing him to cope with loss and technical errors. From there, all that he does forces him to reflect on those choices. The appearance of Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is less about audience cheers than a relief on Kirk’s face – a secondary brain on board induces a flood of confidence when dealing with the unknown.

Star Trek exists to extol an alternative future, not one where climate change devastated humanity or nuclear war scorched the surface, but where togetherness led to a sensible extension of the species. The movie’s twist is thus genuine, celebrating past Earth-bound achievements, and connecting them to unwritten history. Those who bemoan spending money on space exploration think only of the now; Star Trek simulated the eventual gains, and this specific story cleverly finds a parallel. While at times unsure and clumsy as to how best venture into the feature length world, the ideals and characters in Star Trek keep the franchise whole.

Video

Allowing leniency for the practical effect composites and their haziness, Paramount’s new master for Star Trek is a monumental improvement over the Blu-ray. While the slightest sign of low pass filtering remains (resulting in minor smearing on occasion), the overall result produces extensive detail. Exemplary model work is now revealed to its fullest texture. Facial definition consistently performs, true for close and medium shots. Uniforms, costumes, and makeups sport more refined details than anything short of the original 35mm projection. Encoding handles the now finer grain structure.

Space brings a pure, dominating black via Dolby Vision. Shadows elsewhere excel too, heavy, weighted, and pure. Various lights inside (and outside) the Enterprise add impressive highlights, and without appearing overbearing or unnatural. It’s easy to appreciate how contrast-y the cinematography and lighting are here.

Control panels and phaser blasts make use of the deep color. Beautiful flesh tones look superb, while primaries enhance their vividness. The blue cloud is a marvel when on screen. Steely Enterprise hallways produce a full metallic hue.

Audio

The full score is given a boost in TrueHD 7.1, potent and bold in highs and lows. Bass generates a solid rumble (if not matching more modern sci-fi/action understandably). However, this doesn’t sound aged either aside from the rougher-sounding dialog. Star Trek is mastered as well in audio as it is video.

Sweeping sound effects naturally pan between speakers. Phaser shots bounce between fronts and rears smoothly. As ships become ensnared by the anomaly, the electrical zap fills the soundstage organically. Warp speed employs numerous tricks, from a stable LFE push to swirling sound effects. Fantastic work.

Extras

The 4K disc includes a commentary from Michael & Denise Okuda, writers Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman. There’s also an isolated score track. Both are on the Blu-ray as well, along with the other bonuses.

A clumsy computer navigation menu is a pop-up feature that runs alongside the movie with added bonuses. A featurette on writing and the origins of the film lasts 10-minutes. A reunion roundtable runs near the same length. From an in-universe perspective, there’s a four-minute look at V’Ger. Eleven deleted scenes hit eight minutes. Storyboards and trailers bring on the finale.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

While overly patient to a fault, Star Trek’s first turn toward feature length captures the franchise’s central themes.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 59 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: