Star Trek: First Contact Special Collector's Edition (DTS) DVD Review
PictureParamount has provided theatrically correct 2.35:1 ratio, anamorphically enhanced for wide screen TV's picture with an excellent average bitrate of 6-8 Mbps. On the whole the picture is very good. The Borg like black and this is reflected in their scenes, it is deep with a green tinge, just as it should be. The brightness and contrast levels are right for the film, rarely if ever falling into greys, but occasionally some background details do become hard to see due to the darkness levels. Colours, by contrast, shine off the screen particularly the outdoor shots by the missile silo. However, this film is now nine years old, and it does show its age in places, the odd speckle of print damage and a few grains of dust are visible, particularly in the first few scenes. Film grain too is noticeable on various scenes. Digitally the print is free from artefacts, even zoomed into smoke filled backgrounds, quite excellent. Unfortunately I did spot some edge enhancement, but it was thankfully quite rare. On the whole a fine print.
SoundAs good as the picture is, considering the films age, the sound is quite outstanding. The film has always had a decent surround track, even the old prologic version, preserved on this DVD. It opened up the sound stage with explosions, phasers, ship and Borg ambient noses all pumped through the rears. Improving upon this is the excellent Dolby 5.1 track. All the same elements are pumped through the rears, but with the stereo separation, and superb front-rear dynamics the sound stage is really opened up. And the next step up is the DTS track. Has everything that the Dolby has but with wider separation, more depth and deeper bass, unsurprisingly this is by far the best track on the disc, if you don't have a DTS decoder by now - get one.. The LFE has a wonderful time whether it is the deep rumble of the Enterprise or the many explosions that pepper the film. Dialogue is always clear, from the centre and never drowned out by the action. The score too is excellently realised really placing you in the centre of things, especially the metallic strum of the Borg tune. Also included is a French 2.0 Surround that utilises the same track as the English surround only with dubbing.
ExtrasThe first disc has three commentaries, two audio and one text. The first commentary with director Jonny 'fatboy' Frakes I shall politely call a missed opportunity, when in reality I should say is bloody awful. His short, mono syllable tidbits of information are far from 'genius' a word you will hear a few times should you opt for this one. It does get a bit better in the second act, but too little too late, I preferred his pauses.
The second commentary by screenwriters Braga and Moore was a far more satisfying experience. Much time is spent discussing the concepts behind the ideas for the film, scripting decisions and depth of the characters and their actions. A most entertaining listen, nice to hear Moore get a bit more of the action compared his dominance by Braga in the featurettes.
The text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda is as informative as ever, with everything form production to trivia listed. One note, on my DVD player some of the texts was accompanied by an audio drop, video pause or text interference, though this did not occur on the PC.
On the second disc, there is something like three hours worth of extras, all newly produced for this release. The Borg collective featurettes trace the origins of the Borg as a race and villain on the TV show through to their appearance in First Contact (Unimatrix one). The Queen interviews Alice Krige and follows the design process of creating this most seductive villain. Finally Design Matrix features all the costume and ship designs through out the history of the Borg's lifetime on the Star Trek.
The Scene deconstruction portion takes three scene, only one of which (the Queen assembly) is exceptional and discusses with the designers and effects experts how said scene was developed and ultimately produced via initial story board drawings through the various plates needed to eventual completion. Interesting to see, but only the Queen one is worth watching.
Under the title First Contact production there are numerous featurettes the first of which is Making First Contact and is a fine piece of archive and newly filmed material with all concerned talking about their experiences on filming the eighth Star Trek film. Much is discussed from everyone involved with detail and enthusiasm from all the participants involved both behind and in front of the camera. Next up is the Story where Braga and Moore discuss the various ideas they had when coming up with the story, through its evolution to the finished film, quite interesting even though most fans will already know what's discussed. The Missile Silo has the production designers talking about how they found and used an actual silo in Arizona for most of the work on the film. The discussion finishes up with the various stunts and design of the Phoenix spacecraft. The Deflector Dish follows a similar pattern to the Silo, except that this was an entirely built set within the largest stage in Paramount. The Arts of Star Trek concentrates exclusively on the design aspects of the main starships, Enterprise E, Phoenix, and the Vulcan Ship. A to E rounds this section off with an overview of the sets.
The Star Trek Universe contains three heading, the first of which is a Tribute to the late great Jerry Goldsmith from friends, fans, cast and crew involved with the film, it is quite a moving piece. The second, Legacy of Zephram Cochrane, has James Cromwell talking about his characterisation of one of the most revered characters in the Star Trek Universe. Also includes contributions from the writers and Original Series clips to explain away the change in him. Finally First Contact the Possibilities discusses the SETI programme and real life searches for extra terrestrial life.
Storyboards for some key scenes, production and publicity photographs as well as two trailers for the film and one for the Borg experience round off the extras on this second disc.
VerdictAs a film First Contact combines action, drama and wit that makes even the best of Star Trek something Special. I class this as the first real Next Generation film, and the cast and crew give it their all to make it one of the best Star Trek films ever. This is a fine addition to the rest of the 'Collectors series', with a wealth of information in the extras, as well as a top class film this is a must own for Fans.
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