PictureParamount has presented this feature in a 1.85:1 anamorphic encoding. I couldn't determine whether this has been cleaned up for this release as the print is 13 years old, but I suspect it has. In general a marvellous job has been done. We are treated to a clean honed image with very little signs of aging or print damage. Primary colours are punchy, and good contrast range ensures they catch the eye. The deep maroon uniforms in the dark council chambers show a wonderful richness and fine detail. Shadow detail is also maintained at high levels, and skin tones retain naturalness. The only minor quibble was some pixelation in areas with fine highlight details, for example the gold Federation emblems on the tunics. Otherwise a praiseworthy print.
SoundSimilar good work has gone into the sound encoding, Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. The bridge of the Enterprise has always provided a good test for a well-balanced system and this is no exception. The front soundstage is wide with a variety of computers and instruments chirping, and clicking away to the right and left of the screen. Voices pan naturally across the front dialogue channel, and the whole is underpinned by the thrumming of the engines in the base channel. Cliff Eidelmans driving score surrounds you and is dripping with menace and foreboding, but is never overpowering of the all important centre channel. A mark was lost because I felt it could have been even better. The trial of Kirk and Bones in the Klingon court should have been full of chanting and deep echoes from the vast chamber, the explosion of the Bird of Prey should have rocked the room; phaser fire should sizzle and zip. The track failed to reach these heights, but what it did do it did very well indeed.
ExtrasWith releases of old movies one of the main reasons for wanting to purchase is often the extras available on a new release. This two-disc affair is laden with commentaries, featurettes and documentaries, which although they are not ground breaking, are engrossing and enlightening. Feature commentary is provided by director Nick Meyer and co-writer Denny Martin Flynn. It is a slow paced affair with long periods of silence interspersed with a genial chat about the writing process, the literary inspirations for the dialogue and a little about the film. Michael and Denise Okuda provide far more factual information on the written commentary. As co-authors of “The Star Trek Encyclopaedia” they have an exhaustive knowledge of facts and anecdotes about the movie. These are flashed up on screen like subtitles. This feature was also present on the Star Trek V disc and I expressed my reservations then. It provides many intriguing facts but I prefer my commentaries aurally.
Disc two contains the meat of the extras. Although it is broken down into many small chunks this is essentially a series of interviews both onset at the time of filming and in 2003 retrospectively. They are provided by all concerned, major cast members, director screenwriter, composer, cinematographer etc. etc. They vary in length and interest, but are generally captivating. A particular mention must go to the tributes to DeForest Kelly who died in 1999 of stomach cancer. They are genuine, thoughtful and touching, almost bringing a tear to the eye.
VerdictFollowing the by now well established pattern of even number Trek flicks this is a splendid effort. The movie puts our favourite characters in a distant and dangerous setting but has them dealing with the same moral injustice and prejudice that we still tackle today. Laced with excitement, menace and humour the film provides an enjoyable diversion. The quality of the discs both in sound, picture and extras, is as good as any Trek disc to date. My advice, boldly go to your favourite DVD dealer and add this to your collection.
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