I just received my TNG Blu-Ray set from Amazon. After the TOS set, which had a decidedly mixed quality, I was ready to give this set some tough scrutiny. Happily, I can report that A/V quality is superior to the previous set, and the extras and packaging share the same quality with that set.
Generations – I find this movie to be underrated. The intro sequence aboard the Enterprise B is just a terrific bit of continuity expanding coolness. The emotional weight of the movie is great, and although it falls into the “big villain” syndrome, the big villain is 1. played by Malcolm McDowell, 2. is realistic in his motivations and his abilities. The only failings in my book are some torpid pacing in the “Nexus” scenes, and some painful Data scenes. Still, this is a movie that I appreciate more each time I watch it.
First Contact – this is everyone’s pick for “2nd best of all time” (after “Khan” of course). I’m not going to disagree. It’s got a whiz bang action story, the Borg, time travel, good continuity, and great effects. I do think the story sullies the Borg somewhat by introducing the “Queen.” But, then again, she is played very well by Alice Krige. As far as time travel, while this wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, it did probably contribute to the trend of too much time travel in Trek.
Insurrection – More like an extended episode than a movie, this film has the germ of a good sci-fi story: how much of its scruples will the Federation trade for a technology that could render humanity immortal? Unfortunately, this movie more than most falls prey to the “big villain” syndrome, with an extremely irritating antagonist, the Sona. There is some good fan service, however, with Troi and Riker finally getting together for good. I’d rate this along with some of the so-so two parters in TNG’s TV run.
Nemesis – Ah, Nemesis. The film that “killed the franchise.” The one which necessitated a “Reboot.” The one which pooped on several characters and even a few races. This movie is riddled with problems from concept through to execution. It ret-cons the Romulans and adds the “Remans.” It brings back Wesley as a Starfleet lieutenant, even though he dropped out of the academy to cross dimensions with the Traveler. It introduces Data’s retarded brother “B-4,” even though this is specifically contradicted by several TNG episodes. It shamelessly rips off a TNG episode in which Troi is mentally assaulted. It posits an outlandish clone plot with Captain Picard, as if the Romulans could both obtain his DNA several decades ago and anticipate its usefulness in the future. It kills a main character for no apparent reason. About the only thing worthwhile in this film is the wedding of Troi and Riker. The more I see this film, the angrier I get at the complete lack of care that went into its making.
Unlike the TOS set, the video quality of these 4 films is in general extremely good, and at times spectacular. Though there is a tiny bit of edge enhancement visible at times (Especially on the sailboat in Generations), Digital Noise Reduction is not obtrusive at any point. Detail is extremely strong for the most part, and colors are absolutely vibrant. Black levels are deep and strong, but detail in shadows is still evident. You will want to be sure to check the calibration of your brightness, contrast, and gamma, to get the most from these films (for those without a disc like AVE, try the THX calibrator on “Star Wars” DVDs for some good brightness/contrast patterns).
I would say First Contact is the best transfer of the bunch, but truthfully, all of the final three films are competitive with the upper tier of Blu-Rays on the market today. Only Generations shows its age a bit, but it still looks very good – better than all but ST2 in the TOS set. Insurrection and Nemesis betray a bit of color banding in clouds and space scenes, but it is not oppressive. Some standout scenes from all the films in terms of visual quality: Data and Geordi discussing the emotion chip (Generations). The opening pull-back in First Contact. The establishing shot of the Baku homeworld in Insurrection (known as a torture test for 3:2 pulldown on DVD).
Audio is presented in a set of aggressive 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD mixes. All of them work well, with lots of surround action, deep bass, and clear dialogue.
Packaging is identical to the previous set, with a slipcase and 5 slim BD cases. Art and inserts are all tasteful and good-looking.
Extras include a plethora of commentaries. The most interesting of these are Ron D. Moore and Brannon Braga on Generations and First Contact, and Jonathan (Riker) Frakes and Marina (Troi) Sirtis on Insurrection. Most of the films have multiple commentaries, some have three! The same amount of detail goes into the extras on each film as did the previous set,…
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The final bloc of old school Trek films hits Blu-Ray with surprisingly few differences from the standard DVDs. There are no “directors cuts” or variations to make this set a must buy. At the same time, there’s little here to make one annoyed at the possibility of a later, better release. Unless Paramount decided to include finished deleted scenes via branching next time around, this is pretty much it. Unless you are bugged by the DNR. Some people are. I’m not since these are the nicest I’ve seen the films since their first run. However, since they are all recent films, there’s little to get excited about in that area. Sounds quality is excellent, I didn’t notice anything negative there either.
One really nice thing: they FINALLY provided the trailers to Generations. For some reason, Paramount pulled them at the last minute from the SE DVDs, siting music rights issues (does this make any sense?). Also, the final Nemesis trailer is included on that disc, rather than just the teaser trailer.
Speaking of trailers, the final Star Trek (2009) trailer is on every disc. It is the best of the three trailers, but did we need it on EVERY disc? You can skip right to the menu if you like, and it IS a very nice piece of film. But there you go.
Insurrection was of interest to me as I was excited to finally have a director’s commentary by Jonathan Frakes. The SD DVD was lacking one, and since I really enjoyed the First Contact commentary by Frakes, which was informative as well as hysterical, the lack of one on the DVD was a bummer. Becareful what you wish for. Frakes is here, this time partnered with Marina Sirtis. Sadly, it is utterly worthless. She remembers NOTHING about the film and continually asks inane questions about the plot, like a kid seeing it for the first time. Frakes is no better, dropping comments which tell us nothing about the making of the film. Some of it is amusing, particularly when he rags on Sirtis for not remembering a single plot point about the film, but there’s a lot of dead air waiting for them to watch more movie before speaking. It’s less than two hours; couldn’t they watch it once before doing the commentary to refresh the old memory? It’s not like Sirtis has a full acting schedule these days. The rest of the time Frakes reads cast and crew credits (“Marty Hornstein…nice guy. Bill Teddmann – rest his soul.”) or makes jokes about how great his work is (he’s a really funny guy, but this was not worth having on the disc).
However, there are one or two moments of refreshing honesty, particularly when Frakes comments on the “British Tar” bit (“this is a long way to go for a gag”) and how the ending bugs him, when Data and Artim are in the haystacks (“this is too cute by half”). Otherwise, mostly pointless. There isn’t even an alternate commentary like with the other films.
There is relatively little of interest in the new for Blu-Ray features. I found the round table discussions between fans (Larry Nemecek, Jeff Bond, etc.) to be less interesting than I expected. The closing of the Star Trek Experience was both touching and wacko. Do NOT show that to anyone who thinks Trekkies need to get a life and you are trying to convince otherwise. I mean, I hated to see it close too, but I got over it once I left the airport…
Much as I enjoy every Trek film, I didn’t get the same excitement with this set as I did the originals. Probably because I wasn’t getting versions unavailable since the theatrical run and also because nothing overy exciting was added to the mix. I would love to have seen all of the deleted scenes for Generations and Nemesis finished, rather than work prints (especially since they WERE finished in many cases). The Generations deleted scenes aren’t even in anamorphic w/s.
Anyway, I didn’t mind the triple dip. I paid only $50 at Best Buy for the 4 movies on BD, which comes to a mere $12.50 per film (less if you count the bonus disc, but I consider it a freebie – since I’d never buy it separately). The clarity and sound are much better than standard DVD and since they are pretty recent films, the change isn’t that crazy.
Honestly, if you DON’T have a Blu-Ray player, don’t worry about it over this set. Aside from the trailers for Generations and Nemesis, you’re not missing much. And you can see the trailers on YouTube anytime you like. And if you don’t want all of the films, some of them are being released separately. They’ll all come out individually, I’m sure. The box set comes with slim cases with sleeves much like the TOS films. The individual BDs are the standard cases with nicer covers. I really an not fond of that, but there you have it.
I never saw these before I bought this set, as I became a Trekkie after ‘Nemesis’ came out, and so I finally wanted to give these movies a shot, and let me tell you, I’m glad I did!
Star Trek: Generations,
This is the first movie of ‘The Next Generation’ series, before I watched it, I was skeptical, because I had heard/seen mixed reviews, but of course I still wanted to watch it and judge for myself, this movie I find is VERY underrated, I mean you get to see the original crew (for the most part), Kirk, Scotty, Chekov, but no Spock, Dr. McCoy, Uhura, and Sulu, but still, it was nice to see the rest on the Enterprise ‘B’ maiden voyage, I’m not gonna play spoiler, I just loved this movie from the get-go, I started watching it the day I got it, and didn’t plan on watching the whole thing, I just wanted to sample it, well let me tell you, I watched the whole thing, and fell in love right off!
Star Trek: First Contact,
This is the second movie, and it does not dissapoint, same as ‘Generations’ right from the get-go I liked it, this goes back to ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ episodes, with the Borg, and we all know what happened to Captain Picard, this is one excellent, exciting movie, most say the best in the series, and while it was hard for me to pick, I agree, everything about it just works, great action scenes, great story, great storytelling, and of course great acting!
Star Trek: Insurrection,
This is the third movie, this one I think is very underrated as well, this is kind of like alot of the 3rd season episodes of ‘The Original Series’ where it’s about a superior race on the planet becomes the target of a conspiracy, and the story is well thought out, and put to screen very well, lots of great battle scenes in this one, and this movie gets going right off like the first 2, I wasn’t expecting a great movie, but like ‘Generations’ it was a pleasent surprise, it’s very well executed, and very well acted!
Star Trek: Nemesis,
This is the fourth movie, and I do not see HOW this one gets ignored, the plot is excellent, I don’t want to play spoiler, so I will make this short and to the point, there is a leader of a race that wishes to become Captain Picard (a clone), he was programmed to skip 30 years of his life in order for this to be possible, lots of action, and alot of people say it’s not directed like a Star Trek film? I disagree, I knew all along I was watching Star Trek, and not just because of the characters, but the shipshots/space shots, it very much felt like Star Trek, in my opinion, they went out with a big BANG!
Bottom line, if you are a fan of Star Trek, you MUST get this set, the video and audio are excellent quality, and you get a nice load of extras, and the bonus ‘Evolutions’ disc, once again I never saw these movies before, and I will be watching these again soon, now I need to get ‘The Original Series’ movie set, I’ve seen all those, but I still need it on DVD, buy this with confidence!