National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

DVD Picks & Passes 05.24.2009

BY Steven D. Greydanus

May 24-30, 2009 Issue | Posted 5/15/09 at 12:21 PM

 

Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy

The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series

The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation


Newly available on DVD and Blu-ray, the Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy box set comprises the three films that are the heart of the big-screen "Star Trek" franchise: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

Though not planned as a trilogy, the three films do form a sort of "Spock trilogy," with Spock's death and rebirth running from the climax of the elegiac Wrath of Khan to the sentimental finale of The Voyage Home.

Forget the turgid original film and the subsequent Shatner-directed fifth installment, both nearly unwatchable. From Catholic actor Ricardo Montalban's scenery-chewing villainy as Khan to the iconic death of the Enterprise in the Nimoy-directed Search for Spock and the crowd-pleasing 1980s' milieu and humpback whales of The Voyage Home, this trilogy is the best the "Trek" films have to offer.

All three films are digitally remastered (and Wrath of Khan has been restored). There's also a raft of new and recycled bonus features — commentaries, interviews, making-of featurettes, and so forth.

Also newly available is a pair of releases, in both DVD and Blu-ray, celebrating the first two "Trek" TV series: The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series and The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

While "The Best of Star Trek" is too grandiose a title for these one-disc collections, each featuring only four episodes and no extras, the low price (under $10 at Amazon.com) makes for a decent introduction to these popular series, especially for newbies not ready to shell out for more substantial collections.

The "Original Series" disc opens with the haunting Harlan Ellison-scripted "The City of the Edge of Forever," a time-loop episode with Kirk and Spock in 1930s' New York. Then there's the lighthearted "The Trouble with Tribbles," followed by the tense Cold War thriller "Balance of Terror," introducing the Romulans. Finally, in "Amok Time," Spock battles Kirk in the throes of the Vulcan mating condition Pon farr.

The "Next Gen" disc opens with the series high point "The Best of Both Worlds," a two-part cliffhanger in which Picard is captured by the Borg. Then there's "Yesterday"s Enterprise," a classic, sentimental time-bender. But why "The Measure of a Man," a philosophically muddled courtroom drama investigating the sentience of the android Data? Surely there were better choices. Still a decent collection.


CONTENT ADVISORY: Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy: Sometimes deadly sci-fi and combat violence. Wrath of Khan refers to a character's out-of-wedlock parentage; Voyage Home includes mostly humorous (mis)use of crude language and documentary footage of whale hunting and butchery. Teens and up. The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series: Stylized violence; some suggestive material. Mostly okay for older kids. The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation: Sometimes intense action violence and mature themes.Teens and up.