On Tuesday, Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection was released on Blu-ray, containing all TNG movies, remastered for Blu-ray. I picked up a copy on Tuesday (for a very good price, too), and this post acts as a 100% biased mini-review.
Star Trek: Generations (1994): The movie was re-scanned from master negatives, and is definitely “high definition”, but for better or worse, nothing was changed. No special effects were recreated, and as far as I can tell, it’s identical to the original release, save the higher resolution. For example, if I were tasked with “improving” Generations, the first thing I would do is fix the scene where Data and Geordi are looking at the emotion chip. The chip is supposedly suspended in a force field and rotating, but is shaking back and forth while rotating, as if it were suspended by a wire. Also, the scenes on the mountain still have a black tint on the top sixth of the screen, the result of a visor shielding the sun from the camera’s lens. These are good examples of a fixes they could have easily made with today’s technology, but they didn’t. Again, I’m not sure if they should have, but this movie is on par with any other Blu-ray release that has simply been upscanned from original film source.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very good quality, especially given this: I currently own Generations on DVD, and it was made in the early years of the DVD era. Its quality, even by DVD standards, wasn’t that great, and on top of everything, it was mastered horribly. The DVD is presented in widescreen 2.35:1, but is mastered in letterboxed 4:3 non-anamorphic. So the actual viewing area of the on-disc data is little more than 50%, and when viewed on today’s widescreen displays, it is both letterboxed and pillared.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996): Wow, what a difference two years make. First Contact was the first Star Trek film to use all digitally-created ships and space effects, and they went all out in bringing this to Blu-ray. The ships include an amazing level of detail, though no scenes were “changed”. That is, scenes shown are shot-for-shot the same as the original, the level of detail has been bumped up to incredible levels across the board. I was particularly impressed by the space walk scene. Also, the first scenes with the Borg flashback and the Battle of Sector 001 were beyond belief. It’s as if the first 15 minutes of the film were written and directed while saying, “OK, say 13 year from now, if new technology allows us to remaster the movie in higher definition, let’s make the shots look as sweet as possible!” The normal film scenes were also upscaled in amazing ways. The scene where the Borg Queen grafts skin onto Data stands out. In the original, when she blows on the skin, you see goosebumps form. This takes it even further; you can see condensation form momentarily on each individual hair. It’s almost to a fault, unfortunately. Data’s paint job, especially in the scenes in Engineering, did not translate well to close-ups in high definition. Also, Beverly Crusher looks a lot older in high def. Still, in summary, “Wow.”
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): I will preface this by saying I didn’t dislike Insurrection. It’s certainly not the best Star Trek film, but it wasn’t terrible. So keep that in mind when I say this: meh. The technical quality is almost on par with First Contact, but has none of the “epic” feel of it. There are no huge pans of mighty new starships. The story, while OK, frankly would have been better as a TNG episode. Believe it or not, this actually contributes to the perception of technical quality. The quality is on par with, say, an episode of Enterprise, being from roughly the same era.
Overall, it’s a good purchase. Too bad they only made 3 TNG movies. The set includes 5 discs; the last two discs must both be supplemental features.