star trek on blu-ray: the motion picture

I have still been, for the most part, extremely hesitant to purchase anything on Blu-Ray just yet.  My modus operandi so far has been to rent a lot of them to see how the quality is compared to the DVD to see if a repurchase is justified.  So far, this approach has been serving me rather well, and I’ve discovered very early on that it’s nowhere the same across the board.  Some movies look awesome, some look okay, and some look like they just dumped the DVD transfer onto the new medium without a thought (which is really noticable, too).

Switching from VHS to DVD was an obvious decision, an upgrade that would have been hard not to argue for.  I imagine I’m getting old if I can even reminisce about such times.  I remember right when DVDs first started coming out, and I would keep a watchful eye on how things were progressing (anyone remember DivX?  What a nightmare).  It’s really interesting to see how much the tables have turned in some regards.  Disney was a huge holdout on DVD, and eventually came along with feet dragging, but now, they make the best Blu-Ray editions, bar none.  Universal sucks across the board — their Blu-Rays have been less than impressive (I just watched the Bourne Trilogy the other week, and the first two were nothing to write home about).  And then, there’s Paramount … who distributes Star Trek.

All the movies except Insurrection and Nemesis got released on Blu-Ray last week, and I have been really excited to check them out (edit: okay, actually I can’t find the first one on it’s own release … I must have rented the one from the trilogy set, oh well.  I know the other ones are out though).  I’ve thought about buying them out-right, but I’m a bit cautious considering the studio’s past foray into the market.  What they tend to do is create a money grab by releasing the films a few times in different editions.  First, they’ll put one edition out, just to have something people can buy, and then later on clean it up, add more special features, and tout that one as a better upgrade.  It can be a bit maddening, and expensive.  So, I added the first few films to my Netflix queue, to see how well these new transfers held up, and I got to watch the first one this weekend: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

All I can say is, wow, they did a nice job.  The picture is gorgeous.  For a movie that is so old, I was extremely skeptical that they would even be able to do anything with it at all.  But on my HDTV, the picture was just … more clear and vibrant.  That’s the best way I could describe it.  Some films don’t hold up to the test of time when being presented in a larger format, but this one looks like it just came out.

I wish I had a Blu-Ray drive so I could rip the disc and get some snapshots, but that’ll have to wait.  I keep thinking of a few scenes that showed off the detail so well that they would do a much better job explaining what I’m trying to get across.

I can’t say much about the sound, since my setup is 3.1 (no rear speakers).  Besides, my speakers are from an off-the-shelf surround sound setup, and not really good quality.  I’ve got it in my sights to eventually replace it with something decent, but that’s a major hop and a skip away.  I’ll just wait on that one.  For what I heard, it did sound really good though.  I really love how in this movie, it opens with the score for a few minutes and you just get to hear the long version of the Star Trek theme.  Great stuff.

There was only a few spots where there were any video issues at all.  Again, if I could take a screenshot, I would.  It’s not that they were bad, it’s that it was more like “uh, how did you miss *that* big black blotch right on the front of the Enterprise.”  It happened twice, briefly, and that was it.  Aside from that, the only parts where the film quality was lacking was a few scenes which were probably just notoriously hard to clean up, so they didn’t — the ones where the probe from V’ger is on the bridge of the Enterprise, and it’s zapping it’s way around.  The shot was really fuzzy to start with, and you could notice a huge drop in quality and cleanup for the few seconds that the shot took place.  Again, not a dealbreaker, and in fact you’ll see the same thing on the DVDs.

Overall, I’d say this one was well worth the price.  I started playing around with the special features, but didn’t really get far because I was tired.  It does have this cool on screen index you can access while the movie was playing, that I thought was really innovative.  It’d give you descriptions of certain Star Trek topics related to the film.  There was also an audio commentary track, though I didn’t bother listening to it.

I’m definitely gonna get a copy of this one though, given the chance.  I’ve got the other ones in my queue and I’ll write up a review as I watch them in the next couple of days.  Tell you what. :)

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