MOVIES SEE BELOW
SPECIAL FEATURES A
DVD GEEK FACTOR 8.5
(OUT OF 10)
The first six Star Trek films come to Blu-Ray in grand fashion, complete with new features and a shiny look.
When it comes to my vote for the best Star Trek film, I have to give it to the new movie; I've seen it three times, and it gets better with each viewing. As for the old crew, it's between Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
I have more of an appreciation for Khan, because it sucked me into the Trek universe. The TV show failed to attract me, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a confused snooze. Khan feels like the true start for Trek in the movies, doing away with a lot of the sci-fi gobbledygook and shooting for straight-up adventure.
The Voyage Home features a stunning shift from apocalyptic sci-fi to comedy, when the crew travels through time, leaving a doomed Earth for 20th-century San Francisco. Director Leonard Nimoy finds plenty of humor in the displacement of the crew (Chekhov is mistaken for a Russian spy; Bones bemoans the primitive medicinal practices). It's fun.
It should be noted that this box set contains the original cut of The Motion Picture, and not the redone cut (which I found to be an improvement). Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, easily the worst of the original films, remains intolerably bad in high definition. Shatner demanded the directorial reins and, regrettably, got his wish. Starting with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the plots got very Spock-oriented, and William Shatner made sure the focus went back to Kirk with V, as his character journeyed to meet God. Whatever.
Star Trek III is worse than I remembered. The film (Nimoy's first directorial effort in the series) starts terribly, but sort of rights itself in the end. The effects are poor, and the acting (especially by Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon) is bombastic. Nimoy rights the ship in the final act, and the movie is worth it for the climactic return of his character. I love the final arched eyebrow.
The last hurrah featuring the entire original crew, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, is a solid entry, and gets a nice treatment. Grades: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (C+), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (A), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (B-), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (A-), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (D), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (B).
SPECIAL FEATURES: Each movie comes with commentaries and features held over from previous editions, plus some new commentaries and features to boot. There's a seventh disc, The Captain's Summit, that contains a sit-down with Shatner, Nimoy, Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart. The grade listed above considers all of the special features contained on the combined discs: They are plentiful, and they are good.
20TH CENTURY FOX
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 9.5
(OUT OF 10)
There is no better argument for Blu-Ray conversion than the arrival of Coen brothers classics on the format. While this isn't my favorite of their films (that would be Barton Fink), it's a close second, and it looks amazing in high definition.
William H. Macy deserved an Oscar for his work as Jerry Lundegaard, one of film history's most deplorable characters. His plot to have his wife kidnapped by hired hands (a never-been-better Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) makes for a film that is both absorbing and hilarious. Frances McDormand did get an Oscar, and deservedly so, for her portrayal of Marge, the pregnant cop who foils the plan.
The Coens got an Oscar for the screenplay, but they deserved so much more. This is one of the best films of the '90s, and one of the best in their incredible career.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Some featurettes held over from a prior edition. Cinematographer Roger Deakins offers up a commentary, and that alone is worth the price of the disc.
20TH CENTURY FOX
SPECIAL FEATURES A-
DVD GEEK FACTOR 9
(OUT OF 10)
This obscene stalker comedy propelled Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz to superstardom, and it's as funny today as it was upon its release. This is its debut on Blu-Ray.
Stiller plays a grown man still crushing on his high school sweetheart (Diaz), and they're both adorable. However, I submit that Matt Dillon and Chris Elliott steal the show. Dillon showed off surprising comic charm as the investigator who tries to steal Diaz (I love those capped teeth!), and Elliott is hilarious as the ex-boyfriend who doesn't make stalking cute at all. The whitehead on his eyelid is as funny as the man-goo in Diaz's hair.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Everything returns from the special-edition standard release, including commentaries, two versions of the film (theatrical and extended) and outtakes.