Star Trek: Generations

Review by Guido Henkel

Star Trek: Generations  (1994)
Paramount Home Video

Length:        117 mins.
Rated:          PG
Format:       Anamorphic Widescreen · 2.35:1
Languages:English, French
Subtitles:    English
Extras:        Commentary Track
                     Text Commentary
                     Featurettes
                     Deleted Scenes
                     Storyboards
                     Photo Gallery
                     and much much more

Ups and downs define the Star Trek universe through the years. Good TV show episodes are counter-balanced by really bad ones. Good feature films by really, really bad ones. During its theatrical run, "Star Trek: Generations" was highly anticipated and touted, because it marked a significant point in the Star Trek universe. Change of hands, so to speak, the generation-switch. Captain Kirk goes and Picard comes in to carry on the torch and boldly goes where no man has gone before. Despite the anticipation however, "Star Trek: Generations" turned out to be middle-of-the-road however without really strong highlights or disappointments. Paramount Home Entertainment has now prepared a Collector’s Edition for this film, offering the film up complete with a separate disc of extras to please the fans.

Retired members of the original Enterprise crew are guests aboard the newly christened Enterprise-B on her virgin flight. But during the flight they discover two spaceships trapped in the Nexus, a mysterious, traveling energy field, but things go awry during the rescue attempts.

Several years later, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew rescue a handful of people form a collapsing space station. Among them, scientist Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a man who has spent years chasing the Nexus and who is preparing for a final encounter with the energy field. Come Hell or High Water.

To me, in many ways "Star Trek: Generations" always felt like an extended TV episode and not like a feature film. Somehow the film lacks the depth and grandeur you’d expect from a feature film production and the special effects sequences are also of only mediocre quality, further adding to the impression. The film has a few great moments and especially Patrick Stewart’s grief-stricken play in this film adds to impact the story has, but sadly there are also a number of flat moments there and sequences that just don’t work that well.

Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting "Star Trek: Generations" in its original widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. The presentation is free of defects or blemishes, rendering a very clean picture throughout. Color reproduction is very good, bringing out the best of the colorful costumes and settings, truly giving the film an otherworldly feel at times. Black levels are rock solid and create deep shadows that never lose detail. However, the transfer also exhibits some shimmering problems. Especially the close-ups of Data’s face and the desert scenes reveal these problems. The shimmering seems to be a problem of edge-enhancement applied too liberally to the transfer and is becoming very distracting at times. Many shots also reveal halos around contours as a result of the edge-enhancement. The compression has been handled well without out notable compression artifacts.

The audio on the DVD consists of a DTS sound track as well as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track and Dolby surround tracks in English and French. The audio tracks are well produced and certainly convince. Differences between the DTS and the Dolby Digital track are virtually indistinguishable. The sound field is wide and makes good use of the surround channels with a good frequency response and a wide dynamic range. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable, never being drowned out by the music.

As extras on the first disc you will find a commentary track by Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore, the writers of the film. The track is engaging and full of little tidbits and certainly adds to the wealth of information this DVD set offers – especially for fans of the series. Also included is a text commentary that offers up various bits of background information on the movie, the cast, the production and the Star Trek universe sprinkled in throughout the film.

On the second disc, as has become customary for the Star Trek Collector’s Editions, you will find a large array of documentary featurettes. Everything surrounding the production of the film is covered here in individual featurettes, ranging from a tribute to Matt Jefferies, who designed the original Enterprise starship, all the way to a dissection of the movie’s main titles. All these featurettes are sorted in categories, such as "The Star Trek Universe," "Production," "Visual Effects," and so forth to make navigation around the disc easier. All the featurettes are of incredibly high quality and value, always going beyond your typical talking heads. They contain on-set footage, interviews with the cast and crew members – often very relaxed on the set during the production in-between shots, as well as footage of the actual shoot of the sequences – complete with people whispering behind the cameras. As a result these featurettes give you an extremely intimate look at the making and production of the film, much better than many featurettes I’ve seen recently.

A selection of deleted scenes, storyboards and a photo gallery is also included, rounding out the release.

Once again, Paramount Home Entertainment delivers what Star Trek fans want. A great – though not flawless - presentation of the movie completely packaged with a wealth if supplements of incredibly high value. Whether you like the film or not, it is clear that in order to complete your collection of Star Trek movies you will have to buy this DVD, and frankly there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. It is an absolutely solid release yet again.

    

August 31, 2004

rectrect

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