Boldly going where no television series had gone before, Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition allowed the late Robert Wise the opportunity to properly finish and edit the film he always envisioned. Now with The Complete Adventure limited edition collector’s set, fans of the first Star Trek cinematic adventure can complete their own five-year mission to explore all three cuts of the film among hours of exciting new and archival bonus features. The new restoration of the Director’s Edition is truly an exciting marvel with an incredible Dolby Vision transfer and Atmos audio mix. The Theatrical Cut and Longer Version are included in 4K Dolby Vision HDR with nearly identical video transfers. With the deluxe packaging, swag items, and all three cuts - this set really is For Fans Only who want to spend that premium price tag and enjoy everything this film has to offer.
Read our single title Star Trek 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Reviews:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Edition
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Edition: The Complete Adventure is a genuine love letter to fans of the film. Fans can now pour over every frame of each vision and meticulously catalog the minute but interesting differences from one cut to the next. That’s a Herculean task and too much for one review to properly and thoroughly catalog, so I’ll focus this area on my thoughts on each version.
For disc one of this set we have the newly restored and reconstructed Director’s Edition that originally graced the 2001 DVD sets. The thing to keep in mind as you look at each version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is that the film is very much the same from one version to the next. Little dialog changes, alternate ADR, different takes, a longer run time, and a different pace are the distinguishing marks. Not to mention the music cues from Jerry Goldsmith's score! Running at 2:16:43, the casual fan probably won’t notice these changes, but for the die-hard fans, it's easy to pick up the different sensibilities at play. As a whole, I like the Director’s Edition best of all the cuts. Aside from the visual effects changes and the alternate scenes, there’s not a huge difference here, but it’s how the film feels. Even running longer than the Theatrical Cut, it strikes a balance with the Longer Version and keeps the film tighter and more focused while taking the time to revel in its grand ambitions and visuals. Even the opening overture and credits are more interesting! And no - contrary to rumor for this newly restored and reconstructed version they did not replace Stephen Collins with Christopher Plummer… maybe next time.
The 1983 Special Longer Version that appeared on Television and home Video runs at 2:24:34 and is certainly interesting but feels very unfinished. This cut feels like a polished rough cut. Not quite an assembly cut where they string every shot together and it lasts an eternity before they start making necessary trims and edits. There is a structure to this cut, but it also raises and leaves hanging a number of sexual themes involving Persis Khambatta’s Ilia and her relationship with not only Stephen Collins’ Decker but other members of the crew. While certainly interesting, they’re ultimately redundant since they’re dropped so quickly as Decker is and always was her main romantic interest. With that, this is essentially the version I grew up with. We had the VHS of this cut and I think it’s why I always thought this movie was slow and boring. It takes much longer to get to where it needs to go with dialog exchanges leaving plenty of long fart pauses before someone speaks again to finish the point of the scene. On top of that, there were the unfinished visual effects - namely Kirk’s spacewalk where you could see the soundstage behind him. That visual effect snafu has been fixed for this 4K release but otherwise remains unaltered. It’s interesting to see what they had to work with but there’s good reason a lot of these long takes and additional scenes didn’t even make it to the Director’s Edition.
Then we have the original Theatrical Cut that runs at 2:11:57. The shortest version of the film, it’s certainly leaner and to the point, but I’ve always felt there was something lacking about this cut. Since I grew up with the Special Longer Version, I didn’t discover this cut until the first DVD release over twenty years ago. It was jarring to anticipate a scene or dialog exchange and not see it. I generally think this is a very good version of the movie, but I can also understand why Robert Wise would want to make some fixes here and there. With its faster pace, I feel like this cut short-changes a lot of the character nuances. The Decker and Kirk and Ilia and Decker dynamic feel very choppy whereas the Special Longer Version almost overcomplicates things but the Director’s Edition smooths everything out. Maybe not as refined and a little too quick to cut, but the Theatrical Cut is still very good - arguably better than the overlong Special Longer version. But with the alternate scenes and dialog, I tip my hat to the Director’s Edition because it just feels more complete.
I’ve heard it questioned why Paramount and those involved spent so much time on a movie that bombed at the box office. Well - it didn’t bomb. Technically for its time, it was the most expensive movie ever made, but it was also saddled with the budget deficits of the new television series development before that was shifted to becoming a feature film. This movie did gangbusters worldwide easily recouping its losses. But it didn’t make Star Wars dollars and that’s where I think some people misconstrued this film as a flop. It made enough money to keep the franchise alive long enough to give the next set of filmmakers proper development time for a leaner, meaner, and more successful action-packed sequel The Wrath of Khan.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition: The Complete Adventure comes home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a deluxe limited edition three-disc collector’s set. You pick up all three versions of the film on two 4K discs with a Blu-ray reserved for the extensive bonus features package and a digital copy of the Director’s Edition. The 4K discs are BD-100 discs with a BD-50 for the bonus features. The discs are housed in a large bookcase, the discs slide into their respective sleeves but thankfully are well situated and easy to remove and return, unlike other book-style packages. Resting opposite the discs is the swag pocket. Here you’ll find the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Archives booklet containing a variety of production photos and concept artwork. Four reproduction lobby cards, a mini poster, four mini bumper stickers, and a sheet of stickers.
The Director’s Edition gets its own 4K disc with the Theatrical Cut and the Longer Version sharing a 4K Disc. The Theatrical/Longer Version disc loads to a static image main menu allowing you to choose which version you want to look at. From there you get version-unique bonus features. The bulk of the bonus features is offered up on the standard Blu-ray bonus disc. There is not a version of this film in 1080p with this set. The only set released in the U.S. that also includes a 1080p Blu-ray of The Motion Picture is the 6-Movie Collection
NOTE: All images are sourced from a standard Blu-ray disc. When we can we'll circle back to replace these images with 4K sourced images and or a demo video if possible.
[From our Director's Edition - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"Of all the films of this franchise to hit 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, the Director’s Edition received the most love and attention. In order for Robert Wise’s cut to come to the format, it required a complete ground-up restoration and reconstruction from the original 35mm negative elements as well as the original large format visual effects elements and the results are simply extraordinary. From small details in facial features and makeup to the incredible models used for the huge effects shots, this is some genuine restoration magic at work. Film grain appears to have undergone a little bit of management per Paramount’s usual workings, but nothing too intrusive or severe. It’s not the waxy mess of the original 2009 Theatrical Cut Blu-ray, there’s an actual grain structure to appreciate. Some of the original optical effects still appear a little dodgy, but others look tighter and clearer than ever before.
This version of the film also underwent a new color grading for Dolby Vision (and HDR10) that leaves the film looking vibrant and lush without over-saturating primaries or skin tones. Black levels are deep and inky and some of those grand visual effects shots against that vast starfield lend some impressive depth to the image. It may be slow and indulgent, but Scotty delivering Kirk to the Enterprise is simply glorious. The new CGI effects also blend much better and barely draw any attention to themselves, this isn’t at all like that other space franchise's "Special Editions." The biggest visual gain here is we now have a sense of scale to the inside of V’GR and it’s quite impressive in 2160p with HDR. Whites in those dentist smock uniforms are also much more vivid and crisp.
I missed out on seeing this restoration in theaters and like so many I’ve had to get by with Paramount+ streaming. Without the compression of streaming, this version looks even better on disc. Black levels have always been dodgy whenever I stream content so it’s nice not seeing those anomalies with this disc release. I honestly can’t imagine this film looking any better than this. It’s genuinely marvelous." 5/5
The Theatrical Cut and The Longer Version share virtually the same 2160p Dolby Vision transfer. Packed on the same disc together, the Longer Version scenes slip in and out via seamless branching and I am quite impressed to say that you don't notice a change in visual quality. Overall this is a very impressive transfer. However, these two cuts of the film didn’t enjoy the complete ground-up restoration and reconstruction efforts of the Director’s Edition and comparing them, these are a slight step down in overall quality. They’re still very good, they both feel big and cinematic but that Director’s Edition is just that good.
With that in mind, I do like this transfer. The appearance of grain management may be a bit more noticeable but the image isn’t completely scrubbed or waxy-textured like the old 2009 disc. Film grain remains and fine details emerge beautifully letting you fully appreciate the work that went into bringing this new vision of Star Trek to life. Those spaceship models are again gorgeous and real show-stoppers. The only improvement for the Longer Version is that the Kirk space walk scene has actually been completed. Past VHS releases (and I think LaserDisc releases) showed incomplete footage with the soundstage quite clearly visible in the background. The restoration team did a good job finishing that moment so that it isn’t this bizarre screwed-up shot. All in all, both the Theatrical and Longer Version are impressive. 4.5/5
[From our Director’s Edition - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"The Director’s Edition also comes packed in with a genuinely fantastic demo-worthy Atmos audio mix. From the opening overture and credits into the Klingon attack, this is a big soundscape at work. Front, side, rear, and overhead channels all get their time in the sun. Even the quietest conversational scenes have something happening to keep those channels engaged. A little moment like the first time Kirk arrives on the bridge and everyone is too busy to notice him, the chitter-chatter among the crew circles the channels beautifully. Throughout, the dialog is clean and clear and never overpowered by other elements. If anything, it’s actually easier to hear a lot of dialog exchanges since this cut used a number of different ADR takes for some dialog and the extra channel space keeps the mix from sounding too stiff or closed up. Then you have the iconic Jerry Goldsmith score. I play this movie loud largely because his compositions are so magnificent, but they sound incredible here. There’s cleaner and clearer instrumentation giving you the full appreciation of the orchestra. The Klingon theme with those pulsing low notes and harp twangs set the stage for the LFE response for the rest of the film. Levels are spot on without any need to monitor or keep your thumb on the remote, but play it loud! When you have the rumble of ships’ engines rattling your subs, you’ll be glad you punched the volume as loud as your ears can tolerate." 5/5
Now the Theatrical Version for Star Trek: The Motion Picture comes in with the same Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track from the first 4K release - that is also the same as the 2009 Blu-ray - which isn’t bad at all. Dated, sure, but it’s still powerful and sounds amazing. It may not be as fresh sounding or as sonically dynamic as the new Atmos mix for the Director’s Edition, but it’s still very good. 4/5
The Longer Version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture sports a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that while clearly weaker than the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, still sounds pretty good. This cut of the film is more of a curiosity to me anyway so not getting the full Atmos or 7.1 treatment isn’t a bother - but I do wonder why it’s not in TrueHD. There may be some limitations with the elements available, I’m not sure, but it is a weird step back in overall quality. Again that scene where Scotty takes Kirk to the Enterprise, the Goldsmith score just doesn’t kick as it does in the other cuts. It’ll get the job done. 3/5
There is a metric ton of bonus content to dig through. You get all of the audio commentaries for the Director’s Edition and Theatrical Cut along with that massive Blu-ray bonus disc full of new and archival extra features. The other cool extra here is for the Longer Version they’ve included the original fully restored but unaltered Kirk Spacewalk scene so you can see just how goofy seeing that soundstage looked. Really, the unfinished shot is only a few seconds but it is a notable WTF moment in Star Trek history. While it’s not in the new final restored Longer Version, I’m glad they preserved it as a bonus.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc One
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Two
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition The Complete Adventure is a true love letter to fans of the film. You get the exceptionally restored Director’s Edition, as well as the Theatrical Cut and Longer Version of the film along with tons of excellent new and archival bonus features. On top of the excellent disc content, you score some extra swag including stickers, bumper stickers, and an impressive booklet of production design materials all housed in a beautiful bookcase. My only gripe is I wish the book slipcase had been made of the same hard sturdy stock instead of the flimsy and easily damaged paper stock.
At the end of the day, no matter how amazing this set is, it’s ultimately for the die-hardiest of the die-hard Star Trek: The Motion Picture fans. This is the only way to get all three cuts of the film and by and large I got a hunch most folks will stick to the Director’s Edition anyway. The Theatrical Cut is still very good but the Longer Version is more of an interesting curiosity than an in-demand way to watch the film. At least in my opinion. I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t yet met anyone that absolutely holds to the Longer Version as their preferred cut to watch. If you feel this set is for you, you get a lot of amazing content with incredible picture and audio quality with hours upon hours of magnificent bonus features to enjoy. For Serious Star Trek Fans Only