Blu-ray Review: Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection

You couldn't wish for much more from this massive box set unless you own most of it already.

By , Columnist
When Paramount issued box sets of the six original Star Trek movies earlier this year with no special features, it was a sure sign that something better was in the pipeline to properly mark the franchise's half-century.

Sure enough, the studio has now released the massive Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection, which contains both the Original Series movies, the series itself and more. Unsurprisingly, unlike those earlier bare-bones offerings, it's a must-have for fans who don't already own HD versions of most of the material it includes.

This 30-disc set comes nicely packaged in a long black box decorated with gold lettering, insignia and colored silhouettes of the main Original Series characters. This is all wrapped in a transparent plastic sleeve that overlays a shimmering effect on the silhouettes to represent Star Trek's iconic transporter.

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Inside the box are two disc folders in their own nicely decorated sleeves, a thin cardboard sleeve containing a celebratory magnetic Starfleet insignia and an envelope that contains mini-posters for each of the Original Series movies as re-imagined by artist Juan Ortiz. Each disc in this set is also decorated with an Ortiz image that represents a significant feature of an episode on the disc.

The thickest of the two disc folders contains HD versions of all three seasons of the Original Series in their remastered and original broadcast forms. The content of these discs has been ported from previous standalone releases so you'll find no new material here, which is a shame because - as I come to below - the movies did get limited special treatment for the 50th Anniversary. Still, if you haven't yet caught up with remastered hi-def Trek, now is the time because the revamped special effects are impressive and the original special features aren't to be sniffed at.

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The big new item this disc folder does contain, however, is the complete Animated Series, which is presented in HD for the first time. Although the quality of the animation isn't impressive even for when the series originally aired in the 1970s, it's a joy to see it at a level of sharpness that hasn't previously been available. Regardless of whether you consider the Animated Series to be canon, you have to be grateful that Paramount take it seriously enough to include it in this set in HD with all of the bonus features that were on the previous DVD release.

The other disc folder in the 50th Anniversary Collection contains the six Original Series movies on Blu-ray complete with their pre-existing special features. The Director's Cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was issued separately earlier this year, is also here and is definitely the highlight of this set because of its superior visual quality.

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The movie collection also includes another new Trekkie treat in the form of a five-part behind-the-scenes documentary made especially for the 50th Anniversary. This doc details the making of each movie and aside from some archive content and the segment that's focused on Star Trek II, hasn't been released before. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country get the most attention but there is cool stuff on every film and listening to the entire history of the series in sequence is truly fascinating.

Notably there are no contributions from Star Trek actors in this documentary. Yet, there are some great anecdotes offered by Nicholas Meyer, Adam Nimoy, Mark A. Altman, Harve Bennett, Harold Livingston, Robert Wise and many others so it doesn't feel like much has been missed. What's more, hearing about the trials and tribbleations of making these movies puts a different spin on underappreciated films in the series such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek V.

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Much has been written elsewhere about the variable HD quality of these movies so it's pointless to go into much detail here. It would have been nice if Paramount had given all of them a proper HD remastering to clean up the visual flaws and brighten the colors. Nonetheless, even those that are at the lower end of the quality spectrum look much better than their DVD equivalents.

The bottom line is, if you don't own the Original Series or its movie spinoffs in HD already, this set is well worth the investment. The new making-of material and the Animated Series are great bonuses and the entire package is as comprehensive a tribute to Star Trek's origins as you are likely to see for some time. If you have most of this stuff already, though, you might want to hold off and see what parts of it will be released separately or keep your fingers crossed for an Ultimate 4K Collector's Edition sometime in the future.

Star Trek - Official "50th Anniversary" Trailer... by comicbookdotcom

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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