STAR TREK VI
The Undiscovered Country
Review by Michael Jacobson
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle
Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer, David
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2:1
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2004
must have faith…that the universe will unfold as it should.”
is the beginning of wisdom, Lieutenant…not the end.”
end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s were a remarkable time in world
history. The long, disquieting Cold
War between the United States and the Soviet Union had finally come to an end.
The Berlin Wall was torn down and Germany was reunified.
Future generations may not appreciate what it was like to grow up in a
time where Communism was an active, invasive threat to world peace and freedom,
and where nuclear holocaust was, at every moment, a proverbial button push away,
but for those of us who lived through it, even during its waning hours, the sigh
of relief is still escaping our lips.
the world of Star Trek, a similar milestone was coming into being.
Trekkies had known, of course, since the launching of The Next
Generation on television that the stalwart Klingon Empire had finally joined
the Federation. What was not known
was how. And given the current
events of the 20th century, the time seemed ripe to tell the tale of
the beginning of peace in the 23rd century as a way to mark the final
hurrah of the original Enterprise and her crew.
so many elements coming together into a great story with a sense of honorable
finality, Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country became and remains my
favorite film in the franchise. It
was art imitating life with impeccable timing…some Trekkies hadn’t been able
to grasp the concept of a Klingon serving on a Federation starship in TNG, but
détente in our time made anything seem possible…even the dismantling of the
movie opens with a bang, as a Klingon moon explodes and drastically cuts short
their future to maybe a mere fifty years. With
no hope of continuing their way of life as a galactic military superpower, they
finally agree to open negotiations with the Federation.
crew of the Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk (Shatner) is due to stand
down in three months, but when Captain Spock (Nimoy) becomes a key instrument in
the burgeoning dialogue, the aging ship and crew are sent on the first
diplomatic mission to the Klingons: they
are ordered to escort the chancellor (Warner) and his team, including General
Chang (Plummer), through Federation space and to the bargaining table.
The shipmates of the Enterprise are mostly uneasy, to say the least.
Captain Kirk is especially tormented at being the first olive branch to
the people who murdered his only son.
the mission of mercy turns disastrous as the Enterprise appears to open fire on
the Klingon ship, resulting in the death of the chancellor.
Refusing to start the war that will finally bring decades of hostility to
their logical conclusion, Kirk instead surrenders, leaving he and Dr. McCoy
(Kelley) in the hands of an angry Klingon court, while Spock has to solve the
puzzle of what exactly happened when the Enterprise seemed to attack the
is terrific storytelling worthy of all the best Star Trek had ever been.
The pace is lively throughout, balancing such elements as Kirk and
McCoy’s peril in a Klingon prison mining colony with the intrigue of the
mystery at hand, as well as an added danger:
the peace conference will proceed, but the unknown enemy who tried to end
it before will no doubt try again.
course, there is also an underlying examination of racism.
Star Trek and its creator Gene Roddenberry had always been
visionary when it came to a future of tolerance…the Enterprise had officers
like Uhura (Nichols) who was an African American woman, Sulu (Takei) who was
Asian, and Checkov (Koenig) who was Russian at a time when most people didn’t
see minorities in positions of power. Now,
ironically, all of them have to overcome their own prejudice against a people
whom they were raised to fear and distrust.
was a huge leap in Star Trek lore…but if the Iron Curtain could be
wrung down in our lifetime, little else seemed impossible.
this film didn’t get the benefit of an anamorphic transfer the first time
around, I was glad to see a proper job done for this special edition release.
The framing is kind of odd for this entry; about halfway between standard
and scope widescreen ratios, but the images and staging all seem intact, so no
complaints. Most of the colors and details are sharp and crisp, from the
busy starship interiors to the vast monochromatic landscape of the frozen penal
asteroid, to of course, the vastness of deep space. Every so often a slight shimmer is noticeable; but nothing
distracting. By and large, the
print is clean, clear, and enjoyable to watch.
5.1 mix is strong, with the subwoofer getting plenty of action keeping the ships
humming along. Dialogue is well
rendered throughout, dynamic range is strong, and the front and rear stages are
tactfully employed to give a sense of openness to the bigger action scenes,
including the climactic dogfight in space.
Very well done.
with all the entries in Paramount’s special edition re-releases of these
films, Star Trek VI is generously packaged with enough goodies to keep
Trekkies happy for days.
first disc features two commentaries: an
audio by director/co-writer Nicholas Meyer and the other co-writer Denny Martin
Flinn, who discuss the making of the picture, it’s historical context, and the
finale of the original Enterprise and her crew.
The second is the now famed text trivia commentary written by Star
Trek Encyclopedia authors Michael and Denis Okuda.
You really need to watch the film at least once with that track
activated; the stuff you’ll learn is endlessly fascinating.
Two features everything else. There
are six mini-featurettes that can be viewed separately or as a single program
that discuss the development of the movie.
It features new interviews with Meyer, Shatner, Nimoy, Plummer and
others. Five more featurettes make
up “The Star Trek Universe”, including a conversation with Nicholas
Meyer, the development of the Klingons, Federation operatives, “Penny’s Toy
Box” (the Trek archivist shows you some of the movie series’ classic
props and costumes), and “Together Again”, where we learn that William
Shatner and Christopher Plummer had in fact acted together in their youths!
Perils of Peacemaking” is a featurette that links up the events of the film
with the then-current events of history. “DeForest
Kelley: A Tribute” is a fitting, touching look back at the man who brought
Leonard “Bones” McCoy to life (this movie was the last time the actor played
his most famous character). Original
cast interviews take you back to 1991; you can select who you want to hear from
and listen to what they had to say about their final movie as a full crew.
out are two trailers, Nicholas Meyer’s 1991 convention presentation, a
production gallery and storyboards. All
of these are presented via some nicely done animated menu screens.
A wonderful and fitting package!