Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

As promise almost exactly a year ago, Paramount Home Entertainment will be releasing the long awaited and desired Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. For the better part of the first half of the year, this version has been a Paramount+ exclusive. Now, the film will be getting its home video release on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. Complete with a Dolby Atmos track and array of new bonus features (Including a very introspective documentary on this cut), it will be available on September 6th. This is even different that the DVD version of this from 2001 as it had to have the effects redone as well as the sound. An extensive remastering and perhaps final version of the film is one to have in the collection and you can do so by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.


The U.S.S. Enterprise boldly debuted on the big screen with the cast of the original Star Trek series, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan.  Meticulously restored and remastered, with enhanced visual effects and state-of-the-art sound, this definitive vision of director Robert Wise has been optimized for a new generation of fans. When an unidentified alien intruder destroys three powerful Klingon cruisers, Admiral James T. Kirk (Shatner) returns to the helm of a newly transformed U.S.S. Enterprise to take command and confront an alien spacecraft of enormous power heading toward Earth.

Originally released in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the fourth highest grossing movie of the year and earned three Academy Award® nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Original Score.  The film successfully launched the Star Trek franchise beyond the original television series, despite having been rushed to theaters with incomplete special effects and forced editing choices. 

In 2001, director Robert Wise revisited the film to refine the edit and enhance the visual effects.  His updated vision was released on DVD in standard definition and embraced by fans but has never been available in higher definition until now.  Meticulously assembled and restored by producer David C. Fein with post-production supervisor Mike Matessino, both of whom originally collaborated with Wise, the film has been prepared for presentation in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision™ high dynamic range (HDR) and a new powerful and immersive Dolby Atmos® soundtrack.*  Fein and Matessino assembled a team of visual effects experts, led by returning visual effects supervisor Daren R. Dochterman, and utilized the extensive resources in the Paramount Archives to recreate the effects not just in HD, but in Ultra HD.  After more than six months of painstaking work, the updated movie looks and sounds better than ever while staying true to Wise’s original intention.

Originally published on 9/9/2021

Notoriously known as Star Trek: The SLOW-Motion Picture, years and aging have been kind to this once thought up on disappointment of a film. In the shadow of Star WarsStar Trek was suppose to return and show that little twerp Luke Skywalker that in the vastness of space, Kirk was king. However, where audiences wanted gee whiz, swashbuckling space fantasy adventures, Star Trek delivered…well, a Star Trek adventure.

Rather than cribbing from Lucas, Trek opted for Kubrick (Specifically 2001: A Space Odyssey). Robert Wise was an exceptional director to land for this and he delivered the spectacle many movies dream of hoisting onto the big screen. Crutching on a rather simple narrative with a great science fiction hook, the film isn’t too complex. Its just in love with its visuals. While it should be, its also the film’s downfall as they are a little too in love with them at every turn. For every look inside the vortex surrounding V’ger that oohs and awes, there’s the almost parody like trip from a pod to the enterprise that feels like forever and everyone in the film is hilariously stoic and silent as it happens.

At the end of the day, though, the film is indeed pure Star Trek and maybe the closest the original crew films get to landing that. Its a little cold, but the character moments still deliver and they do crack some smiles here and there. It doesn’t have its finger quite on the button about where these characters are at following the 5 year mission like the next film does, but its hovering over it and in the right spot. The film pulls from an idea presented in the television show and expands deeper upon it and better. What they’ve brought here is just the scale, effects and spectacle the show could never even imagine having the money and resources for back in the 1960s.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has had a reputation over the years over being some big bad, boring disappointment when it is very far from. Maybe its my older age, time or distance, but its a film I’ve grown fonder of every time I return to it. The Director’s Cut of the film takes a tighter, less is more approach to the edit and it really improves the film. A restoration of that is coming next year. But the original theatrical cut still delivers in Star Trek exploration, ideology, character, wonder and adds a glorious, beautiful spectacle to the proceedings. “The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning” and so are the Star Trek big screen voyages.


Disclaimer: Images provided by Paramount Home Entertainment and are not screen captures from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/DetailStar Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition has the same beautiful look as the theatrical version seen last year. Robert Wise’s work on here is gorgeous in scope, cinematography and visual effects. And it does not disappoint with this transfer. Its a bit more darker, refined an image. Details are strong, colors well saturated and the image has an overall more filmic 1970s look to it. Visual effects and model work holds up very impressively. All of the newer and updated visual effects hold up remarkably to 4K scrutiny and looking quite lovely.

Depth:  This film features a tremendous scope and glorious depth of field which reflect better than ever in this transfer. The very slow, calculated camera movements are smooth and confident. Great pushback and vastness especially in the emptiness of space. No issues occur with jitter or blurring.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, gorgeous and natural. There is a good contrast to help strengthen the colors and define the image. Shadows are lovely, darkened scenes keep plenty of details and have a much more refined look to them. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors in the film have a very 70s aura to them, lots of whites, browns and the like. But everything is bold, with good shades, tints and stuff finely defined. HDR comes in wonderfully with engines lights, display lighters, lightning and the wild V’ger atmosphere really popping and glowing.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures like wrinkles, lip texture, make-up, stubble and more are clear. Alien make-up shows no strings and looks seamless.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Isolated Score

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish

Dynamics: Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition upgrades from the theatrical’s 4K release with a gorgeous Dolby Atmos track that adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment to the film. The film’s dynamics, depth, layering and engagement is raised to the highest degree. Its quite incredible to sit through as you hear the score beautifully woven around your room and sound effects punch with good impact and really make you feel a part of the action.

Height:  Above features plenty of great contributions. From the score to debris, ship ambiance, blasts, ships flying over and more, its plenty present and has good volume range.

Low Frequency Extension: Lots of score hits, ship firing, crashing, rumbling and more really gets a good thump and shake from your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This film’s Atmos has such an expert, top tier look at utilizing every speaker with rolling sound or ambiance or unique sounds from any corner. Its truly a marvel to sit and let take you for a ride.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition is a 2-disc set that comes with a redeemable digital code. Aside from the commentaries and Isolated score, the featurettes and whathaveyou are found on the Blu-ray bonus disc.

4K UHD (Disc 1)

Audio Commentary

  • By David C. Fein, Mike Matessino and Daren Dochterman
  • By Robert Wise, Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Jerry Goldsmith and Stephen Collins
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denis Okuda

Isolated Score Track

Blu-ray Bonus Disc (Disc 2)

New Features

  • The Human Adventure (HD, 48:17) – “I don’t think there’s ever been another film that took 42 years to finish.” An 8-part documentary that goes into great depth and detail to showcase how they improved the film, the technique and a lot more. An excellent bonus featurette!
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:31) – 3 scenes. Some dialogue is missing but presented with subtitles.
  • Effects Tests (HD, 3:30) – Includes raw visual effects dailies. Guided by a couple of the vfx designers.
  • Costume Tests (HD, ) – Original costume tests (photos and videos) for the movies and the idea that they were trying to return to the original color palette Roddenberry used for the 2 pilots shot for the series. This also includes some alien designs and caveman Spock.
  • Computer Display Graphics (HD, 3:10) – The raw footage of things playing on the monitor screens on the bridge and other rooms in the movie.

Legacy Features 

  • The Star Trek Universe – “Phase II: The Lost Enterprise”, “A Bold New Enterprise”, “Redirecting The Future”, “The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture”, “Special Star Trek Reunion”, “Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: Mystery Behind V’GER”, “The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek”, “Maiden Voyage: Making Star Trek The Motion Picture”
  • Storyboards – Vulcan, Enterprise Departure, V’GER Revealed
  • Additional Scenes 1979 Theatrical Version – Trims, Outtakes/Memory Wall, Vulcan and Starfleet, Attack on the Enterprise, Could Journey, V’GER Flyover, Wing Walk
  • Deleted Scenes 1983 TV Version – Sulu and Ilia 1, Sulu and Ilia 2, Kirk’s Quarters, Officer’s Lounge, Attack on the Enterprise, Intruder Transmission, A Huge Vessel, Kirk Follows Spock, Ilia’s Quarters 1, Ilia’s Quarters 2, Its Creaor Is A Machine
  • Trailers – Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots – Hardware, Startle Your Senses, Enterprise, Cast/Human Adventure, Spiritual Search, Spiritual/Startle You Senses, Spiritual/Human Adventure, Event/Common Experience


Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a film far more than its reputation has suggested and this Director’s Edition 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is the perfect way to showcase and make a statement about that. Historically seen as one of the weaker Star Trek films, its certainly aged better than most to argue to be one of the very best. This release from Paramount has an absolutely top notch presentation in video and audio and hosts even more new and impressive extras to stack on the Jenga pile of legacy extras. This is a must have for the not only the Trekkie side of things, but the serious film collector as well.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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