Coincidences can be… well, curious. Sunday before last, I spent an idle afternoon re-watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture on Blu-ray. It’s easily my favourite Star Trek film and still holds up pretty well; indeed, Robert Wise’s 1979 film is one of those odd films that seems to get better with age. Partly I think that’s due to the slow pace of the film, something that was a major criticism at the time of its release but seems a boon these days, as the rapid cutting of films only increased over the decades afterwards, particularly in action sequences, and I much prefer slower pacing in films. Also, the slow pace in ST:TMP‘s case tends to add a sense of the ‘epic’, of gravitas to the story, a hallmark of ‘old’ science fiction movies in which ideas took precedence over action.
The film certainly isn’t perfect, but the Directors Cut that was released on DVD way back in 2002 was definitely stronger than the theatrical. Unfortunately it was rendered strictly within the limitations of the SD age and is wholly unacceptable for HD, which was why we are stuck with the 1979 theatrical in recent years. What is getting people excited are rumours that the film is being readied for a 4K release and that Paramount seem to have gotten serious about re-building the Directors Cut (overseen by the late Robert Wise back in the day, and hopefully still respectful of his intentions). The first rumours surfaced at the end of last year, and this week Bruce Botnick announced he has been remastering the original music masters for a Dolby Atmos mix for the film– presumably for the rumoured 4K edition.
Naturally they could be just intending a 4K release of the theatrical version, but if they are going to the trouble of a Dolby Atmos mix, that suggests additional work being done which would seem to make an updated Directors Cut (with effects rendered in 2K, most probably) more likely. Well, fingers crossed. Some people seem to be expecting it before the end of the year -which would be great, no doubt- but I think early next year more likely; I just hope if they are doing it, they do it right. Really improve those CGI effects, maybe push things a little more. Perfect the damned thing- after all, it’s surely the films Last Chance Saloon.
Incidentally, what got me re-watching the film in the first place was the news that Preston Neal Jones’ well-regarded book Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek – The Motion Picture has been released as an ebook (just £8 on Kindle). The book is an oral history of the making of the film, based on interviews Jones made for an in-depth Cinefantastique article that was commissioned but never published (I remember reading hints/promises about them printing that article for years in that mag). I could never afford to order the paperback edition for fear of import duties etc so its great to finally have the opportunity. The book doesn’t have any illustrations/images from the film so is ideal for porting to an ebook, I haven’t finished it yet, but its a fantastic summer read.
I don’t know, is it wrong to think that the omens seem to be in the air? We have Titan Book’s Art of ST:TMP tome still due later this year (currently September I think), Preston Neal Jones’ book finally being affordable over here in the UK, and now rumours of the 4K release. Who knows? Its been a great year for 4K releases of catalogue films, and a really good 4K edition of the Directors Cut of ST:TMP would be fantastic, albeit yes, highly surprising. I dearly hope its coming- my copy of the ST:TMP Directors Cut DVD is a R1 copy that I can’t watch anymore, which has been a sour Romulan Ale in my gut for a few years now.