In my column about the new Star Trek film’s marketing campaign I referred to the second, third and fourth movies in the original series as making up one of the greatest one-two-three punches in cinematic history. I’m sure there are some who disagree with me, but I’m sticking with my notion that creating three distinct stories that form one single narrative, especially when those three movies aren’t the first three films in a series a la Star Wars.
As part of the build up to the release to that new feature film, these three movies have been re-packaged and re-released on DVD in what’s labeled Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy. Containing The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home it’s made up of the three movies often pegged by people as among the best of the bunch. And I can tell you after watching them all back-to-back that reputation has been well-earned.
I won’t rehash the plots of each individual film but here’s the broad arc: We begin with James T. Kirk having been promoted to the rank of Admiral, which is great but which comes with him being pulled from a starship. As he feels he’s getting old before his time he finds himself pitted against an old foe in a battle that eventually takes the life of his old friend Spock. But the Genesis Device, which is what Khan was after, winds up bringing Spock back from the dead. Along the way he reconnects with an old lover and encounters the son produced from their liaison all those years ago, a son who gives his life in order to keep Genesis away from the Klingons. Kirk and his loyal crew steal the Enterprise to go find out if Spock is truly alive but they have to destroy the Enterprise to defeat the Klingons. As the crew returns to Earth they find the planet being devastated by a mysterious probe and so have to travel in time back to 1984 to bring back a pair of humpback whales to communicate with the probe and end the onslaught. That heroism means Kirk and his crew have their previous treasonous actions dismissed, with the only punishment being that Kirk is busted back down to Captain and once again given command of the Enterprise.
These three movies really do represent the best of the Star Trek series on a number of levels. They’re action packed, they tell an interesting story and the cast is obviously still having fun in their roles.
Each movie in the new set comes with a handful of new bonus features, ranging from commentaries with the directors or producers to featurettes that delve more deeply into some of the elements of each movie. They’re entertaining and alright but you might start to feel like you know too much and might be starting to become a Trekker or Trekkie or whatever they’re calling themselves. Even if you never watch them, the movies are more than enough to justify this set.
Creating a package of just these three titles is a great move for people who haven’t picked them up individually already or who might want a nice collection but don’t need either all six movies with the original cast or all 10, including the Next Generation cast. It’s highly recommended, especially for casual fans who remember these films from their childhood or who are newbies to the Trek world who are looking for a quick primer on the characters either before going into or after just coming out of the new movie.