Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Review
I'll start by saying that this one of my favourite Star Trek big screen outings. In a slight departure from the other special-effects driven pieces, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is an old fashioned detective story which just happens to be set a few hundred years in the future!
The movie starts with an explosion on an important Klingon moon witnessed by Captain Sulu aboard his new command - the Starship Excelsior. This explosion manages to cripple the Klingon Empire and it is predicted by Starfleet that the empire will not survive for more than fifty years. Taking the opportunity to end the long-running hostilities between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, Starfleet open peace talks with the Kligon High Council and Kirk and co. are given the uneviable job of escorting the Klingon Chancellor into Federation space in order to open the proceedings.
During the initial meeting, the Klingon's starship is attacked - by what looks to be the Enterprise. The Klingons are not too happy about this and after Kirk and McCoy transport aboard to help they're arrested. The Chancellor is dead and Kirk and McCoy are held responsible and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives on a distant penal colony.
Unable to accept that the Enterprise was responsible, Spock undertakes and investigation which uncovers some disturbing facts - not only does there appear to be a conspiracy, it looks as though the Klingons may have developed the ultimate weapon. Mounting a daring rescue attempt, Spock takes the Enterprise into Klingon space and transports Kirk off of the penal colony.
The conspirators are about to strike again and it's a race against time to stop them before the Federation President is murdered. Finding the planet easy, finding a way to defeat the Klingon traitors is another matter altogether...
Star Trek VI is an interesting departure from the norm. It marks the return of Director, Nicholas Meyer who also helmed the hugely successful Star Trek II, and his influence shows. The script is once again well written with numerous Shakespearean references although the actors performances appear a little wooden at times. The movie is tightly held together and doesn't fall into the trap of using unlikely techincal explanations to get out of a difficult spot.
After the disappointing Star Trek V, the series gets back to basics and manages to once again grasp just what makes Star Trek so popular. Christopher Plummer makes an excellent villian as the Shakespeare quoting General Chang and David Warner also puts in a good performance as Chancellor Gorkon.
Star Trek VI is the final movie to star the entire original crew, and as such it is an excellent swansong. Well recommended to both Star Trek fans and those who enjoy a good stong story.
It seems ironic that what is among the best of the Star Trek movies gets by far the worst treatment when transfered to DVD. Apart from being almost feature-free, the presentation itself leaves a lot to be desired.
The picture is non-anamorphic NTSC framed at a ratio of 1.85:1. Not only that, it's also shifted up significantly and this looks very odd indeed. Only later on does it become apparent that this has been done so that various subtitles can be displayed in the lower black border. This causes numerous headaches for widescreen owners as in order to be able to see the subtitles the picture needs to be scrolled up - cutting off the top. This is an appaling state of affairs, and the least Paramount should have done was to use real DVD subtitles as opposed to those on the print.
Thankfully the soundtrack improves matters significantly. There are numerous good surround effects and the central channel is clear and well defined. There are a few meaty explosions which give your sub a good work out. The highlight comes in the first few minutes with the explosion of the Klingon moon and its rather spectacular shockwave.
As mentioned above, there isn't a lot to shout about with regards to special features. All we get is the theatrical trailer, there are numerous features which could have easily been included. However, as with most of Paramount's early titles, this one was obviously put out with little efforts as it was likely to sell in significant amounts.
While the movie gets the thumbs-up, I can't recommend the disc to anyone but the most die-hard of Trekkies. Without a doubt, the Region 2 disc will feature an anamorphic transfer on its release - although that won't be until sometime in 2001...