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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
A Paramount Home Video Release
1986, 118 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Starring:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Catherine Hicks
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 11/09/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Scene Selection, Interactive Menus

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise take to the screen in their forth theatrical excursion, this time to save planet Earth. A mysterious alien probe is threatening the entire planet by evaporating the oceans and destroying the atmosphere, all the time broadcasting an immensely powerful message no one can decode. All, that is, except for Mr. Spock who determines that it is in fact the song of a Humpback whale. The problem? Humpback whales have been extinct for hundreds of years.

In an attempt to save all mankind, Kirk and his crew slingshot back in time to 1986 San Francisco where they must locate and pack a pair of whales onto their decrepit Klingon Bird-Of-Prey spacecraft. What they find is a world so strange, so different, that it rivals anything they’ve encountered in the far reaches of space! This movie is a pleasurable, lighthearted caper, especially when compared to the preceding three films that aired a strictly serious attitude. It features a number of memorable one-liners, great special effects (for the time) and a marvelous musical score.

Paramount has fully remastered Star Trek IV with a brand-new 2.35:1 anamorphic video transfer that is quite an improvement over all previous versions. Sharpness is good with no noticeable aliasing or artifacting, although focus is intentionally soft in some scenes including the spaceship interior. Saturation initially appears weak, but colors are completely accurate. A fair amount of film grain is also present, however considering the age of the original footage everything in this regard seems in good shape. The only distracting qualities are a moderate amount of white and black dirt specs, plus unusually perceptible screen flickering on many brighter scenes. The dual-layered disc contains a total of 17 chapters with 7.6 gigabytes of data. The layer change was completely unnoticeable.

The soundtrack has also been revamped with an impressive 5.1 channel mix. Although a 70mm 6-channel version already exists with mono surrounds, there is obvious (but not extensive) discrete rear-channel usage in this rendition. Clarity and range – especially during orchestral sequences – is fantastic with crisp but not harsh trebles and deep, rich basses. The center channel is well-weighted with clear undistorted vocals. Also included in this release are ProLogic English and French 2.0 tracks along with English subtitles. I can only wish that Paramount, like the majority of other studios, will eventually make the 5.1 track the default one.

Extras are fairly slim. You’ll get the original theatrical trailer in (quite surprisingly) 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen accompanied by stereo audio, plus a 16-minute full-screen Director’s Series featurette from 1990 starring director Leonard Nimoy. This documentary is much more informative than the token ones usually included and is worth watching.

Star Trek IV is great entertainment, finally presented the best it can be. Though the list price is moderately high it’s definitely worth owning, even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan. Recommended.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on November 22, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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