The Bottom Line
- + Stunning 4K remaster
- - Extras
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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 4K Blu-ray Review
Courtesy of an untested director, savage budget cuts, and an overly ambitious yet problematic script, Star Trek: The Final Frontier received a savage critical and commercial backlash upon release, which barely scraped in $50 million at the worldwide box office (Tim Burton's Batman released two weeks later managed over eight times that figure).
With the small screen revival of the franchise in The Next Generation proving that fans were happy to embrace a new, younger crew, it was perhaps tempting for Paramount and CBS to cut their losses and retire Kirk, Spock, and Bones for good. Thankfully, the studio decided to let the original crew have one final go around, which not only resulted in the proper sendoff that the sci-fi trailblazers deserved but also resulted in one of the best feature films in the series' history.
With the sudden destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis, the Empire decides it can no longer afford to continue its posture of intergalactic war and intends to broker a deal with the Federation for peace. While both camps remain suspicious of the other's motives, the Federation dispatches the Starship Enterprise to shadow a Klingon vessel transporting Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner), whose attending negotiations on Earth.
En route, the chancellor is murdered and when all signs point to an Enterprise crewman - perhaps even Captain Kirk - the chance for peace is not only risked, but the escalation of outright war becomes imminent.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with H.265 compression, and finished with a Dolby Vision pass, in addition to a base HDR-10 layer.
As with its five predecessors, Paramount has returned to the original camera negative to produce this brand new 4K transfer, which replaces the previous, nearly 20-year-old HD master in a definitive manner. The new transfer is stable as a rock, crisply detailed, and cleaned of almost all the film artifacts that crept into the negative during production and subsequent handling.
The color balance is excellent, with rich and saturated tones where appropriate. This is an extremely 'filmic' presentation, which comes as a breath of fresh air compared to the previous master, which was riddled with noise, artifacts, and egregious edge enhancement, which made Spock look like a wax figure.
Overall, this is an impressive remaster, which finally does this film justice on the smaller screen.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is presented with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 remix at 24 bits.
Porting over the audio mix originally assembled for the 2009 Blu-ray release, The Undiscovered Country certainly sounds a treat. There were no problems with audio sync or dialogue. Occasionally the mix sounded a little 'thin', especially in regards to the general ambiance, but when the action kicks into gear, the audio does a good job of keeping up.
Bass is responsive when requested and effectively underscores some of the more intensive sequences. Cliff Eidelman's score is a step down from the very best work of Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, but his iconic opening theme is as rousing and as triumphant as always.
Overall, this is a solid effort that does enough to be impressive, but again it's hard not to imagine the improvement that could have been offered with a new Dolby Atmos mix.
Unfortunately, unlike other international releases, Paramount has again not included a copy of the standard Blu-ray in the Australian release, which means all the video-based features are absent from this edition. Trekkers would be advised to hang on to the previous Blu-ray release or import the U.S. or U.K. editions to retain everything.
However, the 4K disc does include two previously released Audio Commentaries, the first Director Nicholas Meyer and Screenwriter Denny Martin Flinn, Meyer is ever consistent, and I enjoy listening to his comments, frequently drawing parallels to the films plot and the real-life cessation of the cold war.
The second commentary features writer Larry Nemecek and Deep Space Nine producer Ira Steven Behr. From the perspective of Star Trek fans and insiders, there's much less emphasis on technical talk and more tongue-in-cheek comments.