Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) was re-released on DVD in early 2004 in a double-disc Collector's Edition, complete with a brace of extras and a commentary track by director/co-screenwriter Nicholas Meyer and co-screenwriter Denny Martin Flinn. The latter is clearly supposed to be the highlight of this reissue, and one wishes that the audio commentary here came up to the standard of earlier volumes in the series. Nicholas Meyer, however, sounds very sluggish and uninvolved, almost disengaged, as though he's going through the motions of doing a commentary. His tone is a mix of pomposity and unpretentiousness that seems awkward; his best moment comes when he reveals that actor Brock Peters had serious problems making a speech in the opening that was laced with racist sentiments, and that Nichelle Nichols had a similar problem with a comedic line. But Meyer never goes anywhere with the information, and that's the problem with the whole commentary track. Flinn makes a livelier contribution, but it just seems as though Meyer never catches fire -- he grabs at ideas, such as Kim Cattrall's performance here versus her work in Sex and the City, and seizes on the first scene between Spock and Valeris as key to the script, but he doesn't really do much with any of it. It's all terribly dull, and quite different from the commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy on the Collector's Edition of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which ran more briskly in its pacing than the movie itself. The other special features are all on disc two of the package, and principally consist of little featurettes that try to tie up the various loose ends. Meyer is actually more successful here in "The Perils of Peacemaking" than he is in his commentary track, and Leonard Nimoy's contribution is essential as well, giving the best explanation of the evolution of the script. Additionally, the contribution of Dr. Angela Stent of Georgetown University and other scholars will help future generations of viewers understand the film's relationship to real events. "Stories From Star Trek VI" fills in all of the holes that were left unfilled in the commentary, including what makes Nicholas Meyer tick and his outlook on filmmaking. The section on the creation of the Klingon legend is entertaining and explains the evolution of the Klingons' appearance and their changes across the decades; production designer Lee Cole displays a delightful sense of humor, but all of it is good viewing. "Federation Operatives" goes through the multiple roles essayed by different actors in different corners of the Star Trek franchise. "Penny's Toy Box" has the Star Trek archivist at Paramount, and "Together Again" brings William Shatner and Christopher Plummer together to discuss their long history together prior to Star Trek VI. "Farewell" is comprised principally of a tribute to DeForest Kelley by the regular cast members and also Christopher Plummer, with contributions by veteran producer A.C. Lyles and others out of the actor's past. The tribute is sincere and nicely put together, and the second disc is, in its way, more successful on the whole than the first, but only because the commentary track is so disappointing. Both discs open automatically on easy-to-use menus that, in the case of the second disc, advance automatically as each selection concludes. The transfer of the film looks just fine; however, if someone already owns the earlier edition, it's difficult to suggest replacing it with this release.