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“Can I cook, or can’t I?” Josh continues his look at the new Blu-Ray release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

When I purchased a Blu-Ray player last year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t go out and re-purchase all the great movies that I own on DVD when they’re released on Blu-Ray.  This has been an easy promise to keep, mostly because DVDs played in my Blu-Ray player look FANTASTIC.

But when I read about the new restoration being done to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (one of my absolute favorite films — just take a look back at Wednesday’s post if you don’t believe me) for it’s release on Blu-Ray, I had to take the plunge.

I must admit, somewhat sheepishly, that this is actually the THIRD time I have bought a copy of Star Trek II.  I held off on buying the original bare-bones DVD release from 2000, preferring instead to buy the two-disc “Special Collector’s Edition” when it was released in 2002.  Unfortunately, while I enjoyed all the special features on that DVD, the version of the film included was a new Director’s Cut.  It was neat to see some additional scenes (which I hadn’t seen for years and years, ever since catching an extended TV version of the film in a hotel room once as a kid), but many of the additions were clunky and disruptive to the pitch-perfect pace of the theatrical film.  So of course I went out and picked up a copy of that first bare-bones DVD, so I could have the theatrical version to watch.

So what did I think of this new version?  Was it worth paying to own The Wrath of Khan for a third time?

Absolutely.  The movie looks FANTASTIC on Blu-Ray.  The colors are bright and vibrant (check out the main viewscreen graphics during the opening Kobayashi Maru sequence, for example), and the dark backgrounds and shadows in many of the scenes (this is a DARK movie!) are deep and rich.  The sound is terrific — the dialogue is all crystal-clear, and James Horner’s magnificent scores (one of the best movie scores EVER) is given a lot of weight and heft.

I am not an expert in things like film grain or other aspects of the restoration of old movies, but let me give you one example that, for me, highlights the excellent work done to clean up this film for its Blu-Ray release.  In every home video release of Star Trek II that I have ever seen (including both DVDs that I own), there has always been some distracting dirt or grain or something over the scene of the Enterprise leaving drydock.  There’s one shot in particular — a view of the Enterprise from behind, in which the Big E’s nacelle fills most of the left side of the screen.  Having seen this movie MANY many times, I have always noticed a large distracting piece of dirt in the frame right in the middle of the nacelle.  Now, FINALLY, on the Blu-Ray version, that dirt is gone!!

Here’s some more info on the Blu-Ray presentation of Star Trek II from the terrific Digital Bits web-site:  “As I mentioned, the new Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan restoration looks spectacular. I’ve seen this film projected in high quality in recent years, and the new presentation captures that experience wonderfully. The film (in fact, nearly ALL the Trek films) have always had a soft look about them, owing to the stock used and the sort of “budget production” approach with which they were shot, but the overall detail is quite good and is very true to the theatrical presentation. There’s light, refined grain structure visible, and color and contrast are excellent. The image is very nicely film-like and it’s just a wonderful viewing experience. Bottom line: This is exactly how Khan is supposed to look, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”  (Read Bill Hunt’s full review here.)

I adore Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and it’s a delight to finally see this film presented the way it should be seen.  Magnificent.

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