Last First Contact Day, April 5, 2022, Trekkies across nations were treated to a new and remastered version of the first film from the franchise. That day, viewers finally got to see what director Robert Wise wanted for everyone to see back in December 1979.”Star Trek: The Movie‘ has been re-released on Paramount+ in incredible 4K resolution. The film will later be available on 4K Ultra-High Definition Blu Ray.
Heavy interviewed Daren Dochterman, one of the minds who helped bring The Motion Picture to 4K. He oversaw all effects shots and was already working with Wise in 2001 when the director returned to Paramount to re-edit his film. This version became known as “Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition”.
In an interview, Dochterman told Heavy that what was shown in theaters in 1979 was essentially a “rough cut” because Wise and the rest of the filmmakers had such a tight deadline.
The 4K Updated “Movie” Comparison
In recent years, Star Trek fans have enjoyed some moments like the release of the 4K Motion Picture – Director’s Edition. Paramount decided to rescan the original negatives and update the special effects for The Original Series. This project was made available to fans on high definition Blu-ray discs. For the first time, fans of the original 1960s show were able to watch William Shatner‘s Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock in HD.
Likewise, fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation saw their favorite series updated to Blu-ray as well. All seven seasons of TNG are available for viewing in HD.
All this scanning and upgrading may be new to Star Trek fans, but it’s nothing new to those who follow this other space opera franchise. Star Wars creator for years George Lucas made adjustments and updates to his original trilogy from movies. He added scenes to these films with new computer graphics, such as the new dancers in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. He gave details where none existed – a great example would be when backgrounds and windows were added to Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back.
Comparing the New and Old “The Empire Strikes Back”
Some of this was done with the new version of The Motion Picture. In the scene where Kirk, Spock and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) meet about the threat to Earth, some additional detail was added to the background behind the actors (see images below). If the effects team that worked on the 4K restoration can add scenes and clean things up for TMP – why not do the same for The Search for Spock?
For many, the cheapness in Star Trek III cannot be overlooked. Even if the story has its rough edges – actually it should be very different — The way the production staff cut corners is striking. Among those scenes that didn’t make the best effort for the merchant ship’s interior.
This was seen when the Klingon Valkris (Catherine Shirriff) transmitted the Genesis data to Kruge (Christopher Lloyd). Instead of a real spacecraft, The inside of the ship looked like a pile of boxes thrown over it with a net.
“Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”
Other fans like Dochtermans “Infamous Treksperts” co-host, Mark A Altmancompare the screen graphics from the USS Excelsior for the Atari 2600. This meant that the way the Excelsior’s crew interacted with their computers was not up to 23rd-century standards. The Treksperts spent two entire podcasts that break down all the issues You saw with Star Trek III.
Trek fan Gilker Kimmel Altman would have agreed. In a separate article, Kimmel wrote that “The Genesis planet could have been taken out of any of the Season 3 ‘TOS’ away mission sets, which is really saying a lot considering how badly funded that season was.”
Heavy asked Dochterman if a team of visual effects experts could “fix” some of the problems with Star Trek III, perhaps making a director’s edition of that film like they were able to do for The Motion Picture.
“The main problem with that, first of all, is that we don’t have the director of the film,” said Dochterman. Star Trek III is directed by the late Leonard Nimoy.
Original vs 4K TMP
“The issues I’m having with ‘Star Trek III’ specifically aren’t visual bugs,” said Dochterman. “I think the problem is the whole thing sound of the movie. It shows in the performances and the way the story is told. And I don’t think that can be ‘fixed’ by someone who doesn’t go back and just reshoot the whole movie.”
“One of the lucky things we had was that we had Robert Wise to show us what he would have done with a few extra weeks of post production,” said Dochterman. “But I don’t think the problems with ‘Star Trek III’ can be fixed with visual effects.”
“It’s not a bad movie,” Dochterman said. “It’s just that we wished it was better.”
READ MORE: Star Trek: Discovery Explains Why Harry Kim Was Never Promoted
https://heavy.com/entertainment/star-trek/could-paramount-redo-search-for-spock/ Could a visual effects team rework The Search for Spock?