December 19, 2014
I'm old enough to remember this movie when it was released although I never saw it at the cinema. I've seen it many, many times over the years and can pretty much spot any change as it occurs in a fan edit of ST:TMP. What this faneditor has done is nothing short of miraculous. He has improved on the original and made me look at it in a fresh light.
The big change here is the colour timing. There's a very warm push in the colours which make the colour scheme pop and look vibrant in HD. In particular, the external shots look absolutely gorgeous. Some facial tones can look a little too warm at times and unfortunately Spock loses some of his yellow pallor in some close ups, but on the whole the editor has made the film look gorgeous.
Speaking of the editing, the first thing you notice is the V'ger first person journey created by Douglas Trumbull over the beginning credits. Simply put, this looks stunning! Why they never thought to do this originally or even in the directors edition is beyond me. Also it helps connect V'Ger to Spock in a much stronger way than was originally done. This for me this is an inspired choice from the editor.
Personally, I would have preferred either an external shot of Vulcan from space (either taken from the 2009 movie or STIII:TSFS with a caption to place the movie after the credits, or a title card over the fantastic new matte shot created by the editor for this version. I believe the Spock Kolinarh scene could have been stronger if it was edited back to front. For example, after the titles and I would have like to have seen Spock looking up immediately to make that connection between him and V'ger stronger. Then have the matriach watching him and him approach and then leave Spock after the mind meld where he bends to pick up the trinket and then looks up again. I had a tinker with the scene myself and it can be done convincingly, but it is a matter of taste and I applaud the editor for the work he did here.
Then we have a jump to the dry dock completely omitting Kirk's journey to Starfleet HQ. I didn't think this would work at first but actually it works incredibly well. The only problem I had with it was again I didn't know where I was and feel a shot of the Earth or of a Starbase from III or VI would have helped or even a title card with "Earth, Stardate blah blah" etc. Its a matter of taste but I was aware that someone not familiar as I am might not necessarily know where they are at that point in the movie as we were just on Vulcan seconds before.
There are some great music cues, some TOS sound queues that will make old Trekkers smile and some great tightening of editing throughout the movie but Act 2 and 3 pretty much play out as they did originally.
Some of the directors edition footage has made its way into the film and all the choices here are good ones. Some of the footage is barely noticeable as being of a lower quality but some of it towards the end doesn't fare so well. I wonder if it's possible to transcode that stuff and a very high bitrate to improve the quality. Perhaps the editor already tried that and what we get is the results of the encode.
All in all, this fan edit is my preferred version of this movie and one which I will watch whenever I feel like watching ST:TMP.
Highly recommended for Trek fans.