Star Trek: Rod Roddenberry on the Impact of the First Four Movies as They Arrive on 4K

The first four Star Trek movies are available today on 4k Blu-ray in the Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection box set from Paramount Home Entertainment. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek II: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home can now each be enjoyed in ultra-high definition with the benefits of HDR technology. The box set represents a milestone in Star Trek's history. Star Trek: The Motion Picture brought Star Trek back to life in 1979 after its final season ended a decade earlier. The following three movies, the "Genesis Trilogy," helped cement its return and eventually led to Star Trek's television return in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This year would also have been Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's centennial. previously spoke to Rod Roddenberry, Gene's son and Roddenberry Entertainment's CEO, about Star Trek's legacy and future. We got in touch with him again to talk about these first four Star Trek movies as they become available on 4k.

(Photo: Roddenberry Entertainment)

This box set really represents a turning point for the Star Trek franchise. It comes back in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and then it builds up momentum through these movies until, eventually, it returns to television with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. We know that it was a kind of wild time for your father and Star Trek -- it was going to be a TV return as Star Trek: Phase II at first, and Leonard Nimoy was noncommittal about returning, etc. You were still pretty young when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, but do you recall your father ever talking about what it was like for him back then?

Rod Roddenberry: So the short answer is no, we didn't have the discussion. But I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and read a lot of things. My father did go through a number of hardships in terms of The Original Series being canceled and then trying to do Phase II and that being canceled.

First of all, I was a fan of Star Wars, but I want to thank Star Wars, and I think my father would too because it was Star Wars that made Paramount at the time say, "You know what? We have something like this. We should get that Star Trek thing back out there. And so, my father did. But my father did it the way that he wanted to. He was a leader, and he was a writer, and he was a philosopher.

He really, I think, put the book form of the movie on-screen, which was a little bit more introspective, which was a little bit more character, which was slower moving. And so, at the time, it wasn't received as well, just because it didn't have all the action and space chases and explosions.

But I think it really has to do with the audience member. Because as a young child, I didn't really appreciate it either. It was too intellectual. But as I've watched it again and again and again, over the years, and as I've grown up and matured, hopefully, a little, I do truly appreciate The Motion Picture. Sure, it's slow-moving, but it does what Star Trek does best. It shows an alien character in a way that we've never considered, V'ger.

It makes us originally think that it's the bad guy. But in the end, it teaches us that it is yet young and almost childlike, trying to learn, trying to absorb, trying to gain information. And it doesn't have the humanity that it might need. And in the end, we decide, or one of our characters decides, to give it that humanity by bonding with it and showing love and compassion. I mean, that is beautiful Star Trek. No, it doesn't have all the action, but it is quintessential Star Trek, in my opinion.

It really has had an interesting life as a movie. It got a mixed reaction when it was released, particularly from fans who expected something more like the TV show. But in more recent years, it feels like many more people have come around to appreciate the craft that went into it, from Robert Wise's directing, to Jerry Goldsmith's score, to Douglas Trumball's VFX work. Now the Director's Cut of the movie is preparing for a 4k re-release on Paramount+ next year

I'm happy that it's being re-scanned and the effects are re-composited, and it's being brought up to date for 4K and Ultra HD. I think that will allow the new audience, who've been watching some of the newer TV shows, to come back to it. Because I think sometimes we have an aversion to watching old stuff just because it looks dated. I think the fact that this will not look dated will bring them in.

And I think it's been pointed out to me, a perspective that I haven't considered, that the first few movies are a great introduction into Star Trek, into the classic series. So I'm hoping that after watching one through four again and hopefully continuing on beyond those as well, people will be willing to check out The Original Series and Next Generation. So I'm really excited for it.

Every Star Trek movie has its fans, but for many, especially those of a certain age, Star Trek II, III, and IV, the informal "Genesis Trilogy," is the definitive cinematic Star Trek experience. Why do you think those films, in particular, have had such an enduring legacy.

I don't know if this is what you're expecting, but I think the original series did a great job of showing a crew that was a family, but it still was a Kirk, Spock and DeForest Kelley, and Bones with, I hate to call them supporting cast, but almost supporting cast with the show, George and Walter.

The movies brought that family together. The movies gave life and purpose and cohesion to all of those characters, and you get to see them interact more and come together and work together, not just as a crew, but as a group of people who loved each other and cared for one another. And I think, as you just said, II, III, and IV, and of course the first one, but II, III, and IV really did a phenomenal job of dealing with that. And how they dealt with the loss of Spock. And then he comes back, but how does he now fit back into the family? I think you nail it with that question. And I think that is a great sort of a three-part version of Star Trek, which just shows the love between them.

Digging into that family a little bit, obviously, we've lost DeForest Kelly and James Doohan, but also Leonard Nimoy, who was more involved in those three movies than any other. He gives Spock a sendoff in The Wrath of Khan, then directs The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, and comes up with some story for The Voyage Home, too. Do you think Nimoy's death has changed the way fans look at those movies now?

Yeah, it's a really interesting question I haven't considered. And I do think it'll be different obviously for the different generations, right?

Of course, for those of us who grew up with either The Original Series and the movies and have an affinity for them, I think there will be a sense of loss but heartwarming-ness that you're going to get because you're going to see the character come back to life again and behave in those Spock ways that he always did. And all the things that we as humans took for granted that his alien character would point out to us. I think there will be a tremendous amount of warmth for those of us who haven't seen them.

And then for those of us who are new to Star Trek or somewhat new to Star Trek, I think they'll have a similar feeling, but certainly not ... It's a great question. Certainly not the way that we all felt about Star Trek, having grown up with it. Wow. What a great question. I don't know if I had a good enough answer for you.

You mentioned that some people have an aversion to watching things that look visually or aesthetically dated. Looking at these first four films, people from outside the Star Trek community might feel like the humor or the action or anything like that is dated. But when you re-watch them, at their core, they are still incredibly current and relevant. I wanted to ask, what do you hope this 4K edition release of these movies does to combat the stigma that Star Trek: The Original Series is dated and no longer accessible to people who haven't watched the franchise and were born in 2010 even?

I can just speak from my own point of view. I don't know if this is relevant, but I used to love the movie Flash Gordon, the one done, I think 1980, 1981. And I remember when it came out on -- I think it was just HD on DVD, or maybe, no, it was a Blu-ray. I don't know. They did such a great job of bringing it back that I was excited about it all over again because it was so clear. It was so clean. It did not feel dated. And I am one of those people who doesn't necessarily like watching dated stuff. So I'm hoping, and I do believe, at least for a majority of the audience, watching the new re-scanned, up-rezzed, new effects, I think it's going to be like watching a new movie all over again. I think it'll really work in that respect, and I can't wait to see it myself.

Is there a particular film -- a favorite or one you think will just look and sound especially good -- that you're most looking forward to experiencing in 4k? Or even a particular scene or moment?

Well, it has been a while since I've seen it -- I don't know, six years? -- I don't know what number, but it has been a number of years since I've seen The Motion Picture again. So I do look forward to watching The Motion Picture again. And the reason is because I'm 47 now. And when I first saw it, when I was like, I don't know, five, I didn't get it. But at the different stages of my life, having watched it with hopefully a higher maturity, I've seen it through different eyes and appreciate different aspects and see different things and the more mature concepts. So I'm hoping again to watch it and notice something that I didn't notice before. Even if I'd seen this over and over, I didn't maybe see how the relationship between Spock and Kirk evolved and what their dialogue at that moment meant, what wasn't said. So I love getting into the weeds on that sort of thing.

But my favorite, I really got to say, is The Voyage Home because I think that was also quintessential Star Trek because you had the messaging of the environment. You had the arrogance of humans, thinking that this truly benevolent probe came back to speak to humans. But no, it was trying to talk to the intelligent life that was here before humans. And I really sort of appreciated that thought-provoking idea and storyline.

Of course, humor and camaraderie. That's always wonderful. Everyone loves the scene of Bones, DeForest Kelley, coming into a hospital and seeing that we're living in the dark ages of medicine. And I think every one of us would agree with that too.

There are still more Star Trek movies waiting to get the 4k treatment. If you could warp forward and see any Star Trek film in 4K, what film do you think would best suit that enhancement?

I haven't been asked that question before. And I immediately go to favorites. I love First Contact. But putting your question on it, I don't know how much 4K would do to it, because it was cleaner, just because it came out later. I'm sorry. You're asking a great question, but I don't know if I've got a good enough answer to it.

I want them all to be up-rezzed and re-canned and have new effects. And I think throughout the decades, I have no inside knowledge, but as Star Trek continues, I'm sure they will be enhanced as the decades go on, whether it's 4K, 8K, or whatever's after that.

I mean, I think these older ones, the first four, are the right ones to do it with because they arguably need it the most. I do think The Motion Picture is as cinematic as it was -- sure, slow-moving -- but you've got that it feels like a 10-minute opening scene of Kirk flying by the Enterprise. That is cinematic in the sense that that was our first re-introduction to the new version of the Enterprise. So I think it's our mindset. And my mindset will be how to look at this like I'm watching it all over again for the first time, and I look forward to seeing it with those sort of innocent eyes.

Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection box set is on sale now. [Additional reporting by Megan Peters]