In preparation for January’s launch of the long-awaited Star Trek: Picard series on CBS All Access, the new Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection compiles classic moments featuring Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard — including two two-part episodes from TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the four Star Trek feature films to include Picard and his crew, Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis.
My personal experience with Star Trek is limited. But my brother and childhood best friend were both major fans, and I have fond memories of watching the classic movies and Next Generation episodes with them periodically throughout my life. The two-parters included here, The Best of Both Worlds and Chain of Command are all-time classic stories with standout moments for Stewart’s captain. I had seen Worlds several times in the past, but never Chain of Command; I loved it upon watching here. Both two-parters emphasize Picard’s humanity and dignity in the face of torture and temptation, which seems to be an upcoming theme in the new show, and each boasts an excellent turn from Stewart as well.
The four movies are a much more mixed bag. Generations holds a soft spot in my heart but is admittedly burdened by the responsibility of concluding the classic Star Trek series of movies with Captain Kirk (William Shatner) while introducing the Next Generation crew to the silver screen.
First Contact, however, is one of the best entries in the Star Trek film franchise and definitely the best part of this set. The action-film structure required a more physical take on Picard, with Stewart getting jacked and doing more fighting. He’s no less intense in his depiction of the cerebral captain, however, and the physicality of Stewart’s performance is appropriate given the simultaneously existential and physical threats posed by the Borg.
Sadly, Insurrection is a step down from First Contact, presenting a story that feels dead on arrival about Picard’s Enterprise crew coming to the aid of a small colony in threat of displacement. This feature-length movie feels like a stretched-out TV episode, with none of the grandeur found in First Contact. Although a slower Star Trek is not an inherently bad call, Insurrection introduces a number of interesting ideas that don’t amount to much. Struggling against corrupt authority, the ramifications of colonial action and the temptations of eternal life are all interesting ideas for the Enterprise crew to explore, but in the end, it all amounts to a pretty lame final battle against an alien enemy that feels very much like standard Star Trek.
The disappointments contained in Insurrection are nothing compared to Nemesis, a film whose box-office failure killed the entire cinematic franchise dead for seven years. I saw Nemesis for my 12th birthday and remember none of it. Watching it as the capper to the preceding four episodes and three films contained in this set rendered it essentially unwatchable. Young Tom Hardy as Clone Picard is kind of cool, if only because of what Hardy has gone on to do. Otherwise, yeesh. Poorly built action beats, non-existent character work and, more notably, a totally misjudged aesthetic that makes the world feel less inviting, thoughtful and interesting.
Although this set is mostly packed with great entertainment value, it should be noted that all of these films and episodes are available on numerous other DVD and Blu-ray sets that have been released over time. They are also all available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. While this is indeed a well-curated option for anyone interested in the new Star Trek: Picard series, it’s hard to imagine anyone willing to purchase CBS All Access isn’t already well-versed in Captain Picard and his exploits.
What streaming services do not contain, of course, are the bevy of special features. Each film offers commentary tracks and several special features about different elements of their respective productions. None of these seem to be additional from past releases, so your mileage may vary, but they do add value to the purchase of this Blu-ray set.