Evil Movie Review: Star Trek – The Motion Picture
Well by now you all know that I gave up on season 3 of the Original Series, but since I do want to get to TNG some day I figured I would have to make it through the six Star Trek movies first. Hence I get to bring you this gem: my review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
1969 was the final year of the original Star Trek series, probably because, well, it wasn’t that great and more than 3 seasons would have been unbearable. But long before J.J. Abrams came around to reboot the series, the original creator Gene Roddenberry decided to help Robert Wise with this 1979 film. Paramount was not really that convinced that taking on these old space hippies for a movie was a good idea, but after Close Encounters and Star Wars did so well they thought they would have a go at it.
They got the film out, but part of me feels they should have left it all alone. Without further ado, my take on the film, spoilers and all.
The opening scene and initial villain presentation have Roddenberry written all over it. A huge mysterious space energy cloud seems to have some sort of alien force within it that is moving rapidly towards earth. While the concept, a random energy cloud, was one that we dealt with numerous times in the TV show, one of the nice things about the movie that you notice right away is that 10 years has gone by. What do I mean by that, how is that nice? The computer graphics and special effects of the movie have had a major improvement. Still not up to speed with what we are used to in the 21st century now, but refreshing that we have some sets nicer than just painted backgrounds.
The Enterprise is undergoing a major refurbishing, but our beloved Captain Kirk, now Admiral, arrives to view this new ship just in time to assume command and guide the ship towards the energy cloud to try to stop it. And there are definitely some interesting characters on this ship as well. There are of course all our beloved original series characters, but there are some newbies as well.
One of the first ones I recognized was Captain Willard Decker, the new captain of the Enterprise. Yup, you probably recognize him from his later work as the father on Seventh Heaven. And while you want to dislike him as he outshines Kirk every step of the way, I have to give this guy props: he is professional, smart, and an all around good guy, right up until the end (though they conveniently found a way to write him off the script so that he would never have to compete with Kirk again).
Then there is the character Ilia, a bald and awkwardly unemotional Deltan female. She is actually captured and killed by the energy force early on, but the force takes her appearance for its future interactions with the crew.
As people start to literally take their place on the new and improved Enterprise, I have to comment a little about some of my frustrations with the start of the movie. Firstly, there is a scene where Scotty takes Kirk on a shuttle from earth to the new spaceship, and this scene literally takes over 10 minutes. Ten minutes of slow motion movement through space admiring the spaceship. It was so freaking painful. I know they were trying to go for the whole 2001: A Space Odyssey thing, but man did they fall short. There was no amazing accompanying soundtrack, and by this point in movie making we were well beyond these needed panoramic shots. This was the first time I started to yawn in the movie.
Now one of the most enjoyable scenes was when Kirk got Bones back on the ship. He had professed that he was done with serving Starfleet, and his outfit as he beams aboard was priceless. Because you know, people in the 23rd century totally dress like 70’s pimps.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of competition between Decker and Kirk in the first half of the film, but a lot of this stems from Kirk’s insecurities. And it made me like him even less, if that was possible. I mean, he is already overconfident and bossy, but now he was making a fool of himself and his over-exuberant ego.
The ship is able to make contact with the space cloud and it grants them permission to enter. What then ensues is a second epic slow-motion space ship scene. I kid you not, they spent another 10+ minutes panning over the ship as they look for a way to dock. It was so painful.
Docked at the end of the line, they are surrounding by all sorts of mystical sights. In one scene Spock shoots himself into the cloud and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this or a really boring acid trip. At this point I was ¾ of the way through the film and thoroughly unimpressed.
Now for the big spoilers: Ilia’s body keeps calling the entity that is the cloud “V’Ger”. What is eventually revealed is that it was the Voyager we sent in to space in the 20th century, and that the probe gathered so much knowledge throughout its travels through space that it achieved consciousness. The V’Ger wants to complete its mission though: bring all this information back to it’s creator: man on earth. Eventually the machine consciousness agrees to merge with Decker, who gladly volunteers himself, and after creating a new life form the V’Ger-Decker hybrid disappears and leaves everyone as they were. And I turn off my TV realizing the film was a huge disappointment. From the boring space scenes to the lack of aliens, the reuse of an old plot line and pathetic 70’s psychedelic scenes, I felt like I had wasted 2 hours of my life. Sadly this is not panning out well for Star Trek. I promise to stick with it until TNG, and next is The Wrath of Khan, but so far I am just so underwhelmed by this series.
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