Review #31 Star Trek: The Motion Picture

star trek the motion picture

Directed by- Robert Wise

Starring- William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

I have to say, whilst watching this movie, I was not impressed. It starts off with about three minutes of scenes with stars flying past (it feels more like thirty minutes), and it felt like the pace never picked up. However, when you put the movie into context- it was the first Trek adventure for ten years, and the characters were as real as ever- then, it’s actually quite a masterpiece, and I was wrong to judge it by the standard of today’s action-packed blockbusters.

Admiral James T Kirk has not been Captain of the USS Enterprise for a few years, but retakes command after an alien cloud called V’Ger is on a path of destruction, with Earth as its next target. The whole crew are reunited and joined by Ilia, a Deltan navigator, and the previous captain of the Enterprise, Decker (until Kirk takes over), played by Stephen Collins.

The special effects are quite impressive for 1979, and they might make the film look dated, but it’s really stunning. I suppose it’s a bit like watching a movie now that is wonderful to watch, but relies too much on special effects, which aren’t involved in much action. The scenes that focus on the Enterprise and explore the ship are incredible, the ship is meant to have been re-designed, which causes some tension between Kirk and Decker. The ending is good, and makes you think “oh yeah”, as it gives a nod to the past (well, our present really).

It is good to see the relationship between the characters again, and that none of them have changed. At the beginning Spock is about to undergo the Vulcan practice of Kolinar, where Vulcans purge all emotion. However, the great Dr. can’t go through with it. This contrasts greatly with the way Spock acts when he’s aboard the Enterprise, still cold and unresponsive when any crew member compliments him, even when Bones remarks that even he is happy to see him, still nothing. I suppose as I said, after ten years of no Star Trek, fans were just happy to have this reunion of what makes the movies great- the crew of the Enterprise.

Star Trek the Motion Picture is no cinematic masterpiece- I prefer the Wrath of Khan and the Search for Spock if we’re going to be comparing the films. However, that might be because of the action, and the storylines are more engaging. They definitely tug more at the heartstrings (the ending of Wrath of Khan is most horrific if you cry easily at movies). The movie was originally meant to be a television series, and I’m not sure how that would have worked with regards to all the sequels. It might have been a success but expectations might have been too high from the originals.

In the grand scheme of things, it is a good starter for the movies that come after it. Transport yourself back to the late seventies, when you have been deprived of Star Trek for ten years, and you see Kirk, Spock and Bones, and perhaps you’ll think quite highly of it- and appreciate it. But for now, I’m going to watch Wrath of Khan and sob my heart out.

Seen the sequel, which is brilliant.

Three stars.