• Star Trek -The Motion Picture (1979)



    Directed by Robert Wise

    Screenplay by Harold Livingston/Story by Alan Dean Foster


    The first time I saw this picture was as soon after it came out as I could get to the Dedham Cinema to see it.  I was sixteen at the time and was delighted to be seeing new Star Trek, and was especially thrilled to be seeing Trek done with higher grade special effects, much as I was many years later when Doctor Who was brought back.  How happy my young self was to see my old favorites again!


    Watching it again last night, I find that while I still enjoy bits of it, I am overall not quite so enthusiastic about the film, now that I am in my 51st year.


    I think a number of factors combine to make this a somewhat less than satisfying film. In no particular order:

    1. The drab, colorless uniforms. It may that plainer uniforms are more realistic than the bright pastels of the old series, but they do tend to contribute to the overall "washed-out" look of the film.
    2. I find the film to be very slow and draggy, with lots of scenes of people spending alot of time looking at things. They seem to be trying for "portentous and impressive", but achieve" drawn-out and boring" instead.
    3. There's not alot of great acting in this picture. Not alot fo great writing, either. the characters are all cranky and displeased with one another. There isn't much of the camaraderie that made the old series so much fun. Some clunky dialogue, too: "My oath of celibacy is on record", that sort of thing.
    4. V'Ger is not particularly original, being largely a 'roided-up version of Nomad from "The Changeling".
    5. Will Decker and Ilia are obviously the protoypes for the later characters of Will Riker and Deanna Troi. Unfortunately, Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta display little of the charisma or chemistry that Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis later did. Also, if Will Decker was meant to be the son of Matt Decker, they should have worked in a way for him to say "There was, but not anymore!"  ;)
    6. One question I remember having at the time:  Kirk just gets to wander off in the Enterprise at the end? Just sort of go off in no particular direction?


    Things I liked:

    1. I liked the Goldsmith score. I'd forgotten that the theme for this was the same one they'd later use for Star Trek - The Next Generation.  I especially liked the Klingon Attack theme, a particular favorite of mine.
    2. I liked the re-design of the Klingons, and the creation of a language for them (and one for the Vulcans, too).  I love those classic Klingon ship designs.  Good to see Mark Lenard playing a Klingon, him having previously played a Romulan and a Vulcan.
    3. I liked seeing Starfleet HQ in San Francisco - I liked the occasional glimpse of "future Earth".
    4. I liked the re-design of the Enterprise, as well.
    5. The "transporter accident" scene was well-done, and sufficiently creepy.


    Overall: An OK film,which could have been alot better with some judicious editing.

  • Of course, it was mocked as Star Trek: The Motionless Picture!

    It was obvious that some not-so-nice things happened at the end of the Enterprise's five-year mission. Kirk clearly doesn't enjoy his promotion. McCoy left Starfleet altogether as did Spock who wants to purge himself of all humanity or, at least, thinks he does.

    The new uniforms look like pajamas to me.

    But the main problem is that Kirk is wrong. A lot. He makes mistakes and seems to be trying to prove himself. His treatment of Decker borders on pettiness. Remember Decker wasn't going to be captain of the Enterprise; he was captain and relieved for no good reason.

    Also, if Spock hadn't returned, Kirk would have failed. Apparently all you have to do is state that you're back in Starfleet and you're back!

    Ilia was supposed to be an interesting character but all we remember is that she was bald. The actress was supposed to be a rising star but that didn't pan out either.

    The movie was loaded with special effects but the characters were smothered by them.

  • The novel was a bit better, but I think that the film suffered from the fact that Paramount couldn't decide if it was going to be a film or a series.

  • Philip Portelli said:

    Ilia was supposed to be an interesting character but all we remember is that she was bald. The actress was supposed to be a rising star but that didn't pan out either.



    Persis Khambatta died fairly young, of a heart attack at age 49.  Apparently, her last acting role was in the pilot episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

  • I was born in 1976, so I am fairly certain I saw Star Trek 2 in the theater before I ever saw the first one (though I watched the series in reruns almost every day). I was so excited when we rented it in the mid-80s... and was bored to tears. I think I've seen it maybe once since then

  • It was a Christmas release, wasn’t it? Christmas or Thanksgiving. I remember seeing it at Cinema 4 (now a Walgreens drugstore stands on the spot) with my brother, sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law over a holiday.

    What makes this movie for me is the “re-gathering of the crew.” I also really dug the “Enterprise flyby” scene, although that’s one often cited as being slow-moving and boring.

    I think the pajama-like uniforms were influenced by Space: 1999.

    The LP of the score was disappointing, but the CD comprised the entire soundtrack and put the pieces in chronological order.

    Speaking of Mark Lenard, he also played General Urko on the Planet of the Apes television series, giving him the singular distinction of being the only actor to have played a Klingon, a Romulan, a Vulcan and an ape!

    P.S.—Sorry to break it to you, but if you turned 51 on your last birthday, you are now nearly two months into your 52nd year. :)

  • It was definitely a December release, I'm fairly certain,


    Yes, yes, I'm quite old.

  • I remember being very disappointed with the uniforms and the slow pace of the movie. As I understand it they didn't think the colorful uniforms of ST:TOS would work on a big screen.

  • Well I'm even older than the Baron, and yes it was a December release. It may have been the first movie I ever bought advance tickets for. A buddy and I had gone to the theater early afternoon only to find the first couple of showings were sold out so we bought tickets for one of the evening showings.

    The early scenes of the film - the Klingons, re-introducing the crew - were enjoyable but it was all down hill from there. I tried watching it once on TV and didn't make it past the first hour.

  • Richard Willis said:

     As I understand it they didn't think the colorful uniforms of ST:TOS would work on a big screen.


    Obviously, the makers of the latest films didn't feel that way.

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