Jammer's Review

"Star Trek: The Motion Picture"

***

Theatrical release: 12/7/1979
DVD special edition release: November 2001
PG; 2 hrs. 16 min.
Screenplay by Harold Livingston
Story by Alan Dean Foster
Produced by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Robert Wise

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

December 27, 2001

The recent DVD release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director's Edition represents a revisit to a piece of the Trek canon that these days seems known more for its place in Trek turning-point history than for its value as a feature film. Among fans and critics, ST:TMP is not often highly respected in the ranks of the Trek films. In terms of tone, it certainly stands out as the odd child of the film series. It can be argued that the film was remembered more for being a big event in the franchise's direction than for being a story that people remembered as part of the canon.

And for good reason. When Star Trek: The Motion Picture first came out in 1979, it landed amid years of anticipation for a project that went through a string of changing would-be destinations. First it was going to be Phase II, the new Trek TV series. (Even then, Paramount wanted to launch a TV network with Trek as its flagship, something that wouldn't happen until 1995.) At one point it was considered as a TV movie. Part of the decision for the destination was affected by the huge success of sci-fi classics Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If Star Trek was going back into production, it would be foolish not to aim for the big screen.

When it finally came out, some were disappointed, especially after the thunderous excitement of Star Wars two years earlier. ST:TMP was a slow-paced, cerebral, talky film with little in terms of action. For its creators, it was a miracle of effective coordination in the face of impossible, rapidly approaching deadlines. The product itself was barely finished — production and then post-production went to absolutely the last possible moments, with reels of the film being distributed to theaters practically within hours of their first show times. When the time came around for the sequel, The Wrath of Khan, it would be a return to sharper character interaction and faster-paced storytelling — what the audiences really wanted from Kirk and his crew.

Now, 22 years after the original theatrical release, we have the new ST:TMP Director's Edition DVD, a project that was given Paramount's blessing and which director Robert Wise finally felt comfortable in revisiting. I recently sat down to watch the film for the first time in several years. I honestly wasn't sure whether I'd notice the enhancements or not, since it had been some time since I'd seen the movie from beginning to end. But like all things that trap themselves in the corners of our memories and imagination, I remembered ST:TMP better than I had expected, even the specifics of certain shots.

ST:TMP is not a great film and never will be. It's flawed as science fiction and flawed as Trek. But it is a good film. It's particularly good in that it withstands the test of time. After 22 years and all sorts of progress in the arena of visual effects, the film has aged well. Both the production and the storyline bear scrutiny today.

Up front, the following should be noted:

1) The Director's Edition is a better film than either the original 1979 cut or the 1983 cut for TV that restored footage unused in 1979. (The 1983 cut is what landed on many previous video releases.)

2) The Director's Edition is not different from previous cuts of the film in ways that significantly impact the storyline (not like the director's cut of The Abyss, for example).

3) The film benefits from DVD quality, which is the best way to see the restored film today, with a superior audio mix and the excellent picture quality we've come to expect.

As a film, ST:TMP is not so much about its characters and personalities as the later films are. Most of the supporting characters like Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov are pushed to the sidelines as they have often been and are rarely seen as individuals. McCoy lends his personality to the proceedings but doesn't hugely figure into the plot. The primary character arcs are for Kirk (regaining command of the Enterprise, which he lost in being kicked upstairs), Spock (whose failed attempts to purge his emotions in the Vulcan ritual of the Kolinahr reveal both his need for and torment by human emotions), and Decker (who finds himself relieved of command because Kirk pulled some Starfleet strings in his goal to regain his captaincy, and also realizing his feelings for Lt. Ilia are resurfacing).

The story revolves around an approaching, all-powerful alien spacecraft that calls itself V'Ger, shrouded in a huge expanse of clouds, which is on a direct course for Earth. The Enterprise must intercept it and solve its mystery.

More than anything else, ST:TMP has some awesome sights to see. As Trek films go, the tone of ST:TMP is much more in the vein of epic science fiction. There's a grandness and a greatness to the scope of the film, something beyond anything probably any of the other Trek films have strived for or reached. Yes, the film is slow-moving at times and maybe too preoccupied with its reverence for the launch of the redesigned Enterprise, but those are important aspects that make the film memorable. I've always considered ST:TMP to be somewhat underrated by fans and critics who write it off as a bore, because there is a real sci-fi story at its center.

The launch of the Enterprise, even if depicted with a healthy dose of sentimentality, is one of the highlights of the film and one of the most memorable sequences in the Trek canon. Even by today's standards, the special-effects shots of the Enterprise in drydock have rarely been matched in their pure scale, simplicity, and beauty. These days the focus is so much on diving straight into the story that admiring something as truly awesome as a nearly 1,000-foot-long starship is no longer something that can be given any sort of consideration; we simply take it for granted.

Similarly, the venture into V'Ger's cloud — an extended series of sequences that take the better part of the film's second half and go for long stretches with minimal dialog — make for marvelous, great-looking eye candy. The scale is simply awesome, as the Enterprise ventures deeper and deeper into the cloud. The interiors of V'Ger have a truly alien look to them, though they serve no apparent function. What this elaborate environment is supposed to be used for is beyond me, but it certainly looks good on film.

For the Director's Edition, certain special-effects scenes have been enhanced. Most noteworthy include the destruction of the asteroid inside the wormhole, some digital-matte exterior shots on Vulcan, and exterior CG shots of V'Ger's vessel orbiting and firing on Earth. All are good examples of enhancements that go far enough to be considered improvements over the original but without becoming the least bit obtrusive or distracting. (The exterior shots of the V'Ger ship, in fact, make what's happening clearer — and it's said that all the changes are based on original storyboard concepts that were not produced because of time or money.) The old and new shots match well, and only those familiar with the original scenes will notice the changes. (New CG work was done by Foundation Imaging.) If there's one net-result difference between special effects in the late 1970s versus the effects of today, it's one of clarity and crispness. The effects themselves hold up well; where you notice the difference is the clarity of CG shots over some (but not all) of the fuzzier old shots.

On the soundtrack, the most notable change — other than general clean-up work for a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix — is the removal of the incredibly annoying red alert alarm and replacing it with something less grating.

From a story perspective, ST:TMP — in any cut — is certainly flawed. It takes a long time for the story to get under way, with the first hour of the film establishing setup material that would be established in half the time if done today (or even in 5-10 minutes in First Contact). That's not a criticism so much as an observation. What is a criticism is how several of the scenes don't really seem all that necessary, like the tragic accident with the transporter or the too-many iterations of Kirk stepping on Decker's toes and Kirk's perception of vice versa.

The storyline itself relies less on plot and more on a few grand gestures that arise from a few basic underlying elements of the story. There's not much in terms of plotting or character analysis; it's more like a big secret being held until the revelation at the end. The one truly interesting character analysis is of Spock, as his plight to find personal meaning mirrors that of V'Ger's; neither can find meaning in pure logic and knowledge without an underlying emotional satisfaction in their pursuit of discovery. V'Ger is a wealth of knowledge but seeks out its creator to answer the one question that it cannot answer through all the information logged in its journey — the ages-old question, "Why am I here?"

The film's closing revelations are in the true spirit of real ideas, with that emphasis on seeking out new life and discovering amazing new things. The ending aspires to be a true, cerebral science-fiction conclusion — something that supposed "sci-fi" films rarely seem to attempt anymore. (Clearly, this is a film that owes far more to 2001: A Space Odyssey than to Star Wars.) It's unfortunate that the closing reflection dialog can't manage to say more about what has just transpired. The dialog seems too interested instead in saying, in an almost flippant tone, "the adventures of the Enterprise will continue." It's frustrating to arrive at revelation and have the characters brush it off so trivially. Also somewhat underwritten is the impetus for Decker's choice to merge with V'Ger — something that's okay but might've worked better if it had been earlier telegraphed by the screenplay through a better understanding of Decker.

What's remarkable about ST:TMP is that it's ultimately more about the journey than the destination. It creates this journey with big, bold images that are beautiful and memorable, and with a legendary score by Jerry Goldsmith that cues our emotions in all the right places, from the bold grandness of the first sight of the Enterprise to the haunting mysteriousness of V'Ger that stands in front of us.

The film is not always fully engaging and is not intended to be exciting. It features some ho-hum plot elements and some crises that seem tacked on. But through its slowly building mystery, it's certainly a worthwhile Trek film on its merits, totally apart from the fact that its existence paved the way for the franchise as it has progressed for the 22 years since. Now on DVD, re-edited to play at a slightly better pace, removing scenes that were distracting or unnecessary in the 1983 version, this film deserves to live a new life as a vital piece of the Star Trek canon. For those who follow the Trek franchise, I recommend it.

DVD notes: Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director's Edition is a two-disc set that includes three brief documentaries about ST:TMP and the new Director's Edition; commentary track featuring director Robert Wise, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and others; original theatrical trailers and TV spots; deleted scenes from the 1979 and 1983 versions; and storyboards.

Next: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Section Index

65 comments on this review

Adam - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 5:59pm (USA Central)
One word: BORING!
I usually agree with most of your reviews but i think you got it dead wrong with this one. TMP is 136 minutes of pretty special effects, that uncomfortable actors stare at and nothing much else happening in between. Its such a dull and lifeless film that it actually depresses me to watch it. I don't think there's anything bad or cheesy about it (apart those pyjama uniforms) nor is it the worst ST film but there is NOTHING of any interest in this film, NOTHING!
John - Sun, Jan 13, 2008 - 8:16pm (USA Central)
I've always loved this movie, but the DE is a vast improvement over the original cuts of the film. I genuinely don't understand how anyone could find this fascinating story "boring," unless they just don't possess the intellect to understand what is taking place on screen. I suppose some will always need big explosions and space battles to keep their little brains entertained. To me this movie has always been the most purely Trek film ever made.
Johnny - Sat, Feb 16, 2008 - 3:17pm (USA Central)
I´ve always liked TMP thou it wasn't my favorite, until i became more wiser and mature you began to understand the beauty of this film. After i saw the DE it has become my favorite Trek film and in my opinion most accurate Trek film that depicts, Roddenberry vision of the future.
p.s. good review
Jake - Sun, Feb 17, 2008 - 11:05am (USA Central)
I, overall, preferred the DE to the original cut. I especially liked how the moment where Decker & Ilia exchange smiles on the bridge was moved to another part of the film. The only complaint I have was that they changed the emergency alert sirens. They just sounded more goosebump-inducing to me in their original track.
Jason - Sat, May 31, 2008 - 9:54pm (USA Central)
Better than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and better than all TNG movies except First Contact. Not a particularly good movie, not a great representation of Star Trek as a whole. Lacks the feelings of camaraderie and humor that made the series so special, and that were recaptured in Star Treks II, III, and IV. Still, TMP is a beautiful film to watch on screen in many ways, and has a great soundtrack. The 1983 version with the 12 extra minutes of footage that premiered on television is my personal favorite version of this film.
Levi - Thu, Jun 5, 2008 - 9:33am (USA Central)
I used to rank this as the 2nd worst film, but having re-watched it and ST V back to back, I'm sorry to say it's the worst. It's just so damn boring, and what is with the verbatim recycling of the the Nomad story?! IT'S THE EXACT SAME STORY, right down to the carbon unit talk. Seriously, who greenlighted this? It's the nomad story stretched out for 2+ hours, with absolutely nothing interesting added. The opening scene is great, the next 20 minutes or so has points of interest, but once the enterprise launches it's a huge bore that adds nothing to the Star Trek canon. The chemistry and charm of TOS is completely absent here. If ever there was a sign that Rodenberry had become more of a detriment than an asset to Star Trek, this is it.
C.Davis - Thu, Jul 10, 2008 - 8:47am (USA Central)
Star trek is nothing but a politically correct series presenting a view of the future that people think may come true, but wont.
Star trek is 40 years old, this is the past and not the future,it is selling rece mixing to gullible people for special iinterests.
robgnow - Sun, Aug 3, 2008 - 6:13pm (USA Central)
I have to agree this is some pretty boring stuff to watch. I like the ideas, I like the participants, but....
In addition to the stretched-out-to-ridiculous introduction of the new Enterprise, we have too many scenes of actors just staring 'awed' at the viewscreen and count how many times Dr. McCoy enters from a turbo lift, looks around (sometimes with dialog, sometimes not) and then leaves the bridge again... the point of that?
The movie is good, I guess, in its themes, but it could have used a bit of pruning along the way.
Finally, it seems far more interested in the mechanics of ST (worship of the Enterprise, long shots of V'ger's interiors) rather than giving the needed time to the characters to 'show' how this experience is impacting them. Perhaps of countless shots of the bridge crew looking silently, there could have been some quiet dialog scenes expressing the wonderment and puzzlement over what the probe's intent may be.
The only emotionally satisfying scenes in the movie are between Spock and Kirk, especially in sickbay... for the length of the movie, this just isn't enough character-drama.
Decker and Ilia never captured my emotional interest nor did Decker/Kirk's after Decker countermands Kirk's orders to fire phasers at the asteroid and the immediate fallout of that.
And, of course, there's the old TOS problem of short-shrifting Uhura, Sulu and Chekov but I think even Bones gets shorted this time out.
Magnum Serpentine - Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - 12:53am (USA Central)
First of all, the directors cut is the worse cut I have ever seen. It is a Cut all right. They cut out the scene where we hear the name of the Klingon Ship. (This effects the story in my opinion) they leave all the ABC version out which thus makes this the 1979 film that 100% of the Trek Fans back then hated. Quite a lot of the film is left out which surprised me. As for the Abyss, I thought that was a very very good film. When I purchased Star Trek The Motion Picture, Directors cut, I had thought that they had left the 1983 version alone except to improve the graphics. I was dead wrong, they abandoned the better version ( 1983 ABC Television special edition) and rehashed a film that fans hated (1979 hack job version).

Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Directors Cut rates a 1/2 star. The 1983 Star Trek ABC Television Version rates 5 stars out of 5. I hope that Paramount wakes up and decides to re-release the 1983 ABC Television version.
Nate - Tue, Mar 31, 2009 - 2:18pm (USA Central)
Hey man,
I know you posted these reviews a few years ago, but, as a lifelong Trekkie, I spent this past weekend watching some of these films again (I grew up on the TOS ones), in anticipation of the new film next month. I came across your site today and, I have to say, FINALLY someone gets these movies! I've been sitting here reading over all your reviews of the Trek films, and, damn, this is the exact stuff I've been saying for years! No, TMP, while ponderous and a bit self-important, was not bad at all! Finally, someone gives SFS the credit it deserves as the perfectly solid and respectable entry that it was, rather than writing it off as bad just because it's "one of the odd-numbered ones" or because it looks a little bland next to WOK! Finally, someone else asks why Picard, in Generations, didn't just go farther back in time after leaving that energy ribbon and nip McDowall in the bud-- while still accurately maintaining that, for all it's myriad faults and contrivances, Generations was still enjoyable in a lot of ways. Pointing out that Shatner, at the end of the day, is actually a pretty talented, charismatic actor who has a tendency to overshoot at times, rather than simply writing him off as hammy ego-on-legs; pointing out that the last two TNG films, while relatively uninspired, were far from the atrocities people made them out to be (your analysis of them was especially acute, and, again, it's stuff I remember thinking almost verbatim when I first saw them!). Anyway, I could go on and on, but keep up the great work and I hope you'll write something on Star Trek XI.
Nate - Tue, Mar 31, 2009 - 3:52pm (USA Central)
Dude, okay, you even manage to accurately single out the decent moments in Star Trek V! As dissappointed as I was in that film--I rented it on VHS after missing it in the theaters when I was 11 and was almost reduced to tears by how bad and just...weird it was; it didn't feel like Trek--there were, nevertheless, I've always been embarrassed to admit, a few decent moments and you nailed them! McCoy's euthansia scene, for example. Kelley actually got a Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Nomination for that performance. I always thought that was so unfair and mean-spirited, especially since that was the only watchable scene in the film! Just getting lumped in, I guess...
Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, May 6, 2009 - 12:47am (USA Central)
I just rewatched this film (for the first time in the directors cut) and I was quite surprised, how beautiful it was. Until now, all that I had seen was the 1979 version on a bad videotape, so all the special effects were just endless series of blue stuff to me.

But now, in DVD quality, I really, really enjoyed the film. Those scenes where the Enterprise enters the Cloud: What a fantastic moment! The visuals, the grandious musical score!

It is true, that some of the later films were more directly thrilling and had more humour in them, but ST-TMP showed space as a really AWE-some place to be. And I found it quite good, seeing the Crew often just stare in wonder at the screen. One fault of the later films and series was that everything was commented and technobabbled on.

Great review!!!
Robert J. Sawyer - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 9:38pm (USA Central)
For those who remember that film as being simply bad and tedious — Star Trek: The Motionless Picture is what a lot of people called it at the time — I suggest you rent the new "Director's Edition" on DVD. ST:TMP is one of the most ambitious and interesting films about AI ever made, much more so than Steven Spielberg's more-recent film called AI, and it shines beautifully in this new cut.
whitepe - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 9:41pm (USA Central)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the first film in the Star Trek series, the most successful series in movie history. After all, the fact that a movie series can hold the public's interest for 21 years (and nine films) and that the whole Star Trek concept is alive and well after over 30 years says something about the genius of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator.

People seem to cricitize this film heavily. Some of the criticisms of the film that I have heard in my discussions with people include phrases such as "frightfully boring," "way too long," and "chronically lacking in action." However, if that is all you saw in the film, then you clearly missed out on the film's beauty. This film is not about guns, explosions, blood, or machismo. It is about the philosophical relationship between logic and emotion.

The film is masterfully directed by Robert Wise, the academy award winning director of "The Sound of Music." The film reunites the original cast of the Star Trek series with a few new faces ... Stephen Collins as "Capt. Decker" and Persis Khambata as "Lt. Ilia". It also recaps the events that have transpired in each original series character since the television series in the late 60's with a sensitivity to newcomers to the Star Trek universe. It effectively introduces newcomers to Star Trek without insulting the intelligence of those of us who are thoroughly familiar with Star Trek.

The plot features an intelligent, logical entity that calls itself VGER. VGER is an innocent entity with one mission ... "learn all that is learnable... transmit that information to the creator." VGER in its incredible journey has in essence gained knowledge that spans the very essence of the universe. VGER now has set a course for Earth in an attempt to share its knowledge with its creator. VGER believes that its creator is on Earth.

VGER becomes a threat to life on Earth when its destroys three Klignon vessels and a Federation space station with incredible destructive power. To counter this threat, Admiral Kirk takes command of the Enterprise and leads the Enterprise in an intriguing battle with this alien entity.

While battling this alien entity, Admiral Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew learn about the relationship between human logic and emotion. They explore philosophical issues such as "Is this all that I am?" and "Is there nothing more?". I believe Spock summarizes the quest for answers to these questions by his statement about two-thirds of the way into the film that indicates that "logic alone is not enough". They eventually learn to appreciate the unique attributes that make us human ... "our weaknesses ... and the drive that compels us to overcome them."

In conclusion, this film has a great plot, great special effects, and excellent music and cinematography. Definitely see it if you are truly interested in taking a philosophical journey into the essence of what makes us human.
Scott Fraser "A Likely Lad" - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
Star Trek The Motion Picture (TMP)is my favourite film in the entire series. It is interesting that this is the only visualisation of a lost period in Star Trek's fictional timeline. Consider, we have the original 5 year mission which was followed by this movie (not counting the animated series)there is then a 14 year gap, fictionally as it were in time from the end of TMP and The Wrath of Khan (TWOK). All the remaining films are set after each other leading up to the final mission of the original crew and Kirk's death. The period of time from the end of the 5 year mission to the beginning of TWOK is an immense source of speculation and interest for fans and scores of unofficial books have been set in this period.
TMP is divorced from the rest of Kirk's time in Trek through being set in this gap and provides just a small peek at this unknown period. The script was the original pilot proposal for a new series on TV called Star Trek Phase 2 and it's interesting to speculate which way Trek would have gone had this been the start of a new series rather than the first film.

The script itself was titled "In Thy Image" for the TV pilot project but was dropped when it was decided to adapt it to movie form, I do think the title The Motion Picture is boring and I wish they had kept the original title, it gives a better indication of things than TMP which could mean anything.
The film has been remastered and looks brilliant, but it has also been re-edited to quicken the pace and make the film seem a bit busier and faster, the selling point however is that some scenes and effects have been completely replaced, one of them is a breathtaking shot of the planet Vulcan with giant statues and ancient temples and blood red skies and mountains, it is worth the purchase of this disc for this alone. Sensational.
The soundtrack of TMP is something that has always stuck in my head from the day that I first saw this in 1979, it is possibly the best music ever used on Trek, but then what do you expect being composed by the genius that gave us the Jaws theme, Jerry Goldsmith. I will never forget his Ilia's overture, the Klingon theme that became so famous and of course the Enterprise music score. World class.

TMP is more in line with the way Gene Roddenberry originally envisaged the series, by being more thoughtful, intellegent and character-led than the more grand shoot-em-ups and big battles going off in space. Stories like The City on the Edge of Forver and The Inner Light are of much more interest to me than stories like The Best of Both Worlds and Scorpion.

The special features are to die for including such gems as a documentary on the aborted Phase 2 series with some super rare test footage of various elements, documentaries are also used to cover the film itself and the reimagining of thing. Theatrical and teaser trailers are included as are 16 quite substantial deleted scenes, and storyboard archives. Great stuff.

This film is not only my favourite Trek movie but rates very highly in my all-time list of all films, but I do have one gripe however. as much as I love this version of the movie I would have like to have been given the choice to watch the original theatrical version if I so choose, and it should have been an option on this disc. You can see all the original material that was changed in one of the extras, but this is not the same as having it integrated into the movie itself.

So there we are, not only the best Trek film but for the sheer quality of the special features the best DVD release of a Trek Film. Unmissable.
M. Evans - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 9:52pm (USA Central)
The first big screen Trek film often gets unfairly slated for being'dull, slow and ponderous', but there is actually a great deal to recommend about this film. Unlike any of the other Trek movies, or indeed the vast majority of science fiction films, The Motion Picture really does capture that sense of epic grandeur that I've only seen done in 2001 A Space Odyssey and has the most thought-provoking storyline and a feeling of awe-inspiring 'alienness' that is sadly lacking in any of the other entries in the series. For a film that is 30 years old, the special effects have dated remarkably well and most still look very impressive today. The realisation of the V'Ger craft is still awesome, and the sheer size of it, especially when you see the pin-head sized Enterprise flying through it really creates a sense of spectacle. The eerie sound effects and sweepingly majestic music score also add greatly to the overall impact. Where the film falls down is in it's pacing, it seems to take forever for the Enterprise to leave space dock and reach the alien craft, and the scene where Kirk and Scotty inspect the Enterprise just seems interminable. Then there's the characters themselves - there's very little engaging characterisation here, there seems to be none of the old magic between the main characters that was a highlight of the old series, Kirk seems dour and grumpy, and Spock is unnaturally cold and aloof. There is almost no humour or light moments in the fim and the whole film does come across as rather grim. The costumes for the crew are also very unattractive, with everyone sporting hideous beige or grey jumpsuits, and Kirk in a too-tight white T-shirt that he looks like he's about to burst out of. And Uhura has a horrible 70's afro that thankfully was never seen again after this. The sets for the enterprise don't look too good either, with everything being a depressing shade of beige and grey and too darkly lit. I think the best way to approach The Motion Picture is as an epic, thought-provoking Science fiction film in the 2001 tradition, and in this regard it is certainly very good, but it just feels like it hasn't really captured the feel or style of 'Star Trek' - that would be achieved with the following film.
This DVD is the 'Director's Edition' which basically adds a few improved special effects which integrate seemlessly with the original film and tightens up the slow pacing a bit, making this the definitive version.
Ben Gourlay - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 10:01pm (USA Central)
Many fans deride the slow pace of the film (it has been harshly dubbed The Motionless Picture), but I appreciate the slightly slower pace and over time it has become appreciated as somewhat of a ‘thinking mans’ sci-fi film, in the ilk of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Mark Bourne - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 10:07pm (USA Central)
A Wise Trek.

To some it is the best cinematic Trek of the bunch if only because it sets out to be something more than noisy Space Opera.
John Kenneth Muir - Fri, May 22, 2009 - 10:28pm (USA Central)
It is likely you've heard all the derogatory titles for the film too, from The Motionless Picture, to Spockalypse Now, to Where Nomad Has Gone Before (a reference to the episode "The Changeling.")

Conventional wisdom, however, isn't always right. Among its many fine and enduring qualities, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is undeniably the most cinematic of the Trek movie series in scope and visualization.

And, on closer examination, the films features two very important elements that many critics insist it lacks: a deliberate, symbolic character arc (particularly in the case of Mr. Spock) and a valuable commentary on the co-existence/symbiosis of man with his technology.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture also re-invents the visual texture of the franchise, fully and authoritatively, transforming what Roddenberry himself once derided as "the Des Moines Holiday Inn" look of the sixties TV series for a post-Space:1999, post-Star Wars world.

The central narrative of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is clever and fascinating.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is often termed the film that saved Star Trek, and there may indeed be truth to that argument. Certainly, I love and admire that Nicholas Meyer film. However, consider just how much material present in later Star Trek originates directly from the re-invention of the franchise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
James Berardinelli - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 7:28am (USA Central)
The "idea" aspect of Star Trek - The Motion Picture is enhanced in Director's Edition. The film spends more time exploring those unique qualities that make human beings special, and the importance of tempering logic and knowledge with emotion. Spock's breakthrough comes when he embraces his human half instead of rejecting it. For V'ger to grow, it must find a way to move beyond the cold machine logic of its programming. To do that, V'ger wants to "join" with its creator, and, in this, the film illuminates our need to strive for new goals and seek to attain the previously unattainable. And, while Star Trek - The Motion Picture doesn't answer the questions of "Who am I? Why am I here?", it isn't afraid to ask them.
Gary Westfahl - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 9:18am (USA Central)
Wise creates one memorable sequence, a homage to David Bowman's journey through the Star Gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring Mr. Spock in a spacesuit venturing alone into the bowels of the enigmatic V'Ger and observing its bizarre phenomena. The scene briefly offers the disturbing message that Star Trek adventures otherwise labor to suppress: namely, that humans venturing into outer space are going to be lonely, vulnerable, and puzzled creatures. And these are all feelings that Robert Wise knows, and projects, extremely well.
Steve Crum - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 9:36am (USA Central)
Ponderously long, yes; but it was and still is a true movie event.
Luke Y. Thompson - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 9:37am (USA Central)
Often unfairly maligned because it's slow and contemplative, but has some real ideas behind it.
Moonwatcher - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 9:49am (USA Central)
Sorry about the possible confusion, but Robert Wise was the master and Nicholas Meyer the also-ran!
James O'Ehley - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 10:11am (USA Central)
It’s time to reclaim Star Trek - The Motion Picture as one of the best films in the series . . .

Here’s why:

The movie is good to simply look at. After all, the first special-effects team on Star Trek - The Motion Picture was fired, and the movie’s release was delayed a year while new effects were devised and photographed. The effects are brilliant. Eye-candy as critics pointed out, sure. However, in the process the Enterprise was updated to look like other spaceships we’ve already seen in 2001, Silent Running, Star Wars and Alien. Especially the alien spaceship which seems to stretch out into infinity is excellent.

The plot is only predictable in so far as it is prime Star Trek stuff: the crew of the starship Enterprise confronts some kind of alien entity. At the end basic human values are affirmed. But the basic idea behind the picture - of the alien entity asking very much the same questions we humans are - is actually interesting stuff. When I first saw the film, it reminded me of Arthur Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama novel.

There are enough in-jokes and references to keep any self-confessed trekkie happy.

I, for one, was just glad back in 1979 to see the faces of the familiar Enterprise crew again. Little did I know that the film’s commercial success would ensure nine big screen outings, several spin-off television shows, you name it. Enough to keep any Star Trek fan happy . . .

Star Trek - The Motion Picture turns 20 next year. So how about it, Paramount? Bring this unacknowledged sci-fi classic back to the big screen - where it belongs!
Dale J. Nauertz - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 10:50am (USA Central)
The plot behind “ST: TMP” is very solid. A threatening cloud of energy is approaching Earth, destroying virtually every ship in its path. Kirk and the others have to stop it. But, of course, it’s not quite that easy. There’s something at the center of this energy cloud, you see, and it’s coming to Earth to find its creator. The plot moves steadily forward, throwing just enough twists at the audience to keep things interesting without getting convoluted. The threat has an urgency that actually works with the film’s pace (even when things ARE going slow, Kirk is the first one to get frustrated with by it) and takes away the “who cares?” element that hindered more than a couple episodes of the original series (at least for me). Also, Spock has a nice emotional payoff or two in this film which adds some frosting to this particular cake.

It’s a damn fine sci-fi film, FAR better than its mediocre reputation would suggest.
Ecks - Sat, May 23, 2009 - 10:54am (USA Central)
I do enjoy this film. I have to agree with hossrex on the conflict of the narrative, though; the film struggles between being deliberate and being plodding. That said, to me, “The Motion Picture” is everything that comprises the best of “Star Trek”. Perhaps it’s because my first major experience with “Star Trek” was “The Next Generation,” I feel that the true soul of Star Trek is in plots like these: labyrinthine ones that are comprised of futuristic dilemmas like sentient A. I., alien technologies and alien beings, and the resolution of conflict through the finding of peace (as opposed to Kahn’s “blow him up or be blown up”).
Q - Sun, May 24, 2009 - 6:10pm (USA Central)
Simple (Box Office) Statistics:

• "Star Trek: First Contact"-- $146 million.
• "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"--$139 million.
• "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home"--$133 million.
• "Star Trek Generations"--$120 million.
• "Star Trek: Insurrection"--$118 million.
• "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"--$97 million.
• "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"--$96.9 million.
• "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"--$87 million.
• "Star Trek Nemesis"--$67 million.
• "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"--$63 million.

After adjusting their takings for inflation, we have:

• "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"-- $398 million US dollars.
• "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home"-- $257 million.
• "Star Trek: First Contact"-- $244 million.
• "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"-- $237 million.
• "Star Trek: Generations"-- $206 million.
• "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"-- $186 million.
• "Star Trek: Insurrection"-- $180 million.
• "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"-- $165 million.
• "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"-- $127 million.
• "Star Trek: Nemesis"--$83 million.

Numbers Don't Lie: ST: TMP is simply the best.
411314 - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 8:36am (USA Central)
John said (in the second comment down from the top):

"I genuinely don't understand how anyone could find this fascinating story 'boring,' unless they just don't possess the intellect to understand what is taking place on screen. I suppose some will always need big explosions and space battles to keep their little brains entertained."

John, you know what I genuinely don't understand? Why people writing reviews on the net often feel the need to insult people who disagree with them. It's quite childish. Just because Adam criticized the film as boring doesn't mean he's an idiot. It simply means his tates are different from yours.
Levi - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 8:46am (USA Central)
Jesus enough with the fake reviews. That one idiot posted like 15 positive reviews of this shitty movie in one day.

STMP sucks ass. It's slow, ponderous, and boring, and it's a 100% recycle of the Changeling, yet it manages to be about 5% as fun.

No amount of alternym reviews changes that. Read Nimoy's book - he agrees with me and 90% of the other people who wasted 2.5 hours on this turkey.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 10:34am (USA Central)
Well, I mine was wether a fake nor an alternym review: I was REALLY quite thrilled by the Director's Cut! Yes, it's slow, yes, there are flaws, but it is a good movie!
karatasiospa - Wed, Jul 1, 2009 - 4:27am (USA Central)
Jammer your review is the first that does justice to this film (also R.Ebert's review). As for the disagremments about this movie i have to say only this:
if you like "2001" (that means idea driven, thought provoking science fiction) then you will like this one also.
If you like "Star Wars" (that means a movie to raise your adrenaline levels) then you will not like it. Personally i loved 2001 and i loved this one also.
Levi - Wed, Jul 1, 2009 - 8:52am (USA Central)
Seriously, will you idiots STOP comparing St1 to 2001!?
You are insane. 2001 is a masterpiece and it's enthralling. ST1 is empty garbage that makes a nice sleep aid if you are out of ambien. You people are completely delusional on this one.
karatasiospa - Tue, Jul 7, 2009 - 6:19am (USA Central)
To levi:
watch your tongue man. You have no right to call people idiots and insane becouse the like this movie. Noone said that it was as good as 2001 has been. We just said that it was good and real science fiction not the "star wars" kind of science fiction.If you want to tell us your arguments fine. Otherwise leave us alone.
PM - Wed, Aug 19, 2009 - 10:18am (USA Central)
"if you like "2001" (that means idea driven, thought provoking science fiction) then you will like this one also.
If you like "Star Wars" (that means a movie to raise your adrenaline levels) then you will not like it."

There's a problem with this statement in that it implies that you can't be idea-driven and adrenaline-raising. Though TMP is a gorgeous movie, even 30 years later, it is not a very good one. The Wrath of Khan is far more exciting but still manages to raise excellent questions on life & death and deliver solid character insights.
levi - Wed, Aug 19, 2009 - 10:29am (USA Central)
Exactly - comments like that imply that if you don't enjoy TMP, you are somehow not on the intellectual level of films like it and 2001. It's hogwash - the only thing TMP has in common with 2001 is that it's long.
Zarm - Thu, Dec 3, 2009 - 10:57am (USA Central)
I have to agree with the masses on this one; TMP is boring, long, and poorly paced. On plot, it will never be a winner.

However, I have to agree with the majority of these comment reviews as well; the film is gorgeous. The model work offers a reality that CGI has yet to attain. The music is ethereal, majestic, triumphant; in a word, fantastic. And above all, this film instills the sense of awe that Star Trek rarely achieves; in this film, space feels like the Final Frontier and the business of exploring it feels like a great adventure; in other movies and series, space tends to be that incidental where the show happens to be set; there is no fanfare in the Enterprise gliding about it unless it has just bested an enemy. Here, everything is an event, a wonder- from the silent ballet of a Vulcan cruiser docking to the awesome, vast vistas of V'ger's interior. Things are not just encountered and swept aside to service the action- they are examined, explored- being in space, (the Enterprise's launch, a potent symbol of the Boldly going of which we often speak) encountering the very epitome of 'new life and new civilizations'- these thinks are treated as a big deal, and this movie gives the audience just a small sense of the wonder they might feel were they really there, in space, soaring through the stars- an experience they might well linger on, as well.

This film CELEBRATES the exploration of space, the Enterprise, the adventure- the long, lingering moments are a treasure, a rare sequence to stop and savor the majesty of what is happening, a pause to simply stop and wonder that you would never find in modern, fast-paced, impatient cinema. For me, at least, the long, lingering looks at the Enterprise in spacedock never bore because the music speaks of majesty and glory and, in concert with Kirk's expressions, a homecoming.

Star Trek: TMP is not a flawless picture. It is slow. But it is also a wonderful celebration of truly trekking across the stars that isn't afraid to stop and savor the moment, and for that, I love it.
Christopher Null and David Bezanson - Thu, Jan 28, 2010 - 1:23am (USA Central)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released at a time when sci-fi movies were expected to be long, sluggish, arty epics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Dune. To achieve the desired length and artiness, the producers of Star Trek: TMP hired director Robert Wise -- best known for overlong, dull classics like The Sound of Music -- and chose a script which was long on dialogue but short on action or character development.

All told, the movie is one of the few imitators of 2001: A Space Odyssey that achieves the same feeling of mystery and danger. Partly this is due to Goldsmith's excellent score; partly it is because the slow pacing and dark, gloomy sets succeed in conveying the slowness and suspense of space travel, as well as its emptiness.

So is Star Trek: The Motion Picture worth renting? Yes.
Will - Tue, Feb 23, 2010 - 3:08pm (USA Central)
Ugh. What an awful film. Seriously, I don't go in for sci-fi films with huge special effects and no plot easily, but this film was mind numbing. It was like staring at a rock for two hours. It was as bad as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, that film is bad. Just because it's influential doesn't make it good. It can't make up for having no plot and no good characters and just being so boring and trite and ridiculous, it's a wonder it's taken seriously today. The Motion Picture isn't quite as bad, but still pretty bad. A very poor entry to the franchise.
David - Tue, Mar 9, 2010 - 8:03am (USA Central)
It was always been my opinion that what was wrong with ST: TMP were the characters of Decker and that bald woman -- I forget her name. They detracted from the original characters. No one cared about them. If this movie had been about only the original characters everything would have changed, even if the plot did not. In addition, the reunion on screen of the original characters was, to say the least, underwhelming. The audience was waiting for this wonderful reunion, and Spock didn't even want to be there, and Kirk was grim and all business. Poorly conceived.
Nic - Thu, Apr 8, 2010 - 12:11pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with John - this is the most 'Star Trek' of all the films, and also the "most ambitious of all the Trek films" (to quote Robert Wise). Perhaps my opinion was better simply because I had barely seen the original series at that time, but for many years this was my favorite film of the franchise. Recently, I have come to see that it does have a few flaws (mostly in terms of characterization) which has lowered its raking a little, but it has cerebral elements that no other Trek film ever dared use, which I think is very sad. Is it as great a masterpiece as 2001? No, but it is a great film.

However, in response to Q's post, I would disagree that box office success equals film quality. TMP grossed more than the other films, not because it was the best but because of the anticipation of it being the first film, and the first live-action Star Trek story in 10 years. Not to mention this was 2 years after Star Wars renewed fan interest in epic sci-fi. The new film has the highest gross, even after inflation adjustments, but I have not heard a single Star Trek fan say it is the best in the series, either.
dp4m - Thu, Jun 3, 2010 - 8:48pm (USA Central)
I think that STTMP is easily the best of the Trek films from a sheer PLOT perspective. The magic of space exploration and the best elements of the future of humanity pictured for all to see. Plus, new bad-ass Klingons.

But the pacing just killed it.

If you cut out 45 minutes of exterior shots, you'd probably have a movie to rival TWOK.
Cryogenic - Thu, Jun 3, 2010 - 9:00pm (USA Central)
A visionary Science Fiction spectacle. Flawed in parts, perhaps, but all in all, a stirring journey into outer and inner space. The art direction is excellent, the photography bright and hopeful (though the split diopter shots are jarring), the effects work magnificent (for the time) and the score is spell-binding (by far, the best and most operatic treatment Star Trek ever got). The scripting and acting, while relatively spare, fit the aesthetic and aims of the picture. Although a chief criticism of this film is that the characters get lost, I'd argue that the film is deliberately using them to expand and reflect its grand themes - and what interactions that do occur are intelligent and absorbing. You can sense Robert Wise, a true cinematic master, at work throughout this film. The sheer audacity of this project - the concept, the budget and Robert bloomin' Wise! - astounds me. It's particularly impressive considering the catalyst for it was Star Wars. Therefore, next time someone says that Star Wars is to blame for ushering in one mindless blockbuster after another, bring this film into the conversation and remind them that it wasn't always so. ST:TMP really is a superb and lovingly crafted picture with things to say and inspire.
Mark A. Altman - Thu, Jun 3, 2010 - 9:22pm (USA Central)
It’s easy to see why people don’t love Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it’s a virtual remake of the episode “The Changeling” with the NOMAD probe that confuses Kirk as its creator, and has a glacial pace that today’s movie viewers are not accustomed to, especially watching it on television, and in the aftermath of The Wrath of Khan. But the fact is, in many ways, ST:TMP is a magnificent film. Spock faces his own humanity in a much more organic and real way than in a more recent Star Trek movie, Kirk has to come to terms with losing his ship and doing anything to reclaim his first best destiny and McCoy is just a hoot throughout. The redesign of all the ships, not just the Enterprise, have never been topped and the visual effects are quite simply awe-inspiring (take that, CGI). Although greenlit in the aftermath of Star Wars, ST: TMP owes far more of a thematic debt to 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sense of awe of the cosmos than Star Wars. And maybe that’s the key analogy. If you look at this year’s enjoyable re-invention and relaunch of the franchise, it’s a fast-paced, popcorn movie which bears the imprimatur of Star Wars far more than the Star Trek TV series, which makes sense, of course, if you’re trying to engage a new and younger audience for the franchise.

ST: TMP on the other hand, the last film in which Gene Roddenberry was allowed to be actively involved, has other things on its mind; combining its brand of pop humanism with the awe, majesty and danger of the unknown. But for the kid sitting in the theater in 1979, none of that mattered. Much like 1978s Superman, which is completely entrancing until after the helicopter rescue and then sort of falls off a cliff, ST: TMP is a rapturous tribute to Trekdom through Mr. Spock’s arrival…and then sort of falls of a cliff too. It’s easy to lose sight of what it was like the in the wake of the subsequent films and TV series, but seeing Starfleet Academy and Earth for the first time in the 23rd century was a giddy experience. The magnificent opening in which three Klingon ships are consumed by V’ger to the strains of Goldsmith’s brilliant Klingon Battle Theme stuck with you for weeks and, of course, the long, slow, lingering orgasmic glee on Kirk’s face as he, and the audience, admired the Enterprise in drydock for what seemed like forever. What seems interminable today on home video for was at the time the encapsulation of everything we felt about Star Trek and the amazement we had at seeing it back on the big screen and Andy Probert and Mike Minor’s redesign of the ship has never come close to being equaled. And in case of supreme irony, ST: TMP actually has the same ending as a James Bond movie. WTF? The same time, Moonraker, was released in which Roger Moore’s 007 goes into space and has destroy earth-imperiling globes that are going to annihilate all life on Earth, much like V’ger’s. Who woulda thunk it? (And if Trek was too heady for you at the time, you could ease on down the road to a nearby theater where The Black Hole was unspooling and watch Disney’s attempt to do Star Wars by sending Maximilian Schell to hell through a black hole. Or at least that’s what it appeared to be. I was too upset over the death of Slim
Pickens’ Old Bob to care at that point. And, yes, I’m kidding…sorta).
Jake - Tue, Jun 8, 2010 - 7:58pm (USA Central)
This from the guy who thinks that the ONLY problem with Star Trek V is the SFX.
Mark A. Altman - Wed, Jun 9, 2010 - 11:11am (USA Central)
I just want to say that I've learned the error of my ways & am now a big Janeway fan. Kate Mulgrew is such a hottie; she sets my phaser to stun every time I see her.
Latex Zebra - Mon, Jun 21, 2010 - 4:59am (USA Central)
Watched this for the first time in years again last night. Must have been the Directors Cut as there where a few scenes I didn't remember.
In a line - Long film is long!
Way too many exterior shots that drag the length out.
Too many unanswered questions regarding the probe itself. It's huge, how would you even build such a thing and in such a time scale for it [Voyager] to be found by the machine planet, build it a ship and then send it back!
One thing I would love to see, if it exists, is an exterior shot of the probe/ship as a whole.
Overall, I give it a 2 out of 4.
Jeff - Wed, Nov 30, 2011 - 10:50am (USA Central)
I feel TMP is underrated. Yes, it's slow moving and not action oriented, but there is so much here to enjoy.

First, I think this is the one TREK film out of all 11 which truly lives up to the "seek out new life, etc." mantra. The exploration of V'Ger's vessel, the encounter with the Ilia probe, Spock's spacewalk sequence all contribute to the crew of the Enterprise seeing something definitely new and alien.

And while the characterizations aren't as strong as in later films, for this story I feel it makes sense. Spock is attempting to purge emotion so he is going to come across as more cold and distant than he ever has before. Kirk's focus is on regaining the Enterprise and then learning along the way that he does have a lot to learn regarding how the refit Enterprise works. McCoy seems pretty much the same in his characterization.

Spock's story is the focal point, I feel, because this is where he finally learns the balance between logic and emotion. His open admittance of friendship with Kirk in ST II and his conversation with Valeris in ST VI state this lesson more clearly, but he learned the lesson in TMP and I'm glad that even though no specific mention is ever made to the events of this film in subsequent films/episodes his characterization carried through to the rest of his appearances.

My favorite color is blue so I don't mind the uniforms in this film. I do like the updated style from TOS although some of the uniform shirts look more like pajama tops and I've always thought the rank stripes were the best rank insignia design so it's good to see them one last time.

It's not perfect as a movie, but it feels like a true movie production with a sense of living up to the credo of the TV show opening.
RG - Wed, Feb 8, 2012 - 3:38am (USA Central)
I adore TMP. Yes it's slow-moving and pondering, but it's also fascinating. This is Star Trek as it was meant to be, and by far the purest representation of Gene Roddenberry's original vision. How many films conclude with the protagonists not only making peace with the villain, but with one of them even merging with him to travel the stars? I'd also like to point out that TMP is without a doubt Shatner's finest performance as James Kirk, and I was impressed how well he plays the unfulfilled admiral who yearns to captain a starship again, a character thread which is fleshed out in the subsequent films. I give this movie four stars easy.
Matthew - Fri, Apr 13, 2012 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
Oh my God Jammer. Thank you for cementing my opinion that you are one of the worst critics who has achieved success, and thank you to everyone who commented on this for proving what bad attitudes you have.

I have no problem that you liked the movie. If you did, great. What I do have a problem with is that you portray it as some kind of misunderstood masterpiece. WHAT BULLCRAP!

I hate 2001: A Space Odyssey with a passion that's hard to put into words, but Kubrick at least spouted some rubbish about how his film was supposed to be unintelligible, which at least makes the fact it's about something arguable. NOBODY SAID THAT ABOUT THIS MOVIE!!!!!

There are first hand reports from the cast and crew at all levels that this films was the RUSHED, SLOPPY, PRODUCTION DISASTER THAT MADE IT'S WAY ONTO THE SCREEN! DID YOU BOTHER READING BEHIND THE SCENES MATERIAL?!

There is EVIDENCE that this movie is about nothing. So to all you snotty nosed superior fans who tell me that this movie being a masterpiece is inarguable, I can definitively say you're complete jerks and are completely wrong. THIS. IS. CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!
Rhyan W - Tue, May 22, 2012 - 9:10pm (USA Central)
The film is only boring to Luddites who lack the capacity to pay attention to anything without CGI and big explosions for more than a few seconds at a time. TMP is a film for people that enjoy story, and there is quite a sci-fi space yarn in the film for those without the previously mentioned mental handicap. I'll wager the majority of those replying in the negative are of the "Justin Bieber" generation.
Matthew - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 6:31am (USA Central)
@Rhyan W thank you for proving me right.

What you've just said is exactly what I was talking about in my comment. My problem isn't that people like this movie it's that fans have this terrible attitude that anyone who doesn't like the movie is being anti-intellectual.

There is nothing intellectual about this movie and that's not just me saying that. There is actual PROOF given by people involved in the production that there was no story and that the film was the rushed production disaster you saw on screen.

If you like this movie, that's fine, but when you're ARGUING that it's a great, philosophical work you have to contend with FACTS. There's no great masteriece here, no work of genius. It's a sloppy production disaster.

You like the film, great. But seriously, I don't like your attitude, with all due respect. It's extremely obnoxious and won't endear you to anyone. Just because people worked out this film has no story, no characters and is quite possibly one of the biggest insults to Star Trek fans doesn't mean they're drooling idiots who only like 300 (which is a great movie, by the way, nothing wrong with that, it's just an example of what you're probably thinking).

Additionally, Leonard Nimoy said he hated this movie. Are you saying he suffers ADHD and loves Justin Bieber?
Rosario - Sat, Nov 10, 2012 - 10:45pm (USA Central)
Q gave the box office receipts higher up and while your conclusion that TMP was the best film of them is quite debatable I think you missed that your hard data also makes it look like Wrath of Khan did NOT save the franchise but Voyage Home did. A sci-fi comedy. Now isn't that something you don't want to consider? haha

This movie is ponderous but I like the idea it was built on. Just like I liked it in Changling. Could definitely have trimmed the "majesty" down by about 10 minutes and then cut out all the silly chest-beating between Kirk and Decker. That cuts off about 30 minutes right there.

I had just finished watching the entire original series and jumped right into this movie so, while this movie may be the most trekkian in it's ideals and message it was also extremely jarring to have all the characterization and interplay I was accustomed to, to suddenly be absent. This crew didn't act like old friends that have been through thick and thin together. Instead, they acted as if they hadn't talked in the 10 years since the end of their mission.

Jarring. Oh and Chekov screams. aaaaAAIIIEEE!
Q - Thu, Jan 3, 2013 - 4:33am (USA Central)
Ok... Maybe TMP's plot was improvisation but this movie is most artistic ST film, equall only to TWoK (TMP is visual masterpiece, when TWoK is rather narrative brilant). First is like a eccentric picture of modern painter, second - like postmodern book full of interstructural allusions.

TMP is also first (at lasc second to "Doomsday Machine" and - maybe - "Balance of Terror") quality Trek, a worthy precedensor of TWoK, TNG "Yesterday's Enterprise" or "The Inner Ligt", DS9 "The Visitor" etc., and maybe closer to hard SF of them all, almost realistic. (TWoK, altough brilliant too, realistic isn't. And have these Santa Claus', ellegant, but stupid, uniforms.)

Next, TMP is one of really few Trek movies that's look cinematic (followed only by FC and Abrams' films).

ps. Maybe it will be kind of blaspemy for some of you, but I think that only two ST films really worth watching (and I saw all of them, many times) are TMP and TWoK. The rest of them have too much brain's hurting elements, even, partially very brillant TUC and visually impresive FC...
(And... I love 2OO1, but I love The Empire Strikes Back too. And I think, that one of Trek strenghts is that he may be siiliar to both of them, and dfferent of both of them, because Trek is really universal franchise: hard SF, social fiction, philosophic parable, mind blowing space opera, etc., etc.)
Q - Thu, Jan 3, 2013 - 4:55am (USA Central)
And one more thing... TMP and TWoK are compatibile oppositives. First seen in TMP Kirk's middle age crisis continues in TWoK. Also Spock's noble death in TWoK is logical ;) consequence of his V'Ger lesson. And godlike Genesis technology is best prove that "human adventure is just begins...".
Also great is matter of colors - TMP's blue vs. TWoK's red-and-orange. Water and fire. Yin and Yang. Brillant.

No other Trek movie is so artistic-and-clever. The're never try.

(But TVH, FC and '09 are enjoyable at last. And TUC is better of them and almost good - I love the final scene.)
Jack - Fri, Mar 8, 2013 - 7:03am (USA Central)
So, Kirk comes aboard, goes to the captain, says he is taking command and that the captain is degraded to the rank of commander. Right after that he tells him to go to his station. LOL.
T'Paul - Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - 9:34am (USA Central)
No one can deny that this is not the most zippy movie in town, but it definitely has its "ups".

Spock on Vulcan at the beginning, the relaunch of the Enterprise, to name just two.

There was also some real character interaction here, and I would argue it felt much more "futuristic" than some of the newer series and movies.

And like it or not, it was a "true" sci-fi story.

Relaunching Star Trek from a slightly bizarre series into a movie franchise was never going to be easy, and should never have been too action based or hurried...

I haven't seen the new director's cut, and I will, but I think that TMP really holds up to scrutiny, even after nearly 40 years.
Paul - Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - 10:27am (USA Central)
@T'Paul: TMP is too slow, but that's not really the biggest issue. The characterization in this movie feels off.
T'Paul - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 4:33pm (USA Central)
Perhaps so, but I feel more that they were simply getting back into the swing of things, remembering their old characters, establishing their new take on them in a movie and not TV environment - if we look at it from the actor's point of view.

If we look at the characters, I think the motivations are there... Spock and his personal searches, Kirk's being uncomfortable with his promotion, etc., etc.

Plus it seems that perhaps some parts of the story were chopped, that could have explained any such "anomalies".
K'Elvis - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
It's been years since I watched this movie. I'll always have a soft spot for it, because Star Trek coming back was a dream come true. I used to rush home from school to watch Star Trek reruns. The animated series certainly had its faults, but we were happy to have it because it was Star Trek. But getting the real thing back, that was something special.

It's a good movie, despite being very similar to Nomad, and being a little long. But sitting in that theater in 1979, people wanted every minute of Star Trek they could get. My father bought a VHS copy back around a 1980 or so, and paid $80 for it. I admit I'd rather rewatch The Wrath of Khan, but maybe it's time to give TMP another watch.
Dwane - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 2:17pm (USA Central)
I saw this film recently as it was the only TOS film I hadn't seen.

I wish I still hadn't, I HATE this film.

The characterization is way off (Everyone except Kirk is boring, and Kirk himself is a right prick), the effects aren't anything that great, the story wasn't interesting to me in the slightest, the music (aside from the theme) just blends together, the costumes are ridiculously bad (the Federation wearing pajamas) and worst of all, it's dull, boring and has nothing fun about it whatsoever.

I'd rather watch Star Trek 5 than watch this film again.
FutureDude - Mon, Mar 10, 2014 - 2:49pm (USA Central)
Clearly, producer Gene Roddenberry and director Robert Wise were creating their own vision of the future. With a story focused on amazing visuals and intellectual exploration, it’s more 2001 than Star Wars. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the least-liked movies in the Star Trek canon.
FutureDude - Wed, Mar 12, 2014 - 3:02am (USA Central)
I finally felt immersed in the 23rd Century when I watched the first Star Trek film. While I liked the design of the original Trek, it clearly was built on a shoestring budget. The Motion Picture was the most expensive movie ever made at the time — and it showed.

Huge sets. Amazing visual effects. The future imagined. I loved the dark corridors with lighting near the floor. The immense new engineering set with glass catwalks and open elevators. The sleek cool bridge and sickbay were clean and efficient looking.

I also liked the way that the outside and inside of the ship matched up. Seeing ships dock, and then understanding where the ports were in relation to everything else was so cool.

While most people like the other films in the Trek canon because of the acting and sense of camaraderie (and I agree on that), Star Trek: the Motion Picture is the only one with truly visionary design. It’s worth another look if only from that standpoint!
dgalvan - Thu, Mar 20, 2014 - 5:40pm (USA Central)
I grew up on TNG, and am just now watching TOS on Netflix.

I had seen TMP before, but it must have been over 20 years ago when I was a pre-teen, and I didn't really "get it" at the time.

Now watching TMP, having seen all of TNG and the first season of TOS, the first thing that struck me about this film was: the music! It's (what I thought was) the TNG theme song. But apparently, it never was the TNG theme song. It was the score from the first TMP, later re-applied to TNG!

Also, the interior design of the new enterprise (especially the engineering deck and the corridors) seems to me to be almost directly re-used for TNG!
Retrospeculative - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - 10:30pm (USA Central)
I have to disagree with the prevailing opinion; as science fiction, this is a much better film than The Wrath of Khan, which has some embarrassingly bad ham acting (in particular, from William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban).

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