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frenchie
Mon, May 29, 2017, 12:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

2273: A Star Trek Odyssey. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the very first Star Trek feature film made 10 years after the original TV series ended. After the show became even more popular during syndication on TV, and with Sci-Fi films such as 2001, Close Encounters and of course Star Wars being big box office business, a revival of the Star Trek franchise felt right. The first Star Trek film is very unique because unlike the more popular Wrath of Khan, it features almost no action sequences and it runs at a very slow, dreamlike pace. I would describe this as "deep" or "intellectual" Sci-Fi and it has a lot in common with Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece both visually and stylistically.

The Star Trek crew are reunited including Kirk, Spock, Checkov, Sulu, Uhura, McCoy and Scotty. Kirk is reunited with the beloved Enterprise in a grand revealing shot that slowly pans across the spaceship. It is a practically wordless 5 minute scene which shows the absolute awe on Shatner's face as he goes to board the ship, in what is a delightful scene. The famous score by Jerry Goldsmith fits incredibly well with the scene and it is a truly iconic Star Trek moment. The whole score to this film is just breathtaking. The only real drama in the film comes from Kirk and Commander Scott continuously clashing in a game of who knows the ship better (as Kirk has been away for 10 years but assumes command over the more experienced Scott). The crew go exploring a distant mysterious force in space called V'ger and it takes them almost the entire 2+ hour length of the film to get there and find out what it is. Yes you can say the plot is quite minimal and there isn't a lot of conflict and barely any action, but I found this rather refreshing and unique. A lot of Space Odyssey is devoid of action and drama, and yet it is still seen as a masterpiece because it actually explores the depth of space in a existential sense. Star Trek: TMP does a similar thing.

The best parts of this film are the hypnotic and trippy sequences where the ship travels through stargates. There is a lengthy scene in the middle of the film similar to the stargate sequence at the end of 2001. They go through a vortex of spiralling lights and colours that is just a delight to watch. It displays some of the very best visuals and practical effects you will ever see in a Sci-Fi film. In fact even modern Sci-Fi blockbusters wish they could look this good! It has this classic feel that you just don't see often enough, with a mixture of great models, and incredibly well worked camera and light placements that modern CGI just has no match for.

Star Trek: TMP does have a few negatives. The film length is a little too long considering how bare the plot is. It runs a little too slow and it has lots of wordless moments. I actually got on board with this and enjoyed this because the atmosphere is so good that it actually takes you on a trip. But fans of the more modern Star Trek films or Wrath of Khan will probably find this quite jarring and difficult to sit through. It is a purposely slow film. Also I was a little let down by the fact that you see Klingon's at the beginning of the film quite briefly. It felt like it was implying they would end up being the main villains, but this never materialises and the Klingon's aren't heard from again, so their place in the film is a bit pointless.

Otherwise, Star Trek: TMP really feels like it has really taken you on a trip through space. Rather than establish a strong storyline full of action and drama, it just reunites the brilliant characters and it is good enough just to see them all slightly older and interacting together once again. The film is driven by the characters, the visuals and the effects. It has a mood to it that is rarely seen in Sci-Fi and I actually applaud the film makers for attempting such an ambitious film. I also really like the sequel Wrath of Khan, but the two films are almost nothing alike stylistically as Wrath of Khan is fast paced and full of action and drama. TMP isn't as fondly remembered by fans, but I am glad that it exists because it is so different to the other Trek films I have seen and it is a little enigma, that feels more akin to the tone of the original series. If you want to feel like you have been on a real trip to space and want something similar to Space Odyssey or Silent Running, I would highly recommend this film. Don't look down on it too much because of its lack of action.
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