Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up, and discover they have been given the ... See full summary »
An alien phenomenon of unprecedented size and power is approaching Earth, destroying everything in its path. The only starship in range is the USS Enterprise--still in drydock after a major overhaul. As Captain Willard Decker readies his ship and his crew to face this menace, Admiral James T. Kirk arrives with orders to take command of the Enterprise and intercept the intruder. But it has been three years since Kirk last commanded the Enterprise on its historic five year mission... is he up to the task of saving the Earth? Written by
Gregory A. Sheets <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The TV series was to have three new regular characters. Paramount was concerned that William Shatner might ask for too much money to continue playing Kirk if the run of the series was extended beyond the initial order of 13 episodes; the character of Decker was created so that if Kirk had to be written out, Decker could become the series' new lead role. Decker was played in the movie by Stephen Collins. See more »
In the original version, Spock's first scene shows him squinting into bright sunshine - preceded by a reverse shot showing a dark sky. This error is corrected in the Director's Edition, with a new landscape and sky on Vulcan. See more »
I recently watched this movie for the first time in ten or fifteen years. When I was younger I thought this one was even worse than Star Trek V, because as bad as "The Final Frontier" was, at least it had some action and colour.
The version I just saw wasn't the new Director's Edition, just the old video, but I was still completely surprised by just about everything -- partly because I hadn't seen it in so long, and partly because it's so totally different from all the following Trek movies. I even kinda liked the silly space pajamas everyone wears.
After this, the movie series turned to action-oriented stories, a more militaristic look and feel, and infinitely less challenging concepts. True, the pacing of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" drags in parts, and the behavior of its stars is a little cold and stiff. But instead of treating us with space battles and phaser shootouts, it gives us long, loving shots of the newly revamped starship Enterprise, and instead of rather tawdry plots grounded in mundane reality, it takes us on a metaphysical voyage into an unknown, bizarre, and palpably huge alien device. The relationship of the three main characters has changed a little after several years apart, and they're each getting used to things all over again: Kirk has to deal with the unfamiliar new ship; Spock, after trying to purge his emotions, must confront his human half; and McCoy is "shanghaied" out of retirement for the trip. Decker and Ilia, the new characters, provide enough interest that they were virtually resurrected as Riker and Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The sense of scale is important. The cloud surrounding V'Ger is gigantic, and the ship at the heart of the cloud is a whole world to itself. The Enterprise must fly into the cloud and communicate with the ship, and it's the only time in any of the ten movies that the heroes actually confront something new and unknown. This was a staple of the original show, and some of the best episodes of the spin-off series. The subsequent films were content with setting their battles and chases in space, but "Star Trek I" actually wants to explore that space. The question at the centre of the film, posed by Spock, is "Is this all we are? Is there nothing more?" Kirk, Spock, and V'Ger are all searching for an answer to that question.
However, the thing that definitely drags the film down is the sound. The red alert blares every other minute, and mechanical computer voice-overs announce just about everything they possibly can. In the process of updating the ship, they've emphasized the computers and mechanics of the vessel in a way they never had before or since, and the effect is jarring and interesting at the same time. The Enterprise is much more of a physical ship traveling in space, and less of a device to facilitate storytelling.
The visual effects are amazing enough to warrant some digital cleaning, and the movie should be seen in widescreen, preferably on a large television.
It's too bad that this movie wasn't more of a success, because I would like to see more Star Trek in this style. After many years and many TV shows, I admit I've gotten a little tired of space battles.
UPDATE: I recently watched the Director's Edition DVD. The sound effects are fixed, and the film has been re-edited to tighten the pace ever so slightly. The changes made are not on the level of the Star Wars special editions, but they do make the movie more watchable. It's a little more coherent now, and I like it even more.
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