This franchise is worth seeing on many levels. I don’t know how I missed seeing this franchise all these years. I think I’ve only seen an episode here or there of the TV show so I guess there wasn’t a real calling for me to see these when they came out. On Easter, there was a Star Trek marathon of sorts on TV and I managed to jump in halfway into Wrath of Khan (installment #2). Unfortunately, I missed #1, the marathon skipped #4, and I didn’t realize there was a #6 until I started writing this post. Ugh. I watched #1 last night…
The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek, The Motion Picture, based on the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Harold Livingston, directed by Robert Wise. The first in the franchise has Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) taking over The Star Ship Enterprise to investigate an “alien” ship with massive energy capabilities heading toward Earth.
Capt Decker (Stephen Collins) is the current Capt of the Enterprise until an “alien” endangers Earth causing Capt Kirk to take over the Star Ship for the mission. The crew aboard to help Capt Kirk includes Spock (Leonard Nimoy) a Vulcan who cannot tell a lie, Kirk’s best friend, and information station; Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) the ship’s doctor, Kirk’s #2 best friend, and voice of annoyance and sarcasm; Scotty (James Doohan) the ship’s engineer and beaming up master; Sulu (George Takei ) the ship’s driver and warp speed master; Chekov (Walter Koenig) the ship’s weapons master; Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) the ship’s communications master; and Dr. Chapel (Majel Barrett) the doctor who takes care of people while McCoy hangs out with Capt Kirk. The Enterprise and the crew set off and make their way into the alien energy blob all the while trying to figure out what or who it is. The closer they get, the more powerful the alien blog pulls them closer until it inserts itself into the bridge of the star ship and takes over the body of Lt. Ilia (Persis Khambatta) as a communication vessel. The “alien” being is V’ger and they want to speak to “their creator” which poses a dilemma as no one knows who V’ger’s creator is. V’ger threatens to blow up the Earth unless they get an answer and Capt. Kirk figures out a way to stall while getting closer to the actual V’ger and not the communicating vessel. Capt. Kirk and the crew learn V’ger is actually the deep space probe Voyager 6 supposedly launched hundreds of years earlier and was considered lost after it goes into a black hole. It was designed to collect and transmit data to Earth which is what it is finally trying to do except somehow it managed to “grow” a conscience. It’s BIG question is “What is the meaning of life” (in so many words). It has facts and data but wants to know if there is anything more to living. It wants more and it wants it NOW or else. Once Capt. Kirk and the crew figure out V’ger is really the lost Voyager 6 and determine how to answer it’s question and fulfill it’s need for more, the original Capt. Decker steps up to the plate and “becomes one with” Lt. Ilia (still the communicator for V’ger), Capt. Kirk and the crew make it back to The Enterprise, and all is well. The moral to this story is –feelings do matter and relationships are just as essential as facts and data. Aww. (All work and no play…)
What I liked
This film is beautiful. Space, in general, is a gorgeous landscape as the darkness provides a rich backdrop for the story. The alien energy blob consists of blue sound waves which seem enticing until you’re in there and a ball of energy fire attacks you. The rainbow colored warp speed was so comic book/animation style which I really liked even though a more monochromatic looking warp speed would have looked more distinguished. The alien ship is ENORMOUS and seems to be limitless as well as bottomless until they reach the core. The lights and attention to detail on the alien ship were so cool. At one point I thought it was built of insects as the exterior looked like an exoskeleton of some sort. The rainbow-ish effect with the slow-mo dialogue was a cool way to represent the distortion of going through a worm hole. The revelation of light as Decker and Ilia meld together was beautiful and gentle in the way it was executed. Speaking of Lt Ilia, wow, she’s bald and beautiful! Her smooth manner of speaking, I mean, no wonder Capt Decker was in love. I don’t normally mention the film card (poster) but this one is spectacular! I love the colors and boldness it gives.
What I Wished Was Better
This first installment was difficult to watch after seeing 2 through 5 first. It’s incredibly slow with little dialogue. The antagonist is an “alien” energy ship without people or aliens which makes for a somewhat boring experience. The majority of the film is watching Capt. Kirk and the crew looking out the viewer to see what’s coming up and what’s been left behind as they navigate through and around the “alien” energy blob. It’s gorgeous for sure and the detail is incredible but without some kind of high stakes (other than only having X amount of hours before the alien energy blob reaches Earth) or intense interaction, it left me somewhat wondering why anyone would commit 2 hours and 12 minutes to sit through it. I mean, early in the film, Scotty takes Capt. Kirk on an external tour of the Enterprise before they board which takes AT LEAST 3 to 5 minutes (felt like 20). The whole film is like that. The pacing is incredibly slow. The lack of dialogue. There are so many scenes of visual beauty but no dialogue. One of the things I love most about future installments is the amazing chemistry and dialogue. I missed it here.
Overall, despite the slow pacing and often boring moments, it is beautiful to watch and the overall moral to the story is solid and worth seeing Spock break his usual stoic character and laugh as he understands and accepts the significance of feelings or emotions. If it’s your introduction to the franchise, you’ll need to be reassured it gets WAY better in future installments. Available on Amazon Prime. Watch the trailer below: