Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Stephen Collins
Directed by: Robert Wise
Written By: Harold Livingston
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 12 min
Out of the six films from the original TV series crew, The Motion Picture has to be the most visually stunning. It successfully moved the franchise to the movie screen, and attempted to build from the ideas introduced in the TV show. It also stands apart in the franchise in regards to production design, pacing and tone. The modern look for the Klingons was established here, and they tried changing out the iconic communicators with devices worn on the wrist, while also replacing the colorful uniforms. The interior of the Enterprise is completely re-imagined, and for the first time, we get a real sense of how big the ship actually is. Which is important when we later see how small the Enterprise is compared to the alien craft headed towards Earth. Oh yes, the larger movie sized budget was very good for Star Trek, and the success of this first film ensured the franchise had a future again.
The entire look and feel of the movie is epic, and the visual effects are still impressive. The scale of the story is impressive too, though the pace at which it’s told – is not. It’s a slow movie. The entire point of the Enterprise’s trip – to intercept a vast alien intelligence headed towards Earth – doesn’t even begin until the one hour mark! Before that, the movie spends an eternity doing very little character setup, but a lot of what can only be described as – Trek porn. Stuff for the hard core fans. Long panning shots of of the Enterprise to Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful score. Scotty reaffirming his man crush for Kirk. Bones playing the part of Kirk’s conscience. Spock blankly staring at everyone as they gush all over him. All good stuff, if (like me), you’re into Star Trek. If you’re not, you’re probably left wondering why they don’t get on with the story.
If you’re not into Star Trek, or science fiction in general, this isn’t the movie for you. It moves at a very slow pace. This one mainly works for the fans of the series. If you are willing to give it a try. Just be prepared for a slow, yet visually stunning journey. You also don’t have to be a huge fan of the series to understand how the characters related to each other, as The Motion Picture can stand on it’s own setup and story.
This is arguable the best looking of ALL the Star Trek movies – classic, and Next Generation, so if your local theater were screening it certainly try to catch that show. At home, a HD showing for sure. I watched the blu-ray from the original six film box set, and the quality was really good.
Best moment for me:
As I said, this is great looking film, and my favorite section has always been when the Enterprise enters the energy cloud that surrounds the alien ship. It’s absolutely stunning in HD.
References: Rotten Tomatoes
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek Vi: The Undiscovered Country (1991)