Star Trek The Motion Picture

Beauty shot

The Human Adventure is just beginning.

This years marks the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek The Motion Picture. A movie which took 10 years after the original series to get made.
Ever since the original series had gone off the air in 1969 there had been a lot of Talk about a proposed Movie. Gene Roddenberry had first considered the idea of doing a Prequel movie showing how these wonderful characters had met. But due to the extensive makeup that might be needed to make the actors look younger the idea wasn’t considered seriously. Although the concept of a prequel movie would come up again for Star Trek VI and a proposed TV series but wouldn’t be capitalized upon until JJ Abrams and Co came along.

Not only was a movie idea bounced around but a second TV series had been considered also instead of a Movie. After building the sets and writing a seasons worth of scripts the series was cancelled and a Movie was put into production. Though the film finally getting made might have been due to the success of Star Wars there is an obvious heavy influence from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in this movie, with minimal dialogue, effects and set design, the visual effects were worked on by Douglas Trumbull who also did the effects for “2001″. Syd Mead designed V’ger.

My first impression of the Motion Picture was thinking it something like Star Trek the musical…. One only need look at the introduction of the new Enterprise, taking 5 minutes with no dialogue. Or traveling through the inside of V’ger. The film seems to be too interested in showing how flashy it is, between the design, the special effects which are impressive but added some rather unnecessary scenes such as the Transporter malfunction and the ship being trapped in a wormhole. Too much emphasis is placed on showing how good everything looks.

Star Trek the Motion picture perhaps represents Gene Rodenberry’s closest vision of Star Trek. It’s the most thought provoking.We have an unknown force heading towards Earth looking for it’s creator. It’s God. It’s Man Vs. the concept of God. A very similar story appears in the original series episode “The Changeling” although the actual story was based on the unmade Phase II series pilot “In Thy Image”.
In Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek, Earth is Eden, Paradise. The glimpse we get of San Francisco is green with no cities in view, the idea was that cities would be underground and the land above would remain beautiful and untouched (note: for the Directors cut a CGI City replaced this vision of paradise).

More action could have been in this film. While we can applaud the fact that it avoids been just another space action film it needed a bit more of a balance between plot, action and characters. To quote Leonard Nimoy, “The first one derailed us, it didn’t do us any good”. There was ideas thrown about of V’ger sending out Klingon battle cruisers after the Enterprise inside the cloud which would have made some interesting action as we all love to see them spaceship battles.  Andrew Probert had even drawn a concept at the end of the movie for the Enterprise to be attacked and the saucer to separate. The actual toy commercial of the Enterprise released for this movie depicts this unused Saucer separation. It wouldn’t be until “Star Trek The Next Generation” that we would see Saucer separation on screen.

I can’t finish this review without talking about ‘the Ship’. One of the most Beautiful Starships of all time. The original design by Matt Jefferies was used as a basis by Andrew Probert for the refit which was essentially the same ship. From the first moment I saw her on screen myself along with Kirk fall in love and they sure do let us see her in all her glory with the bombastic Star Trek theme tune by Jerry Goldsmith that would be the iconic tune used in “Star Trek the next generation” and beyond. One great thing about this movie is that it has scale, you see Enterprise for the first time in Dock as Kirk and Scotty fly around in the shuttle and she has visible scale. She also lights up in the darkness of space for the first time adding to her beauty, with spot lights shining on her hull, and the deflector and nacelles turning blue when she hits warp.

If it’s one thing it does well ST:TMP gives Star Trek a very realistic feel.
There are 3 cuts of this movie, the original, a 2001 Directors DVD cut and an extended Cut released on Video and Television in 1983. Of the 3 I liked the extended video cut, even though it ’s the longest.

Favorite Quote: “We all create God in our own image.” – Commander Willard Decker

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