REVIEW: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Assignment: Trek begins new journey into time and space

Not that I am counting, but there are now 41 weeks until the release of Star Trek in theaters on May 8, 2009. Though that is a mere 287 days, it feels like an eternity. How is a lifelong fan to bide his time?

Today, I am launching a new series of reviews and features on The Film Frontier. Assignment: Trek invites you on a journey into time and space.

We will make stops in the future by looking ahead at the eleventh Star Trek film. We will also go into Star Trek‘s past by exploring the previous movies of 1979 to 2002. We will even make a stop or two in the Psychedelic 1960s to see the best and worst of classic Star Trek.

Who knows where we will end up?

Our human adventure begins today, with a look at Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Assignment: Trek
A Film Frontier special presentation

For our first Assignment: Trek journey, we set our Omni to December 7, 1979. This web site has gone back into time. . . .
Star Trek The Motion Picture
REVIEW: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Other than a short-lived cartoon series, Star Trek fans endured a ten-year drought between the airing of the final episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” on June 3, 1969, and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to theaters.

When a deadly probe of unknown origins threatens Earth, James Kirk (William Shatner) returns to command the newly refurbished Enterprise.

While the movie indeed reunites the entire original cast, it unfortunately presents Star Trek as a lifeless shell of the original.

All of the adventure, excitement, and fun are gone. Instead, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a sterile bore that feels more like a poor copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Trek.

The film’s one bright spot is the refit design of the Enterprise. She is beautiful and glorious. As much as I love her, though, an over four-minute, dialogue-less tour of the Enterprise‘s exterior set against composer Jerry Goldsmith’s sleepy score is too much even for me. Apparently intended as a set piece, the scene drags on mercilessly, much like the rest of this movie.

Though Vulcans are known for concealing their emotions, it is the humans of this film that seem to lack any feeling. Except for brief sparks, none of the characters ever seem alive. The crew spends most of their time gaping in near zombie-like fashion at the main viewer on the bridge.

Meanwhile, the audience is subjected to never-ending visual effects as the Enterprise slowly makes its way through the interior of the massive probe. The characters become incidental to the effects and whatever plot there is seems only an after thought.

While things finally begin to pick up a bit in the final act, where there are actually slight glimmers of the real Star Trek, it is not enough to save this disaster of a movie served up by producer Gene Roddenberry and director Robert Wise.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture ultimately fails on almost every level. Lacking the emotional heart of the television series, the movie is simply not entertaining. However, besides the debut of the refit Enterprise, the movie has one other redemption: the promise of more adventures to come.

Story: 1 (out of 10)
Performances: 2
Visual Style: 1
Effects: 7
Music: 2
Overall: 2