Looking back at Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Feature Stefan Mohamed 12 Jun 2014 - 06:32

Odd numbered Star Trek movies are rubbish, right? Stefan goes back to the beginning to check that assertion...

Writer’s log, supplemental. While conducting a routine re-watch of the original cinematic adaptations of Gene Rodenberry’s little-known but much-loved Star Wars homage, Star Trek (kind of like Firefly but with aliens instead of horses), some thoughts occurred regarding the first entry in the series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Critical readings of the film are mixed, as are fan reactions, and it is routinely paraded out as Exhibit A when making the case for the odd-numbered Star Trek films being rubbish. It is my suspicion that this consensus is fallacious, and I have decided see if there is in fact anything new to be said about a series of films that debuted all the way back in 1979, when racist dinosaurs ruled the airwaves with whiskey-soaked fists.

Before we begin, let me quickly present my personal Star Trek credentials. My favourite Trek series is DS9, followed closely by TNG. I love the original series’ crew (or at least the idea of them – I’ll explain later) but find it difficult to re-watch the series itself. I could probably offer a half-plausible defence of some of Voyager if you wanted me to, although I’d rather not. I thought Enterprise was naff. I thoroughly enjoyed JJ Abrams’ first reboot in 2009, and Into Darkness initially sneaked past my defences by employing the sly and devastating Cumberbatch manoeuvre.

I laugh at the majority of the jokes on Larp Trek, find Flirty Cardassian Waitress and Drinking Kanar With Damar to be hilarious comment section avatars, and am unreasonably in love with this video. Also, optimistic future, alien races, human condition, strange new worlds, SPACESHIPS, etc. If you take issue with my qualifications, please feel free to engage me in the comments section. I will then make it so you can have no objections. It’s my Number One priority. Um, tea, Earl Grey, hot.

So, speaking of tea, without further ado, let’s heat up some gagh, get a pitcher of Romulan ale (there may be a drinking game) and set phasers to “analyse”. Or just use a tricorder, you qoH.

He’s Kirk, Jim, but not as we know him

One of the strangest aspects of the film is its treatment of a certain James Tiberius Kirk. Imagine that you were bringing a seminal TV series back to life on the big screen, after over a decade off the air. Imagine that your main character was a smooth, heroic space adventurer who had previously punched, shagged and diplomacy’d his way around the galaxy saving people, planets and ships from mad computers, insane telepaths, cruel incorporeal entities and doomsday machines. How would you reintroduce him? Obviously you would paint him as stiff and out of touch, even out of his depth, bullying his way onto a ship that he doesn’t understand anymore, and making mostly poor decisions – when he can actually make them, of course, because often he’ll just look worried and freeze up. Wouldn’t you? Guys? Hello?

It’s supremely odd, but entirely typical of The Motion Picture’s approach, i.e. to heavily dial back the optimism, derring-do and even the colour (God, this film is so beige) that characterised the original series in favour of a sombre, doom-laden atmosphere. Understandable, perhaps, seeing as how the crew is dealing with a potentially Earth-annihilating threat, but it leaks into every aspect of the film; where once seeking out strange new worlds was an adventure, albeit one where you ran the risk of dying any number of horrible deaths depending on the colour of your jumper, here space travel is confusing and frightening. It’s hazardous. Before they’ve even left space dock (after several minutes of loving, gorgeously-realised, almost entirely gratuitous Enterprise porn) there has been a horrific transporter accident, and the closest thing the film has to a genuine action set-piece is a random encounter with an asteroid in a wormhole, which has nothing to do with the overall plot of the film and seems to have been included in order to show that a) space travel is really dangerous you guys, and b) that Kirk doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Now, a lack of action sequences is not inherently a bad thing, by any means – I’d take The Motion Picture’s long stretches of uneventful but ominous star trekking over Into Darkness’ hyperactive HEY LOOK ‘SPLOSIONS approach any day of the week. But it does highlight the main reason why I think people have trouble connecting with this film, which is that even with all the “space is dangerous” stuff, the main threat never feels particularly visceral. V’Ger is a hugely imposing creation, conceptually, and it’s a masterstroke having it effortlessly destroy a bunch of Klingon ships at the beginning (best way to make new enemy seem threatening – have it see off some established enemies), but apart from that early scene it’s generally a fairly abstract presence, an immense and ultimately unknowable mass. OK it burns Chekov's hand and threatens to destroy the Earth, but hey, who hasn't?

Thematically, however - and this is why I think The Motion Picture, for all its flaws, still holds water as a piece of serious science fiction - the antagonist's mysterious nature is in keeping with the depiction of space as a scary, fundamentally alien place. Until the end, V’Ger’s motives are entirely unknown; it’s a Big Dumb Object emerging from the void on a mission we don’t understand, which is a key SF trope, from Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama to – hey! – Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales. V’Ger is a very literal representation of the great unknown, of the strange new worlds and life forms that the Enterprise is assigned to seek out, and when its motives are finally revealed they turn out to be something that we do understand: the search for a creator. For a sense of belonging. To find out where one came from.

There are few endeavours more human than that, and it fits with Gene Rodenberry’s (some might say naively) humane approach to SF that our intrepid crew of heroes should triumph over the great unknown by exposing and appealing to its humanity. Arguably it’s a somewhat reductive, overly human-centric perspective, suggesting that even the weirdest, most foreign galactic beings will always have something in common with us (and it’s been done to death in Trek with Spock and Data particularly), but it’s basically well-meaning and, yes, optimistic. It represents striving for something better, for understanding, to explore and make friends rather than conquer everything, and there is a nobility to that which I find appealing, and sadly lacking from much of modern screen SF. It's so much richer, for example, than “this angry guy wants to blow up the Federation because of reasons”.

The human adventure is just beginning?

It is peculiar that this should be the main thematic thrust of the film, though, because humanity is so conspicuously lacking elsewhere. Kirk is aloof, distant and pensive, Spock even more so. Bones tries his best to bring a bit of humour to proceedings, but not much of it hits. The human interactions in the film are almost universally awkward, as though these people have no idea how to relate to one another. You rarely get the sense that they have been through a whole series of crazy adventures together, and the new characters are either indifferent towards Kirk (Ilia) or actively antagonistic (Decker).

The theme of rediscovering one’s humanity is also curiously under-developed, considering how bloody long the film is. It ties in with Spock’s arc, as his failure to complete the kolinahr ritual and purge his emotions drives him to seek out and understand V'Ger – although ultimately not a huge amount is made of this - but it doesn’t really gel with Kirk’s character progression, considering that he’s ostensibly the hero. What does Kirk learn? To listen to people? To accept his limitations? That’s a possible reading, but it’s not necessarily backed up by his actions – Kirk doesn’t exactly push himself to the limit here, and his obsessive desire to be back on board the Enterprise and chasing this latest galactic threat smacks more of arrogance and recapturing his youth rather than any real sense of duty. He gets a nice moment of levity at the end of the film when he tells Sulu to head ‘thataway’, with a vague wave of the hand, but it’s hard to know exactly what has been learned, or earned. Unless his ultimate aim was just to get rid of Decker entirely. Which it could have been, I guess.

So let’s talk about Decker, shall we?

Nah, let’s not.

Shields up

Now it might sound like I don’t like this film, but that’s not the case at all. I love Jerry Goldsmith’s stirring theme, later repurposed for Star Trek: The Next Generation, every note of which positively screams “boldly going”. The endless exterior shots of the beautifully re-designed Enterprise should be catnip to anybody who gets a visceral thrill from spaceships (i.e. anyone worth talking to). I even kind of like the fact that Kirk is out of his depth, clumsily executed as it is – it’s the type of unexpected character progression that few would attempt now, in case they irritated the focus groups. The idea of the lone probe heading out into the universe and coming back irrevocably changed is fascinating. Ultimately, though, I admire the film more than I like it. Its portentous, cerebral approach could have worked, but for my money this particular crew works best in a more plot-driven environment, because when there are lots of things going on, with plenty of planet-hopping and events rather than one stately, ominous voyage, you’re distracted from the fact that none of the characters – blasphemy alert – are terribly well-developed.

Red Letter Media’s review of Nu-Trek 2009, when discussing the crew, hit the nail on the head. Each has a few personality traits that define them (and, as the review notes, are sent into OVERDRIVE in the reboot) and character development is, at best, limited. Kirk ends up having something of an arc through the films – dealing with his age, for example, which is explored with a lot more delicacy in Wrath of Khan – but generally the characters are static. Bones is curmudgeonly and folksy, and cuts to the heart of things. Sulu is… noble, I suppose? Kinda? Spock is dry and logical. Uhura has a thing in her ear. Etc.

This is what I mean when I say I like the idea of the crew more than their reality – their various tics, quirks and quotes have become cultural touchstones, not just in the geek sphere but everywhere, to the extent that we feel we know them more than we actually do. We rarely get glimpses into their inner lives, largely because television in the 1960s was so different from what we’re used to now – there wasn’t anywhere near the same focus on continuity and character development. Even The Next Generation struggled with it, and while this isn’t such an issue in an episodic series, where there is an endless stream of events to carry the characters along, when it comes to a film you need more to hold on to.

Unfortunately, The Motion Picture’s glacial pace means that we need to focus our attentions elsewhere in order to find some emotional investment, and there’s little forthcoming. The characters, charming as they are, are ultimately cyphers, and the lack of humour in this film means that they’re as distant from us as they are from each other. Kirk and Spock overcoming their estrangement should be a major plot point, but it just kind of occurs, and is pretty much forgotten about, taking a backseat to the V’Ger crisis.

There could have been a lot of mileage in seeing the crew react to this latest threat, how it affects them emotionally and/or intellectually, but all we really get are lots and lots of extended shots in which they stare anxiously at the viewscreen. The film’s thematic concerns also don’t really marry up with any kind of emotional arc – the only person who gets anything approaching a resolution is Decker, and what’s his arc exactly? He gets stiffed by Kirk. He fancies an unknowable alien character. At the end, he gets to join with her and ascend to a new plane. It seems bizarre to focus all that heady stuff on a guy we’ve never seen before, and who is portrayed in direct opposition to the ‘hero’.

And yet... and yet. Despite myriad flaws, bizarre creative choices and a singular lack of dramatic inertia, I can’t bring myself to call the film a failure. My reasoning might not stand up, but it’s mine, damn it, and if I’ve learned one thing from Captain Kirk, it’s to trust your gut (except not in this film because his gut is mostly wrong in this film). I love what Star Trek: The Motion Picture represents. That it tried to do something weird, something different. That it tried to be a piece of serious SF, exploring big questions. It took chances that simply would not be taken with a franchise picture now, and while I won’t deny that subsequent entries are much more straightforwardly enjoyable, they are character-driven action flicks rather than pure SF. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is often compared with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and while in some ways that’s accurate, the comparison ultimately makes it even clearer that the crew of the Enterprise NCC-1701 was not the crew for this mission. Insert joke about TMP feeling like it actually depicts an entire five-year mission (or perhaps a TEN-YEAR one haha ROFL) here.

The Star Trek: The Motion Picture Drinking Game

(In which “a shot or drink” is represented as “one Kirk unit”)

Drink one Kirk unit every time:

The Ilia probe says “Kirk unit”.
Admiral Kirk seems unsure of what to do.
Decker corrects, contradicts or otherwise undermines Kirk.
Spock coldly gives one of his friends the brush-off.
You think (or say out loud) that a special effects sequence has gone on substantially longer than maybe is narratively justified.

Drink two Kirk units every time:

You think (or say out loud) that you thought this special effects sequence had gone on substantially longer than maybe is narratively justified a couple of minutes ago, but now they’re really taking the piss.

Drink three Kirk units whenever:

You feel any sense of warmth from any of the characters.

KLINGON DIFFICULTY LEVEL

Drink one Kirk unit every time:

Something is beige.

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Disqus - noscript

"You think (or say out loud) that you thought this special effects sequence had gone on substantially longer than maybe is narratively justified a couple of minutes ago, but now they’re really taking the piss." - genius!

Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Leonard Nimoy once - he, rightly so, expressed some disappointment over the film.

Robert Wise's 2001 restored director's cut of TMP is a much better representation of what they were attempting to achieve with the film but didn't have the time to complete back in the day, it turns a pretty *meh* film into a really rather good one.

For all it's flaws, TMP is a noble attempt at cerebral sci-fi, with big ideas alongside some genuinely breathtaking visuals that easily rival any film to date.

It is the motionless picture but for all the problems it has we can't underestimate the importance of the film within the larger Star Trek mythos. The original show had no budget so they made do with very little. The added budget of a big screen adaptation really made them establish how certain things like Vulcan and a warp core should look like and that's carried along the entire franchise. The Klingons also gets ridges that look weird now but still helped to establish what they would eventually become.

Why does every writer on this site feel the need to write about how much they love the show/game/film before they get on to the issue at hand. The typical reader does not know you & does not care if you love something. Why not illustrate your passion for the subject matter in the quality of your writing?

It's called adding context. It allows the reader to establish a potential common ground with the writer to see if their feelings on the subject at hand are likely to be similar or not.

I think with both cuts of TMP, pacing is the killer issue. To me, the film is much more a big-screen TOS than a part of the II-IV/beginning of Generations contiguous Holiness. Taken on that level - as a 2-hour TOS episode - all the famous tensions and rivalries behind the scenes seem to play a much larger part in defining the whole experience. Finally, they must have thought, a big-screen outing. Now's our change to do something more than the limited-by-ego bits we got for most of the series. But the characters and the premise are just so lovable that for Trek fans, it's still a good watch, standing on its own as a unique bridge between the TV series and the well-defined, hit-the-ground-running movies from II onwards.

(And the Abrams' stuff sucks donkey balls - forgettable throwaways, which we could laud as 'at least bringing new attention to Trek', but when that new attention is clearly the MTV-Multiplex generation, whose sticky, impatient gaze will be easily diverted back away from Trek with the next CGI blockbuster/girl's ass in a bikini, what kind of praise is that?)

I would also argue that on a site called Den of Geek, the establishment of a writer's 'geek credentials' before launching into a piece, is both necessary and expected. Especially with a beast like Star Trek. And quality of writing has nothing to do with passion - passionate writing can still be low quality.

for all it's (minor) problems i'd still rather watch the motion picture over the recent abrams abominations, and the star trek tng films for that matter

Drink one Kirk Unit every time McCoy enters or exits the bridge - which is pretty much every scene on the bridge!

The best thing about this movie is the Jerry Goldsmith score, The rest is irredeemably rubbish. Especially the Uniforms, they are hideous. The film is good example of what happens when Roddenberry got his way on things. A ten minute sequence of a spaceship docking

Every few years some trick of the mind convinces me that giving this film another go is a worthy endeavour. Wrong every time.

Best thing I've read on DoG for a long time and that's saying something given how good the stuff on here is.

A brilliant summing up of The Slow Motion Picture. As a kid I saw Khan first and then a few weeks later, this was on TV, I sat down and tried my best but after 45 minutes I checked out!

I've watched it couple of times and even bought the Wise directors cut, it's still a hard watch. I've got friends who enjoy Trek and they all refuse to rewatch TMP!

Star Trek is the most adult and realistic of all the films. Kirk is hopelessly out of his depth and a relic of a previous technological age, hardly understanding how the Enterprise works. Far more hard science than any of the other films the Enterprise crew look far more vulnerable. It's more enjoyable than Star Trek III (boring apart from the fight: I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!) Star Trek V (too silly) and the latter Star Trek Next Gen films (too dull).
Some great performanes. Shatner shows a side of Kirk we rarely see. Nimoy's uber Vulcan is wonderful and Kelly, well he's just so bones! I thought Decker was great too and the dynamic of having a character who so reminds Kirk of the young action man that he was I thought worked well.

Any idea why they all wander round in their PJs the whole time?

The main problem The Motion Picture has is that it was followed by Wrath of Khan, which everyone naturally stands it up against but which was a completely different kind of film.

''while I won’t deny that subsequent entries are much more
straightforwardly enjoyable, they are character-driven action flicks
rather than pure SF''

STIV - an action film?
STV?

Spock has a real character arc in the movie, as he realises that he cannot acheive Kolinhar – the purging of all emotion. Similarly, Vjur realises that in order to evolve, it must meld with a human, because logic and knowledge are not enough to answer the question ‘why am I here’.

I think the THREE major clustermucks in the film were the actors who played (1)Deckard, and that awful (2) Ilia woman....poor acting and poor writing all round.
The 3rd mistake was a dry script.
I'm all for sci fi taking itself seriously, but maybe not for so many long, pointless special effect long shots.
...and as for that ending with Deckard joining Ilia in V'jers consciousness....what a pile of unmitigated shite. Much like the first episode of ST TNG...and lets be honest...90% of the rest of ST TNG the series....and 99% of Voyager.
Thank god we still have Classic Trek, DS9 ( from Season 2 onwards ) and Enterprise ( Enterprise from end of Season 2 onwards that is ).
I realise JJ Abrams didn't like the "Trek" movies or series, and set about righting the wrongs ( as he saw them), but for me, he made two great fun, somewhat mindless, Trek movies that are infinitely more fun to watch as Trek movies when compared to some of the original Trek films. There are some fine older Trek Movies...2,4,6,First Contact & Nemesis.
Anyway....in conclusion...Star Trek The Motion Picture.....a potentially good movie buried under layers of crapulence, never to be watched ever again.

That ten minute docking sequence was a huge thrill at the time - almost literally the culmination of all our hopes and desires for Trek to live again. It was glorious! (but yeah, now you could see it as a 10 minute docking sequence :D)

You had me until you used Red Letter Media as a source.

I remember my reaction to the VGER reveal, blew my mind.

Coincidentally, I watched "The Emotionless Picture" (a.k.a. "Where Nomad Has Gone Before") just last weekend. It was the "Director's Cut", which has almost all of the original release, minus the odd shot here or re-assembled scene there. There are a few CGI tweaks that work very well and don't overwhelm the senses like the Star Wars re-releases. And it has a more judicious restoration of the deleted scenes that we got in "The Special Edition", because sometimes there's a reason a scene gets left on the cutting room floor. And thanks to DVD, you can zip past the mind (and bottom) numbing scenes of space stations, space docks, and space clouds on the viewscreen. Then it becomes one of the best movies of the entire Trek canon. It's no "Wrath of Khan", but it vaults above its usual dismissal as "just a little better than the fifth one." Hideous uniforms aside, I think it's aged much better than "ST4: The Wackiest Ship in Starfleet."

I actually like this movie a lot.
I am very young for a trekkie, I think (23) and of course I am terribly late to the party, but as I watched TMP for the first time, I could imagine the feeling of being there, in the cinema, years after the (TERRIBLE) end of TOS, and the feeling of wonder at that endless first look to the new Enterprise.
I also liked the main plot of the film a lot. I think there is a clear parallelism created between Kirk and Spock and Decker and Ilia/V'Ger that works really well (with or without a romantic reading). I like the feeling of strangement, which is only normal after years out of work for Kirk, and a sympton of how the strangement between the members of the triumvirate (Bones, Kirk and Spock) makes everything feel awkward.
The fact that Spock's rediscovery of humanity kind of solves itself so quickly doesn't bother me, because I see how it has been developed through V'Ger and his final scene in sickbay is just the point at which both storylines collide and end. It is also a very realistic moment of friendship, I think, because there are no questions and no reproaches, Kirk and Bones just take Spock back.
I think it is a beautiful movie. Not flawless, but solidly written and visually stunning. I never felt it as cold, in fact quite the opposite, I think it is pretty emotional. For me, it was. I cried at least twice while watching. It is slow as hell, but as I said, I enjoyed it because I could feel how it was kind of nice to wander around after YEARS without nothing new in the universe.

I also think that it was one of Shatner's best performances, subdued and deep.

Star Trek TMP Is very slow compared to future Trek movies, but I enjoy it. Kirk's flyby around the Enterprise to Jerry Goldsmith's now iconic score always gets me.

It's lazy writing. If you have passion for a subject then you can add context without alienating readers who don't care about the writer's personal experience. If you as a reader need to understand that someone who written an article about Star Trek may know what they are talking about witthin the first few paragraphs then fine. I'm interested in what he has to say, just not about his own experience as its irrelevant to the subject matter.

I
liked it. Well, the director's cut, anyway. I thought it was
intelligent, and I liked the little V'ger twist near the end. Sure,
Wrath of Khan is superior and way more fun, but this was a more cerebral
movie. Might have to give it another go this weekend...

"big ideas" and "breathtaking visuals" definitely. I can watch TMP for those 2 reasons alone

Not me: that docking scene (and the Enterprise leaving dock) *still* gives me a physical thrill. That beautiful ship and the fantastic Goldsmith score is worth any amount of beige jim-jams.

It's called "story development". It's ten years after the five year mission (or even, as some continuity nerds postulate, ten years after *two* five year missions).

Kirk lost his touch. Spock's been re-vulcanised. Heck, the only reasons the old crew are there are entirely nostalgic. The original Star Trek was as much about human drama as space oddities - and that's what the real story was about. The actual science fiction in The Motion Picture is tissue thin. For all its flaws, this is my favourite of the movies.

Despite all its flaws, this is the movie that gave us the single most beautiful spaceship ever seen on film or TV and the greatest of all great Jerry Goldsmith scores (the main theme is sensational, of course, but the V'Ger cues and the brilliant use of the blaster beam deserve just as much love). The effects are also sensational and still hold up today. To me the Director's Cut is a flawed but enjoyable experience, much better than the theatrical cut. I hope that cut makes it to blu ray at some point.

star trek 3 is a good film, it has some of the best character moments and action sequences in the whole of trek history, the escape from space dock is thrilling (mainly due to the incredible score) and seeing the enterprise self destruct is a truly moving moment, plus there's the first appearance of superbly modelled space dock, excelsior the now iconic klingon bird of prey

my only criticism would be that the daytime scenes on genesis should have been shot on location instead of on a set

"Welcome to the party, pal". (A Die Hard quote but in a different context). When I first got into Trek there was 3 series of original films, and 4 movies (1986/7). Next Gen was in production.
With such a small output, I was eager to cling-on (bad pun) to anything Trek. At such a young age (I was 9 at the time) I enjoyed the film for its mystery. The space shots were great too. As I got older, I fell out with the film in my teenage years, when we were spoilt for choice with TNG, DS9 and more films (alongside other space operas like Babylon 5).
When I was in my 20s, I rewatched it again and found new depth to it that I hadn't appreciated previously, most of which you've listed in your appraisal of the film. It's gone from me thinking it the worst of the original movies to actually placing it above The Voyage Home (largely due to some of the comedy in TVH falling flat on repeat viewings and the action being kind of dull).

I'm with Neurotic and BJBlackpool. I loved the docking scene. It was that sense of wonder that most films can't be bothered with these days. You had the scale of the ships thanks to the size of the models, and it was often balletic. On the big screen it looked stunning (on my projector, as Wrath of Khan is the earliest original Trek film I've seen at the cinema (and yes, everyone did shout "Khaaaannn!" at that moment)).
To the audience who'd only seen the original series special effects shots of the Enterprise, space stations and Klingon Battle Cruisers, this was worth taking time over to showcase the new look.

Sadly, the new FX in the DVD Director's Edition weren't future proofed and so weren't rendered for HD. The chance of Paramount putting up cash to redo them again is unlikely :-(

Great article, I never get bored of reading or wartching this film since seeing it at
The ABC in Carford in 1981.
I am entranced by this film, I have read everything possible on the film via the books available. The revision of scrpts between Gene Rodenburry and Harold Livingston show a production in turmoil with a Studio looking to pick up the $ after STAR WARS.

I like Star Trek 3, the story of sacrificing everything you have for your best friend is nice.
My problem with it isn't the sets or the acting, it's the point in which you realise there doesn't have to be a crew on a Starship, all you need is 5 people on the bridge.

saying 90% of tng is unmitigated shite is a sure fire way to invalidate your opinion, that and liking first contact and nemesis

scotty rigged the ship for automation which serves as a nice testament to his engineering ability however the system fails once the enterprise is hit by a single torpedo, this shows that although the enterprise can be automated by a gifted engineer it still very much requires a crew to operate
decent writing tbf

I don't know if I'd call it lazy writing (although I'm obviously a bit biased). A tad self-indulgent, maybe! But I don't think that a bit of personal information is entirely out of place in an opinion piece - especially if it's related to the subject matter. It's not an academic work, or a straight news article putting across a neutral perspective, it's my own thoughts on the film. And I think a bit of context, while not essential by any means, can be interesting, especially when you're about to discuss something with as broad and vocal a fandom as Star Trek.

Your mileage may vary, however!

But surely Mr Plinkett is one of the pre-eminent film scholars of our age?

Next Gen films dull?! You clearly haven't seen First Contact then.

I have always found this film a bit of a chore, though the most recent occasion I saw it I enjoyed it a little bit more (but it's still so slow...) I would however rather have this sort of Trek than the Trek of the recent reboot and it's sequel...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I enjoy this kind of thing a lot. As a new fan who is just half-way TNG after kind of rushing through TOS and its movies, I like to hear from those who have lived with the universe and the shows/movies for a while.

I am enjoying getting into this universe so much. I've found that most of the fans are really kind and open, which is not always the case when you are still getting started with something. They always seem to be open to new perspectives and they rarely act dismissive just because you are (to put it in some way) a "noob". Definitely one of the best experiences I've had discussing something on the internet.

I tend to have this on in the back ground whist I am doing other things. To me it showed when Roddenberry got his own way it wasn't very good. The films got better after he took a back seat. khan and the undiscovered country are my favourites. I'm glad they made it though we wouldn't have had TNG without it which to me is where Star Trek found its real groove. The reboots are entertaining action films but they don't really have the big ideas or the wide eyed wonder and optimism that makes Star Trek.....errr Star Trek.

I really love this film. It's got such ATMOSPHERE. Massively underrated.

I first saw this film in the cinema as a kid (and a big fan of Star Trek, which was being shown on TV at the time/shortly before - it was South Africa so it may not have been shown on TV before as we got TV quite late by comparison to the US and UK). Although I still remember loving seeing the ship etc on the screen (and being surpprised by the bald woman on the bridge), I've always found (and each time I try and rewatch it continue to find) the story and the film itself to be quite slow and dull. In fact, as time has gone on and I am less enthralled with special effects, I find much of the film to be overlong and this detracts from any interesting narrative it might have had. I suppose my main problem is that, in trying to be cerebral and avoid comparison to Star Wars, it actually isn't that true to the spirit of the Star Trek series that preceded it. Gone is the humour and the relationship at the centre of it, gone is the sense of fun and excitement. In fact, this film is far closer in tone and feel to an early TNG episode. This is perhaps no suprise given that the story for this film and some of those earky TNG seasons (certainly season 2) were based on the aborted relaunch of Star Trek. It is equally no suprise that those early TNG seasons are generally such joyless affairs and I have never felt the urge to buy any TNG DVDs before season 3. Sad as it is to say it, I do think that as time went on Roddenberry's vision for Star trek drifted away from what was represented by TOS and became quite poe faced and preachy; neither of which are great attributes for a film in my view. Thank the Lord for the Wrath of Khan - tighter, more interesting and exciting, and a film with heart.

that's an excellent explanation. I must re-watch ST3...

Despite its faults or in some cases because of them I do rather like TMP, far more than Treks 5, 7 and 9, yes the pacing is sloooooow, but Goldsmiths score is superb, the effects are impressive (if overlong) and its just great t remember seeing it at the cinema for the firat time back in 79 thinking 'Bloody hell, its Star Trek in the cinema' and it really is a film to be seen on the big screen, no matter how beige (god it is)!

Boring boring boring in fact it can bore right off

This is the only film of several hundred I have seen at the cinema that I fell asleep during, BORING BORING BORING.

I loved the opening scene with the Klingons vs. V'ger, and that music. And the scene with the refitted enterprise in the spacedock is still f*cking incredible, totally destroys all the insipid "CGI" garbage that is the standard fare today.

And part of what made Kirk Kirk was that he had his heart and brain guiding him. He couldn't get back to who he was until Spock had as well. 1, 3, 5 created the "odd = bad" meme because they were not as good as (or at least as well received as) 2 and 4, but 1 and 3 are both better than any TNG film but (arguably) First Contact and 6 is riddled with flaws.

It's like you scooped my opinions straight out of my brain

Yummy braaaainss!

Don't get your hopes up. There is only a snack's worth there

Best things come in small packages. :D

As discussed at length, STID is a whopping turd in turpentine of a movie, but let's not pretend it was the first Trek movie with nonsense contrivances in the narrative. V'Ger is three days away from earth and the Enterprise is the only ship in range? Really? It's the epicenter of the entire United Federation Of Planet. The home of the Starfleet armada! They have ONE unfinished ship hanging around in orbit.

'sake!

THE BLASTER BEAM!!!

Another vote for the Director's Cut over here.

Always enjoyed the film, but the new edit takes it to another level.

It ain't really Star Trek as we know it, but it's a very good sci-fi film.

I have problems with Wise's Directors cut. He cut the heart from the film by taking out the character interaction scenes from theextended cut that actually improved the film.

Fair call. "MTV generation" doesn't really cut it as a concept these days though. The MTV generation technically have kids of their own who are teenagers right about now...

Didnt they hire Asimov to come up with the story? I'm sure I read that somewhere, and it certainly explains why its more cerebral than most movie sci-fi.

Ha, yeah, that was a bit of lazy shorthand there, I will admit. I need to think about that one a bit. :D

Sorry, but I never buy the claims that "it was so boring I fell asleep when watching it". If you didn't like it, just say so, but don't lie.

As a 12 year old who had never seen Star Trek but had loved Star Wars a couple of years before to the extent of seeing it at the cinema 7 times in two weeks to see this terminally boring film with none of the fun, action or characters of Star Wars it WAS boring and I DID fall asleep.

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