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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

A movie directed by Robert Wise

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An Ambitious But Ultimately Modest Film

  • Jul 11, 2008
I've always enjoyed Star Trek. Although it was never quite my favorite science fiction series, I appreciated it for what it was and simply loved many of the characters and ideals that it gave life to. As I've gotten older, I've become most fond of the original series. I was very young when "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was released, and always seemed to just miss it when it was replayed on television. Having viewed most of the original series, I decided to pick the film up on DVD and give it a shot. What I saw was a drab, drawn out version of the colorful, often humorous series.

In this first film outing, an unknown alien force is making its way to Earth. On the way, it destroys Klingon and Federation ships. In an attempt to stop its progress and find out exactly what it is, Starfleet employs the Enterprise and her crew, headed up by Captain Decker (Stephen Collins, "Seventh Heaven"). Of course, the Enterprise without Captain Kirk (William Shatner)is like peanut butter without jelly, so Admiral Kirk boards the vessel per Starfleet and takes command. This opens up a brief but interesting divide between Kirk and Decker. It isn't until Kirk's conscious, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), arrives that this feud is settled. The rest of the gang is already aboard the Enterprise, excepting Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who does eventually join up with his old comrades. Along with Decker, a new addition to the crew is the Deltan, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who will play a key role later in the film.

As the Enterprise takes flight, the story of the unknown alien unfolds, and unlike most other science fiction stories set in space at that time, there is very little dogfighting between starships, hungry aliens or laser duels. Instead, there's a refreshing yet very "Star Trek" tale of a misdirected being looking for guidance. It's a wonderful story, but it's poorly executed.

In this DVD, the Director's Cut, Robert Wise takes Alan Dean Foster's epic story and draws it out to its limits. There are long sequences highlighting the vastness of space, the massive size of the alien entity, and even San Francisco Bay. Mind you, they are all very impressive to look at, but I feel as if some of them could have been a bit shorter. The team that dressed up this version of the film did many wonders with backdrops, sound fx and even the musical score. Perhaps the greatest improvements are those of the planet Vulcan, which looks simply brilliant in this film. The improvements, for the most part, are seamlessly tied into the 1979 film.

Jerry Goldsmith's score is brilliant. If any one thing keeps you from becoming too bored with this film, it's the music. Goldsmith masterfully captures the adventurous and epic feel of this film.

The cast do a decent job. While Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig are relegated to window dressing for the most part, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley do get a little more time to shine. As expected, Shatner and Nimoy are at the forefront of the film. Collins does an excellent job as the somewhat jilted Decker. Persis Khambatta proves that bald can be beautiful and she's simply a wonder to look at on the screen. Fans of the series will also note the presence of popular series regulars Majel Barrett (Dr. Chapel) and Grace Lee Whitney (Rand).

The special features on this film are very nice. Highlights include a brief documentary on the ups-and-downs of getting the film to the screen, a neat look at the development of the new fx for the Director's Cut, and scenes from the original film that were deleted or altered for this updated version. Also included are scenes from the TV release of the film that were not in the theatrical release. Other obligatory extras can also be found.

For true fans of the original series, this is sure to be a treat. It was very much welcomed when it was first released due to the fact that the series had been off the air for so long. I'm sure that lifetime fans will also appreciate the updates made to this film. However, when compared to the rest of the Star Trek films (including the TNG ones) and, most importantly, the original series, this film is merely a hint as to what great stories were to come. Recommended for fans of Star Trek, completionists who want all of the films in the series, and fans of smart sci-fi who don't necessarily need to see a blaster or dogfight every five minutes to keep them interested.

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More Star Trek: The Motion Picture reviews
review by . August 26, 2010
I can still remember the excitement I felt the first time I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture. As a child in the early '70s, I can recall being slightly bored when my older brothers watched Star Trek reruns on TV. But it didn't take long before I was hooked, too, and I followed the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew with avid fascination. Even as new science fiction adventures hit both the big and small screens, I remained loyal to Star Trek and creator Gene Roddenberry's …
Quick Tip by . May 16, 2010
Visually stunning movie that REALLY lags on with characters stunned by said effects. A little more action and editing could have helped.
review by . June 28, 2009
Spock travels through the alien vessel
Star Trek made a huge return in a big way at the end of the seventies with Star Trek: The Motion Picutre.  Talk for years about whether or not it was to be a TV series, to a made for TV movie to a movie and back again was abuzz and it wasn't until Star Wars came out that it was decided that it wil be a movie.  Star Trek was never bigger, with a reported 35 million dollar budget, a famous director Robert Wise at the helm and the whole cast back again with all new sets, costumes, …
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Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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About this movie


Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the first of six films that followed the events of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew.  However, TMP is considered to be the most boring of the Star Trek films and did not fair overly well with the Critics.

The Motion Picture marked the beginning of a long relationship betweenStar Trek and Jerry Goldsmith as this was the first Star Trek project he composed.
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