Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
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William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Stephen Collins, Persis Khambatta, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Mark Lenard
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Favorite Movie Quote: "I have successfully penetrated the V'ger orifice."
Labeled by some clever bastard many years ago as Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture, a somewhat accurate if unfair label, the original Trek flick was still under the guidance of concept creator Gene Roddenberry, and Starfleet was still a collection of star-hopping hippies who would sooner die than shoot anything first.
In this case the 'anything' is a massive energy cloud, at the heart of which is the unknown entity V'ger. The opening illustrates the shoot first, shoot second, then shoot some more Klingons are easily overwhelmed by V'ger, on a direct course for Earth. The only Federation ship within two days of Earth and V'ger apparently is the Enterprise captained by Decker (Stephen Collins), though he's quickly supplanted by a selfish Admiral Kirk (William Shatner), who drags McCoy (DeForest Kelly) out of retirement. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) also quickly rejoins the crew after leaving home having sensed V'ger, a "being of pure logic". What proceeds is the deliberate peeling away of V'ger's many layers - both physical and socially - as the Enterprise and her crew attempt to stop V'ger the only way they can - through understanding.
All fans of the Trek are aware of the series various conceits and memes that constantly seem to crop up in the shows and movies. To be fair, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was at the crest of the wave, but it's still kind of silly that the Enterprise and a crew of untested cadets is the only ship within two days of Earth. That would be like if the United States Navy had a single cruiser - in the middle of a retrofit no less - anchored at Norfolk, the central location for United States Atlantic fleet command.
There's also some awkward dialog moments, such as when the ship's navigator Ilia (Persus Khambatta) - from a race of bald virgins (I have no idea how that works) - first arrives on the bridge, Kirk's pimpness is so legendary that she feels the need to immediately remind him that she's taken a vow of celibacy. And let us not forget the requisite Kirk moments, "Dammit, Bones! I need you. I NEED you. Badly." Etc, etc, etc.
The core complaint that this flick is simply too slow and boring, I can't fully support, even if I can somewhat understand. Science fiction doesn't NEED to be slow and deliberate to be legit, but it does open moments of time for the audience to contemplate what is happening, has happened, and will happen.
In the case of this Trek, it posseses probably two signature 'long, boring moments', one when Kirk first comes aboard the Enterprise, and the second when the Enterprise first enters V'ger's energy cloud. Personally, neither of these moments bored me; the first is introducing the refitted Enterprise - really another character in the film if you think about it - and also showing Kirk's attachment to this inanimate technological object which parallels the whole V'ger/Decker connection later - and the second introduces the mystery of V'ger while ratcheting up the tension.
Could these scenes be a little trimmed down? I suppose so, but I don't want to hear anyone b*tching about this while singing the praises of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with longer space travel scenes THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FILM IN ANY WAY. People seemed to expect Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979 on the heels of Lucas' Star Wars, to be an action movie, something it was never intened to be.
I'm also aware of the sexual subtext of the film, but as a metaphor for life what do you have that's better than a big space vagina?
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is, however ironically enough, the film that most closely grasps Roddenberry's vision of the original show and his hopeful vision for mankind, the fundamental theme of Just Becaue You Don't Understand It Doesn't Mean You Should F*cking Kill It, which of course goes against man's natural inclination to Fight It Or F*ck It.
Directed by industry heavyweight Robert Wise (The Sound of Music), should Star Trek be a little tighter? Yes, but it's still an entertaining, thought-provoking science fiction film if you can stop sexting on your stupid Iphone for two hours.
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Jan 27, 2012 12:43 AM
|Couple of commentaries: Long, slowing boring scenes. STAR TREK, yes. 2001: a SPACE ODYSSEY, yes, but with MUCH better music. Second, Kubrick skims a script, then shoots what he wants to see. People unfortunately found that out with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and EYES WIDE SHUT. With Kubrick, the visual is all - to HELL with a comprehensive story line.|
Besides, trekkies were so ecstatic about finally getting a STAR TREK movie, Wise could have had two hours of the Enterprise soaring across the screen, and there wouldn't be a dry seat in the house!
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