Star Trek 50th Anniversary: Star Trek The Motion Picture

I loved Star Trek when I was a kid. Just loved it. I remember I made my mom take me to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the theatre and I bawled all the way home after Spock died.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary, I'm going to rewatch all the films and post my thoughts and observations. When I make it all the way through, I'll sum everthing up. 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Almost as soon as the series was cancelled, Roddenberry began lobbying Paramount for a feature film. Paramount didn’t agree until 1975, after the series did extremely well in syndication. However, despite a multitude of scripts being turned in, the studio passed on all of them before finally cancelling the project in 1977 with a plan to reboot the franchise with a new TV show.

That changed again when Close Encounters of the Third Kind ended up a box office hit. Paramount decided a feature film was the way to go. So the pilot episode for Star Trek: Phase II (An Alan Dean Foster script based on an idea by Gene Roddenberry) was rewritten into a feature film and then everything started speeding off the rails...

The script apparently went through constant revisions (hourly script updates on shooting days), the budget ballooned from $15 million to $46 million, and the movie was literally finished just days before it’s release.

And all of that shows.

I haven’t watched this first Star Trek movie in years, once I did, I quickly remembered why…

Things I liked:

  • The scope is huge. Whether it’s space or the Enterprise itself, you can really tell they were invested fully in showing you the Star Trek Universe as the writers always imagined it.
  • The only thing that matches the scope is the sense of awe.
  • Spock sensing the V’Ger consciousness across the gulf of space is awesome.
  • Kirk as the “man,” the symbol of authority.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The knockoff Star Wars opening with the camera panning across the Klingon ship.
  • I'm with Nicholas Meyer. The uniforms here are godawful. The 70's space hippie look dates that film worse than the special effects. (Though I swear Kirk is wearing what looks like a Fitbit in one scene).
  • Basic things that should almost never ever malfunction, malfunction.
  • Kirk being the authority figure is a wasted opportunity for character.
  • The pacing is terrible. Just absolutely terrible. I imagine the number one rule in production meetings being “Why let a scene take only 2 minutes, when we could drag it out for 15?”
  • The movie is boring. Absolutely boring. Lots of cold, philosophical dialogue and people standing around and looking at viewscreens.

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