Welcome to the first review in my Star Trek movie season of blog posts. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I shall review all of the Star Trek feature films, from the very first to the very latest movie Into Darkness. To start us off though, we take a long trip back in time to 35 years ago (wow) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Originally meant as a reboot of the series called Phase II, Star Trek – The Motion Picture was released at a time when science fiction was making big waves in Hollywood with such films as Star Wars, Alien, The Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica all making late 70s arrivals. The technological age was upon us and screenwriters were really tapping into this market in a big way. Of course, the success of the original Star Trek series in the 60s gave this break into the movie world a good leg up for Captain Kirk and his crew with all the characters being so familiar.
**HERE BE THE SPOILER ALERT** – You have been warned!
The film opens with us on the bridge of one of three Klingon battle cruisers that is unceremoniously attacked by some kind of energy cloud instantly vapourising all of the Klingon vessels and their entire crews. Analysis from a nearby space station indicates that the cloud is on course for Earth, and newly promoted Admiral Kirk decides to take command of Enterprise (it being the only ship near enough to intercept the cloud) and try to discover what is at the heart of this cloud and how to stop it. The Enterprise’s current captain, Willard Decker, isn’t at all happy about the situation and makes his feelings known to Kirk and when Spock makes an unexpected return to his post as science officer, Decker’s character seems now completely redundant until the end of the movie when he sacrifices himself to prevent the alien craft – now identified as V’Ger – from attacking Earth.
Now until the latest film Into Darkness was released, The Motion Picture was in fact the longest Star Trek movie made, at 132 minutes. It seems like a lot longer. This film for me was extremely drawn out to make it last longer than any sort of plot had allowed for. One example of this is when Kirk first sees Enterprise for the first time and he and Dr McCoy are taking a “short flight” around the ship before docking. During which time I think we hear the new theme tune written by Jerry Goldsmith for about ten or twelve minutes solid and I found this a little tedious after a couple of minutes. That music would of course be re-used when the series was revamped and updated in 1987 with The Next Generation.
Of course, the reason for the lack of plot was because the writers were constantly arguing, re-writing, changing, discussing, and basically writing down stuff in the hopes that their pens would boldly go where they hadn’t gone before and actually find a story for an extended episode of the original series that was actually any good. It didn’t work. There was just far too much uncertainty about the direction the movie was taking, of trying to take and the message they were trying to convey. However, what did come out of this epic science fiction venture was the birth of a new movie franchise that simply would not have existed if it hadn’t been for this attempt at a science fiction blockbuster, even if in my opinion the movie itself failed. The box office didn’t agree with me and from its $35M budget, it made over $139M worldwide. It was certainly enough of a success to warrant another Star Trek movie and when the follow-up came three years later, they put the profit they had made to VERY good use.
Star Trek – The Motion Picture Stats
Budget – $35M
Worldwide Box Office – $139M
Film Length – 132 Minutes
Score On Rotten Tomatoes Review Site – 44%
IMDB Rating – 6.3
Smurfin’ The Web Rating – 2 Stars