Star Trek: The Motion Picture Reviews
I've never been a huge Star Trek fan and never will be in all honesty. I did always enjoy the films with the original classic crew but never got into any of the TV series, especially the new stuff. I always preferred the Star Wars franchise for many reasons but mainly because it always looked so superior in virtually every department. This first Trek movie really does show the difference between the two franchises which both appeared in the same era, not taking anything away from Star Trek but it always did look more fake and plastic looking.
The effects in this first movie are a mixed bag really. The sequences towards the finale inside V'Ger don't look too bad (nice 2001-esque fantasy lighting effects), various spaceship shots look nice throughout and the costumes although drab don't age too badly. For the most part this film has aged badly if we're brutally honest about it, I don't wanna keep comparing it to Star Wars but there is a clear difference in quality which still stands to this day.
What I did always like about Trek was the way it tries to be realistic or at least approach things in a realistic fashion. I'm Not sure if they are merely homaging or copying '2001' but you can clearly see the influences in one sequence as we are treated to a grandiose panorama of the [i]Enterprise[/i] as she sits in her docking bay accompanied by a stirring Trek instrumental score. This epic approach is a far cry from the flashbang blaster fire and roaring starcruisers of a certain George Lucas affair. Star Trek is definitely aiming at the grown-ups here, the real sci-fi enthusiasts who name Kubrick's space opus as their holy bible...which Wise clearly did too.
I do like the way Wise gave the film a slow pace. Lots of character and background building alongside plenty of mission dialog and technical problems that might occur in reality for such a scenario. Its all classic Star Trek as you would remember from the original series but on a sexier scale with props that actually do look kinda real. In fact there's even more politically correct...goody two-shoes...prime directive...Federation type babble than you can wave a stick at, and Shatner loves his speeches.
The film was criticised for this slow unadventurous style but personally I like it, its one of the more realistic Trek movies offering exactly what you got with the original TV series...but prettier. I still to this day don't really understand why some folk (even Trek fans) don't like it. The main aspect of this film I like is the plot, yes the plot. Seems straight forward enough as the team are sent to intercept a mysterious alien phenomena heading towards earth, but I liked how the plot has its intriguing twist at the end. Again just like the classic show you get the danger and mystery with a cute little twist to keep you on your toes. Its not groundbreaking but it just makes you think a little, right up to the very end you're unsure what the hell will happen. How Kirk will save the day and what's the deal behind the alien cloud thing, that's good story telling right there methinks.
The continuity from the TV show to the big screen was handled well I thought although I'm no Trek expert. You have all the crew doing what they are best at of course, some new crews members (redshirt fodder perhaps?), plenty of well known typical Trek visuals and sounds, the crew handle most of the action from the ships bridge via the good old big screen on the wall and the [i]Enterprise[/i] looks slick with a bit of spit n polish to tart it up for the big screen.
Sure its not an in your face phaser fest with hand to hand fights against large lizard men but I for one thought the serious route was a good way to go. The film is more of an exploration adventure, it takes its time, slowly builds up, lots of space jargon...you don't know what their on about half the time but it just sounds good...I use my realism card again. It feels like a point n click strategic adventure game for your PC...I guess?
One of the oddest things when you think about it was the fact Wise directed this. You tend to remember Robert Wise for the Hollywood epics 'The Sound of Music' and 'West Side Story' which are two of the greatest musicals ever made probably. So its kinda funny to think he directed the first Star Trek movie, then again he did direct 'The Andromeda Strain' and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' so he did have some good sci-fi experience.
Overall the special effects look fuzzy in places, lots of beige colour schemes going on with the ship and crew, plenty of nasty bluescreen evident I'm afraid...but its still very enjoyable sci-fi. Star Trek has its own little niche of being semi-serious and approaching everything logically but still utilising just enough fantasy to make it a charming pleasant ride.
Even though this film is getting up there in years, the visual effects still look really cool. They were really impressive back in the day, and now have the distinction of having a cool datedness to them that doesn't actually work against the film. Aside from the drab uniforms (and no explanation for why they have the drab clothes), the art direction, set design, visual and sound designs, hell, all the technical stuff, is awesome. The music is damn phenomenal, too.
All in all, a mixed but decent movie. It's definitely striving for something unique and good, even if it doesn't quite get there all the way. If you are in the mood for atypical Trek, then perhaps you should give this a watch.
When a mysterious alien creature sets its sights on Earth, Captain Kirk, being the ruthless leader he is, just can't help but to take things in his own hands along with the help of some familiar faces (Spock, Bones, Uhura, etc.), and some new faces (Ilia, Decker, etc.). Will this be something such as a troublesome morphing creature, a device that swallows galaxies whole, or a simple Klingon invasion? Will it be a mission that just about anybody can solve or will it be so complicated that it requires things such as a Vulcan Mind Meld? There's only one way to find out!
"Star Trek - The Motion Picture" was made almost a year before I was born, so I never got the honor of seeing the original TV series or even this movie while they were showing for the first time. Nonetheless, I became addicted to watching Star Trek - The Original Series on the Sci-Fi channel, so I had to watch this movie.
I can imagine the thrills of the Star Trek fans that were watching this movie in the theatres. For the time (1979), "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" has some SPECTACULAR special effects! You'll see what I mean throughout the entire movie, especially in sequences such as what happens when the Enterprise goes into warp speed for the first time (in the movie). Just as impressive is the musical score and the sound effects. You'll hear an impressive echoing sound at times throughout the film and you'll also hear familiar pieces of music, along with some brand new ones. It's real easy to see why "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" was nominated for an award in both of those categories.
"Star Trek - The Motion Picture" is also done with style. Its plot is dynamic without being confusing or choppy, and the acting is also very well done. My only complaint with the movie's flow is that at times, certain scenes, such as when the Enterprise is on its path to V'Ger, seem to be pretty slow moving. In my opinion, these parts aren't boring; they give you more time to take in the dramatic visuals and for the suspense to take even more effect.
The makers and performers of "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" shot for the stars with all they had at the time, and I think they did a great job of making a classic film that will never be forgotten! While it might not be the VERY best movie in the galactic series, it was perfect for getting the series on its feet, or engines, and for showing the fans that the Enterprise and its crew had a great future ahead of them.
My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time that "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" was playing. There were times that my jaw dropped, even though the film is older than me. If you're a big fan of Star Trek - The Original Series, then don't take my word for it, purchase it for yourself and keep it dust-free in your collection! It's well worth it, to say the least. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2002. Awesomely underrated!
I don't remember seeing this in its theatrical form. The directors cut suffers from one thing: self important effects shots. Obviously the producers wanted to squeeze every penny out of its effects footage, so we get a ten minute shuttle run to the Enterprise. That damn ride lasted longer than an episode of the TV series. The effects are good, but to just show them off for the sake of showing them off is ridiculous. I know this was the post Star Wars world, but let's be serious. Give us some action. Cutting some of these scenes could have made the film forty minutes shorter and a tighter film instead of this trodding trek through space. The cast is typical with Shatner hamming it up as Shatner and the rest settling into the roles that they'll be stuck with until their dead and gone. The central premise is interesting once we get past the standard Star trek plot of something unknown destroying the universe. Once again, the pacing kills it. The film takes its time getting to the final resolution and wraps that up in a fraction of time. Disappointing.
But it is an enjoyable, too long film that opened the flood gates for the superior sequel that was scaled down and played tighter causing it to benefit. This film gets the shaft and deservedly so. It plays out more like a competition for the Hollywood space race after Star Wars. Every studio wanted to cash in and this was a great opportunity to dust off Star Trek. Thankfully the race died quick and producers went back to focusing a little bit on stories and not plastic models and lights.
Aesthetically, the DVD version shows you the best Star Trek: The Motion Picture can possibly look. Film is sharper; color is dead on however there is still a lot of film grain present unfortunately. My guess is they cleaned the original negative up as much as they could but it had deteriorated so much in storage, or was badly preserved. Certainly looks better than my bad pan/scanned VHS copy.
The DVD truly shines with its brand new sound mix. This isn't your standard stereo to 5.1 DVD conversions like they are doing for movies pre 5.1; they have gutted it up and added new stuff. The original release was so rushed that very little in terms of ambient sound and special effects audio elements were done on the sound mix amongst other production elements. For this DVD they went back to the original audiotapes and remixed them digitally.
Goldsmith's score sounded fantastic when it originally came out now sounds even better on the DVD version. It's tremendous, you will hear what your suppose to hear now with the added advantage of 5.1 surround sound. Goldsmith score truly has a chance to soar now by stretching into a clean high fidelity 5.1 environment rather than being squeezed onto a mono or stereo track. Bass kicks in often especially on big musical cues. You'll hear nifty panning and those surrounds and subwoofer will definitely get a workout. In instances they isolate different parts of the orchestra through different speakers, mainly the bass and percussion.
Most onstage dialog was re-recorded afterwards because of onstage noise due to mechanical devices etc; this is now common practice in the industry. The result is cleaner dialog that comes prominently out of your center speaker. The dialog audio is good, but on occasion it shows a mild muffled and tinny quality probably due to age of material or analog technology of the time, nevertheless I guarantee you, the average viewer will like it, I'm just being picky. In short the movie will sound almost as good as if the movie was made recently.
Not only having rebuilt the original audio they have put in more surround elements, like ambient bridge noises and computer voices. Not sure why they changed the `Intruder Alert' voice, I don't mind but I guess it was because they rushed the sound mix in the 70's and chose that voice as a last minute thing. There are other elements that have been changed, for the better I would say.
The DVD contents have been remastered with Wise's overseeing. There are too many subtleties to comment on so shall briefly discuss a few. Before opening credits you are treated to Goldsmiths V'ger/Love theme, a nice touch. Then you hear the bombastic Star Trek Theme. Newly done credits over moving starfield.
First main new special effect is the Vulcan landscape, tilting from sky to the surface. Then cuts to a new matte painting of the beautiful orange sky. Originally Spock shields his eyes and in the reversal, not only is there no sun there is little sky visible. The new matte painting now fits in nicely.
San Francisco sequence has been redone, 3 new matte paintings that better show the futurized city, Golden Gate Bridge and a bigger shuttlebay.
When they get into V'Ger they encounter a weapon heading towards them that is suppose to dissipate, in the original it simply disappears instantly, now we see a new visual that shows it dissipating just before it hits the ship.
Later we see a probe heading towards the ship on the viewscreen and then through some hokey editing it appears on the bridge. This has been replaced with an improved FX shot showing the approach of the entity on an exterior shot.
A new 'Wing Walk' sequence. Breathtaking new CGI's that show the away-team walk from the hull to the V'Ger stage, some using the original live action shots. New FXs for the most part are based on original storyboards. They didn't go overboard with the effects which is good, Bob tells us that they made FX that they could only do in the 1970's, unlike Star Wars whom George Lucas went overkill on new FX when he redid his in the 1990's.
There are trims, some rearrangements of shots for the better. E.g. Ilia/Deckers exchange of looks, Kirk's `Oh My God', his second `Viewer Off.' I suspect they had to edit within Jerry's score, or have to also edit Jerry's score to accommodate the new editing, if so they have done it very well, I couldn't notice. Some lengthy scenes remain in its entirety, e.g. flying up to the enterprise, I don't blame them for not trimming them, some are sentimental.
The 2 DVD's come with a plethora of information. Audio commentaries by the director, 2 special effect's guys, an actor and the composer guide you through the director's edition. Text commentary by Okuda gives even more scene specific info. Disc 2 gives you most of the trims, deleted scenes from the TV and Theatrical release not used in the DVD version and an outtake of an abandoned visual effect. Plus 3 documentaries about the abandoned TV series ST:Phase II, Directors edition DVD and the movie itself. Plus advertisements/trailers plus storyboards.
A MUST BUY FOR FANS! You'll Love It!
I liked the story but we took forever to get into it and then it seemed to drag on a little more. We wrap up and I really get the feeling that the makers were going for a 2001 movie instead of the space adventure people wanted to see.
Reassmbled a good couple of years after the original series was canceled, James T. Kirk (William Shatner) reassumes command of the newly refurbished Enterprise from current Captain Will Decker (a much younger Stephen Collins of TV's "7th Heaven"), allegedly the son of the Commodore Matt Decker character played by William Windom in the "Doomsday Machine" episode of the old series. Why? Because there's a big ass alien cloud heading for Earth and destroying (or is it absorbing?) anything and everything that gets in its way (Klingon battle ships, Federation space stations, etc). Kirk is unhappy not being out there "hopping galaxies" so he uses this incident as a reason to take back his old ship and crew, sans Spock (Leonard Nimoy), which hurts Decker. Yep, Kirk's a man for the nostalgia of his glory days. After meeting an old flame of Decker, the humanoid Ilia (Persis Khimbata), getting caught in a worm hole and nearly being killed by an asteroid, Spock, who's on a soul search of his own, joins the gang and fixes up the Enterprise's last few bugs. From there, they get sucked into the cloud and embark on a dark, atmospheric, visually stunning and psychologically gut wrenching adventure of Paramount proportions.
The cast is good here, with Collins and Khimbata standing out as Decker and Ilia, respectively. Rather than present the audience with a big shoot 'em up adventure film, the writers have instead provided a more cerebral adventure, delving into feelings regarding how we view our existence and how some higher life form, in this case, the cloud that calls itself V'GER and seeks the "Creator", might view us. The film is in some peoples view a bit dull and dreary at times, lacking the panache of its sequels, I can see their point in a way but this is still a solid film, highlighted by what eventually became the theme for "the Next Generation" and some very impressive special effects.
This film was a rocky start to the the Trek film series but thankfully we got the next film which was the best of the Trek films.
The crew of Starfleet's most famous ship had been absent from screens for a full ten years by 1979, not counting the animated adventures. Ironically, given how many sci-fi fans nail their flags to the mast of either 'Star Trek' or 'Star Wars', it's George Lucas that Trekkers have to thank for the return of their beloved franchise. Thanks to the success of 'Star Wars' in 1977, sci-fi had returned to the mainstream on a scale not seen since the B-Movie craze of the fifties. Unlike that earlier decade, sci-fi was now big business, with movie producers eager to pump unprecedented amounts of money into what they hoped would be the next galactic blockbuster. If you owned a lunch-box in the late seventies, and indeed early eighties, chances were it featured 'Star Wars', 'Buck Rogers', 'Battlestar Galactica' or any other movie or TV sci-fi based franchise.
Paramount found themselves sitting on a potential gold-mine, owning the rights to the most popular genre TV show of all time. Earlier, in 1975, work had begun on bringing Trek to the big screen. Despite the efforts of a host of writers, including heavyweights like Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury, the studio couldn't settle on an engaging enough story and abandoned their plans in 1977, ironically just before the release of 'Star Wars'. Instead, they turned their focus on bringing the series back to the small screen, ordering work to begin on a pilot for 'Star Trek: Phase II'. The script for this T.V return, entitled 'In Thy Image' would ultimately form the basis of 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture'.
This is ultimately the film's weakness. The story is very grounded in T.V and would have satisfied as a two-part pilot in living rooms. For a movie arriving in the wake of the cinematic 'Star Wars', however, it's a huge anti-climax. Legendary director Robert Wise ('The Haunting', 'West Side Story', 'The Day the Earth Stood Still') does a fine job of making the film visually interesting but, as the crude old saying goes, "you can't polish a turd". Aside from the opening scenes of destruction and a great, though too close to comedic for some viewers, docking sequence which recalls '2001: A Space Odyssey', the film is stage-bound, (the stage in this case being the interior of the Enterprise).
For many fans, the best episodes of the series were often those which featured Kirk coming up against aliens on strange worlds. Kirk spends much of the running time of 'ST:TMP' essentially looking out a window. The relationship between Kirk, McCoy and Spock never gets to shine here the way it did so satisfyingly in the series. To put it simply, the film's just not a lot of fun. The greatest legacy of this first big-screen outing is probably Jerry Goldsmith's fantastic score. The movie opens with an overture, something not witnessed since the widescreen epics of the fifties and sixties, and the new theme would be re-used for 'The Next Generation'. Goldsmith's music, Douglas Trumbull's effects, and Wise's direction, lend the film an epic scale it ultimately struggles to live up to, thanks to its weak script. Thankfully, the sort of Trek movie fans were hoping for would arrive with the first sequel in 1982.