Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

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Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins, Majel Barrett, and Grace Lee Whitney.

Directed by: Robert Wise.


The film picks up after the original 60s TV show with the USS Enterprise undergoing some reappraising procedures while inEarth’s orbit, former Captain James T. Kirk is now an Admiral as well as the Chief of Starfleet Operations. The conflict in this film begins when a massive cloud of energy that’s housing a powerful alien life force is discovered to be on a course heading right for mother Earth, we are led to believe it is evil due to the fact that it destroys a few Klingon and Starfleet ships in the opening. And guess what? It’s the USS Enterprise’s lucky day as it is the closest ship to intercept this cloud. Not only do they need to intercept it, but they need to test the ship’s new transit systems while en-route.

Kirk is selected to take command of the Enterprise and this upsets Captain William Decker who was previously overseeing the refitting of the entire ship before this mess happened, so we need to listen to his whining and bickering throughout the entire film as well. Everything that could possibly go wrong with the ship’s new systems eventually does – The improperly calibrated warp engines accidentally open up an artificial wormhole, a science officer dies at the hands of a malfunctioning transporter, and the ship’s new weapons almost destroy the whole vessel itself. Once they finally intercept the alien cloud, they journey inside of it and remake the star-gate sequence from the end of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. 


*James T. Kirk (William Shatner): Captain of the Enterprise.

*Spock (Leonard Nimoy): Half-Vulcan and Half-Human science officer, also Kirk’s closest friend.

*Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly): Chief medical officer on the Enterprise.

*Montgomery Scott (James Doohan): Chief engineer on the Enterprise.

*Hikaru Sulu (George Takei): Helmsman on the Enterprise.

*Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig): Weapons officer on the Enterprise.

*Uhura (Nichelle Nichols): The Enterprise’s communications officer.

*Ilia (Persis Khambatta): The Enterprise’s Deltan navigator.

*William Decker (Stephen Collins): Initially the new Captain of the Enterprise until he’s replaced by the experienced Captain Kirk and starts whining like a big baby for the whole movie.


“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” is the first film in the “Star Trek” film franchise which spawned nine sequels and a prequel due out this year 2009. It had a very long development history in the 70s before it was released – A new TV show, sub-titled ‘Phase II’, conflicted with the production of this picture even though the big “Star Wars” sci-fi film fiesta exploded in the late 70s, that wasn’t enough to deter them. Eventually, they adapted the story partially from what was to be the script for one of Phase II’s firstepisodes called “In Thy Image”. Thankfully, they brought on an academy-award winning and experienced science fiction director on board, Robert Wise (“The Day The Earth Stood Still”, “The Andromeda Strain”).

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was fairly a financial success but it didn’t match up to the likes of other sci-fi pictures released during that period, but what it lacked in gross it certainly made up for with three academy award nominations. However, the brutal truth is that this first chapter in the franchise is a complete bore-fest that relies way too much on special effects for the bulk of the film. And instead of action sequences, we get extended reaction shots. The opening and closing are definitely strong, everything in between that simply looks pretty and that’s it. Thankfully, this was not the case for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), and thank God Captain William Decker didn’t make it out alive of this film.

Rating: **1/2


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