Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) Poster

When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.


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  • Persis Khambatta in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

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25 May 2007 | MC1-Bjornson
7
| Star Trek: A Comotion About a Picture . . .
'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', originally released Friday, December 7th, 1979. - ORIGINAL Theatrical Version, 1979, Running Time 2hrs&12mn, Rated "G" by the MPAA - SPECIAL Extended Version, 1983, Running Time 2hrs&23mn, Rated "G" by the MPAA - The DIRECTOR's Edition, 2001, Running Time 2hrs&16mn, Rated "PG" by the MPAA - CONTENT for all three versions includes: Mild Adult Language, Mild Sexual Innuendo and Mild Violence.

My take *** (Out of ****) - or 7/10 on the IMDb Scale.

'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' is the big screen debut of the continuation of the science fiction television series 'Star Trek'. The show chronicled the adventures of the crew of the space-going USS Enterprise. The ship explored the galaxy during a historic five-year mission under the command of the charismatic Captain James T. Kirk. Other crew members included the logical first officer/science officer Spock, a half human/half Vulcan hybrid (Vulcans are an alien race, complete with pointed ears) and the passionate country doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy. The TV series ran on NBC from 1966 to 1969.

'Star Trek' takes place in the latter half of the 23rd Century. Mankind has formed alliances with many alien races from planets throughout the galaxy, collectively forming The United Federation of Planets. These societies thrive peacefully and continue to develop together and independently. To protect this Federation from hostiles and seek out new lifeforms and new civilizations is Starfleet. This organization is diplomatic and scientific, yet serves as a military force as needed.

The movie opens two & 1/2 years after the completion of the starship Enterprise's five year mission. The spaceship is orbiting Earth, in a dry-dock of sorts, completing a complex overhaul. The planet Earth is in the path of a potential destructive alien intruder. The now Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) doesn't have time to spare during this crisis. He takes a grade reduction to captain, wrestling command of the Enterprise away from a less experienced skipper (Stephen Collins), and sets out to counter the alien threat before it can reach Earth. Most of his original crew has been re-assembled for this undertaking. Shortly after Kirk & team embark to stop the intruder, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) joins them on their quest.

'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' trades in on the action, good drama, suspense and wit the TV series offered to a degree. Kirk & company are here pretty much for the ride, instead of being the leaders they're known as. The movie moves at a slow pace, gradually getting into the intricacies of the alien menace. There's a lot of time adoring spaceships as they travel through space. There's not much in the way of real character development.

Despite the compromises, 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' works on some level. It's interesting to see the familiar crew in action once again. There are some very fundamental questions asked in the movie that we all have asked ourselves. I found those questions to be intriguing. ST:TMP wants to be intellectual and it succeeds a lot of the time.

Jerry Goldsmith, the film's music composer, provides us with one of the most memorable scores in motion picture history. This is a huge plus for a movie noticeably deficient in personality. This lovely score helps to make up for that. The film almost plays like an elaborate special effects music video set to this grand rousing score. I appreciated the film on this level too.

The special effects by John Dykstra were highly imaginative for the late 1970s. They still hold up well over the decades and continue to enthrall me, especially with the mystery of the alien intruder. The intruder sound effects also succeed in giving me an appropriate sense of awe and dread.

The 2001 Director's Edition is the best version of the movie. The theatrical version was rushed to make the movie's scheduled release date. It was regarded by director Robert Wise as incomplete. 'The Director's Edition' restores Wise's planned vision for the movie. This version streamlines the pace of the movie, adds a little more depth to the characters and has the originally desired sound-mix and completed special effects restored for this edition.

'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' was followed by nine sequels to date and four new TV series. There is an eleventh movie currently in production.

'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' was a shaky start for the launch of the 'Star Trek' film series. It's better to simply except this picture for what it is, rather than for what it isn't. It's not a perfect movie, but it did what it set out to do. It invited me for a journey offering good special effects, a great music score and a beloved crew back on the job. The movie also gave me something to think about. It could have been a better movie, but it's still a marginally satisfying one. Though clearly not for everyone, I recommend it to those who would welcome the philosophical ride it offers.

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