Movie: "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Directed by: Robert Wise
Writing credits: Rodenberry, Foster, Livingston
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Plot: Kirk and the gang make the jump to the big screen, a little fatter than they used to be but nowhere near as fat as they will become. And they’re just in time for Kirk to mess up a sentient computer just like he did every other episode back in the day, except now he has a weave and there’s this bald Indian chick hanging around.
Review: You need to have a near pathologic appreciation of the yin yang of Trek’s awesome horribleness to love this film, but if you do, good lord, this lumbering, shambling behemoth slow motion bus plunge of a movie is adorable.
If you’ve never seen this movie, pack a lunch. IMDB says it’s two hours twelve minutes, but frankly that’s impossible. Because it feels like years, and that’s if you like it. Good God, the scene where Kirk gets shuttled to the Enterprise alone has to take at least sixth months.
It seems impossible this movie was directed by the great Robert Wise, it’s so very inept and off base. The whole thing is just too damn big. In attempting to make the Enterprise realistically large they made the interior shots seem like the cast was hanging out in the Port authority bus terminal. They meant to make the costumes seem more like uniforms an earth of the future might actually ask it’s Starfleet officer’s to wear they made everybody dress in grey and white pajamas. They spent a fortune on Special effects, didn’t like what they got, hired someone new and spent another fortune and were so sure what they got was good, the wanted you to look at it forever, as if they were making “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Nobody who ever liked Star Trek on TV thought it was majestic and awe inspiring. They thought it was fun, and smart and goofy and thought provoking and they wanted more, but I guarantee you, no Trekkie, no matter how dedicated, ever thought “What I want is an Enterprise that looks real, and then I just want to look at it for at least twenty minutes. And when they meet up with an energy cloud, I want to look at that for forty-five minutes at least. And if possible, it should feel longer.
But for all its creaky sluggishness, I loved this movie when I first saw it and I still do. As a kid, I’d just waited so damn long for more Trek. I’d watched the reruns with my Dad so many times I could recite entire scripts, I was starving for Kirk and Spock and Bones to do something new, something I didn’t know was coming. I wasn’t even that disappointed to find the plot was a rehashing of one of the TV episodes, I was just so happy to see them again. But you know, it’s more than that. Everything that the second attempt, “Wrath of Kahn” did right, this movie did wrong. It’s ponderous and cold and yet somehow it’s still great. Sure the shuttle flight takes a week and a half, but every time you think you’ll die of boredom look at the Enterprise just sitting there, the camera cuts back to Shatner’s great slab of a face working through a laundry list of emotions. You keep thinking at any moment you’ll see the Gremlin from “Nightmare at 20,000 feet” on one of the Nacelles. And then there’s that moment where Bones gets beamed aboard against his will, and he’s got this big fake Grizzly Adams beard, and Shatner says “Bones… I need you” and thrusts out his hand, and then waits and then pulls it back and does it again. It’s the god damndest acting choice, it’s wooden and weird and perfect somehow and nobody else would have done it. And then Nimoy gets there, and does his whole “I have no emotions” thing, and the whole cast is all put out like somehow they forgot he was a Vulcan since the last time they saw him and you get to see the whole bridge crew get all pissy and its so uncomfortable you have to love it. And Persis Khambatta gets to tell everyone she took a celibacy oath and later after she gets taken over by V’ger (SPOILER ALERT!! The Alien threat is actually Voyager and it came back all goosed up by some unknown race so now it’s sentient and so vastly intelligent it calls itself V’ger cause the word “Voyager” on it’s hull got partially smudged by space soot.) and calls everybody ‘Carbon Units’, which is right up there with ‘Norman, coordinate’ for clunky ass bad trek dialogue.
It’s just sweet is what it is, like the beloved Uncle with Aspergers giving a toast at a wedding, and it goes on forever and involves long drawn out analogies no one could possibly follow and you wish someone would just take the mike away from him but they don’t and every word he says makes you love him more in a sort of agonized, masochistic way.
If you want to take that feeling and multiply it, buy the novelization. Rodenberry wrote it because he hated how the screenwriters messed up his original story and wanted people to know what he’d intended. It makes the movie seem short, slick, comprehensible and less unintentionally homoerotic.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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