Star Trek : The Motion Picture (1979)
Do I consider myself a Trekkie?
Not really but yet…….. if I am it would only be in the universe of the original cast of Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley and company.
After a good twenty years I revisited the film that the fans demanded and falls under the category of an “odd number” in the series. For many fans the odds were never as good as the evens. Numbers 2,4 and 6 are generally regarded as better films then 1,3 and 5.
I do think there is some truth to that statement.
With the weight of director Robert Wise behind the camera, our disassembled crew reunites over the first half hour of a plot that could easily have fitted into a 50 minute episode in the original sixties series. That’s probably one of the biggest beefs many had with this film upon it’s original release. That and it goes for a philosophical story as opposed to an action story. I don’t believe I saw a phaser set on stun let alone kill the entire film. As a matter of fact I don’t think I even saw a phaser!
If we stick to the banter of the crew as they take the enterprise out of dry dock you’ll be sure to smile. Especially when DeForest Kelley makes his entrance as the cantankerous ship’s doctor “Bones” McCoy. And let’s not forget James Doohan as Scotty and his never ending problems with trying to keep the Enterprise sea worthy. Behind William Shatner, the crew on board are leading the starship towards an entity large in scope that is absorbing everything in it’s path. Earth appears to be next.
I must admit to liking the mystery of the film and just who or what is VGER. Thankfully our good Vulcan Spock essayed once again by Leonard Nimoy gave up his sabbatical on his home planet and rejoined the Enterprise where he was needed most. What would the scriptwriters do if they didn’t have the chance to inject some humor into the proceedings through the constant war of words between Nimoy and Kelley? Their banter was always one of the highlights of the original series.
I always had the feeling that this film was partly looked upon by Paramount as an opportunity to say,”look what we can do” in the effects department. This revisit did nothing to change that. It’s the main reason the film is over two hours in length. It’s not only a love-in for the fans to see their screen heroes back in action (though there is none) but to overwhelm us with some really well done space shots and light shows.
Joining the crew in this outing are Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta. Collins I always found a weak character and hard to warm up to. Seeing this as a kid years ago he was an easy mark to pick on. I still don’t like him in this film. As for our bald lady, Persis has the advantage of being an android of sorts so she gets to play the role in a one dimensional style which I suspect may have played to her strengths.
The “bald lady” had all the young boys tongues waving back in the day. As far as I can recall she was pretty much a first on camera sporting the Yul Brynner look.
Not seeing this film in quite some time, I didn’t find it played as slow as I recalled and I was amused to find myself saying a few of the lines right along with the crew. I surprised myself there as the words came back to me as if they were a nursery rhyme that I had recited as a kid. Truth is I probably had seen this sci-fi extravaganza a number of times upon it’s release into the home video market on VHS. Back when we rented three films and a machine for the weekend. Believe me, those three films would get worn out.
What prompted my revisit to the original crews first big screen outing?
Simple, I added an original 1979 movie poster to my collection recently. I just might be the envy of thousands of Trekkie fans across the Universe.