Thursday, May 30, 2013

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Directed by Robert Wise.
1979. Rated PG, 136 minutes.
DeForest Kelley
James Doohan
Walter Koenig
Nichelle Nichols
Stephen Collins
Persis Khambatta

Cpt. Kirk (Shatner), actually now an Admiral, re-assumes control of the USS Enterprise in order to stop a mysterious, enormous and extremely powerful cloud from destroying Earth. Honestly, Star Trek has never been so boring. However, to give it a few points in its favor you have to understand the circumstances under which this movie was made.

Of course, common knowledge is that  Star Trek was a late 1960s television series that was far more successful in syndication than its original run. So it was known that the show had a loyal following but not if that was enough to guarantee the movie would be a hit.

Two things were working against it. First, it had been roughly a decade since the show last aired an original episode; remember The Next Generation or any of the other ST spin-offs hadn't happened, yet. Not only was no one sure if the public really wanted new ST material, but how do you introduce it to new fans? Second, no one was remaking old TV shows into movies at the time. Conventional wisdom said that TV shows and their stars didn't translate well to theaters. All of this equals a movie meant to bring in new fans while appeasing hardcore Trekkies.

To accomplish this we get a plot that would be right at home on the TV series, but feels stretched thin here. We also get lots of iconic moments, themes, and lines rehashed for the big screen. This includes dramatic grand entrances for several of the most famous characters. And way too many lingering, loving shots of the Enterprise doing nothing. All of this makes the movie move sooooo s l o w. Its 136 minute runtime feels more like 136 hours.

For those new fans there's lots of special fx which look like a laser light show, at best. They've aged poorly, to say the least. In fact, the fx of the first two Star Wars movies, released in 1977 and 1980, respectively, have held up far better. All of this might be forgiven if it had just been more fun. Its the same trap that befell Superman Returns just a few years ago. It's so reverential of its source material that it strait-jackets itself into just giving praise to it without ever becoming a good ST experience.

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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