Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
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Release Date: 7 December 1979

Director: Robert Wise
William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley
James Doohan
George Takei
Majel Barrett
Walter Koenig
Nichelle Nichols
Persis Khambatta
Stephen Collins
Grace Lee Whitney
Mark Lenard
Billy Van Zandt
Roger Aaron Brown
Gary Faga
Captain Kirk
Dr. McCoy
Dr. Chapel
Janice Rand
Klingon Captain
Alien Boy
Epsilon Technician
Airlock Technician
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Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion PictureDirector Robert Wise should have been wiser. The same goes for writer Alan Dean Foster and the film's producers. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a slow, tedious, and boring film. At least half of the film is comprised of effects shots. The other half is equally divided by dialog and scenes of the Enterprise crew staring at the viewing screen. The dialog in the screenplay must be 30 pages at best, including line spaces and scene directions.

Three years after the end of the famous 5-year mission of the Starship Enterprise and her crew commanded by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), drastic changes have taken place. Kirk has been promoted to the rank of Admiral and no longer commands a ship. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has returned to his home planet Vulcan to purge all human emotions and become a purely logical thinker. Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelly) has quietly retired. The remainder of the crew is busy refitting NCC-1701.

Starship Enterprise in drydock in Star Trek: The Motion PictureMeanwhile, three Klingon Birds of Prey encounter an immense alien ship. The Klingon ships are promptly destroyed. A Federation outpost along the Neutral Zone is also destroyed. The alien ship is traveling on a direct course towards Earth. On Vulcan, Spock is undergoing the final stages of the Kohlinahr to purge emotions, he is suddenly aware of a strange, powerful force of pure emotion. Spock is shaken by this encounter. He finds that being half Vulcan, half Human makes him the perfect conduit to communicate with the alien presence.

The Federation goes on full Red Alert! But their resources must be stretched thin. The Enterprise is the only ship in the galaxy that can rendezvous with the alien ship before it reaches Earth. To add tension to the story, Admiral Kirk exercises his rights and assumes command of the Enterprise from her current captain, Decker (Stephen Collins). Kirk demotes Decker to Science Officer, a post that is upset when Mr. Spock joins the Enterprise on his own mission of discovery.

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly staring at the view screen in Star Trek: The Motion PictureThe alien ship is so immense with multiple outer layers, the film spends about an hour showing just how massive the ship is. Director Wise decides the best way to keep the audience glued to the edge of their seats is to slow the pace of the film to dry-dock maneuvering thrusters. Wise cross-cuts exterior shots of the Enterprise approaching the massive complex with close-up shots of Captain Kirk and the crew blankly staring at the view screen.

When all is said and done, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a miserable rehashing of the classic "Nomad" episode from the television series. Here, the alien ship, calling itself V-Ger, is on a mission to discover all that is discoverable while on its journey to Earth. V-Ger sees all carbon-based life forms as parasites that must be destroyed. The Enterprise is infected with carbon units and must be cleansed.

William Shatner, Stephen Collins, and Leonard Nimoy staring at the view screen in Star Trek: The Motion PictureThe weak screenplay does not allow for the characters to do much other than stare open-mouthed at V-Ger. Mr. Spock's abilities to psychically link with V-Ger fills many of the plot holes in the film. One great line from Spock: The ship is wondering why we haven't responded? Thanks to Spock, Kirk discovers V-Ger is communicating very quickly, yet using the outmoded form of communication called radio.

DeForest Kelly provides the only spark in the film, and its over in about thirty seconds. McCoy complains that he is no longer in Starfleet with the response, "I was drafted." Followed quickly by his quip about the new sickbay, "I know engineers. They love to change things." One is almost screaming to here Scotty (James Doohan) say the classic line, "The circuits are fused Captain. It's a hopeless pile of junk!" No such luck. The rest of the original cast is on hand because this is a Star Trek film. Majel Barrett (Dr. Christine Chappel) shows up to show that some things have changed. Big whoop!

Just like Captain Kirk, the only really thrilling moment is seeing the famous starship Enterprise in all her glory, on the big screen. Otherwise, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a big waste of time and effort. Here's hoping for a sequel. Anything will be better than this mess.