Review Star Trek: The Motion Picture film review by G. H. (Gman)
Written By G. H. (Gman) on 2014-11-15 14:54:37
Star Trek: The Motion Picture MovieLearn More
I often wonder how this film's storyline would have been executed in a 45 minute television production. It has all the basic ingredients for a solid Star Trek episode; in theory it should be a poignant and entertaining film. If only.
While the cast doesn't really have a lot to work with, and William Shatner over-extends his intense wit, director Robert Wise turns much of his attention to the film's visuals. Clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wise takes Star Trek's signature designs and places them in a Kubrick-ian naturalism. Jerry Goldsmith's sweeping themes gives busy shuttles and floating engineers a sense of grandeur as the Enterprise is refit. The NCC-1701 will never look so romantic in dry dock.
The liberal shots of the iconic starship and its voyage into space are the film's highlights. It almost makes a better fantasia-like experience than a narrative, which only occasionally recalls some semblance of storytelling. Between V'Ger's visuals and a slack jawed cast, who spend much of the run time watching a screen, The Motion Picture only does so much to inch the story forward.
Perhaps this was intentional. There's a post-human conclusion to the film that is a direct reflection of how it progressed. Outside of the obligatory (and underwhelming) Kirk/Spock bro-mance, the characters play second fiddle to wide shots of an alien-machine antagonist and the Enterprise herself. One character, the former Lt. Ilia, even accuses the crew of “infesting” Enterprise as if it were a lifeform. Indeed the Enterprise works better as a character than much of the cast.
Obviously commercializing post-humanism is difficult, especially for a mainstream, sci-fi franchise. Thus, the emotional payoff of the film's conclusion is lost. There simply isn't enough connection to the characters, old and new. The best that can be said is that the most beloved character in the film, the starship Enterprise, makes it out safely.
It should be noted the Director's Edition is a superior version which includes some nice moments that give the actors more to do. It also better explains Ilia's race and features some wider shots of the oversized V'Ger.