My Thoughts on Star Trek: The Motionless Picture

Monday evening, I watched the very first Star Trek theatrical feature, Star Trek:The Motion Picture. The last time I saw it was 34 years ago, when it played in first run at the now gone Berkeley Theater. I watched it again for two reasons: the Blu-ray fell into my hands, and I wanted to see if it was as bad as I remembered.

It wasn’t. It was much, much worse.

Actually, with it’s plot about a giant cloud that may be intelligent and seems intent on destroying the Earth, it could have made a pretty good Star Trek episode. Not a great one, but pretty good. So you get about 45 minutes of plot, characters, and action, and about 90 minutes of big, slow, stately special effects and close-up of actors looking worried. It’s like this from the early sequence when the camera caresses the Enterprise for five minutes, through the climax, where we go inside the inside of the cloud’s inside. I didn’t time that one.

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You’ve probably heard the story–perhaps I should say legend–of how this movie came to be. Throughout the 70s, there were rumors that Paramount would make a Star Trek movie. Finally, in the spring of 1977, the studio decided against it and announced that such a thing would never happen. Then, a few weeks later, Star Wars came out and broke all box office records, and the Star Trek movie was back on the table. But the powers turned down plot after plot until they found something that felt big enough. The result is as pompous as The Ten Commandments, without being anywhere near as funny.

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Luckily, the Star Trek movies got good very fast. I’ll tell you about the others as I go through them. That may take awhile. I’m in no hurry.

One thought on “My Thoughts on Star Trek: The Motionless Picture

  1. Funny you should think it would have made a better TV episode. After watching it during its initial release, a lot of us noticed similarities between the film and an episode called “The Changeling.” You’re also correct in that it hasn’t worn well, but you have to give props to Jerry Goldsmith’s score. I remember leaving the theatre more impressed by the score than anything I’d seen on the big screen…

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