Thursday, March 15, 2012

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Star Trek I: The Yawn-Packed Sendoff

- Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) does not give the Starship Enterprise's silver-screen debut much of a sendoff. Due to massive amounts of rewrites and change in directions during the pre-production stage of the film, the Star Trek filmmakers were not able to get the proverbial ship off the ground, and as a result, Star Trek is an extremely boring, unfocused and poorly made film.

Now, not every film has to move at a bullet's pace, but it is usually good to have at least some fluidity in your film. Star Trek - moves - so - slowly - that - you - start - to - get - sleepy....

Have trouble sleeping? Forget sleep aides! Pick up a copy of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and you will be out like a light in no time and fully rested in the morning! Seriously, how long can someone watch a camera revolve around a ship?

But the film has far more and worse problems than just poor pacing. One problem is the special effects. The effects in Star Trek: The Motion Picture are simply terrible; how this was managed in the era of Star Wars (A New Hope 1977 and The Empire Strikes Back in 1980) is beyond me. The background scenery can be impressive and would look good on a big screen but most of the effect-created elements, especially things in motion, look frankly unconvincing to the point that the audience is taken out of the film.

Another low point for the film is the script. The story is simple: a deadly giant space-cloud is heading for Earth and the Enterprise is the only ship standing in its way. However, the simple story is filled with an uneventful progression of events and does not offer up much of an ending. Then, for an added "bonus," extra story lines are thrown in for more drama. Unfortunately none of these B-stories work, since the dialogue is written at laughable levels.

The cast sure does not help the film out either as the only watchable actors in the film are James Doohan, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols - all in supporting roles. Leonard Nimoy comes off clumsy and DeForest Kelley goes way over the top here in Star Trek, which is very disappointing since those two actors usually give some of the better performances out of the original Star Trek cast.

Stephen Collins is a new addition to the Trek cast here in this film as Commander Willard Decker, a character whose main purpose in the film is to create an extra sub-storyline of competition and jealousy with Captain Kirk. Collins' performance is just painful to watch, his screen presence is pathetic and I have no idea know what is up with his right eye but it sure is weird.

As bad as some actors are in this film, the worst performance award for Star Trek: The Motion Picture is awarded to its star: William Shatner. Impossible to take seriously, Shatner is a parody of himself in this film with ridiculous body movements (trying to give his performance more oomph I suppose?) and unintentionally hilarious line deliveries.

There is definitely one aspect of the film that is excellent: Jerry Goldsmith's score. It is big, it is powerful, it is beautiful - it is fantastic. Goldsmith's scoring achievement stands right alongside Gustav Holst's "The Planets" orchestral suite and John William's Star Wars scores as the definitive sounds for outer space. Luckily for the audience, Goldsmith's music is found throughout the entire film, so while something lame and ridiculous is occurring on-screen, at least there is some great music going on at the same time. If only the rest of the film were as good as the score! But nothing was, and we have a poorly made yawn-fest with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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