Desperate times call for desperate measures. I recently moved back with my parents and my vast movie collection is still stuck in storage. Thus, I am left with what few VHS's my parents own. Among them is the first eight Star Trek movies, all belonging to my father, who I can never recall being a big enough Trekkie to merit owning eight of the eleven Star Trek movies. But there they are sitting on a shelf under my TV. And since I have only seen the 2009 reboot, I decided to trek into the final frontier. (See what I did there?)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
I started watching it this morning. It was about 7 a.m. and I hadn't yet been to bed. What else could lull me to sleep better than a G rated sci-fi adventure from 1979? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.
I am a huge fan of movies from the late 70's and early 80's merely for their production design and costuming. And even better is when that production design is supposed to be "futuristic". For some reason, all fabric is solid, unbroken by fun patterns or bright colors. And everything is plastic with rounded corners. Oh and those dodgy computer graphics! Don't ask me why, but I love the understated quaintness.
Oh yeah...Star Trek. So what's it about? Some number of years after the time span of the original TV series, an unidentifiable alien thingy destroys some Klingon ships. Admiral James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner) returns to the newly made-over U.S.S. Enterprise to take command and intercept this thingy before it hits Earth. Also aboard are old favorites Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Bones (DeForrest Kelley), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), Scotty (James Doohan), and Chekov (Walter Koenig). And some new characters: Commander Willard Decker (Stephen Collins) is the young and nubile former captain of the Enterprise, demoted at Kirk's request and bald and celibate Lieutenant Ilia (Persis Khambatta) serves as the eye candy, and later, a plot device.
Holy shit, is this movie slow. I mean, S-L-O-W!!! It takes forever to get going. No one seems to be in a big rush even though this mysterious thing is going to destroy earth. Everyone has time for conversations...slow conversations. Worst of all was this nearly pornographic tracking shot of our first look at the Enterprise. The camera slow panned around its every crevice and curve, saying "Look at me, big boy. Take me to warp speed."
But the question is, was I bored? Well, no, not through all of it. Having never seen Star Trek:TMP before, I was intrigued to see where it went and how it compared to 2009's reboot. Costumes and sets aside, I was simply too tickled to be bored. The dialogue and acting were a hoot. The odd high school reunion-ness was also amusing. These are actors that went through a cultural phenomenon together and now, here they are ten years later doing it again. One can only wonder how many of them were happy about it.