The Curator of Schlock #29 by Jeffrey Shuster
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
(Back when motion pictures had motion pictures in the title!)
This is a bad film. I know Star Trek: The Motion Picture has its defenders and to them I would ask, “What is wrong with you?” Yes, the model work is impressive and the Jerry Goldsmith score is sublime. But you have to start with a good story and someone forgot about that when this turkey was given the green light. They were probably so desperate to capitalize on the success of Star Wars that they rushed this through.
I myself had never seen this movie until I had already watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Wrath of Khan was a regular Showtime staple when I was a child, and I was fortunate enough to see the other two in the theater. Wrath of Khan is still one of my favorite movies and I’d be tempted to argue it’s the greatest science fiction movie of all time. But I always knew there was a 1 before the 2. Everyone told me 1 sucked, but I didn’t believe them until I caught it on broadcast television. And wow, were they right. And the experience was made even more painful by the commercials. But we have Netflix now. Commercial free. So let’s boogie!
The movie begins with three Klingon Battle Cruisers firing photon torpedoes at a pink luminescent space cloud. You know what other movie had Klingons in it? Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Christopher Lloyd and John Larroquette played them. They flew in a spaceship that had retractable wings and could cloak itself. And that ship fired at the Enterprise, not at some stupid pink cloud. That’s what I like to see. Spaceships shooting at each other!
Anyway, the pink cloud electrocutes the Klingon Battle Cruisers or disintegrates them or something along those lines. Starfleet Command determines that the probe is on a precise heading toward Earth. Do you know what other movie had giant space probe on a heading toward Earth? Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. And it was cooler than the one in this. Okay. So it looked like a cylinder with a golf ball being projected by a beam of light. It was still cooler than a pink luminescent cloud.
So Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of the Enterprise. He gets the crew back together like Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly).
There’s a transporter room accident with some Vulcans that’s quite horrible. There’s a romance between a bald alien woman and the guy that played the preacher dad on 7th Heaven. The USS Enterprise flies into the probe. The bald alien woman gets disintegrated and recreated as a robot bald alien woman and the 7th Heaven dad likes her better.
The pink luminescent space cloud is actually the old Voyager space probe from Earth. The probe dictates that if 7th Heaven dad has cosmic sex with robot bald alien woman that it will leave Earth alone. 7th Heaven dad heartily agrees and the Earth is saved. Dr. McCoy remarks about how they just delivered a new baby to the universe. The End. Credits roll.
Yeah, the movie sucks.
Ten Things I Learned from Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Shots of the starship Enterprise gliding through space are pretty, but they can’t carry a motion picture.
- Pajamas make for terrible uniforms.
- Some matte paintings don’t hold up so well.
- Shooting photon torpedoes at a pink luminescent cloud is undignified.
- Transporters can really mess you up. See The Fly for more details.
- Beige is a terrible color for anything on a spaceship.
- George Takei is good in anything.
- Warp drives are notoriously unrealiable.
- James Doohan sports a wicked mustache.
- Star Trek The Motion Picture cost 35 million more dollars to make than Star Wars. Yikes!
Photo by Leslie Salas.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.