Series: The Original Series
Release Date: December 7, 1979
Written by: Harold Livingston & Alan Dean Foster
Directed by: Robert Wise
An enormous killer cloud is passing through space on a direct course toward Earth and the Enterprise is the only ship close enough to stop it.
We start the movie off traveling at warp speed through a field of stars. Though "warp speed" may be a little misleading. Sure, in order to see stars pass at such a rate, we would have to be at warp speed. But after a while, there's nothing speedy about it. After about a minute of watching stars pass under an orchestral fanfare, one begins to wonder if this isn't a movie, but rather a concert. A little while longer and one falls asleep. And then SUDDENLY KLINGONS.
You have to remember that The Motion Picture is the first time anyone has ever seen ridged Klingons. So, after a couple minutes of watching the exterior of Klingon ships floating in space along the edge of this mysterious cloud, the vessel configuration is the only indication we have that these are, in fact, Klingons. Indeed, I'm sure many a Trekkie walked out of the theater in 1979 wondering what these ridged-head aliens were doing piloting Klingon ships. But since no special attention is given to these guys apart from their death at the hands of an angry cloud, it was safe to assume that we were simply meant to suspend our disbelief.
|When the augment virus wore off it must have been like Wolfman.|
Fast-forward to Spock on his home planet, Vulcan. He's just about to undergo kolinahr when the Vulcan elder that is overseeing the emotion-purging ceremony recognizes that Spock has not achieved kolinahr because some alien intelligence in space has troubled his human half. On Earth, Admiral Kirk is making his way to the new, refit Enterprise in order to take it over by order of Starfleet Command. The present captain, Captain Decker, has not yet been informed of this.
Well, now they have to sit back and repair for a while. In the meantime, a shuttle comes along and drops off Spock. Turns out that intelligence that was troubling him was coming from the cloud. So with him taking over as science officer, Decker is now pretty much completely useless. But, hey! The band is back together! Yay!
|Spock is still not impressed.|
Thoroughly confused, the crew goes deeper into the cloud and finds a whole lot of unnecessary junk. They finally come upon an impasse, so Spock randomly decides to go out in a space suit and look around for himself inside the cloud. In it, he finds images of planets from all over the place. He deduces that V'Ger has collected information from all over the galaxy including a planet full of mechanical life that fixed it up to send it back on its way to finish its mission: to report back to its creator.
|He also finds the Death Star.|
V'Ger's mission is to learn. It has learned everything, gained sentience and wants to know if that is all there is to know. Of course, there are concepts like heaven and other dimensions and other abstract thoughts that humans can think of, but cannot be arrived at logically. V'Ger is missing a piece: a human element. In order to gain that element, he needs to contact his creator. He needs to merge with a human. Luckily we have just such a worthless human over here who has nothing to live for since Kirk took over his ship and his girlfriend died. Welcome, Captain Decker, to V'Ger!
|And then Sam leapt into the body of Captain Archer.|
Everything that happens in this movie could have been boiled down into an hour-long episode. And, in fact, it was originally supposed to be the pilot episode of Star Trek: Phase II, a series that never got off the ground. Instead, they dragged it out into a two hour long movie. And when I say "dragged" I mean... DRAAAAAAGGGED." The theatrical release was bad enough with the pacing. The director's cut was a little better, but also added in some scenes that only evened out the dragging. The Motion Picture will probably always be known as the worst Star Trek movie with the original cast, but it did introduce a few things such as ridged Klingons, kolinahr, the idea of a redesigned Enterprise, a theme song to be used in The Next Generation, etc. It's a slow start, but a start nonetheless. Next is The Wrath of Kahn, and the crimes of The Motion Picture shall be wiped out and remembered no more!