Released: 08 Dec 1979
Directed by: Robert Wise
When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.Jack's Rating:
Let's get into the meat of the story. A huge cloud of energy is heading towards Earth and for Starfleet reasons, the only starship that can intercept it in time is a completely new and untested Enterprise - still in space dock. While this basic premise really follows the classic Original Series trope, it still works. The main issue here is the fact that if your main bad guy is a cloud the film is going to suffer. There are several scenes that seem overly drawn out. I know a lot of folks complain about Kirk and Scotty doing their flyby of the Enterprise at the beginning of the film, but remember...this was the first time the crowd had seen the new Enterprise. It was a tear-jerking moment for a 7 year old kid and his step-dad as we watched in awe at the new details, new nacelles, everything. We soaked it in.
Now, that being what it is, the rest of the film is not that bad. There are a few canon bending moments - like the fact that they have to risk going to warp within the confines of the solar system. When did that become an issue? They warp out of orbit in several episodes of the show. Oh well, it still works. The wormhole bit is fun - just to hear Decker yell, "Belay the phaser order!" in super slow motion. The rest of the crew is fun to watch in this as well. I personally love Bones saying, "I know engineers...they love to change things," as well as the reaction to Spock appearing on the bridge.
Sure, it's a slow film. A bit more cerebral than it should have been considering Paramount was banking on the success of Star Wars in 77 to get folks into the theater to see Trek again, but again, it's still a fun film.
The true star of the show here is the score. Jerry Goldsmith delivers possibly the best Trek soundtrack. I know some might say Horner's Wrath of Khan score is better, but the overall atmosphere of this film is carried by the soundtrack. It becomes a cast member. To this day, I count the score to Star Trek The Motion Picture as my all-time favorite movie soundtrack.
So, is TMP a great film, no. It has flaws. But what it does is provide the opening for several things we will learn to love in the decades that follow. New Klingons, Kirk back in the Captain's chair, a sense of wonder and excitement that had largely been gone since 1969.