Star Trek: The Motion Picture ***

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“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” is the film that brought the series back to life. The original series was cancelled back in the sixties due to low ratings but it found new life during re-runs. After more than ten years off the air, the franchise returned to life, this time on the big screen. The results are good, but not great in my opinion.

The story is straight from the heart of the original series. When a massive cloud of energy with unknown origins is making it’s way toward earth, the Enterprise is dispatched to intercept it. At first it seems to be destructive as it destroy’s all ships cross it’s path. When Captain Kirk and his crew arrive, Spock figures out a way to communicate after the entity nearly destroys’ their ship. Once they are established as non threatening, they are able to make their way in to the cloud where amazing sites and a truly amazing discovery is found at it’s core.

Now this kind of story is what draws me in to the world of Star Trek. Exploring the unknown, making contact with strange new civilizations, and watching this crew that we have come to know and love as they must think their way out of dangerous situations. I wonder if J.J. Abrams and his writers watched any of the series before crafting their major action epics that in a way betray the spirit of the Gene Roddenberry franchise.

Now the film is nowhere near perfect. I enjoyed the second half of the film way more than the first half. In the first hour there is too much time getting re-introduced to the major characters. It is like a high school reunion that goes on for way too long. There is also a lame sequence where the Enterprise gets caught in a worm hole causing everyone to act in slow motion.

The visual effects were great for their time and still look good today. They aren’t nearly as exact or detailed as today’s special effects. But there is something more absorbing and real to me when we see actual models and sets as opposed to computer creations

The biggest achievement of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” is that it reinvigorated the franchise and brought it back to the mainstream. It set the stage for many sequels, some that were much superior to this entry.

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