{2jtab: Movie Review}

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Blu-ray review


4 stars

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Robert Wise’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Many critics and fans have dismissed it because, to them, it’s …ehem… boring.  Okay, sure, soap operatic Star Wars it isn’t but the film – to its credit – is a most successful leap from the small screen to the big screen after the long and hard freeze that was Trek’s 1969 cancellation.  Star Trek: The Motion Picture is pure, unfiltered science fiction without all the bravado action that fans now expect.  Boring it isn’t.

Based around a terrific plot point that is comparable only to the majesty of classic Trek episodes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is on an entirely different level than George Lucas’s Star Wars: A New Hope.  Now, I know Star Trek: The Motion Picture owes its entire existence to the success of Star Wars and Paramount only capitalized on the Seventies space rage by turning their new Trek television series into a feature film with the original cast – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, and Grace Lee Whitney – all returning.  Fans are forever grateful for the decision to bring back the original crew and – for its success – Paramount is, too.

But Star Trek is different than Star Wars and, even if the JJ Abrams films have challenged this notion, it still is.  Wise and his writers Harold Livingston, Alan Dean Foster, and Gene Rodenberry provide a narrative for Star Trek: The Motion Picture that honors both the series and America’s space program.  It also honors the intelligence of the viewer; it’s the sort of movie no one makes anymore.  Even if it’s effects were unfinished at the time of its release, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is well-structured character-driven science fiction feast.

This is a film outside of its time as it has more in common with the science fiction films of the late 60s and early 70s – Kubrick’s 2001, Carpenter’s Dark Star, Trumball’s Silent Running – than anything that came after Star Wars.  Slow in its development, the film’s main thrust is about a refitted Enterprise and her crew as they journey through space to stop a destructive (and misunderstood) force referred to as V’ger.  Alongside Rodenberry’s original characters, we have two new officers – Commander Willard Decker (Stephen Collins) and Ilia (Persis Khambatta) – and their rekindled romance dwarfs into the very center of V’ger’s voyage home.

For fans of the series, it is the return of Kirk (Shatner), Spock (Nimoy), and Bones (Kelley) that really drives the picture forward.  The celebrated trio returns to the deck of the Enterprise with MUCH character development.  Kirk has fought to get his command back, Spock’s cold logic is more distant after failing the Kolinahr, and Bones – cranky as ever – has been re-enlisted by Kirk and now sports a big and bushy beard.  The rest have been where Star Trek: The Animated Series left them: on board the Enterprise and we are grateful to have them back.

Apart from the romance between Decker and Ilia, the film is a relatively dry affair.  This is where the whole idea of it being (sigh) boring comes from.  There are no lightsabers; no Force; no weird-looking aliens; and no pile of mashed potatoes that “mean” something.  It’s a story about V’ger and its attempt to share its knowledge with “the creator” and anyone who will listen.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a lot of things.  Boring is not one of them.  It is long, slow, character-driven, and if guilty of anything, it celebrates through sight and sound the Rodenberry universe.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Blu-ray reviewMPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action and mild language.
132 mins.
: Robert Wise
Writer: Alan Dean Foster
Cast: William Shatner; Leonard Nimoy; DeForest Kelley; James Doohan; George Takei
Genre: Sc-fi | Fantasy
The human adventure is just beginning.
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's life, Captain, but not life as we know it."
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: December 7, 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 30, 2013

Synopsis: When a destructive space entity is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral Kirk resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in order to intercept, examine and hopefully stop it.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Blu-ray review

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
3 stars
Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 30, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live
Region Encoding: Region A

The bad news must come first.  While the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (presented at its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio) looks good, the blu-ray contains only the 131-minute theatrical cut of the film. It does not include either the 143-minute TV version assembled in the early 1980s, or the 136-minute 'Director's Edition' that was released on DVD in 2001. Reportedly, the new visual effects added to the 'Director's Edition' were rendered only in standard-definition resolution at the time or whatever bullshit excuse Paramount has drummed up.  Colors, however, are great and it’s amazing to see the picture with a whole new HD sheen.  The quality, though, is inconsistent.  Some shots are vividly sharp and detailed, while others look soft and gauzy.  Some special effects shots – due to the HD nature – are clearly out of focus and no transfer is going to fix that.  The sound – presented here in a lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack – is as big as Jerry Goldsmith’s awesome (and now famous) score.  For the most part, this is a rich, dynamic, and very impressive Blu-ray transfer.



  • The commentary is recorded by 'Trek' experts Michael & Denise Okuda, authors Judith & Garfield Reese-Stevens, and visual effects artist Daren Dochterman.  Filled with trivia and information about the shoot, this is a very energetic listen.

Special Features:

This is the most perpetually underrated of the Trek films. Unfair?  Yes.  This release, however, doesn’t give you the version you really should see and appreciate.  It stands to reason that Paramount (the worse company at Blu-ray releases) will eventually re-release the film on BR in its 'Director's Edition' form. How long that will take, is anyone’s guess. According to Paramount, they need to re-render all those CG effects.  While we wait, here’s what you get with this one: eleven short deleted scenes, artwork for three scenes, interactive graphic trivia, a brief look at the writing of the movie, and a 10-minute reunion special of participants and fans in the meeting room where Kirk informs the crew of their mission.

  • The Longest Trek: Writing The Motion Picture (11 min)
  • Special Star Trek Reunion (10 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}