10 Reasons You Need To Revisit Star Trek: The Motion Picture

For better and for worse, there really is no comparison.

star trek motion picture
Paramount

Released in December 1979 to mediocre reviews, Star Trek: The Motion Picture nearly destroyed the franchise. Again. The unceremonious cancellation of The Original Series in 1969 was bad enough, but now a decade of goodwill built on rabid fan devotion and coveted syndication ratings was being thrown right out the airlock.

In the wake of The Motion Picture's critical failure, the Star Trek franchise found the nearest dermal regenerator, licked its wounds, and moved on. Largely absent was creator Gene Roddenberry, who was reduced to pitching rejected scripts about the Klingons trying to stop the Kennedy Assassination. I guess they took his death pretty hard.

With the surprise success of 1982's The Wrath of Khan, fans and critics looked back on The Motion Picture as a dull mess and the curse of the odd-numbered Star Trek movies was born.

Yet for all its flaws, Star Trek: The Motion Picture remains a remarkable achievement. The film's scale and beauty, though at times ponderous, are yet to be matched by anything else in the series. Shirking the epic space battles of Star Wars, The Motion Picture embarked on a thoughtful adventure about creation, life, and the search for meaning. What could be more Star Trek than that?

Check your phasers at the door. We won't be needing them where we're going.

10. Stunning Visual Effects

star trek motion picture
CBS/Paramount

All right, let's get this one out of the way. Yes, they're indulgent. Sure, they could've used a good trim in parts. But The Motion Picture's visual effects are absolutely incredible and hold up surprisingly well, even by today's standards.

From the initial encounter between the Klingons and the energy cloud to every painstaking shot of the Enterprise traversing the living machine V'Ger, The Motion Picture's visual effects create an immersive world that's a far cry from the often clunky Original Series. The film's overwhelming colours and surreal imagery are a true feast for the senses. And no, you don't need drugs to appreciate them.

Of course they're not perfect by any stretch. There's the odd appearance of a probe on the Enterprise bridge that attacks Ilia, in a scene more reminiscent of a space disco than an act of horror. Yet despite the occasional embarrassing moment, The Motion Picture's visual effects represent one of the film's crowning triumphs and go a long way in building the movie's aura of discovery and exploration.

Contributor

Writer based in Vancouver, Canada. Fond of history, professional wrestling, and rock hubris. Once co-directed a Star Trek fan film with a budget of less than $200.