Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture–Director’s Ed.

This movie still sucks!

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” (Scotty to Sulu in the Star Trek episode, “Friday’s Child.”)

I went to see the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture when it was released in 1979. I was astounded by the great special effects; even more so by the stupid plot, terrible acting, and–most of all–the plodding pace.

Recently, Paramount decided to release a “Director’s cut” of the movie. Director Robert Wise had never been completely happy with the original release (imagine that), and wanted to turn it into the movie he had set out to make. Since Wise has directed several movies that didn’t suck, including The Sand Pebbles, The Andromeda Strain, West Side Story, and something called The Sound of Music, I had high hopes.

It’s amazing what a few edits, improved sound, and updated visual effects can do. Wise has turned a two hour, twelve minute piece of crap into a two hour, sixteen minute piece of crap.

PARENTAL WARNING: This movie is rated “PG” for “Sci-fi Action and Mild Language,” whatever the hell that means.

ST:TMP sets a new Hollywood record by sucking three minutes before the movie even starts. Wise decided to get the viewer acclimated to the movie’s pace by starting with a one hundred-eighty second shot of stars moving toward the center of the screen, kinda like the old Windows screen saver in reverse.

Any viewers still awake then get to watch the jazzy opening credits, followed by the great scene of three Klingon cruisers filled with heavy smokers getting vaporized by the Great Death Cloud from Outer Space.

Enough action. Back on the planet Vulcan, we discover Spock has decided to leave the Kohlinar Renaissance Fair and rejoin his lesser human comrades. He had returned home to eliminate any last vestige of emotion. He succeeded, and immediately was rewarded with a contract offer from Paramount

We now jump to Star Fleet Headquarters in San Francisco where they are celebrating Gay Pride Week, judging by the uniforms. Admiral James Kirk has been reassigned to the upgraded U.S.S. Enterprise. The Death Cloud is heading for Earth and, due to phenomenally bad deployment orders from Star Fleet Command, there are no starships in that half of the galaxy. Only the Enterprise stands between us and almost certain excitement.

Kirk and Scotty board (or is that “bored”) a shuttle and spend a week or two flying around the Enterprise, since Scotty won’t call and ask for directions to the docking port. Eventually, they find their way aboard where Kirk discovers his bridge has been painted entirely in brown primer. Kirk finds the ship’s real captain, fifteen-year-old Will Decker (Stephen Collins), and informs him that “rank hath its privileges,” which sadly included script control.

Emergency! The Enterprise‘s transporter is malfunctioning in the process of beaming up the ship’s Science Officer! Kirk rushes to the scene, shoulders the transporter chief (the formerly gorgeous Yeoman Rand) aside, and proceeds to melt the two upbound crewmen. Ever the sensitive Captain, he assures Rand, “It wasn’t your fault,” and walks away.

Kirk assembles the entire crew to show them Star Fleet’s home movie of the Klingon ships getting utterly disintegrated by the unimaginable power of the Death Cloud. He then patches into a live feed from a Star Fleet space station directly in the cloud’s path. The station is also utterly destroyed, except for the exterior cameras which continue to function long after the Death Cloud passes. (Note to Star Fleet engineers: Build the stations from the same material you used for the cameras.)

Having inspired his crew with the utter hopelessness of their mission, Kirk returns to the bridge. Here we meet the sexy Lieutenant Ilia, a Deltan. Deltans love being bald (as does Captain Kirk), and she warns Kirk up front that her “oath of celibacy is on record.”

The lovably irascible (and heavily bearded) Doctor McCoy now beams up, cutting short his tour with ZZ Top. For some inexplicable reason, he didn’t completely trust the transporter, maybe because of the two piles of protoplasm left over from the last time someone tried to come aboard. Kirk tells McCoy, “I need you. I need you–badly!” which should lay to rest all the rumors of a Kirk/Spock romantic entanglement. McCoy heads off to sickbay to make Doctor Chapel’s day by demoting her back to bedpan jockey.

The Enterprise finally leaves orbit. After Kirk accidentally drives the ship into a wormhole, a Vulcan shuttle arrives and delivers Mr. Spock, sporting his classic 1966 haircut and wearing a black dress. Kirk then breaks McCoy’s heart by announcing, “I need him, Bones!” and reignites the old rumors.

The Enterprise finally reaches the Death Cloud, and Kirk orders the ship in. For the next several days, we watch:

Kirk stare at the viewscreen.

Spock stare at the viewscreen.

Sulu stare at the viewscreen.

Chekov stare at the viewscreen.

Uhura stare at the viewscreen.

Decker stare at the viewscreen.

Ilia stare at the viewscreen.

McCoy make several trips to the bridge so he can stare at the viewscreen.

Several combinations of the above.

Repeat until budget overrun.

Eventually, the Death Cloud gets tired of being ogled and sends a pillar of fire onboard the bridge. It bounces around and finally dissolves Ilia. Everyone on the bridge blinks heart-rendingly, then Kirk calls “Next!” Another young woman arrives and takes Ilia’s place, but not before staring with some concern at the scorch marks on her seat.

Kirk cleverly gets the Enterprise trapped in the bowels of the Death Cloud. Ilea re-appears, completely naked but behind a shower stall. She emerges, miraculously clothed in a crotch-length bathrobe and announces she is a “probe” from the cloud, which is called “V’Ger.” We discover she is now an automaton, completely unable to feel or project any emotion whatsoever. She fits in perfectly.

Spock now decides to assault a fellow officer, steal a spacesuit, and venture outside the Big E. He awaits the perfect moment, then hurtles himself through V’Ger’s Enormous Space Sphincter. Once inside, he discovers the cloud is actually a giant hi-def TV. He attempts to mind-meld with it, which expels him back through the sphincter and into Kirk’s waiting arms.

Back in sickbay, Spock awakens, grinning like an idiot, and tells everyone he’s seen the error of his ways and is ready to embrace humanity. He starts by holding hands with Kirk.

V’Ger arrives at Earth. It tries to communicate with our planet, but is foiled by the copy-protection technology on all our electronic devices. So it decides to obliterate our world.

Spock, back on the bridge, faces Kirk, a single tear rolling down his cheek, and asks, “Why am I here?”

So did I.

The Enterprise makes its way through the big sphincter and finds V’Ger’s heart. Kirk and company leave the ship and discover V’Ger is actually a NASA probe that was lost three hundred years ago due to a Y2K bug. V’Ger, it turns out, has wandered the cosmos for centuries, alone, and is unimaginably horny. Kirk, ever willing to put his own probe “where no man has gone before,” is disappointed to discover the V’Ger/Ilia probe wants to “join” with Decker. The two come together in a colossal orgasm that throws Enterprise clear and most likely knocks out all communication on the Earth for decades.

Kirk then settles in to his captain’s chair and orders the Enterprise away from Earth, probably so he won’t have to bother with all the paperwork for the four dead and missing crewmen from his first mission back.

Okay, those of you who saw the original release (and remained conscious through it) are probably wondering: “What the hell was different?” Well, the differences are obvious to anyone who watches the supplemental material on the DVD.

New visual effects: Several of the original effects were not what Wise wanted, so he decided to replace them. In a move that no doubt came as a surprise to the check-writers at Paramount, the new artists decided to create brand-spanking new visuals whose quality would be indistinguishable from those done in 1979! All the way down to “the dust on the film.” (Actual quote.) So basically they took what are (by today’s standards) mediocre visual effects and replaced them with mediocre optical effects.

The Opening: It seems that three of the additional four minutes in the Director’s Cut are–believe it or not–the new opening sequence of stars going in reverse! In fairness, adding this pointless, mind-numbing scene did improve the overall pace of the movie.

Editing/trimming: In some scenes, as much as several seconds were mercilessly hacked out of the new release. Ironically, the movie would have been better off if they had kept those seconds and thrown the rest away.

If you’ve seen the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, there’s no need to spend several weeks watching it again.

Still four vacuums.

Screenshots courtesy of

2 Responses to “Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture–Director’s Ed.”

  • ohx:

    ROFL. Totally agree. I could take my camcorder and spin around in circles until I puke on the camera and it would be better than this movie. Also… what was up with the space sphincter? Did a total moron/retard come up with that? Was it supposed to be a joke in a humor-less movie? Did everyone involved just “not notice” it looked just like a giant pulsating butthole? That was actually the best part of the movie amazingly as I actually laughed out of embarrassment/shame when Spock blasts right up the center of the butthole. That is your career now Leonard Nimoy. Blasting up giant space buttholes….

    Kirk acts like a douche the whole time with not even one interesting, clever or slightly funny line, also it looks like he forgot to get his full body wax and tan because his forarms and chest are covered in what appears to be pubic hair, I am about 99% sure he is wearing a girdle to push his gut in, and a toupee of course. Ohura is rockin a big nappy oily Afro, Bones gets on the ship looking like he just got out of the backwoods of Alaska where he was wrestling bears. Scotty is rockin a moustache now which looks terrible on him.

    There’s no chemistry between the characters and none of them spew their famous “lines” even one time. I was waiting and waiting for McCoy to say “dammit Jim, Im a doctor not an asshole” or “are you out of your vulcan mind”, scotty to say ” Eh kent do et captain” or McCoy and Kirk to make fun of Spock while he talks about how illogical they are. Never happened. And those were the only good parts of Star Trek somehow they managed to completely overlook that obvious fact. Actually I may have missed some stuff out of the sheer boredom and stupidity of the movie I was no longer interested in even listening….

    For gods sake why did the movie have to take itself so seriously. It is based on a tacky cheesy franchise. I would have really liked some humor in the movie. But I have this problem with most big budget movies. Some asshole director thinks he has to make a “masterpiece” because of the pricetag and all fun is out the window.

    Your review is a fun read after watching this god awful movie. I don’t get your four vacuums comment I guess I will have to google that…

  • ohx:

    Also it is obvious to me that Nimoy does not even want to be in this movie and thinks it is stupid. I would have to agree. He has said many times he thought star trek was stupid. However… it would have been better were it not so obvious, and he is getting paid, alot probably, to do a job…

    However I heard this movie was completely rushed and hacked together so they probably just decided not to do any second takes on anything when there was bad acting, and this movie is full of that for sure

    His expression on his face through the whole movie is “god, can this stupid sh*t just be over with already”

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