With hearing about the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek fans across the globe have been paying their respects for the beloved actor, whose performance as Spock, crossed generations. My father is a Star Trek fan from The Original Series and I became a fan during the Next Generation. Most people have been watching the “Spock Trilogy” of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I probably will myself in the future, but I wanted to take time to start with the first Star Trek film. This is a film that when I viewed it for the first time, I was quite bored and it felt like bad pacing. It was however visually pleasing as best it could be at the time, with the effects that were available.
The most common complaint about this film is that it is slow. And that I can not disagree with. Honestly I would have thought it used 2001: A Space Odyssey as a template. However for me 2001 moves very well for its length and ST:TMP which is slightly shorter does not. The scenes take so long to run, the wormhole, the probe scanning the ship, the spacewalk by Spock. All of these take forever. The only one I appreciate is the reveal of the Enterprise. Mainly because Jerry Goldsmith’s score is outstanding and the look Kirk has when seeing his beloved ship again.
This movie feels as if Stanley Kubrick made a Star Trek film. That could be because the slow paced scene recall that movie. Also there are similar theme of evolution that are in the narrative. We also can not forget the work of Douglas Trumbull who did the effects for both this and 2001. So from a special effects view there are some similarities. If you also watch the Original Series, there is a season 2 episode called “The Changeling” that pretty much is the plot of this film only expanded. These things make this movie feel derivative. Yet for some reason I am never able to skip it when I am in a Trek mode.
If dealing with chronology, then one could skip this movie and go straight to Wrath of Kahn. I say if you’ve only seen it once, give it a second chance and if anything, you can enjoy the scenery. Besides why rush to watch what many consider the best Star Trek film in the series.
Live Long and Prosper to you all!