Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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Release date: Dec. 7, 1979

Based on: Star Trek (1960s television show created by Gene Roddenberry)

Directed by: Robert Wise

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins

Budget: $46 million

Box office: $139 million


Starfleet dispatches the USS Enterprise to intercept a cloud of energy approaching Earth.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture gave audiences its first look at a world and characters which had disappeared after the series went off the air a decade prior to its release. What they were given was a decent film collapsing under the weight of its own impressive visuals. It’s fantastic to look at with a number of sweeping, grand shots of ships as well as how it makes the blackness of space really feel empty. Additionally, every aspect of the energy cloud seems threatening and looming, giving it a legitimate air of dread. Still, these visuals constantly overstay their welcome, as if the film doesn’t know when it should move on with the scene. It begins early when Kirk and Scotty are en route to the Enterprise and continues many times throughout the film, resulting in characters just standing agape at special effects for a few seconds. These effects may be done well, but it gives too many opportunities for the viewer to be pulled away from the overall film.

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This produces pacing problems too. It has a two hour and 15 minute runtime and much of it is taken up by the film having its characters look at special effects, evoking the feeling of something which should have been about an hour or so being stretched out to fit. The end result of this padding, along with the amount of focus the visuals were given, makes it seem like the filmmakers were finally excited to have a budget never before seen in the history of the series, spent most of it on special effects and wanted the viewers to see what could be done with the amount of money they were given.

However, the plot itself is fairly decent, depicting the crew of the Enterprise investigating a threat encroaching upon earth. Further, it brings back favorite characters and puts them alongside brand new characters for audiences to get to know. Yet, other than the high stakes the situation presents, this would have been more at home as the plot of a television episode, a notion also advanced by how the new characters barely get any characterization. Most of the elements for a fantastic film are here and those that aren’t at least have the beginnings for it. Nevertheless, audiences were presented with a long film, taking its time to meander around before going somewhere worthwhile.

There’s definitely something worthwhile hiding in the shadow of all those visuals for fans of the series to enjoy.



Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Special Effects

DVD Exclusive Video Premiere Awards

  • Best New, Enhanced or Reconstructed Movie Scenes (for the director's edition)

International Film Music Critics Awards

  • Best Archival Release of an Existing Score


Academy Awards

  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Best Music, Original Score

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Actor (William Shatner)
  • Best Actress (Persis Khambatta)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Leonard Nimoy)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Nichelle Nichols)
  • Best Director
  • Best Music
  • Best Costumes
  • Best Make-Up
  • Best DVD Classic Film Release (for the director's edition)

DVD Exclusive Video Premiere Awards

  • Best Overall New Extra Features, Library Title
  • Best Audio Commentary
  • Best DVD Menu Design

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

  • Worst Picture