Friday, December 16, 2011

STAR TREK The Motion Picture

*** (3 stars out of 5)
"STAR TREK The Motion Picture" is many things. Artful, technically interesting, beautifully scored, and the first major financial success that made the whole franchise possible.

And when my wife told me she needed a nap, I answered "Have I got a movie for you."

In a film about the battle between the emotionless machine and the soul of humanity, the humans only glimmer through now and then. They're so flat it was a lucky thing V'Ger is a satellite dish on a foil-wrapped box nestled in a field of geometric shapes within a series of enormous metal sphincters wrapped in a particle cloud that sounds like an electric guitar. Otherwise it might have out-performed them.

But I raised my star rating a little this time through. After all, I've recently seen 'The Alternative Factor'. This is a pretty movie with stunning sound and that goes a long way.

Plot? Getting the band back together to intercept a machine that turns everything in its path into data storage on its quest to find God.

Admiral Kirk is a bit of an Admiral Jerk here: stepping on the cream of some young guy to get his newly seat-belted chair back. 'Phase II schmase schmoo! Nobody replaces Captain Kirk.' he might as well have shouted.

Poor Decker comes out seeming like the bigger man, able to put his ego aside and repeatedly save the day until saving the Earth itself by bonding to a robot girl with the soul of his dead bald alien lover. As you do.

McCoy and Spock drop the hippy hair and get back in the Starfleet groove. We get a look at hundreds of crew at once, with handfuls of intriguing new aliens thrown in the mix. The Klingons are now ribbed for our pleasure. Speaking of pleasure, the hairless denizens of Delta IV are into that: in fact, they're into everything- but for your safety they're sworn to celibacy.

Most of these people don't need to swear that oath... celibacy will come free with the pastel body-stockings.

I was too lazy to look it up, but the surly guy on the left with the high forehead and gold eyes probably has a story. A surly, slouchy story.

The Enterprise gets a face lift, too. The ship redesign even includes a splash guard for the transporter operator. Which I find deeply disturbing. But not as disturbing as learning it's necessary!

Janice Rand is the Transporter Chief when equipment failure turns science officer Sonak and a female Vice-Admiral inside out. It happens mercifully fast, but they have enough time to make some horrifying digitized screams. All the more hollow a 'thud' falls on the joke shortly afterward when McCoy arrives and everyone thinks 'what a silly old coot' and 'scramble our molecules, indeed'. WE JUST SAW IT DO THAT! What the hell are you smiling about?

It's one of many occasions when the fate of the Earth is in the hands of a lone starship, and this one can't even go to warp without tripping over its intermix shoelaces and falling down a wormhole. Plus, it's designed to lose phasers if the engine fails.

Because nobody will ever need to fight back when they can't move.

In the category 'love conquers all' is Weirdest Couple 2273: Cmndr. Willard Decker and Lt. Ilia the Dead-Deltan-Slash-Robot-Probe. Decker's dad only threw himself into a planet-killing robot's maw.

Whatever happens to Will and his plus one in the higher dimensions I hope the sex is good.

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