ST-TMP: your first time...

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Warped9, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. BDJ

    BDJ Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 2, 2010
    Lovely little shire known as Cave City
    Friday December 7, 1979. It was cold and snowing on the line of sci-fi fans that were standing outside my small town theater. A theater that was proudly displaying the posters for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
    The line stretched clear around the block and down the nearby street. None of us were leaving.
    I was 15 and my father had given me a stern lecture earlier that afternoon about my supposed idiocy. "You're gonna waste your time and my money standing in the cold and snow to watch that space sh*t???" he hollered. "NO!" I returned, "I'm gonna be IN the theater watching Star Trek!". I also reminded him that I would be spending money I saved from hauling hay the previous summer.

    He almost grounded me for my half shouted return. (you see, my poor father was the kind of man who actually believed the moon shot was fake but "wrasslin'" was real.)

    My punishment was that I had to walk to the theater from my grandmothers house and that was 2 miles away. (fortunately my friends met me at the theater and gave me a ride back to grandma's house after the movie)

    Walking two miles, standing in the cold, enduring my closed minded pappy's loud and scary voice, and not having enough money for popcorn was HELL! But it was worth it!

    Star Trek was back! They gave me big screen thrills seeing my heroes up on the big screen and Lord Have Mercy there was The Enterprise! In all her big screen glory and they gave me enough looking candy to fill both eyes!

    I know that there are those who put the movie down and I know there are those who insult people for even liking this movie. But you know what??

    None of them even come close to the chewin' I took from dear old Dad, so to them I say "Too bad! YOU don't get it!" I still remember that night clearly and it's one of my fondest memories of being in a movie theater. Right up there with Superman: The Movie, The Empire Strikes Back, Alien, Ghostbusters and (God help me) Rocky:III! :)

    Those movies (and several others) really gave me movie moments I'll always treasure. That Enterprise Fly-By sequence could've gone on all night and I still woulda sat there and watched. It was magical to me!

    Jus' Sayin'

    P.S. (I didn't get to see Star Wars on the big screen because Daddy had a real problem with goin' to movie theaters and wastin' money on "space sh*t"! He was happy to spring for Coal Miner's Daughter though...great film too btw. I love Loretta Lynn!)

    I did get to see SW on the big screen during the SE theater runs!

    memoriessss.....pressed between the pages of myyy miiindd...
  2. RyanKCR

    RyanKCR Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 26, 2001
    RyanKCR is living here in Allentown
    I did not see it opening night. I saw it during the day months after it opened. I was a huge Star Wars fan at the time. I was about 8. TMP sucked me in in a way Star Wars didn't. Instead of space battles and lasers flying around, we were exploring something strange and unusual in deep space. While we were exploring we were testing some advanced new technology. Everything was new to all the people in the movie. I love tech and where it may be going and so I was fascinated by the Enterprise and by Vejur.

    I didn't really know Star Trek at that time so I had no expectations when I saw it. It was a movie set in space that was fantastic.

    I could say more but I can't think of the specific words to describe how it affected me at the time. However, I continued with the Star Wars movies and forgot TMP, except for a lingering memory of that space movie I wish I could have seen again.
  3. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Walrus Premium Member

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sitting on a cornflake.
    I was 20 years old on saw it open night with my girlfriend and our usual group of friends. Most of whom were long time Trek fans. I recall clapping when Gene and the actor's names came on screen. Also when each character appeared on screen. We loved the new looks for the Klingons and the Enterprise.

    My friend got the idea to use TMP set a record for the number of times watching a film. So I wound up seeing it way too many times. The flaws really begin to jump out when you do that. :p
  4. Khan 2.0

    Khan 2.0 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Aug 30, 2013
    earth...but when?...spock?
    what a great thread. Warped9 u should do one for each film
  5. Botany Bay

    Botany Bay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 23, 2004
    shores of Australia
    Agreed. Great thread and great post Warped 9.

    Sadly I can't contribute. TMP was before my time, and the only one I didn't see at a cinema. It sits fourth behing TWOK, TVH and TUC on my favourites list. But those four sit apart from the rest by some distance, I love them all.
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks. But my recollection for the first time I saw each successive film is blurred because they didn't resonate in quite the same way. I did see each film on their opening weekends.

    I do recall each of TWOK-TUC in varying degree on first viewing. But I left each one with reservations as well. And as the years were passing I could articulate those reservations more specifically.

    For TWOK I do recall feeling energized by hearing the familiar Star Trek fanfare at the beginning of the opening credits. The film proved to be a roller coaster experience compared to TMP and back then I enjoyed it immensely...except for the new uniforms---those I didn't care for at all. The death of Spock was very moving. There was a lot to like in TWOK, and it's easy to understand why it is arguably the most popular of all the films. But with each successive viewing back then and over the years I personally became more critical and disenchanted with it myself.

    TSFS, for me, was largely an extension of TWOK. Again there were things in it I enjoyed immensely. The destruction of the Enterprise on the big screen was like a bucket of cold water and very sad. The ending with Spock's drawing recognition is the payoff everything preceding it was leading up to.

    While I laughed during TVH I was quite put off by the overall tone. And approach. Then as of now it remains my least favourite of the first six films.

    In many respect TFF felt more like a TOS adventure. The soundtrack was great. The humour, like in TVH, was way overdone. Overall the production and f/x looked shoddy.

    TUC was bittersweet because everything in the film had a taste of finality to it. In the film they made too much of a point of reminding you this was the last go around. I found the final fly-off very bittersweet.

    By the time of GEN it was a lot easier for me to identify what didn't work for me in a film or story. I found GEN was a lot of silliness only partly alleviated by Kirk's presence and his scenes in the film. Only to be fair it was more like watching Shatner in costume rather than Kirk. Kirk's death was sad. It was emotionally moving yet it was also pointlessly gratuitous. In fact a lot in the film was pointlessly gratuitous.

    FC was energetic like TWOK, but I didn't care at all for the story, the overall approach, the darker look and most everything in the film.

    INS was just embarrassingly bad, bad, bad. Did I mention it was bad? NEM was even worse. NEM I didn't see on the big screen, but on television because I was no longer willing to pay for the Trek films. Back then I was more critical of TNG than now. But while some of the TNG series has been redeemed in my eyes I still think the films are a huge disappointment.

    Collectively the TNG films are a poor lot. The TOS cast retained a charm that could carry me through low moments, but that kind of charm was completely missing with the TNG films.

    The TOS films still retain a measure of charm, but except for TMP I don't feel they've aged well. There are still things I like in each of them, but the first two TMP-DE and TWOK-DE are the only two I have in my library. No film is perfect, but I find a lot of questionable choices and sloppy thinking in TWOK-TUC and it got progressively worse with each successive film.

    I revisited all those films nearly two years ago and, if curious, you can find that here:
  7. Campe98

    Campe98 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Apr 27, 2001
    December 7, 1979... I was four days old. Needless to say, my parents (well my Dad -- my Mom hates Trek) would not have taken me to see this first run. I've been trying to put a fix on when I had seen it the first time. I was young. 3 or 4 at most. My mom rented the movie for me on VHS. I put one of our chairs from the kitchen (which had arms on it just like Captain Kirk's chair) in the living room and watched... For about forty-five minutes and nothing really happened so as a young child, I decided playing with toys was more fun. It took me awhile to appreciate TMP for what it is.
  8. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Oct 14, 2004
    One other thing this thread reminded me of (now, in the wee hours of the morning), is that pre-release, I was already thinking of the first viewing of the film in historic terms ... a movie by Zemeckis (back when he was producing b.o. bombs) called I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND barely came out in 78, about fan response when The Beatles came over for Ed Sullivan.

    In summer 79, around the time I got kicked out of college (I discovered the billiards room in the school lounge and essentially began majoring in smoking cigarettes instead of going to class), I started thinking TMP was going to be a similar social moment to Beatles coming across the pond (well, if a Trek film had released in 76 I'm sure it would have been, even now) and actually started drafting a script -- not exactly an innovative title, WHERE NO FAN HAS GONE BEFORE, but hey I wasn't even 20 yet -- around a fictionalization of my social group, anticipating what we'd go through to get to the first showing and how we'd react to the film (this wasn't all that new of an idea ... I had spent some months earlier shooting a bit of something I called A SCHOOL TOO FAR about high school graduation, a year after I had graduated, based on exaggerations of myself and my friends.)

    As it got closer to release & I started attending broadcast school (back when you had to have an FCC license to be on the air), I saw a greater cross-section of 'normal' non trek folk and their response to the promotions, and I decided this would be better as a doc rather than a drama. So I started contacting the local theater to find out about filming the film cans arriving, all that kind of stuff, while walking around our little broadcast school shooting trek-related vignettes. (even some of my radio spots related; my latter demo tape from 1980 actually has a minute-long airline spot backed by THE ENTERPRISE cue. I wonder how long reel-to-reel lasts before it deteriorates, i still have the tape.)

    Alas, Syufy's Century theaters had no interest in participating and the whole thing died off ... considering how badly I responded to TMP initially, that may have been a good thing, as I might have wound up with a lot of film and zero enthusiasm, instead of the usual way projects went, which was lots of enthusiasm and zero film (or money.)
  9. Kirby

    Kirby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 16, 2003
    Alt: 5280
    I was eleven years old, and I saw it in the theater with my two little brothers and the kid from across the street, while our parents saw something else in the other theater. I remember loving the new look of the Enterprise, and the special effects, especially the flyby and that wormhole sequence.
    I didn't like the lack of color in the uniforms, or the fact that Kirk was being such a dick throughout the movie. T.V. Kirk was a major influence for me at that time, and I just didn't like him in the movie.
    The story itself kind of lost me a bit, but I was happy to see new Trek, so it was ok with me.
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    May 12, 2004
    Lancaster, PA
    That could be fun. I confess I remember where I saw every Trek movie for the first and who with.
  11. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    It has often been said by some that they were put off by how the characters didn't act like their familiar selves until into the second half of the film or so. This again I think works in context of the story because it reflects what can be a very true to life experience. You become familiar with people you work with for an extended period of time. At some point you separate and if circumstances allow you can be reunited again. But often enough something has changed because you haven't been interacting with each other for awhile. Things feel off until you can each get into your comfort zones again.

    Understanding that I think puts the characters' behaviour into context.

    That said I know a lot of people simply expected the film to basically pick up where the series left off. It's understandable, but it's not realistic considering how much time had passed. In the film they fudge it as about three years since the end of the 5-year voyage, but I think they would have done better to have added another five years to that. They maybe could have referenced Kirk (and crew) had two tours with the Enterprise before allowing himself into accepting into Admiral's stripes. The greater amount of time would also have rationalized the distinct differences in how the tech and hardware looked in the film from the TOS.

    As much as I loved the TMP refit design I do still think they went a bit too far. I like the TMP refit better than the Phase II version, but it could have been a bit better, a better balance (aesthetically) from the present and what came before. I designed a take on that idea several years ago and one day I'll tweak it and make a 3D model of it to properly show what I have in mind.
  12. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Alien is a flat-out masterpiece, one of the finest movies made in any genre.
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Alien was another film that was an experience. Only this time it unnerved the hell out of me. :lol:

    I remember people screaming (and not all were women) and others covering their eyes at times. I was one of those occasionally although I was peaking between my fingers. :lol:

    Both ST-TMP and Alien had me saying, "Holy shit!" at times, but for completely different reasons. :lol:
  14. Khan 2.0

    Khan 2.0 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Aug 30, 2013
    earth...but when?...spock?
    they need to do Star Trek v Alien comic series. Ideally set in the TMP era as that's the trek era that would work best for it imo
  15. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    TMP was tring to be somewhat in the vein of 2001 but that was largely because Star Trek always had a cerebral element running through it--yes, Roddenberry wanted to make a hit tv show and, as a producer, he knew the way to do it was to provide action and thrills. But the best episodes of Trek are talky affairs, with the occasional burst of action or tension--sorta like starting off with three Klingon cruisers getting zapped, following that with a horrific transporter accident, then a remote outpsot getting zapped, then a warp drive malfunction that nearly destroys the ship, then an attack on the Enterprise, then Ilia getting zapped, then Spock nearly dying in an ill-advised mind-meld, then the tension mounting as the intruder prepares to wipe out all life on earth.

    Sounds like Star Trek to me.
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Yes, I think that is very much it. TOS was the idea of using action-adventure as the frame or structure on which to hang a more substantial idea. And TMP does follow that.

    I think over time people (in general) have developed this notion that Star Trek isn't much different than Star Wars. And ship battles and run-and-jump are easy things to grasp to create a sense that something is going on. But Star Trek's best moments really do hang on the well written and well delivered character drama.

    Think about episodes like "Balance Of Terror" and "The Doomsday Machine." The visuals are nice, but it's the character interplay that really sells the story.

    But that does touch on where TMP struggles because Vger isn't a menace that Kirk can challenge directly in that kind of character drama. So until our heroes are finally faced with the real endgame problem with Vger there isn't quite enough drama to sustain us. That's why I suggested more friction between Kirk and Decker---to hold you over until Vger is faced directly.

    This is a bit of problem with TWOK as well because Kirk never faces off with Khan directly, not like he does in "Space Seed," which I thought was far more interesting and satisfying. A key difference between TMP and TWOK is that there's more going on in TWOK to challenge the characters before the climactic battle with Khan. That said I don't find the ship battle in TWOK as interesting or engaging as the one in "Balance Of Terror." In BoT Kirk is facing off against an equal as opposed to a madman which Khan has become. On an equal playing field in terms of starship combat there should be no contest between Kirk and Khan, because Kirk is a proven combat officer and commander and well experienced in three-dimensional ship combat. In this game Khan is largely a nobody. If Kirk had known what he was dealing with from the onset there would be no contest and Khan wouldn't stand a chance. Spock says it aloud when he reminds Kirk that Khan's actions are two-dimensional. After that it's no contest.

    And this underlines a conceit in TWOK that is inconsistent with what had previously been established in "Space Seed." Initially Khan was just barely holding onto the TOS Enterprise and crew and he acknowledges that he needs their help to run the ship. Now in TWOK he and his remaining followers somehow manage to gain control of an even more advanced ship and are able to at least competently operate the ship and take it into combat. :wtf:

    I don't think so. It is but one of several huge logic flaws in the film. But because of the pacing and energy level of the action it's something a lot of viewers are content to just overlook.
  17. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    TMP is my favorite Star Trek movie but I don't think it's truly great--very near greatness but its ambition ultimately outstrips its technique and it is flawed (TWoK is a tighter film but it aspires to much less, in my mind). Despite what I said above, the pacing does drag in the second half and, as another thread dealt with, some of the methods used, like the diopter effects to creat an artificail depth of field, are not entirely successful. The movie was rushed to launch, just like Enterprise in the movie and, just like the Enterprise, it malfunctions at points.

    So, as much as I love it, it isn't in the league of true masterpieces of the genre--The Man Who Fell to Earth, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, eXistenZ, Blade Runner--Alien is firmly in that league. It may just be the best of the lot.

    Alien is amazing for several reasons. Never before had we seen space men and women portrayed as so recognizably, world world human. The production design of the Nostromo and its equipment is unmatched but Giger's work on all things alien in the film is like nothing seen before or since. More importantly--without anyone stopping to talk about them (save Ash's disembodied admiration of the Beast's "purity"), the movie raises some deep philosophical, psychosexual and economic issues.

    Plus, it is starkly terrifying--check-your-shorts-after-you-see-it terrifying. Hell, it's up there with Citizen Motherf*cking Kane in my book!
  18. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

    Sep 19, 2010
    east coast U.S.
    Agree, 1979 was great. :techman:
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Oct 8, 2005
    Los Angeles, California
    My first experience watching TMP was probably the special longer version on home video when I was still in the single digits. That version failed to impress then and fails to impress now. It has all the bloat of the theatrical cut and then adds a lot of unnecessary material on top of that. I still can't fathom what people who like this version see in it.

    The theatrical cut is better, but still too long, as Robert Wise immediately admitted in multiple interviews in 1980. The Director's Edition was a chance to address this, and it does -- a little -- but for the most part I think it didn't go far enough. It added in important dramatic beats (i.e. the single tear scene), but it only made minor improvements to the pacing. I believe Maurice has mentioned that the movie could be tightened by trimming the heads and tails of a lot of shots, and I'm forced to agree. As nice as the visuals are in the Enterprise docking sequence and the V'Ger flyover are, the original series was never about our characters staring at visual effects.

    That's really my biggest dislike about the movie -- so much of it reduces our heroes to passive observers.

    The other thing I really dislike is the movie's pastel aesthetic. The original series was bold and bright with color. The way Finnerman would splash various colors on the walls of the Enterprise really made the series come alive for me, which is probably why I find the look of TMP to be dead on arrival.
  20. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oh, and I knew when I was eight years old, Star Trek was nothing like Star Wars--that's why I could fully "get" SW at seven but had to grow two more years (and the gap between a seven year old and a nine year old is vast) before I could appreciate Trek fully. Once I could appreciate its much more cerebral brand of SF, I became a Trekkie and never looked back. I'm also a Whovian, a Dune fan (the original six novels by Frank Herbert; screw the Kevin J. Anderson/Brian Herbert continuation), a fan of the films of David Croneberg and an incurable Dickhead but nothing shaped me quite like Star Trek.

    I really enjoy these new Trek movies--they have the 3 and 4 slots on my Trek film list, ahead of even TSFS and TUC (5 & 6 respectively). But they are closer to Star Wars (and the Gold Key comics and Peter Pan story records) than they are to TOS.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014