"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" or _____?

Lord Garth

Admiral
Admiral
No poll for this one, unlike the last thread, because that would be way, way, way too hairy.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was made possible because of Star Wars, yet it drew its inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey and feels like New Hollywood instead of Modern Hollywood. TMP feels as artistic as it does dramatic, especially during scenes with V'Ger, but even the tour around the Enterprise has been described as "starship porn". There's next-to-no action, the threat isn't really an antagonist, the atmosphere is very science-fiction, and movie isn't in a hurry to get to where it's going. We're just taking it in as ambiance a lot of the time.

That makes TMP very different from any of the other movies. Even TVH, which also didn't really have an antagonist, but did move at a decent clip, had some chase sequences standing in for action, had a lot of fish-out-of-water humor, and took place in then-present-day, so felt a lot less science-fiction.

TMP stands apart and alone. Which is great to view as its own thing... but makes things strange when ranking this movie with the others in the first 10.

I guess what it comes down to is: what do you want out of watching a movie? I want a story with a plot that has a beginning, middle, and end. I don't insist that characters completely change, and I don't require that they go through an arc, but I want them to have a reason for doing what they're doing. The protagonist has their reason, the antagonist as their reason, and everyone else has their reasons. I don't mind slow burns as long as the ambiance is such that I don't mind savoring the world of the film. Speed isn't everything. Moments are what matter.

Which all sounds well and good and explains why I think TMP is a good movie. It's also the Star Trek movie that I'm the most impressed with on a technical, visual, and acoustic level. Nothing else comes close. Yet...

Given a choice, I prefer a story that I'm engaged in. I prefer characters I'm thoroughly invested in. I prefer the conflict to be driven from the characters and for those characters to be driving the story. If I want to relax, I don't mind ambiance. If I want to be engaged, then ambiance isn't enough. I love well-done intricate visuals, but I prefer watching a story I can get more out of through multiple viewings and something I can appreciate on a different level during different periods of my life.

What it really comes down to is this, to make it simple: If I'm watching TV and one channel has TMP on and another channel has another Star Trek movie on, do I watch TMP, or do I change the channel and watch the other Star Trek movie?

If I go through them one-by-one, I can figure out where I place TMP. So here we go! From the bottom of where I ranked the others to the top.

Would I rather watch Nemesis or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch Insurrection or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Final Frontier or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch Generations or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Search for Spock or TMP? This is where I have to really stop to think.
Would I rather watch The Undiscovered Country or TMP? The Undiscovered Country.
Would I rather watch First Contact or TMP? First Contact.
Would I rather watch The Voyage Home or TMP? The Voyage Home.
Would I rather watch The Wrath of Khan or TMP? The Wrath of Khan.

So, it comes down to a choice between TMP and TSFS. How do I break this tied place? Once again, watchability. TMP is something I'll watch on its own. TSFS is something I'll only watch if I'm watching it with TWOK and TVH. So, in something so close, where there are pros and cons for each, that's what decides it for me. I'm giving the nod to TMP.

So, as of 2024, this is how I rank the first 10 Star Trek Movies:

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
3. Star Trek: First Contact
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
7. Star Trek: Generations
8. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
9. Star Trek: Insurrection
10. Star Trek: Nemesis

This also means I (still) firmly believe in the even-odd curse that existed before Nemesis broke it. ;)
 
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I don't like to view TMP as a movie per se, rather an experience, because it defies my current demands of what a movie should be; I am firmly of the opinion that post-9-11 cinema, and specifically The Dark Knight trilogy, ruined cinema because it led to so many films where the humor and fun and color is almost entirely absent (I'm looking primarily at Joker and Batman V Superman, and, well, anything by Zack Snyder, but there are TONS of films of every genre that want so badly to imitate Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan). What Marvel has done with their heroes, hit or miss, is what movies should be about: bright, fun, colorful, exciting and often funny two hour distractions from the fact that the planet we are living on is on fire and dying.

TMP IS a weird film, because it works IN SPITE of this colorful, exciting, fun trend that I love in movies. It works because, in spite of it's sterile and cold visuals and sound, it is COMFORTABLE. At least for me. I feel SAFE watching this movie, knowing that the crew of the Starship Enterprise are back in action after all those years apart, and doing cool sci fi stuff you couldn't see on 60s TV sets. The irony is, I enjoy the later films less because the colorful, exciting fun clashes with what I loved most about the first film. I adore the later films but they never quite matched that Roddenberry-style idealism that screamed "this is a utopian society, we can overcome any obstacle if we work together, and face any challenge, even a massive cloud ship thing* barreling straight towards our home planet", which I feel represents Star Trek at its very core best.

*This film DID have humor after all, "Why is any object we don't understand called a 'thing'?" How much more Trekish can you get?
 
TMP was the first attempt to bring Star Trek to cinema. I love it because I'm a big TOS fan even when it has some lengths. None-Trekkies may find it boring but I don't really care.
I don't want to compare it to other Star Trek movies, I just say The Wrath Of Khan is my favorite one.
Anyway, personally I don't really need Star Trek for cinemas, even when it's entertaining. For me the tv and streaming series are enough. But I know, it's about money.
Since there are still Star Trek vs Star Wars discussions here, you could say ST is rather for tv or streaming on your pc whlle star Wars is rather for the cinemas.
 
Until the Kelvinverse movies, The Motion Picture was the only of the Star Trek films that feels truly cinematic. It's my favorite of all thirteen movies - it doesn't rely on a villain character, its very sci-fi, it asks big questions, and its canvas is epic.

Robert Wise's epic wins for me, every time.
 
What I want out of a movie depends on the mood I'm in. Thankfully, there's a lot of movies to choose from!

I don't think I ever really appreciated TMP until I had the chance to see it on the big screen, though. Of all the Trek movies, I think it benefits most from being viewed as originally intended.

I still typically don't want to rewatch it unless I'm in a fairly specific mood though, because it does feel slow and does have a somewhat unexciting color palate and does feel as though the TOS characters have lost something that they don't regain until the next film.
 
I like watching the Klingon scene and that's about it. I like the feel and look of the film but I can't stand watching it. I get the same feeling watching this as "Encounter at Farpoint" but at least that had two seasons to work it's way into something I find good. I like watching the "Star Trek Legacy" 25 minute cut of the film with the Tron Legacy soundtrack over the top of it. I liked how the Marvel comics did the "Untold Voyages" arc immediate post-TMP using the same look. I don't hate it or anything and enjoy the Epsilon IX space station scene. I'm just cold on this story.
 
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I love the Klingon scene, and I can generally watch the movie without getting restless up until Our Heroes spend several minutes just staring at V'ger and its abstract patterns. Even the Enterprise flyby is kind of alright for me because I love the refit and don't really mind seeing it in amazing detail.

TBF, on an aesthetic level I think V'ger looks really cool too...I'd love it as a screensaver...but after awhile you just want something to happen or for people to talk at least, and for a film about a supposedly urgent situation it really kills the momentum to do a sit-and-stare. Though I suppose, from that perspective, the E flyby is also problematic, but it's also earlier in the film when you're still 'settling in'.
 
TMP has a scope that absolutely draws you in. It's epic. The ship and crew never felt more real to me. The slower pace does make it harder to re-watch over and over though.

What it needed, in my opinion, was a scene involving the supporting cast outside the bridge, to showcase their camaraderie and humour in the face of danger, to soften the initial, more brittle, relationships with the main cast. Also, proper landing party, maybe following Spock in a shuttle, consisting of wider crew as an homage to TOS, would have been cool, maybe with Uhura and Security Ensign RIP. Maybe they could have thrown in that encounter with a (holographic) Klingon warship in that section before retrieving Spock
 
Gimme the extended tv version in widescreen and 4k for sure.

The plot may be "The Changeling" but updated and with the dumb stuff removed.

The detail to both the new ship, the interior sets, minutiae such as people looking out porthole windows to see the travel pods docking, and - best of all - the ship inside the V'Ger cloud as the crew look mesmerized while traveling through the Doctor Who opening credits... nothing less than brilliantly done. So guess what, it'll be Photoshop time soon enough...

But seriously, the movie's goal was fourfold:
(a) show a sense of tangible scale, more and other than a zillion ships doing pew-pew on screen (which is cool for different reasons, especially back then with how painstaking it was to do)
(b) let the audience be a part of the crew and experiencing this...
(c) ...in real time. Nope, this movie is brave and not playing with elapsed time. while the visuals are more impactful the first time around and on a really big movie theater screen*
(d) Explore philosophy stuff like what with Spock's internal conflict between the flushing of his emotions via the Kohler process and stuff

* or if you have a 40" tv set at home but still want that immersive experience, just sit three or four feet in front of it. Source: https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/by-size/size-to-distance-relationship. Not to mention, the Klingon imperial cruiser Amar's main viewscreen was about 40" and he wasn't having much fun cuz he's like 10 feet away from the teensy thing

The movie is unconventional with its action scenes. Nope. No dogfighting here, as even Epsilon 9 staff imply the Klingons might be on better terms (no worries, the director's cut snips out some exposition and is one of the few changes that retroactively improves continuity, but you know I'll be whinging on about the cut later on...) What we do get is a wormhole problem due to systems design boo-boo, transporter hiccup that turns hapless crewmembers into oatmeal, reliance on shuttlecraft, and walking on the ship that still hold up impressively well.

The movie was on the right track, as the big machine baddie coming to threaten Earth should be terrifying... the movie almost manages that, though it manages the mystery behind VGer far better. Want that sense of big threat that nails the palpable nature? That's the Borg from early TNG, which also features Earth even less -.and yet we still care about the crew and situation. But TNG holds its own about the human experience. It just takes a different path.

I know the movie had behind the scenes problems. I vaguely remember reading they wanted to do more sci-fi things with the belt packs and neural implant things, but thankfully it was toned down.

How'd the Epsilon 9 staff go tinkle when the f/x shows the exterior of their control room and there's no turbolift or door heading to the tinkle room? Talk about beaming... maybe their belt packs did it.
 
TMP was my favorite Star Trek film when I was younger, mainly because I was fascinated by V'Ger (mostly because there was never any scene which showed the ship in its entirety and I had to work from grainy VHS tapes to try to make out the design...which I got completely wrong.)

However, upon recent viewing, I find the movie to be dull and boring, even with the director's cut which excises scenes and adds new CGI for V'Ger. I recently also watched the first episode of a show I'd never seen before, Space: 1999. The ironic thing about it is that I found that episode to be plodding and dull as well, but also extremely similar to the experience of watching TMP, right down to the sets, uniforms, props, and acting! Space: 1999 looked and felt EXACTLY like TMP. I'm not a connoisseur of '70's sci-fi, and now I think I know why.
 
Until the Kelvinverse movies, The Motion Picture was the only of the Star Trek films that feels truly cinematic.
As I have mentioned on TrekBBS before, TMP was my first major Trek experience. Thanks to my underwhelming reaction to the wildly overhyped (in Australia, at least) "Logan's Run", I actually avoided "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

I came to TMP knowing only a few random Saturday morning TAS episodes in b/w, and about six TOS episodes that were chosen to celebrate the arrival of colour TV to Australia in 1975. A series of daily newspaper articles, "My Week on the Star Trek Movie Set" by James Oram, were the main source of local publicity and those articles (was this "just another TV series reunion?") made me seek out the novelisation -- and I devoured the book in a weekend, while waiting for my brother (or one of several cousins) to accept my invitation to the cinema.


Bridge of the USS Enterprise in TMP by Ian McLean, on Flickr

Ultimately, I went by myself -- and was blown away by this movie. Sure, the other films are fun, but I went back to TMP at least five times during its initial run, eventually settling on a front row centre seat as my preference (after hearing that several friends watched "Star Wars" that way in 1977). Strangely enough, when the 2009 Kelvinverse movie premiered, I was sitting with several other fan friends who had discovered Trek via TMP... and we were equally amazed by that both movies gave us that same immersive feeling.

Although, I would say that "First Contact" is also very cinematic, and the other two Kelvinverse movies.

I am a also huge fan of the recent 4K Director's Edition version of TMP. I am astounded that the DE team got two bites at that cherry. It is fabulous!
 
TMP was my favorite Star Trek film when I was younger, mainly because I was fascinated by V'Ger (mostly because there was never any scene which showed the ship in its entirety and I had to work from grainy VHS tapes to try to make out the design...which I got completely wrong.)

However, upon recent viewing, I find the movie to be dull and boring, even with the director's cut which excises scenes and adds new CGI for V'Ger. I recently also watched the first episode of a show I'd never seen before, Space: 1999. The ironic thing about it is that I found that episode to be plodding and dull as well, but also extremely similar to the experience of watching TMP, right down to the sets, uniforms, props, and acting! Space: 1999 looked and felt EXACTLY like TMP. I'm not a connoisseur of '70's sci-fi, and now I think I know why.

Yeah, the director's cut did add in a couple replacement exterior shots that do properly one-up the original film. Plus, we finally get to see the exterior of V'Ger itself, something not done for the original due to time and budget constraints having run out. But the film chops out way too much and, worse, replaces that purposefully-designed klaxon that commands "get off your heiney NOW!!!" with this wussy tone that reminds me of a tasteless bathroom joke.



Granted, the original film also had the spoken voice repeating the same bloody thing incessantly was wisely removed from the Director's Cut, but that klaxon change was just too much...

As to dullness - I think it comes from watching too much newer material, which is often scripted and paced faster in general. Then, upon switching gears back to older material, it can be something of an unexpected shock. That said, it's still an individual taste. Some YT review channels that praise TWOK also call it "slow" yet others still say it's just fine as it is.

For the most part. Great points about Space 1999 as well. The 70s definitely went from bold colors to bland earth tones, plus there was a utilitarian look as well as the general 70s stereotypes with the earth tones. As a person who didn't get into S1999 until 2014 or so, many season one episodes had the right balance and use an ethereal atmosphere and sense of threat and fear as build-up. Now I'm tempted to do a re-watch... that said, many people back in the day did say the show seemed slow, hence season 2 ratcheting up the gusto. To varying results as the plotting took a plummet, becoming more shallow, inconsistent with in-episode logic/rules it tries to set for itself, garishly superficial and hollow in plot and tone, and overall light'n'loose. The one where they go to the plant planet and are judged for killing lots of plants should have been a sci-fi triumph for mixing some Trek tropes with that one episode of "Lost in Space" that didn't give a hoot about the talking carrot, except it fouls up at every possible turn. It's impressively bad. Even the alleged action in this story was pure hokum and characters were forgetting why they're there (e.g. using dead branches and trunks for tools, which is technically desecrating the dead, went nowhere with what would have been a summarily guilty action right there... ugh!)
 
I actually enjoyed TMP pacing for the most part. It's only the final scene at V'Ger that really drags for me. It could be half as long.

I think if a version of the Memory Wall scene could have taken some inspiration from Alien, where members of the crew head out in space suits to explore a mysterious ship, they might have been able to amp up some tension and drama. They might have needed to shift some of the final act to a shuttle though to avoid wasting time heading back to the ship. Decker and Ilia could have joined them later.
 
TMP was my favorite Star Trek film when I was younger, mainly because I was fascinated by V'Ger (mostly because there was never any scene which showed the ship in its entirety and I had to work from grainy VHS tapes to try to make out the design...which I got completely wrong.)

However, upon recent viewing, I find the movie to be dull and boring, even with the director's cut which excises scenes and adds new CGI for V'Ger. I recently also watched the first episode of a show I'd never seen before, Space: 1999. The ironic thing about it is that I found that episode to be plodding and dull as well, but also extremely similar to the experience of watching TMP, right down to the sets, uniforms, props, and acting! Space: 1999 looked and felt EXACTLY like TMP. I'm not a connoisseur of '70's sci-fi, and now I think I know why.

I am most definitely a connoisseur of 70's sci-fi apparently, since I love both TMP and Space 1999. The latter is a pretty good example of what I was expecting Star Trek Phase II to be like if they ever did it.
 
TMP, particularly the recent DE, has aged best of all the films. It’s TOS writ large for the big screen. I can quibble on some creative choices, but TMP feels like Star Trek for adults.
I say that about the first 3 movies in general. Then we had the family friendly comedy and after that it pretty much went into self parody, winking and in-jokes. Even when they tried to convince us how dark TUC was, they still had to shoehorn in gags and idiocy.

Taking @Lord Garth's OP in the spirit in which he posited:

Would I rather watch Nemesis or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch Insurrection or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Final Frontier or TMP? This is tough, I love them both.
Depends on the mood
Would I rather watch Generations or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Search for Spock or TMP? The Search for Spock as it's my favorite of the Trek films.
Would I rather watch The Undiscovered Country or TMP? TMP (but I - do - like TUC's theatrical cut).
Would I rather watch First Contact or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Voyage Home or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Wrath of Khan or TMP? The Wrath of Khan.

So, as of 2024, this is how I rank the first 10 Star Trek Movies:

1. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (I'll die on this hill)
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (theatrical)
3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (theatrical or 2001 DE)
4. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
5.Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (theatrical)
6. Star Trek: Generations
7. Star Trek: First Contact
8. Star Trek: Nemesis
9. Star Trek: Insurrection
10. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (really don't like Star Trek's full frontal comedies as much)
 
TMP was my favorite Star Trek film when I was younger, mainly because I was fascinated by V'Ger (mostly because there was never any scene which showed the ship in its entirety and I had to work from grainy VHS tapes to try to make out the design...which I got completely wrong.)
Any sketches?

TMP was certainly the most noble of the space films.

We had ALIEN, Moonraker, The Black Hole that same year—and each felt different.
 
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I don't like to view TMP as a movie per se, rather an experience, because it defies my current demands of what a movie should be; I am firmly of the opinion that post-9-11 cinema, and specifically The Dark Knight trilogy, ruined cinema because it led to so many films where the humor and fun and color is almost entirely absent (I'm looking primarily at Joker and Batman V Superman, and, well, anything by Zack Snyder, but there are TONS of films of every genre that want so badly to imitate Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan). What Marvel has done with their heroes, hit or miss, is what movies should be about: bright, fun, colorful, exciting and often funny two hour distractions from the fact that the planet we are living on is on fire and dying.

TMP IS a weird film, because it works IN SPITE of this colorful, exciting, fun trend that I love in movies. It works because, in spite of it's sterile and cold visuals and sound, it is COMFORTABLE. At least for me. I feel SAFE watching this movie, knowing that the crew of the Starship Enterprise are back in action after all those years apart, and doing cool sci fi stuff you couldn't see on 60s TV sets. The irony is, I enjoy the later films less because the colorful, exciting fun clashes with what I loved most about the first film. I adore the later films but they never quite matched that Roddenberry-style idealism that screamed "this is a utopian society, we can overcome any obstacle if we work together, and face any challenge, even a massive cloud ship thing* barreling straight towards our home planet", which I feel represents Star Trek at its very core best.

*This film DID have humor after all, "Why is any object we don't understand called a 'thing'?" How much more Trekish can you get?
I feel the same way about post-9/11 films and TMP. One of the reasons I love TMP is because it's intelligent, thoughtful, and has a story solely focused on "the human adventure." I love the narrative and character connections, with Kirk, Spock, Decker, and Illia as incomplete characters who discover what they need to be whole again while helping V'ger to do the same. There's more heart and thought in TMP than most science fiction movies made since its release. Of course, I also love The Search For Spock and The Final Frontier, so what do I know?
 
Would I rather watch Nemesis or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch Insurrection or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Final Frontier or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch Generations or TMP? TMP.
Would I rather watch The Search for Spock or TMP? This is where I have to really stop to think.
Would I rather watch The Undiscovered Country or TMP? The Undiscovered Country.
Would I rather watch First Contact or TMP? First Contact.
Would I rather watch The Voyage Home or TMP? The Voyage Home.
Would I rather watch The Wrath of Khan or TMP? The Wrath of Khan.

Would I rather watch The Final Frontier or TMP? TMP.

The opposite. TFF captured the heart and many of the reasons audiences ever cared about the main characters in several scenes, justified in the plot--among the best in the franchise. TMP--depsite being closer to the TOS era--was utterly heartless, misguided and committed the biggest crime in having the main characters all act as if they wanted nothing to do with, or did not have endless experiences with each other which both built and tested their deep friendship.

The oft-referred to claim TMP was a remake of TOS' "The Changeling" has never been entirely accurate, since that episode had the advantage of audiences caring about the threat to the crew from Nomad. Stating the obvious, that is the way a threat is effectively written: the reader/viewer must care about the characters at risk, otherwise one will end up with the obvious: lifeless and often pointless, dragging exposition attempting to stand in for (what should be) the natural marriage of plot and its challenge to developed characters with a related purpose for responding to said plot. TMP gave audiences no true reason to care about anything, completely forgetting the essence what made TOS a global phenomenon, swapping that out for spectacle and elementary-school level, pseudo-philosophical droning feeling like anything other than what had been established in the series TMP was allegedly based on.

So, i'd rather watch TFF in a heartbeat over trying to watch the most misguided ST production ever made...well, until it was joined by much of the Berman era and beyond.
 
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