Part IV: Captain Kirk is a Dick!
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP) comes to your home, kicks open the door, and slaps you in the face. It greets you with cinematic views of fantastic ships soaring through space. It compliments that with beautiful views of space itself, as opposed to the familiar black with yellow dots. Then, it brings on the Klingons! Not the everyday Klingons you know from The Original Series (TOS), oh no! The big bumpy Klingon forehead makes its debut. Then you say TMP, when I watched TOS, those Persian looking guys they called Klingons spoke english, what about these Klingons? Fuck no! They’re speaking Klingon! Okay, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, you’ve made your point. This ain’t my big brother’s Star Trek. I’m excited about these stakes you’ve raised, tell me more.
TMP though, it already read my mind. It knows what questions I have from TOS. “What does Starfleet look like?” and furthermore “What does Earth look like in Stardate: whatever-the-hell-numbers-Shatner-feels-like-making-up-this-time-point-whatever.” TMP says “have no fear,” and immediately brings me right there. It is glorious and exciting. Then TMP makes a list and checks it twice and brings me a brand new, shiny Enterprise. It reveals this to me slowly, but thoroughly; and from every angle. For what feels like a very, very, very long time… and not just outside but within as well. At last, you finally get a feeling for how big it is inside the Enterprise. You get a feel for the size of the crew. You get to see all sorts of new gadgets and gizmos, and finally get a handle of the scope of this ship.
There’s a lot of bells and whistles to start the movie. Lots of great, big pieces of the puzzle you’ve been waiting to see get handed to you right off the bat. Soon you learn that not only has the budget grown, but the characters have as well. We meet our old friends what’s supposed to be roughly two years after the five-year mission, though their wrinkles tell another story. The now Admiral Kirk has been on Earth ever since. Despite his promotion and prestige, without the Enterprise he has become a desperate man. He’s stuck in the past just desperately wanting to go back to what glory he once had. Think Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite. So what does Admiral James T. Kirk do? Uses a big planet-devouring cloud as an excuse to commandeer the Enterprise, of course. He says he has Starfleet’s approval, but he’s in such a rush to get off Earth, I really couldn’t trust him on that.
So Kirk takes over a new Enterprise, of which he clearly has no understanding. In order to achieve this he has to stab Captain Decker (Portrayed by Stephen Collins, later of “7th Heaven” fame.), who’s the current captain of the Enterprise, directly in the back. Truthfully, I can’t say I recall feeling more sorry for any individual in any motion picture more than poor Captain Decker. He has been personally overseeing the entire reconstruction of the Enterprise for the last 18 months. Now, at last, only a few hours before reconstruction is completed here comes Kirk to take it all away. Captain Decker is demoted to first officer and science officer and forced to sit and watch as this clueless asshole takes over his ship.
Has Kirk’s self-serving sociopathic tirade stopped? Not by a long shot! Next on Kirk’s to do list? How about legally drafting, entirely against his will, Leonard McCoy back into Starfleet. McCoy’s got a big old beard and is perfectly content with whatever simple life he’s living. Is he married? Is he in love? Are there little McCoys? Who cares? Kirk doesn’t! So Bones is back, and then Kirk in no time flat almost blows up the Enterprise. Finally Spock shows up after having removed the last of his emotion while on Vulcan. He’s currently inactive from Starfleet, but they’re just as relaxed with their rules as they are their seatbelt laws. So if Spock wants to show up out of nowhere, to a ship that’s flying somewhere out in the vastness of space, that’s cool. So he takes the science officer part of the title back from what the now just First Officer Decker had left.
By the second half of the movie, McCoy’s beard has been shaved. Spock’s mellowed out, and the fact that Kirk knows nothing about the Enterprise anymore doesn’t seem to be a factor. For good measure, First Officer Decker’s long-lost love, whom he just reunited with, is killed and replaced by a robot version of herself so they can communicate with the evil cloud. Which, as it turns out, is a big computer within a big cloud. In other words, they break through one cliché from the show, to find another cliché from the show. Don’t get me wrong, this evil cloud and this computer are Way nicer looking than anything the show had to offer, but still, a spade’s a spade. So, after a bunch of vaginal innuendo and a nice little character arc where Spock starts to understand the importance of emotion, the story winds up. Everybody’s saved because Kirk does something almost clever and then there’s a nice little twist at the end. Our old friends are all back together again and poor First Officer Decker gets the best ending he could hope for at this point. Then Admiral James T. Kirk lies to Starfleet about what happened to Decker and just takes off into space having successfully stolen the Enterprise back. We’re still supposed to be rooting for this person.
It’s nice to see this series in a film format. The updated special effects, and scale of the whole movie do actually add a lot. Now that things are at this scope, it really just makes me look forward to the rest of the films. More so than before I saw the movie. This one tried, that’s for sure. Just didn’t quite make it story-wise. What I do know, is that next on my list is the Star Trek movie that everyone has heard of! So get ready to look to the sky and scream, because up next, it’s time for KHHAAAANNN!!!