by Michelle Erica Green

Grade: B-
Production: Paramount, 1979
Running Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

Video Summary:

Captain Kirk has been promoted to admiral, but wants nothing more than to command a starship again. When an entity of enormous power destroys several outposts, then heads toward Earth, he takes command of the refurbished Enterprise to try to protect humanity. Spock -- who has left Starfleet to pursue a life of pure logic on Vulcan -- joins the crew when the alien entity intrudes on his thoughts. Though his former shipmates reach out to him, Spock's only interest is in discovering the entity V'Ger's purpose.

Kirk struggles with new Enterprise Captain Will Decker, who suspects that the admiral has ulterior motives in taking charge of the mission. But Decker soon has distractions of his own when V'Ger creates a probe duplicating his former lover Ilia. Spock risks his life to understand the entity's demands, but by the time the crew learns where V'Ger came from, it may be too late to stop the giant machine from destroying all life on Earth.

Best For Ages:

6-8 - A rather long film for young viewers; only fans of original STAR TREK episodes will want to watch.

9-12 - Older kids who liked the original series will enjoy this reunion film.

12 & up - The metaphysical questions are a bit oversimplified for adults, but the character interaction is a strength of this film.

Parental Advisory:

Educational Value: Though emotion triumphs over logic, science and the space program are valued highly in this film. Viewers hear alien languages and witness inter-species cooperation.

Entertainment Value: Though too much screen time is wasted admiring the new Enterprise, the visuals in this film hold up fairly well against more recent computer-generated versions. The story starts very slowly, but gains momentum once a crewmember is kidnapped and transformed.

Violence: An enormous alien entity destroys several spaceships and planetary outposts, then plans to exterminate all life on Earth. A crewmember is killed by the alien, then duplicated as a powerful probe which injures other crewmembers.

Sex: An exotic navigator from a species which is required to take an oath of celibacy briefly appears nude in a shower and romances a human. There is little onscreen evidence of their passion, however.

Frightening Situations: A transporter accident kills two people. Humans brace for destruction of their home planet.

Emotional Intensity: Kirk cannot get his old colleague Spock to communicate with him when he most needs a friend. A man decides to give up his life to merge with an alien entity in search of spiritual growth.

Mature Themes: Spock tries to give up all emotion in order to achieve inner peace, then realizes he must reconcile his Human and Vulcan sides. Kirk must deal with aging and feeling useless. The probe discovers it shares some of the romantic and sexual feelings of the woman upon which it is based. The alien entity seeks its Creator, which it regards as a god.


STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE is beloved by some Trekkies as a triumphant return of the original cast members, but others find the film a great bore. Far too much time is spent reassembling the crew and exploring the new Enterprise, and the distant Spock who arrives will disappoint those familiar with the multidimensional character from the series. Once the mission gets underway, the pace improves, but there's too much attention to Captain Decker and Ilia rather than the familiar faces.

Still, this is an ambitious film, tackling questions of identity and achievement for all the major characters. Kirk discovers that he never should have left the captaincy; Spock discovers that he was not meant to live as a purely logical Vulcan; Decker discovers that he feels incomplete without a physical connection to Ilia and his vessel; V'Ger discovers that it needs human feelings and desires for its vast knowledge to have meaning. Young viewers may not pick up on all the nuances, but they will understand the urge to grow and explore driving all the characters.

Like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, this film centers on a first contact situation with an alien whose motives for approaching Earth are uncertain. Also like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, a major character chooses to leave humanity behind to travel the stars. Although STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE lacks the contemporary relevance of Spielberg's masterpiece, it will appeal to many of the same audiences.

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