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Non-Review Review: Star Trek – The Motion Picture

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has a lot to recommend it. It’s big, thoughtful science-fiction, ripe with ideas and high-concepts tying directly into the root of the franchise. It gives both Kirk and Spock clear character arcs. It looks and sounds amazing, demonstrating just how far special effects had evolved in the decade since the show went off the air. However, it suffers from a pace that might best be described as “glacial”, and a sense that – for all the grand ideas – we aren’t really boldly going anywhere that new. Elements of the film can’t help but recall both the 1968 science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and even the show’s own episode The Changeling.

While it’s easy to admire The Motion Picture, it’s a lot harder to enjoy it.

Strange new worlds...

Strange new worlds…

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Star Trek – Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor by John Byrne (Review)

The August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

It’s fascinating how few stories take place around Star Trek: The Motion Picture. There’s a rake of tie-in material that exists to flesh-out the Enterprise’s five-year mission, and a large volume of material set during the period from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan straight through to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. However, the space around The Motion Picture has been somewhat overlooked by writers delving into the expanded world of Star Trek tie-in fiction.

To be fair, there are reasons for this. Although it was a box office success, looked stunning for the time, had a rake of big ideas and welcomed the crew to the screen, The Motion Picture isn’t generally considered to be one of the high points of the franchise. As such, it seems reasonable that it garners less attention, the affection shown by a few writers aside. There’s also the fact that The Motion Picture opens with the crew of the Enterprise broken up, scattered amongst the cosmos.

The Motion Picture sees Kirk putting the band back together after the universe seems to have forgotten about them, pulling them out of mothballs. Any story set in the lead-up to The Motion Picture would have to feature the ensemble all separated and going about their own thing. This limits the kind of stories that can be told in the setting, and makes it less appealing than other settings in Star Trek continuity.

John Byrne’s Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor gives us a glimpse of what a project set between the end of the Enterprise’s mission and the start of The Motion Picture might look like. It’s essentially a solo adventure series focusing on one member of the cast, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

These are the voyages of the Starship... Yorktown...

These are the voyages of the Starship… Yorktown…

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