Following the original series' TV cancellation in 1969, efforts were made to revive the everlasting Star Trek franchise on film. The journey from TV to cinema had its ups and downs, but thanks to the success of sci-fi film classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars, the green light was given for a feature-length Star Trek outing, resulting in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The director, Robert Wise, always maintained that the theatrical cut of the film, which was released in 1979, felt like an initial rough cut to him, so he managed to release his own “Director's Edition”, which involves tightened and added scenes (an additional four minutes added), remastered audio and new CGI effects. Though his cut was released back in 2001, now, for the franchise's 55th anniversary, Wise's cut of the film has been restored for 4K, but how does the film hold up now?
Personally, for this reviewer, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a fine outing but nothing more than that, and even with the improvements made in the Director's Edition, it's still not a good movie, let alone a great one. It's famously criticized as being “The Motion-less Picture” due to its slow-paced story, and those criticisms still stand here. It's painfully slow with the story taking forever to properly get going with nothing really happening until about an hour into the movie, not to mention that there's hardly any action to keep you engaged or excited throughout. There isn't any real momentum or energy driving the film with only the pretty visuals to keep you distracted. It felt like they took an hour-long Star Trek story, stretched it to two-hours-and-sixteen-minutes, and gave it a bigger budget (The script was recycled from an unmade pilot of a new Star Trek series). It's loaded to the gills with constant padding with a lot of exposition-heavy scenes and long VFX shots that could've easily been condensed or excised, plus the costume design is pretty laughable, with everyone looking as though they are wearing fancy jim-jams most of the time.
That's not to say there isn't some merit to be found; the visuals are gorgeous considering this was made at the end of the 1970's, Jerry Goldsmith's score is unsurprisingly great with his theme becoming a staple for the ‘Star Trek' franchise for years afterwards (especially for TV's The Next Generation) and the performances all around are pretty solid even if we do have William Shatner being… well, William Shatner. Despite these good points and a stunning new 4K restoration, The Motion Picture is still far from being a ‘Star Trek' classic. It's too long, too slow and rather too dull to fully enjoy. It's definitely understandable why this one is still very divisive, since you really need to be in the right mood to fully appreciate it. While this reviewer admires the attempt, its execution is still something to be desired.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Director's Edition is out now on 4K Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray