“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” 4K UHD Review

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Director: Robert Wise
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Stephen Collins
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: December 6, 1979
4K UHD Release Date: September 7, 2021 (Amazon.com)

Plot Summary


When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it. (from IMDb)

Film Review


Star Trek: The Motion Picture rebirthed the Star Trek franchise 13 years after it had debuted on TV. The movie formed while series creator Gene Roddenberry and Paramount were in negotiations to revitalize the original series with a new TV series, to be called Star Trek: Phase II. However, the idea for that series was tossed out in favor of a feature film, and so Star Trek: The Motion Picture hit theaters in 1979. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the return that fans were hoping for.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture may have featured all of the beloved characters from the original series, but it seemed like it was Star Trek in name only. The movie even contained an all-new musical theme from Jerry Goldsmith. It was Star Trek for the next generation (see what I did there?), but it wasn’t the Star Trek everyone knew and loved. While this movie had released before I was born, I’m not quite sure when I finally first saw this film. After it made its Blu-Ray debut some years ago, I sat down and watched it from beginning to end for possibly the first time, and it left me with mixed feelings. It’s painfully slow, focuses far too much on long, drawn-out beauty shots of the USS Enterprise, and spends too much time reuniting the ship’s original crew. Furthermore, there’s very little passion in the characters or their performances, and everything that fans might love about what makes Star Trek… Star Trek, seemed missing. Looking back, it’s certainly a watchable movie, but its plot is kind of silly, and the characters just seem like poorly Xerox-ed, i.e. watered-down, versions of themselves.

The musical score may be the best thing – and maybe the only redeemable thing – about this Trek. The effects are great for the late 70’s, but, like the original series’ effects, they haven’t aged well. It’s also kind of a downer that the original crew of the Enterprise hadn’t remained together in the years that followed the series. Sure, it was only supposed to be a “5-year mission,” but these movies seemed to spend a lot of time trying to find ways to reunite everyone from the TV series’. Seeing DeForest Kelley as the doctor Bones come aboard looking more like a BeeGee than a member of Starfleet just seemed like a further example of how out of touch this version of Trek seemed to be. We get it; this movie was made in the 70’s, but it is supposed to take place in the future.

The content for Star Trek: The Motion Picture is pretty mild and about on-par for an episode from the series. I’ve seen it rated G (on IMDb) and also “Not Rated” (on the box for this set) but I think a PG rating would be fair. There is some mild profanity – mostly “h*ll” and “d*mn” – but there are a couple uses of “G-d” as an exclamation, too (and I thought most G-rated movies have no language at all). There is a lot of mystery surrounding this alien craft that is vaporizing ships, and an unknown potential foe called V’Ger. The most conflict in the story otherwise is kind of a power struggle between a new captain, Decker, played by Stephen Collins, and Shatner’s Admiral Kirk, who is more than anxious to get control of his USS Enterprise again. The worst violence seen is probably when Chekov suffers a burn on his hand and he screams in exaggerated pain as he pops up from his console and falls to the ground (he ends up being fine). When a lightning probe infiltrates the bridge of the Enterprise, several crew members are stunned by bolts of lightning while one vanishes and is apparently dead. Overall, it’s a rather tame film, albeit rather boring, too. (Supposedly, a “Director’s Cut” of the movie exists, but thus far is only available on DVD; it is not included with this set.)

It’s nice to see these movies find a home in 4K UHD, but I wasn’t all that impressed by the transfer. Sure, it’s pretty clear, but the picture can be rather dull in color and at times the image can even be a little muted or soft. (The original series was VERY colorful, and it feels like the over-compensated in the other direction regarding color here.) This is still probably the best transfer you can see for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s not really anything to write home about (much like the movie itself).

– John DiBiase (reviewed: 9/5/21)

4K UHD Special Features Review

Along with the feature film on Blu-Ray and 4K UHD sets (which are two separate 4-disc collection cases inside a cardboard slip case, for a total of 8 discs across the four movies), are the following, mostly previously released extras for Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture 4K Ultra HD

  • Isolated score in Dolby 2.0—NEW!
  • Commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Daren Dochterman

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Blu-ray

  • Isolated score in Dolby 2.0—NEW!
  • Commentary by Michael & Denise Okuda, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Daren Dochterman
  • Library Computer (HD)
  • Production
    • The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture (HD)
  • The Star Trek Universe
    • Special Star Trek Reunion (HD)
    • Starfleet Academy SCISEC Brief 001: The Mystery Behind V’ger
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboards
  • Trailers (HD)
  • TV Spots

– John DiBiase(reviewed: 9/6/21)

Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: None, but when we see the woman probe behind a glass door, we see her bare shoulders before clothing appears on her, so the crew may be looking at her nude form just below the cropping of the shot.
. Vulgarity/Language: 3 “h*ll,” 5 “d*mn,” 1 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “My G-d”
. Alcohol/Drugs: None.
. Blood/Gore: Chekov’s arm is burned and he screams in pain. We see some red on his hand
. Violence: A pulse hits a Klingon warbird and vaporizes it; Another warbird tries to shoot at another blast but is also vaporized; Two people try to transport but get distorted and scream and don’t come through. We hear they died; Another vessel is vaporized while Enterprise crew watch; While warping, they get caught in a wormhole and move and talk slowly as they stumble and shake around the bridge some; The Enterprise blow up an asteroid with a torpedo; Chekov’s arm is burned and he screams in pain. We see some red on his hand; An alien lightning probe zaps Spock who falls over. It then zaps a couple other characters and kills one of them; A robotic probe that looks like a human woman busts through a wall; Spock knocks out a man with a Vulcan neck pinch; Spock screams as he tries to mind meld with a sensor; Lightning from the alien ship strikes the Enterprise; Probe zaps Kirk backward. They help him up and hold him back; Light emanates from a man as a ship absorbs him.

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