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The Motion Picture


Series : The Motion Picture Rating : 3
Disc No : Episode : I
First Aired : 1 Jan 1979 Stardate : 7412.6
Director : Robert Wise Year : 2271
Writers : Allen Dean Foster Season : 1
Guest Cast :
Bill McTosh as Klingon crew member
Billy Van Zandt as Ensign Vaylin Zaand
Craig Thomas as Klingon crew member
Dave Moordigian as Klingon crew member
David Gautreaux as Commander Branch
David Gerrold as Enterprise crew member
Edna Glover as Vulcan Master
Franklyn Seales as Crew member
Gary Faga as Airlock technician
Grace Lee Whitney as Transporter Chief Janice Rand
Howard Itzkowitz as Cargo deck ensign
Iva Lane as Crew member
Jimmie Booth as Klingon crew member
Joel Kramer as Klingon Officer Karnog
Joel Schultz as Klingon crew member
John D. Gowans as Assistant to Rand
Jon Rashad Kamal as Commander Sonak
Joshua Gellegos as Security officer
Junero Jennings as Technical assistant
Leslie C. Howard as Yeoman
Marcy Lafferty as Chief DiFalco
Mark Lenard as Klingon Captain Krase
Michael Rougas as Cleary
Michele Ameen Billy as Lieutenant
Momo Yashima as Crew member
Norman Stuart as Vulcan Master
Paul Weber as Vulcan Master
Paula Crist as Crew member
Persis Khambatta as Lieutenant Ilia
Ralph Brannen as Crew member
Ralph Byers as Crew member
Roger Aaron Brown as Episilon technician
Sayra Hummel as Technical assistant
Stephen Collins as Commander Willard Decker
Susan J. Sullivan as Woman
Terrence O'Connor as Chief Ross
Tom Morga as Klingon Officer Komal
Tony Rocco as Klingon crew member
Stunts :
Charlie Croughwell as StuntsJohn Hugh McKnight as Stunts
Joshua Croughwell as StuntsKeith L. Jensen as Stunts
Mark deAlessandro as StuntsMark Donaldson as Stunts
Mondy Cox as StuntsPhil Culotta as Stunts
Robert Bralver as StuntsScott Allan Cook as Stunts
William Couch as Stunts
YATI : The wide screen video has one of the all time YATIs - when Kirk leaves the ship to chase Spock, there is a shot that shows the scaffolding around the airlock door. They forgot to do the special effects to put the rest of the ship in.
Great Moment : The flyby around the new Enterprise by Kirk and Scotty.
Body Count : Sonak and one other are the only ones who definitely die. The crew of three Klingon ships, that of the Epsilon Nine station and Ilia are 'digitised' by V'Ger - it's unclear if this causes death or not.
Factoid : Originally Paramount where planning to make a new series, Star Trek Phase II. This was cancelled at the last minute, when they decided to make a film this instead.


The film opens with a huge energy cloud travelling through space as three Klingon battlecruisers bear down on it. The Klingons begin firing photon torpedoes into the cloud, but are destroyed within moments by energy bolts launched by whatever lies inside. A Federation Starbase which is monitoring the battle calculates that the cloud is on a direct heading for Earth.

We switch to Vulcan where Spock, now retired from Starfleet, is undergoing the final rite in the Kolinahr discipline - the Vulcan ritual designed to purge any last traces of emotion. Spock refuses to accept Kolinahr at the last second - he is sensing incredibly powerful telepathic images from space, and they have triggered something within him. He leaves to pursue the images.

Meanwhile, Admiral Kirk arrives at Starfleet Headquarters for a meeting with Admiral Nogura. It's two and a half years after the end of the Enterprise's five year mission of exploration and Kirk is now an Admiral stuck in a desk job; the Enterprise is in the last stages of an eighteen month redesign and refit under her new Captain, Willard Decker. Kirk argues Nogura into giving him the Enterprise back, claiming that his familiarity with the ship and its crew make him the only choice for the mission to intercept the cloud. Despite the objections of Decker, Kirk assumes command and heads out of orbit after the arrival of some final crew members. One is McCoy, drafted back into the service against his wishes, the other Lieutenant Ilea - a Deltan who was once romantically involved with Decker.

Unfortunately, Kirk's bull-headedness quickly lands the Enterprise in trouble. He orders Scotty to use the warp drive before it is ready, resulting in a wormhole that nearly destroys the ship - only quick thinking by Decker saves them. Kirk must face up to the fact that he may not be what he once was...

The arrival of Spock helps matters; he has been monitoring the ship's transmissions and has solved the problems of the malfunctioning warp drive, allowing them to head out of the system and intercept the cloud in deep space.

As they reach the cloud it fires on the Enterprise, nearly destroying it, but some quick thinking by Spock lets them to communicate their peaceful intent and they are allowed to proceed into the cloud. In the centre they find a colossal vessel, tens of kilometres long. A probe from the ship abducts Ilea, returning an almost perfect copy in her place which is designed to act as a probe to investigate the ship and its crew. The Ilea-probe announces that it was sent by V'Ger, which is heading to Earth in order to find its creator.

As the alien ship draws closer to Earth Spock takes matters into his own hands. He steals a space suit and heads into the vessel's interior. He finds that the ship has been travelling through our galaxy for centuries, amassing colossal amounts of data by absorbing ships and even entire planets and storing perfect replicas within itself. Spock discovers an image of a planet of living machines - V'Gers home world. V'Ger is not a ship at all, but a living machine. Its knowledge spans the universe, and it is desperate to know what else there might be to learn.

As V'Ger approaches Earth the Ilea-probe announces that the carbon based life on the planet is interfering with its creator and preventing contact. It announces its intention to wipe out all life on the planet. Kirk plays a bluff, claiming that he knows why the creator will not respond but that he will only reveal this information to V'Ger directly. V'Ger allows this, bringing the Enterprise deep within itself. Kirk, McCoy, Spock and Decker head out with the Ilea-probe to meet V'Ger.

They find an old Earth space probe - Voyager 6, which fell into a black hole centuries ago. Voyager emerged across the galaxy where it was found by the machine planet. They built the huge vessel to allow Voyager to fulfil its functioning - learn everything which is learnable and return the information to the creator.

Kirk attempts to prove that Humans are V'Gers creator by sending a binary radio message ordering Voyager to transmit its information, but it burns out its radio circuit to prevent reception. V'Ger is determined that it will physically meld itself with a Human being in order to create a new life form which is capable of accessing higher levels of being.

Decker volunteers, and links himself directly to V'Gers computer brain. As Kirk and his officers retreat back to their ship Decker is transformed into a colossal pillar of light which rapidly consumes the entire bulk of V'Ger, leaving the Enterprise floating in orbit alone.

Back on the Enterprise, Spock speculates that they have witnessed the birth of a new life form - and possibly a future stage in their own evolution. Kirk lists Ilea and Decker as "missing", and orders the ship to head out of orbit to look for new adventures.


Oft referred to as "the slow motion picture", this film has about enough of a story to fill a one hour episode - not surprising as in many respects it's a remake of the TOS episode "The Changeling". The remainder of the time is filled with apparently endless special effects shots. There are other problems - TOS was full of bright vibrant colours while this film is all dreary pastel shades. The uniforms look simply awful - many fans compare them to pyjamas, with good reason. The film also takes itself too seriously - the humour which characterised the original series is gone, replaced by earnest and awe-filled expressions.

However, I think the film does have more going for it than most people claim. Many elements of post TOS Trek are established here - the opening music, the bumpy headed look of the Klingons, the refit Constitution and Klingon battlecruiser design, the Starfleet facilities in San Francisco, the orbital office structure, etc.. Although the effects are not a fitting substitute for plot, there is much to commend - photon torpedoes have never looked so fearsome as when the Klingons open up in the first couple of minutes of this film. Kirk and Scotty's flyby of the Enterprise is one of the most beautiful special effects scenes in cinema history, and V'Ger itself is awesome. And for the first and only time ever we get to see almost an entire ships crew assembled in one place, a scene which also makes it very clear that aliens are indeed not an unusual component of a Starfleet crew.

Ultimately, the film is disappointing. There are nuggets of gold in there, but you have to wade through a lot to find them. Had they cut thirty minutes or so out of it, it would have been a better film.

Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 6,215 Last updated : 24 Nov 2014