I did a very silly thing the other day. Inspired by the confluence of my overwhelmingly positive reaction to Robert Wise’s Somebody Up There Likes Me and She Blogged By Night’s William Shatner Blogothon, I rewatched Star Trek The Motionless Picture.
I know. There’s no one to blame but myself.
Star Trek The Motion Picture, follows the old gang as they reunite to take on a gigantic force that’s destroying everything in its path and heading straight for earth. This might not seem like the plot for a boring movie. That is because you have never seen Star Trek The Motionless Picture before.
Star Trek is a film made to provoke very deep thoughts. What kind of responsibility does mankind have to its creations? At what point does Artificial Intelligence become simply intelligence? Is it morally right to kidnap and apparently kill a nice bland bald lady if in doing so one makes her ascend to a higher plane of consciousness?
And while Star Trek The Motion Picture does raise many questions, these are unfortunately not the questions it raises. The questions it raises are much more along the lines of; Huh? And why is it taking him so God Damn long to get to the space ship? How could so many people make so many poor decisions?
The problem with Star Trek The Motion Picture, is that it’s a film that gets above its raising. Everything in the film isn’t just Serious its SERIOUS. The film is often called out for aping 2001, but it really is very much a piece with the “furrowed brow” aesthetic of seventies pre Star Wars Sci Fi like Silent Runnings. And it reflects poorly on every single aspect of the picture. From the “We built these goddamn expensive models and sets so we’re going to show them to you!” pacing that drags down damn near every scene. To the old hiring of Robert Wise, who previously made one of the greatest hard scifi movies of all time with The Day The Earth Stood Still. To the drab ulitarian grey jump suits that the cast is forced into. Every part of Star Trek The Motionless Picture, is ugly, slow, drab, and kind of depressing. The Warp engines seem powered by nothing more then a free floating sense of Malaise. It’s a film only the Carter Administration could love.
Because here’s the secret about Star Trek, that everyone keeps forgetting. Underneath all the utopian ideals, and chats about logic versus emotion, and high minded sentiments; the franchise owes as much to the pulps and serials of the thirties as its hated Rival. Its not a grey jumpsuit it lives on Velour.
See Star Trek is supposed to be fun, which is something more or less every incarnation between the original TV show and JJ Abrams version forgot. Star Trek at its most basic is devoted to a formula that involves going out into space and finding something weird there. Maybe that weird thing will be some kind of monster who will force Shatner to take off his shirt. Maybe that weird thing will be a green alien bimbo who will force Shatner to take off his shirt. But whatever it is damn it, it will involve Shatner shirtless and cardboard sets!
Shatner always was the key to anchoring the Star Trek series, and no matter what else he has done to the series, no matter that he once shot a fan dance so utterly unerotic that I think he actually ended up creating anti eroticism, he strikes just the right cord as Kirk. Kirk with a gleam in his eye, and a steel chin. Kirk who never once looked down upon the goofy shit that came out of the writers room. Shatner always made being shot out into the far reaches of space to boldy go where no man has gone before, look like an adventure. That might sound like something that’s easy to do, but then why have so many failed so miserably at it.
You see him occasionally in Star Trek The Motion Picture, looking out the corner of his eye, seeming to wonder, “Has anyone ever fucked a satellite before?” Unfortunately, that’s a question that is never answered. Shatner is the only source of life in this film.
So I’ve been away for a bit. I’m hard at work on The Christopher Nolan Blogothon, which starts next Sunday. If you could find it in your heart to submit I’d be ever so grateful. That is unless you simply want the next month of TTDS to be Video Blogs of me weeping.
So forgive me, if don’t post as much this week (Though there certainly are a few articles on deck) just know its for a good cause.
In other news the amazing Planet Of Terror, has featured me on their "Meet The Horror Bloggers" segment. In addition to being a guaranteed fun and insightful take on the horror genre, PoT is incredibly generous to other blogs and independent horror films. They basically kick ass, and I can’t thank them enough for featuring me.
So if you’re coming here for the first time from there, I hope you’ll stick around, lots of good stuff coming up!
Devil's Due (2014)
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