I’ve decided that I’m going to watch one Star Trek movie every month this year. I’m doing this for a few of reasons.

1. I’m not 100% sure I’ve seen all the movies. I may have missed five and six and I don’t think I finished Nemesis.
2. I felt like revisiting the movies since it’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve watched some of them.
3. I’m doing just one a month because I’m not a huge TOS fan and I’m afraid the early movies might be a slog to get through.

So, I began with the movie I dreaded the most, the first film...

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

My History With the Film:
I didn’t grow up a Star Trek fan. In fact, other than Trouble with the Tribbles and a few Next Generation episodes I watched on some random Christmas as a teenager, I didn’t watch any Star Trek. It was just too clean and too sophisticated for me.

My first attempt at getting into Star Trek came with the release of the Director’s Cut of The Motion Picture on DVD which was released in November 2001. My DVD collecting was at an all-time high and I had recently begun working so I had free cash to blow on nice DVDs of movies that I had never seen before, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was one of them. I was attracted to the box due to some nice artwork and the fact that it was two discs packed with features. Also promised were some cuts and updated CGI which interested me.

I recall watching it and wondering what in the hell was I watching. It was super slow, strange, and very long. I remember falling asleep at one point and having to go back and rewatch parts which made it even worse. In the end, the film didn’t spark a love of Star Trek, if anything it assured me that this was not a franchise for me. (Thankfully, The Next Generation showed me the errors of my ways.)

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Captain Kirk the original crew reunite to take the upgraded Enterprise out to confront an alien entity that is heading towards Earth.

What I Liked About It:
-The music is nice and calming.

-I really loved the slow look at the Enterprise and the use of suited workers to really show the scale of the ship. I don’t think I’ve ever truly realized how big a starship is until this movie.

-The special effects are neat and make for a very psychedelic experience. You can tell it was inspired by 2001.

-The ending is fun and I loved the reveal of the alien. It made me smile and I thought it was an excellent plot device.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The movie is long and the pacing is terrible. I know this is a film from the 70’s, but it feels like it’s twice as long as it actually is. I fell asleep twice while watching it this time around.

-Unless you know the characters from the series, hardly any of them come across likeable. Kirk is a rank pulling jerk, Spock is a closed off insubordinate, and Bones is a hippy grump. It’s hard to root for them which is troubling in a plot that moves at a snail’s pace.

I was hoping that age and maturity would allow for me to enjoy this film more than I did. It’s still very slow and hard to watch. From my understanding the film had a rushed shoot and I think it shows on film. The actors don’t seem motivated and the film almost feels like a reel for the visual effects team.

My first Star Trek movie was not a good one and I have a feeling this will be the worse one to go through. I can safely say I will never attempt to watch this movie ever again. It’s a horrible introduction into Star Trek and while I’m sure it has its fans, it’s just not for me.

The Wrath of Khan

My History with the Film:
The Wrath of Khan is widely considered the best Star Trek movie. I remember renting it while I worked at Blockbuster and I was blown away by how much better it was compared to the first film. The first film is almost psychedelic and is a slow burn in comparison to Wrath of Khan which is arguably an action film with likeable characters and a heightened pace. I fondly remember it being called the Star Trek film even non-Star Trek fans can enjoy.

So, what led me to giving Star Trek another shot after my debacle with the first film? Well, I met a guy named Eric while working at Blockbuster. Eric became sort of my nerd mentor. He took me beyond my casual fandom and introduced me to the inner workings of all things nerdy. He took me to get my first box at a comic book store. He taught me about Terry Gilliam films and anime. But most importantly, he taught me about Star Trek.

He explained the movies, how they were set up with the casts, and what to expect. He explained the different series and really gave me that baseline knowledge that I needed to wade into the Star Trek universe. And so with his encouragement, I took home a copy of the Wrath of Khan and couldn’t wait till our next shift to discuss it.

What the Film is About:
Admiral Kirk along with the crew of the Enterprise rush to stop a madman who has stolen a weapon of mass destruction.

What I Liked About It:
-The tonal shift is impressive. Where The Motion Picture was a slow, slog of a movie that never seems to really go anywhere, The Wrath of Khan starts off with action in the first scene and rarely lets up. This is a huge improvement and made for a much better film.

-The characters are actually likeable in this film and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ricardo Montalban (Khan) and Kristie Alley (Saavik) were both great in their roles.

-The film has a great scene that reminds you a lot of a World War II submarine battle. It’s slow, calculating, and suspenseful.

-The film has almost horror aspects at times which I really enjoyed. Stuff like the creatures they put into the ears. It really created tension and heighten the stakes early on. It made Khan a villain you knew you couldn’t side with.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I struggled to buy the whole Kirk has a son storyline. I mean, character wise it doesn’t seem to be that much of a stretch but it really didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the script.

The differences between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan are immense. It’s hard to even compare the two films because they seemingly have so little in common. Outside of the characters, actors, and the ship there isn’t much that links the two films.

The Wrath of Khan is fun. It’s a superior film in every way over its predecessor. It might lean a bit on the action side but it really works for this film. You get to see everyone at their best and Kirk has a true nemesis to battle.

I enjoyed Wrath of Khan a lot. While I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the film again, I can say that this film firmly made me excited to continue this little project I’ve begun.

The Search for Spock

My History with the Film::
Eric was the one who taught me that I had to lower my expectations for every other Star Trek movie, and so, I went into The Search for Spock expecting something more along the lines of The Motion Picture vs. The Wrath of Khan. Luckily for me, the film wasn’t nearly that bad, but was a noticeable dip in quality compared to the previous film.

What The Film is About (Non-Spoiler)::
The Enterprise heads back to Genesis after receiving some intel that Spock may be alive.

What I Liked About It::
-I was worried the pacing of this film was going to be more in line with The Original Motion Picture vs. The Wrath of Khan, but was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t. The film actually moves along at a nice pace and is anchored by a strong villain, two concurrent storylines, and some impressive visual effects.

-Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon and the villain sounds like a stretch, but early on they show his ruthlessness and all illusions that this is a version of Doc Brown in Klingon makeup go out the door. He actually makes for a very formidable enemy for Captain Kirk to take on.

-This is very much a Captain Kirk and the movie doesn’t suffer for it. The crew is there in minimal capacity and does a good job when needed.

- The movie doesn’t shy away from violence or death and it feels more grounded because of that.

What I Didn’t Like About It::
-The last ten minutes drag big time. There are a lot of quirky set pieces but the ceremony scene just never seems to end. I feel like it hurts the film quite a bit as I found myself wondering when it was all going to end.

-The replacement of Kristie Alley was a disappointment. I thought Robin Curtis did a great job, but she should have been a new character. Her connection to David was really irrelevant in the story.

I enjoyed The Search for Spock a lot more than I expected to. Is it a great movie? No, but it was an interesting enough film and worthy of a watch. I feel like if they were going to bring Spock back, this was as realistic of a way as possible and it didn’t feel too forced.

Overall, I liked The Search of Spock but I doubt I’ll ever revisit it again.