Bob Peak Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) painting
I don’t really consider myself as having grown up with the Atari video game system. I played the Atari when and had fun doing so, but to me the Atari seemed like the system of the generation before mine. Still, one thing that I always admired about Atari were the covers for their video games. When the Atari was new the graphics for video games were extremely primitive. Instead of having recognizable avatars, even top of the line games would have things like red squares representing people and triangles spaceships. But the art created for the game cartridges was something else entirely. With the covers we get these beautiful traditionally hand illustrated paintings of what we’d imagine was going on in the game, and not what was actually happening on screen. And the new Art of Atari book collects lots and lots of these original paintings.
I especially like the covers done by artist Steve Hendricks who helped define a house style for how the Atari video game cartridges should look in his, what’s now a retro, style that’s absolutely gorgeous.
Nowadays covers to video game are all illustrated in this hyper-realistic 3D style that’s supposed to emulate the actual video game content within. Which is a shame since while that’s nice, I’d argue that the approach by the artists of the Atari age was better.
Okay, I lied — the Punisher’s been around in one form or another since he debuted in the early 1970s. But over the last decade he was a mostly forgotten character writers would use to try out their ideas on before moving onto something else. However, in 2016 the Punisher returned with a vengeance (haha) after having appeared in the latest season of Daredevil and is now being spun-off into his own Netflix series due out laster this year.
Best of all most of the Punisher’s early comic book stories are now available in collected forms with these massive editions of both Punisher and Punisher War Journal out and available for purchase.
I’d always assumed that the making of the Star Trek TV series was mostly easy. Or easier than it seems like it is with other series, especially since the show was in production for 18 years from 1987 to 2005. But I was surprised to learn how wrong I was after having read the two volume The Fifty-Year Mission… that chronicles all things Star Trek from before the first series debuted in 1966 to the last Enterprise and all the movies as well. I’d known how dysfunctional the original Star Trek set was in the 1960s, but I had no idea how dysfunctional all the sets were. It seems like whenever there’s even the hint of success for someone, someone else already in power’s going to get jealous, and when that happens it means trouble for everyone else down the line.
After having read the books, I get the feeling that whenever anything Star Trek related worked it was usually because of just a few people, but when Star Trek failed it was because of the decisions of committees.
I’m not a big fan of actor Ryan Reynolds, but after 2016 I have to admit two things: 1) He was totally right in spending a decade doggedly trying to get his movie Deadpool to the big screen and 2), Deadpool is the character he was born to play. And now because of the success of Deadpool we have this alt-superhero movie that really isn’t like any other superhero movie before. And because it was so successful means that we now have the opportunity to have other superhero films that are new and different then the standard superhero fare that we’re treated to a few times each year.
I probably haven’t seen the Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie the whole way through in 30 years and it’s possible that until now I’ve never actually had the patience to sit through the entire movie. When I was younger I remember watching it on TV and being quite bored and I doubt that it was ever something that I’d have rented on VHS ever. But after having read the part about Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the book The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years I decided to check it out again. And I was surprised at just how bad Star Trek: The Motion Picture WASN’T. It’s not a great movie, but it’s not a bad one either. In fact, out of the 10+ movies that were released based on Star Trek series, I’d say that Star Trek: The Motion Picture sits comfortably in the middle of the pack.
Released 37 years ago today, Star Trek: The Motion Picture follows the crew of the starship Enterprise who must intercept and stop a colossal something that’s destroying everything in its path and is on its way to the Earth. But what they find in this destructive “cloud” is something no one on the ship is prepared for.
First off, the main problem with Star Trek: The Motion Picture is that there are several scenes that go on way too long. Whenever there’s a bit of technology involved, be it the first view of the Enterprise, Spock’s shuttle or the Vgr ship minutes upon minutes of time are spent gliding over these things. It seems silly at first, then becomes ridiculous at the amount of time being spent on this tech before finally delving into boredom. Easily five or 10 minutes of screen time could be cut out of these scenes. (And reading on the film it seems like this was addressed in the special director’s cut of the movie released a few years ago.)
However, other than that Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a pretty solid movie that looks nothing like anything else Star Trek. Here, crew members of Starfleet wear different versions of the costumes not seen in any of the other series or movies and sport a more utilitarian, drab look that’s actually quite interesting. Since this is the only live-action Star Trek series to exist in the 1970s it’s interesting to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture is rooted in the aesthetics of that decade.
And while the storyline of Star Trek: The Motion Picture seems like its just a long episode pulled from the TV series, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Other than the aforementioned “lingering” shots, the plot of the movie flows well and, even knowing the “twist” ending I thought it held up well nearly 40 years after its release.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one of those movies the fans of the franchise deride as being the worst Star Trek but I really disagree. I mean, there’s The Search for Spock, The Final Frontier, Nemisis and Into Darkness that aren’t half as good as Star Trek: The Motion Picture and some of which are actually bad.
If you do decide to checkout Star Trek: The Motion Picture for yourself just be aware that the theatrical cut at least takes a while to get going and when it does get going there are long stretches of the “spaceship porn” to get through. But I think if you can keep an open mind about the movie you’ll be as surprised as I was as to just how interesting Star Trek: The Motion Picture really is.