Star Trek: The Motion Picture Parent Guide
Slow pacing and sub par special effects make this a film for hardcore Trekkies, not casual viewers.
Parent Movie Review
Nearly three years after the U.S.S. Enterprise returned from her last mission, the indefatigable James T. Kirk (William Shatner) has been promoted to Admiral and removed from direct command of his ship. But when Earth finds itself threatened by a colossal cosmic entity of inestimable power and unknowable intent, Kirk resumes command of the Enterprise, to the dismay of her current Captain. With the help of Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and the rest of the crew, Kirk will have to go where no man has gone before to solve the mystery and save Earth.
The 1970’s produced some of the strongest sci-fi movies in the history of the genre. Obviously, the 1977 release of Star Wars: A New Hope transformed filmmaking and science fiction going forward, but other films stood out as well. Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Man Who Fell to Earth all presented unique and developed worlds and futures for humanity. Against this kind of competition, how does Star Trek: The Motion Picture hold up?
Conceptually, not too badly. The premise of the film is compelling and focused enough for a good ninety-minute movie; and this is where the problems start. Clocking in at over two hours, this film feels badly bloated. Much as I loved it, the five minute shot of Kirk flying a shuttle around the Enterprise, mostly just to show off the new model, doesn’t do much to advance the plot or characters. There are a few of these lingering shots of objects in space that really drag the pacing down, potentially boring the audience.
The special effects also suffer a little. Next to some of the amazing work being done by competing sci fi movies, the lower-budget effects in Star Trek look a little worn out. You can see what a lot of them were trying to be, and they’re smart shots in that sense, but they just don’t reach the standard they should achieve.
As far as parents are concerned, there’s not much to be worried about, apart from boredom. While there are almost no serious content issues, the movie is really geared for an adult audience. It’s too slow and thoughtful to engage younger viewers. I actually remember falling asleep watching our VHS copy when I was about twelve. Take that as a good indicator of suitability.
Fortunately, later entries in the franchise learned their lesson from the critical failure of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and upped both their special effects and writing game. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the immediate sequel, stands out especially in this regard as a much stronger and more action-focused film. The lesson? Don’t try to be 2001: A Space Odyssey unless you’ve got Stanley Kubrick directing and Arthur C. Clarke writing your scripts.Directed by Robert Wise. Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley. Running time: 132 minutes. Theatrical release December 8, 1979. Updated August 15, 2019
Watch the trailer for Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Rating & Content Info
Why is Star Trek: The Motion Picture rated G? Star Trek: The Motion Picture is rated G by the MPAA
Violence: Several ships are destroyed, presumably killing all aboard. A transporter accident kills two crewmembers, and they are briefly shown screaming in pain. An individual sustains a severe burn to the hand when a control panel overloads.
Sexual Content: An individual is shown from the shoulders up in a shower.
Profanity: Occasional use of mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None shown.
Page last updated August 15, 2019
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Parents' Guide
V’Ger struggles to communicate with “the carbon units”. Its reactions to this failure of communication seem extreme. How do you handle communication failures? What can you do to be clearer with other people? How often do you think arguments start simply due to misunderstandings?
Kirk and Decker, despite their disagreements, are committed to working together to resolve the crisis. How can you work with others who you dislike or don’t agree with? How did Kirk and Decker resolve their problems?
Related home video titles:
Star Wars: A New Hope opened a new era in space movies and jaw-dropping special effects when it opened in 1977.
Alien can’t be beat for spine-tingling space drama/horror.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, also from the golden era of space movies, brings alien contact down to earth. Arrival provides a 21st century perspective on communicating with alien visitors to planet Earth.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a seminal science fiction movie about space travel – and a warning about powerful computers.
Interstellartells a time-bending story about an astronaut who travels through space to save the Earth which is experiencing environmental collapse.