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George At 

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

In 1979, the crew of the Enterprise made their first voyage to the movie screen with the big budget special effects blockbuster STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE.

Almost 40 years later, it's pretty amazing how well the movie holds up as a serious sci-fi story.

Captain Kirk (William Shatner playing it fit and serious) reclaims the newly refitted Enterprise to intercept a massive energy field that seems to be swallowing up everything in its path and tracking right for Earth.

Spock (Leonard Nimoy at his best) joins the crew after picking up some serious intergalactic vibes from whatever is at the core of the cloud.

McCoy (DeForest Kelley supplying nearly 100% of the humor), Sulu (George Takei), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) are all aboard, as is Scotty (James Doohan) supplying the usual "she's breakin' up Cap'n!" dialogue with style.

While it would be another film in the series before the filmmakers hit the magic formula by adding a great villain (Khan) and much more humor to the mix, this first film in the long-running series packs a good storytelling punch and amazing visual effects that still hold up in our CGI dominated world.

I had forgotten how clever the entire VGer storyline was, taking a simple idea and crafting an incredible event around it.

At the time of its release, the film was very expensive with a $35 million budget, but it grossed nearly $140 million.

Director Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sound of Music) brings the best out of the actors, while allowing the film to unwind at a stately pace that some audience members found boring, but never bothered me.

Wise is indulgent. Kirk's first view of the Enterprise in space dock, set to one of Jerry Goldsmith's all time classic music scores, is long, dialogue-free and a WOW thanks to the special effects of John Dykstra (Star Wars, Spiderman 2) and his massive team.

As the Enterprise approaches the cloud and the craft at it's center, we slowly glide into it, over it, around it and its pretty impressive, with Goldsmith's score guiding us in along with the tractor beam.

The cast is terrific, if too serious at the service of the screenplay. When Kirk or Scotty do let down their guard for a quip, it lifts the film immediately.

Those uniforms are horrible and unforgiving, some of the matte effects on Vulcan look pretty old school and Stephen Collins (7th Heaven, Blood Diamond) is a pretty bland new leading man, but Persis Khambatta (Nighthawks) is very good as Ilia, the navigational officer that becomes an important part of the story.

The entire movie is beautiful to look at, in no hurry to get to warp speed (watch out for that wormhole) and a terrific film transition for the TV cast.

First class in every way, its gets an A-.

Followed three years later in 1982 by it's superior sequel "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

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