This Saturday, we will be reviewing TMP as the first of our Trek film review series. I wrote up this handy little plot summery in case you haven’t seen the film for a while and don’t have fifty hours of your life to spare.
After five minutes of Starscape we start off with an exciting battle between Klingons and some kind of cloud thing. We’re not sure what they’re shooting at, and neither are they from the look of it. Some cool close ups of the ships though, and Mark Lenard in ridges, so there’s that.
Starfleet is watching the whole thing through a remote station, and they get a nice view as the cloud obliterates the Klingons with some serious firepower. To make things more dramatic, it seems like the cloud is on a direct course for Earth. With that kind of exciting opening, I’m sure we can look forward to a real roller coaster of a movie!
Meanwhile, it seems that Spock is on Vulcan trying and failing to undergo the unfortunately named kolinahr to purge all his emotions. Some forshadowing about the cloud is dropped by the head vulcan, and we get to see a lirpa before it’s off to earth and the… shall we say bold new uniforms. Kirk has a meeting with the Enterprise’s new science officer, a Mr. Sonak who I’m sure has a long an healthy life before him, and heads off to get command of the Enterprise back.
It seems that Admiral Kirk’s been captaining a desk for the last two years while the Enterprise was in refit, but the appearance of the Cloud has given him the edge he needs to get command back. The Enterprise is the only ship in range, of course.
The off screen meeting over an done with, Kirk meets up with Scotty for a shuttle ride to the Enterprise. Seems the transporters are out, which is good because how else would we get a five hour long panning shot of the Enterprise, which is certainly looking good in her new production budget.
Once Kirk actually gets on board, the Enterprise is in chaos, what with her refit not being quite done. All the old regulars show up to give the Captain a warm welcome, although some new guy wonders about how Captain Decker, the man Kirk is bumping for command, will take this.
Down in Engineering, Decker takes it about as well as you’d expect. Badly. He doesn’t much care for Kirk and his “I’ve been in more episodes than you” attitude. He’ll stay on as XO, but the tension is high. Fortunately, to lighten the mood we get a transporter emergency. Kirk, expert transporter operator, tries to help, but despite his and a silent Rand’s best efforts, Mr. Sonak and an unnamed extra get turned into molecular goo.
There’s no time to grieve for the departed Vulcan because Kirk calls a ship wide meeting to brief everyone on the whole Cloud situation. The nicely diverse crew is treated to some clips from earlier when the Klingons were fighting the cloud, and then get more than they bargained for when the Cloud destroyed the Federation listening post that was sending the footage. Now that everyone is properly freaked out, we get to meet Lieutenant Ilia and her vow of celibacy. She’s Deltan, which must be Starfleet code for super fine, because all the men on the bridge, which is almost everyone on the bridge, seem very excited to meet her. There’s some kind of connection between her and Decker as well, but we’ll find out more about that later.
Kirk takes the ship out of space dock, and he’s in a real hurry. He orders them to go to warp while still inside the system, which may or may not be responsible for getting them pulled into a slow motion wormhole. Kirk is seriously out of practice, and almost gets the ship destroyed by ordering phasers when phasers won’t work. Decker has to step in and give the right orders, which Kirk absolutely loves. Bottom line, warp drive is toast and Scotty isn’t sure he can get it working again.
There’s a brief ready room scene in which Kirk and Decker try to hash out their differences with McCoy acting as arbiter, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. Afterward, Decker meets up with Ilia and we learn they used to be… something to each other.
Oh, right, Spock is in this movie. Somehow he managed to get to the Enterprise in a courier shuttle even though, there were no other starships in range. They make pretty fast shuttles on Vulcan. Spock is acting even more standoffish than usual. He crushes Checkov’s hopes of a happy reunion, than goes to the bridge.
Fortunately Spock hasn’t lost his scientific touch, and with his help Scotty gets the warp drive back on line. To the Cloud! On the way Kirk and McCoy try to find out why Spock is being so distant, but all he’ll say is that he’s interested in the Cloud.
They finally reach the Cloud and try to find out what it’s deal is. It shoots at them for their trouble, and we get to see Ilia’s ability to act as a Deltan painkiller. That sounds like something that will come up again. Sometime. Spock manages to send out a “Stop shooting us” message in the Cloud’s lingo, and it does. Despite this they are no closer to real communication than before.
Kirk orders the Enterprise into the Cloud over Decker’s objection. After another few hours of special effects shots, they reach the actual alien ship and it’s apparently so big all we can see is the door that leads inside. Naturally, the alien greet them by zapping away Ilia in a column of bright light. For good measure, the alien then drags the Enterprise inside it with a tractor-beam, leaving them trapped.
The Enterprise hangs out for a while doing the whole scan routine when suddenly, there is an intruder. Kirk, Spock, and Checkov run down to say hello, and surprise… It’s Ilia, complete with a glowing red thing in her neck.
She says she has been sent by V’Ger, the alien ship. Apparently it killed the real Ilia and created her as a replacement. That’s awkward. She wants to know about the Enterprise and it’s infestation of “Carbon Units,” which Kirk thinks is just rude. They examine her while she examines them, and it turns out that Ilia-bot may be a little too perfect. She’s still sweet on Decker, and Kirk finally seems something he can use.
Decker pals around with Ilia-bot for a while, and in the mean time Spock steals a space suit and decides to head through that door to the alien ship we saw earlier. We’re treated to another hour’s worth of special effects, which Spock thinks is all of V’Ger’s accumulated knowledge. He tries to mind meld with V’Ger, and gets both a giant headache and a boot out the door for his trouble.
Back on the Enterprise, Decker has gotten through to Ilia-bot enough for her to reveal that V’Ger is searching for ‘the Creator,’ in a plot that is similar to but legally distinct from The Changeling. She also says that V’Ger wishes to merge with the Creator, but that’s all she’ll say.
Down in sickbay, Spock reveals what he learned from the mindmeld. V’Ger is searching for the creator so it can finally experience emotions. It wants to understand it’s purpose for existence, something no amount of logic can do. Meanwhile, V’Ger is aproaching Earth with the Enterprise still inside it.
V’Ger starts sending out an old style radio signal, but there’s no response. V’Ger is not pleased with this, and prepares to wipe out all the carbon-units on Earth after easily knocking out the planetary defense system. Wait, does Earth have one of those? Not any more apparently. V’Ger thinks the carbon-units are somehow keeping the Creator from responding.
Kirk decides to pull the grandmother of all bluffs, telling V’Ger he knows what’s up with the Creator, but will only reveal the information in a face to face meeting. After much snarling and gnashing of teeth, not to mention plasma bolts, V’Ger agrees. It turns on the tractor-beam again and pulls the Enterprise even deeper inside itself.
Checkov reports that their’s both air and gravity outside, not to mention some ground to walk on. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker, and Ilia-bot go to check it out. They walk across a bridge of hexagon tiles and find a pretty fancy looking pit. In that pit is a, drum roll please, old Earth style space probe. Kirk cleans off the name plate an reveals it to be Voyager, Voyager 6 that is.
Spock and Decker lay the exposition on us. Voyager 6 fell into a black hole after it was launched. It emerged somewhere far away near a race of machine life forms. They built this swanky ship around it so it could finish its mission, “collect all data possible and return that information to its Creator.”
Kirk tries to end the movie early by feeding V’Ger its old NASA response code from the Enterprise Computers, but V’Ger isn’t having any of that. It came here to merge with the Creator, and it’s going to merge with something gosh darn it. Kirk figures out that V’Ger still needs the human ability to see beyond pure logic in order to go on.
Decker volunteers. Kirk tries to talk him out of it but no dice, Decker is no all about merging with V’Ger. Ilia-bot seems pretty hip on the idea to. As Kirk, Spock, and McCoy withdraw, both Decker and Ilia-bot are swallowed up in some very high-budget glowy lights.
V’Ger either explodes or vanishes, leaving the Enterprise floating above Earth, none the worse for ware. Kirk orders both Ilia and Decker to be listed as “missing” because he’s an optimist. The big three chat a bit about creating a new life form, and then Kirk orders the Enterprise to head “thataway.”