So I watched Star Trek: The “Motion” Picture last night at an outdoor showing with 100+ of my fellow ST dorks. Watching it for the umpteenth time didn’t change my basic take on TMP: it’s not a good, entertaining, or even particularly smart film (sorry, ADF, but you’ve done better). It’s tedious, repetitive, and really fucking dull. Also? Everyone in Starfleet other than the Enterprise and her crew are apparently morons who just stare at alien probes as they absorb Klingon birds-of-prey and show no sense of urgency in letting Earth know that they’re about to be attacked yet AGAIN by some alien killing machine that’s wandering lonely as a cloud.
[Look, at least the Federation *tries* to do something about the whale Probe in ST: TVH–they have a command center and everything! Here, nada. It makes me wonder what Starfleet would have done if Kirk hadn’t “volunteered” (i.e. demanded) to take back the Enterprise. Would they have let Will “don’t call me Riker” Decker and co. try to face it? Yikes–I hope Vulcan was ready to become the “capital” of the Federation because Section 001 would have been a pile of angst-y, air-brushed ash.]
Setting all of that aside, there are at least two terrific slash moments (if one is so inclined) that make TMP worth watching:
First, there’s McCoy’s awesome entrance in his Grizzly Adams/Andrew Sullivan-esque beard. After a gruesome reminder of why the good doctor is rightly terrified of the damn transporter (au revoir, Sonak), McCoy is forcibly beamed aboard the Enterprise (in the wake of some overly broad, wink-wink nudge-nudge set up–which? ugh).
Rocking a ridiculous white one-piece unitard/leisure suit and a shiny shiny medallion, Leonard honks unhappily about being drafted and quickly figures out that Kirk is to blame. Trying to fend off the tirade of Southern-style cursing which Leonard is threatening to unleash, Kirk dramatically declares: “Dammit, Bones, I need you. (Shatner-esque beat) Badly.”
I’m sure this line looked fine on the page. Hell, it probably sounded fine in the studio. But seriously, did no one watch the dailies and think—“Huh. I wonder what he needs him (badly) for.” Hee. I don’t know if there’s K/M slash and frankly, I’m afraid to look. Still, this is a weirdly sweet (if unintentionally hilarious) moment in the picture. One of the few signs of life in the whole damn thing.
Second, there’s a more traditional K/S moment near the (merciful) end of the film. We find McCoy and Kirk in sickbay, hovering expectantly around Spock, who’s recovering from mind-melding with V’gr’s giant static machine. As he describes V’gr’s search for meaning (Nimoy doing fine work with some really dull dialogue), Spock grabs Kirk’s hand and grips it tightly: “This…simple feeling,” he tearily tells Kirk–“is beyond V’gr’s understanding.” Kirk clasps Spock’s hand with both of his, and they share a (tender?) lengthy moment.
What’s of note here is the austerity of the scene–there’s a lot of absence here, both in sickbay’s sterile appearence, in the white sleeveless thermals that Spock is wearing, and in the dialogue. Spock, we learn, hasn’t found his answers in the cold, mechanical body of a living machine; this helps him to realize, it would seem, the signifiacne of the warm, flawed body of the carbon-based units-especially the one named Kirk. Those searching glances that get the slashers chittering happily are on full display here, and what’s NOT spoken (mind-meld, anyone?) feels as important–if not more so–that what is.
It’s no accident, I think, that these two sequences feature some of the best acting in the film. You could make a case, I think, for including the K/S/M discussion in the conference room–“Will you please….sit down?”–in which S/N/K actually get a chance to act rather than gape at to-be-inserted special effects. Put these guys in a room and give them words with meaning to speak and good things seem to happen–at least, there’s enough absence in these scenes to let the slashers rush in and make something new happen.
So ST: TMP: still the castor oil of the the ST films–but slash is the sugar that helps TMP go down.