An alien probe headed for Earth destroys a Klingon (complete with their new look) ship. Meanwhile, a hippie looking Spock (Leonard Nimoy) fails his Vulcan final exam because he shows emotion. Kirk (William Shatner), now an Admiral assumes command of his old ship, the newly refurbished Enterprise from an indignant Capt. Decker (Stephen Collins) to intercept the probe. In the film’s coolest scene, the Enterprise transporter malfunctions and two people get turned into blob-like figures. Meanwhile, the probe destroys another ship and we’re introduced to the bald and beautiful Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who despite her “oath of celibacy” still has the hots for Decker. A rascally bearded Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) comes aboard and Shatner gets to display his over the top theatrics. “Dammit Bones! I need you!! I… NEED you!!” and does the patented Shatner hand gesture.
The Enterprise goes into warp drive and in the film’s trippiest sequence they enter a wormhole. Kirk’s command gets bitched out when Decker saves the ship. Then, finally Spock shows up, but he has a hidden agenda: he wants to see the probe first hand. When the Enterprise finally gets to it, there’s a long special effects scene of the ship going through the many layers of the probe that seems to go on FOREVER. If you have to go to the bathroom, fix a snack or walk the dog, do it on this scene. Once inside the heart of the probe, an energy beam comes aboard and abducts Ilia. She comes back with a glowing throat hole as a drone to learn more about the ship and crew for the probe, which calls itself “V’Ger”. She is not human anymore and refers to humans as “carbon units”, and thinks they should be killed.
Meanwhile, Spock pulls the Vulcan Neck Pinch on some poor dope and steals a spacesuit to get inside V’Ger’s “orifice” (it looks like a giant asshole). Once inside he gets his own 2001 style scene and tries to pull the old mind meld routine and it shocks him. Kirk comes out and saves his bacon. The probe gets to Earth and is prepared to wipe out all the carbon units if it doesn’t get to talk to the “Creator”, so Kirk convinces Ilia to take them to V’Ger himself. They discover that V’Ger is actually the Voyager 6 satellite that “amassed so much knowledge, it gained consciousness.” Decker saves the day by “joining” with Ilia.
I still like it despite the shaggy dog ending. Other demerits go to the overshadowing of the Decker/Ilia subplot, Kirk being an ass most of the time and Spock crying. The excellent effects were done by Douglas (Silent Running) Trumball and John (Star Wars) Dykstra. There’s at least FOUR versions of this flick out there: The theatrical version, the TV version, the video version, and now the DVD Director’s Cut. Many sequels and spinoff shows followed. With series regulars James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and George Takei.