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Opinion Pieces

Star Trek: The Motion Picture(s) The Redux


I found this piece I did in 2009.
I am a huge Star Trek fan and I loved the reboot.  At the time, Sky Movies were re running the all the films and I decided to watch them all in order and note down my thoughts.
As I re-read it, I decided to add some new thoughts and a new bit on Star Trek: Into Darkness.
So back we go to 2009…….

As anyone who has happened upon my status updates over the last fortnight will have no doubt seen, I have been chronologically watching my way through the Star Trek films. That mission was completed this afternoon at approx 12:30pm, when I emerged from the Vue Cinemas in Hamilton after having seen the new Star Trek for a fourth time, completing the series. Now I have never been one to blog, in fact I am not sure that is even a real word, but hey I felt the need to put down some random thoughts about my movie watching experience, taking each film in turn and try to answer some aged old Star Trek questions.  Are all the odd number films rubbish?  Is Wrath of Khan the best of the series?  Is Shatner really wearing a girdle in Generations?

Here we boldly go…….(sorry)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Dir. Robert Wise, 1979)

The greatest film poster of all time in my humble opinion. It gets off to a very slow start.  The refitting of The Enterprise is the excuse for completely new sets and uniforms and most of the first hour features long establishing shots of the ship.  This was of course to showcase the special effects, which I am sure at the time were state of the art.
  
Kirk, now an admiral, is called upon by Starfleet to investigate a powerfully alien cloud approaching earth and destroying anything in its path.
 
It takes a really long time to get going, in fact Mr Spock is absent for the first 45 minutes of the film. It is only with his introduction to things start to happen.  Once in space, the film is good.  The revelation about the alien cloud is really clever and is an interesting comment on the “Boldly go” ethos of the show and its potential consequences Overall, I enjoyed it.

 

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1982)

This is widely regarded as the best of the Star Trek films. 

 
Wrath of Khan brings back one of the original series most iconic villains.  Khan Noonien Singh.  Kirk faces off against his old nemesis as he tries to stop him from stealing a powerful terraforming device called Genesis.  This begins a story arch that will run through to the conclusion of Star Trek IV
 
The good stuff first, it’s much more action packed.  Khan is a perfect match for Kirk, he is just as heroic but totally misguided in his actions.  We find Kirk has fathered a son, so all philandering has caught up with him.  Star Trek had hit the 80s folks.
 
The end, still, today, after many watches, reduces me to tears.  Spock’s sacrifice is even more telling and emotional today as we have just lost Leonard Nimoy.
 
I have one gripe with this film and, I am sure many Trekkers share it.  Chekov, who is now a member of the USS Reliant’s crew is on the away team that discovered Khan.  It is Chekov who recognises him, and Khan recognises Chekov.  The problem is, that Chekov joined the Enterprise crew in Star Trek’s second series…. Set around Stardate 3468.1, but the episode Space Seed, in which Khan appeared, was set on Stardate 3141.9. That aside, it was a great watch.

 
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock  (Dir, Leonard Nimoy, 1984)
Not as bad as I remember, actually, I quite enjoyed it. Although it should have been called:  Star Trek III: Journey Back to the exact same place where we left Spock.  Kirk and his bridge crew go rouge as they discover that Spock isn’t really dead at all.  They hijack the Enterprise and head back the Genesis planet, where they come up against some nasty Klingons.
 
Notable for my favourite pieces of Star Trek dialogue, when looking up at the remnants of the destroy Enterprise Kirk laments:
“What have I done?”
To which Bones, the ultimate best friend and confidant brilliantly replies:
“What you had to do, what you always do.  Turned death into a fighting chance to live….”
Brilliant stuff, it kind of dilutes Spock’s sacrifice in Wrath of Khan slightly, but hey, it is great to see him back.
Also, watch out for Christopher Lloyd as the Klingon Commander Kruge.
 


 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Dir. Leonard Nimoy, 1986) 
After the heaving going of the Wrath and Spock, this adventure is much more light hearted.
 
Following the events of Star Trek III, Kirk and his crew, having retrieved Mr Spock are back on Vulcan getting ready to head back to Starfleet and face a certain court marshal for disobeying orders.  Before they can set off, the Federation comes under attack from an alien probe which has appeared looking for the now extinct hump backed whale.  The only chance is for Kirk and his crew to travel back to 1980s San Francisco and retrieve said whales and return them to the future.
 This is great fun from start to finish and I love it more with every watch.  Highlights are Spock in a white bathrobe, “double dumbass on you”, Chekov approaching a Navy base and asking to find the “Nuclear wessels” and Mr Scott triumphantly proclaiming….”Admiral, there be whales here…..”

It isn’t spoiling too much to say that Kirk and Crew save the day and upon their return to Starfleet are given command of the brand new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 A


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Dir William Shatner, 1989)

Shatner stepped behind the camera for this one, which sees the barely functioning new Enterprise A dispatched to face a renegade Vulcan who is trying to find the centre of the universe and claims he has found god.

 

It is terrible in every way imaginable.


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country , (Dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1991)

This is a brilliant return to form and serves as a very fitting send off to the original crew (Star Trek: The Next Generation was in its 4th season at this point).

 
The Klingon Empire is on the verge of collapse and they have extended the first olive branch towards peace with the Federation.  Kirk is called upon to mediate the negotiations and ensure everything goes smoothly.
It is the final mission before the USS Enterprise crew is due to stand down so obviously things don’t go smoothly.  Kirk and Bones find themselves framed for the murder of the Klingon Chancellor.  As Spock and the rest of the crew try to find the real killers, Kirk and Bones must survive a terrifying Klingon prison planet.
I love this film, it is should have drawn a line under The Original Series, rather than having Kirk pop up again in Generations.
It brings a slight tear to my eye in the credits as the crew quite literally sign off. This is more poignant now that we have now lost Scotty, Bones and Spock.

 Star Trek: Generations (Dir. David Carson, 1994)
Not as bad as I remember it. Star Trek: Generations is the first of four films to feature the brilliant cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
 
The plot in simple terms sees Captain Picard, rocked by a personal tragedy faced with a crazed scientist, who is attempting to destroy a star to harness a mysterious power source called The Nexus, but he can’t do it alone……enter Captain James T. Kirk.
There is so much wrong with this, but it does have some great moments in it, the pre credit sequence, not only shows the final moments of Captain Kirk (or does it?), but gives fans a look at the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 B.
The stuff with the Next Gen cast is fine, they graduate to the big screen very well.  Data getting to grips with his emotions chip provide some of the best moments, it is only when Picard and Kirk get together in The Nexus that things go downhill, the momentary thrill of having these two great Captains sharing the screen is short lived as we get a pretty anti climactic ending and James Tiberius Kirk going out with a whimper rather than a bang, not to mention they destroyed the much loved (by this writer at least) Enterprise D into the bargain.
All in all, a bit of a letdown as it promised much, having come so soon after The Next Generation TV series ended on such a high.

Star Trek: First Contact (Dir. Jonathan Frakes, 1996)

Now we are talking.  This is my personal favourite of all the Star Trek films.  Fast paced, action packed, funny and moving all in equal measures.

 
The Borg are back and are attacking Earth.  Picard and the crew of the brand new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 E are ordered not to engage, given Picard’s history with the seemingly unstoppable alien race (he was kidnapped and assimilated in the brilliant ST:TNG episode Best of Both Worlds)
Ignoring orders, Picard intervenes and destroys The Borg ship but not before they manage to travel back in time and assimilate Earth.  Picard and The Enterprise follow them back and try to stop them for good.
This is Patrick Stewart’s finest hour and leaves no doubt, in this geek boys mind anyway that he is THE Captain of The Enterprise.  The cast are, by now, totally comfortable on the big screen with some having more to do than others, Data again is crucial as his new emotions are tested, but Doctor Crusher and Gerodi are criminally under used.
James Cromwell and Alice Krige provide some welcome new blood as the drunken scientist who invents warp technology and The Borg Queen respectively.

This is brilliant and showcases everything I love about Star Trek.  Picard’s Ahab speech, where he quotes from Moby Dick, is one of my all time favourite Star Trek moments.


Star Trek: Insurrection (Dir. Jonathan Frakes, 1998)

A much slower pace to this one following the action packed First Contact, Insurrection felt more like an extended episode of the TV show.

 
The Enterprise crew are forced to rebel against Star Fleet, after they discover that they are involved in a conspiracy with an alien race to remove a peace loving people from their home planet.
As I mentioned, criticised because it felt like an extended episode, but that was a plus for me, the series was great……so was this.

This is a Star Trek: The Next Generation film, for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans.


Star Trek: Nemesis (Dir. Stuart Baird, 2002)

Dreadful.

 The tag line: A Generations Final Journey Begins

 

A final journey that should have provided a proper send off for these characters that we had watched for over a decade and a half.
What we got was a total mess, devoid of any of what made the last 2 films work so well.
I have nothing more to say, this film makes me angry just thinking about it. 


Star Trek (Dir: J.J Abrahams, 2009)

A glorious re-boot, despite the lens flare.  Spot on casting and updated in such a way that there was still room for Leonard Nimoy’s Mr Spock to be a part of the story.

 

The casting was spot on, in spite of Simon Pegg’s dodgy Scottish accent.
Seeing Kirk as young man, meeting Bones, beating the Kobayashi Maru, becoming friends with Spock, forming the crew and becoming Captain of The Enterprise was thrilling.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (Dir JJ Abrahams, 2013)
More of the same, action packed, great character work and so much lens flare.
Set a year after the events of Star Trek, Kirk takes the Enterprise to the Klingon home world in search of ex-star fleet officer turned terrorist John Harrison.  There is more to Harrison than meets the eye…..
The return of Khan!  The reversal of the end of Wrath of Khan packs less of an emotional punch but is still a lump in the throat moment.  They are is even a Nimoy cameo and some tribbles too.
Abrahams may have gone to the dark side, but Star Trek 3 will be with us in time to celebrate the franchises 50th Birthday, I wonder if Gene Roddenberry ever though his vision would ever reach this far……

To finish off, I have put the Star Trek films in my order of preference…..
1. Star Trek: First Contact
2. Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home
3. Star Trek
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek: Insurrection 
6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
7. Star Trek Into Darkness
8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
9. Star Trek Generations
10.Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
11.Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
12.Star Trek: Nemesis

About Snooty Usher Dave

Favourite Film : Ghostbusters (1984) Worst Film: Left Behind (2014) Guilty Pleasure: Pitch Perfect (2012) 40 year old family man from Hamilton, Scotland. I have settled in Gateshead with my wife and 2 beautiful daughters. Worked as a Cinema Manager (or glorified usher) for 14 years, now I run a chicken shop. Love Sport especially Football and Tennis. Love comic books, especially DC and particularly Superman. I own 58 Nicolas Cage films.

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