In it’s continuing mission, the Starship Enterprise has journeyed through three successful films, battling confused plots, long winded villains, and even dueled with the Klingon menace. When we last left our intrepid heroes, they were on the planet Vulcan. Spock was back, Kirk’s son was dead, Bonesy was cracking wise ass remarks and the Federation of Planets was wholly pissed at the crew in general. So let’s continue with our Trektrospective!
I originally was going to review all the Next Generation movies as well, but you know what? They just aren’t that interesting. I never really followed or loved the Next Gen crew like the original. This Trektrospective, therefore, is only covering the original crew up through Generations, the seventh film. But let’s hop to it, a lot of Space to cover in one post.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)/ aka “Double Dumbass on You!”
As the crew of the Enterprise is returning home from Vulcan, they hear of a dire situation on Earth. A giant phallic probe has taken up residence in Earth’s orbit and is destroying the planet. It seems the probe is attempting to contact someone, but the humans can’t figure it out. So the probe is vaporizing the Earth’s water, killing the power, and dooming the planet. Kirk and the crew, aboard their captured Klingon Bird of Prey, figures out that the probe is trying to call whales. Whales? All right I’ll go with it. Too bad the whales, Humpbacks specifically, are extinct in the 23rd-and a half-Century! Well, that seems much more plausible.
The crew decides that the only thing they can do is time warp and get some whales, bring them back and save the world. Simple enough. It should be noted that the crew figures all this out in about five minutes, while the rest of humanity is just dumbfounded. No one else thought of this, just Kirk and the gang. Fine. Let’s get on with it. They time warp by sling-shooting (is that a word?) around the sun(?) and come out the other side in present day, mid eighties San Francisco. As you can see, a lot of question marks to start this one off.
From here we get a hilarious fish out of water comedy of errors. The Bird of Prey, cloaked mind you, lands in Golden Gate park and the crew walks around town looking for whales, a container for said whales, and nuclear “wessels” as Chekov amusingly puts it. What a silly Russian accent, wessels! Kirk meets and seduces a lady scientists who has a couple of whales. Spock, confused and still a little loopy from the whole dying and resurrecting thing, makes a series of funny comments, and the rest of the crew basically bumble around like retards (movie’s word, not mine) for an hour and a half. Scotty tries talking to a computer, Bonesy compares 20th century medicine to the “damned Spanish Inquisition” and Sulu sweet talks a helicopter pilot.
They get the whales, go home, day is saved. They have some laughs, share some memories, and generally bemoan our present day environmental muck up. It’s a movie with a message: stop hunting whales!
People loved this film. It’s widely considered the favorite of the bunch, and probably the most watched entry in the series. I assume folks just love seeing the crew in a present day, accessible setting, fretting over things like money, and swearing. Just watch!
The best part of the last clip is that they actually went on the street, filmed from a van and just went for it. Those are actual people and cops staring at them. Nice.
So once they return the whales to the 23rd Century, the whales say hello to the probe. The probe says hi, and leaves. End of movie. Plus Kirk and the gang are dismissed of all charges, Kirk is reduced to Captain (which he actually likes) and they get a new Enterprise. Yay!
This is a very good film, a bit on the sappy side, but overall pretty consistent to the characters and the overall tone of the Star Trek universe. Thumbs up!
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)/ aka “The Hated One”
So after the success of Voyage Home, the crew returned with another film. This one is widely considered the loser of the bunch, though it has some redeeming stuff. Really though, it kind of stinks. It messes with too many beloved aspects of the franchise as a whole and just doesn’t fit well in the film canon. After the last three films, which were interconnected, this one comes out of nowhere and caught a lot of fans off guard with its theological implications, introduction of new familial characters, and hints at unwarranted relationships. Plus, it makes NO FREAKIN’ SENSE!
So we start with Kirk, Spock on Vacation at Yosemite. Kirk is, get this, free climbing El Capitan! What? I mean, I know the guy is a danger junkie, but he’s not even wearing boots or anything, he’s doing it in his fucking uniform even. So of course he falls and Spock rescues him with the help of jet powered boots. Let’s move on. They get the call that there is a hostage situation in some region of some galaxy. It’s all kind of the same now, so I’ll skip the titles. They find that Spock’s previously unknown half brother, Sybock (what a clever name!) has the hostages and exchanges them for the Enterprise. Meanwhile, a young Klingon is following the Starship, bent on killing Kirk to boost his own status. Not very honorable, since he’s gone rogue, against Klingon wishes to do this.
So Sybock, though he is ALL VULCAN, is emotionally, not logically driven. Fascinating. His character goes against every facet of his race. Why? Who cares!
He forces the crew to go beyond the Great Barrier, a region of unexplored space, to find a God like entity that he has mentally encountered. Why is the this area of space unexplored? Who cares!
The crew get there only to discover that the entity is not God, as we had hoped, but a, get this, manifestation of Sybock’s arrogance(?) seeking to escape the Barrier. What? A manifestation of Sybok, located on an uninhabited planet at the edge of the Universe, who can’t leave but can convince Sybok (himself?) to come and get it. What the fuck is going on here?
Maybe this explains the backlash given to the film by fans and critics. While we were willing to suspend disbelief on about every aspect of the show and the films, this just goes too far. Maybe time warp is impossible, but we’ll go with it. A masquerading arrogance manifestation dressed up like God? Fuck you. I don’t buy it. No one bought it in fact.
Even the part with the Klingon is bullshit. He is about to kill Kirk when he is convinced by the higher ups to rescue him instead. The Klingon kills the manifested-alien-entity-whatever-the-fuck-it’s-supposed-to-be and we end with a peaceful celebration. Lame!
It should be noted that Shatner himself directed this. And I put no blame on him. The man, frankly, can do no wrong. But the overall tone and story in this one just misses. It almost killed the franchise, until . . .
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)/ aka “Yet Another Star Trek Movie (small yawn)”
Yea, yea, it’s getting a little tedious for me too, that’s why I’m skipping the Next Gen stuff. I’m getting a bit burnt out on the Trek. So let’s just get though this last little bit. The Klingons have less than 50 years to live. They want to make peace with the Federation. While visiting with Kirk and the Enterprise the Klingon ambassador is assassinated on his own ship after the Enterprise apparently fires on it. Kirk and Bonesy go to the ship to help, but get arrested. They are convicted of the crimes and go to a prison asteroid place where they are forced into hard labor. Spock and the gang try to figure it all out before it’s too late and blah blah blah.
I actually like ths one alot, it’s just got one of those plots you really have to see to appreciate. It’s half espionage and intrigue, half detective story. We discover massive conspiracies and it all ends well.
This was the last film to feature all the oiginal characters from the show. They literally sign off at the end of the film, so it’s a little bittersweet. There are a bunch of great scenes that pay tribute to the older Star Trek stuff, and this has overall one of the better and most believable plots in the series. Let’s just point out a few great aspects.
1) Kim Cattrell as a Vulcan. Before Sex and the City, this little cougar donned the pointys a la Kristie Alley and gives a perfectly void performance as the mysterious Valeris
2) Christopher Plummer as Chang. This is inspired casting. I read that Plummer was skeptical of doing it, and asked for less severe Klingon makeup. But there’s nothing less severe about his over the top performance as the evil Chang, a warrior witout a war, desperate to keep the violence alive.
3) Shakespeare References. This has always been a qualty of the show and film series, but this one really outdoes itself. Even the title is a line from Hamlet, although instead of death, this undiscovered Country is peace. Whereas Wrath of Khan was like a Moby Dick story, this one is all tragedy. Even Chang’s final words are the most quotable quotes from the bard.
4) Captain Kirk. Who is the man? Kirk! This movie really captures his essence, from his charm and wit, to his courage and leadership, to his deepest fears and mournings. We revisit his grief over his lost son, see him fight in that classic hand to hand Trek style with aliens on the asteroid prison, and seduce the shapeshifter (although that was really a set up). Kirk is the man, and with Bonesy by his side, it makes for one of the better subplots in the series.
And now here is the ending, also one of the best in the series, a true send off and final farewell.
sniff, sniff, excuse me. I have something in my eye.
Epilogue: Star Trek Generations (1994)
A quick note. This film is the last with any of the original crew. Chekov, Scotty, and Kirk make brief appearances. Kirk is stuck in something called the Nexus, a realm where time has no meaning. He is met there by Captain Jen Luc Picard, Next Gen’s leader. Picard is also stuck in this Nexus after an unsuccessful attempt at stopping an evil scientist from blowing up a star to himself join with the Nexus. There are so many holes and so much wrong with the plot I can’t even begin. Suffice to say that this one induces more eye rolls and sighs than all the others put together. Picard convinces Kirk that he is, in fact, trapped in this Nexus, to which Kirk responds with “who cares!”
Then Kirk changes his mind in a minute or two, wanting to again make a difference by saving the star system. They return to the evil sientist and stop his plan, but *Spoiler* Kirk dies. A heartbreaking scene, delivered fantastically by Shatner, who basically leaves Patrick Stewart, a Shakespearian actor himself, in the dust. This movie tried to introduce us to various characters from Next Gen, but it’s too crowded with subplots that go NOWHERE and characters I don’t give two shits about. Besides Kirk’s brief part, this is a down hill log jam of a movie. Best to Youtbue Kirk’s scenes and skip the rest. Unless the idiotic characters of Next Gen appeal to you. You nerd.
Obligatory rant time:
I just love how Next Gen’s crew are such a bunch of slackers. They spend their time either in the playroom of the Holodeck, playing dress up and pretend, or guzzling down Romulan Ale in the bar. A bar on a Starship? Please. Not to mention that there is apparently a school and a host of families on board. When did the Enterprise turn into a goddamn kindy-garten?
Then the crew acts about as incompetent as all Hell, letting mild mannered scientist guy get one over on them, losing control of their emotions, being outwitted by Klingons (guess that peace treaty business in VI didn’t last too long if they’re still at each others throat), and generally fucking up their own ship. The Enterprise gets totaled in their first movie? It took at least three films for the original to go down, and that was only to save the day. Fucking amateurs. Double Dumbass on them. If Kirk had seen any of that shit, he’d a lost his mind.
So that’s’ it. Star Trek is one of the longest running and most involved franchises around, thanks in part to some good films and great times. Live long and prosper.
So glad that’s over with.