Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
George Takei(Sulu)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
Jane Wyatt (Amanda)
Catherine Hicks (Gillian Taylor)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Robin Curtis(Saavik)
Robert Ellenstein (President)
John Schuck (Klingon Ambassador)
Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)
Majel Barrett (Chapel)

Writer: Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer

The fourth film in the series starts where the previous film left off on Vulcan, with the crew about to depart for Earth to learn of the consequences of their actions in the previous film.  As they leave, a strange alien probe heads for Earth and starts tranmsitting a signal to the Earth from orbit.  The signal causes mass power failure, and also disrupts the atmosphere, causing one hundred percent cloud coverage.  They send out a message for nobody to come to Earth, as the planet is doomed.

En route, the main Enterprise crew inside their stolen Klingon ship pick up the signals.  Uhura distorts the signal so that they can hear what it would sound like underwater, and Spock recognises the sound as the singing of the extinct humpback whale.  So Kirk suggests that they go back in time and get some!

After a successful Time Warp, they arrive in 1986 San Fransisco.  Kirk and Spock cry and find where the whale are kept, McCoy, Sulu and Scotty arrange for the tank to be built inside the Klingon ships hold, and Uhura and Checkov try to find a nuclear power source to collect radioactive particles to regenerate the knackered dilithium crystals.  It all happens, and when they return to the present the whales talk to the probe and it buggers off.  The only punishment they get for what happened in the previous film is Kirk gets demoted to Captain and is given command of the new USS Enterprise NCC 1701-A.

This is often mentioned in the same breath as film two, and whilst it’s not quite as good, it is an excellent movie.  It is the only story played for laughs (I’m not saying it is a comedy, it isn’t) and some of the humour is excellent.  Spock in particular, as he tries to fit into his new surroundings by using what he calls “colourful metaphors” are very funny, as is the scene where he mind melds with the whale.

The film is unabashedly conservationist, the message is hammered home with a lack of subtlety that could be off putting.  Luckily, it isn’t, and there are some moments in the film that are quite tense – when they only prevent their whales being killed by whalers in the nick of time it’s quite tense, although it’s so far into the movie and you know at this point that if they loose the whales there is no time to find any more.

I like the Gillian Taylor character – she is the marine scientist who is responsible for the whales in 1986, and it is nice that she ends up going forward in time with them.

It was also nice to see both of Spocks parents again – Sarek and Amanda both appear, although not together – she is on Vulcan, he is on Earth. 

It is a really nice film, and wraps up the unofficial trilogy of movies really well.  This is the longest story we get in Star Trek until we get into Deep Space Nine and I have to say that after watching the third film I had to watch the fourth on the same day.

So, I’m nearly there with this cast of characters.  Just two more movies to go, and after that I can only look forward to cameos of some of the characters in various of the future versions of the show…  I’m going to miss them, actually.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 8.5/10

June 2, 2008 Posted by | amanda, andorians, contemporary earth, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, saavik, sarek, saving a planet, set on earth, set on vulcan, time travel, vulcans | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan (Scotty)  
George Takei (Sulu)
Majel Barrett (Chapel)
Walter Koenig (Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)
Persis Khambatta (Ilia)
Stephen Collins (Decker)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Alan Dean Foster, Harold Livingston

A great cloud is heading for Earth.  It has already destroyed three Klingon vessels that investigated it, and a Federation Space Station that happened to be in the way.  The only ship in range is the Enterprise, nearing the completion of a refit but not quite ready…

I think it’s fair ro say that this film is either a love it or hate it kind of film.  The people tht criticise it claim that it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek as we knew it, but I have to say that I disagree.  Although made ten years after the series was cancelled in 1969, I get the impression that it is meant to be set 2 and a half years after the five year mission ended, so about four to five years after the show.  The Enterprise has been gutted and rebuilt, and now hardly resembles the original, certainly internally, and the outside looks a lot more streamlined.  In fact, our first look at the scrubbed up Enterprise is that magnificent sequence where Scotty takes Kirk over to it via shuttle, as the transporters are not working.  You are teased with shots through the side of the space dock, but that first full head on shot is very emotional – no doubt partly due to Jerry Goldsmith’s amazing score.  This sequence alone tells you it’s Trek, but not quite as you know it.

Captain Decker is the new boss, but most of the rest of the crew (apart from McCoy and Spock) are doing their old jobs.  It was nice to see Janice Rand again, after she vanished half way through season one.  And I loved the fact that Kirk used the crises as an excuse to get out of his stuffy Admirals office at StarFleet and take command of a ship again.  You get the impression that he has been bored out of his mind these last two years or so.

The sets are okay – some of them are too recognisable as the sets that get reused for The Next Generation.  In particular, the Engineering set is very similar indeed, as is the basic look of the corridors.

The new characters – Decker and Ilia – work well, but their relationship is rather similar to that of RIker and Troi on The Next Generationbut there’s a good reason for that: when this film was being put together, it was actually the pilot episode of the new TV series, and as Nimoy didn’t want to appear, Decker was the new first officer and Ilia a navigator (Checkov seeming to havce moved to security).  There would have been a Vulcan science officer, Xon.

This is Star Trek done on a grand scale – for it to work it had to feel big, and it did.  Never has planet Earth felt like it was going to be destroyed in the series – in fact, we never visited 23rd Century Earth on the show, though we did visit the past on numerous occasions.  Some of the effects look excellent – for example the detail on Vulcan, and also the Golden Gate Bridge by StarFleet HQ.  All good stuff, and the sequences inside the cloud – everything looked enormous.  Some argue that this all went on for too long, that the sequences inside the cloud were boring.  I can see that point of view, but I don’t agree – they helped build the tension very well.

This is a very adult Trek – I don’t mean language and violence, I just mean in the seriousness of it.  There is very little humour in it – unlike the TV show and most of the other movies.  Again, this put a lot of people off, but I really like it.  Had all the films been this heavy, then it would have become boring, but this was pitched just right, for me anyway.

I also liked the ending, the revelation that is was an old Voyager probe that has been picked up by a race of computer beings, souped up, and helped on it’s way.  Some fans suggest that the sequence at the end is the start of the Borg, and whilst I would love to think that it true, it cannot be – the Borg did not know about us until much later, and has they been formed from a StarFleet commander and a drone with the memories of a navigator, they would have got here a lot quicker!

A couple of minor nigges: why did Kirk draft a retired McCoy back into the service?  He didn’t really need him as a Doctor (Chapel is now fully qualified) it just felt like he wanted to bring him along for tha sake of it!  And how come Spock was able to fix the Enterprise engines just like that when StarFleets finest couldn’t?

So, all in all, a really confident start to the series with great effects and a real sense of scale.  And, incidentally, the introduction of Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent theme that went on to be used in another three films and every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Crew Deaths: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 56
Score: 8/10

May 28, 2008 Posted by | andorians, doubles or duplicates, exes, klingons, mind meld, set on earth, set on vulcan, space station, super computers, transporter problems, vulcans, wormhole | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 3.18 (The Lights of Zetar)

Cast:
Libby Erwin (Technician)
Jan Shutan (Lt. Mira Romaine)

Writer: Jeremy Tarcher, Shari Lewis

This episode is so awful I actually had to watch it twice, because I lost interest about half way through and when I glanced up again I realised it had almost finished.

The Enterprise is heading for the Memory Alpha facility – a massive electronic library, that sadly has no shields because the information was to be made available to everyone.  The Enterprise is taking Mira Romaine to Memory Alpha, who has new facilities and stuff to fit.

On the way they are attacked by lights, which then race for Memory Alpha and get there ahead of them.  When they arrive, most of the people posted there are dead (including another Andorian), and the one survivor is not coherent.  And very soon dead as well.

My first problem with this story is the so called relationship with Romaine.  He is acting completely unprofessionally, leaving his station to see how she is after the lights cause her to pass out.  It us utterly out of character for Scotty – the character is the ultimate professional, and would not behave like this.  Some of Kirks comments are quite amusing, but the bottom line is Scotty would have been reprimanded for this behaviour.  Which of course he isn’t.

The lights attack the Enterprise again.  When they fire phasers into the heart of it (and Spock has identified at least ten life forms) Romaine collapses, so Kirk stops firing and they interrogate her.  Personally, I would have wanted to find a way of killing the lights without killing her – shield her in some way.  They do determine that she has the same brain wave patterns as the lights, and that their thoughts are becoming hers.

It plods on slowly but surely, with the creatures eventually revealed as the life force of the last hundred people of the dying planet of Zetar, and they are looking for a body they can live in.  The deaths on Memory Alpha was a side effect due to them resisting.

I don’t know what to say.  It is another dreary bottle show (we see some of Memory Alpha, bit not much) that seems to go on forever with very little plot.  When they risk killing Romaine at the end to try and free her from the creatures there is no tension and frankly you are left not really giving a toss whether she survives or not.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 49
Score: 2/10

May 19, 2008 Posted by | andorians, formless creature, mind control | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.14 (Whom Gods Destroy)

Cast:
Steve Ihnat(Garth of Izar)
Yvonne Craig (Marta)
Gary Downey(Tellarite)
Keye Luke (Donald Cory)

Writer: Lee Erwin, Jerry Sohl

Since I have been writing this blog, I have been categorising the episodes by the “Trek Cliches” that they contain.  With some episodes they contain none that I have used so far (which means I have to try and think of a new one).  Then there are episodes that contain cliches that I have seen before.

Then, there are episodes that contain so many it is almost funny.  Such is this episode.  Interestingly, this was the second episode that the BBC never showed (well, not until 1994) due to the torture scenes.

The premise is simple: the lunatics take over the asylum, including a former Starfleet Captain, Garth.  He is able to shape shift, so when Kirk beams down he initially disguises himself as Cory, the Doctor in charge of the asylum.  And so we get something that is rather similar to Plato’s Stepchildrena few episodes ago – the only difference is that the people in charge are literally insane.  (The point of this particular asylum, by the way, is to completely eliminate mental illness.  They don’t seem to have quite managed this yet!!)

Garth takes on Kirk’s appearance and tries to beam back up to the Enterprise, but luckily Kirk has put in a code the person beaming up has to respond correctly to.  Garth pretends that he was just checking that Scotty was following his instructions, then tries to get the correct response out of Kirk.  He goes quite far to do this, including torturing Cory, then Kirk himself.

When the torture doesn’t work, Garth disguises himself as Spock to trick Kirk into giving up the code, which, of course, fails.  He then does something far nastier – one of his fellow inmates (one of them green women) is driven outside (into the toxic atmosphere of the planet).  As Kirk watches her choke (someone he was snogging not that long ago) Garth tells Kirk that he has planted an explosive in her necklace, he then blows her up.  It is a genuinely nasty moment in an otherwise average episode.

The episode ends on a bit of a tired cliche when Garth changed himself into Kirk and good old Spock has to work out which is the actual Kirk, they then fight and you cannot tell which is which so Spock is unable to shoot.

It’s not a bad episode, but it is very slow and very similar to other episodes that we have already seen in the run.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Score: 6/10

May 13, 2008 Posted by | andorians, disease/sickness, doubles or duplicates, mad captains, prisons/penal colonies, shape shifters, tellarites, torture | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.10 (Journey to Babel)

Cast:

Jane Wyatt (Amanda)
William O’Connell (Thelev)
John Wheeler (Gav)
James X. Mitchell (Lt. Josephs)
Reggie Nalder (Shras)
Writer: D.C. Fontana
I am such a geek. I like this episode for a number of reasons: firstly, of course, the wonderful Mark Lenard as Sarek (Spock’s father) and all the aliens. Some of them are not created that well (the pig like Tellarites for example) what it lacks in visuals it has in plot, which more than makes up for it.
Talking of Tellarites, the first one killed was executed using a Vulcan method called “Tal Shaya” (I don’t know if the subtitles are spelled correctly, but that is how it is spelled in the subtitles). Now, the Romulan secret service is called the “Tal Shiar.” Probably a coincidence, but I enjoyed that nonetheless.
I like the set up as well – Kirk gets attacked and unable to command, Sarek gets ill and only a blood transfusion from Spock will save him, but because of all of the crap going on aboard the ship, Spock believes that his duties as commander of the ship are more important than his fathers life. McCoy and Kirk manage to pull a fast one and trick Spock into thinking that Kirk is okay, but then, during the delicate operation the Enterprise is attacked and it all nearly goes wrong.
It’s good stuff, and I am so glad that on the strength of this performance alone we get to see Sarek a further five times – in three of the films as well as two episodes of The Next Generation. Cracking!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 33
Score: 8/10

March 29, 2008 Posted by | amanda, andorians, family members, sarek, tellarites, vulcans | | 1 Comment