Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
George Takei(Sulu)
Kim Cattrall(Valeris)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)
Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright)
Leon Russom(Starfleet Commander in Chief)
Kurtwood Smith (Federation President)
Christopher Plummer (General Chang)
Rosanna DeSoto(Azetbur)
David Warner(Chancellor Gorkon)
John Schuck (Klingon ambassador)
Michael Dorn(Colonel Worf)
Jeremy Roberts(Lieutenant Dimitri Valtane)
Iman(Martia)

Writers: Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Nicholas Meyer, Denny Martin Flinn

One of the moons surrounding the Klingon home world explodes, causing the Federation to offer help.  The first thing that is needed is a peace treaty, so Kirk is sent out to meet the Klingon chancellor and escort him to Earth for these talks.  After a dinner in which both parties prove that it will take a while for the Federation and the Klingons to see eye to eye, the Enterprise appears to fire on the Klingon ship.  Two Federation suited officers beam across and murder the Klingon chancellor in the chaos.  McCoy and Kirk beam across to try to help and are arrested for the murder.  They are trialled and sentenced to life imprisonment at the penal colony/dilithium mine Rura Penthe, where they escape, discover that the whole with has been a set up between Klingon General Chang and a high up Federation officer.  They get to the peace conference at Khitomer just in time to prevent the Federation presidents assassination by a human disguised as a Klingon.  They are then told to head back to Earth to be decommissioned.

As things go, this is not a bad movie.  I don’t think it’s as good as everyone seems to remember.  There are some good moments – the first time the Enterprise fires on the Klingon ship must have been quite shocking if you didn’t know it was coming.  And the Vulcan Valeris was a surprise traitor, though it would have been better if it has been Saavik as per the original plan (but neither previous actress was available and they didn’t want to recast again).

The Klingons came across rather well in this story – both David Warner and Christopher Plummer were excellent in their roles.

The worst thing about it was the silly humour.  The “if the boot fits” gag with the Dax character (not the Dax we get to know later on DS9) was pathetic, as was the section when they are trying to speak Klingon go get into Klingon space without rousing suspicion.

The characters were all talking about retirement at the start.  This makes sense – you get the impression that films two through five are meant to happen quickly in relation to one another, with a large gap between one and two and a large one between five and six.  Kirk has not really seemed old until this film – Shatner in his fifties was easily able to pull off Kirk, and although they were all good fun in this movie it was the right move not to do any more.  Scotty, Spock and McCoy in particular are looking very old indeed!

It was a nice send off.  It was great to see Sulu in his own ship.  It does, however, seem unreal that I will not see these people together again.  I have been watching the classic series and movies for this blog for the best part of a year now, and it does not seem real that I won’t see them again.  (Although truth be told the only character I will never see again is Uhura – the others all turn up in various shows or movies.  In fact, one of them show up in the next thing I am going to watch!

Many crew must have died in this, but as no dialogue in the film confirmed the casualty figures, I shall assume they all survived.  So Kirk lost 58 crew in his film and TV adventures.

It’s been fun, but now I have a new group of people to get used to!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Confirmed Crew Deaths Under Captain Kirk: 58 (to be reset for the next series)
Score: 7.5/10

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June 4, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, doubles or duplicates, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, prisons/penal colonies, romulans, sarek, set on earth | | 1 Comment

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
George Takei(Sulu)
David Warner (St. John Talbot)
Laurence Luckinbill(Sybok)
Charles Cooper(Korrd)
Cynthia Gouw(Caithlin Dar)
Todd Bryant(Klaa)
Spice Williams(Vixis)
George Murdock (God)

Writers: William Shatner, Harve Bennett, David Loughery

Sybok – a man who turns out to also be a son of Sarek – takes over Nimbus III, a planet that was intended to be the planet of galactic peace, but has kind of been forgotten.  By holding the Klingon, human and Romulan ambassadors (yes, we finally see a Romulan in a movie and a female one at that) he judges that someone will respond by sending a starship.  Both the Klingons and the Federation do – they send the new Enterprise, which is still having it’s faults ironed out bu Scotty.  However, when the Enterprise arrives, and they try to rescue the hostages, it turns out they are on Syboks side.  Sybok takes over the Enterprise, and they fly off to kind God, who is at the centre of the Galaxy.  The Klingons follow.  God turns out not to be God just some creature that has been trapped in this place (presumably by an advanced race who saw it as a threat).  Sybok buys them time to escape with his life.  Then the Klingons arrive, and are talked down by the Klingon ambassador.  Everyone survives.

I really don’t want to come across as the stereotypical Trek enthusiast and slag this movie off.  My memory of it before I watched it today was that it was a lot of nice moments that just did not add up to being a great film.  Sadly, when I watched it today, I have realised that it isn’t even that.

I think the idea behind this film was to go back to the original idea that the story is about these three men – Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and their relationship.  I noticed that all of the other regulars were listed as co-stars, for the first time in the movies.  And they are marginalised in this film – even made to look a little foolish (Sulu and Checkov getting lost on Earth, for example).  The ease with which Sybok influences them all is also a little frustrating, although he fails to convince Scotty (although the story had another way to make Scotty look foolish – “I know this ship like the back of my hand”).

It’s got some good guests – David Warner, a really good actor, is given very little to do (although they more than make up for this in the next film when he plays a Klingon, and later in The Next Generationwhere he plays an awesome Cardassian).  Charles Cooper is good as Klingon Ambassador Koord – they obviously liked him, as he came back as another Klingon on The Next Generation.

This film possibly suffered because it was the first Trek movie to come out during the run of The Next Generation.  It was filmed between the breaks between seasons 2 and 3 and came out during 3.  This cannot have helped – season 3 was when The Next Generationreally found it’s feet and became a distinctive show of it’s own.  The fact that many of the sets were just Next Generation sets redressed didn’t help – there are a couple of corridor shots that are blatant Enterprise-D corridors, not a redress in sight.  It is a real shame.

So, all in all, the first bad film in the series.  I genuinely think that this would have killed the movie franchise if The Next Generation has not been doing so well on TV at the time.  Luckily, the original crew have one final outing to make it up so us…

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 5/10

June 3, 2008 Posted by | family members, klingons, mind control, romulans, sarek, set on earth, set on vulcan, ship/station taken over, songs, super beings, transporter problems, vulcans | | 1 Comment

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 III: The Search for Spock

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
James Doohan(Scotty)
George Takei(Sulu)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
Merritt Butrick (Dr. David Marcus)
Robin Curtis(Saavik)
Christopher Lloyd(Kruge)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Judith Anderson (Vulcan High Priestess)
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand)

Writer: Harve Bennett

You know, my memories of this particular story of the film series were not that great.  There is a theory among the fans that the odd numbered films are not that good.  I have to say both the first film and indeed this one prove that wrong.

The story is relatively simple.  The Enterprise arrives on Earth having returned directly from the events of the previous film.  McCoy is behaving oddly, and when they arrive, they are told that the Enterprise is so badly knackered that she will not be repaired – she is to be scrapped.  Spocks’ father, Sarek (played by the fantastic Mark Lenard) visits Kirk to find out where Spock placed his memories before he died.  It turned out to be McCoy.

Meanwhile, on the Genesis planet, David and Saavik find Spocks coffin but it is empty.  Their ship (the Grissom) is destroyed by a Klingon ship that wants the secrets of the Genesis device.  They find a young Spock with no memories who is rapidly aging, like the planet.

Kirk asks if he can take McCoy to the Genesis planet, but is told he cannot, so he steals the Enterprise and all but Uhura go to Genesis.  There they are attacked by the Klingons, David is killed because Kirk will not surrender and eventually they have to self destruct the Enterprise.  Just before it explodes they beam down to the Genesis planet, which is breaking up, Kirk fights the Klingon commander and wins, and pretends to b him and they get beamed up to the Klingon ship, capture it, and eventually take Spock back to Vulcan (he is now about the right age) and reunited with his body.

The story is not anything like as good as the previous film, but it does have some benefits.  Firstly, this is the first appearance by Klingons as we know them – bumpy foreheads, costumes, knives and everything.  We saw something that was a bit like this in the first film, but the Klingons here are the template used from this point on, and they are great.  Chrisopher Lloyd is especially good as their vicious Captain, who kills crewmembers just for making a mistake (he killed his gunner when the Grissom is destroyed, he only wanted it disabled) and he also orders the death of David (well, any death, it was up to the Klingon on the ground who actually died).  So Yay to the Klingons, they are finally here!

The next two bits I adore are the obvious bits: I love the sequence where Kirk and company steal the Enterprise – they are persued by the experimental TransWarp ship the USS Excelsior, but luckily Scotty has sabotaged their new engines, so the persuit does not go very far.

Also, the destruction of the Enterprise is a really big deal moment.  This is the ship we have seen in every TV episode, and every movie up until this point.  Okay, it was going to be scrapped, but the fact that Kirk destroys her is a poignant moment.  And the effects are pretty good as well – the saucer explodes, but the rest burns up in the atmosphere of the planet.

I also love the fact that Sarek is back – we see Mark Lenard in two more films, and even in a couple of episodes of The Next Generation.

So what if the plot isn’t the strongest, so what if the sequence on Vulcan where Spocks’ mind is taken from McCoy and put back into Spock go on for a bit.  It’s nice to see him again, even though he only gets a few words at the end.

As I said before, this is kind of the middle story in a trilogy, and whilst the two that surround it are much stronger (perhaps the best the series has to offer) I think this one is good too – the quality of two and four tend to push this third film into the shadow a tad.

Crew Deaths: 0 (David doesn’t count, he isn’t Enterprise crew)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 7.5/10

May 30, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, cloaking devices, david marcus, death of a recurring character, destruction of a starfleet ship, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, pon farr, saavik, sarek, self destruct, set on earth, set on vulcan, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 2 Comments

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