Utterly Star Trek Review

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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: 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 2.1 (Amok Time)

Cast:

Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov)
Celia Lovsky (T’Pau)
Arlene Martel (T’Pring)
Byron Morrow (Adm. Komack)
Lawrence Montaigne (Stonn)
Writer: Theodore Sturgeon
I commented on the final episode of series one that there was nothing special about it. Well, there is something special about the opening episode of season 2. This episode is all about Spock (arguably one of the more fascinating characters from the original series) and introduces us to some stuff that will continue throughout the franchise. It is in this story that we find out that Vulcan (males?) only have the urge to mate every seven years (no wonder the little buggers are such good card players, oops, wrong series) and if they don’t get their end away they die. So Kirk breaks some direct orders to take Spock back to Vulcan so that he can get some nookie.
Only it’s not that simple. His betrothed now wants to bone someone else (absense makes the heart grow fonder my arse) so Kirk and Spock end up having to have a fight to the death.
Some aspects of this episode are not great. The Vulcan set is a bit shit (a typical classic Trek badly dressed and lit soundstage) but on the plus side is a very alien culture in the Vulcans. So whilst this will never be one of the top ten, it is a crucial and pivotal episode nonetheless.
Oh, and of course we are introduced to Chekov.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 26
Score: 7/10

January 31, 2008 Posted by | pon farr, set on vulcan, vulcans | | Leave a comment