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)
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