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

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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: 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 3.9 (The Tholian Web)

Writer: Judy Burns, Chet Richards

Who said that the third season was full of turkies?  So far, I am finding it about as consistent as the last season, meaning not as good as the first!  However, there are some truly classic episodes.  This is one of them.

The Enterprise investigates the disappearance of the USS Defiant (no, not the one from Deep Space Nine) and finds the ship caught in some kind of dimensional anomaly, the ship seems to be phasing in and out of existence.  A landing party beams aboard, and it seems clear that something drove the crew insane, as the body of the Captain is found being strangled by one of the other bridge crew.  As the ship starts phasing again, most of the landing party managed to be beamed back (only just, since the transporter was playing up).  Kirk remains trapped aboard as the Defiant phases out of existence again.

All does not seem to be lost – the Defiant is due to phase back in in a couple of hours, and Kirk has just enough air for that.  But when a Tholian ship arrives, it upsets the anomaly, so the Defiant does not phase in on schedule.  The Tholians had given the crew the benefit of the doubt, and when the Defiant does not appear they assume that Spock was lying to them and opens fire.  Another Tholian ship arrives, and they start to build a web like energy field around the ship to trap them.  And to make things worse, it seems as though the madness that killed the crew of the Defiant is because of the area of space they are in and it starts to affect the crew of the Enterprise.

Of course, once the time is up and Kirks air supply must have run out, he is declared dead and Spock takes over.  When Uhura sees him in his space suit for a moment, they assume she is going mad as well.

I like this episode.  It is what they later referred to as a “bottle” show – little or no guest cast and filmed on existing sets, but it is really well done.  The Tholian web is fun, although it only works because the Enterprise is disabled – it does take them a while to build it. 

And what is it with Nurse Chapel?  When one of his staff attacks him, McCoy is almost killed and for ages Chapel just stands there and watches!  (Before she finally gets a hypo and knocks out the attacker).  And the cure for the madness that McCoy eventually finds is full of alcohol, and Scotty decides that it might make a good mixer for Whisky! 

Another thing I liked was they didn’t show anything of what was going on from Kirks point of view – the episode is all about what happened to the Enterprise crew, and this was a nice move – it was great that the episode focussed on someone other than Kirk for a change – nothing against him, but it made for a better episode.  This is something that later versions of Trek get good at, but it is unusual for this show.  Oh, and McCoy and Spock pretend that they never watched the tape of Kirk’s last orders to them after they declare him dead.
And we never see the Defiant – they rescue Kirk, but the ship vanishes into the anomaly.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 8/10

May 6, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), inside another stafleet ship, post death message, tholians, transporter problems | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.4 (Mirror Mirror)

Cast:
Barbara Luna (Lt. Marlena Moreau)
Garth Pillsbury (Wilson)
Pete Kellett (Farrell)

Writer: Jerome Bixby

Every now and then there comes an episode from the original series that merits the hype that surrounds it. This is one of those.

The creation of the Mirror universe, with it’s differences (some huge, some tiny) is a work of genius, and the imagery from the episode has been lampooned on many occasions (I point you to the episode of South Park where you only know characters are from an alternative, evil universe because of their beards) and even though the story is very simple, it is compelling. Okay, so you know that the changes made to the uniforms and set design are minimal, but they are fasctinating much the same. It is almost a shame that this was not a two parter that featured more of the “evil” versions on “our” Enterprise (not going mad with anger as was shown here) but there are also some cool similarities – the fact that Spock is not as nasty as some of the others in this universe actually makes sense, had it not then the end of the story would have been quite ridiculous.
This was such a huge success that Deep Space Nine revisited this universe on several occasions (some episodes were great, some just plain silly) and even Enterprise went here as a kind of prequel in its final season.
So, all in all, a really enjoyable episode. Loads of crewmembers died, but sadly none of them count as they were in the other universe!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 30
Score: 8/10

February 10, 2008 Posted by | parallel universes, transporter problems | | 3 Comments

Star Trek 1.5 (The Enemy Within)

First Aired: October 6, 1966

Cast:
Edward Madden (Technician Fisher)
Garland Thompson (Technician Wilson)
Jim Goodwin (Lt. John Farrell)
Writer: Richard Matheson
“Captains’ Log. Specimen gathering mission on planet Alpha177. Unknown to any of us during this time, a duplicate of me, some strange alter ego had been created by the transporter malfunction.” Aaaaargh! They’ve only gone and done it again. There is no way that be could have recorded that as a log. I am hoping that this crap method of narration goes away soon – I have not noticed it before and it is really starting to piss me off!!!
That being said, there are a couple of extremely adult moments in this episode. Kirk is split into two halves, and the “evil” half (for want of a better description) stalks Yeoman Rand (who he admitted to quite liking in the previous episode under the influence of the virus) and he pretty much tries to rape her – it is well acted and filmed and is a horrible moment, adult in the true, non-Torchwood sense of the word.
A couple of thoughts though. There are men trapped on the planet below (including Sulu) and the temperature is about to drop to well below freezing. These man cannot be beamed up or they may also be split like Kirk. Scotty tries to beam heaters down, which are also split in two and won’t work. Fine, but don’t they have shuttles aboard the ship? They certainly do later on in the first series, but this early on obviously the hadn’t thought about it, but you would have hoped that there would be some technobabble explanation as to why they can’t use them.
It is also an interesting idea that the negative side of Kirk provides the strength that enables him to Captain the ship.
The first half of the episode is excellent, but once they capture the “evil” Kirk, it slows down a bit, and the final moments when Evil Kirk rampages around the ship are a little melodramatic. I can’t believe that an organisation with any idea of what security was would leave Evil Kirk unguarded in the sick bay, which really renders the last ten minutes as totally unbelievable. Spock should have just shot both of them (on stun) and been done with it, but no, instead he lets them fight it out on the bridge. Hmmm. Not convinced.
It would have been an 8/10 it it wasn’t for that ending, which really let down an excellent first half.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 17
Score: 6/10

July 26, 2007 Posted by | doubles or duplicates, transporter problems | | Leave a comment