Thursday, May 17, 2012
Is there a good original Star Trek movie?
For some reason HBO had been playing the Star Trek (original cast) movies all last month. I have finally sat through them all, again. I took some time but I had it to spare since I have backed off Mass Effect and really don’t feel very hobby-ish at the moment. After seeing them all again, after many years, I have come to the conclusion that they pretty much all stink. The few fond memories I have are gone. The annoyance at some of them has grown to almost shame for having viewed such tripe. Is there anything redeeming about these films? Do the old school Trekkies love them?
The first of the series and one would expect it to lay the groundwork well for further films. It really didn’t. It reintroduces the world to the cast after ten years of being off television. They get the band back together to solve a dilemma somewhere in space. It sounds all well and good, but what do we really get? We get a N.A.S.A. satellite gone rogue, a bald chick with a synthesizer voice, the ground work for a future fat Scotty and a pretty boring story. This was just a real snore fest with the crew in bad grey (and way to tight) uniforms.
This is my favorite of the Trek films, so It was a bit difficult to watch unbiased. We have a great villain in Khan, who Kirk exiled, along with crew, some fifteen years earlier. Khan gets all Captain Ahab grabs a ship and goes after Kirk. The story is basically Moby Dick with a descent smattering of death and rebirth. It also had a space battle which is always a plus for me. Why have a big ship with guns and never use them? Here we get two ships and a pair of fights. There is also the death of Spock. This now draws laughter when Kirk cries “SPOCK!” during this scene. This is mostly due to a guy named Tony who once did this while we were all hangin’. It also has the great “KHAN!!” scream from Kirk that has been used in memes, Seinfeld and several other places. A descent story, a great villain, some kick ass 80’s hair metal wardrobe, ships shooting at each other and very usable one-liners; all make for a good film. This is the best of the series. Yeah it only gets worse.
A follow up to Wrath has the crew in a post-Spock funk. There is also the whole new planet, Genesis that has been created and the goings on there. This time however, we get Klingons causing problems and McCoy with a split personality disorder. It seems the Klingons want the Genesis planet project data stuff for a weapon, DUH! Meanwhile Dr. McCoy has Spock’s memories floating around his head and he wants to get them out. The Enterprise is also to be decommissioned and the crew split or retired. Everything revolves around the new planet and low and behold….there is a new baby Spock growing there. How? Shit, it is explained, but they might as well have said…”Well because he is Spock and can’t be dead. That is why he is alive.” So off we go to find the growing Spock clone baby pseudo-Jesus allegory, fight some Klingons (led by a soon to be Dr. Emmit Brown) and save the day again. The event that blew my childhood mind, was the fact they self destructed the Enterprise. That was huge as a lad. Now it has happen like a dozen times and has no meaning. Every other film is a new Enterprise, so no big deal right? Another bland story, resurrection Spock, blowed-up Enterprise but with Klingons involved this time. Well at least it wasn’t as bad as the first film.
A follow-up to the last film, with the crew getting Spock back and about to head to Earth for a good talking to from the Federation. However, the Earth is under siege from some crazy space probe and only humpback whales can save the day. What?!?!? The crew, sans Enterprise, now has to travel back to 1986 in a Klingon ship and hijack a few whales. So by flying around the sun, the gang travels some 300 years into the past. WHAT? A move that is dumber than Superman making the Earth spin backwards. This is the funny Star Trek as we get the crew from the future in the past. Oh the hilarity! They grab two whales and quick trip back around the sun and viola…back to the 23 century to save the Earth. This was a struggle to watch with the fish out of water comedy and the insipid plot. Didn’t we already get an angry space probe in the first film? I had trouble wanting to watch all of this movie, but then I remembered what came next….Star Trek and the Search for the Holy Grail. That made sitting through Voyage Home a bit easier.
Spock’s half brother shows up with a crazy quest to find where life began in space. It is on some planet in the galaxy center that is to be avoided by everyone. So, if you go looking for space Jesus you’ll hit some mystery barrier and die. A bit of a para-phrase, but that is the gist of it. There is another Klingon causing problems, but it is more of a tacked on afterthought. The crew must overcome the religious zealot ½ Spock, his cronies, some rogue Klingon and at the same time go meet the Space Pope. This is just a huge stinking turd of a film. Why the hell did this idea get the go ahead? Was this the best script they had for a fifth Star Trek film? Hands down the worst of the Star Trek films! Surprised this didn’t kill the franchise with how awful it was.
Finally, I get to the last film with the, now very old looking, original Enterprise crew. Here we have the Klingons in trouble with survival since a moon explodes and wrecks their home world. The Enterprise crew is off to begin a Klingon conversion to the Federation. There is the awkward meeting and then an assignation that ruins the little peace summit. Kirk and McCoy are throw in a prison, Spock and company have to solve the crime, rescue Kirk and Bones and all this before the Klingon/Federation peace summit that is going to happen. We get more Klingon shenanigans here, a minor space battle, Kim Catrall for some reason, some Spock mind rape, and a plan to kill Red Forman / Clarenece Boddiker (with some insipid make-up) the Federation president, Worf’s grandfather or something, a Christian Slater cameo and all against Cold War allegory. Plus there is a huge annoyance with the use of Shakespear by the Klingons in the film. Why is it that the future has no great writers, musicians artists etc? Sci-fi always pulls back on Earth history for that. It seems no other alien races are capable of any culture of their own. A rant for another day. The film tries to bookend the series and doesn’t do an awful job of it. It is just a bit too little too late for me. This is not an awful movie and is easily the second best film of the franchise, but really doesn’t say much now does it?
Is there a good Star Trek film? After sitting through them again I have to say not really. I love Wrath of Khan, but it has problems like the rest of the movies, just less of them. Are Trekkies bigger fans of the original series (and Next Generation) than the films? Can anyone say they truly like films 1, 3, 4, 5 with a straight face? I have yet to meet anyone who can. Now I need to watch the Next Generation films, well actually just Insurrection, the only one of those I haven’t watched to completion. I know most of those don’t hold up to well either.
Guess my advanced age has made me a Star Trek cynic.