Monday, February 1, 2010

Star Trek The Motion Picture Review

Here it is, the Star Trek original movie series in review, in honor of the new Star Trek movie. Today's movie, starting from the very beginning:

I dunno what it is about the first movie of epic science fiction series, but this suffers the same problem as The Phantom Menace (and the same first letters of the title, just in a different order: TMP, TPM O_O!). This movie is very very very lacking when compared to the following movies. It has a very Lucas-ian habit of relying on the effects to carry the movie...and boy, do they love to rely on the effects in the movie. So here we go...

The opens with a several minute overture playing the theme of Ilia, also known as the Love Theme for the movie. And since the movie is scored by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, this is not a bad thing. The overture plays against the backdrop of stars sweeping past, similar to when a ship is at warp speed in the shows, so it's actually very relaxing. Movies of the time were phasing the overture part out, but this kept this tradition (similar to how the Bond films keep the full opening theme number for their series). Once the overture ends, we're smacked over the head with the main theme of the movie as the title and credits begin. The main theme was reused for the main theme of The Next Generation, which is a good thing, because this theme is similar to that of the Battlestar Galactica main theme (the original and good series mind you) and the Superman movie theme: It's triumphant and uplifting, a good feeling kind of song. And ones the main theme ends, the movie finally begins...

And we get the best part of the movie out of the way at the start, the Klingons.

This is their movie debut as well, showing off the new K'Tinga battle cruisers as they investigate and confront this large mysterious cloud that's crossing their space...

Seeing this dark thing in their space, the Klingons decide to shoot it, because it's stepping on their turf. Of course, this does absolutely nothing...and what do the Klingons do? Turn and run. We get a scene switch to the Epsilon IX space station which is monitoring this event, then back to the Klingons, the ships (of which there are only two now, the third one has magically vanished...or cloaked....or maybe Q stole it for some games)are making for deep space to escape the cloud. However, the cloud don't like that, so it fires a hadouken fireball and vaporizes the first Klingon cruiser. The last one is driving hard trying to get away, but Cloudy McCloudypants decides to fire another hadouken, and the Klingon fires a shot but the ball passes through it (vaporizing the shot too) and hits the last Klingon ship and it's gone too. Epsilon IX station sees all this, and realize that the Cloud of Doom will be passing by them in a few hours.

Next scene is on Vulcan where we see Spock, who looks to need a haircut and bath, undergoing a ritual to purge himself of his emotions and he's about to get the scout's badge for it when the other Vulcans sense something amiss with Spock. They mind meld, and see that the Death Cloud is calling to Spock from across the vastness of space, tell him to go find his answer there, and toss the medal aside and leave him. He picks up the medal, and rubs it (and probably takes it to show off and claim he did complete the ritual. >_>).

Switch over to Earth, more awesome main theme playing, as Kirk (go Priceline Negotiator!) is on his way to speak with an Admiral about the approaching 'thing' and in the end is given command of the refitted Enterprise.

On a side note, the uniforms in this movie are just plain silly. The original series was a shirt, pants, and boots. Not overly uniformy either, but still...I like them better than the movie's version of a uniform. They look like Pajamas.

"Jim, I'm ready for you to tuck me in and give me my plushy tribble."
"Okay, Bones will tell you a bedtime story too."
"Can he tell me the story of the time I smacked you around while high on space spores?"
"Make it so!"

Anyway, in the end, he meets up with Scotty who takes him on a shuttle pod to the new Enterprise, which is the next best thing about this movie, the redone model of the Enterprise, more detail in the updated design. We get a nice show of the ship as they dock, using this long way to the ship because the transporters on the ship are down for repairs.

On board, Kirk heads to the bridge and meets with some more of the classic crew, who are happy to see him. They inform him that Captain Decker, who was given command of the Enterprise after Kirk's promotion to Admiral, is in engineering helping with the refits. Kirk heads down there and meets Decker, who is the stereotypical pretty guy (this model is pretty much Riker in The Next Generation in the first season before he becomes his own man). Kirk gives him the bad news, demotes him to commander, makes him the XO and sends him to the bridge with a scolding, since Decker thinks Kirk's lack of experience will be bad for the mission.

Then we get our next in a series of unfortunate events: Transporter accident! Rushing to the Transporter room, they find that people were beaming up while the Transporters were not in working order. The science officer and some noname redshirt can't complete the transport and are sent back to Starfleet HQ, and what they got back wasn't much...and didn't live long. You may remember this scene being spoofed in Galaxy Quest. But once that scene is past, which is rather creepy, I remember being creeped as a child by the screaming, the distorted image, plus the transporter beam in this movie is...eerie, we continue with the mission.

On the bridge, the crew readies to depart as the ship powers up, running lights turn on and the Enterprise pulls out of the drydock. Once free of the dock, we get a nice flyby shot of the Enterprise leaving Earth's orbit, it's a pretty scene and shows the Enterprise in her full glory.

And once clear of Earth's orbit, they prepare for warp speed, which again, did you notice that the Helmsman station on the new bridge has a gear shift?

"Ready to go Sulu?"
"Yes captain."
"Alright, put her in first gear and let's go!"

And the Enterprise eventually leaps jumps to warp, however! Before they get too far and can actually deal with the cloud of deathly doomish destruction, they enter a wormhole. Again, this is a neat scene to watch, for a minute before the effects of the wormhole make them slow down and stretches lights out and everything.

And an asteroid appears in the path of the Enterprise, unable to drop out of warp, so Kirk orders phasers, which Decker belays, ordering torpedo fire instead, and the lil' Russian Chekov says in slow motion "Torpedoes ah-vey!" and destroys the asteroid and the ship drops out of warp.

While working on repairing the warp drive, a ship meets with them, docks, and leaves, the person who joins is Spock! Who now has had a haircut and bath. Being a complete jerk to all his old friends, he's put back at his station as science officer. Spock, being the answer man, has the solution to their warp problems, fixes it, and they're on their way!

Finally they reach Mister Doomy Cloud, with over a third of the movie past, the Enterprise meets with this cloudy doom.

Of course, the cloud doesn't like them, and Hadoukens them! Of course, they're saved by their main character status shields and survive the first attack, when every other ship to encounter the cloud has been vaporized. But before a second attack hits, they find that they have been contacted, and reply on the same transmission, stopping the attack. Now with the threat of attack gone, the Enterprise enters into the cloud...and here we enter the worst part of the movie. The Bad Acid Trip. Seriously, that is all it looks like. One whole chapter of the DVD is just the crew staring like deer in the headlights as they move through the cloud (which is actually an energy field put out by an 'object' inside).

I cut out some other different graphics, but you get the idea. The best part of this whole boring scene is Sulu's reaction:

"'s huuuuge. Anyone hungry?"

Then once they FINALLY get past the cloud, they finally come upon the massive vessel inside the cloud. And yay! More slow moving shots and flyby scenes of the craft itself now! Seriously, that's the whole middle part of the movie, flying through the cloud, then around the craft itself. The music is nice and sinister and mysterious, but that's not enough to save the scenes.

Again, I missed a shot here and there of the craft...but lord...this scene is so slow. And the craft actually pulls the Enterprise into the interior as you can see in the last couple of pictures.

The inside is interesting, in fact, honestly speaking, the whole ship itself is well done in size and mysteriousness. Especially the inside, with a near organic feeling to it as the front of the ship peeled open to pull the Enterprise inside, and the hatches that stop the Enterprise slide and move more life like than a door on the Enterprise.

But once again an energy ball hits the Enterprise, trying to probe the ship (cover your rear!) and a pole of light zaps around the bridge, vaporizes the bald lady navigator and is gone. Not too long after that wonderful scene, she's back! but she's a probe now (much nice to look at than the shiny pole of light, though her bald head is as shiny... >_>) and has all the memories and such of the former Navigator. They put her in a white robe outfit thing, which happens to leave her nice legs exposed for the viewing. So there's a whole bunch of trying to bring to the surface the memories of Ilia (the navigator) to try and find a way to use the probe, and the probe says that it's creator is V'ger, which is the massive craft itself. The deadly thing that they are facing is a machine craft (which made a big death cloud around beans...of the future!)

Later while all that's going on, Spock, being his usual jerk self in this movie, steals a space suit and jetpack and leaves the ship and flies into the next chamber of the ship, which is this crazy scene of his trip through V'ger's memory banks, if you will. It seems everything that was vaporized earlier in the movie was stored in this chamber....guess the energy balls are V'ger's way of 'right-click to save as image file'.

As you can see, Spock is tripping the good Vulcan acid too. He finds Ilia stored in the memory as well, and this glowing ball of energy on her neck, same place as the probe's version is, he tries to mind meld with it, but the firewall prevents that, scrambles his brain, and tosses him back out into the previous chamber, where Kirk saves him. After a small scene in sickbay where he talks with Kirk and Bones (who's done little to anything, and said little too, in fact, one scene, he walks onto the bridge, looks around, and walks out). After that, they go back to the bridge, and V'ger leaves the Doom Cloud behind and you get to see the craft itself.

Turns out V'ger wants to merge with the Creator to become a new life form, and threatens to destroy Earth, as it sees the human life on it (called carbon-units) as an infestation and not true life. The crew see V'ger as a child seeking answers, and treat it as such. Then they realize that this 'child' has god-powers and smacks the ship around some, and they agree to give it the answers it wants, but directly, so yay, ANOTHER fly by scene to V'ger's main chamber (which is not the one Spock went through, guess he can rearrange his insides, handy trick, that).

In the final chamber, Kirk tells Scott to be ready to blow the ship up to try and take out V'ger if they can't stop it. They then find that there is a breathable atmosphere around V'ger's main control island thing, so they go for a space walk.

On said island thing, they discover that V'ger is actually the Voyager 6 deep space probe launched from Earth nearly 300 years ago, that was assumed lost. It was found by a race of machines and rebuilt and became this crazy cloud spewing child of death and doom. They figure out that V'ger has learned all he can learn in this plane of existence, and seeking to evolve so it can travel to other dimensions, but to do this, it needs the human element that goes beyond logic. So Kirk has the Enterprise to transmit the old NASA code to make the Voyager probe transmit all it's collected data. V'ger burns out it's transmitter wiring so the creator will have to input it manually, hence forcing the merger. Decker decides to do this, saying more than anything, this is what he wants, he inputs the code and begins to glow as the merger starts.

"I'm Bruce Leeroy! And I got the glow because I'm the chosen one!"

Not only are we treated to more flashy effects, but we see that Decker's psycho hair just radiates energy!

His hair is a renewable energy source! All the world's energy problems, solved at last thanks to his hair! Now if we can repeat this process with Jim Carrey's hair, there will be no one to stop us this time!

After escaping back to the ship, V'ger evolves by exploding in a crazy display of lights and flashes.

And in the fading light, we get a beautiful shot of the Enterprise over the Earth.

With this, the crew reflect of this adventure, and Kirk has Decker and Ilia listed as missing instead of dead or evolved into crazy machine organic life thing. The crew then take their stations and Kirk has them jump to warp. Guess when your an Admiral you can go warping around the galaxy without having to return to Starbase and file a report on the whole mission, not to mention check in for further orders and see to any repairs that need be made. Go Kirk!

I always wished they did a follow up to V'ger, to see what happened, how the evolution went. I think it went something like this:

V'ger evolved into V'eck'ger! V'eck'ger, I choose you!

And if this is what evolution was for him, how you think he feels? "This...this is truly what I wanted? Please....kill me!"

Anyway, in conclusion, how does the first Star Trek measure up? Not that well. It's heavy emphasis on effects over story hurt it, plus the slow pacing and the whole middle point of the movie can put people to sleep. Spock's jerk-like behavior for most of the movie was not that good either, seeing after all he had been through with his shipmates, you think he'd be warmer to them. The real lack of an opponent for Kirk to face off against hurt this movie too. There's no real threat to V'ger save for the parts at the start of the movie when he first appears, but when they actually uncover facts about it, they start treating it as a child, and that just didn't go well either. Compared to some of the sequels, this movie has aged badly. It's pretty much a retelling of the story from the original series 'The Changeling' where they meet a probe that had a similar origin, and it was able to interact with the crew and was more of the threat.

So to wrap up, lemme put it this way:

The Good:
Jerry Goldsmith's score for the movie is amazing. His talents are on full display here.

The new detailed ship models are great, especially the Enterprise.

The opening scene with the Klingons. Q'apla!

The Bad:

Slow pacing.

Lack of anything remotely interesting going on for the whole middle part of the movie.

Lack of an antagonist.

Heavy heavy emphasis on the effects.

Story just a copy of The Changeling.

Creeeepy transporter accident, it freaks me out!

My final overall score for the movie is: 2 out of 5.

But there is one good thing to be said for this movie in the lead to:

Hope you enjoyed the review and see you next time with Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, the true start, to me, of the Star Trek films.


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