“You’re wasting time!” – the Viceroy, to the movie Shinzon.
Premiere: December 13th, 2002
Written and Directed By: John Logan and Stuart Baird
Plot It’s 2379. The Romulan Senate has just been assassinated en masse by being turned into stone en masse. This is part of a chain of events involving Shinzon, a clone of Picard who found himself brought up in mining pits by Remans, an alien race disliked by the Romulans. As you would guess, the Enterprise is sent to investigate, and Picard gets a look at the mirror of himself… sort of.
If you squint hard enough.
Y’know, after the dull fest that was Star Trek: Insurrection, I was actually getting myself hyped up to review the fourth and final movie in the TNG part of the film franchise, Nemesis. Not because I was particularly excited for a movie often ranked as the weakest of the franchise, but because after Insurrection almost served as a sleep aid, I figured that Nemesis would be at least slightly better. I wasn’t expecting anything good, but I figured that it would be more interesting than its predecessor. In fact, maybe I would be surprised and the movie would actually be halfway decent. Even if neither the director or the writer were involved with Trek before (in fact, the former never saw an episode before), maybe some new blood was needed.
So, I popped the movie into my PS3.
And, indeed, I was surprised. It did hold my attention more than Insurrection did. Because Nemesis ain’t a bad film. No, no.
In the interest of not burying the lede any further, it is hands down my least favorite of the TNG films. Pending a rewatch of Into Darkness, it might even be the worst of the entire film franchise. Oh, yeah – this movie is worse than the one where Kirk finds God. Worse than the one where Kirk gets crushed under a poorly constructed bridge. Far worse than The Slow-Motion Picture. Hell, even the reboot films are less irritating than this. This movie killed the franchise the way fans knew it for 40 years – and depending on how charitable you are to the reboots, stuck the knife in one of America’s most recognizable franchises.
To paraphrase a quote from Jeremy Clarkson, how was so much done so badly by so many?
Well, let’s start by going to the yin to this movie’s yang, The Wrath of Khan. Continue reading →
“In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to serve as a flotation device.” – Data. That’s the best piece of dialogue in the whole movie.
Premiere: December 11th, 1998.
Written By: Rick Berman and Michael Piller. (Directed by Jonathan Frakes.)
Plot: The Federation has to deal with a conflict on a planet that seems to generate youth. The Ba’ku and the Son’a are in cahoots, and the Federation seems to side with the Son’a. However, Picard and Co. seem to have a conflict with this arrangement, particularly after hearing the Ba’ku’s side of the conflict… and encountering the youth-generating properties of the new planet themselves.
There’s a general consensus in Star Trek fandom that Season 1 of The Next Generation is, well, not up to par. Various reasons have been cited, but the one that seems to take precedence was the overly moralizing tone that the first season had. Granted, Star Trek has always been about exploring the human condition, but there was a certain smugness to the first season of TNG – this idea that humanity had reached perfection, and the mere thought that earlier civilizations or those that had different ideas (read, those that went against Roddenberry’s socialistic utopia) were wretched and needed to be talked down to. Considering that this show was made in the Reaganite/Thatcherite era, it’s a small wonder that it didn’t get axed after one season.
Thankfully, Roddenberry was kicked upstairs and the show’s reputation improved dramatically. It became less pretentious, the characters became far more likable, and hell, conflict between the characters began to pop up. By the time TNG ended seven years later, it had etched itself as one of the most beloved TV shows of the late 80s/early 90s time period.
By 1998, the Star Trek franchise had evolved, with Deep Space Nine adding far more character complexities and an over-reaching plot – the Dominion War – to the entire Star Trek universe. Still, evolution doesn’t necessarily mean perfection – DS9 was coming to an end the year after, having been punted to poorer timeslots due to the decline of syndicated drama; the consensus was that Voyager massively underperformed in terms of writing, with some accusing it of the same smugness that seeped through early TNG; and ratings for both never reached the heights of TNG. There was this slow feeling coming in that the franchise was starting to run out of steam.
First Contact, though, was a resounding success commercially and critically – guaranteeing a 9th movie for the franchise. To keep up, Trek would need to continue to build its universe on a larger scale, keep in tune with the events of Deep Space Nine, to learn from the writing flaws of Voyager, etc. Frakes was back in the director’s seat, and Rick Berman was teamed up with Michael Piller to pen the new movie. Would the franchise that gave us Kirk and Picard boldly go into the 21st century?
Well, Insurrection came in and gave us our answer.
Far, far more boring than TMP. Yes, I went there – I was more fascinated by The Slow-Motion Picture than Insurrection.
“And you people – you’re all astronauts on some kind of star trek?” – Zefram Cochrane, reminding moviegoers what they paid obscene amounts of money to see.
Premiere: November 22nd, 1998
Written By: Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Plot: The specter of the Borg still lingers over Captain Jean-Luc Picard – largely because he was kidnapped and assimilated by them for a while. Thus, when the Borg come back to attack Earth, he defies Starfleet orders to lay waste to a Borg Cube. Unfortunately, a Borg Sphere (seriously, what is with the Borg and simple geometry) comes out of said cube, and the Enterprise follows it into the past where they intend to assimilate all – not to mention, ruin the first contact between Vulcans and Humans.
The crew try and keep Dr. Zefram Cochrane on track when it comes to the launch of his epochal ship, despite him being a bit different from his idolized portrayal in the 24th century. Picard tries to take on the Borg, but slowly goes a bit nuts in doing so, much to the concern of Lily, a resident of Cochrane’s settlement who wound up on the Enterprise. In the mix-up, Data gets captured and is tempted by one particular Borg – the Borg Queen, who fancies herself the end and the start of the collective.
Well, Generations was a bit of a misfire to pass the torch. Not that I won’t ever watch it again, but it really was just a double-length episode of TNG. Really, the only things film-worthy were a) the cameo by Captain Kirk, who proceeded to fall victim to poor lair construction, and 2) the Enterprise-D getting trashed by the Klingons. Still, the movie made a decent profit, and a follow-up was commissioned.
With Johnathan Frakes in the Director’s Chair, Braga and Moore back in the writer’s room, and the franchise arguably just coming off its cultural apex (with Voyager and Deep Space Nine airing at the same time), the sequel finally embraced the cinematic atmosphere by doing a deeper analysis of the series’ most well-known and well-renowned antagonist – the Borg.
(Warning: minor spoilers for TNG are in this review. Continue at your own risk.) Continue reading →
“Who am I… to argue with the captain of the Enterprise?” – James Kirk. Well… the former Captain of the Enterprise, missing for 78 years?
Premiere: November 18th, 1994
Written By: Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
Directed By: David Carson
Plot: In the year 2293, the first voyage of the Enterprise-B goes south when the ship has to perform a rescue mission. An energy wave comes into contact with the ship, taking with it a scientist that was rescued, as well as Captain Emeritus James T. Kirk.
In the year 2371, the Enterprise-D comes into contact with that same scientist – Tolian Soran. He wants to continue his observation, but Picard prevents him from doing so. Going mad, he kidnaps Geordi, trades him to some Klingons, and holes up on a planet where he can shoot a rocket into the sun, bringing the energy wave – the Nexus – over to him. Only one man can stop him… but he himself is emotionally shaken up, having lost his brother and nephew. So… what about two men?
Three hundred posts, give or take. Hot tamale, that’s… three hundred more (give or take) than I thought I would post back in February of 2013. Guess I got into this reviewing thing a bit, eh?
Two years ago, in an attempt to combat a lull in my reviews (because of a relative lack of content from Gravity Falls and Red Dwarf), I decided to take up reviews of Star Trek movies. It actually helped – a jog of my brain helped me start reviewing Steven Universe, and I managed to bang out fiveofthesixmovies over the second half of the year – only skipping Wrath of Khan because I reviewed it a year prior. My intent was to review the four TNG movies in December, but personal commitments led that astray, and my review of The Undiscovered Country wound up coming out on Christmas.
Now, I’m back reviewing the TNG films – and I’m about to formally move this blog over to WordPress. And what better way to start (and end) than reviewing the bridge between TOS and TNG – Generations?
“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?” – Ed, asking people a great philosophical question.
Premiere: July 25th, 1997
Written By: Dan Schneider
Plot: Summer vacation starts off rather poorly for Dexter (Kenan Thompson) when, upon leaving math class and campus, he crashes his mom’s car into Mr. Smiley’s his teacher’s new sedan. Without insurance. Or a drivers license. Mr. Wheat cuts a deal – Dexter can either pay for the damages or face the cops. To pay the $1900 estimate, he has to take a summer job – briefly at the newly-opened and dictatorially-run Mondo Burger, before working at the established and eccentric Good Burger. There, he works alongside Salvatore Tessio Otis, an elderly fry jockey, and strikes up a strange relationship with dimwitted Ed (Kel Mitchell). Puns ensue, especially when Dexter and Ed get caught up in the competition rat race.
Yup, I’m taking on a 1997 film about burger joints, starring Kenan and Kel, with side appearances from Sinbad and Abe Vigoda. And let’s be real here, it ain’t gonna win any awards for quality writing anytime soon. Still, how does this silly little movie hold up?
“The battle for galactic peace has begun…” (Screencap from Wikipedia, poster by John Alvin.)
Premiere: December 6th, 1991
Synopsis: The moon that provides the Klingon Empire’s energy suffers a major disaster, releasing ozone onto the planet. This potentially condemns the empire to a maximum of fifty years, should the planet not reign in it’s military expenditures. The Federation is ready to broker a treaty between them and the empire, and sends Captain James T Kirk and the Enterprise out to make a truce. Thing is, Kirk doesn’t trust the Klingons – something about them stabbing his son and wrecking his old ship doesn’t endear them to him.
Just after a series of awkward talks between the Klingon Ambassadors and the Enterprise (appointed ambassadors), the latter ship fires on the former’s ship, killing the Klingon Chancellor. With no knowledge of who did it, Kirk and Dr. McCoy stand trial and face life in prison, and the two forces appear on the brink of war.
Review: Well, it took far longer than I expected (again, my apologies), but here we are. The last movie solely based off of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the last film produced during Gene Roddenberry’s lifetime (he died a month and a half before the premiere, but got an advance screening two days before he died).
After the utter disaster that was Star Trek V, nobody was sure what to do with Star Trek VI. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was the franchise’s 25th anniversary, and that TNG had done alright in the ratings so far, Paramount probably would’ve sunk Star Trek into history. After waffling around as to what the plot would be, the end result is actually a genuinely moving film – an arguably overlooked classic in the Trek canon.
(Warning: spoilers. Proceed at your own peril. Or disappointment. Hey, it’s a movie.) Continue reading →
Synopsis: A Vulcan by the name of Sybok promises the desperate eternal knowledge, with just one requirement – they need a spaceship to get to the source. Thus, they decide to storm the capital city of “The Planet for Galactic Peace” and hijack the ship that responds. Hilariously enough, the ship is the still broken-down Enterprise A. Sybok lures the crew of the Enterprise in, and through the power of reading “hidden pain”, directs it to Sha Ka Ree.
Wow. Two hundred posts. Not a major milestone, but still a bit cool. If I celebrated my 100th with the best Star Trek movie, I may as well “celebrate” by looking at what many fans consider to… not be the best movie.
But first, being that this is something of a minor landmark for this blog, I figured I’d start with a mention of the show that really started it all.
I’ve mentioned time and again that Red Dwarf is, if not my all-time favorite show, one of my top five favorites. If I might give a brief elaboration on my favorite episodes, some of them, in hindsight, are quite theological. “The Last Day” questions whether people should constrain themselves strictly to their religion’s set of values, if they subscribe to said values. “Lemons” gave something of an analysis of Jesus – to many, he is the great prophet, and to many others, the greatest teacher ever. Most importantly, “The Inquisitor” wonders whether or not we should actively strive to live life to the fullest, and whether we get another shot.
What made these all stand out is that they all did so while being downright hysterical. Whether the comedy connected to the theology, or divulged from it, I was rolling.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier also tried to mix theology with comedy. The results? Let’s just say, it almost killed the franchise stone dead. Continue reading →
Will driving down Lombardi Street help? (Image from fanpop.com, via Google Images, made by Bob Peak.)
Premiere: November 26th, 1986
Synopsis: Coming off their refreshing, life-renewing trip to Vulcan, the Enterprise crew – uh, the Bounty crew – begin their long trip back to Earth, where they will face a court-martial, and risk a long jail sentence. Unfortunately, Earth is intercepted by a probe (yet again) that threatens the planet with disasters of biblical proportions. Interpreting the signals as whale sounds, the crew realize that the probe’s calling out for other whales… which, since the whales are dead, is kinda hard to do.
Therefore, using scientific mumbo-jumbo, they go around the sun and wind up in 1986 San Francisco. There, Spock and Kirk talk to Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), a marine biologist at the Cetacean Institute in Marin County, to try the hell to gain access to two damn whales; Uhura and Chekov look for the nuclear wessels in Alameda, causing a bit of a mess-up with security; and Scotty, Bones, and Sulu try to create a tank, all the while messing with modern minds with their medicine and lack of keyboards.
Review: In short, this movie is TMP, as written by the creators of Captain Planet. If it was actually pretty good.
In long, this is often cited as a fan favorite, up there with Wrath of Khan,First Contact, and Trek 09 as the fan favorite. The Voyage Home was the most commercially successful Trek film, and many have argued that it was due to it’s more casual tone – that nobody really needed a deep knowledge of Trek history to get into it.
(Note: yes, you read that correctly. It’s Trek III, not Trek II. For more on why, I refer you to here.)
A dying planet. A fight for life. The Search for Spock. (Poster by Bob Peak, taken from Wikipedia)
Released: June 1, 1984
Synopsis: The Enterprise comes back from its most recent excursion, beaten down and with chunks of its crew – including its science officer – dead. As the NCC-1701 dry-docks, Dr. McCoy begins acting bizarrely. Meanwhile, Lt. Saavik and David – Kirk’s son – have been left behind to orbit the Genesis Planet, and discover that Spock has been revived as a child. Due to some proto-matter in the Genesis device, the body of Spock has mere hours to live. Unfortunately for them, they wind up intercepted by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), the commander of a Klingon vessel, and are kidnapped.
Kirk and Spock’s father, Sarek, deduce that Spock transferred his katra – living spirit – to McCoy, and that McCoy must give Spock’s body the katra soon, or else the doctor will die. One problem, though. Not only is Spock’s body on the Genesis planet – where even discussing the planet is forbidden due to the political controversy involved in its creation – but the Enterprise is due to be scrapped. Determined to save the lives of his best friends, he and a skeleton crew commit Grand Theft Starship, taking the Enterprise out of dock for what is certainly her last tour.
No prizes for guessing what crew meets what commander.
Review (QUITE A BIT SPOILER-Y):Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is my all-time favorite movie. Its themes are a loving tribute to the works of Shakespeare, while still forming its own identity. Its characterization is beautiful. Its special effects are great, considering the $10M budget. Its dialogue is fantastic. And the ending… so poetic, so tragic, so beautiful.
It’s almost impossible to top Wrath of Khan… even with a direct sequel. So, how did they do? Continue reading →