Monday, September 14, 2015

Short Treks Movies- 1 & 2

The Original Crew films were released at the height of my teen aged geekdom, and were the first New Trek I was exposed to as a fan.  I’ve blathered on about them before, therefore this time I’m going to focus on connections I noticed to the series while watching them directly after it.  I will also continue to follow my insane conspiracy Extra Galactic Invasion Theory to its logical (sorta) conclusion.

The film subtitles work pretty well as “Mom Titles,” and  since movies are in our blood, "Mom Titles" would tend to be much more personal for the movie- with references such as "My sister fell asleep at the first warp, woke up at the last, and thought the film was five minutes long" or  "Amazingly I had a date for this one during those geeky years." Therefore,  I’ll be adding the “Awesome Ending Line" feature. It's not always the final line, especially since that's usually the "space the final frontier" speech. It's the line you carry home with you.  Unsurprisingly it is almost always voiced by James T. Kirk.  

Star Trek
Release Date: December 7, 1979
The Motion Picture
(See the 2001 Director’s Cut, Aka, “The Finished Version”)

The overture played over the opening star field sets the tone and slow pace for this one.

This film is not about overt action and adventure, it’s about getting the band back together, through a string of interesting coincidences…or were they?

The first Enterprise crew member we see is Spock, probably because he IS the franchise. Amazingly, V’ger shows up just in time to prevent him from shutting down his human side forever.

I know there are piles of fan theories about the machine planet V’ger claims to come from being connected to the Borg.  We’re not going that way today because:
1) I’d have to acknowledge the Next Generation, and that ain’t gonna happen.
2) There’s a perfectly acceptable explanation in the Original Series.

Those ancient extra galactic invaders littered the galaxy with their advanced androids and robots in their quest to build themselves new bodies. V’ger clearly hails from a world populated with them.  As proof of this, look what it does:

First it creates an android duplicate of Ilia.
Then it merges with Decker to overcome the inability of the machine to become fully human, something the robots on the show often struggled with.

Conveniently, this also removed the last obstruction to Kirk taking command of the - just happened to be redesigned- Enterprise since V’ger copied the one individual that would convince the son of the Commodore who fought the Doomsday Machine to merge with it. 

Where did the technology advances for the redesign come from?
Most likely, the knowledge gained by the multiple tests in excess warp speeds and barrier breaking that the Andromedans subjected the ship to.  They must have gotten the knowledge required to perform those from capturing Christopher Pike, Zefram Cochrane, Larry Marvick, and Mira Romaine.

That provides the vessel, but Spock is clearly important to their plan too, as they create a “creature” that can break him of fully adopting Vulcan philosophy and causing him to see the importance of emotion.  Spock’s reaction to his mind meld with V’ger was a heck of a lot more transforming than a similar one with Nomad.

“I weep for V’ger, as I would for a brother. As I was when I came aboard, so is V’ger now, empty, incomplete ... searching. Logic and knowledge are not enough.”

“Logic and knowledge are not enough?”
“As I would for a brother?”


The Andromedans need Kirk in command of his new Enterprise, and probably knew the gang well enough to know the Captain would drag Bones back by his side, kicking and screaming if needed.  
Kirk needs McCoy the most when he suspects he may be nuts. Spock, however, is required in a very specific mind set for what they have planned.  Either that or we need to believe a machine planet has the knowledge to expand a primitive probe to the size and power of a star system, and give it telepathic and matter warping abilities, yet hasn’t gotten around to inventing the Windex needed to clean the thing’s name plate.

The millions of years old galactic invasion plot line (which I may have made up) is coming to a head.

Note that after this epiphany, Spock goes back to calling the Captain “Jim” for the first time in the film, maintaining traits from the show.

Some other nice character things from this much maligned outing:
Note: The uniforms were not one of the nice character things…70’s Space pajamas. Ugh.

Sure the fly by scenes of the Enterprise (yes, she’s a character) go on forever, but that is one beautiful ship, and after fifteen years and a facelift, it is worth taking the long road in with Kirk and Scotty, the two who love her most.

The opening Klingon scene (featuring Mark Lenard scoring the first Star Trek Alien Hat Trick) fits in astonishingly well with all the more involved, later Klingon appearances in the movies and shows. 
That little bit of language (made up by James Doohan) and activity truly served as the seed of what came after.

Nice to see Nurse Chapel got a promotion, and dyed her hair back to brunette after being an animated blonde.

The happiest reactions to Spock’s return to the bridge:
Uhura, Awwwwww.
And Chekov his pupil.

Subtle but cool thing:  without Spock’s guidance, Chekov has gone over to weapons and security. After Spock’s return, Chekov is on science based assignments in the other movies.
He’s also the only one whose panel explodes, because fans and film makers alike love it when he screams.

The Big Three “retired,” Scotty overseeing the refit, and Uhura and Chekov advancing, but staying on board fit their characters.  Being firmly on the command path, why would Sulu stay under a new captain?  Simple. 
For an opportunity to fly the first Enterprise Class vessel once she’s ready. Note that it’s him, not Scotty that takes the conn when the Big Three and the XO head down the V’ger.

Yeomen Rand is back as a transporter tech…who’s at the board for the only transporter fatality we ever see. The Andromedans probably engineered that to accelerate the need for a certain Vulcan’s return, but poor Janice does not make a stellar return. Luckily, she’ll fare better in the future. 

Much like every time a “superior” officer takes command of the Enterprise from her rightful captain, Kirk comes close to causing a complete disaster.  Luckily for everyone on earth,
A) He has his external conscience and intellect with him.
B) He’s awesome.

So things end up turning out fine in the end.

Awesome ending line:

The Captains response when asking for a heading, signifying that the old gang is back together and ready to bring us a slew of new adventures:

“Out there…That a way.”

Star Trek II
Release Date: June 4, 1982
The Wrath of Khan

As over invested as I am with my Andromedan Invasion Theory, they’re not to blame for this one.

As for completely forgetting where these dangerous world beaters were left?  Well, the Federation did lose all the information at Memory Alpha a couple years after the Botany Bay was abandoned.  Combine that with the already established as uber-crappy federation security policies and it’s quite possible everybody forgot where they dumped this gang from the Eugenics Wars.  The argument could be made that the understaffed and trainee run Enterprise being the only ship in the area was somehow organized by the invaders. Then again, the Enterprise is ALWAYS the only ship in the area, or at least the only ship in the area with a commanding officer who isn’t likely to lose his marbles under stress now that Commodore Wesley is retired.

Basically, there’s no need to dilute the awesomeness of the man who made wearing one glove in the eighties far cooler than a certain moonwalking musician. 

Khan returned to battle Kirk and Company simply because he willed it.

No imagined, overreaching plot arc here then, just a list of cool things I noticed for the first time.

It starts with notes from the Original Theme, possibly a hint of a return to what made the show great to begin with.

There’s a major hint that all is not what it seems in the opening scene.  Saavik may be in the command chair, but even in the new uniforms, the insignia on Spock’s shoulder is significantly larger. For a military uniform, rank is the obvious first guess.

With Spock back to mentor him, Chekov has returned to the sciences, taking the first officer post on a research vessel. 
He does scream quite a bit, but still gets a moment to shine.  He’s the only one on record who overcame having a Ceti Eel in his noggin without dying.

As older men, Kirk and Bones demonstrate their core personalities are unchanged when the icky little thing crawls out of their friend’s ear.  McCoy’s first response is inquisitive, “What is it?” 
Jim just blasts the thing.

Kirk also only shares the Genesis information with the other parts of the Big Three.  For any other ship it would likely be “Commander Only” knowledge, but Jim’s decisions don’t work without input from Spock and Bones.

Hey, Kyle's back! And he has much less stupid facial hair than in his animated form.  
He's a full commander now and the communications officer of the Reliant...
The vessel that had its entire crew abandoned on the nigh unlivable Ceti Alpha V by the madman who butchered the entire population of the Regula One Research Station.  Oh well, I guess the times he wore a red shirt finally caught up with him.

James Doohan’s expression of Scotty’s pride in his nephew is palpable, and his sorrow is equally heartbreaking. 
The kid’s snappy answer to Kirk and his heroic sacrifice prove awesome is genetic in the Star Trek universe.

The footage of the Enterprise leaving space dock is the same as the one used in The Motion Picture.  Amazing how different music can infuse the same visuals with more action and power.

See, the outer space stuff can be just as eye catching and beautiful as the first film AND there can be things are going on.

Separating Spock from the Kolinahr looks to have been successful.  He’s nearly grinning as he intentionally messes with Admiral Kirk by letting his new protégé take the ship out.

Spock’s death scene dialogue is delivered earlier in the film between him and Kirk in his cabin.  If they didn’t become iconic at the end of the film, they would probably still be remembered as powerful from this use.

No wonder Leonard Nimoy was unhappy with Spock’s cabin design. He complained about having to wear the IDIC necklace during the show because it was hucksterism.  Having a GIANT tapestry of the design in his room was probably not appealing.

Joachim must be Kahn’s son.  He can talk back to his boss without severe retribution.  More importantly, he has his dad's intelligence and presence of command, but not his weaknesses of pride and inflexibility. Plus it provides a parallel with Kirk and David. While initially estranged and antagonistic, the Admiral eventually does take his son’s advice.

After three live action and two animated seasons plus a movie and a half, the personality of James T. Kirk is summed up in a single sentence:
“I don’t believe in the no win scenario.”

Sometimes, a few words can be worth thousands of pictures.

Y’know. I never thought the final scenes of this movie could feel worse than they did when my twelve year old self saw them.  I was wrong, they’re far worse now.

At the risk of blasphemy, I have one question though.

The ship can’t go to warp, Spock runs downstairs, knocks out McCoy with the shortest acting neck pinch we’ve ever seen (maybe the Katra transfer woke him up), enters the chamber, puts on his oven mitts (safety first!), plunges his hands into the dilithuim crystal pedestal…

And does what exactly?

Did we miss him grabbing a tube of crazy glue before going in that he used to fix the dilithuim crystals? 

Were the crystals bent?

Do they keep the, “In case of impending planet forming explosion open this” valve in there?

It’s a good thing I’m crying too hard to think about it while I’m watching those scenes.

The awesome ending line is more of a dialogue, but its Admiral Kirk’s three lines together that bring a bit of hope to an otherwise soul crushing ending:

Bones – “He's really not dead. As long as we remember him.”
Jim – “It's a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before. ...A far better resting place that I go to than I have ever known.”
Dr. Marcus- “Is that a poem?”
Jim -  “No, no. Something Spock was trying to tell me. On my birthday.”
Bones -  “You okay, Jim? How do you feel?”
Jim -  “Young. I feel young.”


longbow said...

If I go first I want you to deliver the "most human" line at my funeral but ONLY if you feel it's mostly true.
Otherwise, just remind everyone how great my hair was when I was young.

Jeff McGinley said...

Right, so refer to you as some combination of Spock and the Tenth it.