Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Questionable Trek vol. 1

Let’s start Star Trek Tuesdays by introducing a new debate series: Questionable Trek. In this series, Scott and I will ask each other questions and debate the answers in a quest to get to the heart of everything Star Trek. Today we begin with a simple toss up question:

Rank the top five Star Trek films in order.

Andrew:
1. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
3. Star Trek: First Contact
4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
5. Star Trek: Nemesis
For me, there were two difficult decisions here. First, there’s the choice of Undiscovered Country over Wrath of Khan. I know that’s probably Star Trekrilege, but I just feel like Undiscovered Country is the better movie. It moves quicker, its plot is more unexpected, and the characters aren’t as depressed. That said, there is no more poignant scene on film that Spock’s death. The other difficult decision was choosing Nemesis over Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Despite its flaws, Frontier is still fairly enjoyable and I think Sybok is great. But Nemesis is simply the better movie.

Scott:
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
3. Star Trek: First Contact
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
I’ve never been good at ranking films (in case you haven’t noticed) and this was pretty tough. I honestly don’t think any of the Trek films are God awful - even the worst ones have one or two redeemable qualities. When I was younger, I’d watch Star Trek II at least once a week. It has arguably the best villain, quotable dialogue throughout, and the themes of aging and mortality are explored rather well, as opposed to future Trek films that simply try to shoehorn those moments into the story. Star Trek IV is just a lot of fun. Yeah, it’s a fish out of water tale and there are some dated elements but it’s just done so well and the crew’s chemistry has never been better. Star Trek: First Contact is the best TNG film though that may not be saying much. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek VI but when I watch it now, I can’t help but notice some signs of a rushed production and Nick Meyer’s nautical quirks on display. Star Trek: The Motion Picture has, in my opinion, aged like a fine wine and, like Andrew says, it’s one of the only films where the crew gets to go on an actual adventure into the unknown.

105 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

I guess I would go with Wrath of Khan - it may or may not be the best overall film in terms of several semi-objective criteria. What it did do was re-establish the film franchise for the original cast after critics gave the first movie, (Star Trek the Motion Picture) a somewhat deserved hard time.

My problem with the first movie was this. There is no escaping the fact that seeing the original cast on the big screen in a theatre was a very special treat indeed. It gave long time fans a chill. That said, the director (Nicholas Meyer?) lingered far too long over the scenes such as the pan of Enterprise in dock. I guess the words would be excessive indulgence.

As far as Khan, it revived and improved on a great villain, had the poignant ending -- story was king in that one.

ScottDS said...

The first film was directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Andromeda Strain, etc.).

I believe the major reason why the film lingers too long on certain things was because Wise didn't have enough time to fine-tune the film. It's the only film Wise directed that he didn't test in front of an audience. If the studio had delayed the release date a month or two, no doubt Wise would've cut some stuff. But they didn't and the entire project was rushed in the end. I think the film was still wet from developing as it was being shipped to the premiere.

That said, I've always enjoyed Kirk and Scotty's trip to the Enterprise. It gives composer Jerry Goldsmith a chance to shine - most composers would kill to score a 7-minute scene with barely any dialogue. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's absolutely true. Without Khan there would have been no later films and probably no Next Generation. So of all the films, it definitely deserves the crown of most important.

And between that and VI, I could go either way. I just tend to think VI is a slightly better film as films go... which is not to say there's anything wrong with Khan.

On The Motion Picture, I agree with you too. There is a lot wrong with that one, with the most obvious being that it's a boring film -- there is too much inaction, too many lingering effects shots, too much staring at things that aren't all that interesting. But I have come around on the film (for the reasons I stated in the review) because of the nature of the film -- adventuring, which the other films don't really do.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's one thing the Treks have all had in abundance -- excellent scores.

I think it's interesting how many problems the Star Trek films had in their production. You would think something as high priority as Star Trek would have had a lot smoother sailing, but it sounds like almost all of them were rushed and packed with contradictory demands by the studios and massive compromises everywhere.

ScottDS said...

After a while, I think Paramount's thinking basically consisted of, "The fans will see anything with the words Star Trek so it doesn't matter what we do."

The films might've been high priority but, until the 2009 reboot, they were never afforded the resources of other big budget franchise films. So there's that, plus the need to cater to both hardcore fans and the general public, actors' egos, and the fact that most Hollywood writers and directors couldn't give a crap...

... many fans wonder what a certain Trek film might've been like if, say, Ridley Scott or James Cameron had directed it. But why would those two guys (and other directors of similar status) ever direct a franchise film with rigid rules and established characters/sets/etc. when they could go off and do their own thing? This is why, for the most part, the Trek films were staffed with TV people.

And for every newcomer to the franchise (like Nick Meyer and producer Harve Bennett), you get someone who wants to do their own thing, like Nemesis director Stuart Baird who didn't do his homework (and is really only a technical director, not a storyteller) and the film suffered for it.

(This last point may not have anything to do with your comment but it just popped in there.) :-)

DUQ said...

I have to say I wish the Next Gen films were better. I think the show did have a lot of potential to be turned into great films, but their films never turned out to be that good.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's an interesting point because you would think that directors would be itching to do something as famous as Star Trek until you realize all the restrictions that would be put on them.

I am surprised the studios weren't willing to put more money into it though because these films all had huge potential to make a fortune. But I guess they decided the fans would see it no matter what.

That all sounds shortsighted, but it does sound like the way the studios are.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I agree. When I look at some of the high points of the TNG series, it is amazing that the films don't even live up to the best episodes. In fact, most of them probably wouldn't even rate in the top 20 episodes.

Doc Whoa said...

"Star Trek II" is my favorite. I don't think the emotion of that one can be beaten. It's funny, it's full or those great moments like when you find out Kirk and Spock lied about how long it would take to fix the ship, and it's just really solid.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, It does have some of the best moments from the series. Even the idea of the Kobiashi Maru has become iconic and drifted into the culture. If you say that name today, most people do know what you're talking about.

ScyFyterry said...

I have always thought the problem with the Next Generation films is that they have too many characters that are competing for screen time. They keep trying to wedge them all in there and given them all some special moment. And while I think that's probably nice for fans of the characters, it doesn't make the films all that effective. Films need to be tighter than series.

ScyFyterry said...

Also, I love that you're starting a Star Trek Tuesdays. :D

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Terry! Hopefully we have enough Trek fans to make it worthwhile.

On the point about the number of characters, that's an interesting point. On the one hand, you really can't ignore someone. But on the other, you make a good point that they do seem to try to do too much. I think the problem is that rather than giving them all something to do specific to the plot, they try to give them all "moments" where they get shown doing something just to advance their characters. That I think doesn't work in a movie.

Kelly said...

I have resolved to start commenting. Here goes! My personal favorite is Star Trek IV because it really shows the closeness of the original crew. I like how they all stick together and they're all friends. I know that wasn't true in real life, but it felt real on film to me.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Welcome and thanks for commenting. You make a good point about the fourth film, it really is a sort of buddy-comedy film and in that regard, it does have a very different feel to it than the rest. Plus, I think the humor really does set that one apart from the rest.

tryanmax said...

Whew, ranking Trek films. That is quite a toughy. I'm going to have to rank the films by process of elimination because I've never felt that any of the films held a candle to their respective series. It is probably the greatest shame in all of sci-fi.

For me, I have to kick out all of the TNG films because they were nothing more than glorified episodes that only surpassed the series in production quality. (Even that assertion might be in some ways generous.) I think the highlight of all the TNG films is the interaction between Data and the Borg Queen, but it could have been done on the small screen and probably better.

Now that I've left myself with only 7 movies, which two others do I kick out? I think they are III and IV.

I dislike III because it is nothing but a drawn-out, pedantic effort to undo the most major plot point of II just so they could go on with other installments. Nothing says "we goofed" like 105 minutes of backtracking.

Even though I could dislike IV because of its overt and heavy-handed environmental message, that is not my reason. It just doesn't feel like a good fit with the rest of the series. If III was a backtrack, then IV was just plain off-track. (Although the bit about transparent aluminum is classic!)

Ranking the remainder, I have to put II at the top of my list for what might seem a very odd reason. The moment when Kirk iconicly shouts, "Kha-a-a-a-an!" is the moment when William Shatner ceased playing TV Kirk and started playing not only movie Kirk, but also the caricature of a human being that would eventually become Denny Crane. I thank him from the bottom of my soul for that.

In a tie for second are V and VI. I have to admit nostalgia because these were released when I was a kid and got to join in on my dad's Trekish tendencies as he took me to the theater. Indelible memories include the marshmallow dispenser (I owned a promotional replica) and the Russian version of Cinderella.

I give fourth place to The Motion Picture. I probably wouldn't have if it weren't for Andrew's recent article. But it inspired me to watch it again and look past the boring 2001-ish sequences.

In fifth place, and this may be "Trekrilege," I put J.J. Abrams effort. By no means a perfect Trek, even with the alt-timeline carte blanche reboot, it is still incredibly fun and exciting. I also think it was a smart move to untether the reboot from the source material somewhat, especially when contending with an overly scrupulous fan-base just itching to uncover continuity errors.

tryanmax said...

Side question: Will Trek Tuesdays include any treatment of the animated series? I had assiduously avoided them until last weekend only to be pleasantly surprised at finding they stand up very well against the original series.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Much to respond to. :)

First, I agree that the films never came close to matching either series and that's really surprising in many ways. It's almost like they didn't realize what made the series so good.

Secondly, I think you're right that the Next Gen films never felt like more than episodes. There is no sense of them being a "film" -- except Nemesis, which I thought had a film feel to it. But at the same time, I think they lost the sense of the episodes too. I think the Next Gen films suffer from being a little bit of both, but not quiet either. So you don't quite get the film experience, but it's missing the things that made the episodes so good.

On The Motion Picture, I'm glad I inspired you to reconsider it! It took me years of disliking it before my opinion started to change on it. And like I said, it's still not perfect, but I see where its heart lies and I like that.

On IV, to me IV has never fit either. As pure films go, it's good, but it never fit the series -- and I do mention that when we get around to ranking our least favorite Treks in a couple weeks.

I'm surprised you rank V so highly, few people do. I love the Marshmellon thing. LOL!

Yeah, "Khaaaaaan" really is the moment Shatner became larger than life... but in a good way.

I'm not a fan of the reboot at all. I think it's mindless and I found it pretty dull. I also think it's the furthest any of he films or shows get from being Star Trek. I would have gone a different direction with it.

AndrewPrice said...

At some point we may delve into the animated series. In fact, I'm sure they'll come up somewhere along the way. Right now we're kind of mixing it up. We're going to do questions, debates, the Politics of Trek series, and some other surprises.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Where are you seeing the animated series?

tryanmax said...

Oh, the wonder of Netflix!

AndrewPrice said...

Ah. I canceled my Netflix last year and haven't gotten a new service yet.

ScyFyterry said...

tryanmax and Andrew, You make a good point about the "Next Generation" films being like episodes, but they didn't feel like good episodes either. Maybe that's why it feel like there are too many characters?

But even despiet this, I still think some of them are better than some of the original films like III and V.

Individualist said...

Hey guys

Great question.

I am going to take a different take and rank the tag line scenes from the movies. The one's I remember most are:

II: Spock's speach about the needs of the many surpassing the needs of the few.

V: You can't really appreciate Shakespeare until you've read it in the Original Klingon.

VI: Why does God need a starship?

III: You Klingon Bastards killed my son.

IV: When Spock nerve pinched the punk kid playing the music too loud.

Well that's it all I got for now is those five.

tryanmax said...

I admit, V is an odd one to rank highly, which is why I suspect nostalgia might be biasing me. However, I think I like it because it is laden with iconic moments like Kirk mountain climbing while Spock observes on levitating boots, probably the most broken-down Enterprise that Scotty ever had to contend with, plowing a shuttle craft into dock at full-speed, and frankly, I don't think the storyline is all that bad. It certainly is intriguing that Spock's half-brother would be the one to lead a Vulcan emotion-cult. And enough mystery remains after the end about the nature of the being in the center of the galaxy to mull it over for some time. The biggest issue I have with the storyline is the sudden and improbable camaraderie between Kirk and the Klingon captain at the end.

tryanmax said...

"What does God need with a starship?" actually comes from V

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I think the problem with the number of characters is a direct issue of the films being treated somewhat like episodes.

Basically, the episodes involved a main plot and 1-2 subplots. The subplots were things like Data learning to dance or Worf dealing with his son. The films kept the idea that each of the characters needed moments like that. And rather than run one solid story, they ran a story along with all these little separate ideas. It makes the film feel more like an episode than a film. BUT there also isn't a whole story arc with those in the films. Instead, they just seem to drop them once the main plot gets started. So it doesn't quite feel like an episode either.

Individualist said...

tyranmax

Your are right! I got V and VI mixed up.

The Klingon Shalespeare quote was VI and the Starship was V. I was confused because I associated the search for God with teh Undiscovered Country title.

tryanmax said...

Oh, I forgot Uhura's fan dance, another iconic moment from V.

Indie, I'd have never caught it were I not just reflecting on V to explain why I rank it higher than most.

AndrewPrice said...

Excellent comment Indi! I hadn't thought about what are the best lines in each film, but those definitely jump out at me.

Individualist said...

Also

I am not ranking the movies but the quotes from the scenes that were memoriable to me.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Indi, What's interesting is that it just struck me that I can't do the same for the Next Gen films! Maybe Scott can help, but I just don't remember and great lines from those films.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, One of our Trek Tuesdays coming up is Scott's defense of Star Trek V. He makes a pretty good case for the film.

I've come to like it a lot more in hindsight than I did at the time. It has some things going for it, but I'll save my comments for Scott's article so as not to steal his thunder.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and Indi, Yep, that's from V. Also, the Shakespeare quote is from VI. I think you just got those two reversed. :)

Individualist said...

Andrew and Scott

When did 2001 A Space Oddessy come out. I felt the problem with Star Trek I was that they were trying to make a Scifi movie like other movies. They wanted the broad expanse feel which equated to trying to make the film more like 2001 in feel.

This to me made it less of a star Trek film. Star trek was about the humans overcoming the Universe. This was sort of a meld with the Eternal aspect that was prevalent in the SciFi films of the times but really counter to the theme I thouhgt.

tryanmax said...

I understand most of the criticisms against J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and I tend to agree with many of them. The villain, for one, has rather sparse motives. I'm actually very torn about the alt-timeline thing. Like I said, I think it was smart, but at the same time it feels like a bit of a cop-out. I also thought John Cho was a terrible choice for Tsulu. I would have liked to see someone more like Masi Oka.

But I still like it, so it comes in at the bottom of my list.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Uh... the fan dance is something I would like to forget. :(

tryanmax said...

Oh, come on, it is just silly fun. Nothing gets shown.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, 2001 came out in 1968.

I think you're right that they had the wrong concept. I think they decided a big film needed to be primarily about big effects and limited story. In fact, all they really did was ram two episodes together -- "The Changeling" and "The Immunity Syndrome" and then tweak them.

I think they would have been better served making a large episode, but they didn't.

That said, however, I have come around to enjoying the film because it really stands out as the only film where they go explore. All the others are just action flicks or something similar (except IV -- which is a comedy), but this was the one time they went to go see what was going on out there and I appreciate that a good deal more in hindsight.

Individualist said...

Andrew

the only line I really remember from the TNG movies was

"we are the Borg, resistance is Futile"

and "you will be assimilated"

I think those lines were actually first in episodes so I did not include them.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The alternate timeline thing bothers me because it's pretty insulting to people who liked the original series. They make the point that this guy changes the timeline and suddenly Kirk gets thrust into command so don't worry about anything that doesn't fit the history... but none of it fits. There is nothing even remotely like the Star Trek universe in the reboot.

Also, there is nothing in the Kirk character that is like the original Kirk, even before the timeline supposedly gets changed.

This film was written by someone who never bothered to even watch the old episodes and in my opinion is simply cynically exploiting the names and images to market a movie that could just as easily have been a stand alone, non-Trek film and no one would have noticed.

That's my beef with it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Thank God they never showed anything! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Yep, those lines came originally from the series.

I can remember a few lines from the films, but they aren't anything interesting and they certainly aren't anything quotable.

Tennessee Jed said...

I just did this over at Commentarama site, but for fans of military genre who have access to a DVR and Sony Movie Channel, a nice little classic Brit war pic titled Cockelshell Heores is on at 2:10. Sorry for interruption, and carry on ;-)

Individualist said...

Andrew

It just seemed to me that the long scenes in the Motion Picture were trying to much to be like the scenes in 2001. Scenes of nothing that are drawn out with dramatic music to emphasize their philosophic meaning.

Also the resolution to the plot was hey, join with us and show the ultimate cosmic wonder what humanity is all about and se won't destroy the earth. Very much like the SciFi movies prior to Star Wars.

Ed said...

Excellent question and excellent comments! I like Individualist's idea of naming the memorable quotes because that really does tell you where the heart of each movie lies and it points out how some films were much stronger than others. I recall lost of quotes from II and VI and even IV, but not many from the rest.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks for the info. I'm not sure I've ever seen that one.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I don't disagree at all. I think they were trying very hard to make something cerebral like 2001 but they didn't pull it off.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! I hope you all like the series. I think Star Trek raises a lot of fun issues.

Ed said...

I agree, "Star Trek" is great stuff and everybody has an opinion about. I'm looking forward to the Politics of Trek series because I've always felt the show is conservative and I'm looking forward to seeing how you break that out.

CrispyRice said...

This should be a fun series!

I'm a classic "even numbered fan." LOL. I'd be hard pressed to pick between 2 and 6 for the top slot.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I tend to think so. Star Trek raises a lot of passion and I would think most people have seen some of it at least.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's actually not a bad way to look at it -- even numbered films good, odd numbered films bad. That's worked for years!

So I guess the second reboot should be pretty good! :)

LawHawkRFD said...

I don't know that I could do a very good job of setting a hierarchy of Trek films. I thought The Final Frontier was bloody awful, so I guess it would be the bottom of my list. On the other hand, since I love space opera, I would put The Wrath of Khan at the top of my list. Later editions were technologically superior, but Khan seemed to have most of what I like in a space opera.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Space opera! LOL! Nice way to put it. Though having heard both Kirk and Spock sing, I would not be interested in hearing more of that!

tryanmax said...

Does McCoy ever sing? I know Scotty does when he's been drinking.

tryanmax said...

Side thought: Does anyone else here feel it was a shame that no one ever attempted to bring DS9 to the big screen? I was never terribly enamored with the series, but I think it supplies a lot of fodder for what could be good films.

AndrewPrice said...

He does in the marshmellon scene in Star Trek V, but that's it. And I never heard him sing outside of the show.

Shatner has on several occasions and he's pretty horrible. Nimoy too.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm sure Scott will have something to say on DS-9 when he gets back from school, but I personally think the problem with DS-9 was that it wasn't structured in such a way to give you a film. It was just 8-10 characters going about their lives with only limited interaction.

tryanmax said...

Oh yeah. Funny that slipped my mind.

You mean to tell me you don't like Shatner's rendition of "Rocket Man"?

AndrewPrice said...

I preferred his version of The Real Slim Shady: LINK.

AndrewPrice said...

Or She Blinded Me with Science"

tryanmax said...

If that is where we are going, then I submit to you this proof that God has abandoned us all LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, that's a real crime against humanity there.

ScottDS said...

I actually start school next week but I was out with a friend, something I hadn't planned for yesterday!

General thoughts...

Re: the TNG films and the number of characters, I totally agree. On the First Contact commentary, writers Ron Moore and Brannon Braga are quite candid about the need to give all the characters something to do and just how difficult it was. Sometimes it worked but for the most part it didn't. In FC, for example, Troi becomes the "countdown mistress" for Cochrane's launch and Dr. Crusher pretty much disappears completely.

As for the TNG films resembling episodes, I can't entirely disagree. I'll give them credit for Generations where they at least appeared to be trying to make a "big movie." (I credit the cinematographer.) Most fans consider FC the most cinematic of the TNG films but watching it now, I can't help noticing how small it really is. Yes, there's time travel and first contact and all that but it might be the most claustrophobic of all the films. Insurrection opens things up a bit but any cinematic feel invoked by the film is lost among awful jokes and so-so CGI. Nemesis actually looks like a film and that's because it was directed by an actual filmmaker - sadly, they hired the wrong one. And by this time, Stewart and Spiner's salaries had grown that money had to be saved elsewhere. The film was released in 2002 yet I could notice all the fake backgrounds (extensions of corridors, etc). Really?! :-)

Re: quotable dialogue in the TNG films, good point. FC has one of my favorite lines when Data says to the Borg Queen: "Believing one's self to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind."

Oh, and in case this point hadn't been made already, one could argue that TNG was never properly suited for the big screen because the show's strengths were designed for TV: ensemble cast, long dialogue scenes, an emphasis on working the problem vs. fisticuffs.

As for DS9, I'd love if Paramount produced a couple of direct-to-video films but it'll never happen. Plus that show's mythology is quite extensive, I'm not sure how many non-fans would bother with it.

ScottDS said...

Oh by the way, I sent a link to this article to Nolte for his bulletin tomorrow. Just a shameless plug on my part. :-) (I hope this was okay; if not, I'll e-mail him back.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, No problem on the link. The more the merrier! I'll respond to your other comments soon, am trying to catch up on comments at the main site.

darski said...

Generations was such a horribly bad movie that I never watched another Trek movie that followed it. I have seen bits of some of them and there is nothing there for me to want more.

WoK was my favourite movie but I still get chills when, at the end of TVH, Spock joins the crew 'in the dock'. When he said "I stand with my shipmates"; whoooboy. He was speaking for all of us old time trekkies who would gladly stand in the dock with our guys.
BTW, I am really looking forward to this series on Tuesdays

ScottDS said...

darski -

You might want to check out the article I wrote on the development of Generations where I use actual quotes from the writers reflecting on the film a decade later.

You may actually agree with them. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, In response to your epic comment: (LOL!)

1. I have noticed that too that FC seems to be much "smaller" than it was when I first saw it. It had that "big screen" adventure feel at the time, but now it feels like a long episode to me. Generations had a film feel to me for three reasons -- the lighting changes, MacDowel as the bad guy, and them being outside a lot. But storywise, I was really weak.

2. On giving the characters something to do, I think the problem isn't just that they had to give them something to do, but they gave them things that didn't really advance the plot. They should have thought harder about how to integrate their roles into the story.

3. I can remember several lines of dialog, but nothing I consider memorable -- certainly nothing punchy. The original cast films, however, all had great lines. I think that's interesting.

4. DS9 really did have a very different style than the others. I did like Sisco a lot though.

rlaWTX said...

I haven't seen the movies in forever. I caught the end of WoK a while back and will try and see it next time it pops up on cable. So, on the basis of rememberedness, I remember: II- Spock dying, IV- whale movie (which was rather entertaining at the time), I- V'ger, ?- TNG back in time, and ??- TNG & Borg. I don't think that I saw anything newer than those last 2.

But I am sure that I have opinions regardless of my movie recollections! (I remember the TV shows better from watching them after school)

AndrewPrice said...

darski, Absolutely. I think all the fans were ready to stand with them at that point no matter what!

I'm glad you're looking forward to the series. It should be a lot of fun. We've got some good stuff coming up. :)

ScottDS said...

I'll chime in a little later but, if you like Sisko, you'll love this YouTube compilation: Captain Sisko yells at everyone :-)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Your movie breakdown is right on target! :) And don't worry, we'll talk more about the television shows than the films in the future.

AndrewPrice said...

Five minutes of Sisko yelling! Nice.

Did you know he's done a lot of voice-over work for the Discovery Channel?

ScottDS said...

Yeah, I knew that. I've also heard his voice in a commercial or two.

Incidentally, I watched William Shatner's documentary The Captains a month or so ago when it showed up on Netflix Instant. It's not perfect and I wish it had been longer...

...but Avery Brooks is a nut! He gives vague (or downright metaphorical) answers and at one point, he even plays his answer musically on the piano. The phrase "Off his meds" comes to mind.

I've seen him in other interviews, including on the DS9 DVDs. He is definitely an interesting person to say the least.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I figured you knew that! LOL!

I haven't seen any interviews with him so I'm not sure what he's like in person. I do see that he really hasn't had much of a career since his did the show.

ScottDS said...

I believe Brooks has done a lot of stage work and he teaches acting at Rutgers (or Oberlin, I'm not sure).

AndrewPrice said...

I'm not surprised. A lot of these folks who seem to disappear go into theater.

At least he's not designing flying cars!

Individualist said...

OK

I have to chime in on the reboot 'cause I came pout of it wishing whoever was ultimately responsible for it was made to pay for the bad karma he caused in making it with prejudice.

One of the worst movies I have ever seen. Can't begin to point out what ticked me off. If Spock is a cadet in the academy he could not have invented the Kobiashi Maru scenario. Every character was made out to be super human and they were not.

Two blowing up planet Vulcan was a conceit of the individual behind Enterprise (the Scott Bakula one)/. for some reason the people behind it decided they did not like a logical race that was not emotional and had to do everything they could to try to make them evil and wrong. It was so pathetically heavy handed that it was actually laughable.

Three: Just because Lucas decided he had to put several pointless scenes of characters running from giant monsters does not mean you have to do it in Star Trek too. It did not work in the Star Wars prequel where it was expected it certainly is not going to work in Star Trek.

Four: Why does Kirk have to be a bad boy biker whose parents are killed and how is some guy talking to him going to change that. Just Stupid!

Ugh! that movie was so bad.....

OK my rant is done... back to Cisco yelling at everyone I guess.

tryanmax said...

My favorite is "Isn't...It...Possible?"

tryanmax said...

Okay, okay. I stand chastised. I still can't put any TNG films in my top 5, however. Nothing can make me do it.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I have similar problems with the reboot and then more. If I tried to detail them all, I would probably have an aneurism. Maybe at some point I should try outlining them.

I felt the whole film was intensely cynical. It was all about exploiting the images and names and trying to do controversial things to generate buzz.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, "Isn't it possible".... I can't place that one?

ScottDS said...

tryanmax is referring to one of Sisko's lines in the YouTube clip:

From the episode "Rules of Engagement"...

"Isn't. It. Possible... that there were no civilians on the transport Worf destroyed? Isn't. It. Possible... that the ship he saw was sending out False Sensor Images and that this whole affair was staged so that the only Klingon officer in Starfleet would be accused of a massacre and the Federation would be forced to stop escorting the convoys? Tell me, Advocate, isn't it possible?"

AndrewPrice said...

Ah. Missed that. I was trying to figure out what movie that came from.

Kit said...

Memorable lines:

Worf: "Assimilate this"
BOOM!

The thing is, though, the Borg had the most memorable line from the TNG era.

"We are the borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and techonological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile".

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's the thing, the good TNG quotes come from the series, not the films and I honestly can't think of any truly memorable quotes from the TNG films, whereas I can think of memorable quotes from all the original films.

michaelpippa said...

JJ Abrams Star Trek is the best Trek so far, hands down! One reason, because it IS very well connected to the original. The actors (and their dialogue) matched the personalities of the original so well, watching it made you feel like you were watching a continuation of that. As far as the "trekralige" crap, as William Shatner once said "Get a Life!" After all, these are just movies we're talking about.

AndrewPrice said...

michaelpippa, Some people do get bent out of shape over Star Trek, but we're just having fun with it. It's all in the name of entertainment.

Kit said...

I hope to watch WRATH OF KHAN again soon to refresh it in my memory but I remember it being quite good.

The new movie was quite fun. It was enjoyable when I watched it and clearly had a love of the original series (especially Giacchino's AMAZING score!*). Nothing great, nothing terrible, just good fun.
Of course, given the past year at the cinema any movie half as fun as Abrams' STAR TREK would've been a God-send.

While WRATH OF KHAN and THE VOYAGE HOME are undoubtedly the best, the one that is my personal favorite, and the first Star Trek movie I saw in theatres (I am 22), is probably FIRST CONTACT.

I loved it and still love it.

I grew up watching the Next-Gen crew so I hold a special place for them in my heart.

It's like LION KING. I think it was the first movie I saw in theatres.
While it is possible that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and the TOY STORY Trilogy/Saga/Cycle is superior THE LION KING will always hold a special place for me.

*Michael Giacchino just about always produces amazing stuff. Look at his work on LOST, RATATOUILLE, UP, THE INCREDIBLES, and the MEDAL OF HONOR games.

Kit said...

Also, on STAR TREK.

Furious D pointed this out somewhere on his blog.
The fans, or, rather, a certain cultic core of them, seem to constantly want STAR TREK to reflect some utopian vision of the future where everyone is happy.

Of course, the best films are WRATH OF KHAN, VOYAGE HOME, UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and FIRST CONTACT where utopian ideals play little part and, especially in KHAN and CONTACT (and possibly COUNTRY), raw human emotions, those barbaric things the stoic Vulcans despise, are at the forefront.

Especially revenge and anger. In KHAN, Khan is driven by revenge against Kirk, in UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY Kirk is still bitter over the loss of his son, and in CONTACT Picard wants to make the Borg suffer for what they did to him.

FIRST CONTACT had the great moment when, after claiming the 24th century humans have "evolved beyond revenge" is put in his place by the 21st century woman who points out how much of a kick he got out of mowing down the Borg on the Holodeck. Not to mention his Ahab-esque scene a minute earlier where he called Worf a coward(!).

STAR TREK, like all drama, was best when they dealt with those "old familiar things" of love, hate, anger, revenge, pride, etc.

tryanmax said...

I actually think Lion King is better than those other Disney films you named. Sure, it was produced with some high-concept goals in mind--set in Africa, first animated feature to have zero humans--but those constraints actually contributed to a compelling interpretation of an essentially a timeless story about father-and-son, respect, betrayal, misplaced shame, coming-of-age, friendship, romance, duty, revenge, victory, benevolence. It's a very loaded story with almost every timeless theme stuffed in, and yet it never feels overcrowded. It truly is a masterpiece.

Contrast that with Beauty and the Beast which is a scant fairytale with a single theme, appearances are deceiving told through a boy-meets-girl narrative. It was fluffed up with marketable anthropomorphic furniture, hackneyed stock villains and clowns, and shoehorned feminism and philosophical anachronisms. Even the animation wasn't up to Disney's usual snuff. It is probably their most formulaic fairytale film.

I'm not so harsh on the Toy Story trilogy, because those are really good films and they do form a respectable trilogy. They are a rare example where the stories are interrelated and yet they each can stand completely alone. That, IMO, is the highest achievement for a trilogy or series. But they fall short of Lion King in that they deal with lighter and fewer themes overall, and they take three times as many installments to handle less.

To be fair, I haven't seen any of the DTV follow-ups to Lion King and I have no intention to, as I suspect they can only sully the original. Besides, the Toy Story installments were each released with roughly equivalent fanfare, making it hard to dispute that they are a set. The DTV Lion King and Beauty and the Beast material, conversely, was slipped out with almost a sense of embarrassment. Almost like, "the writers and animators aren't behind these, but marketing said we had to."

Wow, a hard right from Star Trek to Disney. Who knew?

Bugs said...

Slightly OT - Can anyone tell me why, in the ST reboot, the engineering section of the Enterprise looks like a brewery?

AndrewPrice said...

Bugs, I had that exact same question when I saw the film! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I agree absolutely about the emotions. One of the problems with the TNG initially was that Roddenberry demanded that the characters be made as perfect human beings who have overcome all of their problems and that robbed the writers of any ability to create those great emotional moments that make a show memorable -- drama is about flaws. It wasn't until Roddenberry died that this command was lifted and the series really took off with its much better episodes.

I grew up watching the older Trek and the first film I saw was the Motion Picture, though I was underwhelmed by that one. But Khan was awesome and was definitely my favorite film until Country came along. Now it's kind of a toss up for me.

On the reboot, I'm on the other side of that one. I see no respect for the original series at all.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. I think The Lion King is brilliant. And while I like Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast they are much "less" as films for the reasons you state. They are very entertaining, but they aren't particularly special as stories go.

My favorite Disneys are actually the older ones. Jungle Book is probably my favorite along with Fantasia -- which of course isn't really a story so much as a classical music video.

Nate Andrews said...

Count me as one of those really strange people who loved Star Trek: The Motion Picture and probably rate it in the top three behind Star Trek II and First Contact. Perhaps its because I appreciate a finely made slow film that is that way deliberately. I rank it among my favorites that include 2001 and Lawrence of Arabia, both "slow" movies. If a movie can be considered "art" then why rush it? I think that is the weakness of the newest Star Trek movie. Its too fast and "stimulating," leaving little room to contemplate at least until its over.

AndrewPrice said...

Nate, I agree. To me, its the most "science fiction"-like film of the Star Trek films. The rest are actions films which don't really capture the sense of adventure and discovery which the shows had. TMP may be slow, but its heart is in the right place in my opinion and I've really come around to liking it a lot for that reason.

tryanmax said...

Going back to Disney, I know it is almost a cliché, but I always return to Snow White. I think there was a lot of pressure to prove that a feature-length animated movie could work, and so the Disney studios poured their hearts and souls into it. It might not have as much thematic depth as Lion King or others, but Disney never managed to outdo itself in terms of such artistry. I have to agree with film historians who say that Snow White is what elevated animation from a novelty to an art form.

Really, there isn't an animated Disney feature that I don't like, but some were more groundbreaking than others. My other favorites are probably Alice and Dumbo. The former because it is bright and colorful and whimsical and innocent in defiance of all the dark interpretations that have been imposed upon the tale. The later because it is immensely emotional (I can't even think about the song "Baby Mine" without tearing up) and because it shows just how much can be done on a budget (and in the midst of a strike).

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree completely. And when I say "favorite," it's a close call with dozens of others.

Snow White is one of the most beautiful animated films of all time, both in terms of the animation and the music, but also in terms of the beauty of the story. It's simple, but it's simultaneously elegant. It's just all around perfect. And that's not to say the others aren't just as good, but that one does stand apart.

There are some I don't like, however, and they are mainly of more recent vintage. For example, their recent stuff is garbage -- I saw "Disney's A Christmas Carol" the other day and was shocked how horrid it was. But even before that, I never liked Hercules which really never felt like it rose to the level of a genuine Disney movie and I wasn't too excited by Hutchback or Frog Princess. Even Aladin doesn't have the punch of the earlier films.

tryanmax said...

Oh, and by the way, we were talking about All Dogs Go to Heaven prior to Christmas and wondering who produced it. It was Bluth Studios, founded by legendary animator Don Bluth. He left Disney in the 80s because he felt that Disney had become a cartoon factory and lost its creativity. (I agree.) Eventually, he was wooed by Fox to help found their animation studio which produced Anastasia. So the confusion as to who released what is understandable.

There is a great irony about Bluth's departure from Disney, however. He felt there was a lack of emphasis on story. Yet his and Fox's studios, with few exceptions, consistently produced animated features whose stories failed to resonate with audiences.

AndrewPrice said...

Very ironic indeed. Although, interestingly, around that time animation everywhere seemed to fall apart. I think they all began to focus on merchandising and that took the front seat and story and creativity got dumped in the back somewhere.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Kit said...
Memorable lines:

Worf: "Assimilate this"
BOOM!

The thing is, though, the Borg had the most memorable line from the TNG era.

"We are the borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and techonological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile".

Ah yes, the power of diversity, LOL.
Of course the irony was lost on the "diversity is always a good thing" and "all cultures are equally important except Western culture" crowd.

In essence the Borg are the same as the Islamists we have today but without the emotions.
Still, the results are the same as neither one embraces liberty and neither one can be negotiated with.

I'll go with Wrath Of Khan, Undiscovered Country, The Final Frontier, TMP and The Search For Spock.

While I can watch TNG flicks it is always in the context that, like TNG series there is just so much rank (pun intended) hypocrisy within it and many contradictions that doesn't make sense.

I much prefer DS9 for superior stories and for not including the smugness and hypocrisy TNG got saddled with.

I know this is about the films but I never saw the films as a departure from TNG series in any way.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I feel the same way about TNG -- I enjoy the show and like the stories, but I know I'll have to sit through a bunch of liberal garbage and hypocrisy in the process.

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