Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

The Conscience of the King – Star Trek:TOS

Fri ,05/04/2019

So i’ve watched a few original Star Trek episodes here and there over the past few years, despite having seen them all a bazillion times by now. However they may have dated – and definitely many have – there are still some cool aspects of them to watch.

But, since CBS took over several years ago, they reissued all 79 original episodes on DVD. You’d think that was a good thing, and for the most part, it’s fine, BUT, they also took the ‘liberty’ of updating CGI into them. Again, you’d think well, in some cases, the special effects are pretty bad (i’m thinking of The Constellation flying into the Doomsday Machine scene in particular, where it is ridiculously obvious it’s a model on a stand in front of a tv screen showing the effects, right at the very end of this clip:


However, I find in watching these ‘redo’ episodes that I mostly dislike the redo of the “CGI”. Maybe it’s just an old man ranting, but I just think in many cases, the original approach with the huge original model lit from within just simply looks better than their attempt at ‘muted’ CGI – naturally they can’t “really” do CGI because that didn’t actually show up until TRON and The Last Starfighter, over 16 years later.

The first YT video below shows the difference side by side (original vs update), from this episode, and you can see what I mean.

As to the episode itself, mixed reviews. Too much Kirk (no Sulu, Scotty at all), the plot is somewhat contradictory of itself (why does Kirk keep the attempt on his life such a big secret and, why does he yell at Spock, twice, for trying to keep him from getting killed, especially when that’s Spock’s JOB?). Also, his attempts at getting laid are simply lame and way too obvious, and like so many ST attempts at including Shakespeare – this probably being among the first given it’s from the first season of TOS – just detracts from the melodrama already in play (literally). And Uhura’s otherwise fine song in the rec room is obviously dubbed, much like the clip I watched of good ol’ Clint Howard in The Corbomite Maneuver as a (literal) kid, playing a scary alien. But i’m probably just jaded….


ST: Discovery E4 – An Obol for Charon

Tue ,12/02/2019

Hmmm….Once again, Discovery giveth, and taketh away. On the one hand, we get the teaser of Number One coming to visit at the start of the episode (in the form of Rebecca Romijn – nice!) but despite the V’ger-esque main plot, we get a bit of a distraction with the parallel Tilly/spores plot, which IMHO wasn’t nearly as well executed (even though I actually enjoy Tig Notaro’s character well enough, kind of a blue-collar Scotty with even less respect for authority).

But I’m still unsure why they (the writers, not the actors) arguably strayed from the main longer-term plotline (going after Spock) to detour to these weird, arguably derivative minor side stories? The one involving Saru was completely predictable, guys? Come on.

The acting is still great, hoping for more for other members of the bridge crew as we go….onward….


ST: Discovery E2 – “New Eden”

Fri ,01/02/2019

saw it last night – pretty good, definitely throwing in weird angles to the story, which the main plot of was otherwise a bit meh – Star Trek (and sci fi ad nauseum) has done the ‘old society confronted by modern space society’ – or whatever you want to call it – many, many times.

Still, I also like how they are *finallY* giving other bridge crew something to do – not just being ‘red shirts’ on missions (look it up) but actual dialog – keep it up! Of course Burnham keeps up the great work as the center of the show, but they are definitely letting her character grow too..

Finally, creating a main season multi-episode plot thread around Spock isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that they are trying to create back story around Capt. Pike (thankfully NOT Capt. Kirk) is also cool – the plot thickens, as they say…


how cool!

Wed ,12/08/2015

William Shatner made an incredible mosaic of selfies in tribute to Leonard Nimoy



Star Trek: Insurrection (of the lame)

Sat ,19/11/2011

So as everyone (who’s seen them) knows, Star Trek movies can be a mixed bag. To date, there now have been 11(!) of them, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture way back in 1979, to the ‘reboot’ of Star Trek in 2009 with an all new cast playing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc.

Of these movies, the rule of thumb has usually been even-numbered movies good, odd-numbered bad-to-at-best-mediocre. So by that rule, you have the second (Wrath of Kahn), fourth (The Voyage Home) and sixth (The Undiscovered Country) being the good movies with the original cast, and the first, third and fifth (*especially* the fifth) being very lame and/or plodding/boring.

Moving to the TNG cast, we have Generations (great villains but not enough to save the lame plot and they should have killed Kirk at the start of the movie, not wait until the bitter end), First Contact (easily among the best Star Trek movies), Insurrection (more below but plodding and obvious, basically an extended TV episode) and Nemesis (a decent return to form, even if it meant Data pays for bailing out the Enterprise crew this time with his life).

Finally, 2009’s Star Trek – which actually follows a not-dissimilar plot to Nemesis (crazy bad guy with huge-ass ship and a chip on his shoulder bigger than the Gamma Quadrant, bent on making Earth PAY) but with an all new cast excepting Nimoy (much to Shatner’s likely chagrin). While I felt that many of the actors chosen here look a bit too young to be playing those roles, I guess they are in fact largely the same age(s) as the original cast was back in the original series – they just don’t have those bryl-cream 60s ‘dos (sorry Kirk) so don’t look as ‘old’? Dunno. Plus i’m older than all of them (sad) anyway. But a very entertaining movie nonetheless and definitely looking forward to the sequel.

But I digress – this post is about Star Trek:Insurrection (the 9th movie, second-to-last with TNG cast) – and since this is an odd-numbered movie, set phasers to Expecting Disappointment.

Where to begin? So we join our heroes assisting in some sort of surveillance on a remote planet of what appears to be a quiet small town of regular looking, yet alien people with gardens, playing kids, etc. Kind of looks like a Seattle suburb (with the faux-Roman pueblo-like structures and ‘marble columns’ everywhere) without the cars or electricity. There are Federation people plus some stretchy-faced aliens manning the cloaked spy post. Then Data literally goes nuts and blows the ‘cover’, by which the locals find out about the operation and the spy installation on the overlooking hill, etc. It’s at this point the rest (Picard, etc.) all get involved – the Enterprise gets called in, somehow running into Worf along the way (they never explain why he showed up, save to complete the TNG cast for the movie, apparently) and they slowly (not kidding) begin to move the plot along.

So they disable Data’s craziness by singing show tunes from HMS Pinafore to trick him (wtf? Is this the Simpsons?). They have several obligatory ‘deep thought’ scenes where Geordi sees a sunrise with ‘real eyes’ for the first time (oooooo) and Data gets lectured by an otherwise token alien kid about how to have ‘fun’ (somewhere else in the galaxy, Wesley Crusher is laughing maniacally). Picard starts getting getting out the space Cialis for one of the native chicks (far too many of these ‘discussions’ at various points in the movie – should have listened to Elvis instead). And Riker/Troi literally take a bath together as they try to rekindle their romance from TNG? Nothing near as interesting for Dr. Crusher (who just gets to watch Picard try to score with the local more than once and briefly talks about boobs with Troi – I am not making that up). Worf at least gets to beat up some bad guys later and zap things occasionally, and Geordi gets to have some ‘Scotty moments’ later in the Enterprise engine room while people are flying around the room and the computers spray sparks and steam(?) – are the computers on the Enterprise powered by dry ice now? 🙂

Somehow amid all these distractions, the crew find a ‘holodeck ship’ on the planet with a fake version of the Seattle suburb in it – immediately Picard guesses the (other, stretchy-faced) aliens’ plot – they were going to kidnap the suburbanites onto this ship and take them off the planet for some weird reason – which ultimately turns out to be that the planet itself makes you stay young/immortal (another tired Star Trek plot device used since the beginning of time). Picard sticks this factoid back in the Admiral’s face and gets his shiny bald ass handed back to him (well, metaphorically), so he slowly, cut-it-with-a-knife symbolically takes off his command uniform for a Wilson’s Leather jacket, packs up some phaser rifles and tries to sneak down to the planet without apparently telling anyone. The rest of the cast ‘bust’ him as he’s trying to leave, and of course most go with him (that’s where most of the future dialog lines will be spoken, after all) except Riker and Geordi who stay behind on the likely doomed Enterprise.

But of course you know, THIS means war – so the bad aliens start chasing Picard and the suburbanites around on the planet while the aliens in orbit go after the Enterprise. Our proud flagship proceeds to get its ass kicked pretty well (at one point it is headed for some sort of nebula cloud with SMOKE pouring out of the engines) before pulling some nerdy stunt at the last minute to save the day (of course). It’s funny how AFTER they throw away the ship’s warp core (propulsion) and sustain damage from the attacks and are flying through some volatile dangerous space cloud that THEN Riker decides to go on the offensive? Kind of like waiting until all your tires are flat and your car is almost out of gas to drive your pregnant wife to the delivery room? What makes it even worse is that at one point Riker calls up the ‘manual control’ option – and an XBox Joystick rises up dramatically from the console (#$#@%*&!>??) and he proceeds to pilot the entire ship like an arcade game? Again, not making this up.

Meanwhile, back on the planet, Picard still hasn’t gotten laid, and those pesky stretchy aliens figured out a way to beam him and his alien missus up to their ship after some slow-hiking ‘chase’ scenes (unlike the heroes of Lord of the Rings, *these* suburbanites apparently aren’t familiar with the concept of ‘running’ when confronted by alien spaceships flying overhead shooting lasers at them). Now captive himself, Picard then proceeds in the time-honored Star Trek strategy when captured: GUILT the aliens into submission, using shame-filled pontification and lecturing. And (not) surprisingly, it works on the ‘regretful’ key alien baddie. Unfortunately however, the ‘non-regretful’ key alien bad guy only becomes MORE intent on blowing everyone up, of course – like Ricardo Montalban, he is a man of action.

But because apparently the budget wasn’t expensive enough for Paramount’s taste yet, we are treated to some scenes of spaceships flying around getting set up for the big bad-guy system blow-up – which it turns out is a false start, because Picard, Worf and the regretful alien baddie somehow TRANSPORTED the ‘really’ bad alien and his crew to the HOLODECK to trick them. Far be it from me to question, but everytime I’ve seen ANYONE ‘beam’ anywhere on any Star Trek in history – they always somehow knew (or I guess, suspected) they were being ‘beamed’ – except until now. Naturally this drives the key baddie into a REAL killing frenzy, which is resolved by (only) himself getting sent over to the main ship charged with blowing up the system, where Picard follows shortly and they have a crappy shootout/clamber-around chase until Picard saves the day (this mano-a-mano ‘climbing battle’ was done far better, more brutally and believably in Serenity three years later – sorry guys).

So then the day is saved, the suburbanites go back to their car, bar and electricity-free Tuscan Village, and Data plays in the hay with the token kid. Picard (of course) ditches his local honey without actually consumating anything (gag), promising to come back and use up his 300+ days of accrued vacation time when he gets the chance, but of course the Federation needs him the most right now. The rest of the crew smiles on as they beam up and fly away in the Enterprise, which seems all repaired already? Little does the ship know its impending doom in the next movie…muhahahha! It’s almost like they wait to make the next movie by the same amount of years it would take in ‘Star Trek time’ to build a new Enterprise? So that’s good, Picard CAN use that accrued vacation after all – everybody wins!

What more is there to say? Well, there were some elements in this plot that weren’t horrible, but too much cornball or tedious stuff overwhelmed them in the end. It was cool to see Anthony Zerbe (both an Omega Man and Matrix veteran, if you can believe that) again as the naive Starfleet Admiral who ultimately gets his from the key alien baddie (big surprise). The (new) Enterprise looked pretty cool and had a new Captain’s Gig small ship that drops out of the saucer section – although its inability to kick ass was pathetic – isn’t this the *flagship* of the fleet? Finally, I like Patrick Stewart, but does he have to be in almost every scene? It reminded me of the TNG finale (where he *is* in every scene) – why make a big deal about having a bigger cast than the originals (TNG vs. Kirk/Spock/etc.) when you end up largely ignoring them for most of the movie? Data of course (assuming the Spock role) gets a lot of screen time although some of it is fairly lame or tedious – but he gets payback (kills himself) later in Nemesis anyway, so no biggie there. I realize that it’s tough to handle a big cast *and* give them all something to do *and* make it interesting *and* live up to fan expectations *and* do it in only one movie without the extra time and character development that a series can provide, but….

Ultimately, I think where Star Trek succeeds or fails is when the balance of action and plot move along nicely without getting overwhelmed by too much lecturing, Shakespeare quoting (you laugh, but it’s true) and/or techie tangents (the holodeck, time travel, aliens that can completely take over the ship in less than 5 min. of arrival, etc.) that can derail the viewer in short order. Here, the Shakespeare quoting and time travel are nowhere to be found (good), but the pacing and believability of the plot vanished into deep space with them (bad).

I originally set the DVR to record Insurrection this time because I was thinking it was actually Nemesis (brain fart, big time). So i’ll have to roust that one up and report back soon – it’s probably the only one left I haven’t seen more than once or possibly twice?


Picture yourself.. on a boat! on a RIVER!

Tue ,15/11/2011

Ah, Shatner…