Star Trek: The Motion Picture The Exciting Cut

Although I enjoy Star Trek: The Motion Picture I have to admit it’s slower than death. I re-edited the movie and trimmed the excess bloat making it much more streamlined and exciting. So without further ado here is my Exciting Cut.

Movie Reviews Updated – Alien and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

I am constantly updating my reviews as I notice something new or just for the heck of it. I recently updated my reviews of Alien and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

They can be found here: Alien and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Movie Review – Star Trek (2009)

2009 Paramount Pictures

Two and Half Star

Being a Star Trek fan since the early seventies I saw the franchise and fan base soar and witnessed, without surprise, the decline in popularity. There is no doubt the franchise was springing leaks worse than a wooden dam with termites due to various bad decisions and mismanagement over the years. After the lackluster Nemesis sort of wrapped up the Next Generation storyline in 2002 and Star Trek Enterprise was cancelled in 2005 Star Trek vanished.

After lying dormant for a few years rumors of a reboot started to bounce around the internet. Trek fans were both fascinated and horrified as more details were leaked. How did I feel? Well I was glad Trek was back but I saw no need to retell the story of Kirk and the gang with new actors, I would have preferred a new crew and new ship but that’s just my opinion. Still I decided to give it a chance, a fresh approach and a new angle on a franchise that has been around since 1966 might work if done just right. So did they get it just right? Well not really but it’s not the disaster it could have been either.
Current Hollywood wunderkind J.J. Abrams steers this new Trek in a different direction in an attempt to make it more accessible to the masses (I.E. Paramount wants to make more money) and to restart the franchise, he succeeds in making a fun summer action movie but fails at making a good Star Trek movie. There is no doubt Trek did need a kick in the ass to get it going again but Abram’s kicked it in the head instead and gave it brain damage. This movie turns out to be more like an homage to all known Trek cliches’ mixed with a healthy dose of Star Wars.
Star Trek 2009 starts off with an exciting and touching opening showing the father of James T. Kirk sacrificing his life to save the crew of the USS Kelvin but then the movie turns into a somewhat been there done affair that rushes to get the characters exactly where they were to begin with. There are some good scenes and good character moments sprinkled in but not enough to overcome the feeling that this was merely an attempt to turn Star Trek into the typical summer franchise money making machine. Despite a good cast that wisely does not attempt to impersonate the original cast and great special effects this movie is all adrenaline and no intellect mixed with a little too much humor. Scotty and Chekov really get the shaft and are used far too much as comic relief. I think the drama to comedy ratio was shifted way too far and sections of this movie remind me a lot of the humor in Star Trek IV when intelligence was sacrificed for a few laughs. A few less jokes would have given the movie a more balanced tone
The production design in the film is hit or miss. The exterior of the Enterprise is a weird mix of the refit saucer stuck on a hot rod primary hull, it really looks disproportionate with the over-sized nacelles. The interior has major issues; the bridge is too gaudy, cluttered and so bright I was surprised the crew didn’t wear sunglasses to avoid all the flares. The sick bay (what little we see of it) and the transporter room are okay but where the designers totally drop the ball is in the engineering section. The only word that comes to mind when I think of the new engineering deck is lazy with a capital L, in bold, and underlined. Looking exactly like the brewery where it was filmed and totally out of place with the rest of the ship I was immediately jarred out of the movie world every time engineering was shown. Inserting a few touch screens and a giant Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory water tube into it does not make for a compelling set. What a terrible disappointment after the dynamic designs used in previous incarnations of Trek, absolutely pathetic choice.
Other complaints are Scotty’s little sidekick who serves no purpose at all and should be loaded into a torpedo launcher at the earliest convenience. The ending is unrealistic, awarding Kirk a medal would have been  fine but giving command of a starship to a twenty five year old  third year cadet is implausible and silly as is the fact all the other cadets are given positions on the new flag ship of Starfleet. Everything relating to how the crew is brought together is just way too convenient and quick. There are also countless plot holes and inattention to detail on a major scale.

The biggest problem in my opinion is the seriously accelerated character development. The original series characters developed over a three period on TV and then throughout six and a quarter movies. In this movie the writers seem to have been under the impression they needed to squeeze the entire development process into one two hour movie. Essentially we see almost every character trait introduced over the previous twenty five years of Trek on display here and at the end we are pretty much at the same point we were when the original series ended in 1969 just with younger characters. This has the effect of rendering the story somewhat implausible. It’s a compilation of “best of” moments featuring character traits tweaked to be a little more obvious and in the case of Scotty and Chekov far more comedic.
All in all this is a fun summer roller coaster thrill ride (god I hate that term) bit of nonsense, not terrific and not classic Trek on any level. Hopefully with the next installment the characters will be a little more serious and not merely one dimensional walking jokes. Also how about hiring someone who can design a serious engineering section? Wouldn’t that be nice?

The good:

The cast is really good.

The special effects are good.

The not so good:
No backup chutes during the free-fall assault on the drilling platform? We’ve been using backup chutes for decades I don’t see why they would stop using them in the future.
Nero’s misplaced anger is just plain silly. Spock was trying to help save your planet you moron. Talk about gratitude, what a weenie.
Why the hell was there Ceti or Centuari Eels onboard a mining ship? Are they standard Romulan mining ship equipment? Yes I know this was explained in cut scenes but since it was cut there is no plausible reason to have these aboard. Just a case of needing to throw in references to past Trek like naming the planet Kirk is stranded on Delta Vega.
Since when does star fleet throw people who are deemed a distraction off of their ships? Was the brig out of order? Talk about a waste of time and resources not too mention a huge risk. Gee can’t see any problem with throwing unarmed cadets onto a frozen planet with hostile life forms. I would think that Kirk would be within his rights to have Spock arrested on charges of attempted murder.
Kirk is thrown off the ship and just happens to run into a cave where older Spock is hanging out. Then they run into Scotty…wow what luck.
Young Spock is more emotional than Kirk in this movie.
There are way too many transporter gimmicks in this movie.
Why does Captain Pike ask if any of the bridge crew has had advanced combat training? Isn’t that what the security personnel are for? The same security personnel who chase Kirk around the brewery? Let’s send two inexperienced but promising cadets and an engineer into a dangerous situation and let the security guards rest. Nice job Captain Pike, great way to get rid of a talented helmsmen and a young man who scored off the scales on aptitude tests. What the hell happened to phasers anyway? Kirk loses his phaser but Sulu should still have his, why the hell didn’t he use it?
When Kirk, Sulu, and the security guard are trying to destroy the drill rig why do they even need to go inside? Why not land, set the explosives, and jump?
Academy instructor Spock’s having a relationship with a cadet? Seems like a conflict of interest to me. Conflict of character as well.
In The Wrath of Khan the Kobiyashi Maru scenario was said to be a test of character but in this movie Spock says it is meant to elicit a response to fear, fear in the face of certain death. It makes no sense why this scenario would be used as a test for a reaction to fear, why would a cadet be afraid of a simulation, especially if they had previously taken the test? If a cadet is genuinely afraid in a simulation chamber I would think that fact alone would disqualify them from commanding a real starship. In Wrath of Khan Kirk mentioned he reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to save the ship. I doubt the Kirk we grew up with would program it to do something as simplistic as having the Klingon ships drop their shields for no apparent reason. Also why the hell would a Vulcan be tasked with creating a program to judge reaction to fear? Wouldn’t you want to have someone with a greater understanding of emotions program it instead of someone who has spent their life suppressing them? Kirk also mentions in the Wrath of Khan that he received an accommodation for original thinking for reprogramming the scenario but in this movie he is charged with violating the code of conduct. Why the change? Because Spock is at the academy instead of on the Enterprise serving with Captain Pike as he would have been before the time of the original series?
Why is it when Kirk and Spock fight it out on the bridge of the Enterprise no one tries to stop them? Is there no discipline in this version of Trek?
Between the time Sulu forgets to release the “parking brakes” and the time the ship arrives at the scene of the battle all the other ships have been destroyed and yet the Enterprise survives. There is a time delay of approximately 45 seconds between when the other ships go to warp and the Enterprise follows and in that short time the seven other ships are decimated. Seems unlikely the Enterprise would have survived the first volley.
Why didn’t the Enterprise sensors pick up the debris from the remains of the fleet? There is no reason the ship should have come out of warp in the middle of a debris field. They used to scan ahead of time but I guess that would eliminate a potentially exciting big special effects scene.
How could Scotty have lost Admiral Archer’s dog in a transporter accident? Was this the great grandson of the Archer from Enterprise? I really hope they are not implying this was the same Archer and the dog was Porthos? The events of Enterprise took place long before Scotty was born. In any case I don’t seem to remember Scotty creating a way to transport objects farther and to beam onto ships going warp speed. Did he do this after the events of the Next Generation series?
The changes in the time line that occur when Nero comes back seem to be a bit random. Kirk grows up without his father’s guidance and turns into an undisciplined arrogant little prick. A very intelligent little prick but still a prick. I can accept this because Kirk’s past was altered by the death of his father but what about Spock? His past was not altered so why did he grow up and start falling in love with Earth chicks? Shouldn’t he have developed in the same way and still be the Spock we are familiar with? Since the construction of the Enterprise seems to have been delayed did he just hang out on Earth and chase the babes? The destruction of the USS Kelvin changed the location and nature of the way starships are built?  Phaser, communicator, and tricorder design were altered? Orion slave girls are now cadets? Engineering decks now look like breweries? Checkov and Kirk are now closer in age? Starfleet procedures have been altered to a great degree? View screens are also windows (I know this happened before Nero even showed up so what the hell)?
What is with the wimpy phaser firing sound effect? The sound effects in this movie are very well done for the most part but the phaser sound is pathetic.
Why are Spock’s classmates taunting him? What logical reason could they have for their behavior? In trying to elicit an emotional response from Spock they are acting very much like emotional human bullies.
There is too much talk about the destiny of Kirk and Spock. This is Star Trek not The Matrix or Star Wars. I kept waiting for the chosen one to appear. This aspect of the story is so generic it’s laughable.
Vulcan is threatened by an unknown force and the cadets are rushing to get their assigned ships. In this time of crisis Uhura takes the time to whine about not getting assigned to the Enterprise. Makes her appear a little selfish and spoiled.
Spock doesn’t assign Uhura to the Enterprise because he did not want it perceived that he did so out of favoritism? Spock would assign whoever he thought was the logical choice. His decision would not be based on what he thought others might feel about his decision. Poor writing.
The green Orion slave girl at the academy acts like any other airhead chick in any other movie.
When trying to sneak Kirk aboard the Enterprise McCoy rants about explaining how the Enterprise could warp into a crisis without one of its senior medical officers if he is delayed? How is McCoy a senior medical officer when he has never served on a starship?
Why is Chekov asked to open a ship wide broadcast? Shouldn’t that be a task for the communications officer? Because a comedic moment was needed that’s why!
It’s mentioned that the bulk of the fleet is off in another sector. This may be the case but does Starfleet always leave a bunch of undermanned ships just waiting for cadets to man them? Including the new flag ship?
In order to convince fans that this is an alternate reality then it would have been necessary to first show that the reality being altered was the timeline we were all familiar with.
It’s clear that Abrams and crew didn’t give a rat’s ass about this as the reality we are offered bears little resemblance to the original timeline even before Nero arrives.
The set used for the Kobiyashi Maru test is clearly the bridge set of the USS Kelvin changed around a little bit. Nice of Starfleet to give the cadets a simulation of a 25 year old ship to learn on. The cadets must have been confused when they went onboard the Enterprise and experienced a whole new design. No wonder Sulu forgot to deactivate the brakes.
Random thoughts and observations:
The turbo lift moves at light speed except when Spock and Uhura need to talk. If the speed of the lift had remained constant throughout the movie Uhura would never even have had time to hit the pause button.
Trek survived so many years because the stories and characters came first. Trek was never about the special effects (except The Motion Picture and look how that turned out) and action until Paramount decided to try and make it a Star Wars style blockbuster. The retooling definitely makes it exciting but it ceases to be true Star Trek and becomes a clone of too many other movies. Star Trek was always a niche product and by targeting a larger audience it was required to strip away many of the things that made Trek popular with its audience to begin with. This new Trek may pull in far more money in the short run but it does so by ignoring the original fan base. Maybe instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make huge big screen spectacles they should just return Trek to the small screen where it belongs with new people behind the scenes who can give it a fresh, intelligent new life.

Movie Review – Star Trek: Nemesis

2002 Paramount Pictures

Two Stars

The Star Trek movie franchise, after twenty-three years and nine movies, sputters, stalls, and grinds to a halt with the final entry in the Next Generation series, Star Trek: Nemesis. Trying to recover from the lackluster crud that was Insurrection this tenth movie is a victim of poor writing and an amazing lack of focus.

Nemesis trips out of the starting gate with the crew of the Enterprise discovering Data’s dimwitted android brother named B4 who is found scattered over the surface of a backwoods planet. Road warrior type baddies chase the Enterprise crew in all-terrain vehicles as they attempt to gather all the body parts. The less said about this part of the movie the better, it’s not particularly well done and should be forgotten to avoid undo trauma. Meanwhile on Romulus and Remus there are dark doings as a young clone of Picard takes over the government and heads off to earth in his very cool looking ship to destroy all life on the Earth, how dastardly, how original, yawn.
You know a movie has issues when a mean looking spaceship is the best part even if it is CG. There is not much to make this movie stand out, the cast is good but the story is lame and a little far-fetched. The movie looks nice from a design perspective if maybe a little too dark in tone and feel. There are of course inconsistencies with the TV series yet again; do the people making these movies actually remember the series? I seem to remember Picard did indeed have hair at the academy but not in this movie. The requisite end of movie space battle is okay but not terrific and Data’s grand sacrifice was done far better by Spock twenty years ago in a little movie called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Nemesis is probably the last we will see of the Next Generation crew. With the exception of First Contact their movies have never worked quite as well as those of the original cast. However it’s too bad they couldn’t have gone out on a higher note.

The good:

The Romulan battle ship is cool.

Nice wardrobe designs.

The not so good:

Was there a point in having a clone of Picard as the main bad guy. He wasn’t even really a clone just some guy with similar genetic material who turned out totally different. Odd choice!

The whole Earth is in jeopardy thing is pretty worn out.

The death of Data has no emotional impact. It’s amazing to think they managed to kill off one of the most popular characters without causing at the very least a small reaction in the fans but I have never heard of anyone who thought it was well done.

Random thoughts and observations:

Holy crap Riker finally accepted a command of his own. Two weeks before retirement age. Go Riker!

Was Gates McFadden in this movie?

Good construction on the Enterprise E, I like how the metal walkway collapses during the fight with Riker and the evil henchman near the end.

Movie Review – Star Trek: Insurrection

1998 Paramount Pictures

Two Stars

If you have read any of my other Trek reviews you will probably have noticed that I am not a big fan of adding humor into Trek at the expense of the characters or plausibility of the story or individual scenes. Of course I was overjoyed to notice all sorts of these nausea inducing transgressions in the ninth movie of the franchise, Star Trek: Insurrection.

Insurrection starts off okay with Data flipping out and revealing a hidden Federation observation outpost to the Ba’ku, a peaceful race living happily on a gorgeous world surrounded by tacky looking CG gas formations. Meanwhile the rest of the Enterprise crew is on an important diplomatic mission and we get to look in splendor at the new dress uniforms that make them look like waiters at a fancy restaurant. Everyone acts all happy and fake and my stomach churns. Once we get to the main plot of Insurrection we find it concerns an ass of a Starfleet Admiral trying to make the galaxy a better place while stepping all over the Ba’ku who he wants to relocate to another world. It seems the rings around their planet have special properties that make you live longer and healthier lives and Starfleet along with the evil Son’a want control of it. It’s up to the brave crew of the Enterprise to stop the nefarious baddies and bring peace and order to the galaxy once and for all.
There is a bad tendency in this movie to overplay the character traits and crank up the villain factor. The series was very popular and lasted seven years so you would think they would keep most of the elements of the series intact but that’s not good enough for a movie I guess. This movie simply has no energy and no focus. It’s too bad the momentum of First Contact was squandered on this bit of fluff.
The good:
The subplot with Troi and Riker falling in love again is handled nicely.
The scene where Geordi watches a sunrise for the first time is also nicely done
The not so good:
The whole “everyone feels younger” plot line is handled poorly with Worf’s acne and Picard’s mamba scene being especially ridiculous.
Data as a floatation device? Ha ha freaking ha.
Picard, Worf, and Data singing Gilbert and Sullivan?. Did they intentionally try to make this lame?
I didn’t buy the plot of this movie at all; I don’t believe that anyone in Starfleet would have approved of this plan. It totally destroyed my sense of disbelief and took me right out of the Trek universe.
What is with the invisibility suits? Why didn’t they use those to sneak around in other movies or the series?
The villain is a whiny wimp.
Why is Dr. Crusher shooting at the flying probes with a pleasant smile on her face like she is watching a play? Nice acting and direction.
As usual in the Next Generation the crew figures out alien technology in seconds. Is every piece of equipment in the Next Gen universe that easy to use?
Riker piloting the ship with a joystick is just plain silly. The fact that the joystick is an off the shelf item is very unimpressive as well.
Picard’s headdress is silly.
I didn’t care for the Enterprise in CG form, I actually like models.
Random thoughts and observations:
Out of any of the Next Generation movies this one feels most like one of the episodes.

Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

 1996 Paramount Pictures
Three Stars
Despite a few flaws First Contact is one of the best movies in the Trek franchise. I wasn’t sure if the series could find its way after the so-so Generations but Paramount and crew managed to make this movie much better than the predecessor.
The movie opens with the crew on board the new and very cool Enterprise-E. No more saucer heavy Enterprise!
Picard and crew have been ordered to guard the border of the Romulan neutral zone while a major battle against the Borg is brewing (actually the Federation is having their asses kicked). Picard disobeys orders and heads to the battle and helps take out the Borg but not before they launch a small ship that travels back in time altering the future and making the population of Earth into Borg. Picard orders the Enterprise to follow that ship and zip back to the 21st century.
This movie succeeds on many levels, although the whole time travel gimmick is getting a little old the story works very well. Jonathan Frakes did an excellent job directing this movie. You can tell his seven years of experience on the series payed off. Despite some inconsistencies this is a good movie all around.

The good:

The special effects are really well done.

There are quite a few humorous moments to balance out what could have been a very grim story.

The late great Jerry Goldsmith delivers a good music score.

The actual scene of first contact with the Vulcan’s is a gem and makes for a great bit of Trek history.

Hello we’re from Vulcan. We will now turn into assholes on Enterprise.

Alfre Woodard gets my vote for the strongest and best-written female character in any Star Trek ever. Her character holds her own against the revenge minded Picard in one of my favorite scenes. Patrick Stewart and Woodard definitely had great chemistry between them.

Oh thank you for putting down the so called evolved sensibilities BS.

James Cromwell is excellent as Dr. Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive who is supposed to be from Alpha Centauri. Just like in Generations the writers have decided to ignore previously created Trek lore.

Not only did he invent the warp drive but he’s also a fashion god.

I love Robert Picardo’s cameo as the holographic doctor.

Someone must need medical attention really bad.

 The not so good:

The only problems I had with this movie are the usual lack of continuity with the TV series especially with the existence of the Borg queen. The very structure of the Borg society would seem to rule out a leader position of this nature but since the series never said for sure and since the writers manage to make it work anyway I can let it slide. Alice Krige does a great job in the role of the queen and makes it easy to forget this faux pas.

Leader of the Borg? Why would a collective need a leader?

Picard’s aggressive attitude also bothered me a little seeing as it differs greatly from the series. In the series Picard had dealings with the Borg after his assimilation and didn’t go on a rampage trying to destroy them, more inattention to what has come before. Maybe he has PTSD that didn’t manifest itself until now. How’s that for psycho babble?

Picard gets a bad case of John McClane syndrome.

Random thoughts and observations:

I am very glad Data now has the ability to turn off his emotion chip.

The saucer is just the right size.

But I think they overdid the scale compared to the Defiant.

I’m sure this guy didn’t notice them beaming down. Nice work on those coordinates.

Planet of the Borg. At least it would cut down on human stupidity.

Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations

1994 Paramount Pictures

Two and Half Star

“They say time is the fire in which we burn.” – Dr. Soran

In this movie we bid adieu to the original cast yet again and welcome The Next Generation onto the big screen but unfortunately the transition is not a smooth one.
Starting in the original series timeline Generations throws consistency out the window and has the newly commissioned Enterprise-B trying to rescue some survivors of the Borg whose ships have become trapped in a temporal Nexus or big cool looking energy thingy to the layman. The writers don’t seem to remember that the Federation had no knowledge of the Borg before the second season episode Q Who but who cares about stupid little details like that? During the rescue we run into Guinan and a fellow El-Aurian named Dr. Soran. We also witness the apparent death of James T. Kirk who bravely gets sucked into space when the hull is breached. Flash forward 78 years and the Enterprise-D runs into Soran again as he casually destroys stars and planets in a not well thought out attempt to get back into the Nexus (ever hear of a thruster suit you moron?). It seems the Nexus is a special place where you can fulfill your fondest dreams in an unreal kind of way like spending time with your dead family, riding horses, or spending Christmas with odd children. Picard and crew must stop Soran before he wipes out several million life forms to fulfill his dream of cheating death.
Beyond the continuity and logic problems this is a mostly entertaining movie. Unfortunately the inclusion of Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov is not a good fit; it feels tacked on and gimmicky. The scenes onboard the Enterprise-B are not bad and if Kirk had to die then a least he went out in a heroic way. Actually on the whole the scenes with three members of the original crew are okay and the scenes with the Next Generation crew are okay, it’s when Kirk and Picard meet the movie kind of gets blah. The two crews and series in general have a different dynamic and I don’t think they mix well. I would have preferred a prologue with the original crew setting up a story that the Next Gen crew needed to finish without needing a face to face meeting. If Paramount had so little confidence in a movie with only the Next Generation cast then perhaps they should’ve not made the movie at all? Generations is not great Trek but not the worst I have seen either. Worth watching and adding to the collection.

The good:

Malcolm McDowell is very good as Soran and has some great exchanges with the grieving Captain Picard.

McDowell plays crazy very well. Great lighting in this scene (it’s not too dark).

The destruction of the Enterprise-D is well done and for me highly satisfactory seeing as I never really liked the ship that much anyway.

Oh my god a UFO over the jungle. Must be a Predator…

Nope it’s just the Enterprise-D skidding to a halt.

“Well at least we survived. What’s that a dust storm coming our way?”

I like the additional stations added to the Enterprise bridge. That was always one of my complaints with the bridge all throughout the series is that there was just too much empty space. They added new consoles just in time to destroy them, awesome timing.

Let’s add some stations and wreck ’em. What’s that guy doing?

The not so good:
As usual for The Next Generation the music score is pretty bland and uninspired.
The whole Nexus thing cracks me up. The way they set it up it’s apparent that nobody can resist the lure of eternal bliss within the Nexus yet Kirk and Picard get over it pretty quickly. Boy those starship captains are incredible.
Odd children try to lure Picard to a life of domestic doom. Is that Tiny Tim?

Odd children try to lure Picard to a life of domestic doom. Is that Tiny Tim?

The end battle is pathetic and reuses the special effects from Star Trek VI.  Did they really think no one would notice it was the same damn sequence? How cheap can you get?

You gotta be kidding. They couldn’t build another model and blow it up?

The Data story line makes no sense since the emotion chip was supposedly destroyed during the series, again nice continuity by the writers. Even if the chip had not been destroyed the scenes where Data struggles with his new emotions are none too subtle.

The emotion chip got bigger…and works again…

Well it sorta works again...

Well it sorta works again…

Random thoughts and observations:

As you are watching be sure to note the lighting or should I say lack of lighting on the Enterprise-D in certain scenes. Very strange to change the look after 7 seasons, it doesn’t work. Subtle changes would have been okay but it looks like all the lights burned out.

Commander Riker enters the darkness that is the bridge.

I think this beam was in a lot of Next Gen episodes.

There it is again.