Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boldly going

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: 101 minutes of Kirk and his crew digging themselves out of a hole.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: is basically Galactia 1980 done right-- people from the future time-travel back to California in the Eighties in an invisible spaceship, hook up with a daffy girl local, hand out formulae for miracle products, and engage in funny scenarios due to their failure to understand local culture, only in this movie the characters are likeable, the situations and their attempts to get out of them uncontrived. Also, after the Captain Ahab theme of Star Trek II, it's nice to have a movie from the point of view of the whale. The only problem is the last five minutes when all the charges against the crew are dropped, Kirk busted back to Captain, a new Enterprise is built (funny, the Federation were scrapping it just one film ago) and everyone flies off into the sunset with the reset button firmly pressed.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: Reportedly the film which nearly scuppered the franchise, and viewing like a catalogue of everything not to do in a Star Trek movie. Don’t use “The Way to Eden” as your reference point, don’t introduce random relatives for Spock, don’t have cutesy scenes of Kirk, Spock and McCoy singing around a campfire, don’t have knockoffs of the Star Wars cantina sequence… and if you’re going to have a charismatic preacher as your antagonist, then please, make his message actually interesting and not some kind of Californian encounter-group shibboleth about acknowledging your pain and having a group hug. Also, I’m all for celebrating the sensuality of the older woman, but having Nichelle Nichols do a striptease really doesn’t fall into that category.

Star Trek VI: Witty and intelligent finale to the original movie series, building on the fact that the original series was basically a metaphor for Cold War politics and doing the collapse of Communism in space, complete with jokes about Fukuyama’s “the end of history” comment and a space-Chernobyl incident. Some complain about the classical misquotations scattered throughout, but for me they worked; it starts out as the Klingons apparently misunderstanding Shakespeare, then morphs to the Klingons actually doing a kind of postmodern reinterpretation of Shakespearian themes, and before long Spock, Chekhov and even Kirk are getting in on the postmodern action, with Spock claiming Sherlock Holmes as a literal ancestor, and Kirk acknowledging his Peter Pan syndrome with a quote from J.M. Barrie. Kim Cattrall guest stars as a Vulcan calculated to induce ponn farr in anything within a fifty-mile radius.

Movie count for 2011: 24