Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2005-06-17 Entry: "Cinemas and Star Trek (Movies)"

It's a Saturday, and where I could spend all day watching Wonder Woman, I've instead realised Howl's Moving Castle is on limited release, and even though it's been dubbed the hell out of, it's probably still watchable. So, up early and out the door to get to a 10:30am showing.

It's not a bad film, although they never really explain the curse that the girl, Sophie is under. Her age seems to bounce up and down with fair alacrity. Billy Crystal makes a good fire demon, but it'll be interesting to see how the film compares in the original language. At least it should have some quiet moments while this is suffering from Disney "fill every second with sound"-itis.

I made the mistake of following the film up with the Star Wars film I've been managing to avoid. It's a good part, but the dialogue's still a bit clunky. It's nice to finally see the Wookies, and Yoda being friends with Chewbacca makes sense, even if they don't meet in the original trilogy. The Palaptine-Yoda fight isn't very good, but Ewan McGregor gets a whole bunch of good fight scenes here, even if they do spend the first half hour beating you over the head with how useless he is. In fact, he's like two characters here - completely useless for half an hour, then he's this all-powerful Jedi who can beat anyone, and then he's Anakin's equal in the final battle. Some consistency in his powers would have been nice!

After some book shopping (the latest Kelley Armstrong - Haunted - and the latest Jeffrey Deaver Lincoln Rhyme novel - The Twelfth Card) and finding that the Douglas Preston / Lincoln Child novel isn't out until Tuesday, it was home to some Star Trek movies. Insurrection was one of the possibly scratched discs that arrived this week, so I need to watch all the ones I've not seen before I get to it.

Unfortunately, I've only actually watched the first one, so we kick off with Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan... which holds up the early film sequence of even numbers being good. They pick up the Space Seed thread of Khan being marooned on a planet, throw in a trainee vulcan officer, Kirk's son, and a weapon that could destroy planets while creating new life, and you've got quite the actioner.

But it's a very subdued Captain Kirk we get in this film. He appears tired and world weary, not really wanting to have to go through all this pain and stress again.

Film 3, The Search For Spock, opens with the final Spock / Kirk scene in the second film, just so the audence can recap what happened in the two years since film 2 was released. I'm expecting this to be a weaker film (mainly for the odd-even curse), but I have only the vaguest memories of it. The only points I'm expecting are a completely pointless killing off of Kirk's son, and the Captain somehow gaining possession of a Klingon Bird of Prey so they've got something to hide in the park in Film 4...

Probably the most glaring weakness in this film is the tragic mis-casting of the recast Saavik. Kirstie Alley did a pretty good job in the second film, but Robin Curtis is in no way true to the character that developed in the first part... Christopher Lloyd doesn't make a particularly convincing Klingon either...

It's a bit meandering and doesn't really go anywhere, but it isn't all together a bad film. It could just do with feeling like more than just a vehicle for bringing Spock back, but the action sequences aren't very action-ey, the character moments are fragmentary at best (except for McCoy channeling Spock's spirit), and it just wanders its way to a conclusion without any real purpose.

Sunday dawns with an earthquake... at least this one I recognized as a quake (the last one was just a really big bang). I think it was the room shaking gently for 10 seconds or so that gave it away. My upstairs neighbours aren't that proficient at making the room shake!

Then, after watching a crazy Republican foment war with Iran (what army is he planning to fight that one with?!), it was time for the Canadian Grand Prix. And if it weren't for all the retirements, it would have been a really dull race.

Then there's a two hour gap into witch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home fits cleanly. This is probably the best of the Star Trek films - it doesn't take itself too seriously, tells a rollicking action story, and still covers the important moral element. There's reference back to the original show in the whole time-warp element. And there's the usual implausible Kirk love interest.

I was then due to watch the 4400 season 2 kickoff (it's a repeat from last week and I completely spaced on it then), but decided to skip it as I was intending to buy the DVD anyway. However, I put it on while changing discs and spotted Summer Glau and Jeffrey Combs and got stuck for half an hour.

Of course, I did eventually manage to tear myself away, arguing that it was more important to get through stuff I already own than to watch stuff I'm going to buy anyway. So it was an hour and forty-five minutes of dreck I had to get through in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It has some redeeming elements - the crew on leave at the start - and some weak elements - everything after the twenty minute mark.

So it's with high hopes we go in to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It's even numbered, so it should be a good one, and we've got David Warner in it again - going from Federation ambassador to the planet of peace in 5, to the Klingon Chancellor in 6... that's quite a promotion (and of course a species change)!

The scenes of the Klingon moon exploding just about match up with the Voyager episode that recreates them, although there seems to be no sign of Janice Rand on the Excelsior so far... There is Kim Cattrall however, who can brighten up any film, even if she is playing evil vulcan.

Ooh, and there's another time travel anomaly in this film - Odo has traveled back in time and is masquerading as a Star Fleet commanding officer with war plans for defeating the Klingons. What purpose has he got there? Has the Dominion got a time travel plot going on to prevent the alliance with the Klingons so that they can win the war in the DS9 timeline?

Okay, not only is Odo wandering around Starfleet Command, talking to the Federation Chancellor, but there's a Jem Hadar imprisoned in Rura Penthe - or at least the race that the Jem Hadar are engineered from (because the Dominion wouldn't need a clone soldier race that has genitals!). And Christian Slater is serving aboard the Excelsior...

Star Trek: Generations is next up, and it's the first outing of the Next Generation crew. It was during this film I realised why the Next Gen films didn't work as well as the Original Crew films - they try to maintain the broad cast focus, and everyone gets short shrift, whereas with the originals, it was really only Kirk, Spock and McCoy who got any storyline.

Anyway, it's got dumb "Data with emotions" bits, annoying interludes with Lursa and Baator - they were annoying in the series, we don't need to give them big screen time - a completely pointless Kirk death scene, and an excuse to destroy the ship. Who decided Deanna should get to fly it in to a planet? The last film to uphold the odd-even curse.

Star Trek: First Contact blows the curse out of the water. It should be a really good film - Borg attack Earth, time travel, Zephram Cochrane's flight and first contact with the Vulcans. But it just isn't very good. Patrick Stewart should stick to Moby Dick if he wants to play Ahab, and Data gets a whole bunch of screen time with the Borg Queen - see, the Queen was a dumb idea when Voyager introduced it, we don't need a big screen reappearance.

Deanna continues to get dumb storylines in the movies - this time she gets to get steaming drunk in a bar while trying to counsel Mr. Cochrane in to making his flight. Geordi finally gets to ditch his VISOR in this film, in favour of artificial eyes. There's a brief appearance by the EMH and Reg Barclay, but any more Voyager references just point up how feeble the Borg have become - Janeway runs them in to the ground every week and she's not exactly the brightest bulb...

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