I posted that JJ Abrams had been given the gig to direct the new Star Wars, someone responded with: “Is he going to make it so the whole previous stories never happened or does he only ruin classic tv that way [sic].” Which, whilst I personally don’t agree with, there are a number of people who feel that way. So, I sat down and discussed it with Josh and Carmine, these were my conclusions.
Declaration: I consider myself a Star Trek fan, and have seen all the movies at least twice, as well as most of the series – okay I’ve missed some DS9 and all of Enterprise…
Is it fair to say that the new Trek film was bad for the Trek franchise? Using only what I remember, let’s look at the various films:
Star Trek The Motion Picture
Painfully slow, screws up the idea of transporter technology – it worked for three seasons, and now it doesn’t? Additional characters added with the sole purpose of killing them (they were annoying anyway). Serious pacing issues. Kind of dumb premise. Feels like a bad episode that’s been padded out with filler.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Ear worms! Khaaaaaaaaaan! Khaaaaaaan! Well balanced, tension, harks back to the originally series but with higher production values, feels like Trek! BUT: you really need to have seen the episode (Space Seed) to get the most out of the movie.
Verdict: Very Good, but a barrier to mass market.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Oh yeah, spoiler alert, Spock ‘dies’ at the end of 2, saving the ship… and, uh, in this movie they find him…
We really struggled to piece together what happens in this one – it’s the one with Kirk’s illegitimate kid and his ex, with the Genesis torpedo? And there are Klingons… I know this because 4 starts with them in a Bird of Prey… And the Enterprise gets destroyed… And they find Spock… I remember a gratuitous battle on a planet that is breaking up…
Star Trek IV The Voyage Home
Yep, the one with the whales, and the time travel (which is surprisingly easy, but still better than Superman flying backwards around the world…) it is silly, but fun, with an interesting couple of messages, about the environment for one, but also about the Cold War, and the message is heavy handed, but to the point of being ham fisted…
This feels like the amusing if slightly frivolous episodes, most notably ’The Trouble with Tribbles’. It’s not a fair representation of the series as a whole, but it serves as an excellent slice.
Plus, the strangers in a strange land motif is kind of timeless.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
I always get the title confused with “The Undiscovered Country”, mostly because they can both be used to describe death and the afterlife – one of which is from Shakespeare (Hamlet)… But this is the one with Sybok – Spock’s half brother, the space god, the one with Uhura doing her pseudo striptease, and the one where McCoy breaks down because of a retcon. (His father.)
I remember reading somewhere an article that made an okay argument about how the movie isn’t objectively terrible. I don’t recall any of the reasons, thus:
Verdict: Objectively Terrible
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
I enjoyed the Klingon Commander’s relationship with the Enterprise crew – the notion that they were all just soldiers and that the war had moved on. I also enjoyed the darkness of the conspiracy within the Federation (this would inform any series of Trek that I wrote). Okay, Shatner was looking beyond it, and the prison series was kind of absurd (I wonder if it was Trek’s version of the cantina scene), but overall, it posed some good questions, and rounded out a good run.
Star Trek VII: Generations
The Next Gen make their first foray into film and sacrifice Kirk to the Elder gods of cinema. Some heavy use of cliché, some convenient plot developments, a dash of important moral lessons and some good cameos… This is probably the best representation of Trek in film. Negatives: Guinan.
Star Trek VIII: First Contact
The best thing about this movie is the rounding out of the Locutus/Picard saga in a satisfactory manner. We have a dash of history, some humour and lots of Borg, oh, and a cameo from the EMH, with lots of Moby Dick references (that may read poorly).
A grand scale where they actually mostly follow the Prime Directive.
Star Trek IX: Insurrection
This is the one where they stole the Phage guys idea from Voyager and then made it suck even more. It’s a magical planet that heals Geordi, but then blinds him again. I think this is the one where Picard gets a girlfriend and a poorly animated glow worm.
Star Trek X: Nemesis
With a plot straight out of the series, this movie had a lot of potential, but it lacked weight, it needed better subplots, and undercurrents that we cared about, really, it needed to be more sophisticated in its execution. As it stands, it’s a forgettable piece of work.
Star Trek (Reboot)(XI?)
A galaxy shifting event, like we’ve seen in most of the series, that threatens the universe, and, alas, our heroes can’t set it right (they don’t even get the opportunity to try) and thus move on. What we know and love still exists, only on an alternate timeline, and we get to rediscover our favourite characters, familiar concepts and ideas, from a slightly different perspective, we get to ask ‘what if’ which the series would so often ask, but this time, it stays.
I enjoyed it – I thought it was an excellent way of rebooting the series without hard rebooting it. I like the actors, I even liked the head nod to the red shirt.
So, I need to say something about the lens flares… but all in all…
So, TOS, odd numbers sucked, TNG, second half sucked. Overall, not including the reboot, the Trek series is batting 50/50. (Hopefully they’ve shaken that.)
In the end, if you want to say that the New Trek is a travesty to the Original TV Series, that’s fine, but look at Sybok the Space God before you judge too harshly.