Star Trek Movies – And In Conclusion…

Star Trek films are, in the end, a strange breed.  Born from the ashes of the Phase II project, The Motion Picture attempted to shift the adventures of the Enterprise from the small screen to the big one, but t’s worth reminding ourselves how unusual it was in 1979 for a TV series – a cancelled TV series no less – to make the transition to cinema. Star Wars, of course, is partly to blame / be held responsible (delete as applicable) for this since Paramount wanted a slice of the box office pie and had a handy space-based franchise just sitting there. But back in the beige, chilly days of the 1970’s this wasn’t a Thing That Happened. The likes of Kojak and Colombo might get a TV movie here and there but that absolutely was not the same thing. Now we live in an era where TV shows transitioning to big screen adventures can happen to almost any intellectual property, from The Addams Family (twice so far) to Mission: Impossible, from The Twilight Zone to Miami Vice. A dash of nostalgia here, a sprig of brand recognition inserted into the carcass of memory there and off we go.

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Star Trek Beyond 

Can the third Abramsverse Star Trek movie find something better to do than resurrect an old bad guy? Yes!

Third time’s a charm? After the standard-action-fare of the 2009 movie and the misguided attempt to use Khan in Into Darkness, can Beyond find a successful balance? 

Pre-Existing Prejudices: It’s the most recent of the three Abramsverse movies which means that there’s not a lot of scope for historical distance. But as with the other two Abramsverse movies I had generally warm feelings towards it on its release and I’ve watched a couple of times since. I like Idris Elba a lot but don’t remember him making a vast impression, and of course it’s hard to view Anton Yelchin’s performance objectively since his death. Neither a stand-out classic nor a total failure, I remember this as fine. We shall see if that’s still true… 

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Star Trek: Into Darkness

Khan II: Space Boogaloo. But can Into Darkness do anything to expand on the original?

If the 2009 Star Trek achieved anything it was finding an excellent cast to continue the adventures of the old crew in new times. But now the crew has been established, can Into Darkness find a way forward for them?

Pre-Existing Prejudices: All together now: KKKkhhhhaaaaannnnnn! Yes, it’s the most notorious of the three Abramsverse movies, and probably the most controversial. There are accusations of whitewashing, with Ricardo Montalban’s charismatic take being replaced by This Year’s Thing, Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s sexism, with the gratuitous Carol-Marcus-in-underwear scene. There’s the… well, actually is it plagiarism of The Wrath Of Khan? Not really I guess, since it’s an intentional reinterpretation of those events. Eh, anyway, it’s that movie. 

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Star Trek

The Next Generation have become the former generation as Nemesis signalled the end of the line for that iteration of the show. But what’s this? We’re going back to TOS with a new cast for the old crew? Well, Ok then…

Pre-Existing Prejudices: It’s the first of three (so far) Abrmbsverse Star Trek movies where we return to the era of TOS with a new cast and a new timeline. I remember vividly seeing this in 2009 and having largely positive reactions to it, with some moments working very well (the TOS theme on a massive cinema sound system!) and some not so much. I’ve seen it a couple of times since but this will be the first time I’ve sat down to actually analyse it rather than simply sticking it on. For what it’s worth, when I first saw this in the cinema with my other half, his reaction was, “that’s the best Star Trek movie I’ve ever seen in the cinema”. The one he saw previous to that was Insurrection…

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Star Trek: Nemesis

Despite it’s reputation, it’s not that bad! Wait, come back, it’s true!

We enter the 21st century at last, with the final of four TNG movies, and arguably the one with the worst reputation. But can Nemesis at the very least avoid the blandness of its predecessor? 

Pre-Existing Prejudices: Well, as mentioned, I don’t think there’s any movie in the Star Trek canon that has quite the reputation of Nemesis, though Into Darkness will work hard to correct this. As with all movies post-The Final Frontier I have seen this in the cinema, and have… well, you can probably guess but unusual opinions on it anyway. 

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Star Trek: Insurrection

The battle for paradise has begun, though the battle to stay awake is rather harder to win…

First Contact gave us some faith that a good TNG movie was actually possible. So would the third film follow that cue or fall back into the lazy pattern of Generations. Or maybe find something new to do?

Pre-Existing PrejudicesThe Boring One.  

What’s It All About, JG? The Enterprise is in the Briar Patch (cute) where some planet is being spied on for allegedly anthropological reasons and …. oh pardon me, my eyes feel heavy. Anyway, Data malfunctions, there’s… oh my, is it terribly warm in here? Picard beams down to meet… um… *yawns, stretches, nods off*  

Er, something, something face-stretching, same race, credits. That’s about it, right? 

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Star Trek: First Contact 

For the second TNG movie outing we get the Borg – is resistance useless?

After the disappointing dud of Generations, we have this, an attempt at getting the TNG movies back on track by reuniting them with their most implacable foe – Rick Berman The Borg. But will it be enough to turn things around? 

Pre-Existing PrejudicesWell, it’s got the Borg in them – TNG’s most successful enemy, so that’s something. And James Cromwell is here, and I like James Cromwell too because… well, he’s James Cromwell. This has, I know, the reputation as the best of the TNG movies – a bar so low it’s subterranean – and of course, it’s the one that tends to stick in the minds of non-fans. Alice Krige being assembled in front of your very eyes will tend to do that. 

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Star Trek – Generations

Two Captains, One Movie, No Point

Nice poster, at least

Now that the original crew have sailed off into the sunset with an unambiguously perfect finale for them, we have this, a weird attempt at both a coda for the TOS crew and the first of four attempts to bring the TNG crew to the fore. But can they do it?

Pre-Existing Prejudices: I saw this at the Odeon, Leicester Square in London on the very first week of its release. “All Good Things…” had not long passed and it was terrific, and being in the position to see this at one of the world’s premier cinemas combined with the warm afterglow of the TV series set me up to be very receptive towards this, and I remember thoroughly enjoying it when it was released. I’ve seen it a few times since and sadly it seems that time makes fools of us all, and it would be a vast understatement to say that my opinion of it has plummeted.

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Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country

The final frontier beckons at long last – retirement.

After Shatner’s wobby-but-easy-to-appreciate take on the franchise we’re back with “safer” hands as Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy return to helm the TOS crew’s final outing. But will “safe” be a synonym for “dull” or will The Undiscovered Country deserve its place in the pantheon of good Star Trek films?

Pre-Existing Prejudices: Alongside The Wrath Of Khan this is, I know, generally regarded as the strongest of the TOS outings. It’s one I’ve always had a lot of appreciation for, though as with most of the TOS films it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it so I’ve no idea whether my warm fuzzy memories are in any way justified.

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Star Trek V – The Final Frontier

Does the movie with the worst reputation in the Star Trek canon deserve it’s fate? Surprisingly, no.

In some ways, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was a perfect conclusion for the TOS crew. The story arc that’s run for three movies’ reached its conclusion, there’s some character growth, and a promise of the future with a new ship. But it wasn’t the conclusion – so can Star Trek V: The Final Frontier add anything to the saga?

Pre-Existing Prejudices: “What does God need with a starship?” It’s that one!  Yes, arguably the most notorious movie in the whole of Star Trek, this has its fair share of critics. It’s co-written and directed by William Shatner, which means he’s bringing everything to the table, for both good and ill. Because I’m a nerdy fan, I’m aware that this is the first of several Star Trek appearances by the joyfully brilliant David Warner, if not perhaps his most noted. Marshmellons, El Captian, Spock’s half-brother… it’s a heady mix. Let’s find out if this movie deserves it’s dreadful reputation!

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