Seeing Star Trek:The Motion Picture in a New Light

The other night I had a moment to watch a little TV, and thought I’d find a movie. Paramount+ had a list of movies leaving at the end of August, and among them was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I hadn’t seen it in so long I figured it was a good time.

After years of easily dismissing it I was surprised and delighted to realize that I not only did I like this movie, but LOVED it! Quite a difference from my initial viewing 43(!) years ago.

In December of 1979, I was among the hundreds locally who came out to see it on its first night. Comparing what I saw that premiere night, and what I just watched the other night were of two different people in two realities. How the first Star Trek movie would be reacted to was somehow very personal to me. When I came out of the theater that night, I was happily saying to people in line “It’s great!”. But inside I was not too pleased, an opinion that regrettably stayed with me all these years, to the point of never wanting to see it again.

You see, through my then 18-year old’s eyes, this movie was going to be my redemption, my “I told you so!” to all the people who mocked me for my Trek devotion the whole past decade. But my concern about how non-Trekkies would take it was almost central to my enjoyment of the film. Seeing that attitude now, I admit with slight embarrassment that I was WAY too concerned with physical elements of the movie, than the actual plot. Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees. My ‘trees’ here were things like:

  1. The Klingons are bumpy!!
  2. Oh, God, is everyone going to like it?
  3. That’s a bad wig, Spock!
  4. Oh, God, the actors look so old!
  5. Why are those uniforms so bland and awful? Where has all the color gone?
  6. Why is the dialogue so soft while the music and sound effects are SO LOUD?
  7. Why is the intro to the Enterprise taking s-o-o-o-o lo-o-o-o-o-ng?
  8. Why is Spock so wooden?
  9. Why did Ilia have to be bald?
  10. Are Ilia and Decker going to take over the Enterprise?
  11. What’s up with Scotty’s mustache?

My 61 year old brain can answer all that now …

  1. The Klingons are what Gene wanted them to be.
  2. Maybe not at the moment, but in time it will age better.
  3. Yes, he needed a better long hair wig, but that’s a minor point.
  4. Wow, they all look so YOUNG here!!
  5. Well, the uniforms were what they were. very 70’s. Fortunately they were all recycled into a better look in the sequels.
  6. This was mostly the fault of the poor audio equipment at the theater I watched it at. I remember many people calling out “Turn it up!!”
  7. The Enterprise intro is a big ‘Welcome back you beautiful ship’ presentation. Still a tad longer than it needed to be, but I get it. That’s what fast forward is for; the same for the long slide into V’Ger’s realm.
  8. He did seem unnaturally stiff before his space walk, but I understand now that Spock’s search for total logic was turning him inward.
  9. After years of seeing new aliens, Ilia’s lack of hair really was no big deal, (and dear Persis was so gorgeous).
  10. Of Course Not!!
  11. It’s the 70’s, man!

I was too ‘stressed’ with these ‘pressing’ concerns to appreciate the beauty of a story I had been waiting for10 years to culminate into reality! Seeing it now, although I still think it needed better editing to move it along more quickly, I appreciate it so much more. My impressions follow.

First of all, this was a beautifully remastered director’s cut of the piece. As your eyes delve into a field of stars, it begins with the graceful and sad, yet soaring overture of Ilia’s Theme by Jerry Goldsmith. Ilia’s theme grew a whole new meaning for me since I had last watched this movie, It really stresses a deep longing, the almost unbearable yearning to find something more that must be out there.

I felt compassion for Ilia this time too instead of seeing her as an ‘other’ or just sexy window dressing. Ilia is tragic because she is swept into the vortex of V’ger before she barely serves on the Enterprise. The small blinks of her real self that flicker from the shell of her V’ger persona are almost heartbreaking. “Deck-Er!” she voices in familiarity as she touches his face. So close yet so far.

Spock too is torn. Feeling a call from V-Ger, he is drawn back to the Enterprise. He cannot focus solely on his devotion to total logic. As he has failed the Ko-li-nahr to rid himself of emotion, so he is now determined to figure out the mystery of V-Ger, even at the risk of his own life to save his fellow crew members. This is a theme that carries through to the sad conclusion of The Wrath of Kahn. After his harrowing space walk into V’Ger, Spock rediscovers and embraces his humanity. The small chuckle he gives recovering in sickbay brings us back to the Spock we knew was still there.

At it’s core, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is very much true to the formula of the original series; set in outer space, but finding ourselves through personal conflict. It is not heavy on action, but it has suspense, which is always favorable, to me at least.

Technically, it was a marvel at the time, and a joy to see the Enterprise stream into warp drive with it’s strobe-rainbow effect. The new Enterprise was beautiful sleek upgrade to the original. Remember this was still a model-driven special effect department, and CGI was still in its infancy. The Klingon ship was ruggedly detailed and far more 3-D than ever before. Spock’s voyage into V’Ger and the steep stair set surrounding V’ger were remarkable, although I was concerned that these ‘ancient’ actors at the time would trip and fall!

Costume-wise were hits and misses. The variety of duty uniforms still didn’t make much sense to me. The beige/gold, pale blue/gray palate was probably considered quite futuristic at the time, al though they still had more of a 70’s Space 1999 vibe at the time. But their blandness made the actors blend in more with the cooler tones of the New Enterprise. Thankfully, Khan brought back more color and a less leisure suit look back to the series* and Star Trek: TNG brought back the classic gold/blue/red department shades. Also, the laughable, sporty, short sleeved uniforms here were so terribly preppy before preppy became a thing in the early 80’s. What, were these the Sunday leisure uniforms? They still make me laugh, and for heaven’s sake, grown men should never wear Penguin Suits and Onesies! (TMI! TMI!)

Thank heaven we had two glorious and elegant costume moments — Spock’s first entry on the bridge in a luxurious black cape and stove-pipe trousers, and Ilia’s white mini-robe with salmon pink stand up collar.

All I can say now , is that if you haven’t seen it in a long time, you might just enjoy it as much as i did. It is still a LOT better than Shatner’s ego-fest of Star Trek V!

And now All 6 Original STAR TREK Films Beam Down on 4K Blu-ray in September, Plus TMP Director’s Edition & Special Longer Version • TrekCore.com

*The reason for the red and black uniforms of STII was budgetary — the ST:TMP uniforms had to be recycled and the only colors they could be dyed were deep red and black!

Would You Pay to See ‘Spock Amok’ ? (Poster!)

I came across the site MyCast yesterday where one can create fantasy story-lines that they’d like to see become a real movie, TV Show or video game.

I couldn’t resist – so I created a story-line, cast and even poster for an imagined biography of Leonard Nimoy called Spock Amok! I would love to see this become a reality, but do you think anyone would be interested in it?

I’ve had this idea for years and actually mentioned this idea to the delightful Terry Farrell (Dax of Deep Space Nine and wife of Adam Nimoy) about a year ago on a live chat, and she said that no one had considered making a Nimoy bio, but I think she liked the idea!

When I made the poster, I thought up the by-line “How does one live in their own Shadow” and the idea of Nimoy’s Spock shading Adam Driver seemed a good option! I was delighted to find a pic of Mr. Driver looking down, a bit sad. It helped that he was dressed a but like Leonard used to also. And by the way, if Spock here looks a little odd, it’s because I photo-shopped Mr. Driver’s eyes, nose, and mouth into the image of Nimoy’s Spock!

I created my fantasy cast too, although I’m sure I can add more. Adam Driver as Leonard Nimoy, Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman as Max and Dora (Spinner) Nimoy, Jessica Chastain as Sandra Zober Nimoy, Michael Douglas as Gene Roddenberry, Kellan Lutz as William Shatner, Sandra Bullock as Susan Bay Nimoy, Karl Urban (of course) as DeForest Kelley and Lauren London as Nichelle Nichols. It would be written by Julie Nimoy and directed by Adam Nimoy! I’ll add more cast as I think of them.

So I have to ask, would you pay to see a Nimoy biopic? Maybe if I get enough people to vote their choices here, we can make it a reality! Please vote here! And enjoy.

Like what you see here? Don’t forget to support trekkerscrapbook and buy me a cup of tea!

Happy 97th Birthday Kirk Douglas!

With time passing on so many Hollywood greats, it’s nice to know that this fella’s still around!  Happy 97th to the other great
Kirk; Kirk Douglas!   (He IS Spartacus! <3)

Annex - Douglas, Kirk_NRFPT_04

And check this wonderful reflection he wrote today for his birthday:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirk-douglas/kirk-douglas-birthday_b_4411817.html?utm_hp_ref=yahoo&ir=Yahoo

Sunday Afternoon Movie – A Face In the Crowd (1957)

Here’s the next in my movie gallery series – A Face in the Crowd (1957) starring Andy Griffith, Patricia O’Neil, and Walter Matthau.  An excellent drama, proving that reality TV and dirty politics are nothing new.   Griffith appears to be an aw-shucks corn pone, but he’s a real gritty, rotten power hungry villain! You can read my review here, and I can’t recommend it enough!

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“Mr. Abrams, Did You Break My Star Trek?” a.k.a – My Review of Star Trek: Into Darkness (With many Spoilers)

Okay, so a hundred years and 25 or so revisions later, I’m finally getting this review out!  I know by now there’s been plenty of debate and stir over the latest JJ Abrams version, but if you don’t mind one more, here,  just in time for the blue-ray release, is my two cents. (Yes, there will be SPOILERS)   Thanks for your patience.

star trek into darkness 650 paramount

Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Christopher Pine) are snared again by lens flares in Star Trek Into Darkness.

On a scale of 1-5 stars I give it almost 4 (Like 3 and 7/8ths) ) 3.  Did I like it? Yes. Did I love it? Not as much as I hoped I really would.   Obviously the writers and Abrams are taking the original series where no franchise has gone before;  into it’s own damn idea of what Gene Roddenberry had in mind. Some of its impulses were good.   Others, not so good.   This review questions some of those impulses. (And yes, there was  a lot of good too).

The story got off to an exciting start, with a classic, if somewhat preposterous, Enterprise-saving the-day-venture. Kirk rescues Spock by avoiding The Prime Directive, which foreshadows the climax of the film.   This Trek is a lot edgier and action-based than the original series ever was, no doubt aiming for the all-powerful 18-24 demographic. Fortunately it isn’t too far into these extremes, and still retains the wit and familiarity of the original series.  First, the bad:

As an old Trekkie, I found the  extra-large action aspect mildly bothersome, but what mostly upset me was the blatant recycling  of a storyline that was best told in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.  Come now, writers, surely you could have written the (spoiler) Kirk death scene in a new, dynamic way, not rehashing  Spock’s death in  ST:II nearly word for word!  I found that whole scene a slap in the face to ST:II.   I mean sure, Spock has to face that his friend Kirk is in mortal danger trying to save the ship, but I can’t help but wonder how much better that scene would have been if it approached the same situation with original dialogue! After all, THIS Spock has not known THIS Kirk as long as the originals.  Of course Spock would try to save his friend and captain, but the lifted dialogue from Wrath…just made the scene lazy and a retread instead of the heart-wrenching agony it SHOULD have been. (On a minor point, I’ve always wondered why there are never any haz-mat suits in that most dangerous reactor area, heck even Spock wore gloves in Wrath…!)

And then there’s Khan himself.  When the rumors flourished before the release that  the villain might be Khan, I didn’t want to believe it because I thought, no, why would they mess with a perfectly good story that’s been told so well once before?  When it turned out that the rumors were true, and when Harrison revealed his true self, all I could think was…

“KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!”

Really now, I enjoy and respect Benedict Cumberbach as an actor; (I just recently discovered Sherlock, which I love,) and I do agree that he made a deliciously sinister Khan.  But when one imagines Khan Noonian Singh, a  pasty, blue-eyed Englishman does not come to mind.  I also find myself wishing that my original speculation  of Cumberbach and Alice Eve possibly playing Gary Mitchell and Dr. Elizabeth Dehner had come to pass.  I think it could have been just as exciting with these two characters, (who suffered with a god complex)  and it would have been nice to see more into their characters than we did in the original pilot. Alas.

Now why this had to be another revenge movie and not the beginning of the 5 year mission was quite frustrating.  It’s plot was so similar to the first reboot  it begs the question that perhaps Hollywood has forgotten how to be original and just duplicates the same formulas over and over.  Star Trek deserves better than this. And I’m sure this is just me, because I’ve only seen it once, but I can’t even remember WHY Khan needs revenge in this one — and against Kirk? After reading this summary I recalled how somewhat convoluted the first part of the story was that led up to Khan needing revenge.  The original episode of Space Seed and it’s sequel STII gave a simpler, plausible explanation of Khan’s angst, but this telling was a can of worms that depended more on action than the philosophies of a superman.

There were other instances that irked me too…

  • Spock’s flagrant violence. Look, I know Spock is younger here, and still learning to control his emotions, but this is now two movies where his ‘passions’ are stirred enough to make him incredibly violent.  (that is, attempting to beat Khan to death) I just don’t find this true to the Spock character. Where was his logical reasoning?
  • Seeing Kirk in bed with two catwomen was (although comical) also frustrating  as this version of the franchise is turning Kirk into more of a horny frat boy than mature man. More of the frat boy mentality ensues with the gratuitous underwear shot of Dr. Marcus, carrying on the custom started in the first reboot with Uhura in her bra.
  • The suggestion that Christine Chapel had a (disastrous) fling with Jim Kirk, apparently the catalyst that sent her into Starfleet Nursing School (this is so bogus!) I guess there’s no Roger Korby in this universe, and Chapel has yet to set her eyes on Mr. Spock. (Although I could swear her name was mentioned in the first Trek movie in a sickbay scene)
  • Spock screaming “Khaaaaaaan!” was the nail in the coffin of the death scene. It was beyond laughable, and it was tragic.  Not because Spock is heartbroken over Kirk’s demise, but because it is more of Abrams’ writers saying  “Hey old Trekkies, (wink-wink), aren’t we clever?  See Spock is screaming just like Kirk!    It made me cringe.   Apparently the writers think they were paying homage to Wrath, but in fact they made it just a parody.   Please.
  • The Enterprise can function under water? Seriously?? It made for an exciting opening, but the semantics seemed totally wrong!
  • A Starfleet ship called the U.S.S. Vengeance — Seriously?
  • The convoluted plot leading Khan to be the an arch enemy.  He’s bad/ no he’s good/no, he’s bad and he can crush heads!
  • Damn lens flares!  One thing I loved about the old series was the soft and colorful lighting that created an inviting environment on the Enterprise. The production values here have kept the bright, happy, shininess of the Trek universe, and an occasional lens flare would have given it some kick, but to be continuously bombarded by flashing lights shows Abrams continued lack of respect for the quieter atmospheric lighting of the original.  Sure the bridge is an exciting place, but not a disco. (Besides, how could one work comfortably w/all those flares?)

Of course I realize that creating a movie requires a lot of hard work and commitment, and despite my problems with this venture, I do appreciate all the work that went into this.  I’m still thankful that we have this reboot, and that there will surely be a sequel.  There were a many things I liked too.  The Klingons helmets were cool.  And Karl Urban so  delightfully channels Dr. McCoy that I’m certain De Kelley is smiling d0wn on him from Heaven!  Also happy to see Spock Prime, if only for a minute.  And to be fair, there were some thought-provoking moments and good drama early on in the film.  But the best thing about STID was the humor.  Here’s some of the best one-liners:

  • McCoy: “You know, when I dreamed about being stuck on a deserted planet with a gorgeous woman, there was no torpedo.”
  • Sulu: “Attention: John Harrison. This is Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Enterprise… You have two minutes to confirm your compliance. Refusal to do so will result in your obliteration. And If you test me, you will fail.”   McCoy: “Mr Sulu, remind me never to piss you off.”
  • Kirk: “Wait, are you guys… are you guys fighting?   Uhura: I’d rather not talk about it, sir… ”  Kirk: “Oh my God, what is that even like?”  [Spock appears at the turbolift door and Uhura walks past him]  Kirk: [as he walks past Spock] “Ears burning?
  • Kirk: (regarding Spock) Sometimes, I just want to rip the [pauses] bangs off his head!
  • Scotty: “If it isn’t Captain James Tiberius Perfect-Hair!”
  • Bones: “Are you out of your corn-fed mind?”
  • Scotty: “One day I’ve been off this ship! One bloody day!”

Of course, Star Trek does not thrive on humor alone.  The one piece of dialogue that mirrors my view of this current incarnation is this:

Kirk:  “Mr. Chekov, did you break my ship?”

A funny line, to be sure, but perhaps that should be:

“Mr. Abrams, did you break my Star Trek?”

My main concern about this reboot is that new Trek fans will lose sight of what Star Trek was all about, and think that this wall-to-wall action is what it was always like.  There are already fans out there who will never see the original (if cheaper looking) special effects of the original because the new digital restorations have removed most of the beautiful original matte paintings of the original, and have even shortened  some scenes (think Spock’s beam out from Vulcan in Amok Time) to make room for more of the digital art.  Sure the sets were cheap and the effects crappy, but most of the original was less concerned with it’s special effects than its soul.

I am hoping and praying that the next Trek movie will PLEASE bring us closer to the spirit of the original — it’s about missions and exploring new worlds, (in an allegorical fashion) and tapping into the souls of the original characters. Indeed, the more I see how this movie series is aiming toward more and more ACTION, I am more convinced that this reboot would be served far, far better as a  new TV SERIES.  After all, the main point of Star Trek was NOT all-action-all-the-time, it was morality tales wrapped as science fiction.  Star Trek also had key drama and soul in it’s best tales (Think The City On the Edge of Forever and Journey To Babel) and consider how so many of the best Dramas today are NOT multi-plex slugfests, but thoughtful, mature, and riveting TV series (mostly on cable, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad).

I seriously wish that Paramount would consider turning this Star Trek reboot back into the the format it worked in best: Television, preferable cable or even Netflix  where it could thrive without the restrictions of broadcast television. Could you imagine how great it could be if we saw this cast and this Enterprise on a weekly basis — it would be worth every cent to have this rebooted cast grow and emerge as a great drama ensemble, not just a shoot-em-up summer blockbuster every few years.  (Besides, Leonard Nimoy isn’t getting any younger, and I want to see how Spock Prime brings back New Vulcan!) That would make Trek shine again as the cornerstone of sci-fi entertainment that it was destined to be. Please Paramount, Bring this version to TV where it belongs.  Keep the whole cast (except maybe for Scotty’s little pal) and please lets pick up where The Original Series left off.

By the way,   I did pre-order this movie on Amazon (1/2 price), I hope if maybe I watch it a few more times, I’ll like it better, and maybe I will. But in the meantime, I implore all unborn Trekkies to please just watch the original 79. Enough said.

(New Feature) Sunday Afternoon Movie Gallery (01): Black Narcissus (1947)

Hey Kids!

As some of you may know, I also blog for the Basket of Kisses site, which is a wonderful Mad Men and other fine media site.   I started a column back in 2012 called ‘Retro Reel Review’ which reviews great movies from the golden age of Cinema (1920’s-1970’s)

As an additional benefit to anyone reading my movie posts, I’ll be showcasing images from the movies I review on Basket of Kisses right here on Sundays.   Being a very visual person, I love studying stills from old movies and I appreciate all the art then went into movie making in the analog age.  Eventually I may just show stills (I haven’t had time to review a movie in a while) but as a costume and technicolor fanatic the old movie visuals are something I love to share! I can’t guarantee I’ll not give away the whole movie in the stills, but I’ll do the best not to spoil the endings.  The first movie you’ll see here is Black Narcissus from 1947.  As you can see, the cinematography from Jack Cardiff was magnificent!  It’s a fine thriller of a movie, I highly recommend it. You can read my review here:

Enjoy!   – Therese

The Daily Scrapbook 4/22/13 (1978) Sneak Preview (Starlog) –Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Here’s today’s flashback: From an 1978 issue of Starlog, an in-depth preview of Phillip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers which starred Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy and a young Jeff Goldblum.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen this remake I had forgotten about actor Art Hindle, who’s featured prominently in this piece– (should’a been more Nimoy here!) It’s a very well done and VERY creepy remake, as good the original, but miles and miles better than the 2007 version! V2-023-A V2-023-D V2-023-C V2-023-BHighly recommended.

Bonus Friday Post — Trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness

I wasn’t going to post anything new until Monday, but just came across this!!!  Squeee!  Here’s the Japanese version of the preview for the new movie  Star Trek Into Darkness coming in May!   I ‘m posting the Japanese version because it has a touch more footage, most notably it appears Spock’s hand giving the Vulcan salute through glass to… someone ( reference to “The Wrath of Khan?”)

The plot of this one seems to be someone evil planning vengeance against Kirk and crew, just a matter of speculating who this bad guy is.   A lot have suggested that it’s Khan, but after closer examination, I think it’s Gary Mitchell from Where No Man Has Gone Before, which is an exciting prospect to me because I always felt bad that Mitchell had to die in the original.   Another hint?  The pretty blond crew-member looks like Dr. Elizabeth Dehner from that original pilot.  ( I thought it might have been Yeoman Rand at first, but she’s wearing science blue!)

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Oh man, I can’t wait!     Questions? Comments?  Let us speculate!