Back to Hulu I go, and this time I’m doing something really different. This is my first audio blog post, and I’m joined by my cousin, Kessel Junkie, who I give so much grief on this blog. This is our running commentary on a movie that’s certainly a guilty pleasure for both of us. No one else seems to like it, but we both love it.
Cue up the movie when instructed if you want to watch it with us. Kessel has clearly done his research on this movie, which is unsurprising considering 1) his love of the movie, and 2) the fact that he has a degree in theater. As a Star Trek nut that was raised on the theater (Arena Stage), I should be just as knowledgeable about this movie, but I’m lazy.
Just one note. There’s a point where Kessel Junkie changes the subject on me, and I don’t quite pick up on it, so we wind up talking past one another. I get his point. There’s an apparent canon violation between an episode of the Animated Series and this movie. Both have the Enterprise visiting a planet at or near the center of the galaxy. Fortunately, he’s wrong. The Enterprise was thrown into an alternate universe, so the fact that “God” wasn’t there isn’t a canon violation. Interestingly enough, “Lucien” was originally supposed to be God, but the network nixed that. Enough about that. Enjoy the listen.
Click here for the audio file. Note: This is just over two hours long, and if you pause it, note where you paused. Pausing it often requires you to refresh the page before continuing.
It’s time to revisit all the Star Trek movies. It’s my favorite intellectual property, but don’t expect me to act the apologist. As my friends will attest, I’m happy to criticize the things I love, but there’s a lot to love here as well. The things we tolerate for drama. *sigh* This post doubles as an entry in my Guilty Pleasures; it wasn’t well received by anyone. It isn’t the first Star Trek movie to be in that category, and it won’t be the last. Here are my viewing notes.
Nice theme music. I remember getting into a mild argument with my uncle. I claimed that they reused it for the Star Trek: the Next Generation series. Guess who won that argument.
“I’m so offended they changed the Klingons! How can we explain this in canon?!” The FASA Star Trek RPG did so brilliantly (which they adapted from John M. Ford‘s work), and the canon explanation from Star Trek: Enterprise wasn’t bad either.
Trivia: Mark Lenard was the first actor to play three different species in the Star Trek universe. In my favorite Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, he played a Romulan commander. In Journey to Babel, he played Sarek, Spock’s Vulcan father. In this movie, he was the Klingon commander. If I’m not mistaken, it wasn’t until Jeffrey Combs played Shran that someone else accomplished the feat. I’m not entirely sure about that though. It could have been Tony Todd or Joseph Ruskin. I’m too lazy to look it up.
I’m not even three minutes into the substantive content, and we’re already getting a scene with unnecessarily long exterior views of things that don’t matter. We get it. The space station is big. Really big.
Ooooo, a backwards-firing photon torpedo. We’ve never seen that before. Wait. Why not? How stupid were the designers of these ships?
I don’t think the movie ever explained that the voice calling out to Spock was Kirk’s, not V’Ger. I seem to remember from the novelization that it was Kirk. I read the novelizations of the first five Star Trek movies. Yeah, that includes the Final Frontier. That book was pretty good. Sybok could have been the best villain ever.
Poor Sonak. He didn’t realize what was in store for him, but he almost deserves it. You’re not Spock, Sonak. Don’t raise your eyebrow like that. It’s a Spock thing, not a Vulcan thing. (It became a Vulcan thing, but it shouldn’t have been.)
Why is the Enterprise the only ship in range to intercept? They’re on Earth, which is the center of government for the Federation. Shouldn’t there be at least a few ships nearby? This isn’t the only time this nonsense was used as a plot device.
And here’s the unnecessarily long exterior view that everyone talks about. I really should fast forward through this one, but writing these notes is distraction enough to make it bearable.
The engineer on the floating disk is probably violating OSHA regulations.
All these actors are amazing. I actually believe they’re happy to see William Shatner arrive.
The other person in that transporter malfunction had a pretty decent treatment in the novel. Here, she wasn’t even named.
The crowd of crewmen included a lot of diversity. The rest of the movie? Not so much.
Chekov’s smile when Ilia enters is classic. Sulu tried and failed.
McCoy should have kept the beard for the entire movie.
I don’t think wormholes work that way, but I’ve never been in one. From a dramatic perspective, the scene wore out its welcome not even halfway through it. It had the same effect as any of those external shots.
Kirk needs a ready room.
I’m sorry. That you left Delta IV? Or that you didn’t say goodbye? If I had, would you have been able to say it?
Now picture me rolling my eyes so hard they fall out.
I made a simple ST:TMP game on my Commodore Vic-20. There wasn’t a lot of memory to do anything impressive, but it was a good way to connect with the movie.
More external shots. Yes, we know. This thing is even bigger.
“This is how I define unwarranted!” How did Decker make Captain? Space travel is risky business. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. They’re trying to save Earth. There are billions of lives at stake. You must take risks.
Spock is a seer. He can see the future.
The computer’s assessment of what’s going on
Why is the Ilia probe wearing clothes? This isn’t wishful thinking. She was created in the shower without clothes, and then they were added before it exposed itself.
My memory of the novel tells me that it went into a ton of detail about the scan of the probe. It was . . . . fascinating.
Why didn’t the door open for the Ilia probe? She shouldn’t have had to break through it. They’re automatic. We already know it’s extremely strong.
In one of his posts, Kessel Junkie claimed that this ship. . .
Spock getting emotional over a handshake. It’s as if millions of Vulcan voices cried out in terror.
I want to see V’Ger fight the whale probe.
Nimoy was wearing a lot of makeup.
“Mr. Chekov, when do those probes reach their final destination?” “Fifty-seven minutes.”
What? That means that there’s got to be 57 minutes left in this show for the ending to have a close call! Oh, there’s only 20 minutes left. Phew!
“Captain, I’d like to go along.”
Of course, you would, Commander Decker. Someone’s got to die.
In 1979, I was 11, so the big reveal (i.e., “VOYAGER”) surprised the hell out of me.
Couldn’t they just hit Voyager with a phaser? That’s the whole ship’s brain.
“Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.”
Again, how did this idiot become Captain (of the flagship, no less)? It must have been nepotism.
In a sense, this was the perfect Star Trek movie. Lots of human drama, and a “villain” that represents the unknown of space, while representing a cautionary tale for humanity itself: Our actions will always have consequences. But that doesn’t resonate well with non-Star Trek nerds. It didn’t have the face-to-face villain that everyone craves. That’s because the first movie is always about the protagonists, with the sequel about the villain. Maybe the next movie will fare better with the masses. 😊
As opening night for Star Trek into Darkness (also my birthday) approaches, I wanted to make sure I reserve the opportunity to say, “I told you so,” even though there’s little chance that opportunity will actually present itself. My cousin, John (aka, @kesseljunkie) and I are big fans of the much-maligned Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (“TFF”). As a movie, it has its share of problems, but as most of you will agree with that statement, I won’t bother to justify it. Where I will take you to task, however, is with the character of Sybok.
Just a Little Misunderstood
As one of the six or so humans on the planet that actually read the novelization of TFF (John being one of the others), I have a deeper appreciation for the character of Sybok. Sybok was not just some lunatic. His reasons for accepting emotion spring from his mother’s views, which were seen as heretical by most of Vulcan. As geeks that are stereotypically considered outcasts for our interests, this is a character that we should have all embraced. Unfortunately, Sybok’s backstory was never fully developed by the film. This is understandable, as a book always has more room to do so than a movie, but it was a missed opportunity to say the least. While we didn’t necessarily have to agree with Sybok, we should have had a ton more sympathy for him, but unless you read the book (or are a completely delusional Star Trek apologist unable to criticize the franchise at all), you probably weren’t left with the same impression as I.
A Perfect Antagonist
The destruction of Vulcan gave us the opportunity to revisit and reimagine Sybok. This is a Vulcan who embraces his emotion, and his people were all but wiped out because of Star Fleet’s failure to protect the planet. Sure, that’s an unfair criticism in light of the advanced technology of the attacking ship, but people who do bad things, especially when motivated by anger, generally don’t have the firmest grip on logic. In fact, that’s the whole point of Sybok’s character. He has all the advantages of being a superhuman Vulcan without the logic to restrain his selfish impulses. There’s a lot of potential for a good story if a cataclysmic event pushed him over the edge.
Could I Be Right?
The trailers and actors’ interviews have hinted at reasons Sybok could be the villain. Cumberbatch jumps from a great height and exhibits exceptional strength by throwing around a large piece of metal during a fight. (Vulcans are stronger than humans.) Cumberbatch has referred to his character as a terrorist, but one that thinks he’s doing the right thing by Star Fleet. (This is right in line with the way Sybok thinks and acts.) Sure, Sybok wasn’t a Star Fleet agent in the other timeline, but with the destruction of Vulcan, and with few friends among the survivors, perhaps Sybok was recruited for a task for which he was quite suited: Getting revenge on the Romulans. We know the Klingons interacted with Nero from the last movie, and we know they play a role here. Perhaps they’re siding with Sybok, who’s changed his mind about what he has to do.
John pointed out to me that the scene from the trailer where Kirk and Spock are performing the “live long and prosper” salute through a pane of glass (mimicking their last actions in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) in fact could be Spock and “JohnHarrison.” It’s clearly Spock, but the other sleeve is charcoal in color, which is the color shirt Cumberbatch is wearing while standing behind the pane of glass. The voice over then says, “Is there anything you wouldn’t do for your family?” Was that line spoken to Kirk, whose family hasn’t played a significant role in the reboot, or Spock, who is Sybok’s family?
Does all of this mean that John Harrison must actually be Sybok? Of course not. He could easily (probably?) be an augment, or perhaps even the Khan (which would be a tremendous shame). Gary Mitchell seems unlikely at this point, but still a possibility. All I’m saying is that Sybok would be a reasonable choice based on everything we’ve seen, and in this author’s humble opinion, would be the best choice. It would throw off everyone, and it would open the door to a proper telling of the character’s backstory.
All that being said, I doubt it’s Sybok, but if it is, the IMAX Airbus theater in Chantilly, VA is going to have at least two geeks standing up during the big reveal, shouting, “Nailed it! We told you so!” (8:55pm showing on May 17 if you’re interested.)
But probably not, and that makes me a little sad.
Side Note: Why Not Khan?
For those not wanting to read the IO9 article to which I linked, let me explain quickly why Cumberbatch shouldn’t play Khan (besides the obvious concern of “been there, done that … twice already”). Back in the old days when Star Trek was less about bells and whistles and more about story and the big three, almost every episode was a kick in the gonads of racism. What could possibly be more ironic and insulting to the “superior race” crowd than a “master race” led by a “darkie.” An Hispanic actor playing an Indian superman? Perfect. The Nazi’s were turning in their graves. Casting a white guy to play that role misses a lot of the point Roddenberry was trying to make. By itself, it won’t ruin the film or the Khan character, but it would make the character a little less meaningful.