The Transformers: The Movie (1986)


Bah Weep Gragnah Weep Nini Bong!

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)A friend of mine named LaCharizard was once really excited about requesting movies for me to review, but I never really got around to any of them.  I think what kept me from fulfilling her request for today’s movie is that I was worried about it ruining my nostalgia.  I had been a big fan of this franchise when I was a child and didn’t want watching it in my adulthood to make me realize that it was actually a piece of shit as my ill-fated purchase of Bobby’s World on DVD had.  Should I rather not just allow myself to believe I liked it and never find out if I still would?  No!  Mainly because LaCharizard was alphabetically next on my list and this movie appealed to me more than her other requests … and because she’s named after my favorite Pokémon.  And that’s why I decided to watch The Transformers: The Movie, written by Ron Friedman, directed by Nelson Shin, and including the voices of Peter Cullen, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, Robert Stack, Frank Welker, Lionel Stander, Chris Latta, Susan Blu, John Moschitta Jr., Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, and Corey Burton.

In the far distant futuristic year … 2005 … the giant robot Galactus rip-off named Unicron (Orson Welles) is roaming around the universe eating planets.  The evil transforming robots known as the Decepticons (lead by Megatron [Leonard Nimoy]) leads an ambush on the Autobot city called … Autobot City.  In the fight, Ultra Magnus (Robert Stack) gets off a signal to Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), who arrives to join the fight but is mortally wounded in the fight with Megatron.  After the Decepticon retreat, Optimus passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, telling him that it will show them the light in their darkest hour.  After passing on the Matrix, Optimus passes on himself.  In deep space, Megatron is marooned by his second-in-command Starscream (Chris Latta), but is rescued by Unicron, who fixes him and turns him into Galvatron in exchange for the destruction of the Matrix.  Can the Autobots stop them?  CUE SHITTY 80’S MUSIC!

There!  My childhood is ruined!  Good work, LaCharizard!  I am totally gonna sick LaBlastoise on you!!  In truth, this was not a good movie but I don’t really feel as if my childhood is destroyed.  I think I knew this movie would be cheesy, and I was right.  Keeping my expectations low helped me to just watch this movie for the humor of it.  Not the intentional humor, mind you.  The best joke they could come up with was calling the Decepticons “Decepticreeps.”  Good one, bro.  I would’ve gone with Decepticunts, but then parents might have frowned on my choices.  The story of this movie is pretty dumb, but pretty ballsy as well.  They kill off so many Autobots in this movie, including Optimus Prime!  That takes balls.  I don’t really like it because Hot-Rod seemed like a tool and Rodimus Prime was Hasbro stealing my patented porn name, but it does take balls to kill your main hero early into your movie.  And it took even more balls for them to resist the temptation to slap that “You Got the Touch” over the scene when Optimus died.  Speaking of which…

This movie is the 80’s.  I thought the soundtrack was supplied by Ratt, and every other scene of music was a person using his Casio keyboard as a punching bag.  And what’s worse is that they really seemed to have no regard for the music that they chose to make sense or to sound appropriate for the situation where they were using it.  Look at Stan Bush’s classic song “The Touch,” as later famously covered by Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.  That song was in this movie!  It was like a joke!  What does that song have to do with Optimus Prime transforming?!  I know the second line is “You got the power!” but what is he touching?  And then they use “Dare to Be Stupid” during a big battle with a robotic Mongol horde in a junkyard.  And they definitely did dare to be stupid, but it has nothing to do with the scene, and doesn’t even sound like appropriate music for a fight scene.  That being said, I do love some Weird Al.  I also feel like the animation of this movie doesn’t really hold up that well.  It’s okay, but even Saturday morning cartoons nowadays look way better than this movie.  And the sound mix of this movie never really seemed right.  First of all, it seems weird for the giant, planet-devouring robot to make chomping sounds when it absorbs a planet.  It should be Om Nom Nom or nothing!  And at other points in this movie, it seemed like they just plum forgot to put sound effects in, like the whole scene when Optimus was giving the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus.  Apparently, opening his chest and pulling a glowing orb out is completely silent.  Who knew?

One of the most impressive things about the cast of this movie is that it was one of the great Orson Welles’ final performances.  So Kudos to him.  The voice cast of the movie did a good job.  The only problem I had was with Frank Welker.  I like Frank Welker a lot, but that Wheelie character was annoying as hell.  Every time he had to speak, he had to rhyme.  And I had to sigh.  But there are plenty of problems with the characters.  First of all, Megatron.  He’s the biggest villain in the Transformers universe, surrounded by robots that turn into jets and diesels and dinosaurs and this guy … turns into a tiny pistol that is 1/10th his size.  …And must be fired by one of his allies.  What could ever be lamer than that?  Oh wait … there’s an Autobot that turns into a microscope.  Okay, you win.  And of course, there are two Transformers that turn into cassette player boom boxes, just in case you forgot this was the 80’s.  Truth be told, I’ve always had a soft spot for Soundwave for some reason, but his transformation is inarguably lame.  Oh, if you did forget that this movie is in the 80’s, the kid in this movie rides a hoverboard.  He probably used to use a pink one like a bojo until he got stuck over a lake, ‘cause those things don’t work on water unless you’ve got power.  Also, the Decepticon Astrotrain turns into a train that looks awfully similar to Doc Brown’s train from Back to the Future 3.  And Astrotrain is stupid.  Not only because his name is stupid, but because the Decepticons were riding inside him fighting about who would take over with Megatron gone and he never thought to suggest the choice between them making him the leader or being jettisoned out of his ass into deep space.

The Transformers: The Movie might still be able to entertain children, but I even doubt that.  The story is pretty simple, but if they have any love for the Transformers going into it, they’ll probably be bummed out by how many of their favorite characters are killed off, only to be replaced by someone that would call himself Rodimus Prime with a straight face.  This movie is also horribly dated by the 80est of 80’s music that has ever 80’sed.  But, thankfully, I did not find that this movie was able to destroy my nostalgic love for the Transformers.  I just regarded it as a goofy movie that was fun to make fun of.  But there’s still not much reason to watch it.  The Transformers: The Movie gets “I’ve got better things to do tonight than die” out of “Did we have to let them detonate three-quarters of the ship?”

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)


Jim, There is a Historic Opportunity Here

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)The time has finally come for me to complete the original series of Star Trek movies.  It’s been a fairly decent run thus far.  Though I’ve really only found two of the movies to be fairly disappointing, I still don’t think I’ve seen one of these movies capable of making me understand how a Trekkie could possibly consider this series to be superior to Star Wars.  Even the best ones I’ve seen so far pale in comparison to the best Star Wars movies, in my opinion.  But they still have one movie left, and that movie is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, written by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn, directed by Nicholas Meyer, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, David Warner, Rosanna DeSoto, Iman, Brock Peters, and Michael Dorn.

One of the Klingon moons explodes, throwing the Klingon Empire into turmoil and causing them to call the United Federation of Planets and suggest that they enter into some peace negotiations.  Spock (Leonard Nimoy) recommends Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) to escort the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon (David Warner), to the negotiations.  Kirk resents the assignment, still harboring a lot of resentment for the Klingons because they killed his son.  After a tense meal with the Klingon’s on board the Enterprise, the Enterprise appears to inexplicably fire upon the Klingon ship and, while the gravity is down, two Enterprise crew members beam on board and kill most of the Klingons, including Gorkon.  The Enterprise is blamed and Kirk, along with Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), is sentenced to life imprisonment on a mining planet.  Kirk and McCoy have to try to survive imprisonment while Spock and the Enterprise crew try to find out what happened to clear their names.

I wasn’t really feeling this movie, but I suppose I’d relent as far as to say that it was an acceptable sendoff for the original Enterprise crew.  It just felt so uneventful.  I guess there were technically a lot of things happening, what with the peace negotiations, the framing of Kirk, the attempted assassination, etc., but I’m also not that interested in watching interstellar politics.  I found it mostly boring and did not inspire me to give it too much attention.  I think one of the things that kept annoying me is that they wouldn’t stop quoting Shakespeare.  That stuff barely keeps me interested when it’s an actual Shakespeare play!  And they just do it way too much.  I get it, you all like Shakespeare, and we’ve all cumulatively agreed to not pay attention to how the Klingon’s would get that interested in Shakespeare, but you can knock it off already.  And then, when they got bored of that, they started quoting Peter Pan, which is basically the same thing, I guess.  And when they end their movie with Kirk telling them to fly toward the “second star to the right and straight on till morning” made me think that it was their intention to have Star Trek VII take place in Neverland.  They’ve done more ridiculous things in the TV show.  But, best I could tell, I had not misplaced another movie, so they may not have made that movie.  Some of the non-classical quotes were also irritating.  The biggest one for me was when Spock decided that whoever they were looking for (the two killers) were still on board the Enterprise.  Yeah, they would logically still be on board the Enterprise … IF they didn’t teleport off already, as they’ve proven themselves able to do.  I also got annoyed at the end when they said they wanted to decommission the Enterprise again at the end of the movie.  Why does Starfleet have such a hard-on for getting rid of their most effective vessel?!  This is the second time they’ve tried that in these movies.  And after they said they wanted to decommission it, it got destroyed, and then they STILL rebuilt it!  Make up your mind!

This was the best looking Star Trek movie that I’ve seen until the J.J. Abrams joints.  It looked really good.  It started off really well too with that giant energy wave thing that looked great, even though it was very, very pink.  I guess I didn’t like it because I didn’t really see the point of it.  I understand that the Klingons needed some reason to talk peace with the Federation, but they didn’t really need something so elaborate.  The action was decent enough when it happened, but I got to thinking that the shields are nowhere near as effective as they should’ve been.  They announce that the shields are in the process of weakening, but then they show the hull and there’s physical damage on it.  So the shields when only slightly depreciated are only really good enough to keep out 10% of incoming damage?  And after that, I thought that it was cute that the movie ended with the signatures of the main crew before the credits began.  It’s a nice little finishing touch.

The cast still brings it to the best of their ability, but the bulk of them are showing their age at this point.  I guess I can’t really blame them for that.  Not everyone can age as gracefully as I have.  I did feel like it didn’t really fit the character of Kirk to have him mutter some insult about one of the Klingon’s resembling Hitler under his breath without having the balls to repeat it when he was called on it.  I also thought it was a little over the top for DeForest Kelley to jump up on the Klingon and straddle him as he pounded on his chest to revive him.  I don’t know if I could call it cliché since I don’t know if this movie was one of the first to do it or not, so I’ll just say it was a little much.  I also thought Iman was good in the role of Martia, but mostly because she was hot.  It was a little strange that she still talked in her own voice in all the different forms she took until she took the form of Kirk, but I didn’t care that much.  Then I got really confused because Michael Dorn plays Colonel Worf in this movie, the Klingon that defends Kirk and McCoy at the trial.  This didn’t seem to make any sense chronologically for me since the same actor plays a Klingon with the same name hundreds of years later in The Next Generation, but they had already finished airing The Next Generation by the time this movie came out.  I guess they just never had the opportunity to explain it.  Had they mentioned it in this movie, it would’ve been predicting the future.  And TNG was already done, so they couldn’t mention it there.  Maybe just not worth the trouble.

Though I found myself somewhat bored with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, I felt as if it was an acceptable way to send off the series.  The story was a little boring and based mostly around interstellar politics, but the action and the performances were all good, and the story did succeed at what it wanted to do by closing out the original series with a nice little bow.  I wouldn’t recommend this movie on its own, but I would recommend the whole set of the original series movies.  They’re more good than bad, and overall worth watching.  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country gets “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” out of “Let them die!”

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)


Please Captain, Not in Front of the Klingons.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)Today may finally be the day that I watch the Star Trek movie even fans complain about.  So far, I’ve found the Star Trek movies to be mostly enjoyable.  The first movie was the worst that I’ve seen so far, but it was still only mediocre, not bad.  Then the next few movies were pretty good.  But today’s Star Trek movie is the worst rated of this generation in Star Trek movies, so I imagine I’ll have plenty of fodder for jokes.  But who knows?  Maybe every other critic is wrong and this is, in fact, a good movie.  There’s only one way to find out.  Today’s movie is Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, written by David Loughery, directed by William Shatner, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Laurence Luckinbill, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Todd Bryant, Spice Williams-Crosby, David Warner, Charles Cooper, Cynthia Gouw, and George Murdock.

Something happens in a desert between a Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) and a guy that looks like the lead singer from Midnight Oil.  Then the crew of the USS Enterprise – Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan), Helmsman Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), and Communications Officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) – is camping in Yosemite National Park.  So those are things that happen.  Sybok takes some hostages on the planet Nimbus III and the Enterprise responds to the threat, only to get their own ship taken hostage as well, to be used in Sybok’s quest to find a mythical planet called Sha Ka Ree, where creation began and God hangs out.

Hooray!  I’ve finally found a really bad Star Trek movie.  This movie sucked.  Actually, I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that the movie sucked because I feel like I had no idea what was going on, and I was actually paying full attention for the bulk of the movie.  I even had my friend Forty along for the ride, and neither one of us had any idea what was going on until the last 15 minutes or so of the movie.  When we figured out what they were going for, we realized that it was pretty stupid.  They were looking for a God planet.  When they find what they think is the God planet, they are attacked by fake God and just leave without doing anything about the fake God.  Also, a Klingon ship with muddy motivations is following the Enterprise through the entire movie with such ineptitude that I forgot they were still following for most of the movie.  They were an entire non-entity that could have been left out of the movie entirely.  But the movie seemed to be filled with such things, and it could be argued that the entire movie could’ve been left out of the movie to the movie’s benefit.

The look of this movie was … confusing.  Don’t movies typically get better graphically as they get sequels?  This one took a step backwards.  It wasn’t the worst looking movie, but it wasn’t great.  The last part of the movie was the most annoying to me, because “God” was so him-damned bright that I think I went blind in my left eye.  Also, the cantina in Paradise City looked like it was stolen right out of another movie, but I can’t remember which one.  All I remember is that it was a cantina on an alien planet and the movie was called Star Wars.  Also, this is not what I’ve been told Paradise City looks like.  It was a desert, for crying out loud.  I’ve heard that Paradise City is a place where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.  If I went to the Paradise City in this movie, I feel like I’d just be asking for someone to please take me home.  Yeah yeah.  It also just looked like any old desert place on Earth.  Not nearly alien enough.  All they really did to make it seem alien was tape some fake horns to the heads of horses and put a three-boobed cat lady in there.  The sound was also a big problem for me in this movie.  I couldn’t tell if it was my sound system or the movie, but the movie was either extremely loud or it completely drowned out its own dialogue.  That might not have been the worst thing ever, I guess.

I mostly was fine with the cast, as I have been in all the Star Trek movies.  The only issue I took with Kirk was when he got so butt hurt when he told Spock to kill Sybok and Spock didn’t.  It doesn’t really feel like Kirk to order someone to kill an unarmed man in cold blood, let alone get pissy when he didn’t do it.  Leonard Nimoy was good again, but I hated his little rocket boots that they kept throwing in the movie.  They seemed to have no idea of how rockets work.  If you want to make these boots antigravity boots, then do it.  I’ll get on board with that.  This is a science fiction movie, so I can accept things like that.  But if you’re going to show me that they’re rocket based, then you can’t have Spock hovering when his feet are pointed upwards.  That would just propel him face first into the ground.  The only thing I had to say about Sybok was that I thought he was Sean Connery when I first saw him.  Then I found out they had originally cast Connery, so it seemed to make sense.  And it made even more sense that Connery decided to do Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade instead of this movie.  Connery seems to have a good head on his shoulders.  I had heard about Nichelle Nichols and her strange little fan dance that came out of nowhere and served no real purpose, and that was in this movie.  I wish I had seen that out of her about 30 years earlier, but I could’ve done without it here.  I didn’t have much to say about the God character in this movie except that I have no idea how he could miss when shooting beams out of his eyes.  I’ve never understood that in any situation when someone misses when shooting beams out of their eyes.  They just look at something and then shoot!  If you have the ability to look at something, you should be able to hit it!

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was finally the awful Star Trek movie I had been waiting for.  After the one mediocre and three decent movies, I was beginning to get bored with their quality.  The story of this movie was confused and confusing, and when I finally figured it out I was deflated by it.  The look also took an inexplicable step backwards in quality, and the sound could not decide if you should bother listening to the dialogue or have your ears blown out, so they decided to mix it up and do both.  The only way I could really recommend this movie would be if you wanted to make fun of it, but even then it might be a little too hard to keep up with to even bother with that.  Skip it.  Star Trek V: The Final Frontier gets “I do not believe you realize the gravity of your situation” out of “I don’t control minds.  I free them.”

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)


We Have Found the Nuclear Wessel.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)I do find myself a little impatient to reach the end of my run with the Star Trek movies.  I’ve been reviewing and watching so much Star Trek stuff recently that girls literally run at the sight of me, whereas before they just laughed and walked calmly away from me.  I guess they can smell it on you.  But I also hate leaving a series unfinished, so I must continue on.  It’s not as if it’s that painful to make it through these movies.  Thus far, I’ve enjoyed two out of three of the Star Trek movies, but I’m still waiting for the drastic drop in quality I’ve heard about with them.  Could this be one such movie?  We’ll find out as I review Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, written by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, and Nicholas Meyer, directed by Leonard Nimoy, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Catherine Hicks, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Mark Lenard, Jane Wyatt, Majel Barrett, and Robin Curtis.

After the events of the last movie, the crew that survived the destruction of the USS Enterprise – Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan), helmsmen Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Commander Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), and communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) – agree unanimously to return to Starfleet headquarters on Earth to face prosecution for the crimes they committed.  But on their way back, they receive a distress signal from Earth, saying that they’re about to be destroyed because a tube in space is trying to find whales and we killed them all.  The only way for the Enterprise crew to save the planet is to travel back in time to the present (or this movie’s version of the present 1986) to when whales still existed and bring two of them back to their time.  In 1986, they find two whales that are about to be released into the wild under the care of Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), but convincing her to give up the whales is not their only concern.  They must also repair and repower their ship while fitting it to handle whales in a time where the technology doesn’t exist to accomplish any of those things.

I would say that I now enjoy three of the four Star Trek movies that I’ve seen.  This one is still good.  I’m really waiting to see that drop in quality I keep hearing about.  Most of the movie was light-hearted and fun, and the movie was based around a message I agree with, but it was a little heavy-handed.  The movie was basically all about how we need to save the whales, all set into a Star Trek back drop.  I agree with your message, and I even think that it’s a proper enough premise to base a movie around, but it doesn’t really feel like a Star Trek movie.  And the probe didn’t even come to take the whales back.  It just showed up to check to make sure we hadn’t fucked up too badly.  So their motivation was basically just to see what big jerks humans would be.  But though I was torn about the premise the whole movie was based on, I still found it an enjoyable experience.  A lot of the moments when the Enterprise crew were trying to get around in 1986 were amusing and made the heavy-handed message the movie was beating me over the head with much more tolerable.  Time travel can also be dangerous in movies, making overcoming obstacles a little too easy.  That could be considered the case with this movie as well.  All they have to do is fly around the sun and they’re back in the 80’s?  That’s like Superman problem solving.  If it’s that easy then why don’t they just do it every time they need a second chance at something?  Also, I know that Kirk’s line to Spock where he says, “Start your computations for time warp,” was a second draft.  The original line was obviously, “Let’s do the time warp again.”  I also took issue with how incompetent they made the “present” day military seem.  They announced a security breech and yet none of the military people walking through the halls of the ship seemed to be that interested in the stranger in street clothes running past them.  I think military people are trained better than that, even back in 1986.

The movies still seem to be improving visually.  Even though I still think that green is an odd style choice for Klingons, the ship looked good.  They still have not really figured out a good excuse for how they’re able to watch the previous movies though.  They start out the movie watching scenes from the previous movie, but never think of a good reason that all of those camera angles were recorded by security cameras.  Are we to believe that the vessels of Starfleet have cameras in a constant orbit to get the camera angles to make security footage more interesting?  It also made me wonder why there are always such fights between Trekkies and Star Wars fans when Industrial Light and Magic did the visuals for this movie.  I also took issue with the audio in some parts of the movie.  First, the first thing I thought when I heard the probe was that it sounded like a robotic whale.  About 10 minutes later, the Enterprise crew figured out the same thing.  I can’t necessarily say that I’m smarter than them though because I vaguely remember hearing that whales took some part in the movies.  Later, I also took issue with the shitty, 80’s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles style music they drop.  I know they’re in the 80’s, but I also know that some good music came out of that decade.  The worst issue with the music was the music they played when they were running around the hospital.  Think of the worst, most corny and on the nose music you can think of for a goofy chase scene.  …You got it.  It was ridiculously close to Yakety Sax or something.

Again, the performances are mostly unchanged and offer not much to say other than what I’ve already said about them.  Though they had done it frequently in the television show, I don’t recall Spock having too many humorous moments in the previous movies, but it was the greater majority of what he did in this one.  As humorous as I found it to see some of the other Enterprise crew interact with the people of 1986, Spock topped it out.  Well, there was at least one moment I found amusing with George Takei, but I’m not sure it was intentional.  It was when he said he was born in San Francisco.  Sulu may have been born in San Francisco, but there’s also a chance Takei was just dropping hints before he was ready to kick open the old closet doors.  I liked Catherine Hicks well enough.  She was cute in personality and in appearance, and she got inexplicably nipply around the end of the movie.  I was also entirely confused by the guy that owned the factory that Doohan visited.  What was the reason for the giant “I Quit Smoking” pin that he was wearing?  Good for you, buddy.  But what does that have to do with the manufacturing of Plexiglas?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was a solid enough movie.  The story was fun in the parts where they weren’t trying to make a point, and the point they were trying to make – though it was a good one – was a little heavy-handed and perhaps not best suited for a vaguely goofy science fiction movie.  But the cast still does a great job, and I’d say I’d be able to recommend this movie for a watch as well.  Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home gets “They like you very much, but they are not the hell your whales” out of “Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)


That Green-Blooded Son of a Bitch!

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)My fascination with the Star Trek series endures.  The previous movie in the series has long been called the greatest Star Trek movie, and I found it to be good, but perhaps a bit overhyped and spoiled.  But that doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the series.  Especially for today’s movie.  I have heard director Edgar Wright say that every odd numbered Star Trek movie is crap, and we’re coming upon number three.  Perhaps Mr. Wright was exaggerating as Rotten Tomatoes rates this movie pretty well.  We’ll just have to find out as I review Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, written by Harve Bennett, directed by Leonard Nimoy, and starring William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick, Robin Curtis, Mark Lenard, and Judith Anderson.

After their battle with Khan Noonien Singh in the previous movie, the Starship Enterprise is fucked up.  It limps back to Starfleet for repairs, only to find that the ship is to be decommissioned, much to the chagrin of her Captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner).  Even more chagrining (I just found out that was a word!) to Captain Kirk is that he lost his First Officer and friend, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), in the battle with Khan.  Hope comes when Spock’s father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), tells Kirk that Spock would have transferred his spirit to someone to be revived later, and that someone turns out to be the Enterprises Chief Medical Officer, Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley).  Kirk and his crew decide to hijack the Enterprise and take it to find Lieutenant Saavik (Robin Curtis) and Kirk’s son, David Marcus (Merritt Butrick), who are investigating a planet created by the Genesis device, where Spock’s body landed and has started to regenerate as a child.  But they will have to be fast as a Klingon ship, led by Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), are way ahead of them.

It would appear that Edgar Wright is prone to exaggeration.  Even though this was an odd numbered Star Trek movie, I thought it was a strong enough offering.  Perhaps not quite as good as the Wrath of Khan, but a decent enough effort.  I found Wrath of Khan unsurprising because everything within the story had already been spoiled for me.  The Search for Spock was spoiled because the story was in the title.  The Search for Spock basically covers the story of the movie, but I wouldn’t say that was necessarily a bad thing.  It did attempt a few emotional surprises, possibly because of the success they had in the previous movie with them, but they were hit and miss in this one.  For instance, I felt absolutely nothing when Kirk’s son died.  Perhaps I had not had time enough to get attached to him as he only appeared as a fairly insignificant part of the previous movie where I was only half sure I heard them mention the guy was Kirk’s son.  Then he never really did anything awesome to adhere himself to me.  He was just kind of in the background.  So when he died, I know they wanted it to be sad for me, but I couldn’t muster that.  Strangely enough, I did feel a twang of shock and sadness when the Enterprise blew up.  I had 80+ episodes and 3 movies to get attached to that thing.  And, even though I now fully expect there to be some convoluted way of bringing it back in ensuing movies, I did not expect to see it blow up.  So, to sum that up: I don’t care that the hero’s son died, but I do care that his spaceship did.  Probably not what they were going for.

The movie still looks good.  Things typically don’t get worse as movies progress and they’re given more money.  I should probably not bother even talking about it in the future Star Trek movie reviews unless I think of jokes to make about it.  Uh…that green spaceship sure looked stupid, eh?  …Okay, moving on…

Not a whole lot of changes made to the cast, so not a whole lot to add to it.  Because of Back to the Future, I will probably always be excited to see Christopher Lloyd.  Although I’ve seen him in a few bad movies, I’ve never seen him do badly.  He’s always really compelling to watch.  I also got to wondering how much pussy the 8 people that played Spock tried to get by bragging that they played Spock.  Or do you think they just got their asses kicked for it?

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock did alright by me.  Perhaps not living up to Wrath of Khan and just as easy to predict, but I found it satisfying and entertaining.  Some of the shocks they attempted work, and some did not, mainly because I care more about a starship than I do about the hero’s permed son, but it worked, it looked good, and the cast did a good job.  And they had Christopher Lloyd.  That’s alright by me.  I’ll still recommend this one for a watch.  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock gets “Scotty, you’re as good as your word” out of “Come, come, Mr. Scott.  Young minds, fresh ideas.  Be tolerant.”

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)


KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)With my nerdiness still boiling to a critical point, I’ve finished the entire original series of Star Trek and moved into Next Generation.  Watching the original series made me aware of the fact that a review was necessary because there were lots of easy jokes that just demanded to be made.  And my favorite jokes are the easy one.  But that review is for later.  For now, I feel the need to continue onward with the movies.  The first Star Trek movie was entirely underwhelming, being comprised mostly of glory shots of the Enterprise.  But that’s pretty much what I had heard about the movie.  But I’ve also heard that that every even numbered Star Trek movie is awesome, and I think the movie that I’ve heard most about when it comes to Star Trek is up for review today.  That movie is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, based on characters created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Jack B. Sowards, directed by Nicholas Meyer, and starring William Shatner, Ricardo Montalbán, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Paul Winfield, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch, and Merritt Butrick.

The USS Reliant is on a mission to find a dead planet to try out the experimental Genesis Device, a device that reorganizes matter to create habitable worlds.  Commander Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Captain Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield) beam down to the surface to investigate the planet Ceti Alpha V, but they find that it’s very much inhabited already.  Unfortunately, this desolate planet is inhabited by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), a genetically engineered tyrant stranded on the planet with his fellow supermen by Chekov’s former captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner).  And, since being stranded there led to the death of most of Khan’s men and his wife, Khan wants revenge on Kirk in a big bad way.  He uses mind-controlling eels on Chekov and Terrell and gains control of the Reliant, which he then uses to assault Space Station Regula I, where the Genesis Device is being stored.  Their distress signal brings Kirk and crew back into Khan’s sights.

This movie was indeed superior to the original movie, but I don’t know if I’d quite say it lived up to the hype.  I guess most of the hype I’ve heard about it was that it was the best Star Trek movie (before the J.J. Abrams movies), and I guess I’d agree with that.  It is indeed the better of the two that I’ve seen.  The story was fine, but it didn’t exactly blow my mind.  It felt to me like a pretty standard revenge tale.  It is cool that they dug back into the recesses of the Star Trek episodes for the basis of their story, to an episode that wasn’t even drastically important in the series where Khan first appeared.  Having made my way through the series already, it was interesting for me to see the series and to realize that I’ve technically met the woman that married Khan and died, creating the motivation for Khan in this movie.  I guess the thing that makes the movie important is the ending, which is a spoiler but you have already seen this movie if there’s any chance of you seeing it now.  Spock dies.  It is a very emotional scene, especially since I had already spent 80 episodes getting attached to Spock as a character by the time I saw this.  They handled the whole thing with a lot of gravitas and really sold it.  Then again, I already know he comes back in the next movie, so I couldn’t be nearly as affected by it as I would have the day it was released.  I also would have been surprised by the reveal of the outcome of the Kobayashi Maru test had I not seen the new Star Trek movie.  If I had seen it back then, I probably would’ve thought the solution had something to do with eating hot dogs.  There were a couple of things that gave me pause in the movie as well, such as seeing a rat on board Regula I.  How does a fuckin’ space rat make it on board a space station?!  Also, doesn’t it seem slightly less than dignified for the Enterprise to shoot Khan’s ship in the back like it did?  I understand it finally got the tactical advantage it needed, and that logically it should take it, but we’re also making a movie here.  We should endeavor to make our heroes seem heroic.

The look of the movie still holds up, and they still like to show it off by having lots of glory shots of the Enterprise doing nothing particularly interesting, but thankfully they do limit themselves from masturbating over their craftsmanship too much.  I hear you can go blind from that.  They also drastically improved the effects of the phaser blasts from the TV show.  And though I found the ending scene very effective when they had the little space funeral for Spock, I did wonder if that room had a secondary purpose.  It seemed to be specifically designed to fire dead bodies out into space.

I liked all the performances in the movie.  William Shatner may still arguably be over the top at times, but I still like it.  No one yells Khan like he does.  Speaking of Khan, Ricardo Montalbán was also very good in this movie.  He was pretty charming, intimidating, and imposing.  I liked the entire cast of the Enterprise.  Leonard Nimoy is still great.  As is Walter Koenig.  I did take issue with a scene involving Chekov though.  It was the scene where they asked Chekov under what authority he was taking Khan into the Genesis facility.  How the hell did they not think anything was up when it took him a full minute to answer their question about Kirk giving them the orders, let along how robotic he was acting?  Also, how did the ear bug just decide to crawl out of Chekov’s ear?  Didn’t Khan say they would kill when they were done manipulating their host?  Perhaps it just wouldn’t be as threatening if he told him that it would control his mind for a little while until it got bored and climbed out his ear, allowing him to go about his business.  James Doohan was also great, especially at the emotional scenes when his trainees died.  Kirstie Alley was also in this movie, and I was a little surprised to find that she was kinda hot back in the day.  I also always like DeForest Kelley as Bones.  He’s good at being funny and at delivering some emotional lines, even though the line, “He’s not really dead as long as we remember him,” is more of a spoiler than an epitaph.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was a really good movie, but I’m sure it was even better when it originally came out.  Since then, I have seen movies that have spoiled some big reveals in this movie, thus making some of them slightly less impactful when watching it for the first time now.  I still appreciate the movie.  The story was pretty simplistic, but enjoyable, and the ending of the movie was still fairly emotional and was handled very well, even though I not only knew it was going to happen, but I know it’s not going to stick.  The look is still pretty solid and the performances were alright in my book.  I’d still say this movie was worth checking out if you hadn’t seen it already.  And if you had, it’s still a good watch.  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan gets “Let me show you something that will make you feel young as when the world was new” out of “It had the virtue of never having been tried.”

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)


I Know Engineers.  They LOVE to Change Things.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)In my video review for Star Trek Into Darkness, I suggested that J.J. Abrams may turn me into a fan of the Star Trek series were he to keep making such good movies from them.  Ever since I made that claim, something powerful has been brewing inside me.  It was my nerdiness.  It had overridden the bias that caused me to write off Star Trek lest my love of Star Wars be tested.  Also, the BluRays of the original movies were on sale just after the new movie’s release.  Inspiration enough for me!  I bought the original movies, but delayed watching them until I watched the entire original series on Netflix.  We’ll review those later.  TV series take much longer.  After finishing the TV show, I finally sat down and watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture, based on characters created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Harold Livingston, story by Alan Dean Foster, directed by Robert Wise, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett.

A monitoring station for Starfleet detects a massive cloud of energy that destroys some Klingon warships, and later the monitoring station itself, en route to Earth.  Starfleet sends out the newly refitted starship Enterprise as a test of her new systems.  Her former Captain, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), comes aboard the Enterprise and takes command from Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins), citing his experience with the Enterprise as precedence over Captain Decker’s experience with the Enterprise’s new systems, creating friction between the two.  Elsewhere, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is interrupted from a ritual to purge himself of all emotion when he detects the cloud, and he rejoins the Enterprise to help find it.  The Enterprise encounters the cloud, where a probe is sent onboard that attacks Spock and abducts the navigator, Decker’s love interest, and Hair Club for Women model, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who is later replaced by a robotic doppelgänger.  The crew of the Enterprise must work together to find out what this cloud wants before it destroys Earth.

I agree with the general population in saying that this was a less than substantial movie.  I kind of understand the problems with this movie, but I feel they pretty much damaged the movie beyond interest.  It was basically like watching a longer, prettier version of one of the less interesting TV show episodes.  It was mostly about getting the band back together on their new decked out ship, showing off that they have more money to spend on the movie than they did on the TV show.  But I didn’t understand that either.  Has time forgotten the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”  The Enterprise did great on the TV show, but you have to go and update everything and now nothing works?  Then I got bothered with the resolution to the movie.  Turns out the cloud surrounds a planet that itself surrounds the Voyager 6 probe that just wants to return to Earth to drop off its information, as it was programed to do.  But everyone thinks it’s called V’Ger because all of its nameplates are covered up coincidentally in exactly the same spots.  Then it ends with Decker fisting the Voyager and it decides that its mission is accomplished.  It’s something that would be done on the TV show, but didn’t really feel like it required a movie.

The look of this movie is really good for its time, but it’s also to the movie’s detriment.  It’s a great step up from the TV show, but I think they were a little too aware of it.  I have heard this movie described as a bunch of glory shots of the Enterprise, and it’s not a lot more than that.  They love showing off their pretty new graphics though.  The opening scene looked a lot like Star Wars mashed up with Tron.  Then they reintroduce the Enterprise, and Mister Scott takes Kirk on a three minute ride around the outside of the Enterprise, sitting quietly in a dock.  They do the same thing with pretty much every ship shown, even the space station that is doing absolutely nothing.  They also love to show random people floating out in space in space suits doing busy work for some reason.  It’s either done to pad out the film or just to show off how much more money they had this go around.  And it’s true that most of it is really pretty for its time, but there were a couple of things I found goofy.  For instance, the fact that the Klingon ship has a butthole cannon.  And, since we’re on the topic, the opening to the robotic planet that the Enterprise sits outside of for a long time looks like a giant, pulsating, blue anus.  But when travelling through it, it doesn’t look like you’d expect an anus to look like.  Instead, it looks like a series of screensavers.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the performances in the movie.  After playing the same characters in around 80 episodes these people are going to know how to do it better than anyone.  All of them still remember how to do what they’d been doing for so many years before.  Shatner is great.  I’ve made fun of his delivery before, but it just seems right when he’s doing it.  He may be overacting a bit, but when Shatner does it, I still like it.  I didn’t appreciate the changes in uniform as much.  I think the yellow, blue, and red shirts worked.  Plus, they had full sleeves and didn’t reveal that Shatner has unpleasantly hairy upper arms now.  I would also say that, as someone who just recently got turned into a Star Trek fan, I didn’t like seeing Kirk confused on the Enterprise.  I like him much better when he knows what he’s doing.  I think Leonard Nimoy is my favorite amongst the cast.  I like Spock.  He’s got super powers!  And the lack of emotion thing always makes the character more mysterious and interesting.  When Spock rejoins the Enterprise though, I thought he came off more as a dick than a Vulcan, but he eased up a bit on that.  I also love DeForest Kelley.  He’s kind of comic relief without being too overt about it.  Except in that outfit he’s wearing when he first shows up, as if they beamed him up straight out of Studio 54.  Persis Khambatta never really worked for me.  I assume they wanted me to be able to tell what she was saying because she might be saying something that would help me understand what was going on, but the greater majority of things she said did not compute in my brain.  At first it might have been her accent, then later the robotic quality they added to her already hard to understand accent.  Also, she was hot and looked great with that really high skirt, but women don’t really look good bald.  At least not on their head.

I am saying nothing new about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s all new to me because this is the first time I have seen it.  The story lacks substance and feels more like a longer version of one of the less interesting episodes of the show, and they wasted a lot of time staring at the Enterprise doing nothing to show off their new graphic capabilities.  I still like the greater majority of the actors playing the roles that they created, but they couldn’t do much with what they were given here.  I still look forward to what they can do with a good script, and I’ve heard good things about the next movie.  We’ll find out how that worked out later.  For now, Star Trek: The Motion Picture gets “No, Admiral.  I don’t think you’re sorry.  Not one damned bit” out of “It knows only that it needs, Commander.  But, like so many of us, it does not know what.”

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