Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Written by / 4/09/2014 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , ,

BEAMING INTO THE ORIGINAL CAST STAR TREK MOVIES

Reviews of the Original Star Trek Movies 1979-1991
The original STAR TREK series is a miraculous enigma: it only lasted three seasons and grew more popular throughout the years, spawning countless spinoffs and a reboot, making TREK perhaps the greatest cult franchise of all time... 

year: 1979 rating: **1/2
A decade after the original series came to an end, and after over ten years with an animated series in-between, Trekkies got these handful of films with the original cast... some of the films are better than others but all are pretty entertaining in their own right, winding up on the big screen by the success of STAR WARS paving the way...

Although it wasn't initially meant to revitalize TREK onto the big screen, it happened, and, here's what Alan Dean Foster has to say about creating/writing the rudimentary MOTION PICTURE: "Gene Roddenberry gave me a two-page outline titled ROBOT'S RETURN and asked if I could expand it," author Alan Dean Foster, who also adapted the STAR TREK cartoon into LOG BOOKS: "I developed a long treatment I called IN THY IMAGE. This was to be the opening episode of the new, revived network series. They then decided they wanted to open with a two-hour movie for TV, and I again expanded and revised the treatment, which subsequently became the basis for the film..." This collected bagful of reviews, covering all six STAR TREK original-cast movies, were taken from individual archives, each written in various stages, and some opinions have changed, especially with this review...

ORIGINAL STAR TREK CINEMA
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE: Veteran director Robert Wise brings to the big screen the beloved characters from the classic '60s sci-fi TV show that, although it didn't last very long, snowballed into an even larger cult following throughout the '70s, enough to merit (thanks to STAR WARS, which made outer space bankable) a motion picture: too bad it had to be this one...

Stephen Collins
William Shatner, as Captain James T. Kirk, returns to the Enterprise with a solemn bitterness, as does McCoy, with a fake beard and even grumpier than his boss... And finally Spock, duller than even a Vulcan should be... As they set out to intercept a giant mysterious cloud destined to blow up earth. A slow-paced  side-story involves the new young Enterprise commander, played by an otherwise talented Stephen Collins, and a sexy bald woman as grumpy as the rest of the cast... especially when she becomes a robot, or something possibly non-human.

New new guy and old new guy bonding
Most of the film has the crew standing on the bridge, gazing out in awed-wonderment at all the expensive, and impressive, special effects...

The only thing somewhat worthwhile. But the eye-candy gets stale quick since there's nothing "solid" to chase it with, and we're finally led to a limp twist ending that tries hard for Kubrick inspired wonderment but ends up pretentiously stale...

If this were a condensed forty-five minute episode of the original series, it'd still be a throwaway, lacking the mysteriously brainy chess match that made the show so endearing, interesting, and fun. Kirk, having no chance at outsmarting this particularly formidable "alien,” must simply learn about it... so where's the challenge?

1982 rating: ****
STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN: What probably makes KHAN the fan favorite of the STAR TREK films, featuring the cast of the original television series, is not only the villain, played wonderfully by Ricardo Montalban... returning from a beloved episode titled THE SPACE SEEDS... but the fact there's a real challenge for Captain Kirk.

An important aspect of any key Trek plot is how Kirk and crew... as one mind and body with various traits all serving a single frame... has to overcome an impending element out to destroy them. There's no attempt to save the human race or an over-done sense of awe like the first movie, but rather, a head-to-head grapple based on pure vengeance that doesn't neglect the mental element, essential to the franchise, and there's a perfect mix of brain and brawn, and a side-story involving Chekov and his new Captain, played by Paul Winfield, adds a nifty peripheral factor. The only drawback is the far-fetched "Genesis" project, and while it's extremely important to the plot, for some reason, with all the fun of watching Kirk and Khan as loggerheads, doesn't mean much in the end.

1984 rating: ***1/2
STAR TREK: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK: It’s said that every other original cast TREK movie is good, beginning with WRATH OF KHAN. So with that rock-skipping theory in place, the only decent Trek flicks are two, four and six... Not true!

Part three, while merely serving as a wedge between two and four, has some terrifically intense moments: like the crew "stealing" the Enterprise from dry-dock; or a Vulcan, having lined up three people, walking behind each, choosing which to kill. Meanwhile, the lack of Spock throughout most of the film gives other characters a chance to shine a bit...

Sulu beating up a six foot bully soldier is a hoot and McCoy, moved to second-banana, gets particularly more attention as he channels Spock's personality, turning him into a punch-drunk "spaced-out" loon (what Spock would become in part four). And Christopher Lloyd, as a menacing rogue Klingon, is almost too perfectly cast and somewhat dated today... Sure he overacts... but it's Star Trek!

Christopher Lloyd's Devil Dog
Plot has the crew out to find Spock's body that was left in a coffin on a revived planet, all the while battling the nefarious Lloyd. The "Genesis" concept, introduced in part two, is a bit far-fetched even for sci-fi... But seeing this sublime invention destroy itself lends more believability to the entire concept.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy, this outing, although ultimately filler, is pretty entertaining, and at times borrows from the Star Wars universe: like when McCoy's looking for illegal transport in a Cantina full of strange-looking aliens, or Lloyd's pet monster-hell-dog, seeming right out of Jabba's palace.

The last twenty minutes, showing in detail the Vulcan ritual in bringing Spock back to life, is long-winded and suited for hardcore Trekkies only. And yet, despite the flaws, this is a decent enough entry that blows the every-other theory to smithereens.

1986 rating: ****
STAR TREK: THE VOYAGE HOME: The concept of humpback whales saving the planet is hokey and, at times, environmentally preachy, but one of the great things about part four is the entire cast getting their own special time on screen, filling out their abilities like in no other Trek film.

Our story begins with an odd spaceship resembling a giant link-sausage carrying an illuminating fooz-ball, trying to read the ocean to make contact with what Kirk and Spock realize are extinct humpback whales. So the crew must go back in time (by circling the sun... not an easy feat) to the 20th century/mid-1980's to find the whales and bring them home before the vessel blows up earth. The crew takes to the streets of modern day San Fransisco and not only must find the whales, but a container in which to hold the “beasties” (as Scotty describes them), and something nuclear to fix the Klingon ship inherited from the previous film.

Culture Spock
In this thoroughly involving journey we really get to know the side-characters: Scotty trying to communicate with a computer by speaking into the mouse is hilarious; Sulu knows his stuff as a helicopter pilot; and Chekov is given a nail-biting mission. On the forefront, William Shatner's acting is less contrived, his speech not as halting, and HOME is possibly his best performance in all the Trek films.

Scotty beams Mac to the Future
The moments where Kirk plays off Spock, punchy from having been resurrected in the last outing, are hilarious. And Catherine Hicks, as an idealistic, uptight and beautiful whale researcher, is a terrific addition – and we get to see Kirk's famous ability with the ladies at a more mature, genuine level.

The highly progressed 23rd Century humans dealing with 20th century chumps is not only fun but downright insightful: kind of how Spock sees advanced humans in the 23rd century, giving the crew a Vulcan-like perception into our very own "primitive" society. And a fantastic pre-climax, rescuing a dying Chekov from a hospital, is suspenseful and humorous – especially as McCoy critiques our "medieval" surgical methods. So while WRATH is, technically, the best of the series, VOYAGE HOME is personal favorite and the peak of the franchise.

year: 1989 rating: ***
STAR TREK: THE FINAL FRONTIER and THE MOTION PICTURE have something in common: Both are thoroughly maligned and, upon initial viewing, lack the adventurous elements that make the other Trek theatricals worthwhile… And yet they also attempt to be more low-key and cerebral like the classic, groundbreaking television series, and FRONTIER is, for the most part, a far superior episode than its predecessor…

Spock & Kirk Go Climb A Rock
There are several problems, most having to do with uneven, awkward direction by William Shatner, who doesn’t allow the story to flow like his co-star Leonard Nimoy did for SEARCH FOR SPOCK and especially VOYAGE HOME... Also, the budget seems much lower this time around... Then again, this adds to the nostalgic value, bringing us back to basics:

Asian posters rule
The lackluster opening desert sequence, establishing the film’s troubled antagonist Sybock, a Vulcan in search of God, is bland, overwrought... And then we change location to Yosemite, where a middle-aged overweight Kirk climbs a mountain before falling to his near-death and, at the very last minute, is rescued by a hovering Spock: like a Roadrunner cartoon...

And then... get this... Kirk, Spock and McCoy attempt to sing Row, Row, and Row Your Boat around a campfire: Cringe-worthy moments that feel nothing like science-fiction... But the ball gets rolling once Sybock takes over the Enterprise to reach this “final frontier” to literally meet his maker, and the ragtag crew has to work together, as captives on their own vessel… This following a fun, horse-riding siege on a primitive planet, where the gang initially meet the rogue Vulcan… And in that role, character-actor Laurence Luckinbill delivers an antagonist both formidable and sympathetic.

Through all the ups and downs, it's the last act that really matters, a mind-trip conclusion at the brink of the galaxy where, once again, Captain Kirk has to make a decision that can make and break everything, providing enough suspense and camaraderie that not even the "merrily" return of Row, Row, Row Your Boat can diminish.

1991 rating: **1/2
STAR TREK: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY: Not a terrible movie, but seemed too much like NEXT GENERATION in its 90's squeaky-clean-TV special-effects, while a much too obvious modern commentary on politics, bringing the viewer out of the 23rd Century... like Spock mentioning Richard Nixon... is downright distracting... 

DC Comics Adaptation
Meanwhile, The Klingons quote Shakespeare (hence the title) and their benign planet way-too-obviously represents the just-fallen Soviet Union... This feels like STAR TREK invading C-SPAN, or vice versa... And other distractions include Sulu as the captain of his own ship, something Takei wanted for many years; a pointlessly intrusive cameo by Christian Slater; and the feeling that the original cast are simply going through the motions...

In all, COUNTRY is more of a courtroom drama than a mission of any kind: Basically A Bridge too far... Standard orbit, and nothing more...

But not entirely shabby either... There are moments of suspense and good performances... After all, you've got Christopher Plummer on board and they brought back KHAN director Nicholas Meyer to close the book on the original STAR TREK movie franchise.
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

All Time Popular

Featured Post

KRISTY SWASON IN WES CRAVEN'S SCIENCE-HORROR 'DEADLY FRIEND'

Blu Ray Cover Artwork for DEADLY FRIEND Year Released: 1986 Rating: **** A year before giving her class the lowdown about FERRIS BEULLER'...

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

RIP KEN HUTCHISON MONTH

RIP KEN HUTCHISON MONTH
Reviews with the late Scottish tough guy actor

JACK NICHOLSON IN OCTOBER

JACK NICHOLSON IN OCTOBER
from Chinatown to THE SHINING Halloween

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "You don't say Hitler in an airport." Harley Morensteinm from TUSK

CRIME/FILM NOIR/NEO NOIR


Gritty Exploitation Cinema of Charles Bronson

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

1)OTLEY 2)THE FEARMAKERS 3)HOT CARS 4)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 5)CANYON PASSAGE 6)THE CROWDED SKY 7)JUNGLE STREET 8)VIOLENT SATURDAY 9)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 10)HELL IS A CITY 11))THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 12)SHARKS' TREASURE 13)SWEENEY TWO 14)HARDCORE 15)FRENZY 16)THE SYSTEM 17)WHITE HEAT 18)THE SERGEANT 19)AL CAPONE 20)FALLEN ANGEL 21)ASH WEDNESDAY 22)CURSE OF THE DEMON 23)THE HIJACKERS 24)KILLER FISH 25)AIR PATROL 26)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 27)EASY LIVING 28)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 29)THE NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY 30)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)JACK NICHOLSON 5)STANLEY BAKER DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)JOHN LANDIS 7)JOHN GUILLERMAN 8)VAL GUEST 9)JOHN CARPENTER 10)MICHAEL WINNER

BRITISH NEW WAVE CINEMA

RARITIES AND EXPLOITATION

HAMMER HORROR & THRILLER

Popular This Month

WESTERN GENRE REVIEWS

CINEMA INCUBO SPAVENTATA

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

PEAKING IN THE SIXTIES

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

REVVING THE SEVENTIES

Most Popular Last Year

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE