Project Enterprise: God!

star trek god5. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

I had mercifully retained no memory of this movie, other than that it was probably time for these guys to hang it up. After all, at this point The Next Generation had been on TV for two years. Get it? NEXT GENERATION? Nevertheless they made this movie. And Shatner’s one of three guys credited with the story. Ruh-roh. The whole scene at the campfire at the beginning was excruciating.

Overall: D+ This is harsher than I expected, but truly they seem to have indulged all the worst tendencies about the series and it’s becoming all about Kirk’s mortality. Yuck.

Plot: C- The idea of Spock’s heretofore-unknown older brother being a messiah figure who’s going to lead everyone else to God had some promise — but just serves as an opening to a bunch of mawkish scenes (though I did appreciate Kirk proclaiming “I need my pain!”).

Costumes: D- Two steps back. Now Kirk’s red tunic is some kind of velour-y plush material, unlike everyone else who’s still stuck with the polyester. At least he ditched the pleated shirt. And McCoy’s jaunty scarf — which he wears while out camping??? — is SO GAY. They had to know that right?

New cast members: B- Sybok was actually pretty good. Nothing like an extroverted messianic Vulcan. And he gets serious points for his IMDB listing, which shows he played four different characters on Murder She Wrote. Which, I know, has nothing to do with Star Trek. But is still awesome.

F/X: D+ For some reason, the effects suddenly look like they’re from a 1960s TV show. Those had their charm when they were on a 1960s TV show. And the Wizard of Oz stuff for God? That had its charm when it was in a 1936 movie.

Series ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. The Voyage Home. 3. The Search for Spock. 4. The Motion Picture 5. The Final Frontier.

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Project Enterprise: Cold War edition

chang6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Once again, I misremembered. I thought this was the movie where you’re like goddammit Kirk, would you just die already? Turns out that’s the next one. Yay. This is the big end-of-the-Cold-War metaphor one, with the Klingon Empire standing in for the Soviet Union. For all that, it’s not so bad, with a serviceable conspiracy to sabotage the peace plot decently executed.

Overall: B- 

Plot: B- It kept moving. No campfire scenes either, thank God. The impending retirement stuff was slightly heavy-handed, but lighter than the last installment.

Costumes: B- Nothing egregious. Chang’s eye patch, apparently drilled directly into his head, was a nice touch. And the Starfleet uniforms that resembled British Army sweaters with the leather shoulder patches were an improvement.

New cast members: A This might be an all-time high for names or future names in these roles. Christopher Plummer probably got most of the attention for the time for his role as Shakespeare-quoting Klingon Gen. Chang (and he did a fine job) but it also featured Kim Cattrall as the Enterprises’s young Vulcan lieutenant. And who should I hear giving a minor report to Capt. Sulu on the Excelsior but the snarky drawl of young Christian Slater!

F/X: B Again, nothing egregious.

Series ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. The Voyage Home 3. The Undiscovered Country 4. The Search for Spock 5. The Motion Picture 6. The Final Frontier

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Project Enterprise: The next generation. Sort of.

picard7. Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Finally — I feel like I’ve broken out of some kind of tractor beam … OK, not quite. Kirk is still … hanging … around. But at least we’re relieved by the crew from The Next Generation. It’s both good to see them as new faces, and good to see them again. And Scotty did utter the phrase “space time continuum,” even though he was only in the movie for about 15 minutes.

Overall: B- Not a great movie in and of itself. A transition movie. Kind of like Search for Spock, but a little better.

Plot: C I really didn’t get what the ribbon/nexus thing was or how it worked. Picard seemed to jump in and out of it at will. And how handy that Whoopi Goldberg was there to explain it all to him!

Costumes: B- TNG folks were in their standard polyester jumpsuits. I was never really a fan but they were better than the old jumpsuits. They managed to get the Klingon thing down during the making of TNG, though — maybe all those hours doing Worf.

New cast members: A- Malcolm MacDowell. That’s really all you need to say, right? Whoopi Goldberg doesn’t really count since she was a regular on TNG. The only drawback to MacDowell is that he and Patrick Stewart outclass Shatner to a near-embarrassing degree. But Shatner’s really beyond embarrassment, isn’t he? And casting Cameron from Ferris Bueller as the new Enterprise captain at the beginning was a little obvious. We just knew things weren’t going to go well.

F/X: B+ The crash of the Enterprise saucer section goes on a little too long but it is impressive. And in an earlier battle with the Klingons, there’s an especially impressive slo-mo of bodies flying around the bridge — several steps beyond the old everyone-falls-to-the-right battles on the bridge.

Series Ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. The Voyage Home 3. Generations 4. The Undiscovered Country 5. The Search for Spock 6. The Motion Picture 7. The Final Frontier

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Project Enterprise: The wrath of Borg

borg queen8. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

I like Kirk. Hell, I love Kirk. But man, what a relief to finally reach a Kirk-free movie. The Next Generation cast really hits their groove with this movie. Perhaps because they borrowed a page from Wrath of Khan and revisited their most awesome villains: THE BORG. Specifically, the Borg Queen. Best villain since Khan, no question. It’s good to have an enemy you can respect.

Overall: A- Excellent villain AND time travel? Yes, please!

Plot: A- Like I said, excellent villain and time travel. Generally, elements that make for a good Star Trek story. And the time travel was fun while avoiding most of the cheesiness that detracted from Voyage Home. I said most — the bar scene where Troi gets drunk with Zefram Cochran kind of felt like a TV show more than a movie. And I must make this one point: The Next Generation is overly in love with the holodeck. You’re already playing dress-up! Give it a rest.

Costumes: A They improved the Starfleet jumpsuits. But most of this grade is due to the Borg. Perhaps I’m overly influenced by the current zombie craze, but the Borg seem to me to have assimilated the best of the zombie look. Goth zombies. Goth steampunk zombies. They’re just great.

New cast members: A James Cromwell makes such a good villain — he’s so great in L.A. Confidential and I’ve enjoyed him as Andrew Mellon in season 3 of Boardwalk Empire. So it’s extra-fun to see him play goofy, as he does here, and he does it well. He’s not really a mad scientist, he’s a hard-drinking, smart guy who just wants to retire to a tropical island and doesn’t want to be known as some kind of hero to humanity. Though I do wonder why he’s so fond of mid-20th century music, in the year 2063. Alfre Woodard is also good though I’m starting to wonder why Picard always has to have a Wise Black Woman to keep him on track (Whoopi Goldberg last movie, Woodard in this one).

F/X: B+ I don’t think they should get huge points for mid-21st century spacecraft. And I thought they were going to destroy the Enterprise again, but not this time. At least the time travel didn’t involve any weird heads in weird substances.

Series Ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. First Contact 3. The Voyage Home 4. Generations 5. The Undiscovered Country 6. The Search for Spock 7. The Motion Picture 8. The Final Frontier

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Project Enterprise: Supersize TNG

insurrection9. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

This wasn’t bad. But it felt more like a supersized TV show than an actual movie. A fine adventure for the Next Generation crew. But nothing special.

Overall: B- My husband came in toward the end and commented that this is the one where everyone seems like swingers. The Ba’ku don’t quite strike me that way — more like a slightly annoying New Age commune. And they are just way too clean for an agrarian society.

Plot: B+ This would have been one of the great TNG episodes on TV. For one thing they started out violating the Prime Directive — one of their favorite things to do. For another, Fountain of Youth and all that. And a love interest for Picard is always nice. They went almost light enough on the comic relief, too. The only one who can really pull it off is Worf.

Costumes: B- Nothing new on the Starfleet side, the New Age Ba’ku have Renaissance Faire peasant garb. Which is way too clean. The So’Na’s clothes are OK but nothing special.

Extra cast members: B F. Murray Abraham does his usual good job. He’s no Ricardo Montalban, of course.  I was struck this time by Anthony Zerbe, playing Admiral Dougherty, don’t know where I know him from.

F/X: B+ This is almost entirely for the skin stretching and stapling the So’Na go through — gross! And new to the series.

Series ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. First Contact 3. The Voyage Home 4. Insurrection. 5. Generations 6. The Undiscovered Country 7. The Search for Spock 8. The Motion Picture 9. The Final Frontier

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Project Enterprise: Seeing Double

nemesis10. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)This movie is all about the doubles. Data’s got a clone. Picard’s got a clone. If I’m Riker or Geordie, I’m like hey how come I don’t have a clone?

Overall: B Better than the last one. At least this felt like a movie, with some real scope and a big-screen villain. They should get docked, though, for calling the bad guys’ ship a “scimitar.”

Plot: B+ Doubles. B-4 is Data’s “little brother.” Shinzon is Picard’s Romulan-engineered clone. All about mortality? Sure, why not? It worked for Wrath of Khan.

Costumes: B Romulans OK, Shinzon OK, Starfleet no change.

Extra cast members: A- Really only one but he’s a good one — Tom Hardy is Shinzon! And he’s good, too — way skinner than he is as Bane. But the same gravelly menacing voice.

F/X: B- Shinzon’s deteriorating face isn’t bad, but that’s really all there is.

Series ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. First Contact 3. The Voyage Home 4. Nemesis 5. Insurrection. 6. Generations 7. The Undiscovered Country 8. The Search for Spock 9. The Motion Picture 10. The Final Frontier

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Project Enterprise: A New Hope

star_trek_2009_movie_review11. Star Trek (2009)

Woo hoo! I’ve reached the J.J. Abrams era! Kirk is hot again! In fact, Kirk is even hotter than he was when Kirk was supposed to be hot! Though it is a little unsettling that I watched the original Star Trek series as re-runs in the ’70s saying “eeeewwwww” every time Kirk got it on with a babe (because I was, you know, seven) and now I find it a tad creepy to find Chris Pine hot (because I am, you know, not quite old enough to be his mother but too old to be ogling a 29-year-old). I guess I should have had a crush on Riker back in the ’90s but I just couldn’t quite get there. Too bad Voyager never got a movie because that rebel first officer guy was definitely …

But I digress. What I meant was, woo hoo! It’s a new day, a new cast, a reboot and finally another Star Trek movie that bears repeated viewing.

Overall: A I will admit openly that if this movie had come out when I was 13, it would probably be my favorite of the bunch, with the possible exception of Into Darkness. But it didn’t, and my heart still lies with Wrath of Khan.

Plot: A Excellent and creative reboot, and our first look at an origin story, too. I’ll admit here that the opening scene, with Kirk’s father sacrificing himself for the ship’s crew including his wife and newborn son, actually brought me to tears.

Costumes: B Nice references to the old TV show in the uniforms, especially the miniskirts for Uhura. Nero and his crew? I can’t remember what they were wearing, other than I think it was black.

Extra cast members: A- Eric Bana as Nero is the only one of note but he’s awfully good. First of all, because I’ve been a huge Eric Bana fan since Black Hawk Down and he never quite seems to get the love (he was just fine as the Hulk, dammit!). Secondly, because he goes for out-and-out villain but puts a nice twist of pyscho in there — my favorite moment might be when he’s first onscreen with Capt. Pike who identifies himself and Nero says, “Hi, Chris. I’m Nero.” As if they were meeting at some kind of networking forum. Beautifully done. Just watch it.

F/X: B+ CG has gotten so much better it almost doesn’t seem fair. And I kind of wish they had referred more to the old show in the look of the computers, etc., even though that would be hard to do without a high cheese factor.

Series ranking: 1. Wrath of Khan 2. Star Trek 3. First Contact 4. The Voyage Home 5. Nemesis 6. Insurrection. 7. Generations 8. The Undiscovered Country 9. The Search for Spock 10. The Motion Picture 11. The Final Frontier

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