As part of my big Star Trek revival, I've decided to rewatch all of the TOS movies. I've not seen most of them since I was a kid, and knowing the reputation of some of them, I've bad mouthed them quite a bit. But I've realised I can't really remember them. I was probably under fifteen when I last watched them and that was, sadly, a long time ago. It was time I gave them another shot.
Slight giveaway about Star Trek Into Darkness is featured too. You have been warned.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
My God this film is slow. The pacing of it is awful, and the incredibly 70s sci-fi design isn't much cop either. Despite all that, this is actually half decent. The story is really good, Kirk's journey throughout is well done, and it's really a Kirk/Spock/Decker plot. Though I would like a bit more explored with the rest of the crew.
A lot's made of the following films injection of military protocol, but there's a fair bit in this one too, which is amazing considering Roddenberry's involvement. In fact there's a few themes that either carry on or mirror those in Wrath of Khan, for instance Kirk desperate to take the ship back here, while in Khan he's resigned to his desk job and Spock almost has to force him into the Captain's Chair.
With the pacing issues sorted out, this could be a really good Trek. It's definitely jumped up from “the worst Trek films ever” alongside V and Nemesis. Now I really want to find a copy of the Director's Edition that is meant to address the pacing and put in a few more scenes with the crew.
The Wrath of Khan
This is one of the two – alongside The Undiscovered County – that I rewatched a few years back. It's great. It holds up. It deserves its place as one of the best Trek films ever. It's amusing watching it post Into Darkness though.
The Search for Spock
I always remembered Search for Spock as being okay. Not amazing, but it got the job done. The best of the odd-numbered, according to that old curse. Wow, I was wrong. This is quite terrible. The tones ever so slightly off. Everyone in Starfleet that isn't part of the Enterprise crew are complete dicks and some decisions by Leonard Nimoy's direction are questionable.
The bar on the Space station that just seems like someone decided to do a Trek version of Mos Eisley cantina. Thank God for DeForest Kelly who slips between classic McCoy and a Spock-esque version and is brilliant to watch.
Then there's a ton of Trek technical mistakes. I'm probably being nitpicky, but these came in fast succession and I really started to get annoyed. The Enterprise arrives at the Genesis Planet, Chekov sees a ghost image on sensors because the Klingon Bird of Prey was cloaked. He then scans the area with increased dilligence trying to figure out what it was. What about the Grissom's wreckage? The ship the Klingon's blew up before the Enterprise arrived. That'd have been a nice little nod to have Kirk on edge, which wouldn't have hurt. Kruge teleports up while the ship is cloaked, photon torpedoes seem to act more like Star Wars Ion cannons than the destructive power of photons we've seen everywhere else. They just took me right out of the film.
The final showdown between Kruge and Kirk is terrible. Kirk's fighting is notorious, so it was never going to be all that, but to make matters worse there's no music at all to punch the fight up a bit. Music could have sold the moment. Instead we're watching two actors who aren't the best stage fighters hamming it up. Then Kirk offers to help Kruge back up, only for the Klingon to grab his leg to drag him down, and then the Captain to repeatedly kick him in the face with glee. Those two moments felt completely contradictory.
Search for Spock just took The Motion Picture's place near the bottom of the pile.
The Voyage Home
This one I haven't been kind to over the years. Dismissing it as campy nonsense. All just Spock misunderstanding modern humans, and “nuclear wessels”. Well, that was wrong. Star Trek IV is good and fun. Slightly campy fun, but fun none the less. It is a Star Trek comedy, but it does it really well. I had a smile on my face for most of the film, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Which I really needed after Search for Spock.
The only downer part was Chekov knocking himself out. The chase around the USS Enterprise was a bit too Scooby Doo/Benny Hill, and then he falls off the ship because he tripped? Hmm. Once again though, DeForest is fantastic, the scene walking around the hospital is fantastic.
The Final Frontier.
When I started this look back, this was the one I was afraid of. I can't remember a single thing except it features Spock's half brother and his search for God. Oh, and it's shit.
Well, at least I remembered one of the original films properly. Horrible, shoe-horned, humour and model shots that wouldn't look out of place in the original 60s series. So much of this film is bad. It's a very bland low budget sci-fi story in a lot of ways. However, I'm amazed at how much of it would be easy to edit out, at least the 'humour' anyway. I'm half tempted to try one of the fan edits floating about. I feel it'd at least make it watchable. But as for the release Paramount gave us, this is god awful.
The Undiscovered Country
As much as The Wrath of Khan is the favourite TOS film, The Undiscovered Country is my favourite. Political assassinations and a whodunnit aboard a starship. It's perfect. It even Michael Dorn gets in on the action playing an ancestor to his TNG character. It hasn't lost a thing over the years either, Sulu gets his own command and the original crew get a decent send-off. What more could you ask for?