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On Bryce’s Mind

By Staff | Jan 5, 2013

So last week on SyFy (the science fiction channel, if you have cable) there was a “Star Trek” movie marathon, and my brother decided to record the fifth movie in the franchise on our DVR, despite me telling him not to. First, I told him that, at least until “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (the second J.J. Abrams Trek film) comes out in May 2013, I have all the movies (yes, I am a total nerd) and he could borrow one if he asked me to. Then I told him what seems like a commonly accepted tv/movie trope: that every odd-numbered “Star Trek” film is dreck. (Meaning rubbish or trash.)

Well, that’s really only partially true. There is one even-numbered Trek film that is bad, and there is one odd-numbered Trek film that was considered good, despite assertions about even-numbered and odd-numbered Trek films to the contrary. But this piece is only focusing on the odd-numbered “Trek” films

We’ll start with the first one, “The Motion Picture.” The concept was good-a mysterious, powerful force is headed toward Earth, and it’s up to Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise to stop it. The problem is there’s way too much denouement in there. There are periods galore in between climaxes where literally nothing happens. Seriously, you could nod off for a little bit, get a cat nap or power nap or whatever you call it, and not miss much.

Next is “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”. This one is a bit complicated to explain, so bear with me non-Trekkies. Okay, Kirk has a pointy-eared, emotionless friend named Spock, who died in the previous film. They leave his body on some new planet after a funeral, and decide to go back to Earth. But then Kirk has to go back to said new planet because according to emotionless/pointy-eared friend’s daddy, who’s also pointy-eared and emotionless, the guy is actually alive and should be brought home immediately. Then there’s the matter of Kirk’s other friend, a cantankerous doctor who was on the receiving end of some mysticism from the emotionless/pointy-eared guy and is losing his mind. Why was it considered bad? Overly complicated summary non-withstanding, it followed what fans considered a “masterpiece”. And anything that follows a masterpiece gets compared to, and at times doesn’t measure up to the precedent.

Skipping ahead a little bit, we’re going to go to “Star Trek: Generations”. This film brought Captain Kirk together with Captain Picard from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. In the film you have a mysterious force, and a madman, who’s the equivalent of a drug addict, trying to draw in said force and destroying stuff. Picard and Kirk come together to stop him before millions of people die in a cataclysmic event. Why was it considered bad? Kirk dies by being crushed by a bridge. It seemed like a very anti-climactic way to go out, and not very many fans were happy with that one.

Then we go to “Star Trek: Insurrection”. In it, the crew of the Enterprise decides to basically bite the hand that feeds them because the people they swore allegiance to are involved in forcibly relocating a race of people, and because the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There’s action scenes, there’s humor, why is this one bad? It followed an action movie, for all intents and purposes, one that was considered one of the best “Trek” films. The action scenes tried to outdo the scenes in its predecessor, yet failed. That’s why.

Now we skip back to the absolute worst of the worst, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”. This one is even more complicated to explain. There’s a guy who’s pointy-eared, yet emotional and kind of a zealot, and he sets up a ruse to get the Enterprise to pick him up, just so he can take over the ship with his psychology-laden mysticism and travel to a planet where God supposedly lives. But there’s also campfires, and mountain-climbing, and people talking about their feelings, awwwwww. Gag me with a spoon. The direction of most of the actors in the film, save for the core characters, is atrocious. Any attempts at a climax instantly fall flat, as do attempts at humor. Plus the notion of (insert any Trek captain here) matching wits with (insert any powerful being here) has been done umpteen times throughout the five shows that it kinda gets old.

Now we go to the wrench in the entire mix; the 2009 reboot, simply called “Star Trek”, directed by J.J. Abrams. This one has just about everything. It’s got the boy who never grew up with a father, it’s got the genocidal maniac, it’s got plot holes that are easy to disregard, it’s got bar fights, it’s got green-skinned women. The writing is good. Yet it has lens flares in abundance. Seriously, it has a lens flare like every two seconds. I, personally, and critics actually enjoyed this one despite longtime fans saying that Abrams basically raped the franchise. (I disagree. You want real franchise rape? Just watch the latest versions of “Star Wars”, or “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

See not all odd-numbered “Treks” are bad, per se. They start out well, they have a good premise, but then something breaks down. A damaging flaw shows up, someone’s basically calling it in, every idea was blown out too early, the writing sucks-whatever. Something happened that made a movie good, and something happened that made it one of the worst blights in cinema or a franchise history, it’s as simple as that.

And sorry to any “Star Trek” fans, but next week we’re gonna praise/rip in to the even-numbered ones. And sorry to the non-fans, but you may have to bear with me again here. More serious topics will be coming soon.

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