Thursday, March 3, 2016
Top Ten List - Pre-Reboot Movies Part 1
This year, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, we fans are anxiously awaiting the third installment of J.J. Abrams successful Star Trek reboot film series. I thought that while we waited for July 22 to arrive, we should take a look back at the 10 original movies and rank them in a Top 10 list. I decided not to include the reboot movies because they are in their own category (to me at least), but I plan on discussing them after the third movie comes out and then talk about all three together.
Before I begin, I will freely admit that I actually enjoy all ten movies. Some are definitely flawed, but they all have their good points. I would be very interested in hearing what any of you have to say on the matter. Also, since I will be discussing some basic plotlines, an obvious and obligatory "SPOILER ALERT" is in order (although, to be honest, for those who are following this blog, I expect that you have already seen most if not all of these movies a few times over).
10. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Directed by William Shatner himself, this movie often lands itself at the bottom of most fan lists. The only in the franchise to get nominated for the infamous Razzies (it received 6 nominations and earned 3 dubious awards, including Worst Picture and double whammy for Shatner getting worst director and actor). For myself, I liked the premise initially, and to be honest, found many of the jokes funny. I liked the effort to make the main cast appear somewhat more human (Chekov and Sulu getting lost hiking and then trying to bluff their way out of it with Uhura), Despite this, the editing was a bit flawed. For example, when the trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are shooting up the turbolift, the numbers of the levels they pass are out of order. That sort of sloppy work is going to hurt the product. There were also a fair number of cringe-worthy moments (Uhura's fan dance, Kirk fighting a cat-lady, and how quickly the crew fell to Sybok's influence). There were points that I liked, but I get why it is usually hated by fans, so this one was easy for me to place in last place.
9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The film that started it all is a grand-scale special-effects laced epic that, for its time, was revolutionary. For years fans had been hoping to get the crew back together. It was wonderful to see everyone back in action, and yet I have found that this movie to be a bit the slowest, plot-wise, of all of them. It has the well-earned nick-name of "The Motionless Picture" for a reason. It's hard for me to watch in one sitting without getting distracted, but it is definitely better than #5, and without it we likely would not have the rest of the franchise.
8. Star Trek Nemesis - The last film before the reboot, and the last official voyage of the TNG cast, Nemesis is the film where I start to drift from general consensus. Many feel that this film killed the franchise. While I agree that it was the weakest of the TNG films, in no way do I find it to be a bad movie. I loved the action and how it sent the TNG crew off on a good note. I loved the cameos of Guinan, Wes Crusher, and Janeway (though I would have preferred to have seen more to do with Wesley, like maybe some lines of dialogue), as well as a slight tip of the hat to, at the time, the only Trek on TV (one of the ships sent to assist the Enterprise was shown as the USS Archer, after Captain Johnathan Archer). Troi and Riker getting married was a perfect wrap-up to their story, as was Riker finally taking command of his own ship. Some great comedic moments (Data singing "Blue Skies"), and some surprises (Data making the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends) made it a well-rounded movie. I do not get why so many fans hated the film, but I do understand some of its flaws. First, while Tom Hardy as the clone of Picard was interesting, I found his story to be a bit underwhelming. When I think of great movie villains, you can't be a whimper. There were also some interesting scenes that were deleted that would have made the movie stronger. Finally, the director just didn't get Trek. When you hire a director for Star Trek, you need someone who gets the franchise. While Stuart Baird has an impressive resume, he just did not get what this franchise was about.
7. Star Trek Generations - The first outing of the TNG crew comes in at #7. Earlier in 1993, Picard and crew went on their last voyage for the TV series, and then jumped right into filming their first feature film. We finally get to see Kirk and Picard join forces, and we even get a look at the never-before seen Enterprise B. It was great to see Tim Russ, the future Mr. Tuvok, and having Chekov and Scotty with Kirk was a lot of fun. Some important character development for Picard (losing his brother and nephew) and Data (getting his emotion chip installed), but for the rest of the crew it was business as usual. Everyone had their moments, and we finally see the end of the Sisters of Duras. We also see the demise of two key characters, both who go down fighting. First, while not human, the Enterprise D was destroyed, likely to make room for an even bigger, better Enterprise in the rest of the movies. Second, Captain James T. Kirk himself meets his end, making a difference. I would say that while this movie is still a pretty great film, I found that the death of Kirk to be not quite fitting for such an iconic character. Originally it supposed to be Kirk getting shot in the back by Malcolm McDowell's character, Soran. When that ending was leaked, fans were furious, and the powers that be decided to change it around to keep it a surprise. I think this hurt the movie a bit. I also thought that Soran was not as strong as other villains we had seen, or would see in the future. Heck, I would put the alien whale probe ahead of Soran on the Best Villains list. Still, to see Data fully immerse himself in emotions, Worf finally get his promotion, and Picard and Kirk unite to save the day, it is a solid entry in the franchise.
6. Star Trek Insurrection - This might get me some heat for ranking it this high. It is largely considered a mediocre movie with silly humor and a boring plotline. It might be that it was on the heels of the very successful First Contact, but there were a lot of critics of this movie. I think my biggest issue for this movie was that it seemed more like an extended TV episode rather than a motion picture event. The villain, while more toothsome than Soran, is still not at the level of other greats like Kruge, Chang, and Khan. The story seems a bit uninspired, but not dull either. What I like about this movie is that it shows some of the crew a bit out of their element. I loved seeing Dr. Crusher and Troi having a bit more to do in the action department, while being able to see Riker kick butt in the Captain's chair for the first time since "Best of Both Worlds". I was also happy to see the Roker-Troi relationship get to where fans had been hoping it would go for years, see Picard find some love, and finally get to see Geordi's eyes. Granted, Worf experiencing Klingon puberty again was a bit over the top, overall it was good movie.
In Part 2 I will take on the Top 5 films.