Beyond Ridiculous

Furious Directing

The director of a film has a huge impact on how the story is told. Justin Lin is an excellent example of this. He brings his perspective from the highly varied films Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This Star Trek films contains no shortage of fast and furious flythroughs.

Mr Skolnick From the original films, three directors really stand out: Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy and Jonathan Frakes. Meyer directed Star Trek II: Montalban’s Revenge and Star Trek VI: Soviet Klingons. Nimoy directed Star Trek III: The Search For Narcissism and Star Trek IV: Time Travelling Whales. Frakes directed Star Trek IX: Data Goes Bonkers and my personal favourite Star Trek VIII: Lewis’ Dad Goes To Space.

Apparently, William Shatner had been talked out of some of his worst ideas for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Allegedly, the story was originally focused on Greek gods and was basically a movie remake of Who Mourns for Adonais?

It is a bit surprising that Simon Pegg didn’t bring on Edgar Wright to direct this movie. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Ant-Man are all fun action-packed films.

RabbitEarsWe Got It All On VHF

It wasn’t too long ago that people expected television to be free, broadcast over the Very High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency bandwidths. The antenna or rabbit ears would pick up the television signals over the airwaves. Local stations were the strongest, with London’s CFPL and CBC coming through strongest, and other channels from Toronto like CityTV and CTV were sporadic. In good weather, I could pick up some American stations like amazing WOIO in Shaker Heights, Ohio. For awhile, the sportscaster did a two hour weekly Star Trek: TNG marathon with trivia. Amazing!

When I think about the Very High Frequency, I think about CityTV’s Late Great Movies. I think about selecting between a small handful of channels using a series of dials. I think about the episode of Lavern and Shirley where they were holding a tinfoil loop around the room to get a reception. Most of all, I think about a stupid looking pair of rabbit ears. I sure as hell don’t think of a secret weapon to destroy a superior enemy.

Wil Wheaton, the actor/writer who played Wesley Crusher, summed this part up well. I like the Beastie Boys but that was just dumb and beyond lazy. It is science fiction, you can make up pretty much anything you like.

Cast Involvement

If the anecdotes I’ve read are accurate, William Shatner was notorious for taking lines and roles away from other actors and this lead them nicknaming him “Captain Jerk”. Originally, the scripts involved the crew on a more equal footing and this is pretty evident with the approach that Roddenberry took with The Next Generation. So, this was a step in the right direction.

Boldly Go To Sleep

Two of the three people I saw the movie with fell asleep during the movie. The third felt nauseous from the constant motion.

Another Missed Opportunity

Like the two movies before it, this one misses all sorts of excellent opportunities for social commentary. Sci-fi allows a current technological or social dilemma to be examined in a far-off future. Star Trek hasn’t been very consistent with it but it has definitely been a theme over the past fifty years.

The best example of this in the Star Trek movie franchise is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The story is about the collapse of the USSR and Americans’ struggle to reconcile decades of hatred and mistrust. It was a little less obvious than “Save The Whales” in Star Trek IV or “kill the whale” in Star Trek VIII.

Let’s consider though that all of Star Trek has started over. Captain Thor is killed by a Romulan tattoo cult. Vulcan implodes and GenX stereotype Winona Ryder is somehow Spock’s mom. Nowhere Man Pike manages to not end up a vegetable. It’s a different universe with new opportunities, I get it.

The first reboot film does a decent enough job establishing characters and their emerging friendships. Friendship was a prominent theme throughout Star Trek, and that was a fair enough start to the reboot. I don’t agree with every decision and lens flare but this was a fun watchable movie that I have enjoyed many times. Where the reboot franchise starts to unravel is with the second film.

In Star Trek: Into Darkness, a private military faction manipulates a culture of fear to seize power. What an excellent political topic to examine, very timely with the rise of nationalism throughout the world.  It was a story that didn’t need Khan. Cumberbatch was excellent as Alan Turing and Sherlock Holmes, but the Khan Noonien Singh and Carol Marcus characters just confused the story.

Star Trek: Beyond went further. This seems to be a story about holding onto anger and seeking revenge. It think. It seems as though it is about revenge but it is missing something very significant: we never empathize with the villain. Think of Soran from Star Trek: Generations. Malcolm McDowell is exceptionally ruthless, dishonest, murderous yet the depth of his character forgives a little of the old ultraviolence. We get no such depth from our bad guys in this film. I had much more empathy for VGER.

VGER

Ranking

Definitely better than Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I’ll need to view it again, eventually, to determine whether it is better than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I am still hopeful for the new television series. The small screen is where Star Trek achieved most of its success and there is a lot of potential for Star Trek in the future.

The Music Of Star Trek

Classical Music In Space

Since Star Trek: The Motion Picture, classical music has been at the core of Star Trek. Jerry Goldsmith created the epic music that defined most of Star Trek for decades, along with music for other movies I watch frequently like Total RecallAlien and The Burbs. Dennis McCarthy, Ron Jones, Cliff Eidelman and others have contributed and sometimes collaborated throughout the series. I purchased two soundtracks from Starland by mail order (nice to see they still exist). The work that Michael Giacchino has done with the three recent films has been excellent, particularly the opening scene in Star Trek 2009 where Captain Thor dies amid a thousand lens flares.

Ooby Dooby

Time travel provides a fun opportunity to introduce 20th century music to the people of the 23rd and 24th century. When Spock and Kirk are traveling by public transit in 1986, they encounter a punk listening to “I Hate You” by Edge of Etiquette. That Jim Kirk didn’t like loud music. I agree with the punk on this one.

Punk

Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact introduced the Vulcans to Roy Orbison, and the Enterprise-D crew to Canadian rock band Steppenwolf. He also liked dancing as though his torso was going to fall off.

Space Cowboys

“Faith Of The Heart” performed by Rod Stewart charted at number 3 in the US. Somehow, studio execs thought that qualified it to be the theme to Star Trek: Enterprise, performed by Russell Watson. Choosing a country song to represent a futuristic spacecraft wasn’t well received. If you’re binge watching, it quickly grates on your nerves. The exception was the “Mirror Mirror” alternate timeline, which had an epic intro showing the divergent human history. Thank goodness the entire series was just a dream, and not in a good way, so it doesn’t count at all.

Sledgehammer

The reboot brought Star Trek further into mainstream and it was only a matter of time before they brought on a pop megastar. This song is a bit odd because the lyrics sound like they’re about crying and relationships. At the end, Rihanna becomes VGER or something. She explained it in an interview with Vogue but it seemed pretty flaky to me. But she did tattoo her face for the video, and that shows commitment.

It’s been a long road, gettin’ from there to here. You’re just another brick and I’m a sledgehammer. Etc.

Rihanna’s video has cool effects but it doesn’t even close to the groundbreaking animation in the original “Sledgehammer” video.

Sabotage

This video is still amazing. Playing the song loud might chase a few senior citizens from room. But then, the video is 22 years old and I’m middle-aged. But I have a very very difficult time believing that the same VHF frequency that we used to all watch free television over would be capable of blowing up a superior enemy. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen outside of a Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker film.

I did, however, like how the music was referred to as “classical” in the latest movie. It always bothered me that people in the 23rd and 24th century listened mainly to either weird alien music or classical from the early 19th century. The first time “Sabotage” was used in Star Trek 2009 was a pretty cool scene, once you get past the Nokia product placement.

Warp 11

Warp 11 is what real fan music sounds like. Here is “She Make It So” from the album Boldly Go Down On Me

Beyond Rihanna

Who do you think, will it be Jay-Z next? Taylor Swift? Maybe LMFAO or PSY. Op op op op Oppa Starfleet Style. Um, no.

Boldly Going Overboard

Fascinating

When I was about twelve years old, I got hooked on Star Trek. Over the next three years or so, I absorbed all the Star Trek stuff I could find. I joined fan clubs, subscribed to zines, purchased every “special edition” magazine that was sold by the local magazine/cigar store. I built Testors models, painstakingly painting black or white windows on the Enterprise D. Thanks to a friend and his obsessed family, I attended convention. I ordered many items through the mail via catalogue. I taped every episode of TNG, which was easy because TNG was on three times a week at that point thanks to an amazing television station we could receive unless there was a storm over Lake Erie. In the centre of everything was the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek.

What will follow serves two purposes:

First, it is a photo essay and study of Star Trek culture from someone who once cared deeply about the difference between Trekker and Trekkie. It will combine writing and photos. Some items will be rare and unusual. Some will be valuable. Some may even be for sale.

Second, it is an outlet for my thoughts on Star Trek. I can’t say I’m happy with the direction that Star Trek is going. Some things are great and I’m very happy with, but there are key things about what about Star Trek that made it what it was. I’m not talking about alternate timeline stuff as much as how Star Trek approached storytelling, discussed social issues and dealt with controversial issues of the time in a futuristic context. Topics such as racial inequality, sexuality, identity politics, terrorism, fascism, drug addiction and religious cults were frequently explored.  Okay, “save the whales” wasn’t a particularly deep message but it made a pretty funny movie.

Continuing Voyages

Come on this journey as we slingshot around the sun and visit teenage Noah in the early nineties, and come back around to look at Star Trek in the present.

BTW, the photo is not from the nineties, it is from Movember.