starlady: That's Captain Pointy-Eared Bastard to you. (out of the chair)
[personal profile] starlady
I recently rewatched both these movies, which general consensus seems to regard as the joint pinnacle of Trek on the silver screen. After watching TWoK I'm personally wondering whether The Undiscovered Country might not be the best classic Trek movie, but I'll have to withhold judgment on that score until I get to it.

I've excoriated Star Trek XI for pasting Trek onto the frame of a generic scifi movie, but one thing that's clear to me after watching these two movies is that this is actually an old Trek tradition: First Contact in particular is a well-executed marriage of Trekkiness (holodecks, quoting literature, etc) with a scifi action flick, and it works pretty well. TWoK is also more than glancingly similar to other scifi movies of the 80s (particularly, in some respects, Dune and Alien). In some ways this makes me appreciate more what most people hate about Star Trek I, which is that "nothing happens." This isn't quite true; there's just very little action per se in that movie: the only time the Enterprise discharges its weaponry is at an asteroid, in the middle of the film. Granted that movie had horrible pacing and a thin plot, but I think in some ways its determined non-violence is more a part of Trek than the shoot-em-'up ethos of later films (particularly the new movie. Not that the whole "Resident Romulan" sequence at the end wasn't shot pretty cool, because it was).

Anyway, The Wrath of Khan.
  1. I like Saavik. It amuses me how Kirk in particular doesn't quite seem to know what to make of her at the beginning, and that she, of all people, is shown to be right when Kirk is wrong on the very bridge of the Enterprise. Not sure I can buy the fanon development in which she and Spock marry after Kirk is lost in space--she has a lot of growing up to do, but she's doing it even in this movie, certainly.
  2. Holy return of the repressed, Batman! Obviously Kirk's midlife crisis being punctuated by the return of Khan--and Khan threatening Kirk's old flame and their son--is just so psychodramatic. That's part of what makes it brilliant, of course, but yeah, talk about overdetermination (the Genesis Project is part of this overdetermination too, though in a subordinate fashion).
  3. Being that this is an 80s scifi movie, I knew as soon as he showed up on screen that the black captain was doomed. I can't decide whether it's better or worse that he shot himself out of duty rather than being done in by some alien. Probably better, but not by much. Sidenote: In what possible interpretation of regulations is it a good idea for a ship's captain and first officer to beam down alone into unknown circumstances? And is that former transporter tech Kyle I see among the Reliant's bridge crew? Good for him.
  4. Dear Star Trek: enough with the alien slug torture already. There's got to be other ways to violate the Eighth Amendment. It's a big galaxy.
  5. It's amusing how promotions in Starfleet are kind of like a yo-yo. Chekov goes from XO of his own starship back to Enterprise's tactical officer; Kirk throughout the first four movies describes a parabola between desk jockey admiral and starship captain; Worf goes from being Ambassador to the Klingon Empire back to being tactical officer (and possibly XO?) of the Enterprise-E, if I'm reading Memory Alpha's summary of Nemesis correctly.
  6. Kirk/Spock/McCoy. Augh. They are so cute. OT3! I find it particularly amusing that Spock and McCoy both give Kirk the exact same advice in their completely different ways. Also, I hadn't realized that "Are you out of your Vulcan mind!?" in the new movie was an homage to McCoy saying that in this one. One definitely has the sense that when they argue both Spock and McCoy are going through the motions of their old ways of behaviour despite their underlying sentiments having changed; McCoy in particular strikes me as too ornery to change how he acts, particularly when he can take his agitation about Genesis out on Spock so easily. Of course in the end Spock gets the last word. Also, Kirk's reading glasses are cute. Apparently there's no Lasik in the twenty-third century.
  7. Khan is awesome, in a megalomaniacal way. Ricardo Montalban, ladies and gentlemen.
  8. Oh, Spock. When Kirk comes down to the engine room after the detonation of the Genesis device, and Spock tugs his uniform straight before turning around to face Kirk--heartbreaking. It's clear by the end of the first movie that Spock has (finally) resolved the inner anguish about his liminal position that was laid bare in "The Naked Time" (and which, one suspects, led him to Kohlinahr in the first place), and for him to die now is particularly sad. I teared up at the funeral scene; I defy people not to.

First Contact.
  1. Damn, the Enterprise-E is beautiful. Hey look, it's the Defiant! I ♥ the Defiant. If I could have one Star Trek wish, it would be for a Deep Space Nine movie, with lots of Defiant goodness. Sigh.
  2. I love the new uniforms in this movie almost as much as I actually dislike the "new" red uniforms in TWoK, though at least Starfleet stuck with those consistently for the next 80 years after that movie's events. Relatedly, Troi and Crusher's new hairstyles kick ass, and Geordi's prosthetic eyes are pretty damn awesome--though I could see someone making an argument that they reinforce ableism, if I understand ableism correctly.
  3. This is really just a good movie. Everyone gets some good lines and has a part to play that fits their characters--the briefing room scene in the beginning is a microcosm of this, but it happens throughout the movie. Troi getting drunk in the bar with Cochrane is hilarious, incidentally.
  4. Voyager hat-tips! The Doctor and Crusher both channel different aspects of McCoy, and the maitre d' in the holodeck sequence is Ethan Philips, who of course played Neelix.
  5. Dear Starfleet, I have two words for you: flechette guns. Seriously, what is with the exclusive use of phasers against an enemy who can withstand phasers? A couple thousand high-velocity pulser darts would mess the Borg's organic components up but good. Relatedly, why is Worf the only person who can fight with a bladed weapon and/or hand-to-hand? Doesn't Starfleet train its people at all? Come on now.
  6. I ♥ Zefram Cochrane, and not just because he likes trains better than planes, and because he said "star trek" (though he does, and he did). He (and Lilly too) really provide a sort of reality check that punctures the earnestness with which the Starfleeters conduct themselves, all unknowing, and their reaction to the future crew nicely hightens the emotional stakes of Cochrane's warp flight.
  7. In a way, this movie is Picard's return of the repressed, though I think Picard has given a lot more thought to the Borg in the interim than Kirk did to Khan (speaking of which: fifteen years between "Space Seed" and TWoK? there are at least six years in there that are completely unaccounted for in canon. must watch TAS). Lily, Moby Dick, and the enlightened 23rd C/unenlightened 21st C (false) dichotomy all fit into the Picard/Borg drama quite well.
  8. I rewatched "The Best of Both Worlds" completely at random the other day, and the events of that episode lend a particular poignancy to the Picard/Borg/Data drama that plays out in this movie. The Borg Queen on the one hand lends a predictable psychosexual dynamic to the whole thing, but on the other her attempted cooption of Data is fascinating. Spock and Data quite obviously are playing roughly the same role in their respective series, but it's interesting how Spock's struggles are mostly internal(ized), while Data's are external--he internalizes their import only after a rather long interval, which is the opposite of what Spock does.
  9. Plenty of letters left in the alphabet. Did you hear the man, Paramount? Plenty of letters left in the alphabet.

I have to excise the Star Trek brainworm posthaste. I think the only way to do this is to watch more faster. Argh.
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