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I finished watching Star Trek: The Original Series and--oof, that third season. So I decided to started watching the movies, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Which should really be called Star Trek: Look! We Have a Budget.

That movie is so bad, in such a Star Trek way. It has more special effects shots than Star Wars. And yet the only shots fired in the entire thing are in the very beginning, and we watch them blip into nothingness. The plot doesn't show up for an hour. There is more than ten minutes of watching Kirk's shuttle approach the Enterprise. There's a transporter accident with no plot bearing. They pierce the warp bubble, leading to fifteen to twenty minutes of slowed down images and distorted sound--again with no plot bearing. I decided at a certain point that this wasn't so much a movie as something like the Pink Floyd laser light show I saw at the Planetarium last year. Just swelling symphonic music and wooshy visual effects.

And because it's Star Trek, at the end, they talk their way through the problem.

I can see more redeeming value in it now, having seen the series and caring about the characters, but that's a bad movie right there. Even worse when I looked at the wikipedia page and discovered it cost $46 million, largely because all those plot stultifying special effects had to be done last minute and at great expense. It was so late getting through post that there was no time for a test screening, so they never got feedback that they might want to tighten up the pacing a bit.

Next up Wrath of Khan, which I already know I love. Only one of the films I haven't seen is five, but I watched all the other ones without any attachment to or knowledge of the characters, so it'll be interesting to see them again.
ivyfic: (Default)
I am on a Star Trek kick, which means not only am I watching the original series for the first time (I’ve made attempts in the past but never got very far—the first episode I ever saw was Spock’s Brain; can you blame me?), I am reading some of the tie-ins, particularly the old skool ones from the seventies and eighties. I figured with the hundreds of novels written, there must be like five that are excellent.


Spock’s World
Premise: Vulcan is holding a vote to secede from the Federation.
Review )

Planet Judgment
Premise: Standard Enterprise encounters an anomalous planet/red shirts die type of plot.
Review )

I’m now reading Spock Must Die, another 100-pager from the early days. Here are a few things I’m amused by:

- All these authors are obsessed with Spock’s sexuality. Obsessed. They are constantly trying to psychoanalyze why he’s so hot and why Christine Chapel is all over him. They seem to agree, though, they he’s celibate except for every seven years (thus taking the opposite tack of fandom).
- They all introduce Uhura as “the Bantu woman.” I was confused by this until I realized oooooh. She’s black. They’re trying to say “she’s the black one” without actually having to say it.
- Some of them actually explain things like Vulcan is the planet Spock is from and things like that, with the assumption that though you are reading this book, you have not seen the show.
- Spock’s World went out of its way to talk (at excruciating length) about the number of non-human and non-humanoid crewmembers. Planet Judgment explicitly says there are only six non-humans on the Enterprise. Given that in the show, Spock’s the only non-human on the crew, I find these different interpretations interesting.
- The early books have footnotes. For real. Any time they refer to the events of an episode, there is a little footnote telling you what episode it’s from, and what compilation the novelization of that episode can be found. This makes me profoundly sad for fans in the days before VCRs.
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I rewatched Star Trek: Nemesis. Paramount must have just signed a new deal with Netflix, cause the Next Gen Trek films have been completely unavailable for a couple of years, but are now back, so I seized my opportunity. I've been meaning to rewatch it for a while cause, well, Tom Hardy.

No, I'm not spoiler cutting this. It's too old for a spoiler cut.

Keep in mind with this movie:
1 - I've only seen it once before, in theaters.
2 - I genuinely liked it the first time. I really did. I definitely thought it had problems, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. Probably just cause I liked seeing my TNG peeps again. And I liked the costumes and the music.
3 - Though I've only seen it once, the soundtrack was one of my staples for a couple of years, so I know it note by note. Which gives this weird dissonance, rewatching it, cause I'd entirely forgotten large portions of the film, but I knew exactly what was coming cause I knew the music.
4 - Also, this is really embarrassing, but I was absolutely convinced that the actor who played Shin Zon was Asian. I can't even say why. I blame it on the lighting. (That actor is, of course, Tom Hardy, so...this is why I never attempt to identify peoples' ethnicity, cause clearly I'm like that guy in the elevator who asked me if I was Japanese and then didn't believe me when I said I wasn't.)

What I was most bothered by, the first time I saw it, was the blatant, enormous, entirely unnecessary retconning of the universe. We have decades worth of Trek canon, hundreds of hours of the show, but no, we're going to invent Remus! The planet that Romulus has always been in conflict with that no one's ever mentioned before. And a whole new type of radiation no one's heard of before! (Cause christ, there just aren't enough technobabble types of radiation in this universe already.) And Data has YET ANOTHER twin brother android we've never encountered before! (Where did Shin Zon find it? Who cares!) And Picard has ANOTHER extremely rare genetic disorder that's never been mentioned before! Speaking of, the thing that bothered me the MOST on my initial viewing, was that we'd seen a young Picard before--in "Rascals"--and he had hair, and looked nothing like Tom Hardy. I wouldn't have minded this contradiction, since there's the whole hand wavy, my nose and jaw have been broken a lot, I look different, thing, except that Picard PULLS OUT A PHOTOGRAPH from the Academy days that shows young him is Tom Hardy, bald and all.

On second viewing, I'm forced to admit that this movie is pretty shit.

Problem one - It thinks it's an action film. Reboots aside, Trek is not an action franchise. TNG was not an action show. And these actors? Not action stars. They were also kind of long in the tooth at that point to do anything but tongue in cheek action. But this movie is full of long, loving shots of dune buggies driving around, throwing up plumes of dirt, and firefights, and flying a fighter through the corridors of a space ship cause exciting! It's really...not good. I mean, more than half of the screen time is spent on action, using a cast of actors whose primary experience acting "action" was sitting in chairs while the camera shook and the props guys threw crap at them.

Problem two - The plot holes, they are legion. Why do those people on the random planet with B4 start shooting at them? Where the hell did Shin Zon find B4? (Shin Zon's entire plan sucks, btw. Lure the Enterprise to the neutral zone with the hopes that they'll pick up the signal from one android on a planet half the galazy away...) Why, if Shin Zon needs Picard alive in order to heal himself would his crew IMMEDIATELY start shooting at him when he escapes? Why, if Shin Zon NEEDS PICARD TO LIVE, does he waste so much time dicking around talking to him instead of strapping him down and taking his blood first thing? Why does Shin Zon suddenly have the capability of holographically projecting himself into Picard's ready room to talk to him? (This one is so egregious, they even have a line of dialogue about it: "Don't look for my holographic projectors; you won't find them." So...how did Shin Zon get holographic projectors into Picard's ready room in the zero times he or any of his crew have been there?) Why, seriously, why is there a mind rape of Troi scene? That serves no plot purpose at all. It doesn't even serve a character purpose. And it's really painful to watch. Why does the doomsday weapon take seven whole minutes to warm up? That seems like a terrible design. (Just--stay there! I'm going to kill you! In...five minutes! Don't move!)

But for all that, the core of this movie is still a Star Trek idea. I mean, it opens in a senate chamber. You can't get more Star Trek than that. And the idea itself, though so clumsily handled, is an intriguing one. I totally buy that the Romulans would create a clone to try to infiltrate Starfleet, then there's a regime change and that program gets iced. But there was so much more they could do with it. Presumably Shin Zon would have been taught all about Picard's life, if he was meant to replace him. Instead of being a mustache twirler, he could have been a conflicted mess of envy and anger about Picard--wanting to be him and destroy him. And you could have had some truly interesting tactical battles between them, since Picard is supposed to be a brilliant strategist. They tell us Shin Zon is one, too, but we don't see it. There's a real missed opportunity to see him out think Picard, and vice versa. For both of them, thinking that they know and could anticipate the other could be a real disadvantage. I mean, even in the ludicrous fistfight they get into in the film (that old Picard only credibly wins cause Shin Zon is on death's door), Shin Zon was raised a lot rougher than Picard. He should have much better fighting skills. It's all a waste.

Instead it's a lot of "I am your mirror" nonsense. And let's not forget the final FU to the concept the movie is trying to get across, that experience and choice make identity, not anything else: Data has a whole speech about how he is a different person than B4, despite their similar construction. But then, at the end, when B4 starts singing "Blue Skies," we are meant to think that Data is living on through him. Which just entirely blows up the "different person" idea. I mean, it's not exactly a happy ending if Data reasserted himself in B4 and eradicated the other android's identity.

Oh, to the Data thing, in the theater the first time I figured out early on we were doing Wrath of Khan, so knew Data was going to bite it. I wasn't surprised by that. And the only reason I think we didn't get the "Data miraculously lives on through his memories implanted in B4" storyline is that we didn't get another movie.

Also, J.J. Abrams totally stole the intership space jump from this movie. Only in this movie, you jump cut from taking off to landing and don't spend enough time for me to run from the theater to the bathroom and get back with them dodging around obstacles (yes, that's how long it is in Into Darkness).
ivyfic: (atlantis vex)
I am continuing with my very flawed project of watching all of Star Trek. The fact that Voyager can have an episode in season three where two characters discuss how wonderful it is to be on Voyager and how they feel very fortunate to be there means that THEY HAVE JETTISONED ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY BE INTERESTING ABOUT THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW.

It's rather like people on Battlestar: Galactica treating it like summercamp. You are stranded so far from home you will probably never get back in hostile territory where you have no support system, no way to replace anything that breaks, and no reenforcements to call on. You will most likely die on some backwater planet and no one back home will ever know what happened to you. Yeah. Sounds like a FANTASTIC time.

(What other show treated a similar set-up like it was summercamp? Oh, right. Stargate: Atlantis.)
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I rewatched Star Trek: Generations last night. It is, on reflection, a much crappier movie than I remember.

- The pacing is ridiculous. Two whole minutes of the Enterprise crashing? And then a time loop so we get to see it again? Minutes of Kirk riding a horse while music swells? Just--compare this to the most recent Star Trek, which I'm not saying is great cinema, and I think if Generations had the same editor it would be a half an hour long.

- Totally gratuitous bad CGI. Like weirdly stretching Data's face. The fuck?

- What the hell is up with the lighting? It's like they said this is a movie! Not a TV show! It must look like a Parisian disco!

- Old! Men! Fighting! And in case we didn't get enough of not-an-action-captain!Picard, he comes back with used-to-be-an-action-captain-several-decades-ago!Kirk.

- Where'd the women go? It's one of the things I liked most about the show, the presence of strong, professional women (insert joke about Troi here). Troi gets...two scenes? Guinan gets to be exposition fountain/magical negro? And Crusher gets...I'm sorry, was she in this film?

- Cliches! Everywhere! It's like one of those splatter paintings where they just squirted a bunch of cliches at the canvas and then painted over it with a heavy layer of THIS IS OUR THEME. HAVE YOU NOTICED OUR THEME YET? IT'S TIME. THE MOVIE IS ABOUT TIME. AND GENERATIONS, BUT MOSTLY TIME. IT'S THE FIRE IN WHICH WE BURN, DID WE TELL YOU? Seriously, who calls their friend over to say something like "I rather think of time as a companion, reminding us to cherish each moment because it will never come again"?

What really gets me, though, is the entire Data storyline hits my embarrassment squick so hard. I could barely watch it, and I've seen it before.

Malcolm McDowell's the only thing that makes the film interesting. He can deliver a line like "I have a date with eternity and I don't want to be late" and still make it sound cool. ...and I guess Patrick Stewart is okay, too.
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Sometime late last night I watched the ST:Voyager episode "Tuvix." Seriously? Who the fuck pitched that? And who thought it was a good idea? Tuvok and Neelix get merged in a transporter because they were holding orchids? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH VOYAGER'S WRITERS???? This shit must stop.
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Things wot have been annoying me about Star Trek (specifically of the Voyager flavor, but two of these apply to all of the series):

- B'Elanna Torres's hair. It's like this poofy fake helmet thing stuck on her head. It looks ridiculous. The only way I can tolerate it at all is by convincing myself that it's part of Torres's deeply imbedded self-hatred of her Klingon half that she forces her hair into mannequin-head. But mostly I can't look at the screen while it's on.

- Any episode that has the line "his DNA is rewriting itself!" is a piece of shit. I'm sorry, it is. No good has ever come of such a premise on any sci fi show. Especially when you're trying to convince me that the person is evolving millennia into the future which, aside from making crap tv, completely ignores the fact that evolution is an interaction of organism and environment. It's not a road we're on that we can just skip ahead a few exits.

- Technobabble. Oh god, the technobabble. Stop it stop it stop it! Have you ever noticed how many minutes of your average Trek episode is taken up being meaningless drivel delivered as if it had meaning? I've started looking at those scenes and thinking, you think you're forwarding plot, but you're not, really. You're just filling air. Technobabble can be used for plot. But it is not plot in itself, a lesson the writers clearly did not learn.

- Kes. It bears repeating.
ivyfic: (atlantis vex)
I take back every nice thing I thought about Voyager in season one. Season two is terrible. The Kes-Neelix-Paris love triangle is excruciating (not to mention mind-boggling and completely illogical). And there have been two (TWO!) baby episodes so far and I'm only eight episodes in! MAKE IT STOP.
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I am taking the afternoon off after getting the last of my cavities filled. So I am watching Voyager. I am just as blah about the pilot as I was when it first aired. The Doctor amuses me (of course), and the Maquis-Federation conflict might remain interesting (or not).

But if you designed a character specifically to annoy me, it would be Kess. From the emo short life span to the wisdom beyond her years to the maternal insight to the uncharted mental powers to the hair--she is maximally annoying.

We are Hugh

Aug. 3rd, 2009 06:05 pm
ivyfic: (sga geneva)
I just finished rewatching season five of TNG, which means watching the episode "I, Borg." As I was watching it, I was thinking--this is what SGA is missing. An episode like this, where everyone has to address their prejudices and think long and hard about their kneejerk hatred of the enemy, despite what that enemy has done. It's a fantastic episode of learning to hate the war, not the soldier.

SGA came close a few times, with Todd and with Michael. But each time, as you got to that place of understanding, where the Atlanteans had to look at this one wraith as an individual, both wraiths reverted to mustache-twirling villainy, freeing the Lanteans of the responsibility of having to reevaluate their view of the wraith as a whole.

I was particularly struck by how, in "I, Borg," as soon as the possibility is raised of planting a computer virus in Hugh that he would bring back to his race to destroy them, people immediately voice ethical objections, particularly Dr. Crusher. When similar suggestions were made on SGA, with respect to the replicators or the wraith, everyone just went great--do it. That means that not only did SGA lack a certain moral depth, but it lacked drama. What on TNG was a serious ethical struggle and source of conflict between the characters, on SGA was just a bit of technobabble.

(Also, the actor playing Hugh? OMG adorable. They have an interview in the special features with him from 2002 in which he still looks barely twenty.)
ivyfic: (torchwood robin hood)
So, I've been contemplating fic ideas I have for both Star Trek and Torchwood, and I realize that...they're the same damn stories. Both are about one character who wants a relationship, and another who doesn't understand why promiscuity could be a problem.

And then I realized...

Captain Jack/Captain Kirk

Why have I not seen this yet? It seems inevitable.


Jun. 27th, 2009 02:47 pm
ivyfic: (Default)
I just watched Star Trek III for the first time. Wow. For a movie with such an angsty premise, it sure is about a lot of shit blowing up. Also, spoiler )
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Dear Star Trek fandom:

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, when forming the possessive, add 's after "most proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z, in both their singular and plural forms, as well as letters and numbers." The exceptions to this are nouns plural in form but singular in meaning (like economics or species), words and names with an unpronounced final "s" (like Descartes) and names of two or more syllables that ends in an "eez" sound (like Euripides or Ganges).

That means that it is Bones's. Bones' is not CMS, but is probably an acceptable alternate style. Bone's is right out, unless you are referring to the small white cartoon character.

ivyfic: (Default)
Here's an interview from 1976 with DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. It's long, but quite interesting.

Highlights include Koenig bitching about the fans and Harlan Ellison coming on, calling the show [censored], and thoroughly annoying Doohan. Kelley also makes a joke about how in the movie, they should go into space and find God and everyone laughs. Oh, if only...

Star Trek!

May. 8th, 2009 11:51 pm
ivyfic: (Default)
OMG Star Trek.

My takeaway from this movie )

I can haz TV show now? No, really. Can they make this into a TV show? I’d watch it. And it would be a whole lot better than Enterprise, which spoiler )
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I have slogged my way through season one of ST:TNG. Star Trek, why must you do this to me! But I have made it to season two! Hurrah!

The importance of Ten Forward )

Thank goodness. I was beginning to fear my love of TNG was entirely based on being too young when I saw it to have good taste.
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I am watching "Encounter at Farpoint." Holy crap this is awful. I know they're trying to set up a lot of things, but Jesus. It's like one of those awful B-movies on Sci Fi (sorry, "Syfy"). All they need is a Mansquito.

Best moments:

Picard to Riker in their first manly conversation: One final thing. A special favor...I would appreciate it if you would keep me from making an ass of myself with children.
The look on Riker's face...

Data, on the alien starship: Sorry, sir. I seem to be commenting on everything.
Yes, Data. Yes you are.

I don't know why people get so upset about the pilot for Enterprise. If you're just comparing pilots, none of the series fair very well.


ivyfic: (Default)

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