Thoughts on Star Trek

Published on July 29, 2009

[I originally tweeted some of the following thoughts, but decided a blog post would be a better place to share them, hence the disappearance of said tweets.]

I’ve recently been going through the original Star Trek movies (with William Shatner, et al). Prior to watching the films, I started with the first season of the original series, which is available instantly on Netflix. Sure it’s dated, but I think the original show is terrific. There are a number of interesting moral dilemmas which occur through various episodes, and often some interesting conclusions to said problems. After watching the first season (I actually have one episode left, as of this writing), I started watching the films. Here are some thoughts on the ones I’ve seen so far.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The premise of this movie is fantastic (an ancient man-made machine becomes self aware). Sadly, the film’s execution of the story falls flat. I guess you have to start somewhere though. 3 stars.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The 22nd episode of the first season of Star Trek introduces Khan, a super-human who escapes 20th century Earth with a number of criminals. Kirk and company find him and his compatriots frozen in space in a spaceship named Botany Bay. I won’t spoil the ending of that episode, but this movie essentially picks up that story line 15 years later. Things have taken a turn for the worse for Khan, and he’s out for revenge. Ricardo Montalban is outstanding as Khan, and the movie plays out in dramatic fashion. I gave this movie 4 stars at Netflix, but it probably merits more like 4.5. Outstanding science fiction.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
I enjoyed this movie, though it’s nowhere near as gripping as the second. The story was enjoyable, and you’ve got to love Christopher Lloyd as the Klingon commander. 3 stars (3.49 in my book, not quite enough to round to 4).
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Like the first movie, this film has a terrific premise. A strange probe shows up on Earth, draining all power sources as it orbits overhead, and begins evaporating the oceans. Mankind presumes the probe is trying to communicate with humans; turns out it’s trying to contact another species on Earth. Again, like the first movie, the execution here falls a little flat. It quickly turns into a fish-out-of-water movie similar to Crocodile Dundee, another film from 1986 (and a movie I absolutely adore; one of my favorite movies ever, strange as that may be). The comedic undertones are enjoyable, but water down the admittedly pro-environmentalist plot. 3 stars.

I have two more films to go: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I’m looking forward to both. I’ll probably tweet my thoughts on those two, once I’ve seen them.

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