Tag: DeForest Kelley

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

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Apparently, not everyone appreciated the feather light touch of subtly and nuance brought to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by director and co-story originator, William Shatner.   According to my crack research team at Wikipedia it was, “a critical and financial failure”.  So a lot of hope was put on the last outing for the original crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  And while it managed to bounce back financially and critically compared to Frontier, I found it a real let down.

Frontier was a bit of a mess, but it was attempting something big.  So at least it was an interesting mess.  Undiscovered Country however, just looks like a tired franchise, out of ideas, trying to finish on an, if not remarkable, at least respectable note.  I felt like I’d heard all these notes before.  An uneasy truce between the Federation and Klingons that not everyone on either side fully aggress with…  Didn’t we see that in The Search for Spock?  An original member of the Enterprise working on another ship that plays an important part in the instigating the action…  Chekov in Kahn, Sulu in Undiscovered Country.  The aging Enterprise and its also aging crew being the only option to save the world through overly convoluted exposition…  That seems to be the starting point for every movie in this franchise.

This outing felt like the biggest slog to get through in the series.  Maybe it fell victim to me mainlining six Trek movies in three days, or maybe it’s just not very good.   The deus ex machina moon destruction that gets the story rolling…  The mystery surrounding the shots fired seemingly by the Enterprise…  The laboured portrayal of Kirk’s hatred for Klingon’s (based on the half assed relationship unsuccessfully established in Kahn and Spock)…  The message of tolerance gently shoved down the audience’s throat like a ball gag…  It all just felt too much of the same old, same old I’d seen over the course of the other movies.  And ultimately, watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country felt like work.  Hard work.

By bringing back Kahn director (and writer of a butt load of Trek in various forms) Nicolas Meyer, I’m sure everyone was hoping to recapture some of whatever it was that made Star Trek II the enduring highpoint with fans and critics.  But to me, it just didn’t work.  But there is one major upside to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  According to my afore mentioned crack research team, the 71 year old Deforest Kelley who played “Bones” McCoy, “ was paid US$1 million for the role, assuring a comfortable retirement for the veteran actor.”  So, there’s that.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Directed By – Nicolas Meyer
Written By – Nicolas Meyer, Denny Martin Finn

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TREK WEEK*** Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

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When JJ Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, the reviews were generally pretty great.  I didn’t see the new JJ Abrams joint at the time, or his previous stab at the series that has since turned out to be a hugely successful reboot.  I’ve never seen a second of any of the TV iterations of Trek.  In fact, until now, my entire experience with Gene Rodenberry’s creation consisted of seeing bits and pieces of “the Shatner one with whales” and “the Patrick Stewart one where they go back in time”.  But all the positive buzz for Into Darkness made me actually want to watch a Star Trek movie for the first time, ever.  It also made me feel some sort of responsibility to earn watching Into Darkness by doing a little groundwork with the franchise.  Starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Having no allegiance to the show that came before, is it wrong to categorise this thing as terrible right out of the gate?  For people who did like the original series, was this a bump up in special effects and production values?  At first, I thought I just needed to stop watching it with 2013 eyes.  Maybe the wonky plastic models, overly conspicuous green screen and all but visible fishing line was cutting edge in 1979.  Then I realised, Star Wars came out in 1977.  Sure, Lucas’ film has the odd rough edge and dodgy effect, but it’s smoother than Capt. Picard’s head compared to Trek: The Motion Picture.  Not only did Star Wars do that two years earlier, it did it with a budget of $4million less than Trek.

Enough has been said about (and enough clichéd impressions have been based on) Shatner’s over acting, but I actually found it one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie.  I can let a lot slide in terms of bad dialogue, cheap sets and clichéd stories if the actors look like they’re really enjoying it.  Shatner goes so hard, I assume he’s still picking the scenery out of his teeth almost 35 years later.  And the chemistry between his Capt. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy’s Mr Spock and DeForest Kelley’s Dr “Bones” McCoy is undeniable.  It’s not often you get a love triangle between three straight men, but now I know why these three characters are so iconic.

As for the story, well, they go after some mystical cloud, all the regular’s get to spout their catch phrase at some stage or another, a bald chick talks like a robot who can’t act and the dad from 7th Heaven dies at the end to save the galaxy.  I would give a spoiler alert for that, but if you don’t predict his death the first time he appears on screen, you’ve never seen a movie before.  But you know what, none of that is necessarily a bad thing.  I didn’t expect a great story or great acting, or great film making, or great special effects or anything greatly thought provoking.  I just expected dumb, kitsch fun and this move kind of delivered.  Kind of fun, kind of terrible, kind of delivered…  “Kind of” kind of sums it up, really.

The possible problem moving forward is that the next title in the series, The Wrath of Kahn, comes with a pretty solid reputation, so my expectations are already a little higher.  It was hard for Star Trek: The Motion Picture to disappoint when I expected zero going in.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Directed By – Robert Wise
Written By – Harold Livingstone