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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old October 25 2012, 06:17 PM   #31
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

Maybe a laugh track would help.
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Old October 26 2012, 05:00 AM   #32
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

mos6507 wrote: View Post
To me, it's worst sin was how Kirk was presented with sort of a borderline personality disorder. It made sense within his character arc to give him an inner-conflict, but it was not satisfying to watch him be so uptight after years of wanting to see the band get back together.
Kirk didn't want "to see the band get back together." He "used this emergency to get the Enterprise back." That's all he wanted: to command a starship again. Sure, he drafted Bones, who promptly called him on his shit. Then he got Spock, who gave him the cold shoulder. He's perfectly in character throughout.
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Old October 27 2012, 06:39 PM   #33
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

Maurice wrote: View Post
Kirk didn't want "to see the band get back together." He "used this emergency to get the Enterprise back." That's all he wanted: to command a starship again. [...] He's perfectly in character throughout.
Sure, but that's the trouble - of course Kirk would take advantage of the emergency to regain command of the Enterprise, else there'd be no movie! That is to say, any possible screenplay for a TMP written some years after the end of the TV series would (almost by definition) have to focus on an emergency situation that gets the gang back together, with ol' Jim in command.

The problem with any of the present versions of TMP is that it's just so rote in this respect. Any mechanism, no matter how inventive and enterprising, for getting the crew back together on their starship would in retrospect seem unexciting, the "deaths" of the guest stars notwithstanding (and irrespective of whether Vulcan has a moon).
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Old October 27 2012, 06:40 PM   #34
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

Maurice wrote: View Post
mos6507 wrote: View Post
To me, it's worst sin was how Kirk was presented with sort of a borderline personality disorder. It made sense within his character arc to give him an inner-conflict, but it was not satisfying to watch him be so uptight after years of wanting to see the band get back together.
Kirk didn't want "to see the band get back together." He "used this emergency to get the Enterprise back." That's all he wanted: to command a starship again. Sure, he drafted Bones, who promptly called him on his shit. Then he got Spock, who gave him the cold shoulder. He's perfectly in character throughout.

perhaps, but not the character anybody wanted to see.
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Old October 28 2012, 03:31 AM   #35
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

gottacook wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
Kirk didn't want "to see the band get back together." He "used this emergency to get the Enterprise back." That's all he wanted: to command a starship again. [...] He's perfectly in character throughout.
Sure, but that's the trouble - of course Kirk would take advantage of the emergency to regain command of the Enterprise, else there'd be no movie! That is to say, any possible screenplay for a TMP written some years after the end of the TV series would (almost by definition) have to focus on an emergency situation that gets the gang back together, with ol' Jim in command.

The problem with any of the present versions of TMP is that it's just so rote in this respect. Any mechanism, no matter how inventive and enterprising, for getting the crew back together on their starship would in retrospect seem unexciting, the "deaths" of the guest stars notwithstanding (and irrespective of whether Vulcan has a moon).
Grant wrote: View Post
...perhaps, but not the character anybody wanted to see.
I simply pointed out that mos6507 was incorrect about Kirk wanting "to see the band get back together." That you both think it was the wrong dramatic decision has no bearing on whether Kirk was acting in character given the story setup.
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Old October 28 2012, 05:27 AM   #36
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

I think within the context of the themes of TMP that a cold and distant Kirk makes sense, but it was just unsatisfying for Trek fans to endure.

The scene in sickbay helps validate Kirk acting the way he did, as it was somewhat of a role-reversal. Spock arrives on the Enterprise and brushes aside the pleasantries, but in sickbay it's Spock who reaches for Kirk's hand and tells him that V'Ger does not understand the concept of love (in any form, platonic or otherwise), and Spock does, whether he chooses to embrace it or not. There's a lesson for Kirk to learn too.

That scene is remarkable because Spock openly laughs. He shows more positive emotion in that scene than Kirk does in the whole movie. This was clearly intentional.

So I think by the end, not only Spock has become a softer character, but Kirk too, symbolized by the way he winks at the end.

It's just that presenting Spock as cold and distant is in-keeping with audience expectations. Presenting Kirk as cold towards his veteran crew is not, and it's not very satisfying to see him act this way after a 10 year gap of Trek. It's maybe okay for modern audiences to see him act this way, knowing that he softens later, but that's a whole different phenomenon.

In Trek II, Kirk is suffering from the same problem he did in TMP, the lack of the Enterprise. But instead of being obnoxious to everyone around him, Kirk keeps it inward, having quiet heart-to-hearts with Bones about being over-the-hill. This approach was more satisfying. The playful side of Kirk is best typified when he gives his inspection of the Enterprise, and cuts it short with the silently lipsynced word "Later..." Kirk is disturbed by Saavik taking the Enterprise out, but does not rush forward and pull rank in order to stop it. He's just not so damn uptight and micromanagerial the way he was in TMP.

The character of Kirk evolved further by the time you get to Search for Spock. Remember the dialogue Kirk gives to the crew right before they depart? He prefaces it with "My friends..." Search for Spock is the complete opposite of TMP. It is the renunciation of ego. It's all about sacrifice for friendship, up to and including the Enterprise itself, the object of desire that Kirk fought so hard to reclaim.

If TMP had been the only Trek film, it would have been disappointing. Only within the context of them all can you rationalize it as being part of larger character arcs.

The stewards of the Trek franchise at the time, Gene and company, for whatever reason, chose not to venerate Kirk's iconic heroism in TMP, but rather chose to present him as a much more flawed and unsympathetic character than any of us would prefer to see. No matter which edit you want to watch, that flawed vision of Kirk is going to be there.
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Old October 29 2012, 01:56 AM   #37
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

Grant wrote: View Post
perhaps, but not the character anybody wanted to see.
mos6507 wrote: View Post
I think within the context of the themes of TMP that a cold and distant Kirk makes sense, but it was just unsatisfying for Trek fans to endure.
That's applying hindsight after thirty years of Trek "franchise" movies, series and other media, other science fiction successes, the changing face of Hollywood filmmaking and on and on. Not to mention thirty years of largely negative fan reaction to TMP. The world was a very different place when TMP was made. There were three seasons of the Star Trek series which you could catch in varying order depending on your local TV station. And 22 episodes of a "Saturday morning cartoon," as most people thought of it. The series episodes were all over the map, from action to drama to comedic.

The decision was made to make TMP more of a drama, more of a science fiction parable, which had been a reasonably successful approach for science fiction movies. Yes, Star Wars had been a huge success with a lot of action, but "Close Encounters" had also been a huge success as more of a character-based movie. The action-blockbuster template had not taken over Hollywood at the time, and plenty of serious dramatic films did well in the '70s.

The decision was also made to give the Kirk and Spock characters inner conflicts which may have made them seem removed from the TV version of the characters for some viewers. People may not agree with that choice, but it was a perfectly valid choice. The segment of the audience with strong opinions on how Kirk or Spock "should" act was very small, and if they were the only ones the film appealed to, it would have flopped. TMP was approached as a stand-alone feature with some big ambitions, and no one knew if there would ever be another Star Trek feature film. One can argue that the execution did not live up to those ambitions, and on may counts I agree. But to argue that there was some readily-understood quintessence of Trek in 1979, which TMP violated in some way, doesn't really apply to the context in which the filmmakers made the choices they made. And they made a film that was ultimately successful by most standards.

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Old October 29 2012, 06:33 AM   #38
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
The decision was also made to give the Kirk and Spock characters inner conflicts which may have made them seem removed from the TV version of the characters for some viewers. People may not agree with that choice, but it was a perfectly valid choice. The segment of the audience with strong opinions on how Kirk or Spock "should" act was very small, and if they were the only ones the film appealed to, it would have flopped. TMP was approached as a stand-alone feature with some big ambitions, and no one knew if there would ever be another Star Trek feature film. One can argue that the execution did not live up to those ambitions, and on may counts I agree. But to argue that there was some readily-understood quintessence of Trek in 1979, which TMP violated in some way, doesn't really apply to the context in which the filmmakers made the choices they made. And they made a film that was ultimately successful by most standards.
There's a great deal I agree with here, but I'm not sure Kirk was provided with much of an "inner conflict" to be resolved. (Spock had one, sure, but it was just a development of the same inner conflict he had on the TV series, now formalized and made into a Vulcan rite.)

In Kirk's case, moreover, the script has him simply taking over and then alternating between making bad decisions (the wormhole scene) and making none at all. For the whole last half of the film, he's really rather passive: He has nothing to do with Spock's decision to go EVA and learn the vital information about V'ger's nature, nor with Decker's decision to resolve the plot and dissipate V'ger's threat to Earth by coding the final sequence by hand. What good is a Kirk (or any starship captain) who doesn't make the key decisions?

[I remember the Trek drought of the mid-1970s very well. At one point in 1975 or so, Star Trek existed only as an anti-drug abuse radio ad featuring Kirk, Spock, and Uhura that I would hear periodically (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAwfmpt2T-g), presumably recorded during production of the animated series; there was no generally known prospect of any future Trek productions. I don't think I learned about Phase II until after it became the pre-production phase of TMP. I remember being excited about the early magazine ad with the "23rd century odyssey now" tag line (http://i31.tinypic.com/2rcx6hg.jpg) in which the writing credit was "Screenplay by Gene Roddenberry and Harold Livingston" - I've never seen an early ad for a movie that had such a drastic difference in writing credits from the released film. Has any thread here addressed this?]
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Old October 29 2012, 06:57 AM   #39
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

gottacook wrote: View Post
In Kirk's case, moreover, the script has him simply taking over and then alternating between making bad decisions (the wormhole scene) and making none at all.
Kirk rushing the Enterprise arguably led to the transporter accident.

I agree with you that Spock really is the protagonist, though, and Kirk is more of a supporting actor. Spock is the character who makes all the breakthroughs in understanding V'Ger. Everyone else just reacts to this.

The closest Kirk comes to steering the plot is his verbal sparring with the Ilia probe. Kirk merely uses the insights gained from Spock to decide how to communicate to V'Ger.

TMP really is not an ensemble movie the way Trek should be. I read a recent review of TMP not that long ago that mourned how Spock supplanted Uhura. Uhura could have figured out how to communicate with V'Ger. Uhura also could have figured out the whale-song in Trek IV. After all, she's a communication's officer, right? Shouldn't she know how to do more than merely open and close communication? Shouldn't she know something about language and data encoding and things like that?

Same with Kirk. Kirk could have been given more opportunities to show his unique leadership abilities. He certainly "cheated death" in Trek II.

The novelization of TMP supposedly goes into more back-story on Kirk's subconscious anguish over not steering a Starship and how it made him kind of an A-hole. The novelization posits that McCoy quit starfleet when Kirk accepted promotion as an act of protest. Certainly Decker's dialogue points towards Kirk's dysfunctional personality, but there's more to it in the novelization that didn't get filmed.
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Old October 30 2012, 12:49 AM   #40
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

gottacook wrote: View Post
There's a great deal I agree with here, but I'm not sure Kirk was provided with much of an "inner conflict" to be resolved. (Spock had one, sure, but it was just a development of the same inner conflict he had on the TV series, now formalized and made into a Vulcan rite.)
Fair point, like a lot of aspects of TMP it becomes somewhat muddled in the execution. It did seem to be the intent, though, that Kirk would have some "issues." In his "character sketches" for the movie Roddenberry wrote Kirk is "obsessed to regain the Enterprise, and it may well cloud his judgment. ... In the midst of his drive is also a degree of self doubt. Is it the self-doubt, in fact, that fires the need to command?" And "With the two most important members of the mission in emotional turmoil, it falls to McCoy to hold them together." (The Making Of Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

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Old October 30 2012, 01:41 AM   #41
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
In his "character sketches" for the movie ...
It's been a long time since I read the Roddenberry novelization of TMP, with all the italics for emphasis. Does he include any of Kirk's backstory in it? Not the surface stuff (e.g., the Lori business - would someone like Kirk have a girlfriend named Lori, fergodsake? - but the emotional backstory you mention.
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Old October 31 2012, 08:23 AM   #42
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

gottacook wrote: View Post
I remember being excited about the early magazine ad with the "23rd century odyssey now" tag line (http://i31.tinypic.com/2rcx6hg.jpg) in which the writing credit was "Screenplay by Gene Roddenberry and Harold Livingston" - I've never seen an early ad for a movie that had such a drastic difference in writing credits from the released film. Has any thread here addressed this?]
The final writing credit was the result of a WGA arbitration between Roddenberry and Livingston (the latter got full credit for the screenplay). Alan Dean Foster also used the arbitration process to receive story credit.

This kind of thing happens from time to time, and is occasionally reflected in early marketing materials. Chris McQuarrie was credited with co-writing the screenplay of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol on early trailers; Ed Norton was credited with co-writing the screenplay for The Incredible Hulk on early poster art as well. Neither were credited in the final films.
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Old October 31 2012, 08:24 PM   #43
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The final writing credit was the result of a WGA arbitration between Roddenberry and Livingston (the latter got full credit for the screenplay). Alan Dean Foster also used the arbitration process to receive story credit.
Huh. Well, that's quite interesting. Although I've never happened to notice such a thing since then involving writing credits, I did see an early poster for First Contact in summer 1996 that had a credit not seen when the film was released, either in ads or the film itself: "A Film by Jonathan Frakes." I wonder what that can be attributed to? Well, not for this thread.
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Old November 1 2012, 12:04 AM   #44
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Re: how big an improvement is the star trek motion picture director cu

The possessory credit ("A ___ Film," "A ___ Picture," "A Film By ____," etc.) is something that a director will negotiate for with a studio. Many do not take it, saying that it demeans the collaborative nature of the medium.
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Old November 1 2012, 02:10 AM   #45
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The possessory credit ("A ___ Film," "A ___ Picture," "A Film By ____," etc.) is something that a director will negotiate for with a studio. Many do not take it, saying that it demeans the collaborative nature of the medium.
Well, exactly - which is why it's so weird that such a credit would appear months earlier and then not appear on the finished film or the accompanying ads.
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