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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 December 28 2013, 08:08 PM   #1
austen_pierce
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TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

TWOK was my first experience with Trek on the big screen. I liked the lurid red photon torpedoes but LOVED the pulsating, visceral phasers. I looked forward to each subsequent movie, hoping to see those phasers again, but no, we don't get big screen phasers again until (what?) Generations??? At that point, phasers are CGI 'particle stream' TNG-style. What a letdown.

Anyone know why the Trek movies avoided phasers completely, through ST III, IV, V, and VI? Four movies without a single phaser blast, left me wanting more. On the other hand, we get a photon torpedo in each of these but IV, which was understandably light on tech. So what happened to the TWOK-style phasers?
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Old December 28 2013, 08:38 PM   #2
Marlonius
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

I agree completely. The hand phasers and ship's phasers were so very well done in Trek II. We can thank Peter Kuran for this, he did a fantastic job of animating them. The stunt work, acting, and sound effects contributed greatly too. The phasers just sound violent, powerful and painful.

I remember watching TWOK in the theater at age 9. When the final battle in the Nebula started, and the Reliant got the first shots in, carving up the torpedo bay, I couldn't believe it. I remember the whole audience gasping, and my father sort of instinctively ducking in his seat and letting an expletive fly.

I think the production of torpedo FX was a lot cheaper, easier and quicker. TWOK had stop-motion damage appearing in the phaser shots to convey the scorch marks left behind by the beams marching across the hulls of the ships. I can imagine that starting and stopping a motion-control rig during the miniature photography was a complicated proposal.
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Old December 28 2013, 09:08 PM   #3
SpHeRe31459
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

I hadn't really thought about this consciously, but you're very right, the phasers in TWOK are really quite something. Loud, mean energy bursts. I can hear the Reliant's phasers tearing into the Enterprise right now in my mind with Horner's score marching along in the background
The phasers being more powerful than before (TOS) also fits since we learn in TMP that phaser power is now channeled via the warp drive.

It really is a shame they didn't use them again.

The hand phasers in TWOK are also in that same vein, they disintegrate people pretty brutally, more like what would become a disruptor effect, with again a sound effect that shows it means business.
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Old December 28 2013, 11:13 PM   #4
Maurice
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

The photon torpedoes after TMP are wimpy. There they were really amazing looking.
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Last edited by Maurice; December 29 2013 at 12:47 PM. Reason: typo fixed
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Old December 28 2013, 11:33 PM   #5
Robert Comsol
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

austen_pierce wrote: View Post
Anyone know why the Trek movies avoided phasers completely, through ST III, IV, V, and VI? Four movies without a single phaser blast, left me wanting more. On the other hand, we get a photon torpedo in each of these but IV, which was understandably light on tech. So what happened to the TWOK-style phasers?
I never really understood that myself. Reread the 1967 TOS Writer's Guide a couple of days ago and it didn't even mention photon torpedoes.

While TWOK provided a nice balance in a manner of speaking, it's obvious that the photon torpedo somehow became the favorite and overused weapon.

Bob
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Old December 29 2013, 01:38 AM   #6
trevanian
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

Kuran did the hand phasers in TFF and the mining lasers in TUC, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do the hand phasers in TUC, since a lot of those tied into ILM's cg blood.

The lack of phasers in the movies past TWOK almost certainly ties in with Kuran's limited involvement, as I don't think ILM liked doing that kind of work (the STAR WARS bolts were shorter and a lot less interesting looking IMO -- though come to think of it Kuran did those too, he's the one who added interactive light to the bolts which helped a helluva lot -- and that weird hand phaser in SFS that lifts the klingon up off the ground is pretty ridiculous.)

Except for the TMP and GEN torps, I didn't like any of them (and even the TMP ones are a little cartoony from being double-duped.) I remember explaining to somebody back in the 80s that TREK often boils down for me to the ship shooting phasers and Kirk getting his shirt ripped, and these things just didn't happen enough in the movies to suit me.
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Old December 29 2013, 01:45 AM   #7
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

The WoK-style ship phasers look like they came back in the reboot movies, albeit with spam-fire mode enabled instead of just two beams at a time (which always struck me as odd, surely when fighting to the death you fire everything you can... although I realize that RL budgetary constraints were to blame)
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Old December 29 2013, 04:03 AM   #8
GalaxyX
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

I hate energy bolt phasers. Phasers are energy, and should act like a laser would, firing an instantaneous beam at the target. If you wanted to pulse them, sure, it would be like a beam that flashed instantaneously toward your target and then turned off.

TUC had great phaser effects. Enterprise had great Phaser effects. They both followed this pattern.

I don't hate TWOK phasers, but they do not act like realistic energy guns. nuTrek "phasers" are the suckiest, wimpiest energy bolt weapons I have ever seen on screen apart from "Forbidden Planet" but at least that movie has the excuse of being an old classic where special fx were extremely difficult to make.
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Old December 29 2013, 10:16 PM   #9
Robert Comsol
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Surely when fighting to the death you fire everything you can... although I realize that RL budgetary constraints were to blame
If you were referring to TWOK I'd say it was already amazing that the Enterprise could fire phasers at all after Khan had crippled the ship:

KIRK: Scotty, ...what's left?
SCOTT (on intercom): Just the batteries, sir. I can have auxiliary power in a few minutes.
KIRK: We don't have a few minutes. ...Can you give me phaser power?
SCOTT (on intercom): A few shots, sir.
SPOCK: Not enough against their shields


That dialogue was interesting because it somehow looked to me as if they had returned to the old concept of charging a phaser bank prior to firing it (and no longer used energy from the engine core - in TWOK disabled - as suggested in TMP).

Theoretically they could have used photon torpedoes against Reliant during their first encounter, but apparently the script demanded otherwise.

Bob
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Old December 29 2013, 10:25 PM   #10
austen_pierce
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

GalaxyX wrote: View Post
I hate energy bolt phasers. Phasers are energy, and should act like a laser would, firing an instantaneous beam at the target. If you wanted to pulse them, sure, it would be like a beam that flashed instantaneously toward your target and then turned off.

TUC had great phaser effects. Enterprise had great Phaser effects. They both followed this pattern.

I don't hate TWOK phasers, but they do not act like realistic energy guns. nuTrek "phasers" are the suckiest, wimpiest energy bolt weapons I have ever seen on screen apart from "Forbidden Planet" but at least that movie has the excuse of being an old classic where special fx were extremely difficult to make.
I agree with that you are saying... the physics of the TWOK phasers just don't make sense. But I would freak out on an EPIC scale if any restoration or remaster attempted to correct this. I love the TWOK phasers, and think of them more of a pulsating plasma weapon than energy-based. Yeah, yeah, I know that's not what phasers are, but give a kid (at the time) his delusions.

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Surely when fighting to the death you fire everything you can... although I realize that RL budgetary constraints were to blame
If you were referring to TWOK I'd say it was already amazing that the Enterprise could fire phasers at all after Khan had crippled the ship:

KIRK: Scotty, ...what's left?
SCOTT (on intercom): Just the batteries, sir. I can have auxiliary power in a few minutes.
KIRK: We don't have a few minutes. ...Can you give me phaser power?
SCOTT (on intercom): A few shots, sir.
SPOCK: Not enough against their shields


That dialogue was interesting because it somehow looked to me as if they had returned to the old concept of charging a phaser bank prior to firing it (and no longer used energy from the engine core - in TWOK disabled - as suggested in TMP).

Theoretically they could have used photon torpedoes against Reliant during their first encounter, but apparently the script demanded otherwise.

Bob
This is a VERY good point, a direct contradiction to TMP. But again, I'm damn happy they changed it up and gave us those violating, penetrating weapons for this film experience.
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Old December 30 2013, 03:19 PM   #11
Lance
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

I am curious about the lack of ship-to-ship phaser action in some of the movies also. Were the phasers a more expensive optical effect to pull off than a photon torpedo? Or was it creeded that torpedoes simply 'look' more satisfying on-screen?
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Old December 30 2013, 03:37 PM   #12
FredH
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

Good reasons above, but I also always imagined it was for drama. A phaser beam reaches out and blasts your ship and it's bad, sure--but with torpedoes you get that TUC/GEN "pause" effect: it's approaching... it's approaching... oh, crap!... kaboom! Makes less tactical sense, but also makes a more suspenseful camera sequence.
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Old December 30 2013, 03:59 PM   #13
Richard Baker
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

While I do love the Phaser battle in TWoK, it is a little too Star Wars for me. I liked the TOS solid blue beam (it did pulse a bit but stayed solid until it stopped firing).
Only problem I really have with the TWoK Phasers is that the Reliant had those 'Mega Phasers' on the roll ball, the Enterprise had the traditional hull emplacements (the Reliant had them also but never used them on screen). IMO there should have been a strong visual different between the two weapons systems- perhaps the E had the TOS beam (in the new color) and the Reliant would have the pulse like phasers...
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Old December 30 2013, 04:36 PM   #14
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

Were Reliant's "mega phaser cannons" ever identified as such outside of 80's fan-made blueprint packs? Going from the film alone, they're the same as the Enterprise's phasers - and I never considered otherwise until I saw the USS Avenger plans.
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Old December 30 2013, 05:16 PM   #15
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Re: TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Were Reliant's "mega phaser cannons" ever identified as such outside of 80's fan-made blueprint packs? Going from the film alone, they're the same as the Enterprise's phasers - and I never considered otherwise until I saw the USS Avenger plans.
Same thoughts here. From everything we see on screen they are the same type of phasers as the traditional hull emplacements.
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