Is Wrath of Khan Overrated

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by M.A.C.O., Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Nacluv

    Nacluv Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ah, high-concept is the term I was looking for when I tried to syncopate my perception of TPM feeling more like a TOS/TNG episode in theme and style.

    It's also the most fundamental impedus for my preference of TNG over DS9.
     
  2. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, but I wasn't saying why TMP was a good film or how TWOK compares to it. Just why I don't feel TWOK is overrated.

    The TV series Spock changed as they got a handle on his character. That's not character growth, that's an actor getting comfortable with his role. This happens on TV all the time. Otherwise, as per the TV series rules of the day, the status quo was maintained throughout 79 episodes. Spock grew in TMP but only because he was OUT of character in the beginning of the film. By the time the film ended - Spock was back. More at ease with his heritage perhaps, but still the Spock we wanted to see from the beginning. And that growth wasn't as obvious in the theatrical version since the one of the key scenes depicting his revelation was cut (the weeping).

    Oh, sure we did. There was no attempt to hide it and since many fans saw the first film multiple times in the theater, it was recognized. It's just that very few people cared and many people felt it worked better in TWOK. It was shorter.
     
  3. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In 1979 and 1982 trekkies were still accustomed to watching a relatively few number of Trek shows over and over and seeing the same stock footage of the Enterprise in every single one - so the reuse of some very pretty images from the first movie in the second bothered relatively few fans, and people who didn't follow Trek didn't notice at all.
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Of course the reuse of the drydock footage was completely obvious on first viewing. How could a Trek fan forget the drydock scenes, anyway? The reuse didn't bother me in the slightest.

    I (half-jokingly) read into it a subtext which said, "We're gonna do TMP over now, folks."
     
  5. Nacluv

    Nacluv Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Wow! After some exorbitant Googling, I've finally found that I'm not toally alone with my aberrant opinion on TMP as a good Star Trek movie.
    http://trekmovie.com/2012/05/23/leo...e-as-beached-whale-he-is-played-out-as-spock/

    And one commentator has view on TMP that is absolutely in full concordance with my own.
     
  6. Xaios

    Xaios Commander Red Shirt

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    The problem with that particular flavor of cerebral storytelling is that it often doesn't make for good movie making. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for high-concept sci-fi, exploration of the unknown, but for every 2001, there's five of "Sphere" or "Mission to Mars." TMP lands somewhere in between. The parts where it "explored the unknown" were alright, but then it went into "V'ger Existential Crisis" mode like it just read Nietzsche for the first time, and it was downhill from there.

    Ultimately, I feel that style of storytelling is better suited for television. The characters should be the ultimate focus in a movie, and they weren't in TMP.

    (More on topic, no, I don't think WoK is overrated.)
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^Funny, because the contrary to the opinion generally held in Hollywood: films are where you focus on spectacle and not character. Character you can do on TV week after week.

    There's no essential problem with high-concept SF. As in any film, it's the mix that determines if it's good.
     
  8. Xaios

    Xaios Commander Red Shirt

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    Spectacle really isn't the right word. Most Star Trek films have plenty of spectacle without detracting from the focus on the characters.

    To clarify, I don't think the theme of exploring the unknown is generally well suited to films. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that whatever unknown that gets explored is no longer unknown by the end of the episode or film. Afterwards, it's just "there." The episodic nature of television allows us to move from one "unknown" to the next on a regular basis.

    Putting it in perspective, it's generally held that Star Treks II, III, IV and VI are the best of the films based on TOS, while TMP and V are generally viewed as being poor by comparison. If there's something that II, III, IV and VI all share, it's that the characters aren't static. They always finish the movie in a different place, personally, than when it began. While it could be argued that this was also the case with TMP, it's only to restore the status quo that was tossed aside when they promoted Kirk to give the film a secondary conflict. And in V, the characters don't really evolve at all. Even Bones, with his big revelation of having euthanized his father, doesn't end up in a different place. Don't get me wrong, the scene builds his character fantastically, but it doesn't really affect it in the end.

    What makes II, III, VI and VI so special is that they dared to move the characters, and in doing so, dared to move us. TMP said "here's a space cloud looking for God," and V said "here's a crazy Vulcan looking for God," and then basically simply had the characters along for the ride. These would have made great themes for Star Trek episodes, but they don't hold up as being movies.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  9. Nacluv

    Nacluv Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Although I don't agree, I guess that you're right as my taste, but first and foremost motivations tend to diverge to the point of being almost veritably unique, especially when it concerns cult films as well as even lesser known movies (adhering to movies that are even more rare and/or overlooked than the films you see being appreciated in different cult and nische groups).

    After practically being born as a cinema buff having seen all the great classics of Kurosawa, Bergman, Hitchcock, Johm Ford, James Whale etc., the latest years I've discovered more and more what a weird (almost to cretinous levels) and abstract conceptualist I am, even in many areas outside of film. Antinomical to when I was 12-15, I've found myself overlooking or even caring very little for how character-driven something is nowadays. The importance of it depends on what kind of movie it is and what the ambitions or general idea of the creator seems to be. For me, opulent conceptuality can sometimes override and remunerate for a lot of other flaws in a film. In some movies, it's the only thing that matters. When I praise a Lucio Fulci film, I rarely praise the sometimes sleazy feel of the movies nor the zombies and the blood 'n' guts in his most famous films. For me, the most interesting aspect is the eye penetration and blinding as the most powerful of many symbols representing oppression which is the most central theme of L'aldila (The Beyond) or the stylish intro scene delineating death of art. Or the attack on catholicism in Beatrice Cenci and Non si sevizia un paperino which got him blacklisted.

    And sometimes it's neither as "pretentious" or nebulous like those examples. Sometimes, the concept of Style-over-substance can be enough, meaning story being subdued for the film to only be meant as an visual experience of puissant cinematography. I don't really qualify that as exploitation, which I hate, because in exploitation there are no real concepts nor real ambitions in collation to many other films where there is traces of fat and limpid concepts no matter how single and uniformal they are.

    Even though I hate inconsistencies in Star Trek (I thought pon farr was something deeply private, Mr. Spock!), I think it's one of those culture phenomenons where in the end one of the biggest things about it is the rich conceptuality and prevalence of Hard Science Fiction. I think TMP were more successful in that area while WOK tend to be a more collatively straight-forward story. I also thought that the faster pace made it feel less like Star Trek and more like an epic war drama in space. I guess that basically, it comes down to which episodes I liked the most and what aspects of them and other episodes I appreciated the most.

    Even though I love Khan, and the epic atmosphere, cinematography, direction and performances in WOK, I find that the purpose and background of Khan's activites to be too linear and straight-forward (damn how I hate to repeat that word, especially considering WOK is not at all so straight-forward compared to many modern blockbusters) to really be interesting in more ways than one. The basic plot is for me the biggest obstacle, even if the script and everything else is exceptionally good. Even if I still want Khan, I'd prefer another plot. And if I can't have Khan then I'd rather see a new Dr. Korby or Dr. Adams whose work has evolved to much greater extents than their predecessors' or the return of Charlie who's intent on claiming the world that rejected him and his superior powers as his own. I know everyone would hate these premises, but for me those themes feels more Star Trek to me than simply a baddie wanting to avenge the death of his love.

    And like I said, I do not at all dislike Wrath of Khan. I just like TMP a little more and here I've tried to sum up why and explain that even though I like them almost equally, it is for totally different reasons. Wrath of Khan is easier to appreciate for the experience and adventure.


    EDIT: When I think about it you're probably right in that TPM would be better off as an episode.
     
  10. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Another huge qualm I have with TWOK that I sort of forgot about but really needs to be addressed, was its introduction of over-simplified (and thus bastardized) Bentham utilitarianism.

    That one simple quote has sort of, retroactively, become the credo of Trekkies world wide as sort of the end-all, be-all of Star Trek idealism. Yet it is a philosophical half-truth that is completely missing the substance and nuance. (and the point).

    People seem to have twisted the whole concept around into being nothing but a numbers game, treating it solely as mathematical logic and not philosophical ["Vulcan"] logic.

    I think this most notably came to fruition when Insurrection came around. (Thanks for the reminder, Netflix!)

    There was an overwhelming insistence that, despite all the movies other faults, the one major hang-up people had was they felt Picard and Co. were all acting in the wrong, citing the "needs of the many" as the only reason why. But this shows a complete lack of understanding of the core concept--or, more accurately, Mill's expansion upon it, the "greatest-happiness principle," which I believe was Nimoy's, Meyer's (whoever's) real inspiration for it. In fact, if we follow both Bentham's and Mill's (And thus Spocks?) theories to their completeness, we find Picard was in the absolute right.

    Now that's not to say I blame whoever put it in there for this; it was probably initially intended to be a throw-away line. And it's really up to the viewer to understand it.

    My problem is it never really needed to be there in the first place. It's two complex an idea to try and show-horn into a light space adventure. The only reason they did so was so they had an excuse to shove Spock into a story he otherwise had no part in.
     
  11. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

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    Nice proverb. However given Khan's feats and later feats of the villains I mentioned, I don't think we should hold Khan above the rest like he's special. Actions matter and Khan doesn't have the record to run on as the supreme villain of the Trek film franchise. He's not a Darth Vader level character. Vader who in Ep. IV and V showed himself to be strong, cunning, expert pilot, ruthless even toward his own men, and without mercy. Khan is more like Darth Maul. A glorified one shot villain who's only claim of success is killing a main character. Maul killed Qui-gon and Khan's actions killed Spock.
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You're making a false correlation between the plot and the characterization. TMP could have been much more character driven had the filmmaker's chosen to do so, and without hanging the plot. They already had Spock confront his lifelong ambition of total logic and find it lacking. That's daring to move the characters. In TMP's case they just didn't focus on it as much as perhaps they should have. The could just as well have had a character arc for Kirk in which his actions re V'ger force him to confront things about himself. It's not an either-or.
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You seem to equate killing more people with being a better villain, which I don't understand.

    You have to look at Khan's actions and compare them more to a person who hit the lottery. Most people when they hit that jackpot dive in and don't think about tomorrow. Khan had been stewing in Hell for fifteen years, then he got a shot at payback at the person who put him there.

    Khan's actions aren't rational, but they are predictable for someone whose been in that situation.

    The Genesis Device is a plot device used to up the urgency of our heroes engaging Khan (the number of people killed doesn't matter, it's that the threat exists). It keeps Kirk from disengaging and warning Starfleet. It serves the exact same purpose as Thalaron radiation and Red Matter.

    Again, there's a reason why The Wrath of Khan has been used as a template for Trek films multiple times... because it is the "cream of the crop". I may watch other Trek films more, but if I'm introducing someone to the Trek films... it's the one I go with. Think about how simple the concept is, "bad guy with a big gun has an axe to grind". It was copied in both Nemesis and Star Trek 2009 and arguably in First Contact and Insurrection. Yet, in none of these films does the villain come off as sympathetic as Khan. Khan has an actual score to settle, he was wronged by Kirk.
     
  14. NrobbieC

    NrobbieC Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't see how Wrath of Khan is used as a "template" at all. Lots of films have villains with revenge fantasies and I never had any sympathy for Khan.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    For Nemesis they came right out and said they were copying TWOK and if you can't see the glaring similarities between it and Star Trek 2009 you're simply being obtuse. But, filmmakers usually try not to copy themselves so much within the same film series.
     
  16. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    It's amazing how little fandom has changed. I've been reading Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History and the comments about Wrath of Khan in fanzines at the time mirror those I've read here on TBBS since JJ Abrams' Star Trek was released in 2009.

    eBook available here: www.ftlpublications.com/bwebook.pdf
     
  17. NrobbieC

    NrobbieC Commander Red Shirt

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    Nemesis does have some similarities, they actually said that? Shinzon was the worst villain of the TNG films, he was pointless.

    XI...if Khan had a time machine...yeah, it'd happen the same way pretty much.

    First Contact and Insurrection are far from WoK clones though. I'll defend them.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The thing about First Contact is similarities exist but they spun it in an interesting direction. Insurrection is just a "bad guy with a big gun and an axe to grind", just the axe wasn't with any particular member of the crew.
     
  19. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    What seperates Kahn's villian character to others is simply the performance of Montalban. It was flawless. There hasn't been any villian in any other movie that is as memorable as Kahn. Hell, even F. Murray Abraham who is an outstanding actor in his own right couldn't get people to care about Ru'afo. On paper Kahn's character and role as a villain in TWOK were extremely simple. He made it work though.
     
  20. siskokid888

    siskokid888 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I feel that it is. Overacting, big plot holes, Kirk and Kahn never confront each other in person, and the one resonant note, Spock's death, cheapend by his resurrection in the next movie. I have come to dislike all of the original cast films except TMP.