ST-TMP: your first time...

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Warped9, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Over the years I've heard this more than a few times and it's an empty charge.

    GR and Robert Wise were not trying to emulate 2001. I think they were trying for something other than expected run-and-jump. And like "The Cage" they might have lost a bit of focus. There are some paralels betwwen TMP and 2001, but they're not deliberate.

    2001 was about encountering an intelligence unlike anything humanity could imagine. We still can't to some degree because we never get to see those aliens, whether in 2001 or 2010. It was addressing the idea "we are not alone" but in a very WTF manner. There is no real resolution to 2001 because the Discovery goes silent and doesn't report back.

    Of course TMP doesn't start from that standpoint. The humanity of TMP certainly knows we are not alone, but they can still encounter unknowns. It doesn't take long for them to understand they are indeed faced with an intelligence only they have no idea what kind of intelligence. They take every step forward with trepidation because they feel they have no common frame of reference to guide them. In the end they are faced with the completely unexpected: an intelligence simply trying to understand its own existence. And it has a skewed conception of what life is. The resolution makes sense in that they are able to answer Vger's question (in a roundabout fashion), and rather than destroy itself or the "infestation of carbon based units" when its preconceptions are challenged...Vger chooses to accept the answers and evolves (although into what who the hell knows?). :lol:

    The resolution makes sense within the context of the story, but it challenges most audiences expectations because it's not action-y and showy.

    The parallel with 2001 is really only in that both films are aiming beyond accepted conventions of big sci-fi spectacles. And they are indeed visual extravaganzas. And they both question the nature of existence albeit in different ways.

    Certainly TMP also runs counter to what followed which would be more straightforward action-adventure. Oddly it wouldn't be until TFF that Trek would again try to address a big idea: the nature of God. Sadly it was largely a disappointing effort. TFF is much like "Spock's Brain," a solid SF story idea smothered by too much silliness.
     
  2. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    I missed TMP's theatrical release by quite a bit (born in '82) so I only know it from home video. Kind of like Jeyl, it was a movie and it was Star Trek so I liked it (though I liked the genesis arc better as a kid), I often would put in my VHS copy of TMP and leave it on in the background -- I'd watch parts I liked and maybe grab some Trek toys and play with them in the parts that dragged more. I always liked the Enterprise flyby though and most of the really active parts of the V'Ger flyby (the strange energy vortexes at the bottom of organic shapes, etc). With age, and the release of the DE, I really came to appreciate it.

    One thing I've always been pretty sure of, and the comments here have solidified for me, is that the flyby really needs to be seen on as large of a screen as you can muster. I've always known it was made to be a grand and impressive sequence with lots of phsycial model eye candy :) But I think even now, seeing the Blu-ray of TMP on a big home theater screen would really be something. Or, even better, a really well preserved 70mm copy of TMP projected in one of the last remaining theaters that can handle it.
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I watched a video recently about some of the f/x work behind TMP. That was a different world then where they built huge miniatures for f/x squences. The Vger miniature was HUGE.

    And it's hard to believe the highly detailed bridge dome of the Klingon ship was only maybe an inch wide. Unreal.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the "top" of V'ger was like 60+ feet long. What's even more amazing is that those shots of the V'ger flyover were done IN CAMERA using multiple repeat exposures, and there is no matte work at all except when you see the Enterprise gliding over it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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  6. Shat Happens

    Shat Happens Captain Captain

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    I was 9 or 10 and was absolutely amazed. I didn't get the plot at all (But who did? I thought the movie represented the launch and first mission of the Enterprise -- TOS and TAS were just cool shows on TV I watched sporadicly.), but the sfx and THE MUSIC got me definetly. I think I hadn't watched Star Wars at that point.
     
  7. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Well, I wasn't talking about the specific plot or concepts as much I was talking about the overall tone and feel of the movies. TMP wants to be a serious, "cerebral" SF movie about Big Ideas, more like 2001 than a big-screen version of the TV show.

    You can also see the influence of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which had been a big hit just a year before. Hence the extended special-effects light shows . . . .
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014
  8. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Warped9 I really enjoy your thoughts regarding that special night in theaters on Friday December 7th 1979. I was a boy in my mid-teens that day and I will never forget the pure joy I experienced seeing TMP. I had spent my early boyhood in the '70s watching both reruns of TOS weekdays after school and the first-run TAS on Saturday mornings. I still have nothing but fond memories of seeing the refit-Enterprise and the original cast on the big theater screen, finally. :luvlove:
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Sadly, by the time 1982 rolled along, my little college town had acquired a multiplex so we didn't have to make a big road trip to see The Wrath of Khan.

    Which was more convenient, to be sure, but maybe not quite as much fun . . . .
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It's a matter of phrasing. When someone says, "It was trying to be 2001." it sounds like an accusation that the film is trying to immitate 2001.

    That aside there's nothing wrong with TMP's apirations. TOS aspired to be more serious than conventional television sci-fi so TMP is really no different in aspiring to be more than conventional sci-fi in film. And to that end it succeeded because Star Wars was setting a new template (unrealized at the time) and TMP wasn't aiming to use that approach.
     
  11. Shat Happens

    Shat Happens Captain Captain

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    ^your use of the word "cerebral" reminds me of the classic explanation why "where no man.." was made after "the cage" and all that history.

    Coming to think of it, STII was made folowing the same reasoning, it seems.
     
  12. urbandefault

    urbandefault Commodore Commodore

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    That word, cerebral, now seems to be embraced by fandom.But it is the word that almost killed Star Trek before it ever aired. I would think that it would be the one word that in fandom would never be spoken, like the Voldemort of Trek.:lol:
     
  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    No accusation intended. It's like comparing, say, The Maltese Falcon to The Big Sleep. Nobody's saying that they're the same movie or that one is imitating the other. But they're both the same type of hard-boiled detective story.

    Similarly, you can tell that TMP wants to be same type of movie as 2001: a serious, intellectual sf movie about Big Ideas.

    Whether they lost some of the fun and excitement of the old TV show in the process is another question . . . .
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think TMP is all that cerebral. To me "cerebral" connotates with something difficult to understand and I certainly don't think TMP is difficult to understand.

    It is understandable that TPTB could want some extra jump and energy for the second outing. But what I disagreed with was all the other changes that were made. The look of TMP didn't have to be radically altered, but only tweaked. I also strongly disagreed with Nic Meyer going out of his way to make the crew look old and the Enterprise only a cadet ship. For me it was an unforgivable act of revisionism after the promise of TMP that the adventure was just beginning...again.

    One element of TWOK that still bothers me---more so today than originally---is that it set something of a precedent: big bad villain comes back (or comes out) to wreak havok and destroy everthing. It also cemented an idea that to be interesting in the present you had to mine the past. Fanfic does it. Comics have done it. Fan films do it. Successive episodes and big screen films do it.

    Part of the problem I have with it is it makes the universe seem small.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    "Cerebral" doesn't mean complicated or hard to figure out. It means a story that, perhaps, appeals more to the brain than to the heart or guts.

    To my mind, the best stories work on an intellectual and an emotional and visceral level. "Cerebral" alone is great if you're making a movie for Vulcans, but, as Spock discovered in TMP, "cerebal" alone is not enough.

    To me, Wrath of Khan works better as drama, full of grand passions and angst and excitement. Nicholas Meyer has a good sense of what makes classic stories work--revenge, betrayal, sacrfice, etc. That stuff never goes out of style.
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, but I still resent him layering in all sorts of unnecessary crap with it.

    I did say "connotates" not "means."
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    To each their own, I guess. Khan is far and away my favorite Trek movie, with numbers IV and VI close behind, so I'm inclined to think Meyer made the right calls.

    But, getting back OT, I do have fond memories of that opening night in 1979. It was great to have Star Trek back . . . and to see it in a theater full of enthusiastic Trekkies
     
  18. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I didn't see TMP until I was 10. I had grown up on TNG and Star Trek IV was the first movie I saw. TMP seemed to be the hardest to understand, at 10, of the movies I watched. Each movie had a hook--Khan wants to kill Kirk. Kirk wants to rescue Spock. We need to rescue Whales. Sybok wants to find God. Kirk needs to make peace with the Klingons.

    I don't think there's a dramatic moment in TMP. I don't mean that there's nothing about it that isn't dramatic. But without knowing the characters from TOS, and no analytic mind to compare and contrast, TMP was hard to understand. Why isn't Kirk in command of the Enterprise? They never address the time lapse directly. It's all done subtly. Who was Decker? Why should he be in the film (not giving equal weight to the characters)? What is V'Ger. It's mostly in dialogue. We don't see it, like the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon or the Phaser hits in TWOK. V'Ger isn't very imposing. It's not a ship. Star Trek is about running into a ship. Everything else put me to sleep.

    So I couldn't enjoy TMP at 10. The musical cues aren't there. The voices are soft and subtle. It's not visceral. You have to understand the chain of command. You have to listen to this movie to get all of its drama. Subtle, not cerebral.

    And that's the word I would use: Subtle. It assumes you know the Star Trek characters inside and out. I think Gene assumed that he could do what he wanted with the franchise since it was so popular. Just a guess.

    As an adult, I learned how to listen and compare and contrast. I learned how to give equal weight to the characters, whether guest stars or not. I felt for Ilia dying as Decker felt. I felt the danger of the attack by V'Ger on the Enterprise before Kirk opened his mouth. I saw the breakdown in the Chain of Command when Decker and Kirk were battling over who would run the ship, and didn't need Bones to sum it up for me. TMP is no longer a mystery, but you have to want to think about characterization and plot and putting yourself in the circumstances of the characters on the screen. It's not candy, this is like a Filet Mignon, green beans, and a baked potato. Everyone loves candy; it's universal. But some get as much pleasure out of Mignon as they do out of a bag of M&Ms. It's just a matter of taste.

    I like "The Cage." I like TMP. I wish Star Trek was always this imaginative (and subtle).
     
  19. OpenMaw

    OpenMaw Captain Captain

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    I was four years old, in 1992, watching Star Trek The Motion Picture on a very large, very old, television set that my mother inherited from her parents. I was watching the "longer" version of TMP that had aired on TV some years earlier.

    http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/e454/tgmoi33adoabxncfg.jpg

    The opening scenes are very dramatic and atmospheric. The music, the entire soundtrack, has always been my favorite. Everything has richness and depth, and atmosphere.

    The one thing I appreciated it, at least from childhood, is that Star Trek could be a little dark, scary, and mysterious. V'ger was the trigger for some of my earliest remembered nightmares. Adrift in the depths of space, witnessing some horrifying unknown pass by in the dark...

    Even though as a kid I ate all the visual effects up as imagination fodder, I think the movie needs a good 20 minutes hacked out of it. Star Trek just isn't 2001. It does not need to be so overly long. Many repetitions of dialogue, useless scenes, and visual effects sequences should and can be easily removed from the film, and give the story/characters some breathing room. I honestly think you could get the movie down to 90 minutes and have a much more Original Series experience out of it. Wish I had access to the footage with just the clean dialogue, it would make the job of doing a fan edit so much eaisier. :lol:

    There are actually several really strong character arcs within the film (Kirk, Spock, and Decker) but they are drowned out by all the excessive self-loving effects work. It's beautiful, but also totally unneeded, and you wouldn't lose any of the story told by those effects by trimming those sequences down.

    It did leave a huge impression on me overall. I was always a bit of a reclusive kid, and Star Trek gave me an avenue to be myself.

    I had always hoped that TMP would become a TV spin-off back in those days. Shortly after seeing it, Q-13 Fox had a "Star Trek Megathon" of the top rated TOS stories. I started collecting the movie era VHS tapes after that. Saw them in a strange order. TMP, TSFS, TWOK, TVH, TUC, and TFF. Yes, I ended on what is considered the worst. Still appreciated seeing more of Kirk, Spock, and Bones. :)
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I've never seen the 2001 apemen called marginal before that I can recall.

    I'd say background 'invisible' fx work is more consistent in the current era, but most pictures this century still have plenty of 'epic fail' shots all through them.

    I think the highest consistent level of quality vfx was probably the late 90s, when CG was only being used selectively, to augment miniatures and traditional effects. Once the full changeover happened the work started going downhill, with relatively few exceptions (I'd say up till the last 5min GRAVITY is about 98% perfect, but running that against other extravaganzas from this century will just point up how a lot of CG doesn't measure up.)

    Seeing TMP opening day, after waiting nearly 5 hours in line for the first showing at Century 22 in San Jose, was for me a very early climax ... namely, when the lights went out and the pic started. Seeing the dock sequence brought it up again to exciting levels, but then I felt the need to go to the backroom and had to suffer through the next 90-100 minutes ... apart from Goldsmith and the exterior space shots, I really hated that movie, from the split diopter madness to the horrid looking lighting on the actors aboardship. I even avoided the TV cameras outside because I didn't want to say something that would hurt general business. For many years I characterized TMP as the biggest disappointment I had ever seen in a movie theater (yes, even over ONE FROM THE HEART, Coppola's followup to APOCALYPSE NOW.)

    And the thing was, I had read the novelization already, so I should have been prepared for things. But there were aspects in that which did not come through in the movie at all (like the real Ilia being imprisoned inside the probe), and despite the horrid prose, the novelization somehow kept me interested, while the movie did not (hard on the eyes with respect to costuming, lighting, etc.)

    A few weeks later I caught a rerun of LIGHTS OF ZETAR and wrote in my journal, 'maybe TMP isn't all THAT bad after all.' That was after I'd seen it 4 times (had pre-bought the tickets and couldn't unload them), and I saw it a fifth time at a 2nd run theater, the Plaza in Campbell, where the print was amazingly brighter (for years I wondered if this was a print that didn't get printed down in accordance with Wise's instructions ... I still do, actually.)