TWOK Phasers: Visceral... and Rare?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by austen_pierce, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. austen_pierce

    austen_pierce Captain Captain

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    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?
     
  2. Marlonius

    Marlonius Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  3. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The photon torpedoes after TMP are wimpy. There they were really amazing looking.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    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
     
  6. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    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)
     
  8. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    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. :rolleyes:

    Bob
     
  10. austen_pierce

    austen_pierce Captain Captain

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    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.

    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.
     
  11. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    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? :confused:
     
  12. FredH

    FredH Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  13. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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...
     
  14. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Same thoughts here. From everything we see on screen they are the same type of phasers as the traditional hull emplacements.
     
  16. Borjis

    Borjis Commodore Commodore

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    Great thread! I've always loved the TWOK phaser effects for all the reasons already stated. I had no idea Peter Kuran did those too! I worked with Peter in 2009 for a brief period and we talked a lot about Star Wars and he'd mentioned his idea/work on creating the colored lighting effects on the models when they fired off shots to make it more real. Wish I'd known about this earlier.
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I've interviewed him once or twice and he seems pretty cool. Based on some stuff in CINEFANTASTIQUE, I think the ILMers were a little irked he struck off on his own and made a success without having to relocate up north like they did.

    I remember that he said he used to carry a couple of cells in his wallet that were animation effects from SW, and when he finally remembered about them and took them out, they were just GONE, disintegrated over time.
     
  18. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    TMP's phototorp effect judiciously uses lens flare--the screen couldn't contain the brightness. TMP uses lens flare well; I got a kick out of Abrams' almost parodic overuse.
     
  19. Borjis

    Borjis Commodore Commodore

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    Ya, very mellow guy.

    He gave me an autographed copy of his book on how to photograph atomic weapons when our work on the "Trinity & Beyond" Blu-Ray was completed.
     
  20. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Wow. It's out on Blu-Ray? I was immensely impressed how that programm apparently secured all the original camera negatives and how the footage looked like it had just been shot yesterday in B & W High Definition. :techman:

    @ King Daniel & BillJ

    From an "in-universe" point of view the "megaphasers" of the Reliant behaved liked the omni-directional phaser "sprayholes" but the original model suggested a forward firing rigid energy cannon, IMHO.

    Apparently inspired by the Stuka Ju 87 G "Cannon Bird". ;)

    Bob