Why are the TOS movies better then the TNG movies?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by The Overlord, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't think I've ever seen a review (well, at least not one written by someone familiar with the series, be it the SF press or fans) that doesn't point out it's got virtually the same plot as The Changeling. Isn't "Where Nomad Has Gone Before" one of the derogatory fan nicknames for it? Though TMP does have in its corner to counteract that some really top notch state of the then art effects to add a cinimatic gloss to it that stops it even slightly feeling like an episode of TOS. It's still as dull as dishwater though, so avoiding the small screen feeling doesn't help so much there.

    As for more mainstream critics not making great play of the TNG films feeling like TV episodes, that's likely down to them generally being a lot less familiar with what the shows like the fans are. If they were being harsh they'd sum up the events of Insurrection as inconsequential compared to the other films rather than "Like a filler episode of the show".
     
  2. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    yes, it's common knowledge that the plot is similar to "the changeling," but my point was that's not used as a means to say that TMP is just like an overlong episode of TOS. When TMP is praised, it's often praised for being very cinematic, which just strikes me as funny, because it's obviously a TV episode plot stretched to two hours through special effects and filler.


    And I agree about "Insurrection," it's probably the one Trek movie where it's hard to argue with the criticism that it doesn't feel like a movie, because you really COULD see it as a two-part episode from TNG's sixth or seventh season.
     
  3. BriGuy

    BriGuy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Curious... if you split Insurrection into two parts, where would the cliff-hang be?

    Remember the halves need to be about equal length. Don't recall off the top of my head what's happening at the mid-point of the movie's time.
     
  4. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would think the first part would be the "mystery" part, culminating with the discovery of the holoship and Picard's confrontation with Dougherty. Or maybe with Picard removing his rank insignia? The second part would be the action part with moving the Baku and stuff.
     
  5. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I know that some did not like the Travel Pod flyover of the 1701-refit Enterprise in drydock by Scotty and Kirk scene in TMP (an abridged version scene was used again in TWOK), I loved it along with the rest of the audience that I sat with on Friday December 7th 1979. This gets me to my point, at the end of NEMESIS we get a glimpse of the Sovereign class 1701-E in drydock being repaired, albeit it was not enough screen time. I think the scene would have been much better if it had LaForge, Picard and B4 in a Travel Pod flyover of the 1701-E while Picard talks to B4...IMHO.:vulcan:
     
  6. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Of course it isn't. Which is why I said it wasn't in my post. But it's a comedic romp, which is still not anything like TMP in terms of concept, plot, or pacing, and THAT was my point.
    Didn't say it was the only THEME. That would be a silly thing to say, since the movie explores other themes. You'll also notice that I acknowledged that several of the movies did a good job with character development. I said it's at the core of the movie, and what I meant was that it's at the core of the plot. I thought this was pretty clear from what I said about TMP, but I'll explain in more detail. TMP had a high-concept sci-fi premise. It also had a slower, more deliberate pace. Now, it was perhaps TOO slow, and the movie has lots of problems and is overall not one of the good ones, but what I was getting at was that I wish more of the Trek films had attempted something like it in terms of concept and plot. That's what I'm referring to: regardless of how much character development there is, regardless of how many other themes are explored, the core plot of EVERY Trek movie except TMP and TVH involves a villain.
    On this, you may be correct. I think I was using the term carelessly. The key part, for me, is perhaps not the "action" part, but the "villain-based" part. "Sci-fi adventure" is, no doubt, more accurate. My overall points remain, though, which are A) that I wish at least ONE other Trek film had attempted to do something like TMP in terms of concept, pacing, etc, and B) that none of the movies can touch the very best of the television shows when it comes to depth, complexity, and thoughtful storytelling (again, except TMP, which hits many of the right notes in terms of concept, but is just no fun to watch).

    As for TWOK, I didn't "miss the point". I just didn't think it was all that great of a movie. I get what themes they were trying to explore, I get what the movie was all about, I definitely see what they were going for... I just didn't think it worked out very well.
    I agree that the plot of FC, the core storyline, could have worked as an ep, but the surrounding production values and cinematic style felt very movie like to me. Maybe that's partly why the criticism seems so vague: unless one is personally well-versed in filming technique, a movie feeling too much like an episode can be just that: feel. Hard to quantify.

    And in that vein, I also thought NEM "felt" very big, very cinematic. It got that right. It had a boatload of flaws that bogged it down into being one of the worse Trek films, but that wasn't one of them.
    This is partly what I'm talking about. The shows did things like this, presenting "threats" that weren't necessarily as simple as they appeared, and "bad guys" who had some complexity to them, and maybe weren't really just "bad guys." Excepting General Chang from TUC, I felt that the main villains in all of the Trek movies that had them were pretty stock. Decently written and well-acted, in most cases, but very much just "bad guys" who are out to do bad things because they are evil.
    Berman's inexplicable fear of strong musical scores was really limited to the shows, not the films. Dennis McCarthy, who scored a bunch of TNG and DS9, created a MUCH more powerful, more grand score when he was allowed to stretch his legs; his GEN music blows away just about everything he ever did for the shows. And Goldsmith's scores for the latter three TNG films are also anything but "sonic wallpaper" (the term that is - rightly - thrown around when discussing the music from the Berman-era TV shows). I personally liked the TNG film scores better than the TOS ones, except for TUC which I thought was very good as well.
    :lol:
    And yeah, "The Picard & Data show" IS one of the biggest flaws of the TNG movies. NEM in particular suffers from this. INS does to some degree, though I personally thought that the best scenes in that movie by far were the ones featuring either the whole cast (the stuff at the beginning, before the "truth" about the Ba'Ku is revealed), and later, the parts featuring Riker, Geordi, and a couple of guest cast Starfleet officers (the space battle sequences on the Ent-E... except for that stupid "manual steering column" bit, oy). I think it and NEM - while they both have BIG fundamental problems with their plots - would have at least been more enjoyable if the entirety of the main cast had been used more, and more effectively.
     
  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Saito S, you said
    I believe the point that TWOK climaxed at a moment of major character development directly contradicts this in the case of TWOK. The fact that TVH has no action directly contradicts it in that case. (How can a movie be a "comedic romp" while "not trying to be anything more than an action movie", anyway?) And so forth.

    Regardless of whether you realized or acknowledged the movies had other things going for them, what you said there certainly warrants addressing, which is what I did.

    Based on your most recent post, I believe what you are trying to say is that you wish the others had been more like TMP. But that's completely different from what you had said in the first place.
     
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    I think all four are quite cinematic. Some sequences from "Insurrection" are amazing.

    It's like buyer regret. The ST fans could have been snuggled up at home, watching the latest DS9 ep and the latest VOY ep on the telly for free, but they had to venture out to the cinema and pay $$$$ to see the latest TNG. After years between each film, and all the online gossip and poaching of drafts of scripts, two hours of new material on the silver screen was never enough.
     
  9. nightwind1

    nightwind1 Commodore Commodore

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    :wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf::wtf:
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    TNG was an ensemble series on television. On film, it became the Picard/Data show. TOS was about three characters with a supporting cast. That dynamic was maintained, more or less, in the film series (though McCoy doesn't always get as much to do as he did on the series).

    TNG probably would have worked better as a series of telemovies, which would have allowed for more time to highlight the ensemble in a way that wasn't possible with four movies made over the course of a decade.
     
  11. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I doubt they would have been able to make even 4 telemovies.

    Stewart and Spiner could only be kept because they were starring motion pictures. According to imdb, Stewart got a salary of 15 million for Nemesis, which would mean that he was one of the highest paid motion pictures actors at that time. They couldn't have financed that with a TV film budget.
     
  12. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I acknowledged TVH as being excluded from my characterization of "all the movies", in both posts, so I don't know why it's being brought up at all, let alone repeatedly.

    I admit my first post wasn't very well written. The main points I've been trying to get at are what I outlined in my second post: that none of the movies except TMP even attempt high-concept sci-fi (that part you quoted from me probably should have said "TMP is the only film that attempts high-concept sci-fi" in the first place), that none of the movies except TMP and TVH break away from a "main villain" storyline (and TVH may not have a villain or any "action", but it still doesn't have a lot of DEPTH. It's a comedy, which - in terms of the specific criticism I am leveling at the Trek films - isn't any better), and that at their absolute best, the films are not really able to compete with the shows at THEIR absolute best in terms of depth. They are good sci-fi adventure movies. Now, don't get me wrong, good sci-fi adventure is fine. But the shows often succeeded without sticking to the type of formula that the movies almost ALWAYS stuck to; I think it would have been cool to see a really good movie that also broke away from that formula. One way in which the movies do excel is in character development. Moments like the climax of TWOK (as well as the glasses scene with Kirk and McCoy much earlier in the film) are well-realized, but I personally found them to be rather few, and the rest of the movie to be pretty shallow (Kahn himself was completely flat and generic as a villain to me).
    Not so much "I wish they had been more like TMP" specifically, at least not in any way other than the concept and premise, since I don't actually think TMP is very good in execution. But I think what I'm trying to say is clear at this point (and again, I acknowledge that my first post was sloppy and did not convey what I was trying to say very well).
     
  13. CaptainStoner

    CaptainStoner Knuckle-dragging TNZ Denizen Admiral

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    For me, it's the arc of II-IV that makes them better. I, V, and VI don't strike me as particularly better than FC or NEM. I actually found VI to be especially underwhelming, though I've warmed up to it over the years.
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Instead of high-concept, I think the word you might be looking for is epic.

    A high concept film is often thought of as a film with mass market appeal whose premise and plot can be summarized very briefly. The concept behind the film is so strong and clear (so high), it doesn't need a lot of words to express.

    Does TMP even fit this definition, the way Jaws does?
    Kirk must lead a refitted Enterprise to stop an alien probe from digitizing Earth.
    OK, that's a broad stroke that covers the film. But there's a lot missing.
    The probe is really an Earth probe following its built-in programming, but the probe has been augmented with alien technology to digitize objects entirely instead of just scanning them. The probe doesn't recognize people as true life forms, it only recognizes machines. Spock is about to devote his life to logic by burying his human side forever when the probe awakens his human half. Convincing the probe to stop following its programming so literally, so that it won't just digitize Earth, requires convincing it that illogical humans really are the true life form that created the original probe. Doing so validates human illogic over machine-like like logic.
    It's not getting summarized in a nutshell.

    Arguable, TSFS fits the definition of high concept better.
    What if Spock transfered his consciousness into McCoy in the last film, and what if it can be put back into his regenerated body? Kirk steals the Enterprise to recover Spock's body to take it and McCoy to Spock's home planet to rejoin his mind and body.
    True, one might not be able to understand it without understanding Star Trek or seeing the film before it, but that's one of the reasons I said "arguably".

    Can a sequel be high concept? Honestly, I don't know. If it can't, the whole point is moot, and the idea that TMP is the only high concept Trek movie means nothing except with respect to TMP itself.
    2001: A Space Odyssey is not high concept either. But it is an epic.
     
  15. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Huh. I've often heard the term "high-concept" used to mean "more intellectually challenging/more complex", at least when used in the context of sci-fi. Dunno where I got it, really, so it could very well be way off-base. :lol:

    But yes, either way, what I meant was the definition I just used. "Contact" would be an example of it, as would "2001"; many hard sci-fi novels would be as well. Star Trek sometimes treads on this ground. Star Wars, on the other hand, is very much NOT it.

    Just to give a better idea of what I meant, since I apparently fail at using terminology correctly today.
    I dunno about telemovies, I'm not sure that would have worked, but I agree about what you are saying in general here. It's actually a bit of a strange reversal: TOS (the show) intentionally focused on a "big three", with the others being secondary characters. TNG, on the other hand, was much more of an overall ensemble from the beginning, and generally did a pretty good job of feeling like one... on the show.

    With the movies, TOS - despite the original show focusing mainly on the big three - actually did a pretty good job giving the other characters cool things to do, meaningful lines, etc. On the other hand, the TNG movies, despite being based on a show that was much more of an ensemble than TOS was, narrowed the focus, with each of the four movies being more "PICARD AND DATA oh and I guess there are some other main characters too huh?" than the last. :confused:
     
  16. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, in the end I think I get what you're saying. I think it's this:

    I agree with this 100%.

    However, I think a case could be made that in going on an adventure to allegedly search for God, The Final Frontier may have had a pretension of being really epic, but in a way that was a complete belly flop and didn't seem epic at all.

    Whether the film franchise would have benefited from other entries trying to be as epic as TMP, I'm not sure. Maybe, but also maybe not. It would have depended a lot on the execution. My gut tells me that the market may not have been receptive for an epic from the Star Trek franchise though. At least not a serious one. :shrug:
     
  17. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    They still serve popcorn at movies, not lobster. But I think high concept stories is what Trek is all about. Trek 09 is a Nemisis version of Khan. Oh but I forgot, girls (the controllers of the known universe) don't like to think. They like to feel.
     
  18. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You might be right about that last point, sadly. That's part of why TMP is a shame in a way. Despite how much money it made, it was critically something of a flop, if I recall correctly, and deservedly so in my opinion. I think it was part of why they ran the other direction with TWOK. Now, I have no problem with the concept of simply GOING in that direction, but they never went back. I don't mind some - or even most - of the Trek films being adventure stories, but I would have liked to see ONE more stab at the deeper, more challenging sci-fi story on the big screen. Preferably more than one, but even one would have been nice. As you said with TFF's premise, there were little inklings of more complex, more "epic" sci-fi concepts here and there - the Genesis planet and its link to Spock in TSFS, the Nexus in GEN, the fact that the Borg had - for just a moment anyway - actually succeeded in assimilating Earth and re-writing history... the problem is that these things are simply used as vehicles to further the adventure, and little more (or, in some cases, how they were used doesn't even matter cause the movie itself was so bad, i.e. TFF, or the concept had potential but then the execution was bungled, i.e. GEN). Ah well, what might have been.
    What?

    Wait, no...

    What?
     
  19. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Well since 2 and 3 were cheap cartoon swashbucklers written by a burnt out 60's produser and 4,5,and 6 were written by Kirk and Spock, and 7, 8 and 9 were written essentially by Berman, you're never gonna see it, are you? Still like Trek 09? Now we have the keystone cops in charge.
     
  20. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, because us Trekkies on the internet are loathe to jump to extremes of cynism.
     

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