Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by BlueStuff, Jun 9, 2019.
I wouldn't mind seeing TFF written off as a marshmelon-induced dream/nightmare.
I think, after having researched the heck out of the "making of" materials available on this film, that my conclusion is as follows:
Shatner is maligned as a director because of the film's flaws and underperformance. I think that is unfair in many areas (mostly the look and feel of the film...the vision, etc) but unfortunately fair in others (the management of the resources / budget, studio politics, etc).
One of the most glaring examples is all of the make-up and prosthetics work that was done (look at the BR disk extras, for example) and barely showed up on film. I can't imagine how much budget was spent there. Another is that they spent 350K on a rock man suit that couldn't be used, and ended up in a situation where the entire ending of the film needed to be reworked on the fly.
I also think it's unfair to lay the blame for the story flaws solely on him. The initial foundational idea was absolutely his, but it was a long process of being nibbled at and eroded away that cost the film its cohesiveness and potential power. And some of the corniness was imposed externally (as we all know) due to the comedic success of IV.
Again, I think that his failure as a director was unfortunately caving / compromising too much and mis-management of certain resources (ie: spending budget in areas where the $$$ was essentially wasted rather than in areas it would have really paid off, making a bad decision on Ferren as an effects house, especially considering the logistical issues of dealing with NJ vs. a CA based firm). I think his success was bringing energy, having unique ideas, (actually) relating well to the actors, and bringing a truly cinematic/dynamic look to the photography.
Yeah, that's generally my impression as well. An inexperienced director combined with a studio that was interfering on the one hand to force comedy into what was supposed to be a dramatic film, as well as trying to go cheap.
One interesting things I read some time ago was George Takei, who is not Shatner's biggest fan, did say as a director on the set he wasn't bad to work for. He noted Shatner maintained an easy going atmosphere on the set and didn't let all the various problems affect him.
IIRC, Nichelle Nichols said Shatner was one of the best directors she'd ever worked for.
IMHO, the initial bit with the Bird of Prey's front angle looked rather good (certainly for TV standards, maybe the stars are too thick for theatrical but to me it's not the worst offender by any means), we've not seen that angle in flight before. The acted dialogue is also fairly strong, save for the comedy bits that just feel out of place. As concept goes, it's a great scene and event. In terms of execution, it's decent overall despite the attempted humor and - worse - the f/x flaws, of which the worst is when Enterprise jumps into warp and is a massive FTW moment. I was screeching "TFW" in the theater on that moment too...
I noticed two other things in that clip that I hadn't really thought of before:
1. They cannot fire while cloaked, the scene very probably lighting up an idea in somebody's mind to have Klingons develop technology to overcome that limitation as a movie plot point
2. The lighting makes Uhura look like a dancer from 1985's opening credits of "A View to a Kill". Take that any way you like as I'm admittedly fond of that temporal period regarding sociological entertainment, but it does look very 1985:
Agreed, in fact Damian, I think the praise that I've read and heard from the actors was much more complimentary than "he wasn't bad." Aside from Doohan, who I never saw comment either way, most of the cast was very complimentary of Shatner's directing during principle photography.
A shame he wasn't available. TFF alone hints at something stellar, but even with Meyer's sensibilities the unnecessary desire to comedy it up in an attempt to outdo TVH would still have crimped it.
Last Crusade and Batman both were using ILM? ILM was the best at the time but if there were delays or miscommunications, then time would be short to find somebody to put together anything and within the limited time (and/or equipment) available. BIG effects were and always will be the thing for movies (not necessarily as much for regular TV unless the plot and circumstance are complex enough)... either way., the f/x could have been better but what options were there?
The idea that Kirk would be in mortal danger over something comparatively simple and being saved is rather good. And it's nice to see him on shore leave. From when Spock appears as a crude shock-it-to-ya joke to when he falls, being saved at the last second and with no ill effect is about as bad as anything could get. Then we get all the supporting characters turned into the butt of jokes based on their assignment. The timing of the fall and his being saved are simply off and corny. Save him earlier or get rid of the humor, the jokes ruined the scene.
As much as the 60s visuals were grainy, they did better than a lot of TFF's, that is inevitable. The torpedo dash was the absolute nadir.
I suspect the f/x company ran out of time...
The direction is indeed decent and the cinematography does hold up in key places. Even the stupid turbolift scene, the editing is done well enough to make the passage of time feel longer as well as adding to the sense of traversing vertical space (despite the same boots rushing to save Kirk in the nick of time, but I'm not going to whip out a stopwatch, scale measurements, and see if there's consistency to the power setting of the boots - never mind the other aspects of physics involved that would quickly remind that such go-go boots won't work in real life like that.) Unlike the placard in giant typeface reading "DECK 78" in an attempt to sell the notion of vertical space.
The score was still very good but seemed like an off-kilter overlap to TNG. Goldsmith really loved using his created theme over the iconic TOS music from Courage. But I did like some of the "War of the Worlds" style sound effects he integrated into incidental music cues, those added some needed oomph and uniqueness to remind we're in TOS-land, not TNG-ville.
To coin a phrase: "To coin a phrase, 'Fascinating!'."
Boom. I thought I read years ago ILM was doing Batman at the same time as Indy3. If all of ILM's teams were taken by those two big blockbusters, which is not inconceivable, that easily explains it all.
I actually don't think the story line would have fit Meyer's sensibilities at all. Meyer always tried to tell grounded tales in a Star Trek setting. TFF was a much more science-fiction / fantasy story than "submarines in space" or "the wall coming down in space." He may have been able to touch-up dialogue, but I don't think he would have contributed to or even enjoyed dealing with the story in any positive way.
I believe it was Ghostbusters 2 and Last Crusade. Still, even the ILM "c-team" would have been better than having your fx work done in Hoboken NJ by an effects shop who had never done a major outer space movie and had zero experience with the motion control process.
I was talking about the laughable green screen FX of shatner falling. I actually like the campfire scenes though.
I've always thought it was interesting that Sybok wasn't originally envisioned as Spock's brother. In fact, in Shatner's original treatment, he was a darker Vulcan character named Zar who was not related to Spock.
The issue arose when Bennett and Loughery challenged Shatner on why Spock would "turn on Kirk" for such a man (in the final script, why Spock won't shoot him). The solution gravitated toward the character being related to Spock.
I am one of those people who actually thinks Sybok as Spock's brother works, though. Although, I think they could have done any number of things dramatically for it to work.
It was admittedly fairly horrible. They actually just could have stuck with the images of the stunt fall, followed by Kirk's near impact with the ground, and the scene would have been better for it.
In fact, even the turboshaft scene (78 decks) could have been edited to have Kirk say "well...look at it this way, we'll get a good workout" while looking up at the climb ahead...and then cut to the 3 characters entering the Forward Observation Lounge.
I was mostly ok with that as well. I admit at the time I was a bit surprised he never told Kirk about Sybok after all that time. But I also remember how private Spock was even about Sarek being his father--basically not saying anything until Sarek was literally in front of Kirk. Now I guess you could argue TFF was years later and Spock and Kirk were much closer friends, but I'd argue it's one of those things that was out of sight out of mind. As the years went by Spock probably thought of Sybok less and less and there was no reason to discuss it. Sybok was probably the family pariah and Spock (and Sarek) were probably loathe to bring it up at all.
As far as Sarek having a wife before Amanda, well, that's no big deal really. We know Vulcans are betrothed as children so his first wife was likely started with a betrothal (I don't recall if the novel noted that or not--I do remember his ex-wife was in the book briefly).
One vastly underrated aspect of this film is its being able to generate some deep thoughts concerning not just religion, but the dangers of being a blind follower of anything. And not giving up your own critical senses regarding beliefs of faith. I also apply this to politics as well as religion. I don’t see it as particularly anti-religion. At the end even Bones was wondering if there really was a God.
Even the point that the mistakes we make in life are necessary for us to grow into the people we can become is a concept that goes beyond many.
In all, I thoroughly enjoyed it, flaws and all. It had more to say than many people realize.
Did it really have more to say than episodes of TOS that covered the same subject area? We'd seen false gods before.
It definitely did, because it wasn't as much about false gods as it was about those who erroneously did the following.
That's what made it different.
I dunno, what about the people who followed Landru, or Vaal, or even John Gill?
For me, it's the motion capture of the Enterprise; it doesn't look right. I thought it was odd the ship was sorta in orbit of Earth and was not in Space dock prepping for an appropriate launch like in TMP, and TUC. Warp speed looked strange to me, the contrail effect looked wrong. I'm not sure if the ship made a standard orbit of the God Planet, was like okay we're here, let's use the shuttlecraft. TUC was a huge relief to my vision as the Enterprise was presented how it should've a been since TMP, fast moving and a sight to see.
If you look at the budget breakdowns done for ST6 which lists the previous films, TFF had a larger VFX budget than TVH or TSFS.
I've said it dozens of times: there's zip exploration of most of the stated themes in this movie. It's amateur hour screenwriting: stating a theme isn't the same as exploring it. It's easy surface stuff that suggests depth that isn't there. TWOK show how to marinate a script in the themes, which are iterated upon throughout the film.
Making Sybok Spock's brother was unnecessary. If Sybok had rejected the Vulcan way and embraced emotion one could see how a young, struggling Spock could have seen such a figure as a kindred spirit, a figurative "brother" whom he was closer to than perhaps his own family. That would have given their relationship some teeth.
You mean motion control (aka mo-con). Motion capture is a CGI thing. The problem with the motion control is Ferren and Associates couldn't get the shutter to stay open as the camera moved, so the mo-con stuff as shot is essentially stop-motion and every frame is crystal clear without blurring thus staccato and jarring, especially when something goes fast. In fact, they had so much trouble most of the shots of the Enterprise are either it rotating slowly in place or are basically stills moved across the frame (the warp effects, zooming into the Great Barrier, etc.).
Did it have to? Was it a competition? Why can’t a message be presented more than once?
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