Dissecting A Scene: Emotional Climax Moments in Star Trek Films (Part I)

So over the Thanksgiving weekend, I made my family watch arguably the worst Star Trek film, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. When the Sybok interrogation scene of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy came up, it occurred to me: “Star Trek is REALLY good at doing this.”

Doing what exactly?

They’re good at creating emotional climax scenes where character arcs come full circle. Trek films may not be the flashiest of the science fiction genre, but that’s not really their intention. Star Trek is at its best when it’s theatrical, or allowing the actors to fully explore their characters. Two of the franchise’s most notable faces, William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, are quite effective stage actors and that’s where Star Trek is at its strongest: being character driven.

So you have to let the actors ACT.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Mutara Battle/Death of Spock

This is probably one of the most famous and most parodied death scene in all of film. But this sequence is quite remarkable on multiple levels.

It’s a shame that William Shatner didn’t get any accolades for his performance in Star Trek II. His portrayal of Captain/Admiral Kirk is often viewed as hammy, but in truth, Shatner was quite nuanced in his approach. Director Nicholas Meyer figured out that his leading man was far more effective when doing more takes, which caused the actor to slowly dial back his performance. In short, Meyer wore out Shatner, which perfectly suited a beat down and aging Kirk at the beginning of the film. Obviously, Meyer let Shatner return to form at the end which had a huge emotional payoff.

Not only does the villain Khan get his comeuppance by succumbing to his own wrath but…in pursuit of vengeance…he ends up becoming a force for creation. Spock, of course, delivers the ultimate sacrifice, but Kirk finally faces the very thing he’s cheated his way out of throughout his illustrious career: a no-win scenario.

Thus, everything comes full circle.

Of course, it also helps that there’s exceptional editing and the score that made James Horner a sought after composer is playing in the background.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Stealing the Enterprise

James Horner is typically given credit for the success of this scene. But you have to tip your hat to the editing and, again, the performances.

While we can criticize Shatner’s acting choices all we want, he always makes it perfectly clear what his characters are feeling. And James B Sikking’s arrogant-ass performance almost makes you forget how shitty the Excelsior bridge set is.

It’s a shame that Leonard Nimoy didn’t direct more movies. While he directed some television before, it’s hard to believe that this was his first motion picture because he REALLY elevated this scene. If you pay attention, not much happens here: the Enterprise slowly backs up to the space doors before they magically open and then the Excelsior begins its failed pursuit. But it’s fucking intense! The hairs on my neck always stand when the Enterprise clears space doors and Kirk orders warp speed. That’s a testament to Nimoy’s superb direction of an otherwise ‘meh’ script.

While this isn’t the “emotional climax” to the film, it is an emotional highlight for the Original Series crew; they’re sacrificing EVERYTHING to save Spock. Now Star Trek III isn’t the best Trek film, but the “stealing the Enterprise” scene is one of the best in the franchise.

ranking starfleet uniforms

I’m not gonna rank every fucking uniform that Starfleet produced. Some were designed to simply be shown once. So I’m only evaluating the uniforms that were created to be the full-time outfits for a particular series or film.

13. Star Trek Discovery

To my surprise, there are devoted fans to this show. I don’t get it, but to each their own. But we can all agree that these uniforms are just straight up shit. They are neither militaristic nor do they look comfortable. This is just reason #57482 of why I hate this show.

12. TOS- The Cage/Where No Man Has Gone Before

I’m sure there’s a difference between the uniforms in these two episodes, but whatever they are, they’re minor. Now these outfits do look comfortable, however they look a little too warm. Under a stressful situation, I’d burn the fuck up in those sweaters. Plus, in the early days, there were only TWO Starfleet divisions: Command Gold and Science Blue. Without the Engineering/Security/General pissant Red, these uniforms don’t pop as well.

11. The Motion Picture

A part of me likes these uniforms. I think it’s very important that you’re able to see the outline of a Starfleet Officer’s junk. But I understand people’s objections. They do lack the color that made the TOS uniforms so iconic.

10. TNG Films/DS9 Seasons 4-7

I thought these were cool when I was a kid. But now, they just lack the fun of their predecessors. The grey shoulders just seem pointless. I dunno, this is just ‘meh’ for me.

9. Voyager/DS9 Seasons 1-3/Generations

I like the idea of these uniforms. It’s supposed to make officers seem more “mechanically inclined”. Which is fine. DS9 teased out the idea that ship crews wear standard TNG uniforms while crews stationed everywhere else wore these. But they didn’t stick with that concept, which annoyed the shit out of me. That’s why they’re ranked this low.

8. Beyond

These are just cheap knockoffs of the TOS classics. They’re a clear downgrade from the next ones on the list.

7. ST09/Into Darkness

They took an iconic look and turned it into something fresh. That’s incredibly hard to do. They seem both practical and comfortable. The only knock is that the pattern looks cool from a distance, but upon closer inspection, it’s just a bunch of Starfleet emblems. Kinda lame, tbh.

6. Enterprise

Probably the most realistic of the bunch. There’s not much to say about it, other than it would make sense that these would be the first uniforms for a new space fleet.

5. TNG-Seasons 3-7

It feels wrong to put these down this low. These are great uniforms. But they simply got beat out by the last 4.

4. The Wrath of Khan

These uniforms come and go with me. God knows I love Nicholas Meyer, but sometimes I wish he didn’t take the uniforms in this direction. Starfleet *technically* isn’t a military organization. But these uniforms say otherwise.

As a former military man, I can tell you that these would be impractical for standard military operations (unless, I assume, you’re bridge crew in the Navy). For those purposes, the pajama-like outfits worn in TOS are far more suitable, and for that reason REALISTIC, which runs contrary to what most people think about the military. You gotta be comfortable, protected, and not constricted.

So that’s my main beef with these outfits. But aesthetically, they’re incredible! And since Strange New Worlds has updated their appearance, these uniforms look better than ever.

3. Strange New Worlds

The producers of Discovery fucked up when they reintroduced the iconic uniforms in Season 2. I don’t know what the fuck was up with that collar. But they remedied that mistake in SNW.

I’m glad that the designers trusted what came before and didn’t try to do too much to update it.

Which leads me to…

2. TOS

Gold, blue, and red. What else is there to say?

1. TNG- Seasons 1 and 2

“You’re fucking kidding right?”

Nope.

We all know how this uniform was taken away: Patrick Stewart’s chiropractor had a lot to say about them. Which kinda makes Stewart an important figure in Starfleet uniform history.

Prior to TNG, commanding officers wore the color gold…for example: Captain Kirk. Then Patrick Stewart was cast and the producers realized that he looked terrible in gold. So now the commanding ranks wear red. And that change has never been explained in Star Trek canon 👍

But I love these jumpsuits. If I ever decide to pay money for one of these uniforms, this is the one I would buy. Are they cheesy? Absolutely. To me, they’re the most sci-fi looking of the bunch.

And besides, yeah they might’ve been bad for his back, but Patrick Stewart looked DAMN good in this uniform.

A gene Roddenberry production of a Robert wise film

Because I’m a chump, I finally broke down and paid for Paramount+.

Available on the service is the newly remastered version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, and renowned sex pervert Stephen Collins.

When Robert Wise’s Director’s Cut came out years ago, it greatly improved what was an otherwise interesting but clunky and boring movie. Unfortunately, this version of the film wasn’t updated for high def until recently.

It looks incredible. Douglas Trumbull’s special effects have been vastly improved. Jupiter, V’ger, the Enterprise…it all pops in ways that it didn’t before. That element alone makes the film much more watchable.

However, while some aspects of the film have been improved, it only only highlights its weaker aspects. While the special effects, music, and (most of its) production design are incredible, that only makes the direction, script, editing, and acting look that much more terrible.

It doesn’t matter how hard they try, they can’t disguise the fact that this movie was hastily thrown together. At the time, I think, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. And to be honest, it doesn’t look it.

Oddly enough, I think fault lies on the shoulders of legendary director Robert Wise and his DP. Much of the film takes place on the bridge of the Enterprise. And the set looks godawful. It’s too claustrophobic, too cheap, too bland. And the editing doesn’t do much to improve it as actors awkwardly wander on and off the set without much of a purpose.

It’s not the best design for the Enterprise bridge. But Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy…both novice directors at that time…make that same set look like a million dollars in subsequent Trek films. Meyer especially puts the claustrophobic aspect to good use in Star Trek II.

Fortunately, I think most of this could be easily fixed. And that requires jettisoning most of the journey through the V’ger cloud. While visually it’s interesting, it adds absolutely nothing. The immensity of V’ger itself is also established in the next sequence (which also needs to be cleaned up a bit editing wise) therefore making the cloud voyage redundant.

It’s a small change, but it would go a long way in improving the pacing. I’m sure there’s a fan edit floating around the internet somewhere that does this.

The uniforms also look underwhelming. I don’t hate them. Some internet genius explained that these surgeon-like uniforms actually highlight the delicacy of the matter: the characters have to be precise in their decision making. In that light, the uniforms add a nice touch. Nevertheless, the film could have used an updated version of William Theiss’ iconic designs.

Unfortunately nothing will fix the caricature performances and phoned-in script. But that’s okay. This high-def version of the Director’s Cut…which will presumably be the final cut…elevates what was one of the worst Trek films into a pretty solid sci-fi movie.

And that’s good enough 👍

The First Coming (preamble)

“Art thrives on limitations,” Nicholas Meyer once said.

Well this next story will put that theory to the test thanks to the limitations of its author: me.

Obviously I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the past month. But the discovery of “Christian erotica” has awoken me from my creative slumber.

I have never written a romance story. I’ve never read one either. It’s not my thing, ya know? Plus, as a closet asexual, I don’t know what it’s like to have sex.

“But don’t you have children?” you might ask.

Sure. But I only have sex for procreation. I have never once enjoyed coming. After an orgasm, I express gratitude to my partner and we shake hands. So I’m going into this subject cold. Additionally, this will be a “Christian” story intended for a “Christian” audience.

“Why?” you might be asking. Well like I said: art thrives on limitations. But there’s another question I want to answer: can a Christian story…intended for a Christian audience…be good as opposed to absolute dogshit like most religious entertainment?

The Passion of the Christ was a decent movie from what I recall. But Mel Gibson is insane. Depictions of graphic violence is kinda his art. But like Mel Gibson, I am also insane and you have to be a little off your rocker to achieve a degree of artistic genius. I’m not saying that I’m a genius, of course. I’m just saying that I’m a clinically insane person and that’s why I’m doing this.

From my understanding, “Christian erotica” typically requires the story to revolve around a married couple. But that’s gross. So I’m gonna try to push the boundaries a little by centering it on a single woman and her desire for premarital sex with a particular man.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten with the story. I’ll be winging it from there.

Now, some of you might have noticed that my last few stories have been somewhat “Christian”-based: According to Simon and whatever I called that one sci-fi story. But I assure you, I only pretend to be a Jehovah’s Witness online (I actually converted to Mormonism yesterday). So no worries 😉

I’ll have the opening chapter of the story posted the next time I take a shit at work.

TO BE CONTINUED…

killing james bond

Yo! Respect to Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for killing off perhaps the most important character in film history (spoilers! 🤷‍♂️) Don’t believe that James Bond isn’t the most important? Well without this franchise, we probably wouldn’t have the modern action blockbuster. He was the model for the postmodern, morally questionable hero…before Han Solo, before Indiana Jones, before John McClain. James Bond was doing that shit before everyone.

And now he’s dead.

That takes balls.

I say fuck the fanboys. As Star Trek II director Nicholas Meyer said when he was told that he couldn’t kill Spock (paraphrase): “of course you can, as long as you do it well.”

Did they do it well? Don’t know. No Time To Die hasn’t been released in the States yet (they probably didn’t). But I will respect any filmmaker that takes chances.

Audiences be damned.

So where does the franchise go from here? The answer is obvious: HBO Max (or Apple TV, or Netflix, or Amazon Prime, etc). The James Bond Expanded Universe on television is the next logical step.

“But nobody cares about that universe without James Bond

Perhaps. But the good thing about this universe is that the timeline does not matter. Seriously. Does Goldeneye happen before or after the events of Live and Let Die? Does it matter? Is Ralph Fiennes’ M the same as Bernard Lee’s? Does THAT matter?

You see, nothing in the James Bond timeline matters. With the exception of the Daniel Craig films, each film and each actor sort of takes place in its own timeline.

So in this James Bond extended universe, James Bond is still alive because why not?

So is James Bond the main character in this new series? If yes, then the series writes itself.

But if the producers made this dramatic move in No Time To Die just so they can free themselves to explore this universe, here’s my pitch (since Barbara and Michael aren’t taking my calls):

Series name: 00

Characters: Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomi Harris as Eve Moneypenney, Rory Kinnear as Tanner

New characters:

001: (Male, 50-60yrs) An old Irish bastard. Hard hitter, hard drinker. Has been a 00 longer than anyone. Was actually a family man at some point against the wishes of Her Majesty’s Service, but naturally fucked it up. Has been wanting to reconnect with his son for years, but his son wants nothing to do with him.

002: (Male, 40s) Borderline autistic, has no close personal relationships. But make no mistake: this mother fucker can kill. Not much is known about his background.

003: (Female, 20s) the newest member of the service. She was one of the first women to get into the SAS before joining MI6. Fresh off of her first mission, she appears to be experiencing a degree of PTSD. 001 takes her under his wing and treats her as a surrogate daughter to make up for his deficiencies as a father.

004: (Male, 20-early 30s) a total cad. Along with James Bond, he often stays in trouble with M. Not liked by many in M16. A snarky, fratish type.

005: (Female, 40-50s) a seasoned veteran of MI6. There’s no situation she can’t handle masterfully. Often a part of M’s “A-Team”, she gets dispatched on the more difficult missions. The perfect female counterpart of James Bond, an expert seductress.

Recurring characters:

006: Alec Trevelyan (Male, 30-50)-James Bond’s best friend in the service. However, he holds a secret grudge against the British government. Will later be “betrayed” by 007.

007: James Bond (Male, 30-50)- The GOAT.

The Story:

M is ripping one of his agents a new asshole. It’s 001. He’s too old, M says. He’s a drunk and they already have enough alcoholics on the force (James Bond). But there’s still one more mission for 001.

“Don’t cock it up,” says M.

It’s not a difficult mission, but he’s getting a partner: 003. 001 resents this but follows orders. He banters with Moneypenny and goes to Q to gather his equipment. But instead of the flirty charm of 007, he’s cantankerous and crusty. He understands none of the technology that Q gives him.

001 and 003 go through the usual formula: they go undercover, enjoy the finer things in life, go to bed with numerous individuals, and cause plenty of property damage. And they do it with their own spin and charm. However, the mustache-twirling villain has a much bigger plot under his sleeve, one which has international implications.

With the plot spread globally, the mission comes under the direction of Tanner. We are introduced to the other 00 agents and their individual missions in different parts of the world.

But when things start to get real, M has no other choice but to bring in the big guns: 006 and 007. This culminates in 007s supposed “betrayal“ of 006, and while Bond temporarily plays the hero, 001 and 003 overcome their differences to save the day.

The mission is interwoven with the personal drama of 001 and 003.

Bond once said that 00s often have short life expectancies. 001 is aware that he faces death at every turn; the next mission could be his last. And he has been on too many missions. His demise in the season finale will serve as a reminder to 003: death is never an option.