Thursday, February 24, 2011

Best of/Worst of # 2

Best of/Worst of
Kevin Scott Bolinger

   Greetings and salutations. This is the second of what I hope will be a continuing series of blogs. Today, I bring to you what I consider the very worst of the Star Trek franchise. I shudder at the horrors I am about to present to you. The plot holes, the continuity goofs, the sheer amount of ego. No, this is not an episode of Voyager, or even Enterprise. I am talking about something far, far worse. An abomination created out of the mind of one of the original stars of Star Trek. I bring to you William Shatner’s  love letter to himself, Star Trek V, The Final Frontier.
   Where to begin, where can I even start to describe this cinematic abortion. The success of Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home led to another sequel. This time, Shatner demanded he be given the reigns as director. This is where things begin to slip and slide out of control. He honed in on a story about the crew of the Enterprise meeting God himself. In a more capable directors hands, this may have made an interesting film. In Shatner’s hands, it became a film of another sort, a kind of film that does not easily wash away, no matter how hard you scrub your skin.
   I think the best way to present this to you is to give a brief description of the story, followed by all the continuity goofs, including the character assassinations that takes place in this monstrosity. Finally I will go on my personal rant about everything this film does wrong, and how it almost killed Star Trek.
   Our story opens on a desolate world known as Nimbus III, the planet of galactic peace. We see someone hand drilling holes in the ground, when he is approached by a stranger on horseback. The stranger offers to help the guy by removing his mental pain. The man seems to enter a state of bliss, and the stranger reveals himself to be a smiling Vulcan with a beard.
   After the opening credits sequence, we are treated to Captain Kirk climbing El Capitan, freehand. Down below, Doctor McCoy is watching him through binoculars, berating the Captain for taking chances with his life, and worrying that he might start talking to himself. Spock, in his infinite wisdom, flies up to the Captain in rocket boots, (bare with me here, I know its ridiculous, this is just five minutes in.) scaring Kirk and almost causing him to fall. Eventually, the Vulcan’s presence does cause him to fall, and Spock rockets his way down the mountain to catch the falling Captain. I will delve into how bad this effect is, and the sheer effrontery to physics later. As Spock holds Kirk by his leg, mere inches from the ground, in runs McCoy to chastise him.
   Back on Nimbus III, the bearded Vulcan takes over Paradise City, the only settlement on the dust ball of a planet. He also take captive the representatives from the Federation, Klingon Empire, and the newly arrived Romulan Empire ambassador. He does his remove their pain voodoo , and reveals that his plan is to get a Starship to Nimbus III.
  On Earth, Spock, Kirk, and McCoy sit around a fire eating beans and attempting to sing and roast “marshmellons”  In space dock  in orbit above them, the newly launched Enterprise, NCC-1701-A sit languishing. She is a mess, nothing works. Her bridge is a tangle of wires and panels. Scotty dictates in his personal log how he feels about the new ship. It isn’t good. Uhura receives a recall order from Starfleet for the Captain and other officers on shore leave.
   Down on the planet, we see the Chekov and Sulu, one of the greatest navigators in all of Starfleet, are lost in the woods. Uhura calls down to them from the ship, the claim they are in a huge snowstorm, but her sensors tell her they are in calm , clear conditions. I will delve into the problems here later as well, on with the story. Transporters are not working, so a shuttle is dispatched to retrieve the wayward pair.
   As Kirk, McCoy and, Spock are sleeping, they are disturbed by a wind and blinding light. A shuttle has also been sent for them. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk heads to the bridge, not quite in uniform. The bridge is full of noise and activity, as an admiral tries to get through on the view screen, which is barely working, as with everything else. Kirk is told to head to Nimbus III, and a video is shown of the hostages, followed by the Vulcan holding them captive. Spock recognizes him, but keeps to himself. Kirk argues that the Enterprise is nowhere near ready for anything, let alone a rescue mission.
    Out in deep space, a probe that looks like the Pioneer probe from Earth, is floating along, as a Klingon Bird of Prey decloaks and destroys it, and as it dies, it screams…more on that later. The Captain of the Klingon ship , named Klaa, bemoans his station of garbage shooter. He desires a real challenge. He is informed of the situation on Nimbus III and only decides to go when he learns Kirk and the Enterprise have been dispatched. He desires to get into a ship to ship fight with Kirk, to prove himself a true warrior.
   With transporters still not working, Kirk decides to take a team down in a shuttle. He leaves Chekov in charge to talk to the Vulcan, now known as Sybok. They need to distract the outer sentries, so, Uhura is made to do a naked feather dance in moonlight…I must hold back, I must! They use the clothing and horses from the sentries to gain access to Paradise City, and quickly find themselves captives of Sybok.
   Back up on the ship, the approaching Bird of Prey has been detected. Sybok makes Kirk and his team bring up himself and his followers to the ship. However, with a warship on its way, the Enterprise needs to keep its shields up. Normal docking of a shuttle will take too long, so Kirk comes up with “Emergency Landing Plan…B, for barricade.” His plan, drop the ships shields just long enough to power the shuttle onboard, hoping the crash barriers will stop the shuttle before it crashes into the bulkhead at the end of the landing bay. The Klingons lock on, fire, and within seconds of the torpedo impacting the Enterprise, she warps away. On the Bird of Prey, he captain says two words “He’s good!”             

Sybok, Vulcan master of mind voodoo

   In the shuttle bay, the ruins of the shuttle are smoking and sparking. The first two awake are Kirk and Sybok. They struggle briefly for a weapon, but Spock gets to it first, and points it at Sybok. Kirk orders him to shoot, but he does not. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are taken to the brig, as the rest of the crew are slowly made Sybok’s bliss zombies. In the Brig, Kirk berates Spock for not following a direct order. Spock finally tells him the truth, Sybok is his older, half brother. His father, Sarek had been married to a Vulcan princess who did not survive Sybok’s birth. Kirk understands, and tries to find a way out of the brig. Spock points out the futility of it all, since he was the one Starfleet used to test the new brigs for all possible ways to escape/
   They hear a tapping, and slowly realize its old mores code. It tells them to stand back, which they barely have time to do as the wall explodes. Through the smoke, Scotty yells at them to get a move on. He tells them the fastest way to get to the bridge, and as he walks away smugly, saying how he knows the ship like the back of his hand, he walks into a support and knocks himself out…I MUST RESIST!!!
   Kirk and McCoy begin climbing a turbo lift shaft, and Spock vanishes. Somehow, he comes from above them, wearing his magic rocket boots. He helps Kirk and McCoy climb on to his boots, but the weight is too much and they begin to sink back down the shaft, towards the waiting bliss zombies, including Sulu, that are waiting them at the bottom. Spock fires the maximum burn on the boots, and they quickly shoot up the shaft, past seventy-eight decks. Yeah, I know,  I know, I am saving that for later.
   On the bridge, they learn they are headed to the center of the galaxy, a hidden planet beyond the great barrier that no ship has ever survived crossing. They are recaptured and brought to the lounge, where Sybok tries to do his pain voodoo on Spock and McCoy. He shows Spock his birth, and lets him see his father complain about how Human Spock is. For McCoy, it is his dying father, begging him to pull the plug. He does, only to reveal a cure for his dad’s illness was found a few months later. He tries to get to Kirk, but Kirk tells him he needs his pain, it is what makes him who he is. Sybok decides to go back to the bridge, thinking he now has Spock and McCoy under his control. He learns that their loyalty to Kirk is stronger then his magic.
   They quickly approach the barrier, which does absolutely nothing to the ship, and find themselves in orbit around a weird electric blue, nearly transparent world. They all have many names for it, for humans, it is Eden. Sybok has Kirk and crew brought to the bridge, now that he is where he wants to be, he surrenders command to Kirk, who instead of arresting everyone and leaving, decides to take a shuttle down to explore.
The Enterprise in orbit around Eden
On the planets surface, it is dark and desolate, a rocky mess. They head towards an light source. A being greats then, showing many faces, but chooses a giant one that looks like either god or  Santa, take your pick. He tells them he needs their ship. Kirk smells a rat and asks what God would need with a starship. Sybok tells the being to ignore him, but Kirk gets insistent. He asks again, and gets eye death beams to the chest. Spock and McCoy also talk back, to the same effect. Sybok, realizing the being is not God, gets into a mental and metaphysical struggle with him, as Kirk orders a torpedo to be fired at their location. More later on that. The transporter is working, but not fully, so Kirk orders Spock and McCoy beamed back up. The transporter fails again, and Kirk is now left alone to face the enraged being. As he resigns himself to his death, the Klingon Bird of Prey comes over the ridge behind him and fires at the being, destroying it, and beams Kirk aboard.
Captain Kirk, questioning God, who strangely is not him...
On the Klingon ship, he learns that the Klingon Ambassador has taken command from Klaa, who he makes apologize to Kirk for an unprovoked attack on the Enterprise. He then shows Kirk his new gunner, Spock. Kirk is so overjoyed to see his friend, he tries to hug him, but Spock warns him to not do so in front of the Klingons.
   Back on the Enterprise, they debate the existence of God, and return to Earth. Back on Earth, Spock, McCoy , and Kirk are once again camping under the stars, as Spock begins to play Row Row Row Your Boat on his Vulcan harp.
     Ok, where to begin with this rant. I will try and keep it PG, but no promises. His film is a huge stroking to Shatner’s ego. Lines like the Starfleet Admiral telling him they don’t need a ship to take care of the hostage situation , they need Jim Kirk. The Klingon Captain saying “He’s Good” at the Enterprises escape. Kirk being the only one who can resist Sybok’s mind voodoo. The story went through so many rewrites and changes that it made no sense. And who in their right mind thought it would be funny to humiliate the best officers in Starfleet?
   Sulu, greatest navigator there is, LOST IN THE WOODS?????
   Uhura, degraded in some sick sexual fantasy of Shatner’s?????????
   Scotty, the best engineer in Starfleet, knocking himself  out cold on a support beam?
   I mean, come on! These people were heroes to many growing up, and Shatner turned them into parodies of themselves. What was he thinking? Captain Kirk is only as good as the support he gets from the highly trained men and women under his command, he is NOT a one man army.
   The effects in this film are laughable. Compare them to the much older, and infinitely better Star Trek II , The Wrath of Kahn, a film that came out before modern computer effects, yet still managed to show one of the best space battles on film that was done with models. However, The Final Frontier, released in 1989, should have had better effects, yet they were awful. The whole sequence of Kirk falling off the mountain, one of the worst green screen effects caught on film. The Eden planet at the end, there were better looking planets in the original series, and I mean the un altered versions.  And why, why did the pioneer probe scream when it was destroyed? Was that supposed to be some cleaver call back to the V-ger probe from Star Trek, The Motion Picture? It does not work that way!!!!!!!
   This film defies so many laws of physics and logic, its not funny. Now, let me clue everyone in on the size of the starship Enterprise. She is roughly the length of a modern day aircraft carrier. Yes, her saucer section has far more interior space, but as for length and height, she is not much bigger then one of our modern warships. She only has a crew of 450 in total. That should be a clue right there. In total, the Enterprise has 17 decks according to the Memory Alpha Wiki. Yet, in the turbo lift scene, they go past deck 78. If the Enterprise had this many decks, she would be almost fifteen hundred feet in height alone, which would make her length over a mile. This may be a metaphor for Shatner’s ego, or it may just be abject stupidity. I will let you decide.
   Now, in the show Star Trek Voyager, it is established that a starship, at best can cover around one thousand light-years in a single year. It is impressive, but in galactic terms, it is very slow. Voyager was stranded seventy-thousand light-years from Earth, and it was said it would take seventy years to cross that distance. That would put the center of the galaxy, the location of the ending of this film, about thirty-five years away from Voyager. This would also put it thirty-five years from Earth, yet the Enterprise seems to cross this distance in a few hours. I know Scotty is a great engineer, but I doubt he found a way to cross thirty-five thousand light-years in a few hours. Again, this is just bad writing and bad planning on Shatner’s part. I know it is a movie with a limited time span, but if you establish that warp speed is so fast that a starship can cross half the galaxy in a few hours, then one hundred years later it would take a lifetime, something is clearly wrong. If the great barrier had been near the edge of the galaxy, where Earth itself is located, then I can see a few days travel, or even a week or two, but not thirty-five thousand light-years in a few hours.
   The Great Barrier, no ship has ever crossed it or returned. This tells me that it is a highly destructive form of energy, capable of utterly overwhelming a starship, let alone a small Klingon ship the size of a Bird of Prey, yet both the Enterprise and Bird of Prey cross it with barely a shudder. Why hype up this supposed plot device and not use it? Why waste our time? Learn how to tell a good , consistent story!!!!!
   For those that do not know what a photon torpedo is, I shall explain. It is a weapon that uses its own propulsion system to send it to the locked on target. The warhead consists of equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, which when they come in contact annihilate each other in such a way as it releases an amount of energy thousands of times greater then the splitting of an atom. Keep all that in mind, because the torpedo the Enterprise fires from orbit to hit the entity below…SHOULD HAVE VAPORISED ANYONE WITHIN A FEW MILES!!!!!! I am sorry, do not take an established high yield weapon and make the explosive force from it seem to be no more then a few pounds of plastic explosives. A photon torpedo is designed to not only destroy ships energy shielding, but also destroy heavily armored alloyed hulls of spacecraft designed to survive not only the rigors of high speed travel , but combat as well. Kirk and crew should have been dead, plain and simple. They were a few hundred feet away from a detonation of matter and anti-matter…GET YOUR PHYSICS RIGHT!
   Speaking of physics, did you know that rocket boots aiming at the sky and clearly still releasing exhaust can hover above the ground that it facing the opposite direction? Apparently they can. I know, you will argue they are really anti-gravity boots, and granted, yes they are, but they still have rocket boosters, and the rockets were still engaged while Spock was hovering, holding Kirk a few inches off the ground. No amount of anti-gravity can overcome downward thrust being applied to planetary gravity. Yeah, they wanted it to be a silly scene with McCoy yelling at Kirk, but come on, Kirk should have been rock pizza, and you know it!
   Ok, I am really getting sick of thinking about this film. My stomach cannot take anymore. This truly is the lowest of the low where Star Trek is concerned. I do not recommend this to anyone. Even if you are a huge fan of Star Trek, skip this one. If you watch Star Trek’s II through VI and eliminate V, you will discover a wonderful continuity that flows between those four films. Just consider V a bad dream, one not to be enjoyed by anyone. If you really want to torture yourself with an hour and a half of Shatner’s ego, by all mean, watch this schlock. However, if you value your sanity, steer clear of this mess entirely.
   Till next time my friends, be well. My next blog I will take a look at what I consider to be the best science fiction television show ever produced. Hope you will join me. Always remember, we are the universe trying to find it’s voice, we are one!
This poster is a lie!

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