A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

January 21, 2011

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

I’m really enjoying watching this movie again. It’s a great movie. Not just in contrast of the train wreck that was yesterday’s movie. This movie is everything that is great about Star Trek: cool aliens, space battles, galactic conflict, barely disguised political allegory. It also has a cool murder mystery, which is something we haven’t seen before out of a Star Trek movie and effects miles beyond those in any of the movies so far.

The leap in the effects is surely a result of advances in affordable visual magic made to produce the Next Generation. By the time this came out I believe TNG was into season four or five, with an average budget of about 1.5 million dollars per episode, so they had a lot of experience making thrilling space adventures on what would be a shoestring in action movie terms. That’s not the only influence that TNG had on this movie either. The plot of this movie centers on the creation of peace between Humans and Klingons, something that was established to be history by the very presence of Lieutenant Worf on the Enterprise D. (A nod to which is the presence of Michael Dorn playing one of Worf’s ancestors in this movie.) There was even a kind of tie-in to the television show. Leonard Nimoy appeared as Ambassador Spock in a two part episode aired at the time of opening weekend for this movie – an episode revolving around a possible peace accord with the Romulans during which there was reference made to the events at Khitomer. The mystery of course was “what exactly happened at Khitomer?” and there were all kinds of hints that Kirk had died there (including a shot of him being disintegrated in the trailer for the movie.) Naturally the only way to find out the answer was to go to the theater and watch the movie.

The answers didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, but they were worth a trip to the theater nonetheless. As indicated this is the story of how peace with the Klingons first came about. It starts with the meltdown at Chernobyl. Which in this particular analogy would be the destruction of one of the moons of the Klingon home world. The Federation of Planets sets about the humanitarian task of evacuating the Klingons from their dying planet, and Kirk gets roped into a diplomatic mission to escort the Klingon supreme chancellor to Earth for peace talks. But Kirk harbours no love for the Klingons – particularly since one of them was responsible for the death of his son. Indeed prejudice and resentment run deep throughout both sides of the long running cold war. Then things go wrong for the peace process. Photon torpedoes, apparently fired from the Enterprise, disable the Klingon ship they are escorting, and two crewmen beam over and assassinate the supreme chancellor.

So the movie becomes a mystery. Who is responsible for the attack on the Klingons and why? Clearly Kirk never gave the order to fire, but all appearances seem to indicate that it was the Enterprise that committed this unprovoked attack during an escort mission. Spock must act as a detective to unravel just what’s going on while Kirk and McCoy attempt to escape from the Klingon penal camp they’ve been exiled to as punishment for their supposed complicity. It’s a fun plot full of tension, red herrings, humor and action. Everything that is good about the franchise.

In many ways this was clearly an intentional swan song for the old Enterprise crew. The closing narration acts as a heavy handed passing of the torch to the next generation. The closing credits, with the well practiced signatures of all the lead actors, are like a kindly farewell to the fans. Every cast member gets some great time on screen one last time performing these beloved characters. Tomorrow is the first movie involving a new Enterprise and a new crew (who were all quite familiar after seven years on television.) Tonight we bid a fond adieu to the crew of the NCC-1701 (no bloody A, B, C or D)

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January 21, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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