Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett Quick Links

Film RSS

Star Trek: Season One Review


Extraordinary
Just like religion and the U.S. Constitution, science fiction has remained popular while losing much of its meaning. Sci fi has never been bigger than it is today, but unlike the fifties -- when even the lamest creature features carried "messages" about nuclear anxiety or the nobility of space exploration -- today's sci-fi movies and TV series don't have much to say. At best, they are action/drama series with intergalactic settings.

The hugely successful Star Trek franchise has been part of that transition. The franchise was last represented by a squadron of mediocre TV spinoffs (though a new Trek film is on the way) and has been eclipsed in popularity by Star Wars, so it's hard to remember that the original Star Trek TV series was a significant cultural force. At its best, it was also very good sci fi.

Continue reading: Star Trek: Season One Review

Star Trek: Season Three Review


Good
Everyone knows the sixties were a time of rapid social change, but just how rapid becomes obvious when re-watching the original Star Trek -- daring and original in some ways, retro in others. For better or worse, modern liberal idealism owes a lot to the naive, multi-ethnic utopian vision promulgated by Star Trek (and just like Starfleet's Prime Directive, liberal tolerance is honored mostly in the breach). And the first interracial kiss shown on TV was in season three. (Though it's not exactly an inspirational moment -- Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura are forced to kiss by evil aliens.)

But the original Trek also drew heavily on Cold War-era sci-fi series like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone -- groundbreaking and experimental in their ideas, but with a traditional moral and dramatic approach. Their serious tone fit the fifties, that uneasy, schizoid time of cultural confidence, space exploration, and looming nuclear Armageddon. Star Trek's cautious presentation probably helped viewers to swallow its innovations, from flip-phone communicators and automatic doors to alien characters like Leonard Nimoy's Spock. The idea of a character motivated by "logic" instead of emotion is pretty silly (they're not opposites), but it was perfect for the liberationist sixties -- and it was a powerful gimmick that generated years' worth of story ideas. (In one of season three's last episodes, "All Our Yesterdays," Spock goes back in time, loses his civilized veneer, and develops a primordial passion for Mariette Hartley.)

Continue reading: Star Trek: Season Three Review

Star Trek: Season Three Review


Good
Everyone knows the sixties were a time of rapid social change, but just how rapid becomes obvious when re-watching the original Star Trek -- daring and original in some ways, retro in others. For better or worse, modern liberal idealism owes a lot to the naive, multi-ethnic utopian vision promulgated by Star Trek (and just like Starfleet's Prime Directive, liberal tolerance is honored mostly in the breach). And the first interracial kiss shown on TV was in season three. (Though it's not exactly an inspirational moment -- Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura are forced to kiss by evil aliens.)

But the original Trek also drew heavily on Cold War-era sci-fi series like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone -- groundbreaking and experimental in their ideas, but with a traditional moral and dramatic approach. Their serious tone fit the fifties, that uneasy, schizoid time of cultural confidence, space exploration, and looming nuclear Armageddon. Star Trek's cautious presentation probably helped viewers to swallow its innovations, from flip-phone communicators and automatic doors to alien characters like Leonard Nimoy's Spock. The idea of a character motivated by "logic" instead of emotion is pretty silly (they're not opposites), but it was perfect for the liberationist sixties -- and it was a powerful gimmick that generated years' worth of story ideas. (In one of season three's last episodes, "All Our Yesterdays," Spock goes back in time, loses his civilized veneer, and develops a primordial passion for Mariette Hartley.)

Continue reading: Star Trek: Season Three Review

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Review


Weak
The rule with Star Trek films is even-numbered films are good, odd-numbered are bad -- and the first film in the series is no exception. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released at a time when sci-fi movies were expected to be long, sluggish, arty epics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Dune. To achieve the desired length and artiness, the producers of Star Trek: TMP hired director Robert Wise -- best known for overlong, dull classics like The Sound of Music -- and chose a script which was long on dialogue but short on action or character development. (Plot: Alien vessel is coming toward earth -- Kirk and co. must stop it. Zzzzzzz.)

Added to the mix is Persis Khambatta, a model-turned-actress who can't even act as well the veterans of the TV show, playing a bald female alien (a femalien). Finally, a third of the movie is wasted on special effects which do not compare favorably with other sci-fi movies (though see below for more on this). Draped over this mess is one of the best musical scores ever wasted on a movie, the work of Jerry Goldsmith (note that the main theme was salvaged and used for the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show). All told, the movie is one of the few imitators of 2001: A Space Odyssey that achieves the same feeling of mystery and danger. Partly this is due to Goldsmith's excellent score; partly it is because the slow pacing and dark, gloomy sets succeed in conveying the slowness and suspense of space travel, as well as its emptiness.

Continue reading: Star Trek: The Motion Picture Review

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Review


Excellent
This is the one with the whales. That's right. The Romulans and Klingons are put aside for one episode in order to create an enemy from a faraway world, suggesting that humpback whales are not native to earth -- that they're an alien species that communicates with the whales of earth through some unknown method. When the space whales haven't heard from their earthbound pals (we're told they were driven to extinction centuries in the movie's past), they decide to pay a visit. The unintended consequence is the destruction of the power systems of everything in its path.

Solution: The Enterprise crew takes a trip back through time (in the stolen Klingon bird-of-prey from Star Trek III) to the 1980s (conveniently coinciding with the production time fram of the film) in order to snag a couple of whales and repopulate the future.

Continue reading: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Review

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett Quick Links

Film RSS
Advertisement

Suggested

We Are Your Friends - Trailer

We Are Your Friends - Trailer

This stylish coming-of-age drama, starring Zac Efron, is the directorial debut of Max Joseph (co-creator of MTV's 'Catfish').

Learning To Drive - Trailer

Learning To Drive - Trailer

This feel-good comedy reunites director Isabel Coixet with stars Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley.

Advertisement
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Trailer

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Trailer

Directed by Wes Ball, this second chapter in the sci-fi action saga is based on The Scorch Trials.

Drake Responds To Ghostwriter Allegations With Meek Mill Diss Track 'Charged Up'

Drake Responds To Ghostwriter Allegations With Meek Mill Diss Track 'Charged Up'

Rapper Drake has responded to Meek Mill’s accusations he uses a ‘ghostwriter’ by releasing...

Advertisement