Star Trek TOS Films Part 1
My views on the Star Trek movie franchise
Hello. First thing I should mention is that this is my very first article on RetroJunk. So please don't bash me too hard. :)
With the recent release of the first full theatrical trailer for the new Star Trek prequel due out in May 2009, I thought it would be good to reflect back on the original films that us old school Trekkers grew up with. I've decided to break this up into a few parts. I'm hoping to get the other parts done soon, but schedule does get a little hectic at times.
We start with the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Released in 1979, this film relaunced the Star Trek franchise that was originally killed by NBC a decade prior. Although, the first thing that should be noted about this film is that it was originally designed as a second Star Trek series. Star Trek: Phase Two was going to depict the second five year mission of the ever famous Federation starship Enterprise. The spin-off series eventually fell through. However, with the success of sci-fi movies such as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the bosses at Paramount decided to turn Star Trek: Phase Two into the movie that started the Star Trek film franchise.
Taking place several years after the end of their original five year mission, a mysterious and powerful energy cloud appears out of nowhere.
After completely destroying (or as we find out later, more like digitizing) a Klingon attack force and a Federation relay station, it is up to Admiral James T. Kirk
and the crew of the Enterprise to find out what the deal is with the cloud and stop it before it can reach Earth. The one crewperson missing at the launch of the mission is Spock. We find out that Spock has been spending time on Vulcan attempting to completely supress all of his human emotions through the Kolinahr ritual. However, Spock finds he has some kind of connection with the intelligence behind this cloud which prevents him from being able to attain his goal. He returns to the Enterprise and agrees to join the mission so that he can find the answers he is looking for.
Fast forwarding toward the end of the film (and I do this because anyone who has seen the film knows that the bulk of this film just drags out), we find out that the "mysterious intelligence" behind the cloud is in fact an old Earth probe "Voyager 6". Tbe probe had been altered by a race of machines giving it sentience and with that sentience it wanted to get back and join with its creator on Earth. With Earth on the brink of destruction V'ger, First officer Cmdr. William Decker (son of Commodore Matt Decker from the TOS episode "The Doomsday Machine") agrees to merge with V'ger thereby giving the probe what it wanted: to meet his God and merge with it). V'ger evolves and the cloud disappears, leaving the Enterprise orbiting Earth and the day is saved. Kirk advises Uhura to tell Starfleet that his officers are "missing" instead of dead, not knowing exactly where they are now.
Before I move on, one personal note I should mention is that there is a Star Trek novel that is out there called "Star Trek: The Lost Years" that depicts the story of the time frame starting from the Enterprise's return from her first five year mission and by the end of the book you have answers as to how Captain Kirk was promoted to Admiral, what happened to McCoy before he was brought back at the beginning of ST:TMP, and an interesting story regarding an ancient Vulcan who used his mind powers for absolute evil. A very good book in my opinion.
We now move on to what is considered the best Star Trek movie of all time (TOS and TNG): Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan!
We start off seeing the Enterprise on what appears to be a routine mission. All the original crew is there with the exception of Admiral Kirk. We see an unknown Vulcan sitting in the Captain's chair (played by the now well known Kirstie Alley; Kirstie actually had an "Introducing" credit during the opening credits). Lt. Saavik (as we later find out her name and rank) leads the Enterprise into a rescue mission into the Klingon Neutral Zone and proceeds to get their butts royally kicked. All of the sudden the viewscreen slides away and we see a silhouette of Admiral Kirk there. Turns out it was nothing more than a simulation. Turns out the Enterprise is nothing more now than a cadet training vessel. Kirk and McCoy end up celebrating Kirk's birthday in Kirk's apartment. Kirk relays to McCoy that with where he is in his life right now, he feels old and outdated. Kirk and the crew eventually end up on board the Enterprise to inspect the ship and assist (now Captain) Spock with a training cruise for his cadets.
At the same time, the USS Reliant, with Chekov on board, , search the galaxy for a lifeless planet on which to test the experimental "Genesis" torpedo. The stumble across Ceti Alpha 5 (thinking though it was Ceti Alpha 6) and begin to think it will suit them. They go down to double check a slight life reading they got and stumble across the malevolent Khan Noonian Singh played by the obviously fake chestplated Ricardo Montalban. For those who don't know or don't remember, Khan was originally introduced in the TOS episode "Space Seed" where the Enterprise rescues genetically enhanced survivors of the Eugenics Wars from late 20th century Earth. In that episode when Khan attempts to take over the Enterprise and fails, Kirk sentances Khan to exile on that planet. However, at that time there was life so Chekov cannot understand why there is a wasteland there now. Khan explains that Ceti Alpha Six exploded six months after their exile. After that Khan became obsessed with Kirk since no-one ever bothered to check up on them to make sure they were ok. Using lifeforms from the post-apocolyptic Ceti Alpha Five, he brainwashes Chekov and his captain, Captain Turrell (played by Paul Winfield). Under Khan's control, they spill the beans about Genesis. When Khan has Chekov contact space station Regula 1 and tells them that they are going to take Genesis, Dr. Carol Marcus (who we find out later was another of Kirk's women) against the opinion of her son David Marcus (who again we find out later is Kirk's son by her) who thinks that Kirk (and Starfleet for that matter) are just after a new weapon, contacts Kirk and manages to clue him in as to what is going on before Khan manages to jam their signal.
Kirk takes direct command of the Enterprise and takes the ship to Regula 1. Before they can get there though, they are intercepted by the Reliant. Thinking that they are just another Starfleet vessel, Kirk sends the Enterprise in without any of their defenses ready. Khan takes advantage of their trust and lures them in. It isn't until Khan has had Reiiant's shields raised and their weapons locked on that Kirk finally gives the order to raise shields. The order comes too late though as Khan proceeds to kick the crap out of the Enterprise and stops just short of destroying her. But he does stop because Enterprise has two things he wants: Kirk and information on the Genesis torpedo.
Kirk offers to beam himself on board in exchange for sparing his crew. But Khan wants the Genesis information as well. Kirk apparently agrees but we later find out it is just to bide some time. It is at this point that we learn about the "Prefix Code": an combination code which every starship is setup with in order to prevent an outside force from remotely accessing a starship's system. Spock pulls up the code and Kirk tells Khan to prepare to receive their transmission. They get a transmission alright, but the dumbfounded and shocked look on Khan's face when he is told their shields are dropping and he realizes that he's been duped is priceless! Enterprise gets off a few quick shots with what power they have left but they make them count. They knock out their weapons and force Reliant to retreat.
Enterprise crawls along and finally makes it to Regula 1 space station. They beam on board and find that Khan must have already been there and had slaughtered the crew. They do manage to detect life signs and find Chekov and Turrell still alive. Chekov tells them how Khan did kill the crew after not finding any of the Genesis data. Turrell adds that he ended up leaving before finding as he had to get back to Reliant in order to find and destroy Kirk. They do eventually discover a powered up transporter and they decide to beam down to the planet in the hope of finding survivors and the Genesis materials. Once down there, they discover Genesis and Kirk gets jumped by David Marcus. David attempts to kill Kirk thinking they are trying to steal Genesis until they are stopped by Carol Marcus. It is at this point that Chekov and Turrell reveal their true intentions. They communicate and tell Khan where Genesis is. But again, Khan's quest for vengeance supercedes his want of the torpedo. He tells Chekov and Turrell to kill Kirk. The problem for Khan now though is Chekov and Turrell's loyalty to Kirk override the brainwashing done by Khan's creatures. Turrell cannot fight the urge to fire though, so he turns the phaser on himself and pulls the trigger. The creature knocks out Chekov and then tries to escape by exiting out his ear. Kirk sees this and disintegrates it with his phaser. Kirk grabs the communicator that was dropped and tells Khan he's still alive and tells Khan that he is going to need to come down there in order to get him. However, Khan thinks that he no longer needs to try. He haves the Genesis material beamed up and tells Kirk that he is going to leave him on that planet buried alive. We then hear what is probably the most famous line in this movie:
However, all is not lost. We find out that Spock and Kirk tricked Khan into thinking that the Enterprise was virtually defenseless. After a couple hours in the Genesis cave they are able to be beamed back up to the Enterprise which was only partially repaired. They decide in order to try to even the odds against Khan, they take the fight into the nearby Mutara Nebula. The static inside the nebula caused their shields and tactical systems not to function which meant that it would be up to whichever one had the superior strategy as to who would win the day. Naturally, Kirk manages to prevail and succeeds in completely disabling Reliant and causing mortal wounds to Khan.
Khan, however, is not about to let them savor their victory. With his last ounce of strength and will, he activates the Genesis torpedo and sets it to detonate. Enterprise detects the activation and Kirk is told by David that in they have four minutes and that it is unable to be stopped. The problem they have now is that the warp drive is down due to the battle damage and at impulse power they would not be able to get far enough away in order to escape the blast. Kirk calls down to Scotty however he is injured and doesn't respond. Spock realizes what is at stake and goes down to Engineering. He gets down there and McCoy sees what is is getting ready to do and tries to stop him. Spock neck pinches him and performs a Vulcan mind meld with McCoy. We hear Spock whisper "Remember." (This comes into play in Star Trek III). Spock enters the engine core and removes the protective lid. Scotty comes up and sees what he is doing. McCoy and Scotty are yelling telling him to stop however Spock doesn't listen. He proceeds to stick his hands right in the energy flow and proceeds to repair the core. On the bridge, the monitors show that that the engines are online and orders Sulu to engage the warp drive. Reliant explodes and we see the effects of the Genesis wave permeate forward as the Enterprise warps away.
Kirk calls down to thank Scotty for saving their butts but when McCoy answers and tells him to get down there right away, he looks over and sees Spock's empty chair. With a look of dread on his face, he rushes down to Engineering to see what appears to be Spock's corpse lying in the engine core. He has to be stopped by Scotty and McCoy from opening the engine core and flooding Engineering with radiation. Spock does eventually get up and walks over to Kirk (after first straightening out his uniform and then walking into the glass). He tells Kirk essentially that he had to do this because the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few. Kirk and Spock have their last few words and Spock passes away.
The next thing we see is the crew assembled in the engine room of the Enterprise.
Spock has been placed in a photon tube and Kirk gives his eulogy for his friend. Somberly, the crew watches as the photon tube proceeds down the launcher and Spock is fired into space and enters the atmosphere of the Genesis Planet.
Kirk, McCoy and Carol Marcus are on the bridge of the Enterprise reflecting on the death of Spock and the recent events that brought them to that point. McCoy points out that Spock isn't really dead as long as they remember him. When asked how he feels, Kirk responds smiling that he feels young.
The last scene of the movie is a montage of images from the Genesis planet. We hear Spock reciting the Star Trek opening (Space. The Final Frontier...). And the final thing we see before fading to black is Spock's photon tube in tact on the planet surface.
I hope you enjoyed this first part. I will try to get Part Two typed up as soon as possible.