Monday, July 06, 2015

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One of my Amazon purchases was the series of ten movies that bear the Star Trek franchise name.

You trekkies will immediately recognize that the prequel movies are missing from that number.  No Chris Pine entries in my new box.  But everything from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Nemesis is included.

And what is the natural thing to do with a ten-movie DVD collection?  I decded to sponsor a Star Trek movie festival.

"Festival" may be a bit grandiose.  After all, it was just me, the movie, and a bowl of freshly-popped popcorn from the cast iron kettle.

Because we always start at he beginning with this sort of thing, I took out movie number one.  Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I remember when we Star Trek fans flocked to that movie in 1979 with high hopes.  The full cast of the thinking man's science fiction television program would now be taken "where no man had gone before."

We should have realized the producers had put their phasers on "stun"  The first warning sign was the title.  "The Motion Picture."  Pretty pretentious for a science fiction movie.  But the franchise was preparing to go to war with that upstart space western: Star Wars.

The title was not the worst part, though.  The movie itself was.

The television scripts for Star Trek had always been slightly stilted.  In the same sense that the sets were cheesy.  But we liked all of that.

What was charming on television was merely magnified on screen -- and not to the benefit of the movie.  Most of the characters sounded as if they were ad-libbing their lines.  Badly.

To make up for it, Robert Wise, the director, filmed every establishing shot as if he had been hired to remake Lawrence of Arabia.  What worked in the Arabian desert to build tension led only to boredom in watching interminable scenes where the audience was expected to be awed by the special effects.

The movie has a fascinating idea at its core.  What would happen if one of our space probes gained enough knowledge in its voyage through the universe that it developed artificial intelligence and returned to earth to share its data?

That is the type of story line that will send Star Trek fans into hours of conversation.  Unfortunately, that clever idea was inserted into this lard ball of a movie.

I knew all of that when I started watching the movie.  But I was going to work my way through all ten movies -- and I wasn't going to start by fast forwarding through the first entry.  It took me three nights to finish it off.

I am now free to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- one of my favorites.  I can still remember  Diane Sawyer interviewing Ricardo
Montalbán.  She remarked that she looked just like his character when she got up in the morning.  I am certain he responded gallantly in his "rich Corinthian leather" voice.

There are dangers in trying to live our original experiences with movies.  Our circumstances are never the same.  But I am looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the crew of the starship Enterprise.

As for the last three movies in the set that lack William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, I will work my way through them.  It is a film festival.

After all, I survived my life record of seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture twice.

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