I figure you should know how much I know of the entire Star Trek universe before I write anything about these movies. My Star Trek knowledge isn’t very extensive. Well, somewhat extensive for a girl, maybe? Or is that sexist? Here’s what I know of Star Trek:
– I saw a few episodes of the original TV series as a young girl. Thought they were okay but I saw that one with the creepy diseased kids or whatever and it freaked me the hell out. (I’m sure Trekkies would be able to name it – it was called Miri).
– When I was a bit older, The Next Generation came along. And I LOVED it. I turned into a massive TNG geek. I still know the most about this series and (sorry) will always love TNG the most.
– I didn’t watch any of the following Star Trek stuff other than a tiny bit of Deep Space Nine. Instead, I then went back and watched the majority of the original series. Yes, I do like that too but, obviously, it’ll seem dated to anyone who didn’t grow up with it.
– The movies. Here’s my confession: The first movie I watched was Star Trek: Generations. And I watched every one that followed that. But I never went back and watched the ones with the original Star Trek cast. Shocking, I know.
But with Star Trek Into Darkness coming along, I thought I should make a start. So this past week I re-watched Star Trek (2009) and then watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture & The Wrath Of Khan for the first time. And I’m now just back from seeing Into Darkness. I’ll do a review for that later…
Yes, this was a good reboot. The characters still didn’t mean quite as much to me, though, as TNG characters. I should have watched the old movies before seeing this one – I’m sure I would have enjoyed it much more and I’m sure it’s a good feeling to understand the “inside jokes”. The film (of course) had to spend quite a while setting up each of the characters for those in the audience who were seeing this without having seen anything of the original Star Trek at all. I do think the overall plot suffered a bit because of this. I re-watched this as when I first saw it I actually fell asleep and didn’t remember it that well. Well, I fell asleep this time too. I did finish it but, overall, I was a little underwhelmed by the story. I’m not saying it was bad – it was a very good reboot of the original series. But I was a tiny bit bored and, after then finally watching the first two movies, I actually liked this the least of the three I’m reviewing here.
I’ll do these together. As we’ve all heard for years, “The Wrath Of Khan is the best!!”. Well, I can certainly see why die hard Trekkies would feel this way. But bear in mind that I’ve just watched this now after seeing later Star Trek movies and knowing there were plenty of (original cast) sequels after The Wrath Of Khan. So, naturally, the ending of it is NOT going to pack the same punch as I’m sure it did when the movie first came out.
So, to be honest, I probably liked the first and second movie pretty much equally. I enjoyed the first one more than I was expecting to. I think the music was much better in the first movie than in the second. I think the first one, in a way, felt more “cinematic” (at least at the beginning). The pace was very slow (I don’t think the current generation would make it far into this movie!) but I kind of liked the long slow shots of space & the spaceships & all that – kind of reminded me of the end of 2001 (although that’s a much better film). But the ending of the first one was a bit, well, pathetic. I personally LIKED the story, though – it felt very very much like an episode of the TV series. But you want a bit more than that from “the motion picture”. So the movie felt a little bit like a good TV episode stretched into a long movie.
The Wrath Of Khan, to start out, felt even more like a TV episode to me than the first movie did. I don’t think the much more boring musical score helped this feeling either. Also, I like sci-fi. Obviously Star Trek is all sci-fi but the second movie is more of a “revenge story” movie whereas the first one focused more on cool “space stuff”. Sorry if that makes no sense but not sure how else to put that. I just liked the “majesty” of the first one a bit more, even if the special effects weren’t necessarily the best. (I think what I saw of the first one was a Director’s Cut? I have no clue how that might differ from the original version). Basically, the beginning and middle of the first movie are very good and the ending is “meh”. The beginning of The Wrath Of Khan is “meh”, the middle is fairly good, and the ending is excellent.
I think the ending of The Wrath Of Khan makes people forgive (and forget about) any of the weaker bits of the film. If the ending hadn’t been SO good, I’d have to say I’d prefer the first movie. And, quite frankly, Khan just kind of doesn’t do it for me as a villain in this. Ohh – controversy! But I think most people, watching The Wrath Of Khan for the very first time these days, would feel the same way and also probably wouldn’t be too moved by the ending knowing all that’s known by now. (Not that I exactly know – I still have to watch the third movie!). 😉
Star Trek: The Motion Picture & Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan are both very good films in the overall Star Trek universe and I did enjoy them. They are, however, very dated and won’t have as much of an emotional impact for someone watching them for the very first time today. Trekkies will probably find no fault in either film but as a bit of a “partial-Trekkie”(?), I can see the faults while still being able to look past most of them and still enjoy the films. I did enjoy them more than Star Trek (2009) but that’s mainly because I know just enough of (and have just enough of an affection for) the original cast and had a hard time adjusting to new actors playing them. All in all, the strengths and weaknesses of all three films mostly even them out for me, although I do prefer the first two but have to recognize that the 2009 film was a good start to a new series.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 7/10
Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan – 7.5/10
Star Trek (2009) – 7/10
Link to Star Trek Into Darkness Review