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ST - Star Trek
(05-31-2020, 01:27 PM)TM2YC Wrote: There is a long, involved scene of Picard trying to dissuade Soran from his course of action by just reasoning with him and he almost gets through. The later Picard would've just fired a barrage of torpedoes at first glance.

Counterpoint: would he, though? In Nemesis, he belay's Worf's instinctive raising of shields when staring down the Scimitar, and makes numerous appeals to Shinzon's better nature. And in Picard, there's many more instances of him decrying and trying to avoid violence than resorting to it. I think I know what you mean, though, and that's that Trek has come to view action pron as totally awesome, dude under Abrams/Kurtzman. The ridiculously overpraised Beyond is one long orgy of violence, with a few token throwaway appeals to diplomacy and peaceful problem-solving. But the writers stack the deck by making the villains increasingly insane and fanatical (see: space vampire Idris Elba, determined to wipe out an entire starbase full of civilians for nebulous reasons of revenge). It's not so much the characters that changed as it was the character of the films themselves.

Anyhow, I love Generations, it's my favorite of the TNG films, and thus, due to my TNG bias, my favorite Trek film by default. The mishmash of costumes and new dramatic lighting, as you say, tells the story of where the franchise was behind-the-scenes right on screen, and that, to me, only makes it more memorable. Big Grin
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(05-31-2020, 09:44 PM)Gaith Wrote:
(05-31-2020, 01:27 PM)TM2YC Wrote: There is a long, involved scene of Picard trying to dissuade Soran from his course of action by just reasoning with him and he almost gets through. The later Picard would've just fired a barrage of torpedoes at first glance.

Counterpoint: would he, though? In Nemesis, he belay's Worf's instinctive raising of shields when staring down the Scimitar and makes numerous appeals to Shinzon's better nature.

I was exaggerating a bit, "trying" to be funny Big Grin . It would perhaps be more accurate to say that Picard is increasingly more likely to grab a phaser rifle and give a "let's kick some ass" look to camera as the movies went on. Only moving on to firing torpedoes, setting self destruct and engaging ramming speed when that had failed.



Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Arguably the best and most accessible (for non Trek fans) of the four TNG movies, although not perfect. It's a terrific action focused adventure in it's own right, quite dark in tone but still remains very Star Trek in spirit and theme. Although the focus is sometimes too much on phaser battles, explosions and body-horror, the story shows us a near-future bleak post-WW3 possibility for mankind (if we don't mend our ways) and celebrates the unified far future paradise that space travel could herald. The scene where Picard (literally and metaphorically) disarms Lilly by showing her the wonder of seeing Earth from orbit, is totally magical and gives me goosebumps every time (in no small part thanks to Jerry Goldsmith's score). In that way it's arguably the most Star Trek of all the films, conveying Gene Roddenberry's central vision.  The script goes to show you can swear in ST (and direct it at Picard), without it feeling cringey and misjudged. When Lilly bursts into his ready-room and calls Picard a "Son of a b*tch" and tells him he's talking "Bullsh*t" it feels natural because it's justified by the material and characters. Then it's followed up by her bringing him to his senses with a reference to literature.

I believe 'First Contact' was the last Trek film to use physical models and arguably the FX have not been bettered in this franchise. The shot where the new Enterprise sweeps past the camera into the Borg battle blocking out the whole frame is still stunning. Ground breaking CGI shots like when the Borg Queen's head lowers into her robot body still hold up and still look creepy. Even on VHS, I've always found it distracting that the actors are armed with two different Phaser-rifle props. They're similar enough that I can't help trying to spot which version they are holding in any given scene. I wonder if this was because they were just trying to save money on props, or maybe re-shoots were behind it? (Plus there's a third design used in the space-walk scene). You can tell Jonathan Frakes is trying his hardest to make every single shot and camera angle look beautiful and visually interesting in his debut feature. Overall 'First Contact' is an easy re-watch anytime for me.



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I agree there's a lot to love about FC, but I really loathe the Borg Queen/Data stuff. I think the Borg Queen was a mistake in general, though I appreciate Krige's performance and think the character could have worked better in another story. It's her whole seduction of Data/wanting a worthwhile mate that's off-the-charts cringe for me. TNG-era Trek is so generally sexless that to have all this evil-coded sexuality brought in out of the blue feels wildly out of place, and results in her merely prancing around making speeches, and never really doing anything other than being duped. That, and Picard's whole mission to offer himself up as a sacrifice plays like a hacky riff on Luke willingly facing the Emperor.

Maybe someday I'll make a fan edit that cuts out all the Queen stuff, leaving no explanation for exactly how Picard rescues Data, and only following the Phoenix storyline in the latter half. It might not meet this site's exacting standards for coherent storytelling, but I could at least enjoy (what would be left of) the movie again... Tongue
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(06-04-2020, 07:40 PM)Gaith Wrote: I agree there's a lot to love about FC, but I really loathe the Borg Queen/Data stuff. I think the Borg Queen was a mistake in general, though I appreciate Krige's performance and think the character could have worked better in another story. It's her whole seduction of Data/wanting a worthwhile mate that's off-the-charts cringe for me. TNG-era Trek is so generally sexless that to have all this evil-coded sexuality brought in out of the blue feels wildly out of place, and results in her merely prancing around making speeches, and never really doing anything other than being duped. That, and Picard's whole mission to offer himself up as a sacrifice plays like a hacky riff on Luke willingly facing the Emperor.

Maybe someday I'll make a fan edit that cuts out all the Queen stuff, leaving no explanation for exactly how Picard rescues Data, and only following the Phoenix storyline in the latter half. It might not meet this site's exacting standards for coherent storytelling, but I could at least enjoy (what would be left of) the movie again... Tongue

You could eliminate the Borg Queen/Data plot easily I think (but it would drastically reduce the run time of the film) since the Enterprise's first action upon arriving in the past is to blow up the Borg sphere. So just cut everything the Borg do after that, beginning with them managing to beam aboard the Enterprise. It would just be a short film about hanging out with a drunken Cochran, going on a magic carpet ride, meeting some Vulcans and then sodding off back to the future.
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^ I hadn't even thought of that! But, I think I like my idea better. A First Contact without "we must draw the line he-eagh!" is no First Contact at all. And, to lose the EMH cameo (among so many other great moments)?

[Image: 0*z6mvoDhr_lXJ2hkX.jpg]

Cutting out the Queen, IMO, would result in no great moments lost, and a tightened pace, to boot. The lack explanation for Data's facial damage in that last shot, as well Picard's absence from the climactic bits of the third act, would really be the only downsides to such an edit I can think of offhand. Big Grin
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(06-05-2020, 03:34 PM)Gaith Wrote: The lack explanation for Data's facial damage in that last shot, as well Picard's absence from the climactic bits of the third act

Maybe problem #1 could be fixed with a deepfake.
Courage, men! we've not sunk before, and we'll not sink now!
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^ Perhaps, but it wouldn't bother me personally. Picard would still have his line about breaking the toxic gas canisters, so one could assume Data just got sprayed with the stuff... Tongue
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Actually, I just had another thought: one could simply cut all of the Queen's scenes before Picard meets her/re-learns of her existence. (As well as the gratuitous snapping of her mechanical spine.) That way, her introduction would be a jarring WTF moment, but it wouldn't place the audience in the awkward position of knowing about a major character Picard is completely unaware of, and I do kinda like Data's evil fake-out, as well as his line about considering the Queen's offer for "0.68 seconds." (Though the ensuing line about how that was "an eternity" must be cut.)

Really, it's all the seduction stuff between the Queen and Data I despise the most. We've already seen Data distracted/corrupted by emotions in Generations and "Descent," so those angles are dull rehashes, and while Krige's performance is alluring in an unusual and kinky way, the fact that she's freaking Borg means no being in their right mind would want to cozy up to her. Ergo, Data's evident attraction and fondness for her can only be interpreted as A) his emotion chip going haywire, B) nonsensical writing in service of giving Spiner someone to smooch, or C) both.

Conclusion: now that I really think on it, the Queen's appearance might be partly salvageable. Indeed, it arguably even provides some context for why the Borg kidnapped Picard and gave him a new name in the first place. That said, her subsequent appearances on Voyager ("Dark Frontier," "Unimatrix Zero," and "Endgame") were pretty naff, so cutting her entirely wouldn't be the worst loss, either.
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Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
I've never disliked 'Insurrection' like some fans did and I still enjoy it. The action and excitement is dialed way back from 'First Contact', it's going for more of a "prime directive" themed TNG TV approach instead. The action that is there is adequate but the character stuff and humour around the crew rediscovering their youth is delightful.  Some of the jokes probably go too far but if you watch all the silly deleted scenes, it could've been much worse. I particularly enjoy the rekindled relationship between Riker and Troi and the tentative friendship the boy from the village develops with Data. Even back in 1998, the early CGI FX looked off and obviously the entire climatic sequence where they didn't get around to replacing the blue-screen is embarrassing. The village set looks terrible, it might have been forgiven on the TV show but in widescreen HD it's woefully inadequate. You can see the brushstrokes of the paint on the chipboard looking buildings (even in medium shots) and the bridge looks like it's borrowed from a low rent theme park. It's the polar opposite of the 'Lord of the Rings' Hobbiton set (a similar romantic idyll) from just a couple of years after, which looked expansive, lived in and richly textured. Riker piloting the Enterprise himself is cringey enough but when he pulls out a manual joystick to fly the ship, you want to hide your face in shame for the movie. The Picard character is taken further down that action hero road, Patrick Stewart almost immediately strips down to a vest to show off his ripped old man bod. You can't fault the casting of F. Murray Abraham as the antagonist. 'Insurrection' has a lot of flaws but I forgive a lot of them because I'm invested in these characters and the premise is interesting and about upholding the ideals of Star Trek. Yay! Jerry Goldsmith once again does sterling work on the score.

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^ About those sets: Wikipedia reports they were in large part made of styrofoam, and had to be hastily rebuilt after unusually heavy rains.

 
(06-07-2020, 02:15 PM)TM2YC Wrote: the entire climatic sequence where they didn't get around to replacing the blue-screen is embarrassing.

I don't know what you're talking about. The effect is seamless!




... Holy crap: some crazy hack fraud is remastering the classic Plinkett reviews to HD!! They've done Gen/FC/INS and TPM/AOTC so far:



 
(06-07-2020, 02:15 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Riker piloting the Enterprise himself is cringey enough but when he pulls out a manual joystick to fly the ship, you want to hide your face in shame for the movie.

The look that Trill gives him, though... should've earned the movie a PG-13 right there. (Yes, this is the last PG Trek film, probably ever.) Yowza!

[Image: image.jpg]

... Wait: that actress died of chronic alcohol use last year?! Terrible. Sad

I was still a young lad when Insurrection came out, young enough not to mind its kid-friendly tone... heck, I could practically have played the kid Data befriends myself. I got it on VHS, and fondly remember several moments/scenes, but haven't watched the whole movie in forever - and perhaps it's best that way. Going in a lighter direction after FC was both understandable and admirable, and they even acknowledged the losses of the Dominion War, which most general audiences wouldn't have heard of, pretty well. The script's key flaw is really that surely on a planet with Earth-like gravity, Starfleet would simply have made a deal to set up rehab centers away from the Ba'ku village, and everyone would have been fine. Tongue Though I agree, from memory, that the Jerry Goldsmith score is amazing.

I read the unpublished Michael Piller book Fade In about the movie's development a few years ago. And, from the time of the movie's release, I had a copy of the quite handsomely produced behind-the-scenes paperback The Secrets of Star Trek: Insurrection. Every large franchise flick should be lucky enough to get such a tribute. My favorite part was perhaps this awesome pic of the mains' stunt doubles: Tongue

[Image: Insurrection-stunt-doubles.png]
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