I see a lot of movies every year. A
ton. But this year I’ve decided I don’t see enough movies, so one of my
New Year Resolutions was to simply see more. And to write about them.
See, that’s the other half of the equation: I see a ton of movies, but
I write about comparatively few of them. There are a lot of reasons,
but they mainly boil down to the fact that I feel the  need to do long
form reviews, and sometimes – like in the midst of Sundance – I just
don’t have the time.

so was born this new blog! I aim to make an entry for every single
movie I see in 2010. Some entries may be very short, some may be
lengthy. Entries may take a couple of days to be posted. Let’s see how
long this lasts.

last  thing: one of my main objectives this year is to rewatch more
movies. I know this sounds like a strange goal, but there are films I
haven’t seen since high school, which means it’s been almost a lifetime
since I saw them. Recently I rewatched Black Christmas for
the first time since the 1980s, and I might as well have been seeing
the movie for the first time. I’m interested in getting a look at some
movies I loved or hated twenty or even ten years ago and seeing how I
feel about them now.

Let’s begin…

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
d. Nicholas Meyer

There are some really dodgy CGI effects in this film. It makes you realize that there’s something about CGI that makes it age so much worse than any other FX; bad old mattes or rear projections or claymation look charming when outdated. CGI looks soulless and phony and shitty when outdated (I may do an Advocate on this if I get my act together). It’s bad enough that there’s a bunch of way fake Klingon blood floating around in the assassination scene (and taking away the coolness of it, if you ask me), there’s at least one video game quality shot of a CGI Enterprise that stinks up the joint in the final battle.

I’ve rewatched the Star Trek films with my girlfriend, which has let me see them through a new set of eyes, as she’s never watched any of them. She dug Khan and Search for Spock and The Voyage Home well enough. I haven’t subjected her to The Motion Picture, and we made it 40 minutes into The Final Frontier before we quit. Watching Undiscovered Country with her made me see how slow the opening of the film is – it takes a half hour to get to the assassination scene, which is where the plot really starts. And there’s lots of cheesiness on display; she noted that the final scene, when the Enterprise crew saves the peace negotiations, was like something out of a Naked Gun movie. She’s not wrong.

But there’s a lot good going on. I wonder if Final Frontier didn’t make us overvalue Undiscovered Country, but if so only by a little bit. It’s a movie that’s pretty unabashedly for fans, and of all the films feels most like it could have been an episode of the original TV show. Condense that opening half hour into the cold open (most of that info would have been explained via VO by Kirk in his Captain’s Log) and move right into the dinner, followed by the unexplained shots fired. Skip all the prison stuff, but keep the investigation and the last minute save at Kittimer and you have a bona fide season two episode of Star Trek.

What’s nice in Undiscovered Country is the humor, and I kind of dig that it’s Kirk and Bones stuck in a Klingon prison, not Kirk and Spock. That part of the triumvirate never got enough screen time in the films. The biggest problem with the movie, and the mistake that nearly hobbles it, is the fact that there’s a character named Valeris. The traitorous Vulcan broad was supposed to be Saavik, and having it be a character introduced in Khan and having such a major connection with Spock from Search for Spock would have lent the finale weight, and would have made us actually think about the fact that there are opposing viewpoints on how to proceed with the Klingons. Instead it’s a Random Character and we’re left without any emotional attachment when we realize she’s bad. And if it had been Saavik that mind meld/rape would have been really, really heavy. Instead it’s just kind of weird.

It’s still a very good Star Trek film, just a very good Star Trek film with a major missed opportunity.