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  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    • Runtime:113 min
    • Release Date:2014-09-19 11:47:27
    • Director: Nicholas Meyer
    • Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Auhtor:

   

The crew of the original Enterprise (or in this case, the Enterprise-A)
couldn't have chosen a better mission to end their run on. As a child,
STAR TREK IV had been my favorite of the original films but my tastes
have since changed and I would have to say VI has it beat. In my
opinion, it was the most well-done of all the original feature films.
It had everything I could want: an excellent story, improved special
effects, and the best villain since Khan in II. The film begins as the
crew of the Enterprise-A are preparing to go their separate ways with
the ship being decommissioned in three months. The Klingon moon of
Praxis has exploded and left the Klingon Empire without it's primary
source of power. Without assistance, the Empire faces extinction,
spurring peace negotiations with the Federation. Captain Kirk (Shatner)
is nominated to escort the Klingon High Chancellor Gorkon (David
Warner) to Earth for peace talks but problems arise when the
Enterprise-A appears to fire on the Klingon vessel, beaming two
Starfleet assassins on board to kill the Chancellor. Kirk and Dr. McCoy
(Kelley) are arrested and sentenced to imprisonment on the asteroid
penal colony Rura Penthe. Now it's up to Spock (Nimoy) and the crew of
the Enterprise locate the conspirators in their midst, clear Kirk and
McCoy's names, and stop an assassination plot from preventing peace
between the Federation and the Klingons.

I was too young to understand when I first saw the film, but I can now
see the similarities between the events in the film and the Cold War
politics occurring at the time of the film's release. It does add an
extra element to see how closely the filmmakers tried to parallel real
life events with their story to give audiences food for thought as the
US sought to end the hostilities with the Soviets. Even without the
political subtext, the film is massively entertaining. The story takes
a mystery turn as Spock and his crew must seek out the conspirators and
piece together clues to prove the ship's innocence. We are also given a
more in-depth glimpse into the world of the Klingons and how their race
function, as Kirk and McCoy are taken to the Klingon homeworld to stand
trial for their supposed assassination.

What really grabbed my attention were the film's visual effects.
There's a certain level of effects I've come to expect from the
original TREK films and it exceeds my expectations from the start. I'd
forgotten that, by the time this film was produced, "The Next
Generation" was into their third or fourth season and the effects had
become pretty solid. From the moment we see Praxis explode and it's
shockwave rock the USS Excelsior, I was impressed at how far they've
come in the twelve years they'd been making movies. The same can't be
said for all of the effects in the movie, as some things were
apparently still beyond their capabilities. The Klingon blood floating
in zero gravity wasn't done well and screams CG (it seemed too bright
and reflective and stood out horribly). There is also a scene later in
the film where Kirk is fighting a doppelganger of himself. It's not so
much that the fight look unrealistic (they actually did a good job
pitting Shatner against Shatner) but apparently Shatner has no clue how
to act against himself and his dialogue was incredibly corny. Plus it
was funny when he motions to point at his doppelganger and, apparently
having no frame of reference, points over his head.

The production design in the film is the best in any TREK film yet.
It's a shame it took so long for them to finally nail down the best
style for their starships. The film also boats a terrific villain in
the form of renowned actor Christopher Plummer as the Klingon General
Chang. He's theatrical and over-the-top, and he's a blast to watch as
he spouts Shakespeare and taunts Kirk and his crew from the safety of
his modified Bird-of-Prey. With each member of the crew getting ample
screen time (even Sulu, who's gone on to command his own starship),
this is the perfect send-off for the crew that started it all. By the
time the credits roll with signatures from each major crew member, that
sense of finality has settled in and you realize that the crew of the
Enterprise-A has gone out on a high note.

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The Undiscovered Country- The Best Star Trek Film? I always appreciate
movies that find a good balance in every category: action, plot,
character development, themes, villains, etc. Of all the Star Trek
films, I think VI really achieves that balance in spades. Captain Kirk
and crew are three months away from retirement when a Klingon moon
called Praxis explodes, and the shock wave somehow pollutes the Klingon
home world's atmosphere. In 50 years time, the planet will be
uninhabitable. With this crisis, many Klingons come to believe that
peace with the Federation is the only possible way to save their
species, because they don't have the resources to restore their
planet's atmosphere. Spock volunteers the Enterprise Crew to host a
meeting with the Klingon Premier, Gorkon (similar to Gorbachev, not a
coincidence), much to the chagrin of Captain Kirk, who despises
Klingons for the death of his son. Gorkon genuinely desires peace, and
refers to the future as "the Undiscovered Country," a reference to the
Shakespeare play, Hamlet. Things go awry when the Enterprise seemingly
fires a torpedo at Gorkon's ship, but according to the ship's
inventory, no warheads had been fired. Kirk is put on trial for the
death of Gorkon, putting the peace process in jeopardy.

Nicholas Meyer, the director of the fan favorite, The Wrath of Khan,
also directed Star Trek VI, and he gives us more top notch space
battles, but more importantly, the same character driven qualities as
Khan. Kirk and his crew stubbornly refuse to really accept that the
Klingons could actually change, when in fact they are guilty of the
same thing. People have criticized this aspect of the film, because the
crew did not express such prejudices before this film. Honestly I think
it would be harder to believe that they did not possess any prejudices,
considering relations between the Federation and the Klingons had been
rocky for decades, and they killed Kirk's son. I believe Gene
Roddenberry was against this aspect of the story, and Shatner had
problems with some of his lines, but I am glad Nicholas Meyer and
Leonard Nimoy, the writer of the film, pretty much had free reign. I
think the film would have only been half as interesting without
focusing on the crew's prejudices.

Rounding out the cast are Christopher Plummer as the delightfully evil
Klingon General Chang, and Kim Catrall as the Vulcan Lt. Valeris, who
was originally supposed to be Savik from Star Trek III, but Gene
Roddenberry overruled Nicholas Meyer and would not allow him to use her
for reasons that become apparent in the end. Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley
give good performances as usual.

The Undiscovered Country also excels in the plot department. It is a
story about healing old wounds, recognizing one's flaws, and taking
steps toward a new future, similar to the end of the Cold War. I have a
background in history, so the historical parallels probably appeal to
me more than most people, but Spock also uncovers an intricate
conspiracy to ruin the peace process that reveals the Federation has
not evolved as much since the twentieth century as they thought. Kirk
and McKoy also have to escape from a prison in a sub plot that has many
parallels to the Bridge on the River Kwai and Escape from Alcatraz. I
think this movie had a more interesting plot than Wrath of Khan, which
was just a simple battle between old enemies.

I really don't have many criticisms of this film, except the detective
story on the Enterprise is a little thin. The Enterprise crew is
missing one member, Sulu, as George Takei finally convinced Nimoy to
make his character the Captain of the Excelsior. I think it's
interesting he was promoted to Captain, but it's a little inappropriate
that Sulu is not present for the Enterprise crew's last hurrah. The
Undiscovered Country is definitely my favorite Trek film, and I think
you can make a good case for it being the best, given its good balance
in the plot, action, character, and thematic departments. This was the
send off film for the original cast, and I'm glad it turned out to be a
good one. The last film in a series turns out to be the worst all too
often. You really feel something for this crew in the last scene, where
Kirk defies his orders to return to his star base so they can enjoy one
final voyage. This really should have been the only farewell to Captain
Kirk, as his appearance in Generations was not really necessary. I
encourage everyone to visit Star Trek VI and give it the praise it
deserves, as it often gets lost behind Khan, Voyage Home, and First
Contact.

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This is the second Trek movie by Nicholas Meyer, fan-favorite writer
and director of "The Wrath of Khan". It has the same strengths: a plot
based firmly in pulp history, some good action scenes, and a fairly
serious tone. It also shares the same weaknesses: dull direction and
photography, rampant militarism, and clichéd dialogue.

Kudos to the writers and producers and whoever for adding the political
allegory. The Klingon Empire is collapsing due to a disaster of some
sort, and it presents the Federation with a perfect opportunity, either
to finally defeat their old enemies, or to turn over a new leaf and
make friends. If you've seen The Next Generation, you'll know the
outcome.

The problem is that this is all rather tawdry. It turns out that the
23rd century is a lot like the present day, with politicians and
military types and conferences everywhere you look. Remember the days
when the Enterprise explored space and encountered exciting new alien
life forms? None of that here. This is a much more old-fashioned
adventure, with Kirk and Bones framed for assassinating the Klingon
leader and shipped off to a prison planet while Spock and the gang try
to solve the mystery of exactly what the heck happened.

The middle third of the film moves slowly. The prison is full of aliens
but otherwise a bit drab. The villain is not revealed as such until
late, and doesn't get developed at all. The mystery is never as
convincing as it should be because it always seems like Spock already
has all the answers — a technique Nicholas Meyer learned from old
Sherlock Holmes films, though not from the genuine Holmes stories.
Those stories are quoted along with an awful lot of Shakespeare; the
Klingon in charge of the prison lifts his intro speech direct from
"Bridge on the River Kwai". The climax is pretty sharp, with a decent
space battle. (Actually, the battle consists almost entirely of the
Enterprise getting repeatedly shot at by a Klingon ship; it's a wonder
the scene works at all).

So it's not a bad film, it just feels a little small. Galactic politics
don't carry enough weight to make a really good movie, and there's not
enough fun or adventure in the rest of the story. As usual, the
unwieldy plot tends to crowd the characters out of the film, even
though this, the last movie with the original crew, is where we really
want to see each of hour heroes get a good send-off.

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After my musicals period, I enlist for another six movies marathon but
this time, I know them.

"Star Trek" (ST) has been part of my life for maybe 20 years now but
not as long as "Star Wars" (SW). ST and SW are the two big franchises
in science fiction and however, they haven't much in common. SW is
close to fairy tales instead of ST that is rather a vision for our
future.

That's the first appeal in ST: you know that it can happen, it's real
thus you relate easily for what happens and identify with the crew.

That's the second appeal of ST: his crew. Being humans like you and me,
it's easy for them to inspire and thanks to the genius of their
creator, they embody the best of humanity. The famous trio, Kirk,
Spock, McCoy is inseparable as they are the heart, logic and soul of
the best of mankind. Thus, they are special "friends" that you can't
forget all the more than they have been on the stage for all your life.

That's the third amazing feat from ST: its longevity. Started in 1966,
this movie was the 25th anniversary of this original cast (I don't
watch the spin-offs…) and I don't know any other characters being there
for such a long time except maybe Indy (27 years) and some SW cast (28
years)! But the ST cast was already mature in the original show, thus,
at the age of this movie, they are grandparents, with white hairs: Kirk
(60), McCoy +(71), Spock (60), Scotty +(71), Chekov (54), Sulu (57) and
Uhura (58). The audio commentary joked about getting them free or
wondered about their social security but at last, they have left a
tremendous achievement for what is a cult show, unlike today when a
success is always labeled this way! Thus, there is a bit of nostalgia
watching the last minutes of this movie because you know it won't
repeat anymore.

But, as you watch a farewell, you can be sad of the chosen story, even
if the script is original: the themes (politics and crime) don't really
deal with science fiction but are well told! A lot happens on board
thus it's great to discover the ship Enterprise as never before. The
score is great but very different from all the other movies.

In conclusion, you watch a very healthy franchise because keeping with
its roots, it's however never the same. But for a last time, it isn't a
big homage for all the joy they give us for such a long time. That's
why I watch the movies in reverse, because I will finish with ST:TMP, a
exceptional and emotional science-fiction story.

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