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Topic: STAR TREK: INSURRECTION (1998) - 20 years! Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 09 December 2018 at 6:28pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply


So at the time, this was the first TREK film that I purposely avoided in the theaters... I was burned-out on almost all things STAR TREK after the initial airings of "Voyager" (though I did see and enjoy FIRST CONTACT after that), but from the trailers and early reviews, this one held no interest to me.

I did eventually rent it a couple years later, and even purchased a copy a few years after that.  I tend to teeter back & forth between thinking it's just okay, to thinking it's one of the worst TREK entries.

Now, I do think it's the second-worst of the TNG films (the big stinker will always be NEMESIS), but has time been maybe somewhat kinder to INSURRECTION over the years?  The humor still feels shoehorned-in, and R'Afu has got to be the lamest TREK film-villain ever, but it does have a decent, well-intentioned story at its core, the special effects have a nice, atypical painterly quality (ILM did not handle the FX this time around), and it features what I feel is Jerry Goldsmith's second-best TREK film score (after THE MOTION PICTURE).

And:  Measured against the dire Abramsverse flicks, it certainly seems to at least attempt to wear some good, old-fashioned TREK ideals and morals on its sleeve, as opposed to the three dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks entries from '09, '13 and '16, which feel like they were trying to carpetbomb everything that was good and decent about the original series.

So, thoughts?  Underrated; even worse than its reputation; or maybe just a mediocre, not-unpleasant 2-hour time-waster?





Edited by Shaun Barry on 09 December 2018 at 6:31pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 December 2018 at 6:42pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I did an in-depth review of this one during my TNG rewatch, some months ago.

To summarize, this one suffers mostly because it feels like a bloated TV episode rather than a MOVIE. Its heart is in the right place, but its lack of "oomph" is what sinks it.

I'll go with "mediocre, not-unpleasant, two-hour time-waster".
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 9:36am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

This was my 'Let's try this cinema to see if it is worthy to watch Episode 1 in' movie.

I remember leaving disappointed with the film but not the cinema - both times!
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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 9:59am | IP Logged | 4 post reply



This movie has grown on me over time - it wasn’t great in the theater, but I have enjoyed catching it on cable when it comes up.  



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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 10:50am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The Federation as the bad guys. Barf.
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Jim Muir
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 10:56am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

<< it feels like a bloated TV episode rather than a
MOVIE. >>

Spot on. Not only that, they shamelessly lifted elements
from old TNG stories to create something much less the
sum of its parts. It's always fun catching up on the
characters, but the story was just so pedestrian and
unengaging I don't think I could tell you much about it
even now.

Still, on the plus side - it didn't have any dune buggy
chases.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 2:54pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

The Federation as the bad guys. Barf.
++++++++

And it's only gotten worse, since then!
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 10:03pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I remember the episode (and it is an episode rather than a film) as an exercise in the kind of bone-headed thinking TNG adored. The film is supposed to be about the Prime Directive (The only directive. Starfleet has no others. Not a single one.) Yet the civilization is one that knows about warp technology and simply eschews its use. Well, not their kids, tooling around in their hotrods, causing trouble, and ripping off Brazil for their facelifts, but Mom and Dad at home? Yeah, thanks for the warp drive but no thanks. We'd rather live here on this enormous piece of wooden playground equipment the designers inexplicably thought was worth the price of constructing and call it a city. All forty-five of us. And we're counting on the Federation to protect all forty-five of us on our playground equipment civilization.

So... the Prime Directive has ab-so-lutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with this situation. As quoted in the original series, it prohibits the disruption of planet-wide civilizations by superior technological powers who might disrupt their natural development. The Bakuans or whoever they were from Insurrection were long past that point. What Insurrection represented was TNG's thumb-up-the-butt insistence that our heroes do nothing for anyone at any time under any circumstances since we'll mess everything up in ways we can't presently understand if we intercede ever. This is our wisdom, for we are wise enough to know that wisdom is the wisdom of knowing when to be wise. Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Mr. Data prepare to leave orbit, and someone turn that damned noise of the suffering and the dying. We are too wise to listen to them.

Also, the film is badly conceived and even more poorly edited. There was supposed to be a kiss between Picard and the woman who he's throwing over his career for, but the producers, rather late in the game one would think, cut it from the film because Picard shouldn't be so... y'know, familiar with someone he's in love with. Which is great. If discovered at the script stage. As it is, Stewart and his co-star thought that moment was going to be in the film and played it as if they were going to kiss. And did. And so the scene as it appears looks as if the film broke and the projectionist lost about ten feet of footage repairing it. Good job, film.

Am I done yet? No. Anthony Zerbe. Who puts this guy in charge of anything and doesn't expect him to Snidely Whiplash his authority all over everyone in his exercise of it? "Sorry, Planet of the Eternally Young and the Useless, but you MUST PAY THE RENT!!" (cue ominous music) "No, no, no!! But I do not have the rent!" "YOU MUST PAY THE RENT!!" (Zerbe advances and the music rises) "Oh, will no one save me??" as Zerbe and her wrinkly old nitwit kids tie her to the railroad tracks as the piano tinkles on at an ever increasing pace... This film was F. Murray Abraham's Jaws 3. Playing opposite Anthony Zerbe? I mean, really, who does that?

And yeah, the Federation are the villains. Because of course they are. Never mind that the creators of Star Trek knew never to go down that unrewarding rabbit hole. Bruce Geller has written about how every week they'd look through submissions from writers who wanted to do Mission: Impossible and every week the same "twist" would occur in script after script. The voice on the tape had LIED and was in on it! The whole time! Dunh dunh dunh...! Sometimes it was just the guy recording the tape. Sometimes it was the organization. In any case, the big surprise...? Is never a big surprise. 

Same with this wreck of an episode. Starfleet prioritizing the health and medical benefits of eternal youth over the wants and needs of a forty-five person strong civilization and forcefully evacuating them from the happily (if potentially toxically) over-varnished jungle gym on which they live. Gasp in astonishment as the entire population (45) is ruthlessly and mercilessly cut down one by one by... transporter beams... which take them someplace else... So the running and rushing about in the big action sequence is literally about... nothing and no one getting hurt. 

Wow. Exciting stuff. But just about at regular TNG levels.

This is also the film with Data's intensely stupid Gilbert and Sullivan resolution to having been re-programmed to go mad and kill everyone, right? Because if Data were to go mad and try to kill everyone, the only solution in a TNG context would be something as supercilious and twee as Gilbert and Sullivan... 

It's a wacky ol' TNG world out there in this film, friends, and you all are welcome to it. I saw it once in the theater when it came out, and I am not revisiting the damned thing ever again.


Edited by Brian Hague on 10 December 2018 at 10:10pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 December 2018 at 1:24am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

If they could bottle Brian up and market him as Weaponized Liquid Sarcasm, they would call it “Hagueorade”.

I bow to your talent, sir.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 11 December 2018 at 12:26pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Brian, I... I... I am awed, sir. I have so little to add to your observations and criticism. 

Not that I'll remain silent.

ITEM: Sarcasm free first. If Starfleet is so goddamned desperate to find a world with healing for ANYTHING... why not colonize Omicron Ceti III? "We'll never get sick, and we'll never die." Crap, you want to help out an already populated world? We KNOW those plants could survive off OCIII - that's how they got Kirk! And the question, "But how do we break them of the spell of the plants once we take them away?" contains its own answer - take them away from OCIII ought to piss 'em off enough.

ITEM: Time for sarcasm. The tension of the showdown in "Spectre of the Gun" was far more logical than the showdown at the end of "Insurrection." Let's get this quite right... the command crew of the Enterprise-D was FACING DOWN A GROUP OF DRONES??? And to make it tense... THE DRONES FACED THEM DOWN IN RETURN???  Wow, did that director know how to set up a face-off or what?

ITEM: So Picard figures to go back to the Baku on his own. With no backup plan, and no way to let Starfleet know the problem. Okay, for Donna Murphy, I might do it.

But then he is ambushed by the command crew. (All being renewed and being healthier and smarter than ever... yeah, whatever.) THIS event causes him to take a slightly wiser course... let Starfleet know what the hell is going on. Oops, bad radio conditions, so the Enterprise has gotta run to get free of the interference because THERE'S A TIME LIMIT. (Do remember that fact.)

How shall we handle this?
A) Send down a full complement of whatever "marines" are on the Enterprise, led by Commander Worf and Mr. Data, supervised by Picard from the safety of the biggest, toughest shuttle they have while the Enterprise runs at top warp speed (and to hell with the speed limit - at least that makes sense) to get to radio clearance, while launch message buoys as backup, to ensure that at least SOME message gets through.
B) Send a away team with a heavy security contingent, and a medical team and a fully supplied engineering team to support the away team while the Enterprise as above, blah, blah, blah.
C) Send FIVE PEOPLE to go get more information and try to TALK THE ADMIRAL OUT OF IT. Because, again, with time running out, that's the fastest and most efficient ...way... to handle it?

ITEM: Oh no, the unreasonably stupid kid lost his... caterpillar. Send a couple of security men back to find him - oops, no security. Okay, send the counselor to find him - no, wait, she's not a big enough screen person, and won't be dramatic at all. Besides... is she even in this movie? Are you sure? Has she contributed* anything? Oh, I got it - Send THE CAPTAIN back to get him.

One of TNG's biggest problems is that they seemed to continually insult my intelligence... and were so successful at it. This movie is even more so. (Although I will never, ever, ever forgive...
Data: That was....?
Geordi: NOT funny.)

*CONTRIBUTED - not appeared and blathered bullshit. And I do not blame Marina Sirtis in the least for this.


Edited by Eric Sofer on 11 December 2018 at 12:29pm
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Tyler Kloster
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Posted: 11 December 2018 at 2:23pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I'll just repost what I said about the film in Mr. Kirkman's TNG rewatch thread:

"INSURRECTION is, to me, the most boring of all the Trek films...not the worst, but the most boring, which is weird since it came from one of the show's best writers. Aside from the music and the special effects (which are mostly better than the series but somehow a comedown from FIRST CONTACT two years earlier) it really is like watching a 2-part episode of the series, and not one of the better ones.

I believe that at a mere 103 minutes, INSURRECTION is the shortest of all the Trek films, and if you trimmed the lengthy end credits off of that, it would pretty much be exactly the length of a 2-part TNG episode. 

Heck, the opening scene with Data going rogue feels like an episode teaser, and on the rare occasions I watch this one, it always feels like the screen is about to fade to black and the TNG theme sequence will start."

That said...20 years? Already? Wow, I'm old.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 11 December 2018 at 5:08pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Greg, Eric, thank you both. You're much too kind. The secret is really just to let everything bother you all the time.

Eric, I like the Omicron Ceti III concept, but the flowers kept bringing everyone back to the planet because, while they can survive for a limited time away from their world, they thrive on the Berthold Rays that blanket the planet and otherwise kill all living tissue. If you wanted to mass-merchandize the health benefits of D.O.C.T.O.R. T. (Dicot Omicron Ceti Three Optimal Rejuvenation Therapy, TM, pat. pend.), you'd need to constantly bombard the flowers and the patients you're trying to help with intense, deadly radiation, which, who knows, depending on how you feel about patients may be right up your alley. I know I'm annoying whenever I'm a patient. I imagine a great many health care professionals would have been more than happy to open up a canister of Berthold Rays on my ungrateful ass...

For only a little extra cash, you can also sign up for Kironide treatments and gain psychokinetic powers whenever you feel like it. Fun at parties. Fool your friends. Hey, why is Bob taking a whip to Margaret? And why is Paul using a flaming hot poker on Marti? Only you know the secret! 

Enjoy your new health and powers on a time-travel trip back to whatever era you wish. Now that we have the correct solutions for the antimatter intermix formula and slingshot maneuvers around the sun, any era you wish to visit is just around the corner! No parent or Guardian required! 

If you really wanted to run wild, you could try cross-breeding the Omicron Ceti III flowers with the Kironide fruit... Maybe you'd wind up with those deadly flower things that shotgun their pointed seeds into the chests of careless Vulcans. 

Someone should really (not) do a series called "Star Trek: Ramifications" in which what is learned and brought back by Starfleet crews from the edge of the cosmos is implemented here in the more civilized and centralized planets, causing everyone no end of mischief. 

Honestly, though, Eric, you do bring up some points I hadn't thought to complain about myself. Well observed, sir. And Greg, what can I say? Haguers gonna Hague, am I right? :-)


Edited by Brian Hague on 11 December 2018 at 5:13pm
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Jozef Brandt
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Posted: 14 December 2018 at 1:51pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply


I remember being embarrassed that I'd seen Insurrection in the theater.  It was so terrible, with a plot that made absolutely zero sense.  The Mr. Plinkett review of Insurrection does a good job at pointing out the gaping plot holes.  It's more entertaining than the film by far.


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Peter Martin
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Posted: 14 December 2018 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I went to see Insurrection and had to twist someone's arm to come with me (they weren't a Trek fan). Oops. First Contact wasn't perfect, but it felt like it belonged on the big screen, had an interesting story and compelling villains. Insurrection was quite the contrast to this.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 December 2018 at 10:50pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

INSURRECTION was the only TNG film I didn’t see in the theater. I was so underwhelmed by the trailers and whatnot that I waited until it came to VHS.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 15 December 2018 at 12:23am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Okay, send the counselor to find him - no, wait, she's not a big enough screen person, and won't be dramatic at all. Besides... is she even in this movie? Are you sure? Has she contributed* anything?

——

She was too busy dealing with her boobs firming up. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 15 December 2018 at 8:57am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

That would explain what Riker was up to then as well...

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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 15 December 2018 at 7:26pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Saw this at the theater and remember almost nothing about it other than it was disappointing and that it felt like a script from the TV show that didn't get made extended to movie length. The only Next Generation movie that disappointed me more was Nemesis and it's a real shame that was the last Next Generation movie made. I'm hoping there will be enough good things about the Picard series for CBS All Access (which I subscribed to just to see Discovery) to get the stink of that final movie off but my hopes aren't particularly high after Discovery to be honest. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 18 December 2018 at 2:26am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Yes, definitely a tv episode stretched beyond the limits
of endurance for cinema release, and the location looked
very much like the usual outdoor tv location for an
alien planet (cheap!)
The Gilbert and Sullivan sequence had me cringing in my
seat, uurrrgh!
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 04 February 2019 at 3:09pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I for one am glad Mr. Hague typed this
instead of speaking it. It reads like a
Dennis Leary rant that if actually spoke,
may cause poor Brian to run out of air.
That said, all are very good points. I
find it to be ok not good or great. For me
its still watchable. More so yhan Star
Trek Disco.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 04 February 2019 at 4:39pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

That is probably the way I'm going to go. I'm going to suffocate while choking on my own wormwood and bitter vetch. Most likely after watching a Star Trek episode.

I will say that I often enjoy Trek episodes, be they TOS or TNG, moreso than I do other programs just to watch the cast interact with one another. I have a greater affection for the cast of TNG than may be apparent here, and it is still enjoyable watching everyone onscreen, even in the "bad" episodes. I'll willingly rewatch a Season Three episode any day over any of the Abrams offerings, if only because it's those characters being played by those actors. 

There's something to be said for having something done by people who know how to do it well, even if it isn't coming together well this time out.


Edited by Brian Hague on 04 February 2019 at 4:45pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2019 at 6:20pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Charm goes a long way. The actors and the characters have carried many a bad TREK episode. Heck, the entire third season of TOS is only watchable because those people are fun to watch.

And so it is with TNG and the others, to varying degrees. As I often noted in my rewatch-reviews of TNG, there were often episodes and moments where I didn't find the characters/writing particularly likable or engaging, but still enjoyed them because of the actors and their charm.

The Abrams movies and STD rely upon flash and dazzle instead of likable characters played by likable actors. For a franchise arguably built on likable and iconic characters, it's a fatal flaw.

That being said, I think the Abrams movies' cast were failed by the writing and directing more than anything. Chris Pine is a charismatic guy, and he played a better Captain Kirk in WONDER WOMAN than in any of the Abrams films. If he'd actually been directed to play KIRK, instead of a badly-written rethink of Kirk, then it might actually have worked pretty well.

As an aside, I was listening to an episode of the INGLORIOUS TREKSPERTS Podcast, which guest-starred an STD writer. His comments essentially boiled down to TV is hard work, and so it's a miracle that anything good is ever produced, and people who want old characters to stay the same are just clinging to nostalgia.

So, in other words, lazy writing is okay because TV is hard work, and there's no need to respect the characters and stories created by other people, which have been embraced as modern myth by the culture. And so you end up with Harry Mudd as a violent murderer and Jim Kirk as a reckless fratboy jackass.

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 07 February 2019 at 11:18pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 February 2019 at 10:46pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I agree that Pine could have played Kirk well, yet he would still never have quite been able to layer his performance as well as Shatner does. Shatner has a theatricality to him that Pine lacks, and Shatner's ease of command and ability to operate as both a pal and a commanding officer in the presence of his friends is deceptively masterful. The respect others had for his authority was unquestioned. I get no sense of that from the Abrams pictures. There's nothing specifically forbidding it. It's just that the cast isn't playing that note, and it hurts the story being told.

Abrams & co. thought they were shining up rusty ol' Star Trek to make it the bright, happy sequel GalaxyQuest never had. They believed that comedy was an essential element of the original series, which is true, in part, but their mistake was in thinking themselves capable of telling those jokes. 

Pine's character, for all of its failings, is still a fairly credible lead. McCoy and Spock, however, are simply affectations. Attitudes rather than performances. Shallowly written and ineffectively conveyed. McCoy's likeable and gruff. The end. Spock is a loose cannon beneath a thin, monotone veneer. The end. They're comedy fodder. They're on screen to be laughed at. From Abrams' perspective, it's not like Star Trek is any kind of serious franchise. It's not Star Wars, for God's sake... THAT you would have to do right. (Or at least put some real effort into.) 

I haven't seen Discovery's Mudd yet, but "Mudd's Women" does hint at the possibility that nothing good happened to Leo Walsh for Mudd to assume his identity. He is more devious and capable in that episode than he is in the later "I, Mudd." We tend to import the light comedy of that Mudd backwards, I think, into our take on the overall character. Again, I have no love for the idea of Discovery revisiting Mudd or for their casting choice, but a murderous Mudd doesn't strike me as too far afield for the character. 

INGLORIOUS TREKSPERTS, on the other hand, is enjoyable. It's a little like the guys from the film FREE ENTERPRISE getting their own podcast... which it is, so, that's all good... 

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2019 at 11:01pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I agree that Pine could have played Kirk well, yet he would still never have quite been able to layer his performance as well as Shatner does. Shatner has a theatricality to him that Pine lacks, and Shatner's ease of command and ability to operate as both a pal and a commanding officer in the presence of his friends is deceptively masterful. The respect others had for his authority was unquestioned. I get no sense of that from the Abrams pictures. There's nothing specifically forbidding it. It's just that the cast isn't playing that note, and it hurts the story being told.
+++++++

As has been noted by many commentators, over the years, Shatner WAS Kirk from Episode One, Scene One. No one could ever hope replace him, or bring that same effortless combination of charm, humor, and strength of command which he possessed in the role.

Which is why I have serious reservations about recasting iconic characters like Kirk. Anyone else, no matter how talented, will always come across as less than.

I like Pine. He’s a solid actor, and he had an impossible job in taking over the role. I just think he’d have been better served if the character had been written AS Kirk, rather than the reckless commander and shallow womanizer which Kirk tends to be typecast as. 

And, yeah, the others are very much affectations. A collection of catchphrases, accents, and schticks rather than characters. Say what you will about the underutilization of the “seven dwarves” in TOS, but the secondary players always gave their characters dignity and the impression of inner lives beyond what we saw onscreen. The characters as presented in the Abrams films don’t feel like real people, much less dignified ones. They’re just there in the moment to crack jokes, yell at each other, or run around shouting (because that’s Abrams’ idea of drama).

Abrams’ equally shallow (yet far more reverential) treatment of STAR WARS proves that his bag of tricks is limited. Style over substance, schtick over characterization. It’s abundantly clear that he cast his TREK films based on how well the actors could capture the accents and attitudes of the original cast, rather than their ability to portray the characters.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2019 at 11:14pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

haven't seen Discovery's Mudd yet, but "Mudd's Women" does hint at the possibility that nothing good happened to Leo Walsh for Mudd to assume his identity. He is more devious and capable in that episode than he is in the later "I, Mudd." We tend to import the light comedy of that Mudd backwards, I think, into our take on the overall character. Again, I have no love for the idea of Discovery revisiting Mudd or for their casting choice, but a murderous Mudd doesn't strike me as too far afield for the character. 
++++++++

The lightening up of Mudd is actually mentioned in the TREKSPERTS discussion. It’s not a case of someone else coming along and changing the character, either, since Stephen Kandel wrote both episodes. Mudd was subtly sinister in his first appearance, yes, but the audio clips from STD presented in the Podcast (which made me yell expletives at my iPod out of sheer frustration) paint Mudd as a full-on villain who spits out threats of murderous vengeance as a result of being separated from his beloved Stella. Groan.

The character as played by a Roger C, Carmel was more of a smooth-talking-type who lures you in and gets you off-balance with his wacky charm before he sticks the knife in your back. A scheming conman who hides behind a larger-than-life veneer, along with his constant protests of innocence. But, hey, subtlety is dead, these days. 


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 07 February 2019 at 11:33pm
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