From The Published Archives: Star Trek VI

This was the original plan.  My friend, Dave MacGillivray and I, were going to attend a matinee weekend screening of a new movie that had just opened and then we would both write assessments for our high school newsmagazine, OMNIA. 
The movie was Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country which opened in early December 1991.  Both Dave and I were looking forward to seeing the movie.  Dave was either a year or two younger than me but taller and bulkier.  I remember years earlier we were at AM Cunningham, a primary school, at the same time but didn’t hang out at that point, mainly because I didn’t know who he was and we weren’t in any classes together.  (My old friend, Shane Willson, who used to wear glasses as a young kid (and would later be nicknamed "Spock"), was in one of my Cunningham classes but we didn’t really become friends until later when we ended up in a number of high school classes together.)
I became friends with Dave during Grade 11 Drama.  For our final exam, we had to do a memorized scene in front of the whole class.  We fittingly chose The Odd Couple and did very well with that.  Got some big laughs and worked well together.  I remember we practised that thing endlessly until we got it right.  (Although, we found out later that we accidentally left out some lines during the performance.  Things were flowing so smoothly I don’t think either of us were aware of it while we were acting for the class.  I got 87% and he got 80%.)
Sometime during that class, we became close and chatted constantly about anything and everything, including Star Trek.  It was him who corrected me about the whole Trekkie/Trekker business.  He said that "Trekkie" was an epithet and that "Trekker" was a term of affection.  Later, in Grade 12 Drama, a fellow classmate sarcastically remarked that we carried on like a couple of girls because we never could stop yapping and arguing about so many topics.
It was always good to go to the movies with a buddy who liked to chat before and after the screening because it made the time go by faster and it was great fun.  I remember one time we screened Malcolm X over the 1992 Christmas holidays at the Jackson Square Cinemas.  As soon as it was over, I turned to him and said, "Best movie of the year."  It was my favourite film of 1992.  I think he liked it, too, but not as much as I did.
We had a good time at the Star Trek VI screening and went home to work on our reviews for OMNIA.  Unfortunately, they only published mine.  I really wanted to read what he thought about the movie.  In fact, I still do.  We both liked it, as I recall.  The good news is he wrote a nice editorial called "The True Meaning of Christmas" that made it into the issue.  One thing I’ve noticed going through my collection of published pieces from high school is how inferior my writing was back then when compared to most of the other OMNIA writers.  I am not a natural writer.  I’ve been working at this my entire life and it took me a good, long while to find my voice.
It took me several years to know how to write a decent movie review.  During this period (September 1989 – June 1993), I tended to focus too much on "plot summary" and not enough on my thoughts and feelings about the movie.  I usually spent just a few lines talking about what I liked or didn’t like.   I’ve come a long way since then.
This review of Star Trek VI was a typical example of this.  As you read it, you’ll discover that I focus quite a bit on the plot and not enough on my assessment.  Still, my writing was getting somewhere and I want you to all to see that for yourselves.
I gave the movie 3 stars out of 4 but the editor, Melanie Splatt, another Star Trek fan, changed it to 3 Starfleet logos out of 4, which was a nice, unexpected touch.  (In that Christmas 1991 OMNIA issue she wrote an Editorial related to Star Trek.)  I’ve reinstated the stars because I don’t know how to do the Starfleet logo which, admittedly, is much cooler.
This was one of 3 reviews I had published in that issue, the most pieces of my writing that ever appeared together in a single edition.  Because we published so infrequently, (every few months or so) there was always a good chance at getting at least 2 reviews in every issue, once former editor Jeremy Sharp resigned.  (He also liked to write movie reviews so it was decided that we would alternate.  He would be in one issue and I would be in the next.)
This Cinema Scope review originally appeared on page 13 in the Christmas 1991 edition of OMNIA.  I’ve had to make some small changes, mostly grammar, but 95% of what you read here is from that original review.  I’ve corrected the name of the character actor David Warner plays.  It’s Chancellor Gorkon, not Gordon as was erroneously written and published.  (I’ve also added Warner’s name which didn’t appear in the original review.)
Careful readers will note the name, Kurtwood Smith, who is probably best known now for playing Red Foreman on the recently ended That 70’s Show.  (Thanks to watching several episodes of that very funny program, my dad can’t stop staying "dumbass" to the TV all the time, especially during hockey games.)  He has an effective albeit unrecognizable supporting role in Star Trek VI.  Back then, he was a very capable character actor in the movies and his best work up to that point was in Robocop, where he played the absolutely ruthless Clarence Boddicker.  Great performance in a great movie.
Christian Slater popped into the movie because of nepotism.  His mom, Mary Jo Slater, was the casting director for Star Trek VI.  He appears in exactly one scene.  (For more cool trivia about the movie, click here.)
A couple of years ago I screened a number of Star Trek movies on DVD and now I have assessments of all of them.  The good ones are 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7.  Today, surprisingly, Star Trek Generations is the best of the 10 movies, in my view.  I still have tremendous affection for The Wrath Of Khan and also The Voyage Home.  A few years ago, when Moviepix was still an analog cable channel, I managed to catch a bit of Undiscovered Country.  It’s still a good movie. 
With the recent announcement that JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible III) is hoping to revive the franchise with a film focusing on the early days of the Kirk/Spock relationship (which, believe it or not, was the original story for Star Trek VI), I wanted to showcase this old previously published piece from my high school years.  I hope you enjoy it even though it features the word "neck-wrecking".
*** (out of 4)
Jackson Square, Fiesta Mall, Limeridge Mall, Burlington Mall
STARRING:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Plummer, Kurtwood Smith and Christian Slater.
Opened Friday, December 6, 1991
When we last saw Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise, they had been taken hostage by Mr. Spock’s half-brother.  That was STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, and contrary to popular belief, that film was not the last Star Trek voyage.  In the newly released STAR TREK VI, we discover that this will be the last voyage of the original cast of the 1960’s TV program.
The movie opens with Captain Sulu (George Takei) aboard the USS Excelsius.  They run into a little trouble when one of the Klingon’s energy moons explodes in a ring-like fashion and charges the ship at a neck-wrecking pace.  There is no damage to the ship, but the crew continues to explore the surrounding area.
In the next scene, the crew of the Enterprise has a classified conference and discovers that the Klingon Empire is on the verge of extinction.  Because their energy moons exploded, the Klingons have a maximum of 50 Earth years to live.  Captain Kirk soon discovers that he and his ship must accompany the Klingons en route to a peace conference so that the Klingons can gain some allies in order to help them rebuild their race.
Some tension arises when the Klingons take in some Romulan cuisine while on board the Enterprise.  At this point we are introduced to Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) and General Chang (played by Canadian actor, Christopher Plummer).  The climax of the film occurs when the Enterprise seems to have fired photon torpedoes at the Klingon vessel, and when the Chancellor is brutally murdered.
All of the original crew members are back, plus two new characters – the President of the Klingons (played by Kurtwood Smith of Robocop and Oscar) and a special (unnecessary) cameo by Christian Slater, who plays one of Captain Sulu’s officers.
Although STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN is still the best STAR TREK film, STAR TREK VI is worth the $8.00 because of the brilliant script, the special effects and the trademark humour.  Until next time, this is Dennis Earl, and I’ll see you at the movies.
By Dennis Earl
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
2:12 p.m.
Published in: on May 31, 2006 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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