Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day One Hundred and Fifty-two - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "I love you, Benedict, but you're no Ricardo Montalban"

Despite the tremendous job that JJ Abrams is doing rebooting the Star Trek franchise into summer movie blockbusters, I'm personally of the opinion that that classics remain so for a good reason.

While young Kirk and Spock are gallivanting around the galaxy, taking on klingons, gene warriors, and deus ex'd uber-cruisers in Abrams' version, the original crew were taking small, personal journeys with cosmic consequences that didn't have to rely on glitz and glamour, but were instead morality plays on duty, honor, revenge, and friendship.

Abrams tries, but it's mostly lost in the dramatic action set-pieces and grand CGI crashes. While the vistas are amazing, I still think the models and matte effects were better. Though arguments could be made either way concerning the acting.

Take The Wrath of Khan for example.

Yes, there are obvious plot holes and it's a slow starter, but the sheer charisma that Ricardo Montalban exudes makes up for his plastic supporting crew (only one of whom actually speaks), and his singular quest for vengence that ties back to his and Kirk's encounters back in The Original Series, makes for much more entertaining and satisfying resolutions than Into Darkness' denouement.

Still, I shouldn't compare them, really. They are two separate movies, after all... it's just that Abrams makes it so we have to.

Really, I'm not here blogging about 2013's Wrath, so I'll stop and return to the original.

I so very much love both the first and the third acts of this film. I have nothing against the second, where Kirk and the Enterprise tussle with Khan and the Reliant for the first time, but that Kobayashi Maru sequence of Kirstie Alley's and the post test scenes where Kirk ruminates on getting old and useless are just great... and that final speech of Khan's to the viewscreen, quoting Moby Dick? It's both iconic and delicious. The way Montalban chews on that scene, and every scene with pretty much no help from his supporting crew, makes me so happy.

Yes, the solutions are simple and obvious, with rational folks wondering why the heck Scotty didn't just go in and sacrifice himself earlier (considering he knew what the stakes where), but "the needs of the many" speech rings so much more true than Chris Pine's in 2013.

Gah! I'm doing it again.

I've waited forever to watch Wrath on Netflix. Not because Into Darkness was coming up and I needed to prepare for the eventuality of Cumberbatch's character... and, also, not because I wanted to compare both second entries of the respective series. No, the true reason I've delayed so long in watching Wrath is that I wanted the original Star Trek:The Motion Picture to make it on the stream so I could watch them in order.

It's been so long since I watched V'Ger assimilate Illia... and Decker commit the ultimate sacrifice.

So, I waited.

Until I couldn't wait any longer.

Wrath is still the best Star Trek movie for me, in any reality, though I do not have the disdain for the TNG Trek films that most do. Montalban makes the film and Spock's parting words always ring so much more true than any other platitude the many films have tried the bring across.

I truly wish Abrams films were smaller, more personal stories instead of the grand, sweeping epics of adventure that he has created... but I understand the necessity. No executives would fund them, I think, thanks to the need for franchises to be bloated money-grabbers for studios and their investors. All we can hope for are the non-franchise films to take up the slack. Films like Moon, Gravity, and the like.

Here's hoping.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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