Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trek/ Cattrall Watch: Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Watched:  05/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Nicholas Meyer

This is... my third favorite Trek movie?  Pretty remarkable for a movie that has very few ship-fetish shots and plays like a 3-part episode of the TV series.  But, man, it just works.  

I believe it was advertised as the final movie for the original crew from Star Trek before The Next Generation gang took over, but as an excitable 16 year old, I thought "nah, they just got their mojo back on this one.  They'll make more."*  

So, yeah, shocker, I am into a tight murder mystery set in space with the fate of the galaxy in the balance.  Throw in ship-to-ship combat, several rad supporting cast members beyond the usual crew, plus Sulu as Captain of his own ship (and, my god, had they just given Takei a spin-off series back then...), \more wildly over-the-top Klingons in the form of Plummer's Shakespeare spouting warrior, Chang (love everything about this character) -  and it's like Trek was just punching "Ryan will like this" buttons.  

And, of course, Kim Cattrall as Lt. Valeris.

here for it

But, yeah:  David Warner, Christopher Plummer, Iman, Grace Lee Whitney, Brock Peters, Kurtwood Smith, Michael Dorn, Rosanna DeSoto, William Morgan Sheppard, Michael Dorn...  I mean, that's a cast.  Not including the wildly distracting cameo by Christian Slater.  

The film really does feel like the end of the cycle that started with Wrath of Khan, interrupted only briefly with V.  

As part of that cycle, which had really started with the first Trek movie as Kirk found himself back on the Enterprise older than before, and, by Wrath of Khan, the crew was looking back at past glories and what it all meant, so there's a certain melancholy to these films.  They're not the robust young men and women that once dashed around space/ sat in plywood sets playing space-cowboy.  By this installment, the Enterprise gang was truly closing things out both on their careers as the bridge crew in the fictional world, and as the original (or "real") cast of Trek to the public, and - within the story, leaning against a galaxy-shaking event that would mean nothing would ever be the same.  Just as - when this film ended.. what then?  What vision would our cast and crew have for embracing that change?  What vision would we?  Even with the help of Picard and friends who had already put down plenty of runway by now.

The film embraces the idea that events will occur and cold wars may fade.  Our well-entrenched beliefs and ways of doing things which served us well will suddenly become obsolete, often from circumstances beyond our control.  

It's a wildly self-aware film, especially coming on the heels of the prior, un-aware installment.  And that's okay.  Signing off after decades without a hint of the gravity of the moment would have been weird.  

Not everyone gets huge character moments - it's still Shatner, McCoy and Nimoy's show (Nimoy is an Executive Producer) - but everyone gets a good line or three and something to do.  But it's good to see everyone again.

There may have been a cozier way to wrap up the series, but it's also probably notable that McCoy and Kirk are separated from the main cast quite a bit.  I'm guessing this was considered a feature for the returning cast members who were often crosswise with Shatner behind the scenes by this point (see: Galaxy Quest.  No, really.  See it.).  But this is good enough.  

One other bit - it really does start the idea of Spock as an ambassador, which would be the character's role for a century after into The Next Generation, and right into the Kelvin-verse.  Kind of crazy how much they actually cared about continuity.  

Anyhoo, it's a fun one.  

*they did not

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