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Topic: What disc did you have in last (and what did you think)? Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 9:45am | IP Logged | 1 post reply



Matt R: "Keep it pure and simple with a straight story about love and family
with some pretty fantastic songs by Paul Williams that I've listened to every
single holiday from 1977 until now."

******

The soundtrack is amazing - the music is in context with the story as it's about
the characters performing songs, and it's genius how the two songs "Our
World" and "Brothers" define the characters as well tie into the resolution.
Paul Williams' original songs are a wonder, and his contribution to this and THE
MUPPET MOVIE are a big reason these are two of the Muppets' best. They
finally re-released the soundtrack last year - I was never able to get it before.

The show is the first big 3D Muppet set in which we saw ceilings and floors,
and different aspects of puppetry were employed to move the characters
through the spaces.

The performance of Alice Otter is both Frank Oz with Marilyn Sokol looping the
dialogue, and it is very effective. The motion of a Muppet mouth is very
forgiving of this kind of collaboration. But there is more to a Muppet
performance than that, and they somehow pull it off.

MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS is genuinely funny, and is essentially an episode
of the show guest starring Muppets from other shows, and it truly resonates
with a family vibe. The Sesame Street cast arrives and gets some of the best
gags, including what constitutes small talk on Sesame Street, and Swedish
Chef seeing Big Bird as the object of his greatest holiday meal!


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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 3:05pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply


40th anniversary viewing of:

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979)

Figured there were more than enough TMP threads over in the TREK Forum, so I'll just quickly reiterate what I've long felt about this one:

-More thoughtful and adult than the Third Season, not as silly as some of the lesser episodes of "The Animated Series"

-Much better than latter iterations that came afterwards, such as THE FINAL FRONTIER, GENERATIONS, NEMESIS, the J.J./Bad Robot movies, and the "Enterprise" and "Discovery" series

-Despite coming in the wake of STAR WARS, I can appreciate what they didn't attempt, which could have been loaded with wall-to-wall phaser fights & explosions, and their own version of a "cute robot" (though Persis Khambata ain't bad, if you know what I mean).

-The cast is a little older, but they also all still looked great, before age truly started to creep in during WRATH OF KHAN.  The revamped Enterprise is gorgeous.

-It's the one TREK film that feels majestic, and the score by Jerry Goldsmith is an all-timer.

-Nostalgia rules the day with me... I enjoyed it when I was 7, and I love it even more today.  It's not prime, quintessential TREK, but it does just fine for me.



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Peter Martin
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I don't disagree with all the points you make, but still... it was and remains a big, fat disappointment.

Robert Wise was a bona fide all-time great director. The film had a tonne of money thrown at it. And it contravenes my number one rule that shall not be contravened by a piece of screen entertainment: thou shalt not be dull.


Edited by Peter Martin on 12 December 2019 at 3:53pm
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 13 December 2019 at 10:02am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Agree with both of you. TMP is not the worst Trek movie, but it is kinda dull. 

And it's a complete retread of The Changeling. You can just watch that and save over an hour of your life for better things. 

I owned the movie on VHS (actually, probably still do, somewhere), but have never updated to DVD or Blu-Ray...or streamed it. 

What's "nice" about this (and the far worse FINAL FRONTIER), is that they are not essential watching where TOS and its movies are concerned. The TV series, TWOK, TSFS, TVH, and TUD can be enjoyed without ever seeing TMP or TFF without a noticeable gap in the storytelling. 



Edited by Brian Rhodes on 13 December 2019 at 10:07am
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 13 December 2019 at 10:48am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The problem with me and TMP may have been partly of my own doing. I let the build up to the movie keep gaining momentum every time I got a comic with that movie ad on the back cover, month after month. There was probably know way to meet those expectations.
When I finally went to see the movie, it was great seeing everyone in something new, then the movie just rambled on till "thud" it was over.

I guess a lesson in life at 14 about expectations.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 December 2019 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

...a complete retread of The Changeling...

•••

As Richard Pini calls it, WHERE NOMAD HAS GONE BEFORE...

(After reading THE MAKING OF STAR TREK and learned about the budget pressures under which they labored, I fell into a habit of looking for ways to save pennies. One was to have NOMAD “possess” one of the crew...)

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Matt Reed
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Posted: 14 December 2019 at 2:40am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

People I love and respect also love TMP.  I just don't see it.  I've told the story often, but here goes:  I grew up on TOS.  I had probably seen every episode ten times by the time 1979 rolled around, so I lined up to see the film opening weekend with my best friend in the snow and cold of Minnesota.  The energy of waiting in line was palpable.  We were naturally surrounded by long time fans of the series and, in context, we were excited to see that series on the big screen. That never happened with fans pre-Trek. TV never made the leap to film.  We all talked about how excited we were and how this was going to be the best thing we'd ever seen.  

And then we saw it.

To say that the air was let out of the room upon leaving the theatre would be an understatement.  I'll never forget the reactions of everyone...and I mean everyone...to what they had just seen.  To a person. The disappointment, confusion and lack of enthusiasm was palpable.  

I have since tried to revisit it, even sitting through the DIRECTOR'S CUT, and it still comes off as (I'm sorry) a masturbatory mess of a film.  Making an already long film longer does not a great film make.  

This sits at the bottom of all the Trek films for me.  Yes, even below FINAL FRONTIER, INSURRECTION, and NEMESIS.  Why?  Because there was so much it could have been, realized just a few years later with KHAN, but it betrayed its core to be something that it wasn't.  Boring. Unimaginative. Derivative.  

How do you really feel about TMP, Matt?  Ha!  Hate it.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 14 December 2019 at 6:31am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I'm among those few who really enjoy ST:TMP now that we have some distance from it.

I've told the story before of how my family almost never went to the theater and saw movies together. My father's schedule as a police officer did not allow for family outings for the most part. My mother was a dyed-in-the-wool Star Trek fan (a "Trekker" back when that was the term of preference) and wanted very much to see the movie. This caused a gigantic rift between them, as nearly everything did, and my father finally relented, heaping abuse and disdain upon the event taking away from his sleep and so forth. Mom endured it, knowing she'd be paying for this night for a long time to come.*

So when the movie died up there on the screen, we all died with it in no small way. That movie hurt my family. It hurt my mother. I was so indescribably furious with that film as it was playing out and as we left the theater. I was angry at it for years.

And I had loved everything about it up to that point. The promos. The ads. The commercials. The magazine articles. Before that night, I had loved it like I had loved nothing else. Star Wars kind of hit me sideways and again, the family didn't see it until after it had left the theaters and then come back. I was into the Starlog articles and what not; the humor magazine parodies, the comics, all of that, but the whole thing caught me unawares back in my early days. Star Wars just sort of showed up one day and was there.

Not so with Star Trek. We all were well-informed of its approach and completely primed for its arrival. Starlog was up on its feet by then and covering every element of its pre-production and development. Magazine racks were full of magazines with publicity photos in them. There were Scholastic magazines in school with Kirk and Spock on the cover that I pleaded for once they'd been on display for a few months. I was all about the coming Star Trek film. We all were. Ten years of lead-up and a sustained press barrage throughout the home stretch guaranteed high expectations.

Yet because of the deal the studio made with the distributors and the unfinished script they started with, there was no way the film could be made in time. They went with the wrong effects house and hired a better one much too late into the proceedings, forcing the two to work together in awkward concert. The actors were coming up with their own scenes and ways to resolve the story on set. There was no time to edit the film. None. Its length was pre-determined and every inch of effects footage that came in meant something else already filmed with the characters had to come out. 

For Robert Wise, who made his considerable reputation as an editor, it must have been a nightmare. All this redundant "cloud big, ship tiny" footage replacing his stuff and he couldn't do anything to mitigate the damage.** A major blow to his career.

So, yeah. No one had a good time there. I agree.

Years have gone by, however, and I believe the film is worth revisiting. Nothing can save the unendurable wormhole sequence, yes, you're right. No, Stephen Collins does not light up the screen with charm and charisma. Much of what's taking place seems painfully awkward. No argument.

Here's what the film does have going for it, though: It's one of the best examples of Star Trek telling an adult story with its characters. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are at their most real. Their splitting up to go their own ways at the end of the series' five-year mission has left them sober and embittered. "Who wants to see that?" you roll your eyes. 

It's a pretty daring choice actually. The film does not spoon feed us a happy, well-adjusted crew, all fresh-faced and ready for the challenge, as one might expect from a television movie brought to the screen. It treats its characters like 70's-era adults, with issues and defining elements that grind and twist a bit as they come into contact with one another. 
 
Real life happened and time passed. People changed and made bad decisions. Star Trek had long been remarkably adroit with making its characters "feel" real for a TV show, but here, they were multi-dimensional people with careers and personal concerns, not at all happy with where the story finds them at the start.

Over the course of the film, by working together as they once had, they are able to find their way back to those central characterizations we'd taken for granted on the series. They were at their best at a certain point in their lives and then moved on from there, into less forgiving territory. Now, they were back. The end of the film puts the pieces back into place and allows us to feel good about what their next day is going to be. Or rather, it would have had the film we'd just seen them in been better. :-)

It's interesting seeing Kirk, Spock, & McCoy in this light. We appreciate how in sync they are in TWOK a bit more because we've all learned, both them and us, how things work when they're apart. Once again, time and event are dismantling the team, but they remain in touch this time. They're talking about it and working together to deal with it, as friends do.

Also of note: The production values in TMP are fantastic. You may not like the costumes (I do), but the ship and the crew have never looked better. We take it for granted because the visuals are all kept onscreen for much too long (an editor would have helped here) but they are among the best visuals Star Trek has ever had. Everything since is a poor stepchild of those original re-imaginings. 

Berman said in interviews that he did not feel beholden to the candy-colored, plywood look of the original series. What he wanted onscreen in his shows were the films, and those proceed directly from what we saw in TMP. 

Another element I enjoy: Most of my favorite ST episodes take place primarily on the bridge. It is kind of nuts that with a stratospheric budget and the opportunity to go anywhere, TMP spends most of its time on one set. It is closer in tone in that regard than fans give it credit for. I like watching Kirk get his sea legs back and begin to process things as he used to. TWOK has this element as well, making the captain a far more human character than he is generally regarded as being. Kirk has flaws that Janeway and countless others don't, but when he clicks, there is no one better.

So... End of the day... I don't like to remember that night when I first saw the film. I got a program from it (skipped popcorn to defray the expense of it, but still got a wave of resentment over how much it cost) and that thing made me feel bad every time I looked at it. Not a good time. 

And the central story of TMP is lacking, no question. It was an irreparable mistake going forward with a TV script from a failed series (Roddenberry's Planet Earth/Genesis II) that closely mirrored an existing ST episode***, but the studio execs made that call, first when it was a pilot for Phase II**** and then again for the big screen, probably with zero consciousness of what the TV show might or might not have already done. 

Now that I've exhausted the number of times that I can re-watch TWOK and the rest, I find coming back to TMP a pleasant and rewarding trip. Everyone looks good. The direction is crisp, even if the scenes roll on. No one edited the damn thing, but I can sort of see what each scene was supposed to be if I squint a bit. Which completely destroys the clarity of those countless di-opter shots, but y'know... :-)

I like the characters. I like that scene in the conference room. (I do not like the painted-on nacelles sticking out the back window in the Remastered version. Special Edition crap.) I like watching the lost heroes finding their way back to their best selves. I don't hate Decker (although I do keep comparing him unfavorably to Burt Lancaster who played the same part in RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP.)  I actually really like Ilia. I wish more had been done with her. 

ST:TMP requires you bring a great deal of forgiveness to the party (a hell of lot on my part, I feel) but I think it pays off in ways today that fans have never given it credit for. Shatner, Nimoy, and company showed up and put in good work, in many ways improving upon what they were given. It's not their fault the studio went with a less-than-half-finished photocopy of a used TV script. And they looked good doing it. The whole movie looks amazing. 

I fast-forward through the V'ger shots and wormhole sequence the same as everyone else, but I do feel that sense of wonder and alive excitement my younger self felt at the same time. It's a compromised thrill, but a genuine one nonetheless. Like our heroes, despite some hardships, TMP allows me to find my way back to a better version of myself.

* For the record, Dad was never physically abusive with any of us that I know of, but man alive, when he was having a bad time, he made certain everyone had a bad time.

** I don't find the Director's Cut, btw, to be an improvement except near the end when the ship "pulls in" to dock with V'ger's core. There are missing effects shots there that the storytelling did need. The additional stuff with Nimoy is welcome as well. Many of the choices made by the editing team hurt the film considerably I believe, especially the transporter malfunction scene. Robert Wise may have signed off on the re-do, but he, and the audience, are still not well-served by it.

*** Also from that series, bumpy-headed bad guys whose spines continued up over their skulls. 

**** Remember ST:TNG's pilot with unimaginative, derivative Trelayne 2? How about the next episode, a literal re-write of yet another existing script? TV has no problem with re-cycling. The film should have, but everyone was in such a hurry... 

P.S. Looking over this post, I can see TMP isn't the only thing that could use a little more editing... But it's late. :-)


Edited by Brian Hague on 14 December 2019 at 7:04am
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 14 December 2019 at 8:33am | IP Logged | 9 post reply


(Well-written and thoughtful post, Brian... couldn't have been easy to revisit some of those memories, but thanks for sharing.)



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Brian Hague
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Posted: 14 December 2019 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Thanks, Shaun.

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James Woodcock
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Posted: 15 December 2019 at 6:16pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I have never loved the Enterprise more than how she looks in ST:TMP.

The lighting, the sheen, & the general redesign. I can sit & look @ her all day long with how Doug Trumbull & his team shot that ship.

The rest of the film has many, many flaws.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 December 2019 at 8:47am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

GOSFORD PARK (2001)

The predecessor to DOWNTON ABBEY, by the same writer, and one of Robert Altman's more disciplined outings. Just long enough since I last watched it that some of the details had faded a bit.

Enjoyable.

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