World’s Worst Trekkie: Day of the Dove, For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, and The Tholian Web

“Day of the Dove”

You know, this one is pretty fun: silly sword fights,  psychic manipulation, a bit of a mystery, etc. Our heroes respond to a distress call and beam down to some planet, only to discover zero evidence that anyone’s ever been there. Soon, a beat to hell Klingon ship appears, and the surviving Klingons, led by Kang, briefly capture the away team, insisting that the Enterprise attacked them. (They also say the Klingons and the Federation have been at peace for three years without incident, which seems, uh . . . wildly inaccurate?) Kirk surrenders, which infuriates Chekov because his brother Piotr was murdered by Klingons, which—wait, Chekov’s brother was murdered by Klingons? Holy shit, how did this not come up in The Undiscovered Country? Did we just transfer his familial angst to Kirk or what? (The answer is no, but we’ll get to why in a moment.)

Kirk, of course, is only pretending to surrender. He secretly signals Spock, who beams everyone up. The away team properly materializes on the Enterprise, while the Klingons are temporarily held in the transporter buffer, effectively shelving them in oblivion for a hot second, which—holy shit, we can do that on purpose? That’s horrifying. I’ve never wanted to write a Star Trek horror movie so badly IN MY LIFE.  Kirk lets the Klingons materialize again (despite Chekov’s protest) and takes them prisoner, but unbeknownst to everyone, a weird spinny light has followed them all on board.

And then shit gets weird. First the Klingons escape when a bunch of random objects suddenly transform into swords. Then Chekov openly defies Kirk to seek vengeance, but Sulu, who knows his bro (or boyfriend, shippers you do you), is all, “But Chekov . . . doesn’t have a brother, though?” And then almost everyone gets extremely irrational and aggressive, like, Uhura just seems a little upset, but Bones becomes weirdly racist about Klingons (it’s weird because it’s not Vulcans, see), and Scotty gets super racist about Vulcans, and even Spock gets quietly, ominously violent for a hot second there. Kirk, unfortunately, mostly just becomes increasingly melodramatic, wondering if they’re all doomed to become so wantonly violent, is this Armageddon, etc., (Kirk’s dialogue is easily one of the worst things about this episode; see also, the Klingons’ makeup, which is awful for, well. A multitude of reasons, really.) Chekov, meanwhile, isn’t just seeking vengeance for his imaginary brother; he also tries to rape Kang’s wife, Mara, which, WTF. This scene isn’t necessary at all, but I will say that Walter Koenig is surprisingly creepy in it. TBH, I kinda wish I’d seen him play a villain now cause damn.

The weird spinny light, it turns out, is basically an evil emotional vampire, creating and feeding on everyone’s negative emotions. Once Kirk convinces Kang that they’re being manipulated, they both order their men to stop fighting. They also laugh as they tell the alien to hit the road, which is pretty funny,  particularly when Kang smacks Kirk hard on the back, and Kirk, nearly falling over, has to keep laughing anyway. HA.

Chief Asshat: I mean. We’re told Chekov isn’t at fault for assaulting Mara, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s the only character who tries to rape anyone. Also—and this is obviously less important—he keeps holding his sword with one hand around the blade like, Chekov, my dude. What the fuck are you doing here?

MVP: Sulu, no question. He seems to be the only person who’s never affected by the alien, and he awesomely takes out one of the Klingons with a magnificent judo chop to the neck. (Though sadly, he rarely gets to use the sword he carries, which is just poor continuity, considering “The Naked Time” and all.)

Grade: Chocolate

Line of the Episode: Shit, this one’s hard. Kang actually has several great lines, like when Kirk tries to convince him that the alien is keeping anyone from dying, and Kang’s all, “Then no doubt you will reassemble after I’ve hacked you to bits.” Also, when he’s telling the alien to fuck off: “Out! We need no urging to hate humans!” (Kang is pretty great, TBH.) Still, this exchange with Chekov might be my actual favorite.

“You killed my brother!”
“And you volunteer to join him. That is loyalty.”

“For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”

Whew. Look, I know I just sold a story that has a nine-word title and all, but goddamn. This one’s a mouthful.

So, this episode is . . . less great. The Enterprise successfully avoids a mysterious missile strike and discover that they were attacked by a 10,000 year old ship that looks like a giant asteroid. The asteroid-ship is on a collision course with a very highly populated planet. No lifeforms are detected, so Kirk, Spock, and Bones head down to the surface, where they are almost immediately captured by aliens who live underground. Whoops. Also? Bones is dying. See, just before beaming down, Bones reluctantly tells Kirk that he has some fatal disease and only has a year to live. (Kirk is sad about it, obviously, but also immediately asks Starfleet for a CMO replacement, and you just know that bullshit wouldn’t have happened if Spock was the one dying. I’m just saying.)

Anyway, it turns out these aliens are the descendants of the Fabrini, and they’ve lived on this generation ship so long that they believe they’re on an actual planet. Even the high priestess and leader Natira doesn’t realize this; she only follows the commands of the Oracle, a (sigh) secret supercomputer which actually runs everything. This complicates Kirk’s whole “let’s change the collision course” plan, particularly because these aliens aren’t allowed to do all sorts of things that might clue them into the fact that they’re on a spaceship. Climb mountains, for instance. If they do, a chip in their head (ominously known as the Instrument of Obedience) will quickly kill them.

Kirk and Spock get caught sneaking around and are sentenced to death. Thankfully, because Bones and Natira have (SIGH) instantly fallen in love, Kirk and Spock are allowed to return to the ship. Bones, however, decides to stay behind, get married, and enjoy what time he has left with Natira. He also allows her to put the death chip in his face— which, okay, NO—and finds out some secret info. He tells Kirk and Spock about it and immediately gets punished. Natira, too, gets punished when she questions the Oracle. Thankfully, Kirk and Spock (ignoring Starfleet Command) return and manage to stop the Oracle from killing anyone. They change the course of the asteroid-ship. They also happily find a bunch of lost Fabrini medical knowledge which lets them cure Bones. He decides to go back to the Enterprise, and Natira decides to stay on her ship, but they’ll likely rendezvous for a quick date in 300 or so days when the asteroid-ship finally lands at their original destination, a new home world.

And, like. There’s just a lot of dumb to go around in this episode. How about those missiles that instigated this plot? Yeah, they’re never mentioned again. Where the fuck were the Fabrini coming from that they couldn’t reach a new planet for 10,000 years? Is their destined home world even A) still habitable and B) unpopulated after all this time? Why does the Oracle try to slowly cook everyone to death when it previously just zapped the shit out of people—something to which neither Spock nor Kirk had any defense against? How is the Oracle still functional at all since apparently no one’s been maintaining or repairing it for a millennia? Also, why did we even create a five second obstacle with Starfleet Command when absolutely nothing came from it? I can’t even get into how awful the insta-romance between Bones and Natira is. Their whole relationship is sped through so quickly that the emotional beats don’t even make sense.

On the plus side, we do get some downright hilarious costumes to laugh at. Also, I do really like the scene where Spock finds out that Bones is dying, and also just generally DeForest Kelley’s whole performance in this one. It’s too bad that we didn’t get this subplot in a much better episode.

Chief Asshat: I’m giving this one to the Fabrini. Their planning skills are seriously lacking.

MVP: DeForest Kelley. It’s not his fault that Bones makes absurd decisions like, “I met a girl so pretty that I’ll let a suspicious super computer put a death chip in my head.”

Grade: Pistachio

Line of the Episode: 

“Bones, this isn’t a planet. It’s a spaceship on a collision course with Daran V.”
“I’m on a kind of a collusion course myself, Jim.”

“The Tholian Web”

Star Trek Bones GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ah. Good old Swear Trek. I regret to inform you that Bones does not actually talk about farting in this episode, but our heroes do wear space suits again! I think the last time we saw anything remotely like this was way back in . . . yeah, “The Naked Time.” Those were two-piece biohazard suits made out of shower curtains, and they were the most functionally useless things I’ve ever seen in my life. These new suits are A) a huge improvement and B) definitely another addition to my Star Trek Dream Cosplay List.

This episode is partly great and partly maddening, so pretty par for the course for TOS. We begin with the Enterprise finding the missing Defiant in an uncharted part of space where space itself seems to be, er. Thinning? Look, kids, l know science isn’t my strong suit, but I’m reasonably sure that space doesn’t do that. Anyway, the Defiant is drifting (and ominously green), and while everyone can see the ship, it doesn’t actually show up on sensors. An away team beams over to investigate and finds some absolutely creepy shit. Not only is everyone on the Defiant dead, it’s obvious that they all murdered each other. Some of the corpses are strapped down in Sickbay. Also, Bones tries to touch a few things and his hand goes through them. Like, Act I is some awesome space horror, and I am absolutely here for it.

Since the Defiant seems to be dissolving, Kirk orders everyone to beam back home. Unfortunately, the Enterprise is now having its own mysterious malfunctions and can only beam up three people at a time. Kirk is left for last, and the Defiant disappears before he can materialize on the Enterprise. Spock, though, thinks there’s a chance Kirk’s still alive in some alternate universe. They have to beam him back at exactly the right moment, and also not expend any energy that might disrupt the dimensional rift. Unfortunately, there are multiple problems with that plan. People aboard the ship begin to go crazy and attack one another. The Tholians appear, insisting that this is their space, and eventually attack when the Enterprise refuses to leave. The ship, now drifting, are helpless as the Tholians begin creating an energy field that will trap the Enterprise once completed. Also, Bones is just a massive dick to Spock the entire episode, only apologizing once they watch Kirk’s “In Case of My Death” message, in which Kirk essentially reminds them to chill the hell out and trust one another.

Spock now thinks that Kirk is dead, but Uhura briefly sees him in her mirror. She tells Bones, but she’s also  borderline incoherent and faints in his arms because, you know. Women. (SIGH.) So, everyone thinks she’s just hysterical. Eventually, though, other people see Kirk too, and Spock figures out the next interphase moment. They get just enough power to beam Kirk to safety and escape the Tholian web. Meanwhile, Bones figures out the antidote to Space Rage, which looks like tangerine juice and is actually some Klingon nerve gas diluted with alcohol. Finally, Spock and Bones troll Kirk by pretending they never even bothered to watch his final message.

And look, there are definitely good moments in here! The whole first act. More evidence that Sulu has heart eyes for Chekov. I genuinely like Kirk’s final message, as well as Bones and Spock trolling him about it. (Chekov, certainly, thinks it’s hysterical.) We get to see Uhura in off-duty clothes, which is cool, and Nurse Chapel subdues a guy attacking Bones, which is very cool.

Unfortunately, the conflict between Bones and Spock doesn’t work at all, mostly because Bones’s arguments are nonsensical even for him. He’s mad at Spock for putting Kirk ahead of the crew, despite the fact that he’s definitely chewed Spock out in the past for prioritizing the crew over Kirk. He’s mad at Spock for, IDK, being power hungry and hoping that Kirk is really dead, which isn’t just ludicrous; it’s almost the exact opposite of what Bones was arguing five minutes ago. Some of that could work, if you take grief and Space Rage into account, but these scenes never really play that way, and there are a lot of them. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch.

Also, it must be said that the Tholians are building the slowest and most worthless prison of all time. Whole generations were born and died in the time it took to create this fucking web, and one energy discharge is all it takes for the Enterprise to escape it. I know the episode is literally called “The Tholian Web” and all, but truthfully, this whole story would be better if our bad guys just weren’t in it.

Chief Asshat: Bones, no question.

MVP: Spock, for not punching Bones in the face. I know that kind of behavior is atypical for a Vulcan, but honestly? I think we all would’ve understood.

Grade: Vanilla

Line of the Episode: 

“The renowned Tholian punctuality.”

“Why Is There A Watermelon There?”

It’s the final week of the Clarion West Write-a-Thon and, coincidentally, my last week before vacation. Which means you probably won’t see me around much for a little while. Before I go, though, I have my second (and final) WaT reward essay to share. While last week we discussed John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (a film where Satan is a bunch of green goo in a vat, and bugs are fucking everywhere), today we’ll be shifting gears to talk about The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film where a brain surgeon/comic book hero/test pilot/rock star/physicist saves the world with his buddies, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, from hostile aliens.

My friends, this movie is an experience.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Adaptations, More Adaptations, and The Woe of High School

Beauty and the Beast

My interest in this is mild. On one hand, Beauty and the Beast is kind of my favorite, I like Emma Watson quite a bit, and some of the cinematography looks lovely. On the other hand, I’m having a bit of a hard time taking the Beast seriously, and despite a couple of interesting changes (Belle is going to be the inventor of the family? Excellent), this remake is looking a little too shot-for-shot for me, like, I could go watch this in theater or I could just stay home and watch the animated movie again for free.

Not that I actually have this choice, mind you. Mekaela has already informed me that I’ll be going to see this movie whether I like it or not, so, fine. I’ll go. But I’ll be chewing on my Milk Duds in a sulky manner and silently snarking about Beast’s stupid face the whole time! (Until we get to the library scene, of course, which is when I will promptly melt, because let’s not even lie about that.)

Ghost in the Shell

So. The look of this movie is fantastic. I know extremely little about the manga and anime upon which it’s based, but watching this trailer, my inner SF/F nerd instantly started buzzing. The world looks fascinating and original and heavy influenced with Asian design . . . except for all the white people. Yeah, the white people are pretty noticeable.

I knew about the controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s casting prior to watching this–I mean, of course I did, I’m not dead–but when I watched the trailer in full, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly every role who had dialogue or otherwise seemed important went to a white person, while the Asian actors in the film mostly seem to be around to shoot things or get shot. And that’s just kind of shitty even when you haven’t adapted a Japanese story into a Hollywood film where you’ve kept the setting but not the people. That’s just kind of crap.

Look, unless I hear it’s awful, I’m probably going to watch this. I don’t want to pretend I’ll do otherwise, because problematic or not, the movie looks really interesting to me. But there’s no reason that this movie wouldn’t have also looked interesting with, say, Ellen Wong as Major and Tamlyn Tomita as the presumably nefarious mentor doctor lady. Hollywood could and should have done better.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

This looks cute. I never read the books or saw the Jim Carrey movie, but I might check this show out at some point: it looks whimsical enough, and there’s quite the cast (some of whom are presumably guest stars). Other than Neil Patrick Harris and Malina Weissman (AKA Young Supergirl), we have Alfre Woodard, Joan Cusack, Patrick Warburton, Aasif Mandvi, and even Mr. Trick/That Guy From Grosse Point Blank! (IMDb tells me his name is K. Todd Freeman. Someday, I will know the name of every That Guy.)

I’m not desperate to see this or anything, like, there are no grabby hands here, but it might be some decent light-hearted humor on a bleak day. (Well. Light-hearted might not be the best word, after all: “Perished means killed.” HA! That right there is what won me over, like, ten seconds into the trailer.)

Before I Fall

This is sort of interesting. It’s like Groundhog Day, but instead of an arrogant city jerk learning that kindness is key and small towns are great, it’s a teenage girl learning that being mean to unpopular kids is a total dick move, and also, pay attention when you’re on the road because getting into a collision with a truck is probably going to ruin your whole day.

Honestly, this trailer looks a wee bit melodramatic for my tastes, but I generally enjoy Groundhog Day stories (more than I like the actual movie itself, honestly, heathen, that I am) and the idea of applying that concept to different genres appeals to me. But I’m not sure I’m expecting much from this. I’m also not quite clear why our young leading lady can’t change her fate; I know it’s common in destiny stories to always end up at the spot you were trying to avoid all along, but that’s not usually a Groundhog Day thing, is it? It’s not where you end that usually repeats, after all, but how you begin; that’s kind of the whole point.

Maybe just adamantly refuse to get into a car for the entire day, like, not for any reason? See how that works out for you?

The Edge of Seventeen

As far as YA movies go, I’m actually much more hopeful about this one, even though there are no speculative elements, and you all know that I prefer my stories with either murder or speculative elements, preferably both. But this looks entertaining: grounded, funny, not too sappy. I like that it’s rated-R, actually; for most kids, high school isn’t PG-13, after all. And I haven’t seen Hailee Steinfeld in anything since True Grit, which she was excellent in.

It’s not a theater movie for me, but I could see it as a rental. So Mek, fair warning: this might be your payback.

And finally . . . Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Look, I have no idea what this movie’s actually about, but this is like Luc Besson times a thousand. This is The Fifth Element met Star Wars and had a baby while listening to the Beatles, and I don’t know if it’s going to be good or not, but I’m definitely in. (I’m almost feeling generous enough to forgive that ludicrous boob armor. I mean, come on guys. You get points for using “Because” but still. This is ridiculous. This article has been around for years. You should know better by now.)

“Mars Will Come to Fear My Botany Powers.”

Earlier this year, I read The Martian by Andy Weir, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it the way most peopled seemed to. Which, honestly, kind of feels like my personal theme for 2015, much to my annoyance. I’m totally okay loving an It-book; like, despite the name of this blog, I’m not actively looking to disagree with my fellow nerds. It just seems to keep happening to me.

Still, I was really excited to see this movie because I felt like a lot of the problems I had with the story wouldn’t actually be applicable to the film itself, and I was excited to see if this was the rare — nay, the first — film that I enjoyed more than the book when I’d read the book first. Up until last week, that had never happened.

cover

But now it has because I thought The Martian was a pretty solid film.

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“I Don’t Believe in Surrenders.”

Sometimes, I just feel like I don’t agree with the AFI on anything.

searchers

The Searchers is one of the most well respected movies in the world. It is number one on AFI’s Best Westerns list. It is number twelve on their 100 Years, 100 Movies list. And John Wayne loved playing Ethan Edwards so much, he named one of his own children Ethan.

I thought it was . . . okay. Not my least favorite western of the year — I definitely liked it better than McCabe & Mrs. Miller — but it sure as hell wasn’t my favorite.

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