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One of the enduring components of Star Trek are denouements that either bring the science fiction back down to earth or make you feel that much closer to the stars. They can even rescue a bad episode and discard the belief that an hour was just wasted. So how have the movies done in that regard?... Here’s my rankings.
A generation's final journey didn’t quite live up, and unlike a TOS episode, a great ending cannot save a two hour film. But that doesn’t mean the denouement should be overlooked. We’ve just lost Data and all that remains is a shell of his former self. Nonetheless, Picard hopes he can judge this book by its cover.
“His wonder, his curiosity about every facet of human nature... allowed all of us to see the best parts of ourselves. He evolved. He embraced change because he always wanted to be better than he was.”
No such luck. “I... I do not understand,” B4 painfully verifies what we already know.
It really is over — except…
B4: "Never saw the sun... Never saw the sun... Never saw the sun..."
PICARD: "... shining so bright."
B-4: "... shining so bright. Never saw things..."
PICARD: "... going so right."
B-4: "... going so right."
If Picard is going to sing, he better have a good reason. Jean Luc believes and morphing Alexander Courage’s theme scores has our hearts rising. We definitely have not seen the last of these characters. The fact that we are still waiting doesn’t diminish the spirit and gives Nemesis a place here.
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
I’m not a big fan of The Undiscovered Country. So, while “the end of history” coincides with the Soviet Union’s fall, our cast has clearly broken a leg one or two times too many. The melodramatics have also stretched the limits, and 60-years-olds shouldn’t be kissing supermodels. Nonetheless, it’s hard to ignore the send off the that officially eulogizes our childhood.
Still, we hope against hope that we’re off as usual, and our forever young captain signals the call. “I think it’s about time we got underway.”
Unfortunately, Uhura must remind him that he’s overdue for his B-12 shot. “I have orders from Starfleet Command, we’re to put back to space dock immediately… to be de-commissioned.”
Okay, so you have to ignore the fake tears. Fortunately, Spock’s logical downplay is anything but. “If I were human, I believe my response would be — go to hell.”
Kirk takes the cue and makes use of the genesis wave one last time. “Second star to the right and straight onto 'til morning.” He makes us feel “young” one last time.
(And how effective it would have been had I known the line was from Peter Pan.)
All that’s left to do is pass the baton. “This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man...
Where no one, has gone before.”
3. Star Trek
Star Trek endings don’t always leave us pondering with mind-blowing sentiments such as, “Have you ever read Milton?” Sometimes, the triumvirate is just happy to give us a piece of the action so we can remember not to take ourselves so seriously. JJ knows the drill and leaves it to Kirk to set the tone after Nero has bitten the dust.
“Buckle up.” James T. hit Bones where he lives and dialogue is not necessary to capture the good doctor’s signature cynicism.
And there’s no reason that Spock can’t deliver the punchline. “His,” of course, “was the most human.”
Like, the first officer really needs permission to come aboard. Spock plays the sarcasm perfectly — regardless of what logic or regulations demand.
The same goes for playing it coy in regards to the obvious bridge opening. “As you have yet to select a first officer, respectfully, I would like to submit my candidacy,” Spock defers.
The pause is no stranger, either. “Should you desire, I can provide character references.”
Thrusters on full, the human adventure is just beginning — again.
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Yes, I like Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In fact, I love it, because the first installment is the only one of the original six that tries to recreate the original series. In short, it’s introspective, mostly takes place within the confines of the bridge, and Kirk commands like he hasn’t missed a beat. In other words, he always has the last word and is not a consensus builder that gives everyone a place at the three dimensional chessboard. TMP also congregates the holy trinity and tries to make sense of the intergalactic happenstance to help further the cause.
“Spock! Did we just see the beginnings of a new life form?” Kirk begins the unraveling.
The next step in our evolution, Spocks logically rationalizes and Kirk makes sure to add the human component. “I think we gave it the ability to create its own sense of purpose. Out of our own human weaknesses, and the drive that compels us to overcome them.”
Of course, the denouement always makes sure Bones throws down with his nemesis. “And a lot of foolish human emotions. Right, Mister Spock?
Spock is forced to agree, and for all of us who only had reruns to sustain over a lost decade, we were suddenly partying like it was 1969. A heading is all we need, and Kirk dovetails it with the last word only he could deliver.
“Out there, thatta way.”
1. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Even though the Wrath of Khan is the gold standard of Star Trek movies, Star Trek IV is the most entertaining. Action packed, steeped in Star Trek humor and all the parts falling into place like a puzzle, The Voyage Home qualifies as a pure blockbuster material, one that also requires no allegiance to any part of the cannon that we Trekkies run up the federation flagpole every we chance we get. And just when you thought the Spock-Sarek, Kirk-Gillian send offs couldn't be topped, Harve Bennett bends the space-time continuum into a perfect little bow. Forgetting in all the excitement that we no longer have a ship, Kirk keeps us grounded at the prospects.
“A ship is a ship,” he calms his mates.
Because the human component is what has us always coming back for more, we accept that the Enterprise is just the titanium conduit.
Yeah, right, and then we see it: NCC-1701 and the majestically placed, “A.”
We are so ready. “Let’s see what she’s got.” Kirk knows his audience.
Outta sight and while we couldn’t have known what lay ahead, the woosh had us all thinking one thing. Have they started filming Star Trek V yet?
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