By Darren Johnson
Campus News and nu2u.info
Note: “Star Trek II” through “IV” is no longer on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Prime or anywhere else. BUY THE TRILOGY (II through IV) HERE.
A trilogy is typically a work of art that has a beginning, middle and end, and has been made in three installments. Book series sometimes aim for this trifecta.
But it seems that putting together a movie trilogy that is equally good from beginning to end has about the same long odds as a horse winning the Triple Crown.
A trilogy currently floating around on cable TV and Netflix is “The Godfather.” While Nos. 1 and 2 are considered classic (though, I tend to feel a bit overrated), the third “Godfather” was purely a money grab and was ridiculously convoluted.
While the “Rocky” series really has six installments, the first three are sometimes considered a trilogy. Nos. 1 and 2 are two of the best sports movies of all time, and, also work purely as quality cinema. No. 3 – the one with Mr. T – is a bit more debatable. While it is a good film, and holds up well, it is jammed with product placements, catch-phrases and a forced soundtrack, and the two fights in the film aren’t nearly as good as the Apollo Creed fights. This movie was the dawn of Stallone’s next two decades of selling out.
But I’m going to propose a new trilogy to consider for the “best ever” consideration. Recently, scrolling through Amazon Instant, I found the two new “Star Trek” movies with the new cast, and this piqued my interest in the earlier movies, which are no longer available on On Demand or streaming services, but still for sale as DVDs.
The original “Star Trek” cast sometimes gets misjudged as the colorful 1960s TV series had lousy special effects, and the subsequent movies saw the cast age, gain weight and, in Bill Shatner’s case, don a toupee.
The first “Star Trek” (1979) movie showed that they cured the special effects problem, as this one looks great, but the movie overall is boring.
Then, from 1982 to 1986, the original cast starred in three movies that have all the makings of good sci-fi cinema – tight plot, action, some levity, lots of drama, solid special effects and good acting (despite his reputation for hammy-ness, Shatner is an excellent actor in these, by the way, along with the late Leonard Nimoy, of course).
These three movie plots follow each other closely in their timelines, and work as a trilogy for marathon viewing. And they are accessible even for people who normally dislike science fiction.
“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (with Ricardo Montalban gloriously playing the title villain) gives us the best-ever “Star Trek” movie, even compared with the current offerings. In it, Khan is defeated but at great cost – Spock dies. In “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” Kirk goes rogue against the Klingons and Spock is recreated through a controversial new Genesis device, but he must learn everything again. In “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” Spock is retrained on home planet Vulcan but, at the same time, Earth is under attack. Using the Klingon vessel they commandeered in “III,” the crew must go back in time – to 1980s San Francisco – to save the planet, and for a lot of comic relief.
After these three movies, the series started to falter a bit. Shatner grew too old to maintain the swashbuckling presence of his earlier career. “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” was a dud, where Kirk goes in search of God. You can tell when the writing is weak as Shatner reverts to over-acting. The movie series started bringing in “The Next Generation” cast (with Captain Picard, played by Patrick Stewart), and those films are pretty dull and slow moving for the most part.
The series was rebooted, however, with the JJ Abrams directed films of recent years and Chris Pine playing Kirk. Everyone is too good looking and thin now, with no known toupees. The Khan character is brought back with 2013’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”
But do consider a viewing of “II” through “IV” all at once, as their plots are tied together, even if you are not a Trekkie or even a fan of science fiction. These films work on a lot of levels, and “IV” especially has many mainstream laughs to go along with the fast-paced action.
Darren Johnson has an MFA in Writing from Southampton College of Long Island University and has penned thousands of things. Follow him here: https://twitter.com/campus_news. Or don’t.