The lost Crusade. (Spoilers.)
12 July 2009
The movie starts out on the planet of Nimbus III, where Sybok, a renegade Vulcan converts one of the locals and makes him one of his followers. How does he do it? He takes away his greatest pain. Many think this to be a stupid idea, but if you asked me, it is highly intellectual and a stroke of genius. Perhaps it is just handled the wrong way, from a directorial point of view. What I will attempt in this comment is not only to see things the way they are, but also how Shatner had originally envisioned them to be, but failed to do right, either by the lack of money or the lack of his own directorial skills. This brings me back to the point I started from. Why has the first guy we see on screen to be a drooling, speech impeded, nobody. Hell, even Abe Lincoln had a brighter future when he picked up his ticket at the box office. This guy would have done everything to get off this rock, even follow a mad man. But I think the idea itself is brilliant. How many movies do we know, where we pause for a moment and the hero tells somebody what is eating him, what his drive is, why he does what he does. By now, this has become a bit of a cliché. But Star Trek V makes it a plot point, a way to literally show us the feelings of our beloved characters. The sad thing is, it is not done very well, or at least not consequently. Although I like the Spock and McCoy scenes, we are not shown anything from the rest. Why waste screen time for the three emissaries on Nimbus III since they are nothing more than a McGuffin in the first half of the movie and almost completely disappear in the latter one. This time could have easily been used for the Enterprise crew, given them a more dignified role in the events depicted. It was a good thing of Shatner to give everyone something to do, but almost everything shown is done in a fun way and contradicts the character. We see the navigator and the helmsman get lost; the engineer bumps his head in engineering, and a lady pushing sixty performing a strip dance as if she were 20. Granted, those horny hicks in the desert probably did not care, but we as viewers are put out of the movie, another failure of the movie. While in Star Trek II it was made a point that Kirk is aging and the crew is aging, is this one, everybody is shown more agile than back in the original show. If we compare the appearance of Kirk in this movie and the next, he has aged almost ten years, despite the making of the two is only two years apart. Kirk is free-climbing in this and we are supposed to believe it. Then again, he falls right. Nevertheless the climbing scenes are a beautiful montage for the title credits and give the movie scale. The title credits as originally conceived by Shatner would have been one consecutive shot, beginning with a zoom out (following the first Sybock scene) of Nimbus three, then we go into space, travel to earth and then a zoom in on earth ending in an aerial shot of Yosemite, ala the "Powers of Ten." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUUkjWsNC9k&feature=fvst) Great idea, would have been awesome, but alas, not enough money. The filmed special effects by Associates and Ferren are bad. Someone said that their limited facilities, which resulted in a lack of time, had prevented them from doing multiple passes on the starships and models, thus not giving the shots depth and credibility. The in camera effects on the other hand look very good for the most part. We have the back projected star field whenever we look out of a window and that is very convincing, also giving the director the freedom to move the camera, a luxury that a blue screen background would have prevented back then. Another plus point are the transitions we get during the flashbacks of McCoy and Spock. Also done practically and very good. The only time the back projection did not work that good are the main viewer scenes. Since the bridge is lit very brightly, the contrast on the viewer is a bit low, but nothing to complain really. The bridge is very good in this one, as are most of the sets, beautifully lit and filmed. The camera-work is a highpoint of this film. One of my favorite scenes is the camera push in on the bridge, passing the actors ending on a monitor which shows us the approaching bird of prey. Someone called this an almost Hitchcockian moment, perhaps referring to the crane shot in Notorious. It is a very good moment that introduces us to the more than disappointing ending of this flick. Again, time, money and unconvincing special effects prevented this one from being what Shatner wanted it to be. I wonder if it had worked. Surely, he is not the best director, but the good stuff in his movie works very well and the major flaw is perhaps him directing himself. His whole performance screams leading man and hero, something that director Nick Meyer tried to reduce in his movies, with success. No wonder Shatner got the Razzie for acting.The dialog by David Loughery is over the top, out of character and silly. Harve Bennett euphemised it as "his delightful almost whimsical sense of humor" in the DVD featurette The Jouurney Begins, but I don't know. I could go on and on making this movie bad, despite liking it, dreaming of how it could have been. I think they should give him the money to fix this. On the other hand, I wonder, why Shatner does not put up the money himself.
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