Sadly, we have been down the road of Bad Star Wars movies, especially since Disney took over, too many times. At every step of the way the sacred trust and love people have for the movies prevent you from getting any read on a movie you’ve seen 10 out of context minutes of in all sorts of commercials already. From candy to cars, Star Wars sells it all.
Right now an early, spoiler-y but terrible review has emerged from GQ which kills the movie; starting with it’s really bad re-introduction of Palpatine. Here’s a quick quote that sums up what sounds awful –
The “return” of Palpatine could easily turn out to be some clever scheme by some unknown villain, who hopes gain power by drafting on the reputation of the terrifying emperor.
And then, just a minute or two later, Kylo Ren comes face-to-face with Emperor Palpatine himself—very much alive, thank you—and Rise of Skywalker starts digging a hole it never finds a way to climb out from.
This damning piece of information, which shows nothing was learned from the (Horrible) Solo Movie Easter Egg as far as being unexplained and bad, seems pretty movie-killing just on its own. Its apparently right up front and there was worse in there.
The Phantom Menace Paradox
My warning here probably won’t stop anyone either, because Star Wars Stockholm Syndrome is REAL! People sympathize with anything slapped with the Star Wars logo.
How bad is it? Well, The Phantom Menace was the biggest grossing of the Lucas made movies. So, in a sense there’s no way to measure how good the movie is. That Phantom Menace defied the few realistic but much shared bad reviews and scathing word of mouth to be the most lucrative Star Wars Movie clouded peoples judgement. The malignant concept “now they’re Bomb Proof” was born. Fortunately the prequels got better fast, but the Box Office, while still great, was a bit down after Phantom Menace initially tarnishes the concept. even though it takes til home video for anger to really emerge.
In contrast; near perfect movie Revenge of the Sith had a sort of disappointing box office. It wasn’t really about the movie, which, again, is really good. People were tired of Star Wars by this point. Some people had hated both the previous movies. Also at that point, with all the video and re-releases, they had flooded the market. These things as well as being the only R rated Star Wars movie made it a cautionary box office tale compared to the inferior film, Phantom Menace. Another bad precedent was set.
NOTE-Revenge of the Sith is slowly redeeming itself because there’s just a lot worse Star Wars movies out there. It had mixed reviews and was somewhat overlooked initially, but that’s another post.
But the idea a truly bad Star Wars movie was still going to do great financially was out there and it was just too intoxicating. Crank out the movies and merch and stay away from what made Return of the Sith great was sort of built into the game plan.
Disney seems to have taken this as a license of sorts. They know the movies can’t truly fail (or so we still think), so what difference does it make if it could be better so long as it opens on time? Sort of like “Its crazy to own an Orange Grove and not plant oranges in orange season.” They paid out the nose for this and they built a theme park around it that costs a fortune to go to.
No one believes they’re ever going to slow down the franchise until they can make, you know, decent movies. They just want their holiday Skywalker franchise and their summer Star Wars Stories to open on time. After all, a lengthy delay didn’t help SOLO, which wasn’t even the best Sci-Fi movie with a Paul Bettany Death Scene in theaters that week (That would have been Avengers: Infinity Wars).
Critics have finally found some courage since the disaster that was The Last Jedi and the lackluster “Solo” movie that just felt like what many said it was- a wikipedia page on screen. So while Rogue One was an amazing view, the other three movies from the JJ Abrams crew up to now are bad or even awful.
The Curious Curse of Hiring JJ Abrams
While some people might be more forgiving, JJ Abrams will always be the guy who gave us the worst series ending of all time with LOST way back in the day. A seed was planted – JJ Abrams can only wrote beginnings. Nothing since then has disproved it.
Abrams romp through the Star Trek Universe left it so messed up things are still not really together a decade later! Chances Quentin Tarantino directs a Star Trek movie are far from high and seeming to drop weekly. The two TV shows, one bad, one yet to be seen, won’t be on regular TV but a streaming pay service from CBS. In the case of Discovery, season one wasn’t good enough for TV. The other show, Picard, appears to exist outside the so called “Kelvin Timeline” people so hate, so it may be good.
The truth is JJ Abrams is a Tropey, check off the boxes and terribly safe writer on the Star Wars movies. He’s mistake prone and creates boring enemy ships and aliens. The formula when Abrams is writing is schematic and transactional, never, ever missing a merchandising plug. Grasping at any plot device to advance from one “Star Wars Moment” to the next, we get from point A to point B in the most predictable way possible most every time.
For example- Is it really plausible Finn and Po are close friends because for 3 minutes they attempted to escape the First Order together? Consider for a moment how brief and frenetic their meeting actually is. No effort was made to really give them the kind of time together it takes to sell a buddy connection. It’s simply bad storytelling. It’s okay, you didn’t watch it wrong, it really is bad.
So the clunkiness and the impersonal nature of the heroes compounds to the point you’re just waiting for something to happen or the movie to end. JJ Abrams didn’t invest emotionally in these characters, why should we? Because he talked us out of about 18 bucks? Because getting conned sucks? I don’t know but people seem to never attack the movie without throwing some justification in there too. In this case it’s “worth it so see the end of the franchise no matter how good or bad.” It’s a cult in some ways.
Back to the new character. The fact that BB-88 is one the most popular and relatable characters says something. Non verbal and usually pure slapstick. He’s a break from the lack of substance because a droid bouncing off the walls during a space dogfight was funny and didn’t go on too long. The other characters? Maybe the fact they ARE verbal hurts? Dialogue has never been great in Star Wars, but these Disney movies feature some of the blandest techno-babble ever.
McTeag’s Law of New Star Wars Movies
The Rule seems to be ‘The further they get from Lucas material the worse the movie.’
Selling Out to Sell Toys
Who among us will ever forget the Disney lowpoint with C-3PO pointlessly mentioning his red arm? Out of context and needless. It was just there to visually (and financially) differentiate the Toy income stream. It differentiates the C-3PO toys Disney and Abrams gets more of than the ones that are more like the Lucas version, which Lucas gets more of the money from.
These movies have some of the worst toy connections ever, probably because the ships and creatures aren’t that good so they have to be pushed hard. And really, it’s only just so great compared to the Lucas conceived stuff.
At this point I have to note -JJ Abrams is also a bad toy developer, which in these movies, really hurts. The stuff he outright inherited from Lucas is amazing and we love stuff like Han’s blaster, Luke’s lightsaber and the sounds they made when primed, when fired and the level of damage they did to a target. In contrast Abram’s gave us things like Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, which angered and confused fans with its ‘self amputating’ looking crossguard.
The elephant in the room is simply money and an intellectual property contract that showed Lucas is still an amazing businessman. Disney only “owns” it just so much and Lucas seems to have found a way to get paid again if too much of HIS vision is used. It turns out Lucas is also pretty successful in litigation when he sets his pack of lawyers on people, even Disney. I don’t think he went out of his way to make this clear and waited for them to make a mistake. Rogue One was almost pure Lucas and I think, with no proof, that he had his lawyers go down there to Rat HQ at Disney with a very serious letter about how much they needed to pay for exceeding the copyright. Good for Lucas, bad for fans as the run from Lucas properties becomes a priority and a plot driver for the Disney Movies.
This is why the killing off of his properties has been central to this new series. In The Last Jedi they kill off the ships from Lucas’ movies. Before that in so-so Force Awakens, Han Solo is just plain old killed in a typical ‘Abrams Parent Killing Scene’ we’re so used to its no longer emotional. For example, he kills 2 parents in half an hour in his first, deceptively good but “all beginning” Star Trek movie. It’s his last nominally good movie. Follow up Into Darkness was a complete mess and disaster that angered all Trek fans as he seemed to sabotage the franchise on the way out the door. One of the biggest insults- lying about what was in the movie to make it pop more. “It’s not Khan but a new villain named Harrison” was ridiculous and no one was surprised it was just bull when they saw the movie.
Into Darkness was THE most apologized for moment in a Franchise that at different times has starred a bunch of geriatrics, was written by soap opera and western writers, was for a time abandoned by its creator and was led by William Shatner on a shoestring TV budget in the Politically Incorrect 1960s!!! Whats THAT say?
Since it’s the same fans for the most part, no one was all that psyched to see him land at the helm of Star Wars, and Disney has turned out to be a bad fit. Talk about “Failing Your Way Up!”
In the Disney Star Wars Universe it’s this simple -the closer they get to Lucas’ Vision of The Galaxy Far, Far Away the more Lucas must be paid. But the closer to Lucas the better the movie. Disney just wants money.
George Lucas, The Real Emperor of the Galaxy Far, Far Away
Unlike Abrams, Lucas’ genius as a filmmaker pales in comparison to his abilities as a highly profitable business man. Time and again he puts profits first and gets them.
George Lucas generated a fortune for the studios and he managed to please the fans about four and half times out of 6 tries. The only things people truly hated was his slow pace of development between projects and retconning too much.
Hollywood loved that he put profits first too. In one case a better video transfer technique was right around the corner, but the deadline was more important and a pink shift/ purple shift affected the way the entire first trilogy looked. (Note- the version in Disney Plus right now is even a little more re-engineered, with the damage from other transfers somewhat addressed.) Now it looks like he understood the market and his abilities better than people ever gave him credit for.
Theres Only One George Lucas
At the end of the day the fact is George Lucas was far and away a better creative than JJ Abrams and still made a lot of money. Mountains of it. This is because Lucas self corrected a couple of times. Abrams, contrastingly, has been making and remaking the same two plots for 15 years now. And one plot is just ‘total pasted together fan-angering mess!’ and the other is “Bad Guys Have an ad hoc Death Star”
Yes, Phantom Menace is terrible, but things improved fast despite the lack of goodwill for awhile towards the prequels. The bottom line – most of the things people hated in Phantom Menace are minimized or written away in Attack of the Clones, a movie that gets BETTER every 10 minutes even if its never really “great” it’s not terrible like its prequel and doesn’t make all the same mistakes that movie makes(only some of them, mostly upfront).
You’ll Love it for 6 Bucks
That’s right, I said it, Rise of Skywalker will be a great view in a few months when you can watch it at home for 6 bucks. You’ll probably feel pretty good about punting on it. The theater is just a bad risk now. Some people I know have already seen it and one review was ‘preposterous’. So I don’t think I’m gonna end up being wrong on this.
Don’t bother going to the theater to enable a bad incarnation of a once great franchise. The movie looks derivative and bad. The lead up and trailers are bad. The promise to slow down making the movies if we just see this one is not encouraging at all and wont be kept.
So skip this movie, or, as a wise Sith once said to Luke Skywalker; “You will pay the price for your lack of vision!”
May the Force be with You as you watch the Mandalorian with a borrowed Disney code. That at least has mostly been really good.
Just Another Sci Fi Franchise
That’s right, you heard it here first. The bloom has been off the rose for awhile, but now the Star Wars movies are just plain old movies like any other franchise. Worse yet, these newer movies have a higher chance of being bad than just any sci fi movie, and in fact Avengers has been better for a while. While Rogue One delivered, really the next best movie they’ve given us is the shaky (and now undermined) The Force Awakens, which is not quite as good as Phantom Menace.
And there’s no real need to go to crime ridden Orlando for the Theme Park til the price comes down either but that’s another post.
Star Trek The Motion Picture, or Star Trek TMP, is the Phantom Menace of the Star Trek franchise. Featuring a bi-polar plot that never connects, it’s the feature film equivalent of a “Monster of the Week” style Trek TV episode.
The movie will be back in theaters for a bit this summer to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of its release. If you have a Roku or other device you can see the first three Star Trek movies for free uninterrupted right now using the DUSTx app/channel. So it seemed like a good time to rewatch and review them in order.
Star Trek roars into theaters for the first time on December 7, 1979 with a whimper in the form of this bad film redundantly named Star Trek The Motion Picture.
In a Nutshell
Its A Mess! This movie is just not that good!
The plot is a little complex and assumes full knowledge of the series. It was born and spent most of its life as a TV pilot. There was no “Un-TV-ing” the way its paced. It’s important to remember a switch is literally flipped when they realize its going to be a feature film. Then the TV pilot tries to be a movie and it’s at odds with itself. In essence it’s a miffed attempt to re-boot the TV series that ended up sucking up so much money they can’t just walk away; so it fails its way up to feature film.
We’d seen a very similar story before in the TV episode “The Changeling“, which is imaginative among episodes, but not a movie-building episode. I can only imagine they were going for something closer to what we get in the pilot for the Next Generation.
This supposed pilot had things it needed to do as a pilot. Re-Introducing the original characters and giving us some new characters through an interesting monster of the week two part episode with an emphasis on showing the ship and the gear and setting up future episodes was more important than making the single best episode of the series. So motivations aren’t really there to make a movie at all, or even a really good episode. There were people lined up around the block looking to write the new episodes too. We get the best ones later in the Next Generation.
In fits and starts some stuff was getting done, but it’s just not going anywhere. The plugs not pulled but things slow down while Paramount reconsiders. Things are up in the air.
Star Trek TMP was on its way to a similar fate as another failed Star Trek pilot “The Cage”. It’s tempting to the network, and Roddenberry could sell Star Trek, but sci fi is dead. So it kind of ended up in what they call “Development Hell.’
“Development Hell”, a term first popularized by Tim Burton, is what killed off his mediocre Superman movie but produces this bad Star Trek movie. It’s a term for a movie or show that’s got some elements in place, but not quite enough. Outright bad ideas don’t end up there, they die. On paper a Star Trek movie is actually a good idea, especially when the second release of Star Wars A New Hope is just vacuuming up money. And that outside development was the final thing that bought Star Trek back.
So basically it’s just pulled off the scrap heap and gets a pretty big injection of cash for cinematic special effects really late in the game. This is why some effects are much better than others.
In Real Estate terms, this wasn’t a complete teardown so much as an extensive refurbishment with a poorly planned addition.
The Really Expensive Pilot that Just Didn’t Work
This pilot had problems from the start. The biggest was Star Trek rip off, TV show Space:1999. The Star Trek people probably knew they had problems when they saw that there were a few too many similarities between their new production and this show.
I think the similarity the new Star Trek production’s look had to that of bad TV show SPACE:1999 cheapens their vision right in the moment. I’m sure it bothered the writers and creators, who immediately move on from this look.
The Space:1999 people seem to have blundered into this and the Star Trek people just found out too late. You can’t very well look like a bad TV show when you’re making the jump to film, but it was too late and unfixable. It also may have started people thinking these two shows on TV at the same time would be confusing.
Both Star Trek and Space:1999 showed a bad vision of the future.
Making a believable Sci-Fi movie is never easy to do anyway, but this movie fares worse than most. No expense was spared in creating a huge series of only okay sets that would have seen heavy use in a series. They saved what they could but most of it looked wrong.
It’s fair to call the uniforms and this movies Enterprise a dead end experiment. Sick Bay may have been an exception to an otherwise bland Enterprise, but the future has caught up and many of us have seen our CAT scans and MRI’s in real time on a big screen, so it’s a push there.
As I mentioned, it’s sort of a Star Trek tradition to have a pilot fail and then re-emerge in a slightly altered form. Similarly, this failed pilot is re-cut into a bad movie on the fly.
It was “throw this out there and get what we can or forget about Star Trek forever.” There was only one choice for the Star Trek people. They rebuilt the movie as best they could on the fly and prayed some heavy effects scenes would carry the movie.
They were pretty much wrong.
All this had actually sort of run out of gas maybe 6-18 months before Star Wars is released. When a lot of this work is being done there didn’t seem to be a huge interest in Science-Fiction. Then 1977 rolled around and Star Wars begins a Sci-Fi craze like never before. A bunch of franchises ride its coat tails into mainstream success.
Ironically, Paramount’s disdain for the project helps prolong it and ends up keeping the idea alive long enough. The movie does get made when things change and sci-fi is hot again (and forever) in the wake of the 1977 Star Wars movie, aka Episode 4.
If production hadn’t been so far behind we may have lost Star Trek forever. So it was a fluke this gets released. So we probably owe the continued existence of the Star Trek franchise itself to this reckless decision that pays off just enough.
Star Trek Stops Losing Money
So now the public is hungry for Sci-Fi and Paramount wants in. Looking around, the fastest path is a half finished Star Trek pilot on the ‘In Need of Help’ pile. It’s not that good, but hey, it’s almost done! It can be finished and in theaters pretty quickly.
There was also just a lot of Star Trek fans out there having conventions and buying lots of merchandise even after Star Wars. So there was demand and an audience for a Star Trek movie. It had become iconic in re-runs worldwide.
The decision was made. They would finish the pilot as a feature film. They throw another 15 million bucks, a fortune in 1979, into cinematic effects and do what they can with what they have. It’s about one third of the entire budget. It was a lot of cash, but it shows up after TMP is almost done.
Obviously, it was the right move. Per Wikipedia the movie takes in 139 Million Dollars off a budget of 46 million. So it brings back triple what they spent. Much more than it ever could have raked in as a TV show. Paramount had thought they’d get somewhat more, but the movie is far from a failure financially.
It was all found money for Paramount. They couldn’t have been happier. The only reviews that counted came from the people over at the Accounting Department! This passed over pilot had been really costly. And really slow. Now, the studios attitude towards Star Trek changed considerably. It was finally set up to make a profit.
Everyone’s pretty happy to have gotten off relatively lightly as the franchise moves to the Big Screen with a better sequel as top priority… just as soon as we get this turd out of the way.
This was never going to be all that good of a TV show anyway. We don’t know exactly when they made the decision to go from TV to intentionally mediocre movie, most sources say two thirds into filming, so a lot of the scenes remain very TV-like. They were writing as they were filming by the end. So things got frantic. It shows up most in the no pay-off, bad ending, written on the fly under a looming deadline.
The Biggest Problem
My Guess? At some point Gene Roddenberry has too much control and all the delays give him too much time to think and make bad decisions. Then they pulled away a lot of control with a deadline and some harsh takes on his results so far.
And times really changed in the roughly five years it takes from start to finish with this Star Trek project.
When things start out 2001 A Space Odyssey is the standard for big screen sci-fi. Before they’re done Star Trek’s original 1977 release had really, really changed things. Special Effects not the least.
V’ger ends up just a badly done alien by the time they are ready to release this movie. It’s also not any kind of real villain, despite its genocidal streak. They only got some of the pop they had hoped for from the Special Effects. The 1974 ideas may as well have been 1954 ideas after Star Wars hits theaters. They looked bad.
The One Good Hire
While much of what we see onscreen is sort of bad when you watch it now, they do start introducing some recurring themes and make a key hire. Composer Jerry Goldsmith, who did the music for the series and was in fact a very in demand movie score guy at that point, was bought on to handle the musical score.
They were smart and right on to get back Jerry Goldsmith to work on most of the music for this movie. Reunifying him with the franchise is maybe the most important thing this movie gets us. His contributions are not to be underestimated. We have the first ever attempt at the Next Generations theme used in the movie. We also get the Klingons now familiar theme song for the first time in the cold open.
The soundtrack, for the most part, is good. The Star Trek music is as good as the Bond Music as far as themes go. And on par with some Star Wars movies as well. It assures some continuity from the series to the movies mere atmospherics could never have accomplished.
There’s what’s called Leitmotif as well. All that means is some characters have their own theme music, just like in all John Williams scored movies. The evil cloud, for instance, is always accompanied by harsh synth music when it manifests its various guises. We get an Enterprise theme as well. It adds to the believability of all Star Trek movies.
The Controversial Firing
Whatever else he may have done, the one thing Gene Roddenberry had absolutely cemented in Paramounts minds was he was an idea guy and a TV Guy, NOT a Movie Guy. His Star Trek movie was not what they wanted and he had serious objections to the studios ideas. They also already had some problems with things he was saying about the sequel, which scare them even more about giving him control of the movies.
He was pushed out to a degree and his lack input to the movies (but perceived prowess on TV) gets us the amazing Next Generation. So in a way it all worked out. Gene Roddenberry later has similar issues with the Next Generation, but his somewhat untimely death resolves that.
The key decision that Star Trek didn’t always have to be profound is made. While its too late to lighten up this pretentious, self-important movie at all, it shows up in the sequels. Sort of like Pink Floyd when they part ways with Roger Waters. They wanted to be meaningful and artful, but they also weren’t always going to make some deep statement. It was freeing in both instances.
It was the right decision for Star Trek, where they immediately see how the wrong approach makes a movie fail in the way this one does. The tagline for this release is “The Human Adventure Has Just Begun.” Very 2001 A Space Odyssey-like. Pretty important sounding, for sure. It didn’t have any scenes that lived up to that tagline.
So now, sometimes we’re just gonna have fun in this ready made Galaxy. We might allude to something larger here and there in an observational way, but everything doesn’t have to be Asimov-level profound. Being meaningful was still out there, but profundity was not the number one goal anymore.
It worked. The 5 direct sequels are all better for these decisions, it was okay to be lighthearted and funny after this movie. In this movie there’s a total of one lighthearted scene courtesy of DeForest Kelley. The rest of the time the stakes are super high with a failed attempt at building tension and some conflict between Kirk and Decker.
It’s still essentially a TV script and its partly made when they switch gears. While that’s part of its appeal to the producers, it leads to some uneven pacing when the movie slows way down later.
We also get a couple of very doomed new characters leftover from the days of it being a pilot. They just don’t fit anymore, but they have key roles in the story and maybe some of the already filmed scenes. We can pretty much figure out what’s going to happen to them.
New character Captain Will Decker is the only qualified non dinosaur around, but he’s been quickly, curtly demoted and, shall we say, Red-Shirted. This was also going to happen if it stayed on TV. He was going to be Kirk’s Number One.
Then we have Captain Decker’s ex girlfriend, whose inexplicably verbal about being celibate. Welcome aboard Navigator Ilia, who I guess gets downgraded from TV cast member to “Hottie of the Week”. Her shaved head is less disturbing now then it was in 1979. Her other alien trait is a Russian Accent. Aside from showing up Chekov’s accent theres not much to say about her. They’re an early, underdeveloped version of Riker and Troi. So we’ve seen this done better too since this movie.
She’s not an effective alien even when she returns in ‘replicant’ form.
They never seem like they’re going to make it to the end of this movie. This isn’t helped by the fact the movie itself at one point seems it will never end!
It’s the first appearance of a Seventh Heaven cast member in creepy Stephen Collins, who was at least okay in his not so great role. His Seventh Heaven TV wife shows up in Star Trek IV as a Marine Biologist.
The Mediocre Movie, Act 1
As revealed later its 2 years since the Enterprise ended its 5 year mission, so 7 years from start of the Mission and our season one stories. Everyone looks pretty much the same. Its an evolutionary moment in the lifespan of William Shatner’s hair, he has a strange piece or weave, but the Shat is BACK and Kirk-er than ever!
The movie opens as the Anomalous Cloud later revealed as V’ger easily destroys three klingon warships in true 70’s sci-fi fashion. The primary weapon of the cloud is best described as ‘bad’ and has a pretty laughable effect when it actually destroys anything. The point is made though – don’t mess with the cloud.
Fortunately for the Klingons its just passing through their neck of the woods on its way right to the homeworld of the hated and annoying Federation. So they just leave it alone. In due course it consumes a Federation listening post at the edge of Klingon space.
With TV-like brevity we get a quick glimpse of Spock flunking his try at the Kolinar Emotional-Purging Ritual, which is presented as lengthy and difficult and shows a stressed Spock with long hair. Then, assuming full familiarity with the series we get a mind meld that we may not have really needed where we learn Spock is sensing V’ger. While it doesn’t add up that it’s being sensed by his human side (other humans don’t mention sensing it) we move on fast enough to forget this.
We then transition to an actually pretty cool looking Starfleet Headquarters and find out right away Starfleet Command is hyper focused on the Anomalous Cloud that defies all analysis. Chief of Starfleet Operations, Admiral Kirk, is point man on this one and he’s game, but he also has his own agenda- to be Captain of the Enterprise once more.
Admiral Kirk and Scotty, whose still chief engineer of the re-vamped Enterprise give us a real show of the ship as the move around in a shuttle to dock with the Enterprise, which is refit and now snow white.
At TV speed we find out Kirk’s far more taken with the idea he’s back in the Captain’s Chair than with the enormity of the impending encounter with the dangerous cloud. He’s James T Kirk, he does deals with this all the time.
The ultra clean Enterprise is going to become a constant in the series and on TV but we never see the Enterprise looking quite like this again. Its white and spotless. The main sensor array is just a glowing blue disk. There’s lots of humans hanging around it for scale reference and the movie ends up behaving more or less like a TV pilot.
In a TV Pilot-like manner Kirk busts Captain Decker down to “Executive Officer”. Decker takes this well enough, but he doesn’t mince words calling the Admiral a manipulative jerk. He’s right too. Who cares? This is a man whose father almost destroyed the Enterprise tangling with the Doomsday Machine in a great TV episode. Good command decision isn’t in his DNA anyway.
The Enterprise itself gets an almost character-like intro. The convenient reunification of the characters is amusing only with McCoy. You could be excused from missing Janis Rand completely. Shes one of the horrified transporter crew that melt a couple of crewmembers. It’s one of the few moments the movie has any emotion.
Minutes later Kirk’s pretty glib about the transporter as we get the aforementioned 2 amusing minutes courtesy of Dr McCoy, whose more than a little angry over having been drafted back into Star Fleet.
In short order we reassemble the most of the original crew plus some bland toss ins. We move via the Enterprise to intercept the Cloud, eventually to be known as V’Ger, which no one bothers to keep consistent in size. Best guess is its about the size of our solar system and is emanating enormous power readings.
We get what at this point is a brand new concept – the ships not quite finished and the crew is not that trained, but there’s a threat and its the only Federation ship in the area. This will get re-used a whole lot but this is its first invocation in the movies.
While en route to intercept the cloud Kirk pushes everyone too hard and the opportunity for another very 70s moment of special effects shows up in the form of a Worm Hole created by an imbalance in the warp engines. Then his mistakes is compounded by an asteroid pulled into the ships path. They have just a few seconds to figure it out. We get another very 70’s moment where time is passing slowly and everyones speech is slurred. Showing his ignorance of the new design Kirk orders a phaser blast while at warp and Decker saves the ship by countermanding Kirk’s order and using a photon torpedo instead. Brief tension ensues.
This is a deeply technical and not so good sequence that really hurts the movie. The effects are bad.
Then, the first cast member we saw briefly and then veered unevenly away from returns as a shuttle with Spock arrives to dock with the Enterprise. The whole desert emotion-purging thing has Spock acting like he’s abusing downers. He’s not going to reach his normal conversational level that quickly. He, like Kirk, has his own agenda anyway. The anomaly is what reached out and stirred his human emotions and ruined his training in the first place. He assumes science officer duties and for once Decker is happy to yield ground.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy are in place, so your pretty sure things are gonna be okay. Spock is somewhat ‘communing” with V’ger. He can’t elaborate on it just as the sensors can’t quite pin down the makeup of the cloud. It’s been done in a real “checking off the boxes for a TV pilot” way. You gotta imagine most of the effort was going to try to find an ending for this movie at this point as they rewrite on the fly.
We find the ship offline to a degree for a moment while Scotty applies Spock’s convenient software patch and fixes the warp engines. We’re off to meet the cloud.
When we finally get to the Anomaly, Kirk doesn’t probe it and leaves down the shields. He’s dead set on not triggering its defenses, which are as effective as they are silly. The shields hadn’t helped the Klingon’s, right?
Approaching the Anomaly we get some pretty state of the art attempts at effects for 1979, but they.re by no means astounding. There’s some great exteriors of the ship flying through the cloud. If you only like Enterprise-porn, where they just show off the ship, you’ll love this movie.
A game of cat and mouse ensures and the Enterprise is sort of engaged with V’ger, eventually entering the cloud and barely escaping destruction by persuading the entity at the heart of the cloud, that they’re not a threat moments before it would have atomized the ship.
The movie is now primarily trying to find it’s way to a few Star Trek moments and to feel cinematic after a lot of TV shooting and pacing. It really slows down in the final act. It feels uneven because it is.
At some point the Enterprise manages to end up inside the giant ship within the cloud and we find out the V’Ger entity has really been around. There’s a visual library of a very extensive journey.
A sensor wave from the cloud cuts through the bridge but seems to cause no damage. Then it fries the navigator, Ilia and with the sum of the ships computers knowledge it simply disappears.
Meanwhile there’s some form of communication coming from the cloud and the Enterprise finally picks it up. With some communications established we get a ride through the cloud.
Eventually we get our navigator back but now shes a scantily clad replicant-like emissary from the Anomaly, which finally announces itself as V’ger. She has little to offer about V’ger’s nature and is more about checking out the carbon based life forms the ‘infest’ the Enterprise.
Since they used to be lovers, Kirk has Decker hang out with the thing and show it around. It would seem it deeply affects him. Kirk’s pretty perplexed and the stakes are going up as they approach Earth.
Meanwhile Spock shows off what surely would have been heavily used gear in the show, a rocket powered spacesuit that’s pretty imaginative.
So anyway we have Spock outside his ship, which is inside another ship, attempting to penetrate further into the V’Ger entity to get some clues about just what this thing is. He finds enough to get overwhelmed and the 2001: A Space Odyssey is playing deeply in to the effects approach and it’s not unlike Bowman’s journey from The Discovery to meet god.
When we see Spock again hes drifting in fetal position towards a spacesuited Kirk in a possible heavy handed salute, or attempt to draw a little legitimacy from Kubrik’s movie. It isn’t all that bad, I suppose its a high point in the now slow moving movie.
V’ger attempts communication with Earth but gets no response and then, in a moment we see again soon in Moonraker, it starts to deploy killer satellites around the planet and gets ready to rid the planet of the Carbon based life forms (so humans and everything else). By doing this it hopes to contact it’s creator, whom its obsessed on.
Attempts at pop psychology and other justifications for the V’ger entities motivations and all of them are heavy handed and bad.
Kirk bluffs the Ilia Clone Probe thing and we all take a walk across the outside to the the heart of the V’ger entity, it’s mysterious origin and form soon to be revealed
Again leaving the ship but now just wearing some spiffy jackets and walking down the saucer section, V’ger is finally revealed for what it is- a lost 20th Century Space Probe FROM NASA back on EARTH!
Kirk removes 3 centuries of Space grit with his hands to show what whoever super-empowered this probe missed; the true name of V’ger is actually Voyager 6! All we need is the old NASA code and this baby will turn right off. The bridge crews right on it!
We quickly hear that Voyager 6, programmed to gather information and return to report it, fell into a Black Hole. Then, mostly because we’ve seen all this before in the episode “The Changeling” , the away team deftly auger that it must’ve emerged on the other side of the black hole and crashed onto a planet run by super intelligent machines. Imagine THAT happening TWICE? And much later it will happen again in another movie in this franchise. This plot device should be avoided forever more. 3 times is enough. Whiplash for even me at 9 seeing this. Seemed unfair to just throw a slightly higher budget twist on to one so-so episode as your movie.
Kirk reveals it to V’ger in true Shatnerian form; “V’ger, WE are the Creator”
This is a total let down to V’ger. It immediately becomes depressed.
Goodbye Inconvenient Characters
Ilia is now just a replicant and Decker has no role in this new dynamic. He decides he would love more than anything else to do a couple of screwdriver turns and key in the final command codes, confirming mission accomplished. Everyone has somehow figured out this is going to cause some sort of mergence between himself and V’ger. He has to do it manually because V’Ger itself burned out the leads to avoid admitting to itself the annoying carbon based life forms are its Creator.
So Decker keys in the codes and via really questionable effects we see Decker and Ilia merged.
The V’Ger entity is now a lot happier and a little more complete, so it seemingly goes unsaid it’s no longer a threat. No one bothers to ponder the idea this man made death machine has genocided its way across the Galaxy. And we never hear about this strange plot device again. This enormously powerful entity simply goes away and is never spoken of again.
In TV Style the movie wraps up with Kirk, Spock and McCoy pondering and exchanging verbal jabs on the bridge.
The acting in this movie exceeds what they had in the script. The cast comes off authentic. Everyone’s well prepared to reprise their character. The new cast members, well, we wont have to put up with them that long, but they’re okay.
And we found out that Star Trek could succeed without being profound, which was what this movie tries and fails to do. It was so bad that part gets lost in the many other criticisms.
We have Jerry Goldsmith onboard doing the music and we have the original crew well set up to do more movies. Thats all we get. ‘Star Trek’s back, but we’re gonna have to work on it a little more’ is the message here.
Some special effects are pretty cool. The musical score is mostly good.
Seems like with leaving almost all of this behind is the sort of thing we could have skipped, and we could have. Unlike Phantom Menace, which is about as bad, it serves no purpose in the continuity of the series. One of the best parts of this movie is you can easily skip it and still enjoy the other films. Almost nothing is the same when we get the next movie, Wrath of Khan.
In the end the best part is what didn’t happen. It didn’t become a pilot for what would probably have been a mediocre Star Trek show and we probably never get the excellent Next Generation at all.
Where do you start with a project so deeply flawed? At it’s worst moments this movie takes itself far too seriously and then makes a confusing glib turn. Its uneven and the pacing drops off once we encounter the V’ger cloud.
The new characters are bad and have the smell of red shirted death on them the whole time.
Long preposterous chunks of dialogue of Star Trek speak aren’t as prevalent as moments showing Kirk as unflappable and rigidly determined, but theres too much of both.
Rather than Majel Barret the ships computer has a harsh male voice, probably influenced by 2001’s male voiced HAL 9000. This is jarring and doesn’t work.
Most effects aren’t so great, some are distractingly bad. Plot-wise V’ger is just Moby Dick and the Death Star mixed together. The similarities to the episode The Changeling wouldn’t have been so bad if this had ended up a pilot.
The ‘save’ attempts are hit or miss. They never have cool uniforms. we see some updated phasers but there’s no action in this attempt at a cerebral movie. The movie’s makers realized the best case was for TMP to be kind of okay. When they try to make it seem like theyre being deeper and thoughtful they try to be Kubrik-like and it doesnt work in a big way.
The smaller, faster earlier scenes are at least brief. When we end up in the depths of V’ger the movie slows down and seeks some kind of direction and redemption. A real pay off is sort of not possible. The effects were good enough for 1979 but just barely and things that wouldnt have been quite as bad on 70’s TV are simply awful on the big screen or a modern HDTV.
This whole movie is bad. Its bad Star Trek, its bad TV and it’s a bad feature movie. It wasn’t well reviewed, though some notice was taken of some of the better special effects.
The look of this Enterprise is a one off. The outside is never this white again, going with a more believable bluish metal look. Inside maybe some of the Engine Room was reused but not much. It’s the hugest engineering section we see in this series.
Next journey, to do battle with Khan, we have a more Industrial ship and a more tactile looking, somewhat Star Wars influenced bridge that looks more functional and has some military-like sparseness. TMP’s bridge is more like the one JJ Abrams liked to show. Large, bright and with more crew than it would seem to need. It seems to have some Next Generation set elements in it. We know everything in Star Trek has several lives as a prop. Future bridges in this series are far darker and less populous.
This overall look for the Enterprise wasnt going to work and there’s a rare but huge fail on their uniforms and communicators too. Everyone looks like theyre in their pajamas.
By the next movie more military style uniforms simply work better.
Perhaps oddest of all, there’s NO BRIDGE AMBIENT SOUND. It takes a moment to realize it but then you really miss it. Here and there a button gets pushed and there’s a reactive sound, but aside that the technical background of ambient starship bridge noise isn’t there. We didn’t realize how much we count on this great foley art was to helping us to believe it all til it was absent. It definitely stands out when they talk on the bridge, undercutting the believability. It’s a weird omission.
The legacy of this movie was making just enough money to greenlight Wrath of Khan and all subsequent movies and shows. This could have been the end of the line without ever seeing the light of day. If anything demand was so high they could skate on a bad movie if there was a good one in the development pipeline!
Still, I was thrilled leaving the movie as a kid just because I’d seen my Trek hero’s again. I was really happy there would be more Star Trek in the future! But we all realized it was not a great movie, but in 1979 things were much different going to the movies. B movies were around, the level of bad was acceptable when you realize that it was so much cheaper to go to the movies then and you could still just laugh off the three to five bucks you paid.
Paramount’s enjoyed nearly pure profit considering they’d scrapped the pilot and still recovered anything! A lot of the money was spent years earlier and was considered lost at one point. They had turned chicken-shit into chicken soup.
They had finally recouped some money and Sci- Fi was hotter than one bad Star Trek movie could ruin, and so, with some serious strings attached, they greenlight another movie. On that point there first movie had sort of overperformed and revealed the fanbase had indeed grown. It wasn’t a blockbuster or that great, but in Hollywood money and making money is all its about. In a weird and circuitous way- Mission Accomplished.
So sit back, grab a strong drink and get through not so great Star Trek The Motion Picture. Or not. The next movie starts a story arc that ignores everything from this movie including Kirk being in command.
Star Trek The Motion Picture is the Phantom Menace of the franchise. Only the really strong story and box office success of the sequel justifies the existence of this movie. Basically for Paramount there was only interest in using House Money from this project to give a revamped Star Trek writing team, with a minimized role for Roddenberry, one more shot to succeed.
From this movie came the long enduring “Odd Numbered Movie Curse” peculiar to Star Trek where only even numbered sequels did well or were well reviewed. In the Abrams universe/ Kelvin Timeline its reversed. The odd numbered movies are better.
For that alone this bad movie is justified. But its really not that good.
Well things hit a new low for Star Trek fans today as the last rotting vestiges of the Kelvin continuity took what appears to be a fatal hit shedding more creatives and cast members.Is it the end of the big screen part of the franchise? Future movies are very much in doubt at this moment and there’s nothing in production.
On the small screen we’re (sadly) diving into a second ‘for pay’ self-hating season of disappointing Star Trek Discovery. Adding insult to injury we’re going even deeper after the original show, with apparently, a new (as in NOT Zachary Quinto) Spock? Not very promising for a show already reeling from plagiarism charges that are very likely to stick.
The New Spock….
For fans of Star Wars the news is pretty much the same – The movies are cancelled or on hold for being sub DC bad. Both franchises will now be reduced to mere pay service streaming video shows.
Bravo JJ Abrams, you’ve done what Roddenberry and Lucas couldn’t, made Star Wars and Star Trek unWatchable!
By the time he took over Star Wars he had practice destroying beloved Sci-Fi franchises and a history of shabby treatment of original characters.
JJ Abrams- A Sci Fi Force of Failure
JJ Abrams made one good Trek movie which he then destroyed with a special edition commentary that was too honest and came off fan hating and trope-obsessed. Then Into Darkness was just a bad movie. So bad it destroyed any lingering sentiment for the previous movie and beat us up with a recycled plot that is now the ONLY plot JJ Abrams uses in a movie – The Bad Guy has a Death Star.
Sure, maybe it was originally a Romulan Mining ship or is just a gigantic Federation Starship, but its basically a Death Star and the story was just the same. A glimpse of what we were missing in the Cold Open only made Into Darkness worse. It was the best part of the movie and the ensuing nosedive never ended.
While Simon Pegg made a really watchable and in fact great Trek Movie in Star Trek Beyond it was too late, goodwill was gone. So little by little the remaining core of cast and creatives that had produced the most entertaining of the movies was allowed to erode.
How Did this Happen?
Ever since he shot Harrison Ford in the head to make predictable tear jerker “Regarding Henry” Abrams has depended on missing or dead parents to add some emotion to his loosely related series of vignettes.
Then we all got a huge dose of FAIL when he decided to simply cease LOST and create perhaps the worst final episode of any show ever. Some people praised him anyway and acted like LOST was Twin Peaks.
In the Star Trek movies he’s a one trick pony killing one each of Kirk and Spock’s parents On Screen in the first 40 minutes of his first Star Trek movie. 20 minutes into Into Darkness he kills Kirk’s surrogate father, Pike. So both characters are now partly motivated like Batman.
Remaking the Final Frontier into The Galaxy Far, Far Away
JJ Abrams only ever wanted to be the Star Wars guy and the stopover at Trek was complicated by his disdain for the franchise, fans and general all around desire to make Star Trek a Star Wars substitute. This extended to having tons of collectibles like never before. Abrams was aware that the merchandising had been the sweetest peach for Lucas and he was trying to do the same thing. Stories of petty obsessions with toy revenue and disputes with the original cast would also surface occasionally, only making Abrams look worse.
In the infamous Star Trek commentary to his first Trek movie Abrams gave away a little too much. Like when he tells us Captain Kirk is now based on Indiana Jones (and Batman), especially when he fights and only wins through luck. The concept would have been better had he not boasted of it and dispelled the magic of the moment as he explained the point for point similarities to the fight where Kirk and Sulu fight some Romulan goons and the iconic ‘Spinning German Plane Fight’ from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
Abrams mostly sounded like he had made the movie off a checklist and this was his “Indy fights the Plane Mechanic from Raiders of the Lost Ark Homage” box that he just needed to check off. He was drunk or high and telling too much of the truth that day but we’re lucky to have it on the record.
More importantly to the “Star Trekky-ness” of the new franchise, Abrams simply threw away the idea that we would just go to a planet and hang around observing and exploring. It seemed to be a concept that was scrupulously avoided to say risk the ship, struggle with the Prime Directive and possibly encounter a race analogous to the current state of Humanity or any combination of those things.
He never did Star Trek at its best, where it shines a light into a flaw inherent in humanity and aspires towards a future where we’re simply more reasonable. No one expected that lofty theme all the time, but it never got any attention. Its probably the hardest thing to pull off, but episodes of the Next Generation did it all the time and the Original series of course pioneered this. Would it have been that bad to give it a try? Star Trek became mere action and adventure.
JJ Abrams was largely successful in his endeavors to change and destroy Star Trek. Then, in a shocking turn of events he got his dream job, to destroy Star Wars. Again he was largely successful.
Destroying Star Wars
The cash grab for toy money was so crass and obvious it forced some ‘Legally Necessary Dialogue’ into the Disney Star Wars movies. Who doesn’t love warm Disney Star Trek moments like when C-3PO pointlessly makes mention of his red arm? It stuck out as bad and it was just so obvious why the line was in the movie. It was unseemly.
In so many words; it was all so that JJ Abrams could get his own ‘red armed C-3PO toy’ out there and keep more toy money! There’s other examples you’ll easily find if you watch with the idea “Abrams is trying to secure a toy revenue stream” in mind. So the quality of the dialogue is secondary to selling stuff. So the movies are, in a sense, long commercials where we pay to be pitched things. Lucas was not the greatest with this either, but his movies and merchandise were just better and so was his ‘in movie product pitch’.
During his time at Star Trek toys were an issue and the toy money obsession lead Star Wars down many awful paths too. We’d seen this before in Star Wars, but Abrams take on weapons and droids just isn’t as cool as what Lucas created. Just think about all the anger over Kylo Ren’s ungainly lightsaber and then think about Darth Maul’s lightsaber. The Lucas created weapon is great. The Abrams weapon is just sort of okay on its best day. Lots of people hated it. Never heard that about any Lucas weapon. Lucas was just better at weapons (and ships, droids and stories).
The Abrams Trap–Good Beginnings that Go Nowhere
Anyone saying JJ Abrams ‘only writes beginnings” is absolutely RIGHT ON! The last decent movie he made, his first Star Trek, was one long beginning. The next movie, Into Darkness, was a mere rehash.
In the case of both Trek and Star Wars he wrote himself and the franchise semi – excitingly into an ultimately boring corner that pre-compromised the next movie. The Force Awakens was okay until the sequel destroyed it as lots of false cannon and quickly abandoned ideas both good and bad. He’s also about the only writer to have less plot ideas as he goes forward.
On the bright side he got away with a few shortcuts. The launching of the First Order Assault ships was unnoticed by most as a re-hash of his original Star Trek movies credit sequence as shuttles escape the doomed USS Kelvin. I don’t know how he got away with this one, so similar. I think that’s when he really starts thinking everyone’s an idiot but him as the movies have more and more blatant tropes and more big budget moments shoe-horned in to inject some excitement into dull stories.
For Star Trek after he leaves things improve fast. We got a near Abrams free movie and Beyond was enjoyable, refreshing and very much a return to form. Fans were already pre-heated and angry though and the movie underperformed. Sadly this seems to have had a discrediting effect on more relatable plots and Discovery has been abysmal. The lessons of the Abrams era were lost and the mistakes are now being compounded in Star Trek Discovery,, a show that went to one planet for one episode and was mostly a plagiarized soap opera otherwise pilfered from a videogame….badly.
In Star Wars we get The Last Jedi, a movie where both plots start with bad jokes that fall flat. The problem where Rian Johnson, the writer for the that movie, had just inherited nothing to work with was front and center through the whole awful sham. He also didn’t really distinguish himself with his self-important ‘trick’ ending that fails.
Who didn’t pity poor Mark Hamill, forced to play Skywalker as a guy who toys with murdering children? That trait was supposed to SKIP A GENERATION! The moment he holds his lightsaber on Kylo Ren’s bad for both characters. Luke looks horrible and the bad guy suddenly has real justifications that are badly related. Like Han Solo being a bad dad wasn’t enough?
Handcuffed by the need to have a Death Star but not have an actual Death Star, which has been the plot of five of this franchises movies, Johnson gives us “Miniaturized Death Star Tech” in the Gun on the Salt Planet. Then Luke dies but doesn’t die. Then dies, kind of.
As an aside- Why Laura Dern was even in this movie is a “wondering out loud’ blog-post of its own
Where We’re At
Perhaps this is the best way to sum up the “genius” of JJ Abrams- both Star Wars and Star Trek have ALL FUTURE MOVIES ON INDEFINITE HOLD AND ARE ONLY PRODUCING STREAMING PAY TV SHOWS.
Highly flawed Star Trek Discovery, mired in a plagiarism lawsuit that Star Trek writers should have been above, are now going to do what the Abrams dictate demands – Treat original characters with total contempt. A characters parent will die soon! Hell, we killed off a bunch of parents and doubles in the long boring trip through the new ‘improved’ mirror universe.
While Star Wars seems locked in to a terrible and unwanted Episode 9 that will likely be all house-keeping and a way to set up Non Skywalker future for the franchise, things are even worse for Star Trek.
Discovery is stuck in a badly plagiarized and predictably over the top world of super high stakes. The shows got a lot of flaws but the stakes being way too high is a constant. So’s the lack of humanity the characters show. Casualties among the crew don’t give the commanders pause.
The obvious ‘save’ for Discovery would be to have them always have been from a parallel universe to begin with and an honorable way out. It’s even a little interesting and freeing. It’s also pretty in keeping with the better Star Trek traditions and themes of over half a century. I hope they try it.
Disovery’s Loose End- The Spore Drive Fiasco
Their “Spore World” is just not going to be maintainable. The fact is the lawsuit and outrage revolves around it. Unrelated to the lawsuit, there’s another group of people annoyed about a perceived thinly veiled rip off of Dune that also swirls around the pilfered Spore Drive idea.
Look for the Spore Drive to get little if any mention. They’re just going to have to find another reason to spin the saucer section on two axises at once. It’s kind of a stupid effect anyway. So much for your experimental Starship idea.
Star Trek has only one course – but it’s a chance for perhaps the greatest Trek movie of all.
Star Trek’s Only Hope
Give Quentin Tarantino complete control of one movie. Deal with the consequences, it’s only the Kelvin Universe. You could kill the whole crew in a stunning jump to the future and a meeting with a re-cast generation if you want. Bringing on Tarantino for as long as he wants seems a no-brainer. It’s hard to imagine Chris Pine and the other defectors wouldn’t return for something like this.
Recently Republican Senator Bob Corker finally said what we all know- The Modern GOP is a Cult, specifically a Cargo Cult. It’s latest incarnation sees Trump starting to eclipse Reagan as the demi-god and the introduction of some elements of the “Prosperity Minister” cultism.
Roughly 6 years after I first blogged about this in one of my earliest posts its time to look at the GOP Cargo Cult Now
The Cargo Cult-
The classic historical Cargo Cult refers to a phenomenon that arose on the isolated pacific islands various military’s built bases on during the Second World War. Looking back it seems likely the earliest Cargo Cults probably revolved around people like Captain Cook and other colonial sea captains and political figures. I guess it’s probably worth noting that the Imperial Japanese, who were fascists, simply tried to ‘genocide’ anyone on islands they occupied and inspired guerrilla resistance rather than obsessive imitation. There are no known Imperial Japanese Cargo Cults, likely due to cruelty.
It’s only in the wake of World War II that sociology and modern psychological thinking have advanced enough for the Cargo Cults to be studied or understood.
The native islanders in places like Papua, New Guinea had not had much contact with the outside world. They were isolated from the modernized humans who just had little need to go to their little part of the world until the cataclysm of the Second World War.
After the war began in the Pacific the native islanders were subject to massive culture shock. 21st Century humans are probably more mentally prepared for an Alien Invasion than these Un-contacted Tribes were for the 1940’s just erupting onto their neolithic islands. Literally overnight and literally out of the sky in the form of shiny silver airplanes (as well as great iron beasts from the sea) came the mid-20th century. They had NO context for this.
None of the previous limited contacts with outsiders provided a frame of reference for what transpired on their islands, which was the entirety of their very world, over the weeks following arrival of troops. Thousands of years of norms were simply obliterated.
I can’t stress the shock these people felt enough. To these isolated natives the idea that an internal combustion engine would spin gears and operate pistons to spin a propeller to power a vehicle capable of carrying goods or people was inconceivable. To the natives the planes were not machines at all. They were great beasts akin to hollow metal dragons. The dragons insides were full of ‘Eggs”; or as we would call it, cargo containers. When cracked open there was magical treasure, like coca cola, or candy or whatever inside. They traded with the soldiers on the bases too.
These were near stone age societies. They barely had boats, so they just couldn’t wrap their minds around mechanized flight. It had to be magic! They were convinced that they were seeing people whose gods were simply stronger. It’s the same reaction the Romans would have had if a nuclear aircraft carrier with a squadron of jets showed up in the Mediterranean! So don’t tell yourselves primitive European’s would have handled it better. This was like a Star Trek episode happening to these poor people!
To explain what they saw they looked to the natural world and their own supernatural tales. For instance they saw what we would call “Air Traffic Control” as a magical ritual rather than technical exercise. It’s kind of easy to see how. And they extrapolated conclusions from what they actually “knew”.
The way they saw it the dragons were summoned from the sky by rituals at a holy temple, or as we would call it, a Military Airfield. The “rituals” were the day to day operations of the base. Mundane military stuff like waving in incoming planes with flags and lighting runways seemed ritualistic to them. For obvious reasons, it all really impressed them. Seemed to them the rituals were directly related to the cargo. Sure seemed like a magical or religious ceremony to them. Viewed as a magic ritual it’s isn’t too far from some ways many peoples had tried to appease their gods. Lots of religions have ritual motions, including Catholicism and most other christian religions.
The difference was their rituals werent as reliable as this at all! This, it seemed, never failed! After all, a plane always showed up, so it was just a matter of doing it right. It’s not that hard to see how they developed the misconception. They LOVED the Cargo.
Just as quickly the war ends and the bases were mostly abandoned and life, for the natives, returned to ‘normal’. But things were forever changed.
They had become accustomed to the gleaming aluminum dragons. They missed the Cargo. No longer were the great beasts from the air and sea disgorging the amazing things they now desired. Gone was the supply of canned goods, cigarette lighters, flashlights and coca cola along with all other pieces of 20th century luxury and technology.
They felt that being thrown back 2000 years was punishment from the Cargo gods and the wanted to reverse that.
In a turn of events still being studied by sociologists and historians, the Cargo Cults emerged.
The Biggest one is called “John Frum”, sometimes spelled “John Frumm” It means “John from America” and theres a lot of images of him. He’s an African American US Navy Seabee.
Some of the natives eventually found their way to the abandoned bases and imitated the base personnel. Coconuts were fashioned into radio headsets, bamboo control towers were created. ‘Uniformly’ dressed men ‘marched’ in an attempt to summon the cargo Dragons back.
A Bamboo Airplane constructed by John Frum members
While this didn’t work the behavior has persisted. John Frum is alive and well as a belief system today. In fact, every once in a while a really charismatic John Frum Cult Leader emerges and the whole cycle starts again. To most though, these days hes more like Santa Claus and its just about fun. John Frum is undeniably a part of the fabric of New Guinea society though.
Its should be noted that the cult mindset survives attempts by outside sociologists to dispel it as nonsense. The remaining true adherents are inoculated against the truth by the Cult leaders.
Inoculation Against the Truth ( while also telling people to only believe you), is a trait of most cults. It’s one of the strongest parallels between the MAGA Cult and the Cargo Cults.
In the Trump Cult it’s blatantly about blaming people (like immigrants) for ones own life not magically being better and eating up Trump’s bullshit. Just picture the Bull Headed MAGA hat guy who believes whatever Trump says despite evidence it’s a lie. Now you know why, he somehow has become convinced he’s going to get something out of it. Or, think of Roseanne. She was so wrapped up in it, she felt so strongly about expressing fealty to the Cult she lost her show.
Trump and the GOP Cargo Cult
How does this apply to early 21st century American Conservatism? The Republican Party is now packed with under qualified ideologues, who espouse an unrealistic image of a worry free past, in this case, the Go Go 80’s, which were sort of a result of idealizing the 50’s.
The Original Cargo Cult Republicans were those whose behavior and beliefs had devolved into a quasi-religious mindset towards Modern American Conservatism revolving around the 1980’s and Ronald Reagan in an idealized, ritualized and unrealistic way.
It seems that the whole idea is sort of tied to a feeling that in the past things were better. Movies were better, music was better. Its purely reactionary. It’s probably something to do with the fact people live longer now and there’s just more people pining for the past in general.
Then there’s a more sinister aspect where a lot of (white) people take it a little further and get into real trouble by extending the analogy too far. It ends up being: “In the past things were better because women and blacks knew their place.” This is sort of insane thing to think but somehow sort of popular. Just ask Tomi Lahren or other people in the White Grievance Political field. Tomi’s making money talking about pure paranoia all day.
Now the GOP is selling white people on some idea that they’re an oppressed minority. Then they imply (or overtly say) that everyone would be rich if we crack down on Immigration and build a useless Wall in the desert. There’s more spokes of intolerance but that’s the essence of Trumpism. Its very close to classic fascism.
We’ve all heard the term ‘Cult 45″ for the president and his Political Jonestown of Deplorables. The Right seems to be sort of prone to Cult thinking. At this point we’re at least 2 generations deep in a desire to return to the past. This generation specifically wanting to go to the 80’s like their parents wanted to go back to the 50’s. So this would be the third time around we have looked to the 1950s for an ideal and conveninetly forgotten that it was an unjust time with rampant racism and a bad interventionist foreign policy for Uncle Sam.
The members of a Cult do not heed signs they are wrong. Instead they strive to out-do eachother.
The leader tends to jerk the leash regularly to let the followers know who’s boss. Demonizing anyone not part of the Cult is also textbook cult behavior.
Denouncing people is big. Inside the cult theres a purity test and people like Mark Sanford just can’t pass anymore. The doctrine of Trumps Dangerous Ad Hocracy rules the day.
Trump, who was most successful in the 80s, when a rising tide lifted all ships, played right to this idea and still does. The Cults alive and well. Just ask Bob Corker.
The images of John Frum are replaced with some dirt cheap overpriced red MAGA hats. Trump compared himself to Reagan in a series of falsehoods about his election.
Like the Cargo Cults of the Pacific in the Trump-Reagan Cult values form above results. They could care less that theres a rational explanation or a practical way to do things, they have their coconut phony radios and their MAGA hats.
The “Ritual” these days includes stuff like Xenophobia, Open Carry, Pro Assault Weapon policy, Intolerance and UnAmerican rhetoric. Delivered already are the Tax Cuts, which were done in the face of real statistics and facts that indicated it was reckless and bound to boomerang on us. Trickle Down Economic is a scam. It’s failed under 3 presidents. This is a big part of why it’s a cult.
Outright Cruelty is also now part of the Cargo. Hating Snowflakes and Libtards is the GOP gospel. So every Travel Ban, every child we kidnap from its parents and every sick person denied care is a reward to the Republican. So they’re getting some of the cargo, the part that’s free, right now. They’re probably pretty sure that they will al be very rich any minute. When that doesn’t happen they will blame who Trump tells them to. Right now its democrats and immigrant children, but we’ve seen everyone including the pope and the our allies leaders has been hatefully bashed to whip up the greed and hate that motivate a political cargo cult.
Found this on youtube. It’s not my opinion but theres a lot of visuals. The pundit is pretty scathing and I do not endorse all of his assertions, especially his condescending attitude; but at least you can see some of these things for yourself.
This is the third dive into Cargo Cults here, I’ve covered the Reagan Cargo Cult Mitt Romney tried floating (the time wasnt right) and my post on the Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action” which involves an alien race that is highly impressionable and prone to “follower” behavior.
Well if you can mess up a Han Solo movie you can mess up anything. While Solo wasn’t a complete disaster it wasn’t as good as Rogue 1 or Revenge of the Sith. In general the movies are trending down. I have a few theories about exactly why this is happening.
Here’s my take on how these movies have gotten to the point making a good one is not likely at all- The Wrong Movies Made MUCH More Money
Biggest Single Problem – The Phantom Menace is the highest grossing movie. That means every movie since has had elements of this huge fail thrown in. They think their giving the people what they want. It’s just because the price of movie tickets had hit an all time high (and has not gone up much since) around the time the movie came out AND the Star Wars Mandela Effect (more on that later)
Return of the Jedi is probably the highest grossing of the original trilogy in initial releases for all the obvious reasons. ROTJ is so flawed the Ret-Conning starts pretty quickly. Its probably the most re-made of the original movies too. This leads to a lot of problems. Lucas keeps helicoptering back to do a little more here and there.
One of the now recurring problems starting with ROTJ is “Unfrozen Han Solo” is a hit as a giddy comic relief type with no remaining darkness. It completes the characters journey from hard bitten cynic and works only in that sense. Sadly that version of Solo was the one we get in the Solo origin movie. It hamstrung the movie and the character.
Un-Failing Through Sheer Profitability has made the movies bomb proof and review-proof. How do you get a read on a franchise when your most flawed movie is highest grossing and you discount pent up demand? Tech Crazy Money Hungry Mistakes and Purple Shift Compromise Originals
Along the way Lucas really fucks up and ‘Purple Shifts’ the prints of the original movies. In other words he was too quick to digitize the movies and they suffer from a then unnoticed flaw in technology. All colors pulled towards purple. Only a few people notice, until everyone does. Then you see it to the point its distracting. Its likely the original color scheme is gone forever.
Star Wars Stockholm Syndrome- Mandela Effect
People just seem to blame themselves when they see a multi-billion dollar grossing movie that they know sucks. Herd Mentality and groupthink kick in. You see the same thing with badly designed cell phones.
Apple especially has introduced flawed phones and blamed the user. One time they convinced everyone they just couldn’t take a picture right. Hey it worked, right? Forget that they hadn’t worked out a huge bug and just patched it. The story held up.
In the Galaxy Far, Far Away Stockholm Syndrome, where we sympathize with our captors meets the Mandela Effect; which is a phenomena whereby we create a false memory, meet. The bottom line is people convince themselves that the Star Wars writers can do no wrong and then recall their trip to the theater as better than it was. It’s not crazy, its probably the only way to rationalize the cash massacre of a trip to the theater with a family. Youre out a hundred bucks! “It wasn’t that bad” is actually a very normal compensation.
Most people think they enjoyed the movies no matter what. It’s like a lot of people are inoculated ahead of time against believing the movie could be bad.
There’s a harsh group of fans who also just hate every movie and at one time they were cranks. No one wants these cynics to win. It’s self spite-ing denial that the doomsayers ended up being right. People HATE being wrong as much as they hate being conned. They will often Con themselves as a self defense mechanism.
This means no one’s Word of Mouth Testimonials about the movies can really be believed. They’re lying to themselves and will try to get you to validate it for them by telling you it was good or that it was worth seeing.
The toy money is just as green as the movie money. So if the movie is a little off the mark more toys can be released and people will buy them no matter what. So you can ‘save’ movies with toys
The cruel Paradox; Toys are for Children; doesnt happen exactly like you might think, but it affects the movies.
Everyone collects the toys, including me. The problem isnt that adults wont buy them, they do. It’s making a movie too dark and scary for children at all is now off the table.
As proof I offer this- the best movie outside the original series is still Revenge of the Sith, the only PG-13 Star Wars movie ever. It was not considered profitable and its the “Temple of Doom” of the franchise. Different and interesting but not as successful and much ignored.
So you don’t really learn anything from making a chance-y but good movie. Another way to fairly assess the movies also gets closed off.
No chances are taken with Star Wars movies at all. The spark is gone. The New York Times accused the Solo movie of being a movie about a Wikipedia page. Its not unfair at all. There were few surprises in Solo. Feedback Loop of Yes-Men
The Phantom Menace was terrible because NO ONE could criticize George Lucas to his face. The Internet made him anonymous again. He has never spoken of it but he was definitely going online like everyone else and he saw some biting criticisms. To his credit he seems to have listened. Im sure the first few hours were horrible for him though.
You can see Lucas’ effort to literally Un-Fuck the problems of Episode 1 in Episode 2. By Episode 3 he had re-set the stage for a truly good movie in Return of the Sith. I think Lucas absolutely was letting the fans have their way and its probably out of shame when he himself realizes he screwed the pooch with Episode 1.
Once Lucas is gone this lesson leaves with him. No Failure Analysis
The fans are not honest with themselves when the movie is bad. this stops anyone from killing things that don’t work because most people are followers.
Don’t be a Follower. Solo, for example, has so many problems that exist outside center screen that it’ll be analyzed to death. They’re real. Pure CGI Infatuation
CGI has been a blessing and a curse for the movie industry. In one sense wow, we can have a city wiped out by a flood or a snowstorm. Its freeing but in Sci-Fi its cut both ways and led some aspects of movie making right off a cliff creatively.
Its a lot of power to be able to use a CGI spectacle to bail out a medicore movie. That means movies that once wouldnt get made at all get made anyway with big special effects budget. Overall the worst thing its done its made for a lot of lazy shortcuts in otherwise good movies.
Star Wars goes through the same temptations and issues. And In the Galaxy Far, Far Away the problems also existed because, after all, its in Hollywood.
While Lucas got KILLED for the problems of the character Jar Jar Binks, the critics deem him as an ‘acceptable” effect and it starts us down a path of Pure CGI creatures. Most of the time the Pure CGI creature is simply too easy to create and ends up being mediocre.
They just never reach the level of believeability that Peter Jackson consistently manages to achieve. Lazy Alien, Ship and Weapon Creation & the Tragedy of the Golden Army
A few scars, a helmet and some breathing issues and you’ve got yourself a bad guy. There no more to it than that. Technology may have simply enabled the developers to the point where they became the opposite of Creative.
Should the Alien Invasion ever occur we will all be shocked and angry if the alien race isn’t essentially the aliens from Hellboy, Hellboy 2: the Golden Army. and Pan’s Labyrinth. These aliens were simply Reused in the Avengers. They pull all aliens is a similar direction.
What we are now confronted with is the proto-type aliens we see a lot now were created by Guillermo Del Toro. They are/were great, but this vision has now made the rounds Lets face it, refugees from Pans Labyrinth and deserters from the Golden Army show up all over the place. They’ve inspired a lot of “Boss” Aliens. The thing is both Hellboy movies and Pans Labyrinth are populated with things like actual, working gags. The Star Wars movies really can’t boast this of late. In fact Last Jedi misfired 2 jokes in a row (to start BOTH Storylines) in the most ramshackle movie yet.
The Golden Army has no apparent Veterans Administration or benefits. Seems they all became Intergalactic Blackwater guys when the Golden Army lets them go. I dont know but lets maybe get them their own movie again and move on in other franchises? This is a whole post of its own one day.
The laziness and enablement that gets us so many dull aliens spills over to affect all aspects of production. Starships and aliens also too often get short creative shrift.
It’s a real issue in Solo, outside the Heroes Weapons and Starships are Under-Developed. Again its due to the ease of which any vision can be created.
Think of it this way – when the original movie opens in 1977 every single weapon was awesome and had a great sound to it. Han’s blaster, the storm trooper rifles, the Death Star’s main weapon. All wins. This starts to go away slowly in the prequels, but the guns still reflect the characters and the sounds of the weapons remains excellent. Not so much anymore.
In the SOLO Movie every weapon but the main characters, which were leftover from Lucas, was bland and boring. Only ships like the Falcon and TIE fighters are actually good. Most obviously- Beckett’s ship was just 3 rectangles!
Because they’ve developed so many aliens theres a point where Aliens are no longer Alien. We’re just too familiar with Galaxies Far, Far Away. Many Successful Parodies
After Spaceballs the Star Wars Parodies kept coming. Most were good and that just makes it harder then ever to make a serious Star Wars movie. Basically the open of The Last Jedi is so awful it seems like a moment from Spaceballs because any attempt at humor will evoke the parodies.
A similar thing happens to a lesser degree when Star Trek was confronted with Galaxy Quest. For some reason the effects arent as bad. This might because Galaxy Quest was actually a pretty respectful parody.
Last- I have a prediction. Marvel and Star Wars Look The Same and WILL Crossover
Yup. I said it. I do not think the people involved can ignore the fact that theres a crossover between these universes that will result in the Hugest Box Office take of All Time when “Star Wars Meets the Avengers”. It CAN NOT NOT HAPPEN. It WILL eventually be made. The SOLO movie made for 3 of the last 4 releases simply being bad. So the franchise is a tad desperate too. They may welcome Tony Stark or one of his buddies.
When the franchise is finally deemed to be Underperforming they will crossover the Universes. Don’t believe me” Marvel has had Star Wars rights since 1977. No one will be able to handle this fact. Consider Thor- Ragnorak a test balloon for the Marvel – Star Wars Crossover
Like everyone else I’ve just had it with lying White Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the (at best) semi-weekly assault on civility and reality that are her White House Press Conferences.
The Terrible Reason She’s Out There in the First Place
I admit it, I feel like Trump sends her out there for a bunch of reasons all of which are best summed up by just calling her “really hard to take”.
It’s become something of a part time job trying to essentially Live-Blog her outrages. Throughout 2018 I had to keep updating this post due every few days due to Sarah’s steady pattern of Reaching New Lows.
These last few months its been a tough guess as to whether Sanders or Brad Pitt showers less! Forget soap dodging, that’s long in the past. Her hair is often matted down and greasy. She just looks unwashed! It may be petty, but like Trump’s orange body paint, it’s a choice and therefore fair game.
Sarah storms to the podium on whatever day sounding just like the overprotective wife of a violent alcoholic. Trump’s not mean and stupid, we just don’t know him the way she does! He’s not ignorant, he’s resolute. And he’s not a liar! He’s just an optimist and its offensive to her we don’t see it that way.
As winter slowly gave way to spring calls for Sarah to resign start to get discussed on cable news. Never knowing many facts, bluster and uncivil behavior were grinding on the media and the public.
In the wake the protracted, completely uninformed and briskly angry Stormy Daniels disaster the drumbeat for Sarah to resign was steady and driving. To be clear I mean specifically the Stormy Daniels disaster where Sarah seems to have just knowingly and repeatedly lied. She seemed completely out of the loop (or more likely part of the lie-crafting) and of course was openly angry at legitimate questions as to whether she was just, you know, lying.
And then quickly thereafter later the ghoulish Public Relations disaster of refusing to apologize for staffers gleefully but prematurely dancing on John McCain’s grave happens (there was never a real apology).
This time rather than out of the loop or “In On It” SHS seemed to be part of an Uncoordinated Refusal of Common Decency. She she focused on the fact the meeting details were leaked. So total fail for her there. The Hits keep comin’. Again people said it was past time for Sarah to go. She now they were adding that she has no integrity. It’s a fair assessment.
All that was just foreshadowing of how petty and stupid the response from the White House was when McCain DID actually pass in August. The death of McCain came as Pressers at the White House became a seriously endangered species.
Unifying speeches by Obama and George W Bush really cast the Dear Leader in a bad light. Ucomfortable and angry there was a long period where there were no press conferences at all.
But no one’s resigning or getting fired anymore in Trump World, at least not without a major series of scandals like Scott Pruitt. There’s been so much turnover SHS is needed just for a thin veneer of continuity. So Sarah will probably be out there for the duration of the administration. Shes just okay with lying and simply hates the press so shes good with it.
In the last days of July Huckabee-Sanders finally really lost the room addresing the White House Press Corps. At issue? She refused to push back on her boss Trump’s repeatedly calling the media “The Enemy of the People”, a leftover term from Stalinist times.
It would seem this was just a bridge too far for what was already a terrible relationship. Reporters, now openly disdainful, have galvanized against her. If she refuses a question or dodges and refuses to follow up the next reporter she called on mostly took up the cut off lines of questioning.
After Trump, I really dont see things looking so great for Sarah. Who would want her repp-ing their company or brand? She could maybe read Bible Verses for people who are in jail and deserve to hear it in her voice.
At the Treason Summit she’s at Trumps side in a few too many pictures to think that wont add to her already very possible and bigly dangerous legal problems. She’s just around a few too many times when a few too many weird lies got birthed. I think she’s got Mueller Issues in the not too distant future to be honest. So maybe she wont have any problems except just being a Federal Prisoner for furthering a plot against the United States. Why am I so sure her husband will PASS om conjugal visits (theres no way he will be allowed to bring cialis to jail!). Other Milestones – Faux Outrage, Denigrating the Media, a dash of Fascism and Outright Lies
The June 14, 2018 presser was a new low. After using the Bible as a justification to separate children from their parents at the southern border she went low and personal. She denigrated one reporter, CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying; “I realize it’s hard for you to understand…..even short sentences.” This drew some grumbling from the press and someone replied “That’s a cheap shot Sarah” Of course it was. So now personal insults have started to creep in to the ever more rare and ever shorter pressers.
Sarah really made some news in mid June Sarah when she was asked to leave a Virginia eatery called called “The Red Hen”. It was because the staff and management wanted to use their First Amendment Rights to refuse to serve her on the grounds she’s a hateful lying bigot. Who could argue? Sarah did!
In a particularly delusional tweet where she bashed the small business on her government twitter (in itself questionable) and claimed “she tries to treat all with respect”. Yeah, right. Tell that to CNN’s Jim Acosta whose intelligence she derided rather than answer a question about Trumps insane and cruel policies on the US Southern Border!
Then we finally had a reporter lose their composure and demand Sanders answer a question about the incarceration of children separated from their parents by ICE over alleged immigration violations. Rather than respond Huckabee-Sanders simply accused the reporter of simply wanting more TV time and again refused to address the thrice asked question.
Of late the pressers are shorter and more infrequent than ever. In fact “We’re really tight in time” is the first thing Sarah Huckabee Sanders says when she finishes her scathing and untrue opening remarks (on the days she actually goes out there).
The presser we were graced with on August 15 was nothing more than hot garbage. Sarah announced they were revoking some peoples security clearances in what amounted to an Enemies List. The authoritarian nature of the decree was sort of overshadowed by the level of incompetence with which it was executed. Most of the people on the list didn’t have clearances to take away in the first place. She just looked stupid trying to defend that one.
When scolding down from her high horse she’s never shy about adding several pejoratives to any statement she might have a high “Insult IQ” and an inexhaustible reservoir of bile and faux disgust. “I think the question’s offensive” she often slurs in her Old Confederacy accent. This sounds even worse when she shifts blame to former President Obama for obvious reasons.
Sean Spicer at least had some shame. Not Huckabee- Sanders. Lying, gaslighting, moving the goal posts and good old Nazi “Them-ism” are favorite tactics.
Does anyone really think her brisk angry nature, her lack of civility and the ease with which she insults reporters aren’t the very reason she was given this job? Let’s be honest the SHS Presser is an assault on all senses.
Sometimes there’s a ‘Special Guest’ who totally doesn’t need to be there. Usually a deputy cabinet minister. On especially truthless days we get a letter written by a child who admires the president and whose ”going to meet the president”. No pictures ever emerge and no one seems to want to ask why these admiring children sound just like Trump himself. So her opening act is bullshit followed by pure lies.
As of early October when there was a presser it was openly combative with the rancor coming FROM the podium.
The flaming wreck of the Kavanaugh nomination led to a contentious presser just days after the president had savaged Kavanaugh sexul assault accuser in a way that was evocative of a caveman. Sarah Didn’t back down or show any mercy either. Could she finally have bottomed out?
typical SHS outfit that just enhances every bad thing
A Failure to Communicate
The pressers, when they do happen, are an open firehose of lies, gaslighting, scapegoating and verbal abuse.
No reason is ever given for why the Presser is always at least 15 minutes late (I think they got it from Mein Kampf) or why the Press Secretary is always “very pressed for time” when the press conference is her actual job.
Many pressers involve completely off topic special guests introduced by Sarah along with a mention of the fact there’s very little time. Of course this is an artificial deadline just to create chaos and complicate the job of the press.
If any given Presser features someone like a Mnuchin they will jump right in to a very abstract but lengthy story of some sort of prosperity scheme, usually enabled through taking things away from the poorest most vulnerable Americans. This is like watching the trailer for a movie that never should have been made. In other words, it lowers expectations.
Then Sarah herself re-takes the stage. Its difficult not just to go after her in the way her boss Trump goes after women, because someone that crass could have a field day. She would deserve it for enabling Trump. I don’t need to go there. Instead I’ll stick with the things she controls that make her horrible. Like lying.
You could easily see SHS in this exact outfit
Most days Sarah comes to the White House Press Room podium dressed like a villainess from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There’s no telling which dysfunctional planet she’ll be dressed like on any given day but certainly we’ve seen Klingon and Romulan inspired outfits. Sometimes she likes a short leather skirt and Go-Go boots with off the shoulder flowing black garments inspired by ancient Greece, which is ironic as the Ancient Greeks had a democracy.
Other times she’s dressed like the Quaker Oats guy’s daughter or something. Another recurring look is something along the lines of Glen Close from Guardians of the Galaxy.
We all know Sara is right-handed based on her completely asymmetric eyebrow tweezing. She looks like 2 different people depending when she turns profile one way or the other. This probably helps keep people’s expectations low as she verbally assaults the White House Press Corps, belaboring a point like an angry grammar school
principal scolding the wild kids in the lunchroom. “Fake News” and “Enemy of the State” are terms we’ve all heard her use again and again.
So at the end of the day if Trump is held legally accountable for all his dickish acts and criminality; will Sarah Huckabee Sanders end up in jail too? It’s not impossible.
With Hope Hicks appearing sort of prison-bound and now long gone from the White House Communications office, what SHS says is more on HER that ever before. Hope Hicks is long gone. Until we hear different it’s a safe bet that the job of ginning up that days lies is Sanders gig now. Sure it still all comes from Trump, but he has some very real problems of his own. Ome things for sure, shes mastered mimicking Trumps tone and indignace.
Spinning Down With No Bottom in Sight
September 2018 started a whole new chapter in the Trump White House Implosion. In rapid succession esteemed journalist Robert Woodward dropped his book “Fear : Trump in the White House” on us. It was a blow by blow of the administrations criminal ineptitude and chronic dysfunction. Sarah swatted this down as lies by a journalist who was a known democratic operator. A total lie. Before the dust had settled the Mind Blowing Anonymous New York Times Op Ed from INSIDE the White House senior staff more or less confirmed everything Woodward had said. In something of a failed bid for revenge Sarah used her official White House Press Secretary Twitter account to try to harass the paper by printing the Times office number and urging people to call. And they did. To THANK the paper for exposing the corruption. She wasn’t getting that Trumpian reaction she could once count on.
It seems critics are her current audience. The Trumpists are still there loving her bullshit, but there’s a lot less of them. The majority of people are critical and sarcastic in their remarks and assessments of the SHS and her constant lies.
What kind of problems could SHS have? For starters she’s kind of slandered the 19 accusers who claim Trump sexually assaulted them. Yup, she said the words “They’re all lying.” She may have furthered some lies about Stormy Daniels aka Stephanie Clifford a few times in the couple of weeks.
And then there’s stuff much closer to Treason. Like when she knowingly deceives the American people on behalf of Trump.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders accepts a tax payer paid salary to deliver lies on behalf of a criminal. possibly treasonous president. I for one hope when all this shakes out and people get tossed in jail we get to see SHS showing off the newest Trump fashion jewelry – HANDCUFFS.
We all know Trump is lying. Can anyone doubt Huckabee-Sanders knows that too? How hard could it be to convict her right now of furthering a criminal enterprise? And how much deeper is the hole she’s digging herself into going to be now that she’s that much more responsible for what she says?
Then at least in October she had to pretend to like Kanye and we got this classic pic –
The 25 minute late 23 minute long October 29 presser, the first in 26 days, of course started off with SHS arbitrarily declaring they were really pressed for time.
What SHS served up, angrily mind you, was one long offensive blame-shifting mess. after a supporter of the President went on an anti press anti – Democratic Party package bomb spree that earned him earned the moniker ‘#MAGABomber and a massacre at a Pittsburgh Synagogue that seemed to find some root in the presidents endless race baiting comments, SHS falsely blamed the media for all of it in a series of self serving lies.
Deeply frustrated reporters got the usual word salad and of course the real victim, to Huckabee-Sanders, was her personal hero president Trump.
As Fall turned to winter the Administration and the Communications office had devolved into endless chaos. Insanity was starting to become normal.
In the November Midterm elections the GOP suffered pretty serious setbacks in the House of Representatives. In the run-up and aftermath Trump seemed in a Bi-Polar High. He was lying and acting out on an even more grandiose manner.
The Post Midterm presser featured Trump himself, seething and beyond combative. He scoffed at most of the questions, mostly turning them back on the reporters.
He saved most of his ire for Jim Acosta. In a detached meltdown Trump called him horrible and rude. He made a point of saying he was rude to Sarah too, which won Jim a place in my heart despite it being false. Then Acosta lost his White Press credential simply for asking Trump a question …. at a press conference.
It was only a day later Sarah released some obviously altered images and video to make it appear Acosta had grabbed aggressively for mic and roughed up a White House intern. It wasnt true at all and unaltered feeds of the presser exist everywhere. It was a simple Misinformation Campaign to satisfy her revenge driven boss, not that she minded. This might be the only slam dunk case of slander ever. Acosta should sue.
Early December saw Sarah slated to leave at the end of the year, no one was that bummed. She was rightly bombarded with ridicule for imagining out loud her legacy was Transparency. No White Press Secretary has lied more or longer than Sarah.
The middle of December saw a Sarah siting and the 14 minutes of blather was worse than usual and the timeframe made discerning much pretty impossible. Mike Flynn = Good Mike Cohen + Rat, and a mic drop. I don’t think she took a single follow up question.
Hopefully it’s her farewell appearance. Doesn’t seem like December will be a big month of transparency.
As the months have passed by the idea Sarah may just be exposing herself to serious legal jeopardy from the Mueller Probe seems more than just feasible. It’s an open question whether she’ll be cited or indicted in any aspects of the massive fast moving probe. The constant lying to the American People could just be a problem. Shes been around to help brew up some blatantly Orwellian lies. It doesn’t seem like she can just move on to some other non Trump Gig.
Winter & Spring 2019
With press conferences all but a thing of the past in 2019 we barely see Sarah in that setting. She’s more just a seconding voice for Trump’s fantasy of the moment.
The story last Thanksgiving was she was due to leave the White House “in the New Year.” We’ve now made it to April and she’s still there.
Could it be no one wants to hire her? Shes the face of dishonesty. We just weren’t aware of HOW dishonest til –
The Mueller Report – The Lies of Sister Sarah
We all knew that eventually proximity to Trump was going to cause her some problems. While I speculate one day the criminality she’s been part of will come back to haunt her I didn’t think she’d figure deeply into the Mueller Report, and she didn’t. None the less, her talking out of both sides of her mouth was one of the first stories to ruminate through the headlines. Seems Sarah’s christian values don’t include even the slightest guilt about lying unless there’s jailtime involved.
And her lies werent to mitigate Trump’s insanity, she was burnishing it.
The Mueller Report showed her to be an Enabler rather than any of the authors of the Anonymous New York Times “White House Resistor” article, where the idea was to stick around at the expense to your own dignity just to keep Trump from blowing up the world.
When James Comey was fired for not dropping the Flynn Investigation Sarah had a series of May 2017 pressers (remember when we had pressers?) where she simply lied to the American People. Her repeated lie, which she’s since told some more lies about, was that her phone was ringing off the hook with grateful FBI Agents thanking her for Trump’s firing of Comey. I’m not sure why they thought she would want to hear it. I guess she took the (fictional) calls in between high 5-ing all the other FBI Agents she claimed stopped her to tell her how glad they were their boss had been fired amid a torrent of abusive comments about the Bureau itself.
When in front of Mueller Sarah actually told the truth. These were pure lies made up from whole cloth. Obviously she was parroting her boss.
Cries she be fired are now pretty universal. The Fox White House guy may even be on board with that one, he has to listen to the lies too, right? But this is how Trump likes it.
By the third week of April we’ve had 4 Pressers all year, in no regular order. This begs the question – what exactly does Sarah do these days?
UPDATED- I have watched about three (now up to 9) episodes of Star Trek Discovery. I don’t have any passion for this show. I had mixed feelings going in but its worse than I feared. Not fun and heavily pilfered from a variety of successful sci -fi franchises (NONE of which were Star Trek). They even say “It’s not you, it’s me.” just like in Seinfield! Its harder to watch than the worst episode of Deep Space 9.
Instead of any kind of good or cohesive story its a freakish trip through other successful sci-fi franchises
At its worst, which it re-establishes several times an episode, its as maudlin and self important as the misguided ‘serious’ episodes of M*A*S*H.
Its boring, predictable and derivative. Familiar characters get horrible treatment. The writers research seems very cursory. Its not network quality. Its an even worse show than the shortest lived Law & Order spin-off.
Because I have now PTSD Im going to try to write my way to a place where I can forget the trauma and sleep. Yeah, its THAT bad.
At this point I must trash JJ Abrams greedy merchandise oriented creative decisions he selfishly made in his time at the Helm of the Final Frontier. We split the timeline so we wouldnt have to revenue share toys and this is what we’re left with. The implications of his Star Trek franchise, which he’s now abandoned to ruin Star Wars, throws all shows out of cannon except PREQUELS of the original 1967 series. In other words, Enterprise and this. I guess the idea of a traditional Star Trek show was never considered. Certainly the writers are a bit handcuffed.
That said they did a shitty job. No respect for the fans or the material was shown. More of the Abrams era “Lets fix that awful Star Trek by killing its charms” approach. Its not really an excuse. This is still Star Trek and big budget and good script could have come together, because things like the sets are a triumph most of the time. No such luck. They failed deliver a show you would want to watch or any likable characters for that matter. The lead is a Human female Reverse Spock who grew up on Vulcan. And that’s not even the worst or laziest part.
What went wrong? Apparently everything but mostly, in no real order, it’s that the shows few attempts at humor fail miserably. Then tone is self important and overly slick. All CGI special effects stops have been pulled out. You might be dazzled by a near future holographic subspace conference calls and a huge, even Bigly space battle, but you wont have any fun or crack a smile as the show just sort of happens.
Also lacking- Simple compassion. Its stark how little life seems worth to the Federation. We see characters in jeopardy, like a shuttle pilot who i guess dies for no reason except the dialogue was particularly cumbersome and bad for the preceding 5 minutes. You would expect the loss of any Star Fleet officer to deserve at least a remark, like how these awful people werent worth the loss, or that she had been recovered no thanks to them. The show lacks HUMANITY. In a universe of aliens its rudderless.
Here’s an example of how terrible it is- theres an episode called “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for The Lambs Cry”. Think about that! The episode with a Latin title, that i think means ‘seek peace, prepare for war’; seems like a real drag as I ponder pulling the plug on continued viewing. The episode titles are so flamingly bad that I wish they simply had numbered them instead.
In a typical low moment during episode 2 we are subjected to some kind of screaming conference call (via holograms) between some pretty badly designed Klingon’s, complete with a flashback to a troubled Klingon childhood right out of Blade Runner 2049. It doesnt work at all, especially juxtaposed with an ethical debates amongst the Star Fleet characters.
So Much horrible. In THIS Star Trek show Klingon’s either yell or deliver lines (in Klingon) with Shakespearian stage kind of acting to I guess make the sheer drivel they’re saying seem important? Wait til you get to their enormous flag ship for a discussion of repairs and food! What a treat! Later we get more disrespect as its unveiled some Ronin-like honor-less Klingon’s had broken and rioted over food. Klingon’s TAKE things or die trying. These re-invented Kilingon’s are as bad as their garish costumes. Re-invented and experimentally designed to say the least. They’re Un-frightening total pussies who are easily beaten up by half dead humans.
Some truly unfamiliar and badly designed Klingons
The show, such as it is, limps along depending on special effects and gets hamstrung by some of the worst Techno-Babble ever seen on the Final Frontier. Its not as good as even Voyager. Even worse, it takes itself very seriously (while showing that the writers did only cursory research into Trek Lore.)
Much of the time is taken up by the moralistic scientific subplot. This revolves around an emerging technology that we can easily foresee is sort of wrong and Un-Star Fleet, but hey, we got Klingon’s! So we’ll focus on the tension between the Scientific Explorers and the more military people in Star Fleet I guess?
I’m now on episode 9. Its not gotten any better or developed any sort of energy. The Scientific subplot is where the show goes most wrong and borrows, surprisingly, from Event Horizon, which was an ok movie but makes for TERRIBLE Star Trek! The masochistic “Spore Drive” is a really bad sci-fi barely re-imagined “Dance Dance Revolution” video game, with screaming people stuck with fondue forks gyrating in a glass booth to flashing lights to control the ship. It’s not fun to watch. Its also merely pixie dust and rainbows and lacks any tactile qualities. Even just an enhanced Warp Drive with the stripper booth controls would have been less preposterous. The shows reach exceeding its grasp is just too generous a way to put it.
The show has no feel of Trek at all. Its not as good as even Babylon 5 (from which it has appropriated some bad ideas). The ship is even kind of boring looking with a better development story than result (long story short- it was rejected in the 70s and looks like a Star Wars Star Destroyer).
Maybe the re-tasked Horta-like “Tardograde”, creature they keep in bondage is supposed to be a bone thrown to the the fans? Because its a lot like a creature from a GOOD trek show? Ok but it actually looks pretty bad when we get a good look at it, and is completely irrelevant, propping up their bad technical experiment story. This subplot just hangs around to justify the engineer characters reluctance to be a military weapons developer.
I cant blame any actors for lurching and scenery chewing through this mess. I mean, William Shatners pure bluster DOES float a few episodes of the Original Series, so who could blame anyone for tucking in and going with it?
Although it seems like an intervention was trued around episode 7 its taken far too long for us to meet the new crew and see the new ship. To boot its totally underwhelming after the wait.
Oh yeah and Vulcan Logic has become somehow like The Force. Because this is an amalgam of other successful NON STAR TREK Franchises! The end result of this is lots of unbelievably bad magical communicating between the Spock-like Burnham character and the poor actor who has to play Sarek. Pissing all over the Spock origin story and providing a human sibling comes next and is just not fun to hear about in a mutual outer body experience. It’s that fast and loose with major cannon.
I hope they dont try to keep this idea going. Its Un-Worthy.
some overly Self Important official art
What does Star Trek Discovery deliver? Ok the special effects are awesome. They have some pretty well made aliens among the terribly done Klingons. If you were one of those who hated the show Enterprise for its title sequence have no fear, the title sequence might be the best thing in this wreck.
What they basically confess is a ship inspired by Star Wars
Its Unimaginative, its no fun and it depends on special effects. Some plot devices are plain bad, Beaming from deck to deck is a small issue. The funtioning holodeck 100 years too soon is more troubling. Worse, it was not even needed. It was just to work in more special effects. Engineering features retinal scanner that only scans, I guess eye fluid? It was back in Blade Runner territory on that one.
Boring, disappointing and action packed this stupid show is should be called Star Trek Disappointment. They need everyone to die in a final episode to wash Trek clean. Watch The Orville, its closer to Star Trek than this mess!
Im now up to episode 9 and the heavy handedness is of toxic proportions.
This show is such a disaster I may skip to the last episode just in the hopes they go in a Rogue 1 direction and KILL ALL THESE AWFUL CHARACTERS, SHIPS AND PLOTS!
Star Fleet vessels routinely encounter Dystopic Societies. Sometimes a mad computer has been left in charge by a vanished race, sometimes they cause their own problems, and every once in a while it’s Federation ineptitude. Because my buddy Paul suggested this episode as one of the best (and i pretty much agree) I’m going with a fan favorite. I think this is perhaps the most interesting planet, as well easily as the most hilarious, so I’ve decided to start with The Gangster Planet! AKA Sigma Iotia II from the Episode “A Piece of the Action”
I had touched on the Iotians in an earlier blog about the Republican Cargo Cult of Ronald Reagan. Since I am now turning to analyzing Star Trek episodes on their own merits there’s no question its worth giving these lunatics a blog post of their own.
The Iotians are completely normal looking humans. The only difference is that every single female on Iota is very young and FUCKING SUPER HOT.
The innately impressionable and imitative Iotians are one of the first societies we see that’s been contaminated by earlier contact with the Federation, in the days before the Prime Directive. In this case the previous ship, the Horizon, which may just be the same USS Horizon that’s featured in the underrated show Enterprise (there’s clues, among them a copy of ‘The Book” visible on the Horizon of that shows era and continuity. Whichever ship it was, Federation personnel interacted for a while with the Iotians, who were then on the edges of becoming an Industrialized Society, resembling something akin to 1400-1600 ce in Northern Europe.
Before departing the Horizon left behind books, for the most part technical in nature. It would seem the Horizon crew was intentionally providing them with enough information to advance Iotian society faster. They did not consider for a moment the implications this might have on the impressionable Iotians. A History book; ‘Chicago Mobs of the Twenties‘ published in 1992, was also left behind. The Iotians were sort of overwhelmed by the First Contact. They were immediately driven on by their other innate trait, curiosity. They tore into all the materials the doomed Horizon left them, especially the lurid tales of violence and rebellion of the colorful and glamorous American gangsters of the prohibition era.
100 years later the Enterprise, having only received the distress signal from the Horizon (Lost with all Hands shortly after leaving Iotia) a few weeks earlier arrives in the system. It’s noted that Iotia is on the edge of the known Galaxy. The purpose of the mission is to assess and report any Cultural Contamination the Horizon’s presence on the planet may have had. There’s some things suggesting it may have happened, though Kirk points out, in pure Shatnerian; “The ….evidence is only….circumstantial.” Still, in this episode Kirk is more a scientist and explorer than a soldier. He’s more than up to it too, until he attempts to drive a car at least.
The Enterprise bridge is as busy as always as the episode opens. Kirk’s in his standard uniform and almost everyone of importance is on duty. McCoy is on hand along with Spock, Chekov, Uhura and even Scotty at the bridge’s engineering station. For some reason Workaholic Sulu is not around. Kirk’s upbeat and cheerful. He even manages a paternalistic chuckle when the planet’s representative hails the Enterprise using archaic titles (Boss) and outdated radios.
A bizarre conversation with the “Boss” Bela Okmyx ensues. The Iotians have to know that there is life on other planets , but Okmyx betrays they have no understanding of things beyond their solar system. Realizing their apparent leader lacks educational sophistication Kirk goes with small words and specific basic information we rarely see him bother with. “The ship won’t actually land,” he tells Okmyx, blowing off explaining the Transporter or much else til he can size up what the deal is on Iota.
Kirk puts Scotty in charge and brings Spock and McCoy to Iotia to meet Okmyx. In the turbolift they ponder the possibility of Cultural Contamination plus 100 years since the Horizon departed. All three are very curious, even Spock betrays enthusiasm. The Iotians are described as highly intelligent. Kirk makes clear it’s their job not only to assess whats gone on, but to try to mitigate any damage to the planets development that may have occurred. McCoy and Spock are on the same page here for once, seeming more biased towards the idea there’s surely been contamination.
Upon arrival they’re initially charmed by the Iotian city, a time capsule of Pre World War II Chicago. This would seem to be pretty good progress technically for the Iotians, who were at the beginning of Industrialization when the Horizon arrived. They’ve quickly advanced considerably from “the beginnings of Industrialization”, so say the printing press and the first mechanical devices, to the mid 20th century in 100 years. Something like 150-300% faster than on Earth. They had help, but hey, not bad! They have media via radio and telephones as well as every fucking gun you can think of from the first half of the 20th Century.
No one is unarmed. Most carry tommy guns with drum magazines. Citizens dress as though it were 1930’s America. The “Law of Parallel Development”, the usual excuse for a planet being nothing more than a Paramount back lot set isn’t mentioned. It doesn’t apply. The planet worked to remake itself into early 20th century Earth after the First Contact. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are fascinated and concerned at the same time.
Of course he real reason for all this is because the wardrobe and sets were available at no cost to show via the Paramount Studio they filmed at. Unlike the episode Miri, where the city is in fact none other than a made over, uglified Mayberry from the “Andy Griffith Show”, this is a movie quality (of the era) Chicago street set. Patterns of Force is made for similar reasons, as is “Specter of the Gun”. In other words, if the production department at Paramount wasn’t so cheap we don’t get this awesome mid Season 2 episode. We pay the price in other episodes like “Of Bread and Circuses” but here everything works.
The landing party is quicklly taken prisoner and disarmed by the ‘reception committee” , 2 thugs with tommy guns, who threaten them in barely decipherable early 20th century “Gangster” talk (as opposed to late 20th century “Gangsta” talk). The city is populous. The streets are pretty packed. Hot flapper girls are everywhere. There’s some Cult of Personality type ads for Boss Okmyx here and there, shown holding a tommy gun himself.
The Gangster Talk is so far away from standard english it nearly gets McCoy killed by the leader of the “Reception Committee”. Communication is very inhibited. Spock, though regarded as sounding moronic, has the best results in the initial conversation.
Then en route to Okmyx an old school drive by shooting goes down, killing one of the Reception Committee. Only the Star Fleet personal are surprised by the apparently random violence and the fatality . McCoy notes “That man back there’s dead!” They’re basically told to shut up and keep moving. The landing party is shocked and now sure the planet has been negatively impacted by the Horizon contact. “The crew of the Horizon wasn’t composed of cold blooded killers!” a frustrated and somewhat disgusted Kirk notes to McCoy and Spock. All agree the level of contamination is so high the planet is effectively a Hellhole and the Federation is the culprit. From what we see no trace of their previous culture survives. The landing party is as annoyed as they are freaked out.
Next two beautiful flapper girls berate the remaining thug of the reception committee with public service complaints pointing out they pay Okmyx ‘their percentages” for protection and civil services. This is pretty telling as on the block his own office is on Okmyx can’t keep the streetlights on or maintain any kind of ‘Green Zone‘ where machine gun duels aren’t prevalent. No two ways about it the Federation fucked the place up. In what amounts to a “You break it you bought it” policy the Federation is going to have to do some reparative social engineering.
Entering Okmyx office he preens, scratching a shot with the cue ball on his office billiard table betraying an utter lack of skill. Its unimportant, Bosses have pool tables, nothing else
Okmyx playing at Pool
mattered. To him its ritual, because IT’S A CULT! A Cargo Cult in fact, though the words are never uttered.
What is a Cargo Cult? They appeared on the islands of the pacific where we built bases during World War II. It’s believed they were a result of the culture shock experienced by the never before contacted natives in places like Papua, New Guinea. The natives were stone age peoples who suddenly had parts of their home islands turned into a mid 20th century military base, usually with a port and an airfield. The planes seemed like great dragons. The Crates from within opened to reveal treasures, so the natives related them to eggs. They start to worship a deity based on an african american United States Navy SeaBee they dub John Frum (possibly short for John From America). They covet everything they can get from the base personnel and get modern things through barter. Things like a case of coca cola, or a mirror, or iron pots and pans to cook with. When the war ends shit gets seriously weird because the bases are abandoned as fast as they were built not more than three years earlier.
The “Cargo” was gone. That’s when the natives tried an experiment that becomes a full blown religion, the John Frum Society and the Prince Phillip Movement (on British occupied islands). They occupied the abandoned bases (and build a few of their own with bamboo mock ups) and start to imitate military drills in the best possible pseudo uniforms they could get hoping to bring the planes full of goods back. Their society was co-opted by this. It was 1941, there was a war to win, no one bothered to think about the impact of the bases on the locals until sociologists start remarking on it post war. Over 70 years later they still exist. It’s worth noting the Imperial Japanese were so fucking mean no one wanted imitate them and there’s no known Japanese oriented cargo cult, so at least it might be a sign we were sort of benevolent.
Back to Star Trek, this is a humorous allegory on the concept of the Cargo Cult, and we’ll see more in the Final Frontier. The Iotians are an extreme case and its all on the Federation.
Shortly after meeting Okmyx the landing party spots “The Book”, the aforementioned Gangster Chronicles of the early 1900’s, prominently displayed on a stand in Okmyx office. Kirk, Spock and McCoy instantly get it, this particular book had an extreme impact on the Iotians, arresting and retarding the planets development. Everything on Iotia is based on graft, violence and bribery.
Okmyx copy of “The Book”
After making it clear questioning anything in ‘The Book’ is blasphemy and shutting down all criticism of it, Okmyx explains, in a fourth grade vocabulary; that he’s not exactly the leader of the planet, just the biggest, richest and toughest of the planets dozen or so “Bosses” and his territory is by far the largest. It’s a dog eat dog Iotia though, and he does take a moment to lament how someones always nipping at his heels.
Still amazed the planets lasted this long with these kinds of problems the landing party is informed of the terms Boss Okmyx is demanding. Surprisingly futurist, it’s right out of the Ronald Reagan Playbook (still well into the future when this aired).
Step One-Arms for Hostages. Send him a hundred or so “fancy heaters” (phasers) and some training personnel and he will cooperate as far as answering any questions and of course they’re free to go. If not he will kill them all.
Step Two-World Domination, Okmyx demands the Federation back him in violently unifying Sigma Iotia II. Kirk, Spock and McCoy share the same mixed reaction. No way on Step One, there’ll be no phasers, but a tacit Okay on an alternative attempt at Step Two where they install a Boss peacefully. Things are that far gone.
The planets doomed to degenerate into total chaos unless it unifies soon and Okmyx seems typical enough and has the local gravitas and potential to just maybe be the Federations guy if he shapes up. His estimation that the Federation (“You Feds”) must have advanced technically in the last 100 years is spot on, showing off the “highly intelligent” aspect of the Iotians. He’s a not a criminal by his society’s standards. He’s actually just the best enactor of the policies from ‘The Book’.
Radical Social Re-Engineering’s pre approved. The landing party is thinking on the fly. They don’t bother telling Okmyx about their Step Two feelings for the moment as his heads already big enough. For the moment they’re captives but their hopes of controlling the situation seem pretty high, so they play along.
Scotty’s WTF moment
Using a communicator with some grudging assistance from Kirk ,Okmyx tries to shake down Scotty, who consults the ships computer to try to figure out just what the fuck Okmyx is trying to say. Notable is how hot Okmyx secretary/ girlfriend is. An adorable pepper pot.
As for his part Okmyx has the landing party taken to a warehouse under guard. Amongst the broken pinball machines and crates; a few feet from another prominently displayed copy of ‘The Book” the guards play cards while the landing party ponders the situation.
McCoy thinks Okmyx is a repulsive creep. Spock puts Okmyx in a different light- the most successful of all Iotians and a visionary of sorts. His methods are all wrong, a war is the last thing the planet needs. But “his goal is essentially correct.” Kirk makes a decision its time to invoke the “You broke it you bought it” clause in their orders and see if they can’t set things right., or at least minimize the dysfunction in the Iotian society the Federation has caused. They need some help from the ship, so it’s time get the guards out of the way and locate and grab up the phasers and especially the communicators. Seems like a tall order, but Kirk has a trick up his sleeve, he’s going to use the imitative qualities of the Iotian’s against them to distract and subdue the guards.
Enter – Fizzbin; a card game that Kirk describes as “a real game, a man’s game. It’s probably a little beyond you… it requires intelligence.” Bait= Taken! The three thugs are fascinated and the alpha thug starts a game against Kirk who’s also acting as dealer.
As Kirk explains; it’s really quite a simple game.
The game can be played with a standard Earth deck of cards, despite the slightly differing deck on Beta Antares IV.
Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer’s right, who gets seven.
The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays.
Two jacks are a “half-fizzbin”.
If you have a half-fizzbin:
a third jack is a “shralk” and results in disqualification;
one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four;
if a king had been dealt, the player would get another card, except when it is dark, in which case he’d have to give it back.  Memory Alpha Fizzbin entry
The top hand is a “royal fizzbin”, but the odds against getting one are said to be “astronomical”.
So as you can see Fizzbin is really very simple.
Whats not said is the reason the guards want to play so badly is the innate imitative traits as well as the fact that they are aware ‘The Fed’s’ are the source of the book and might just lead to more cargo. Its the same reason Okmyx mindlessly plays pool. They don’t see the landing party as gods like the cargo cults of earth, but they’re definitely taken with them.
As the Fizzbin game reaches its end the guards are so distracted that the landing party makes its move. A fight right out of the 60’s Batman show ensues. with Kirk, McCoy and Spock kicking the guards asses. McCoy especially distinguishes himself, needing a mere judo chop to subdue his adversary.
Kirk sends Spock and McCoy to locate and take over one of the planets radio stations in lieu of communicators, Uhura is monitoring the planets communication. Kirk’s going back to the original beam down area to try a little gunboat diplomavy with Okmyx. The Prime Directive’s so out the window now they can basically do anything they want, including using a local broadcast station to have a conversation with the Enterprise that anyone tuned in on the planet will hear. Everyone’s got a tommy gun and Spock sporting a .45 to boot
Kirk makes it about 30 feet before being captured and tossed into a classic 1920’s car.
Spock and McCoy are more successful, the former uses his Vulcan Nerve Pinch to subdue the gorgeous female Deejay. They jump on live in what must’ve been a ‘War of the Worlds Caper” on super steroids to the locals. They return to the Enterprise.
Kirk, on the other hand meets Jojo Krakko, aka Mel from Mel’s Diner on Alice aka the great Vic Tayback. He’s got the same plan as Okmyx, who he hates. Krakko refers to his territory as ‘the whole South Side’, a very Chicago flourish. His secretary/ girlfriend is blond and beautiful. He also has a copy of “The Book” on display. As an added incentive the Fed’s get a third, something Okmyx would never do.
Kirk makes a counter proposal let’s all sit down and divide up the planet like reasonable men and try to work together to keep the lights on and break out of the Gangster culture.
Krakko balks at this ridiculous blasphemy. ‘The Book’ dictates all disputes be settled with violence and that’s how he’s going to do it. So we’re back to “Arms for Hostages”. He stashes the captain to maybe snuff him later. Kirk works on escaping by tearing apart an old fashioned tube radio.
Back on the Enterprise Spock and McCoy are trying to come up with a plan to undue the “Moral Inversion” on the planet. Okmyx interrupts them to let them know Krakko’s got Kirk. A truce is declared and Spock and McCoy talk to Okmyx, agreeing to come down soon to hammer things out. Spock points out they need some help from a cooperative Iotian or two if they’re going to get the captain back, McCoy is less than thrilled. He’s probably thinking about Romulan Ale at this point or maybe some space drugs.
On the planet Kirk’s “advanced technical skills” have given him the ability to unravel the copper filament from the radio in his room to create a tripwire by the door. then he trashes his room and calls for help. The guard rushes in and trips, Kirk throws a blanket over his head and kicks his ass Star Trek Style (in other words with minimal believability).
Spock and McCoy discuss with Okmyx how to get Kirk back from Krakko (no one knows he’s already escaped). He promises the games are over and he’ll help them get Kirk back. They take another trip down to Iota via transporter to Okmyx office where he immediately double crosses them.
Spock’s’ supplemental log notes that the whole situation is “unlikely”, but there they are, held at gunpoint again and stripped of their phasers and communicators. Okmyx is feeling pretty sly.
Spock and McCoy drop all pretense and level with Okmyx. They’re trying to help and he’s not comprehending it, thinking by The Book, looking to solve his problems with leverage and threats. Spock tells Okmyx the Federation isn’t against the idea of unifying the planet. They’re trying to tell him he can be Boss Number One when megalomania gets the better of him and he rants about his power and potential only to be interrupted by an armed and angry Kirk who has somehow found Okmyx office and beaten security. Hey, he didn’t get to be captain for nothing, right?
Reunited in Okmyx office Kirk, McCoy and Spock review the situation. Spock’s got no idea how to proceed. The situation on Iota is unique and completely illogical. There’s no time for gradual change. The Iotians are fanatical about The Book, which has made reason impossible. Planetary societal collapse is inevitable, continued radical social engineering is allowable under both the circumstances and their actual orders.
Kirk, ever the First Contact gambler, announces, with whimsical Kirk enthusiasm, he’s ‘going to play a hunch.’ Spock hates it right away.
The rest of the episode is maybe the best Star Trek we get out of the first series. It overcomes all the cheesey budgetary mandates, like using existing sets and wardrobe. Decked out in appropriated Gangster Outfits he leaves McCoy in charge of the prisoners and takes Spock, also in native gangster garb, to ‘put the bag on Krakko!”
Then the hilarious driving sequence ensues. The 23rd century Starship captain and his Vulcan first officer are stymied by a five speed transmission but manage to grind their way across town to Krakko’s.
The unforgettable con with the street urchin ensues. The kid proves invaluable by providing a rouse for “A Piece of the Action” if they can get Krakko. The kid takes the lead, playing at being a knife welding murderer, which charms the guards. The kid fakes an injury and Kirk and Spock subdue the guards. Inside they casually stun a few people but Krakko’s not bothered. He’s got a few more goons who quickly to take Spock and Kirk prisoner, back to “Arms for Hostages.”
Kirk quickly uses The Book’s emphasis on criminality and underhanded deeds to convince Krakko they need to talk alone. Spock and Kirk give him the bottom line, with Spock sort of playing catch up as Kirk re-engineers Iota. In gangster talk Kirk tells Krakko he’s basically a nobody and the whole planet is “Peanuts to an outfit like the Federation.” Their tech is amazing, they have many planets to draw from, they have a Star Fleet and its all pretty kick ass.
Krakko, like a good criminal, knows the law and asks what happened to non Interference.
“Who’s interfering? We’re taking over!” Kirk tells him in no uncertain terms. The Iotians are finally back on their heels after having used their criminal genius to maintain the initiative up to this point. Now Kirk’s on a roll. “We don’t come in here and use our muscle. We let one guy take over and pull the strings and then we pull his, eh??”
Kirk’s idea is crazy but it has the advantage of being close to the current political reality, unification has to happen to stave off disaster, they can fine tune it later. For the meantime they put their feet up and cut a deal with Krakko. Kirk gets on the line with Scotty and makes as though the Federation is about to launch a violent coup backing Krakko, but its a rouse to beam Krakko up. The Enterprise crew has put the bag on Krakko and Scotty has him at phaser point. Krakko tries to figure out how he ended up in the transporter room, which is filled with amazing tech he’s gotta be fascinated by as he rants. Scotty casually threatens to kill him to shut him up, trying his hand at the planets gangster speak.
After Krakko’s beamed out Kirk and Spock kick the two guards asses just to blow off steam and split. Despite Spock’s protests, Kirk drives and they make it back to Okmyx place.
Kirk belittles and threatens Okmyx, calls him a penny ante operator and tells him more or less what he told Krakko. The Federation is taking over the whole planet. If he plays ball he can be in on it, if he’s not willing to cooperate he’ll be “out, all the way out.” So even if they don’t kill him he’s likely a dead man as an ex Boss. Spock keeps his machine gun level to Okmyx head. The Enterprise landing party are doing things “by The Book” for the moment because that’s just the only way to get through to the brainwashed Iotians.
Because there is a language barrier between these two English speaking cultures due to Iotian slang Kirk has to say everything he tells Scotty twice. Once in 1920’s Gangster speak to impress the Iotians and then again in 23rd century English for Scotty.
Kirk’s plan is to unite the mobs into a syndicate in the hopes the violence and dysfunction would taper off while the Federation itself, with its vast resources, could get some experts to the planet to help. To this end he has Okmyx call everyone on the planet of importance and kidnaps them via transporter to Okmyx office where they are held at gunpoint.
Kirk, seeing the Iotians are not making very quick progress, prances along Okmyx pool table and explains its over. The Federation is going to help them run the planet like a business and they would all make a profit with the Federation getting a 40% cut off the top.
Kiss my grits, Okmyx!
At this point they finally call Kirk out. They’ve seen nothing but a few explorers with ideas that go against The Book. Where’s the proof of the Federations power? Obligingly, Krakko’s boys choose this moment to attack to break their boss out. Kirk gets the Enterprise to fire a stun burst (a contingency ordered earlier by Spock) at the combatants fighting outside Okmyx office. When the ships phasers level everyone Kirk gains the upper hand permanently. Any questions of the Federations power are silenced in a huge way. Gunboat Diplomacy at it’s purest.
The Iotians are now prepared to go along with the Syndicate proposal. Okmyx admits they’ve definitely got problems and suggests Kirk be Overboss. Kirk immediately defers, its too small time for him, he’s a Big Wheel in the Federation. He puts Okmyx in charge, which is pretty reasonable as he is the most powerful and had just admitted the violence was pointless. To keep Okmyx in check he makes Krakko his lieutenant. Then he tells everyone else to fall in line unless they want the Federation to come back pissed. Every year a Federation Starship will come by to pick up the Federations 40% cut. The Iotians are totally down and offer more, but Kirk gamely holds to 40%.
Everyone drinks a toast to the new Syndicate.
Days later on the bridge Kirk, McCoy and Spock discuss the mission. Spock debates the morality of leaving criminals in charge and how Kirk will explain to the Federation why a starship will need to go to Iota every year to pick up 40% of the gross planetary product. On a whim the captain decides the money be deposited in a planetary fund to guide the Iotians toward a more ethical system in a kind of Nation Building Approach.
McCoy has a more immediate issue. He’s forgotten his communicator on the planet. The Iotians are smart enough to figure it out and extrapolate all key Federation technology from it, albeit not overnight because they’re still stuck in 1930, but they will.
Kirk laughs off this major misstep quipping “One day the Iotians may come looking for a piece of OUR action!”
The episode closes with the ship leaving orbit.
What makes the Episode Great?
Where do we start? The dystopia on Iota is a hilarious and slapstick world of crazy criminal geniuses. Why does The Next Generation not return to show us what happened? We have only a comic book of an unused script, “A Piece of the Reaction” to tell us that. Basically they imitate Star Fleet as a whole but still have some criminal issues. I haven’t read it. Lets just say they aren’t going to be ideal Federation citizens anytime soon.
It’s a genius plot and because the sets were high quality the campyness works. The whole Spacemen with culture shock thing is great fun. McCoy is more cantankerous than usual when it comes to the Iotian culture, making him something of a snob towards them at times.
Kirk is full on Kirk, Shatner doesn’t hold back, he pushes forward. As a starfleet officer with an agenda he’s believable. His flourishes and speech are amazing. He overacts up a storm but lets remember what he’s what he’s got to work with here. Gene Roddenberry was a genius but a lot of his stories and characters relied on some hard to deliver tech babble. In this episode Shatner’s also got 1920’s Gangster Iotian to deal with, although he’s supposed to be bad at it, and Spock’s no better at comprehending the Iotians but somehow they kind of get him. In fact its McCoy whose probably best set up to talk to the Iotians with his blunt mannerisms.
The music in the episode is some of the best ever. The “Floosie Music” and the jazzy 20’s incidental music is pretty different from what we hear in most episodes and adds to the fun.
The sets have lots of well costumed extras and great classic cars. Its not your typical boring Star Trek Planet with an orange sky and a styrofoam rock. Its also not the other planet location they frequently used that becomes the set of MASH (you see that same mountain from the opening credits of MASH you see in like 12 Trek episodes and a couple of Next Generations). It might even be where Soran ‘kills’ Kirk.
All the women on Iota are beautiful. All the men are ugly. I’d be a movie star there. The average age for men is 60, for women its 23.
I can’t recommend this episode enough. It’s Star Trek at it’s finest.
The Women of Star Trek- Mea 3 from ‘A Taste of Armageddon’
What kid from the 1970’s DOESN’T remember the women of Star Trek? Every episode featured not only smart and sexy female regular characters among the crew, but also exotic sometimes alien women that the Enterprise would encounter each week. For no real reason I’ve chosen to start with an Alien.
MEET MEA 3!
In one of my favorite episodes, ‘A Taste of Armageddon” we see both one of the very best dystopic societies Star Trek ever presents in Eminiar 7 as well as a bunch of Continuity issues in regards to the level of benevolence and interventionism the Federation is willing to exercise. An aggressive humanitarian stance is the only motive mentioned for the ‘diplomatic mission’. Vague mention is made of the need for a “Treaty Port” that would have saved “thousands of lives” in the last half century, so maybe the Federation is just exercising old fashioned and highly aggressive “Gunboat Diplomacy.”
Special Ambassador Fox
The episode features the annoying and fiery Mr Fox, Special Ambassador from the Federation, aboard the Enterprise on a mission of Diplomatic Intervention designed to force a treaty on the planets Vendekar and Eminiar 7, their destination, for rights to the aforementioned Treaty Port. Fox can and does over rule Kirk and later Scotty, as he is highly and lawfully empowered by the United Federation of Planets to do anything to achieve the missions goals. These goals are completely at odds with the Prime Directive, which stresses Non Intervention, but hey,it’s season 1 and the Star Trek lore isn’t fully established yet (for example Spock also refers to himself as “Vulcanian”).
Unknown to the Federation, whose first contact attempt had ended with the ship listed as lost a half century earlier, the two planets have somehow managed to negotiate their vicious war into a surgical endeavor via transferring all tactical actions to an adversarial Real Time Strategy Game where theoretical attacks result in actual casualties with those classified as victims willingly reporting to Disintegration Booths spurred on by an innate sense of duty and order. Those traits and some jaunty fashion choices are the only differences we can see between humans and the Eminians. Theres no makeup, brow ridges,etc. They appear as earth type humans.
Kirk, already dealing with Fox intense drive to contact the planet despite being strongly warned off, prevails upon the Ambassador to allow him to make First Contact. He beams down with Spock, Yoeman Tamarand and two red shirts to beautiful, prosperous Eminiar 7 and sees no trace of war. Even tricorders and ships sensors reveal no trace of conflict. After meeting Mea 3, who assures them they are indeed at war with Vendekar, they re taken to
the Concil War Room where Anan 7, council leader, and several other council members await testily. He demands the Enterprise leave immediately and refuses diplomatic relations. Kirk begins explaining to him that the Federation is going to be part of the future whether they want it or not, because, hey, we’re way more advanced.
Suddenly one of the theoretical ‘battles’ begins, causing massive ‘casualties’ and ‘Destroying’ the Enterprise (hypothetically). A frustrated Kirk is told that for the greater good he and the entire ships compliment, as well as tens of thousands of Emenians will all hop into suicide booths. Anan apologizes and gamely offers to return the Enterprise (for deposit?) to the Federation. Irritated, Kirk doesn’t bother playing games. Pointing to his superior technology, well armed warship and highly trained and battle tested crew he confidently promises the total destruction of every city on the planet in a very un-Federation like move. At this point he’s sounding more like a Klingon or Mirror Universe Kirk than any Starfleet Captain.
Mea 3 is the beautiful assistant of the leader of the planet, douchebag liar and video game junkie Anan 7, a functionary with a deep appreciation for the savage nature of his race (and that of the interloping humans who blew off a warning to stay away.) Its Mea who initially greets the landing party, sadly aware of the danger they have thrust themselves into.
The ironically perfectly named Anon knows how to be savage and cold, but only kills by remote control and his ‘victims’ are cheerfully willing. As a leader he’s openly rudderless and opts to go underhanded to stay at war. He whines openly to his fellow council members about what a terrible leader he is. The fact he is running this place with zero vision or charisma may be another way the writers are trying to show the docile, orderly nature of the Eminians. They simply fall in line.
Anon 7 is a truly evil prick who is simply overmatched and out savaged by Kirk and the Crew, who practice straight up war all the time. He ham handedly tries to fool Scotty, in temporary command with McCoy in semi executive role. After its clear his rouse failed Anan decides to attack the Enterprise outright with even less success than his attempts at deception. He continues to attack the ship to no avail, with a capable, aggressive Scotty several steps ahead the entire time. Later he foolishly tries a straight up shakedown, perhaps projecting the locals sense of duty on to the Enterprise. Contacting the ship with Kirk in the room gives Kirk the chance to call out to Scotty “General Order in 24 hours!”. Shockingly, the benevolent United Federation of Planets doesn’t even make it to 25 before their “General Orders” include going Death Star on any planet that crosses them or pisses them off. It just doesn’t square woth later episodes and the assertion they’d die before interfering, a concept that was out the window in the opening sequence.
After the attack on the Enterprise Fox and Scotty clash when the later, fed up and ready to show the power of the Enterprise, decides a few photon torpedoes might just get his point across to the Emenians. Fox makes contact with Anon, and gets a pack of platitudes and lies which seem to reassure the otherwise canny Fox. The final straw comes when Scotty refuses Fox order to drop shields (Anan is seen ordering an immediate attack as soon as the shields are down) as a sign of good faith. Scoffing at a threat of jail Scotty backed by McCoy have the Enterprise assume an attack posture via attaining a higher orbit as Fox and his assistant storm off to venture down to the planet for negotiations and are promptly scooped up for execution, albeit with a deep apology from Anan.
Mea 3 is played by TV stalwart Barbara Babcock. She’s tooling for Anan dressed to kill in yoga pants and a drape strategically wrapped around her. A platinum blonde and complete stranger to modesty she never gets with Kirk or anyone else and is not overly passionate about anything outside her duty, even when that’s as grim as hopping in a suicide booth to be blown to bits, depriving her planet of her super flat stomach and alluring eyes.
On the other side of the coin Mea never gets slapped, punched, phazed or otherwise roughed up by Kirk. She gets off with a grab of the arm and a firm shove. Since this is to prevent her from dutifully committing suicide though we’ll give James Tiberius a total pass on what amounts to mildly accosting her.
Mea is pivotal in the episode. She represents everyone on the planet outside the political upper class (she’s merely a dutiful administrative assistant). She has to thread together some tough dialogue and very lofty intellectual plot elements as well as show the inner nature of her planet’s inhabitants. She’s also the test case for Kirk’s highly imaginative strategy. He’s annoyed and ready to kill and decided he’s gonna mind fuck and terrorize the planets government into negotiating an end to the 500 plus year war as well as establish relations with the Federation. She believably portrays how an essentially human type alien with an exaggerated sense of duty could buy into Kirk’s plan, as much as he reveals it, based on duty and trust. She flips loyalty and aids the Enterprise party in a violent raid where several Emenians get killed by the red shirts Kirk bought along, neither of whom manage to die, likely because after the initial escape they toss their uni’s and put on native dress.
The real target of Kirk’s plan are the instruments of the war, namely the Suicide Booths.
Shocked by the overt and frighteningly effective violence prosecuted against the security forces by the now Raiding Party from the Enterprise she’s probably the first Emenian to start to believe they can maybe end this war. She may also be somewhat inspired by the gorgeous yoeman Tamarand, who takes a relatively hands on role in the whole operation too. For Kirk’s part, shes the first Eminian he bonds with (shes not trying to kill him, which helps). In her he sees the potential for the race to end the war as well as their alien form of ‘humanity’. She also betrays the level of duty and longing for order that are ingrained in her race.
The final showdown between Kirk and Anan takes place in the war room and is best seen right before watching Seth MacFarlane parody it. Kirk and Spock then destroy the computers controlling the war simulation, a violation of the two planets agreement and a sure trigger for real hostilities.
It’s a great, imaginative episode with an unforgettable Trek Chick who maintains believability in a challenging role on preposterous sets (that we all simply love).
In the end she seems to be set up to take a leading role in the new society,which opts to allow Fox to remain behind and attempt a dialogue and treaty to finally, truly end the war. Hopefully they throw Anon in one of the suicide booths before they retire them.
As the Enterprise prepares to leave orbit Kirk, Spock and McCoy, together for maybe the first time in the episode, remark on Kirk’s strategy on the bridge. Kirk explains he took a ‘calculated risk’, betting a small, highly violent intervention would be a wake up call to the inner fear of the chaos and horror a real war would visit upon them and spur negotiations. Had he failed, well, they had already been at war amassing 3 million deaths a year, so nothing would really change.
Fox’s final report, via subspace radio from the planet is prospects for peace appear promising.
Ok, so reviewing a Star Wars movie is a No Win Scenario, something I truly love, so here goes.
Im trying to be spoiler free, or at least very low spoiler, knowing that read on
I enjoyed The Force Awakens in some ways, there definitely are moments of win, but in many ways its a story of missed opportunities. I would say that its comparable to Jurassic World as far as entertainment value. Its pretty fun, but has scenes that make you laugh the wrong way. In the case of Jurassic World for instance, who among us didn’t spit out their soda whenever Bryce Dallas Howard used tech talk? “We have a Phase One Real World”. Not exactly “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid”, not that you have the right to expect it from a sci fi horror movie. The truth is both movies are Trope fests.
Perhaps the blandest First Order aligned creatures we see. A near copyright infringing Harley Quinn Type and maybe a vet of the Golden Army?
My point in comparing them is for that for 20 bucks we still got enough high energy entertainment from a reliable franchise ( lets forget about the second one) in a slightly updated form. In this case though there’s nowhere near the nostalgia for the original series and the original characters are for the moment at least, somewhat fading from the story.
On to Episode 7. My first issue is huge, its about 25 minutes too long and a lot of suck is packed into that wasted time. If he had dedicated just 5 minutes of it to enabling dialogue JJ Abrams movie is markedly better. like half star better.
Lets for one moment consider Director and de facto new creative overlord of the Star Wars Franchise, Generalissimo JJ Abrams. He’s able and been great in his career to be sure. At the same time he made a fool of himself and enemies of the Trek fans with that trainwreck Into Darkness and a truly condescending directors commentary from his Trek movie 1. If you listen to it you can never unring that bell. He wanted Trek to be Star Wars so badly he made it look very similar every chance he got. A great example is how rei’s motorcycle is very much something that you’d see in his trek movies as is Han Solo’s new ship. A more endor type speeder bike approach would’ve been cooler and still made sense as she lives on a scrap yard desert planet.
Movies have changed and Star Wars has changed with them. Flawed Star Wars beats no Star Wars, but this one didn’t need to be so flawed.
The fact is that JJ has now made the same movie 3 times in a row. Star Trek, Into Darkness and Episode 7 have so many similarities its a blog post of its own. Briefly- Painful death of parent/ father figure, bad guys with death stars, Creature Cantinas of an Episode 4 sort of feel. Similar looking props, similar looking costumes, Snow combat, undermotivated villains and reliably poor treatment of beloved characters.His movies have become reliably sort of erratic. Lately he’s been a combination of semi great and then suddenly he’s a trope addled lens flare addict.
Movies have changed and Star Wars has changed with them. Flawed Star Wars beats no Star Wars, but this one didn’t need to be so flawed.
Star Wars The Force Awakens is a hard movie to really nail down in the moving goal posts of Star Wars Fandom. The Phantom Menace was a movie people turned into the highest grossing film in the series by a comfy margin until Episode 7. It took till the video release until people sort of unified on the growing internet and started savaging it. We can’t assess this movie fully til we see if it sets up the next one well. Here’s how i see it as of now–
The Open- hey, you miss the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, what can you do? The main theme is also perhaps a touch slower. The cinematics are great, but then a complete redux of the credit sequence from his first Star Trek movie ensues as the landing craft aka Federation Shuttles, depart the Non Imperial Cruiser. They look the same inside and out. OUCH! It’s absolutely the same.
Things sort of improve pretty quickly though, Max von Sydow was an excellent touch, if too briefly fearyred. BB8 manages not to offend too much as he is literally rolled out for the first time.
The First Order promptly show they have an inferiority complex but are willing to do on the job training to catch up to the old Empire by just massacring people (to make their troopers hard apparently). Kylo Ren makes a pretty creepy and violent first appearance. Make what you will of his costume. Neither helped not hindered the movie.
Of the new characters
Fin easily is the best. A solid performance and he has that Star Wars urgency that benefits the movie. No issues. You’re instantly on his side. He might even be the straw that stairs most of whats good in this movie.
Rei will hopefully improve and become less uninteresting. Her backstory is just right off the shelf. More annoyingly she apparently proves that the darkside is actually NOT a faster easier path to power because on some sort of Jedi Instinct that’s believable til she keeps matching and sometimes besting Ren in melee despite his years of training and embracing of the Darkside. Abrams Overkill on that one
BB8- they pulled him off well and he has the least amount of what I call “The Abrams Overkill”. (JJ Abrams directs in superlatives. You have a moon sized death star? Fuck you, we have a planet sized Star Killer!). He manages not to offend and occasionally entertains. He also probably has the single funniest gag in the movie. Still, he’s more “not bad’ than good.
Kylo Ren- Ren is either mysterious or just confusing. I guess we’re supposed to believe he has too much of his dads crusading nature and moms morality in him? A very likely “Psycho Ranger” (tropes!) who could switch sides. The problem with that is after what he’s done no franchise fan will forgive him and he’s got “Season 1 Bad Guy” written all over him if you go by Tropes.
Why he keeps his helmet on what appears to be a bed of hot coals when not in use is another head scratching moment later. Killing his ass early in movie 2 might make everyone pretty happy.
Ginger Haired Tarkin Type- No real complaints except his huge nazi style speech sounds it was written by JJ Abrams lawyer. Whatever, he’s button pushing killer by remote control and shores up the Non Empires cold bad jerk image. In the Trope Guide he is known as “The Mad Scientist”. Well cast and played
The First Order- Well hey they couldn’t just call them the Sith or JJ gets less for the toys. The Non Rebel “Resistance” also play by the same rules. Whatever, we knew how Abrams works when it comes to protecting his merchandising rights from his Star Trek behavior.
Han Solo – In this movie all the original characters basically get treated like shit and Han Solo is maybe the worst of all.
Not too bad but Abrams went in a somewhat different direction than I expected or would’ve liked to have seen. After making Captain Kirk into Han Solo JJ Abrams finally gets the real Han Solo but mostly uses him as Older Indiana Jones, complete with an awesome weathered leather jacket and a pretty funny gun joke.
I would’ve expected he’d have shown the “Han Shot First” quality and made him just a little more ruthless. He is supposedly ruminating over serious personal disappointments.
Maybe ABrams was really just trying to combine all the goodwill Harrison Ford has, its briefly off putting but not movie killing by itself. Another more charitable way of looking at it would be that he reverted to his post unfreezing comedy relief Solo from Return of the Jedi and its just the way he is now. He also seems like a sentimental old man who makes friends way too easy.
The Falcon- Some win, some suck. Way too crash-y. Hand solo would’ve woven through obstacles to a certain extent before just plowing through anything beyond the snowbanks they mogul over. The slightly different, lower profile sensor dish makes sense and looks great. For the most part the foley art (sound) of the falcon is consistent with how we’re used to the Falcon sounding.
General Leia- She still shines through. Somehow she just does, and shes pretty amazing in the sequences with Han. The Rebellion, now the New Republic, are aggressively exporting democracy these days. In other words, they’re more less the George W Bush administration waging a war of choice by proxy against the first order. This is fine as the Old Republic was also a war machine and a mess at the end when we really see it. It comports well though its occasionally awkward.
Po- Po has potential and is well played. Sadly its just a bunch of convenient plot devices to bring him back into the movie. When he reappears his face is pretty covered by the new bulky X Wing helmets and I was didnt recognize him while he’s doing some pretty cool dogfighting. Hey, its not like he has a distinctive voice.
Supreme Leader- UGH! on this character they screwed the pooch bad. No grease. Someone says it’s Andy Serkis, Im not even interested enough to check. Someone let me know in the comments. If true why they bought in an amazing physical actor to play a guy who sits in a chair is something maybe the next movie justifies. He lacks the awesome voice of Ian McDiarmid, the best bad actor this side of Shatner. He also looks like a Peter Jackson Monster mixed with Prometheus cast offs. Had he been named Corporate Commander it would’ve bee more appropriate and at least funny. He has a totally unimaginative name. Even King Something or other would’ve been better than Supreme Leader. The Star Wars cartoons are higher quality than this aspect as far as writing.
Chewie- They got him pretty much right. No issues. He also gives Kylo Ren something to think about after he douches out and gets all Hamlet.
The New Republic- While they take a devastating hit from the First Order that’s sure to lead to all out war, from what we get they are aggressively backing insurgents into the First Order and seem to be the initiators of the conflict. Not exactly a Peace and Justice oriented government. Sounding much like a Reagan-esque or Bush 1 or Bush-Cheney America. Military adventuring would seem beneath the standards of the Old Republic, at least until it becomes seriously decayed and co-opted in Episode 2.
The final combat scene is as great as it is frustrating. While superior to the way the Obi-Wan/ Qui-Gon verse Darth Maul fight was cut, its infuriating as the plot holes sort of come at you- since they knew they would destroy the sun why does no one on the First Order side have an evac plan for a planet now presumably about to begin hurtling through space with no star to hold it in an orbit, presumably losing atmosphere? Could we have been thrown a few lines of enabling dialogue to shore up why the bad guys decided to build a weapon that could seemingly be fired only six times? Mention the star is unique and regenerates would have done it and if I can think of it whats Abrams excuse? Also, just a funny aside, are they now as broke as the Soviet Union? How many of their kidnapped brainwashed army did they lose? Not bad for an attack that seems to feature roughly 16 X-wings.
The jedi combat is great, but undercuts the idea the Darkside is the quicker path to power. This can be fixed in the next movie, right now its an unscratchable itch that I worry will just be blown off. Like lets just find out they retarded Ren’s training on purpose and i’ll be happy. Anakin complained about it enough.
Finally in the most annoyingly convenient plot device in the history of movies with sound; the breaking up of the Genesis planet, umm i mean the Star Killer Base, simply puts the good guys on one side of the sudden opening in the earth and the bad guys on the other. At this point though the fact a decent jedi jump would vault the new chasm falls by the wayside, no one bothers and Kylo Ren shuffles off pounding his pancreas to stay angry (it took me a long time to realize this is why he did this).
John Williams- He’s written better soundtracks. There’s long pauses in the music, its sort of very unStar Wars. His music is a character of it’s own and often eased rough dialogue and enhanced the story telling. Maybe Abrams felt like i do when he heard it and just minimized it? By going with the non Empire “First Order” Abrams assures us we only hear a reprise of the Iconic and plot cementing Imperial March very briefly and mildly when we see the melted Vader mask.
Finally, there are notably, very few cinematic wipes, (i only counted one) a standby of all the other movies and a homage to early sci fi i always enjoyed. Too bad. I held off this point for last for good reason, the film still works well enough without them. Other rabid fans of the other movies may take it a little harder. I’m not devastated but there’s no not mentioning it.
Overall- See it, its tied with a couple of the other movies at third best. Its not Phantom Menace, but don’t let anyone tell you its as good as Empire or A New Hope. Its just not
UPDATE- This not so great movie is actually a good deal better than The Force Awakens. All the same flaws taken even further if you ask me. The Treatment of original characters remains awful.
Conservatism revolving around the 1980’s and Ronald Reagan in an idealized, ritualized and unrealistic way. The influence of this aspect of modern American Conservatism is palpable yet there has been very little discussion of it.
The classic historical Cargo Cult refers to a religious phenomenonthat arose on the isolated pacific islands used as bases by various militaries during the Second World War. The native islanders in places like Papua, New Guinea had not had much contact with the outside world. Their ways of viewing the day to day world included a good dose of the
paranormal. If someone got sick, perhaps a curse had been put upon them. Flood? Famine? Perhaps the villagers aren’t living up to the standards of their pantheon of deities. A thumbnail description would be that they fed the Volcano to pacify the gods,who were surely a bit crazy.
After the Second World War began in the Pacific the lives of the native islanders were subject to massive culture shock. Literally overnight and literally out of the sky in the form of shiny silver airplanes as well as great iron beasts from the sea came the mid-20th century. None of the previous limited contacts with outsiders provided a frame of reference for what transpired on their islands, their very world, as emerged over the weeks following arrival of troops from both sides of the conflict.
To these isolated natives the idea that an internal combustion engine would spin gears and operate pistons to spin a propeller to power a vehicle capable of carrying goods or people was inconceivable. Imagine bringing a flashlight, cigarette lighter and .9mm pistol via time traveling helicopter to Dark Ages Europe to get any sort of grip on this.
To the natives of islands such as those of New Guinea the planes were not
–Members of the John Frum cult in New Guinea imitating American Soldiers in their “ritual”
machines but great beasts akin to hollow metal dragons. They were summoned from the sky by rituals at a holy temple, or as we would call it, a Military Airfield. The “rituals” were the day to day operations of the base. Waiving in incoming planes with flags and lighting runways. Group s of identically clad men marching in formation, chanting magic words (read: military cadences) and sometimes even firing their bang sticks!!
In the wake of the Second World War these isolated bases were mostly abandoned and life, for the natives, returned to ‘normal’. But it was a ‘New Normal’. They had become accustomed to the gleaming aluminum dragons regularly summoned by the clergy (read: US Navy Sea Bees) with the sacred relics (read: radios, landing lights and parades). No longer were the great beasts from the air and sea disgorging the material goods they now so desired. Gone was the supply of
A replica Second World War plane used in John Frum Movements rituals. Is the GOP Elephant now an equivalent Trojan Horse of Willful Blindness?canned goods, textiles and the giant crates that had seemed like enormous wooden eggs that birthed
a smug Mitt Romney exulting in the opportunity to make hay off Ambassador Chris Stevens and others even as they were dying for their country. Only the 47% comment hurt him more
the coveted “cargo”.
In a turn of events still being studied by sociologists and historians, the Cargo Cults emerged. The natives formed into cults of sorts and imitated in ritualistic fashion the actions of the men who had summoned the great beats and cargo from the sky. Coconuts were fashioned into radio headsets, bamboo control towers were created. Uniformly dressed men marched in ritual manners similar to the military drills they had seen under the mistaken belief that by simply doing so they themselves would please the gods of the sky and bring down the shiny metal beasts filled with goodies. These beliefs were personified in the form of an image of an American World War 2 Sailor, frequently portrayed as African American, known as “John Frum”. Think of him as a sort of Santa-Jesus type. British occupied areas developed similar cults based on an idealized perception of Prince Phillip.
The John Frum Movement and Prince Phillip Societies still exist today in New Guinea. Despite the fact that these places slowly became less isolated and were slowly but steadily overtaken by rational explanations of the outside world some still cling to the Cargo Cult beliefs. In the case of the Prince Phillip society egotistical detachment from reality is shared by the object of their affection. Prince Phillip perhaps unwittingly, endorses the cult’s beliefs by sending gifts and autographs. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that what is really needed, by the prince and his worshipers, is some help handling a brutal but needed dose of reality. This need also applies to early 21st Century Tea party Republicans. Ritualized Reaganistic Worldview has become a meme accepted by most Republicans, albeit for the most part unknowingly.
The Gangster Planet featured in the Original Star Trek Episode “A Piece of the Action” is an illustration of a classic “Cargo Cult”. One of the shows most popular episodes and most Americans only glimpse at Cargo Cults
where an isolated planet had been exposed to 23rd century technology by earlier space travelers. When the Enterprise arrives a generation later they find an entire culture influenced by a book the first explorers from Earth left behind about 1920’s gangster culture in places like Chicago and New York. By looking, dressing and acting like the gangsters they read about the natives of Sigma Iota IV were attempting to make a great leap forward by throwing themselves feet first into imitating a society that had been outlined in book that to them seemed a blue print to the “cargo” they had seen accompanying the first earthmen they met, technology and abilities that would provide for worry free prosperity.
How does this apply to early 21st century American Conservatism? The Republican Party is now packed with under qualified ideologues who espouse an unrealistic image of a worry free past, in this case, the Go Go 1980’s. The images of John Frumm (a bastardization of “John From America”) and Prince Phillip have been replaced by an idealized, unrealistic image of Ronald Reagan. Like John Frumm, Ritual Reagan is a demi god who summoned “Cargo” (read: Worry free prosperity) through rituals that included sparring with the Russians, a somewhat narrow social view and an overemphasis on an extreme interpretation of “Christian” thought.
To one degree or another every single modern conservative is a member of a Reagan oriented Cargo Cult. The Cargo Cult mentality has threaded its way into every aspect of current Republican narrative.
The Cargo Cult Volcano God demands certain sacrifices be made lest it grow angry and erupt. Among other things, it demands ritual.
Repeated mawkish Ritualistic displays by Romney have so far done nothing to dispel the validity of the Cargo Cult Assertion.
Citizen Romney did everything he could to work the Cargo Cult crowd. As a result failure analysis has given way to willful ignorance on the right
During his chaotic and doomed 2012 campaign Romney seized upon every perceived advantage and this was no exception. It’s not a difficult role in its Ritualistic Form. There’s some passing physical resemblance, both coincidental and contrived between Romney and Reagan. Among these are their hair, approximate build and hypomanic personalities. Romney seemed to be smugly emitting what he seemingly thought was a subliminal puppet show where he played Ritualized Reagan. Pushing on the physical he layered on a veneer of the cold warrior aspect of Reagan by strapping on the coconut headphones of some sort of bamboo transmitter and sending pugilistic messages to the Russians, who were clearly NOT a threat to the United States in 2012. Another Ritual Reagan rain dance was over emphasizing the level of danger posed by Iran. While an outlaw nation and a sponsor of terrorism, the current sanctions and global shunning seem to be worth sticking worth for a while to most Americans who are leery of another American Ground War in an unstable part of the world.
I think in the last few weeks of the 2012 election Mitt Romney became a true believer in his own Reagan-ness; operating with the Ritualized Reagan approach as a default position on everything. It was a Franken-Ronnie with none of the warmth and conviction of the original. The “Cargo” aka the Go Go 80’s, can only be delivered by putting the Ritualized Reagan, that is Mitt Romney, in the White House. He can then summon the great gleaming beasts from the sky that birth the great wooden eggs filled with the canned goods (aka-worry free prosperity).
This Shackle of Defeat for Romney was exploited. The Ritualized Reagan that he pantomimes doesn’t square with the real Reagan. Reagan was confronting a real threat from Soviet Russians. Reagan was a culture warrior, but only after being a patriotic American type who believed in some practicality, compromise and some tolerance. When Reagan spoke of Libya that country was run by an evil dictator since deceased in fantastic fashion due directly to initiatives taken by the Cargo Cults hated “Anti-Reagan”, President Obama, who realistically could be argued is a truer heir to Reagan’s positions on Libya by doing so. Ritual Reagan is at his weakest on Libya.
Despite a display of unpresidential weakness best left behind in his bumbling and inept reactions to the 9-11 attacks in Libya, Romney revisited the issue at almost every opportunity. Was he doing this because his “Inner Reagan” simply knee jerks him into having to include comments about Libya into his rhetoric? It only hurt him. If someone has a better explanation for this obviously misguided attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on what any other candidate would have rightly moved on from please leave me a comment.
The “rank and file core base republicans’, (read: formerly disavowed extremists from the Wild Wild Allen West Wing of the party) show strong and prevalent evidence of Cargo Cult behavior in social media. They promoted Romney as a Pseudo Reagan “Mitt-siah” capable of summoning the all-important cargo planes. Romney’s one unquestioned credential, ruthless and unaccountable vulture capitalism, is a direct result of the unregulated excesses of the 1980’s and increases Romney’s credibilty as a worthy successor to Reagan. This is manifested best in his regulation hating approach to managing the economy. De-personalization and detachment from reality are evident in the Hoover era bootstrap “Rugged Individualism” that has become part of a negative feedback loop that convinces many Republicans they live in Bill Clinton’s proverbial “log cabin they built themselves”.
24 days after a huge election fail the Republicans STILL can’t figure out how they lost. The Romney Campaign, reduced to a one man show, continued for a couple of days after the defeat just so he could find a way to offend and denigrate people he had overlooked insulting earlier while he still had a modicum of relevance. Campaign staff also issued repeated out of touch statements that certainly seemed delusional to the point of strapping on coconut headphones. Take this as a sign that absolutely nothing has been learned through failure analysis. All indications are that many if not most Republican truly and strongly believe that if they just rain dance longer, faster and harder in preparation for the next election they can somehow avoid losing again in 2016. Their unrealistic Hypothesis-If they had just been more extreme, suppressed the vote more and passed more insane homophobic laws they are SURE they would have won instead of getting walloped by a 3 million votes margin in an Obama cakewalk.
Though some of the cult has sheered away out of fear of losing their seats these are mostly from Blue States and there is no sign of a massive shift to more pragmatic methods of winning elections on the part of rest of the Republican.
Now that Romney has gone from Mitts-siah to whipping boy Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham from Teabagistan jumped feet first into the Ritual Reagan role. Senator Kelly Ayote also tried to get in on this, but apparently if you’re a woman Ritual Reagan
The inept and polarizing self destructive Fox News pundit, Glenn Rice seducer and MILF, Sarah Palin
just doesn’t work. Possibly because of another Republican Cult behavior,the Cult of Domesticity, which dictates that women should be ‘kept in their place.” This means that the self hating women of the Republican party are merely tuned out as having ‘too many opinions’ and/or ‘speak a little too much of their minds.” Only Sarah Palin has had any success pretending to be Ronald Reagan. This has routinely blown up on her. When this happens she hides behind her children like they’re Human Shields, basically defaulting to the Cult of Domesticity to deflect criticism by appearing in her ridiculous gun toting Reindeer maiming “Mama Grizzly” mode where she’s beyond reproach.
The Cargo Cult will likely thrive for years to come. In fact it may outlast the GOP itself as the party has lost four of the last 5 elections.
Iran has engaged a U.S. Drone Reuters said on Friday. CNN Anchor Don Lemon (who hates Jonah Hill, BTW) described the attacks as occurring ‘earlier this month.” General James “Spider “Marks, (US Army, ret.) told Lemon that the attack was a huge fail and the Iranians were unable to hit the drone with anything. This prompts the question- is there a cooler nickname for a general (or a convict, or a Mafioso like Michael Imperioli in “Goodfella’s”) than ‘Spider’?
This should be no surprise when you consider the fact that, as far as we know at this point, most, if not all drones are subsonic and small. You would need to really be well armed, probably with ‘dumb’ weapons, to hit that sucker. It’s possible that Heat Seeker missiles aren’t all that effective against the somewhat stealthy drones, so we’re talking about executing a pretty damn perfect “gun run” and blowing the thing out of the sky with good old fashioned machine guns. Meanwhile I am not able to tell you if it’s possible to tell if the drone is unarmed before you attack. So you’re risking human to kill a robot. Seems a bad trade off. The Iranians clearly couldn’t care less about their pilots. One of them killed by our robot is probably the thing that will happen next, even if they have to dupe a guy into colliding with one. Let’s face the current Iranian Regime isn’t exactly known for its placement of high value on the lives of their people. In fact if the United States Navy’s interpretation of events is to be believed, they set up their own people to be killed.
the USS Vincennes
In July 1988 a telling incident occurred that, although now well into the rearview, show how ongoing and abiding the hate the Iranian Government has always had for the United States runs as well as the blatant disregard they have for their own citizens. Apparently they baited the United States into what would on the surface seem to be a blatant atrocity. The USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, shot down what radar and the emitter on the target identified as an Iranian fighter jet coming right at a US Naval Task Force in International waters.
What the target really was turned out to be French made Airbus that had a full complement of innocent passengers, including women and kids. This, if true, would mean the USS Vincennes Incident was manufactured by Tehran just to perpetuate hatred against the United States. This is a wise strategy if you are cynical and have no conscience.
During World War 2 citizens of all targeted cities became pretty patriotic because they felt threatened by and outright hated the enemies who were bombing them. It was something so odd sociologists are still trying to figure out exactly why it happened. Those who launched the attacks were looking to terrorize and break the will of the populace’s they attacked. Unleashing thousands of dumb bombs indiscriminately on a city had a counter-intuitive but universal effect, uniting the people being bombed and redoubling their resolve and nationalism. Even people with oppressive, unpopular governments in places like Germany and Russia fell in line behind these unlovable regimes. Think of it as a sort of reverse “Stockholm Syndrome”. This is ALSO a good strategy for Tehran, there’s nothing like an outside threat to unite a populace through “Bunker Mentality”
The Iranian people SO want their current regime gone that there is no avoiding the conclusion that Tehran knows some hating on the Great Satan, which is possibly the coolest nickname for us ANY of our opponents ever have come up with, would buy them some time. Good luck. Only brutal repression keeps these psychos’s in control of their oppressed populace, who almost threw off the yoke in the so called “Green Revolution”, several years ago.
The Iranian action was described as the allegedly unarmed drone having been “targeted” with some sort of weapon by ‘war planes’. Probably a Russian made MiG Flogger, a French Mirage Fighter or even just an old US made F-4 Phantom, or, possibly, a small combat patrol made up of 2 or more of the preceding.
Games without frontiers, War without tears….
So as details keep emerging from the resinous soup that is the Iran-US relationship I am going to engage in some rank speculation.
Why NOT attack a drone if you’re Iran? Your never gonna kill an American. Worst case scenario, some guy at MacDill Air Force Base spits his Sprite all over the screen while he’s trying to eat his Jimmy-John’s Sub on the sly. What is a drone anyway? Well it’s an iPad connected to a model airplane and sometimes armed with missiles. The Iranians have shot at least one of these things down already if they are to be believed (not the safest bet). At any rate we have seen them show off some wreckage that was pretty convincing. I am not so sure they shot it down as much as the piece of crap probably crashed in a sandstorm or something.
What we are really seeing is a move towards remote control warfare on a level only displayed by Skynet from Hollywood’s Terminator franchise. When will the first drone on drone engagement occur? Or; has that ALREADY happened? I would guess not but there’s no knowing for sure. Certainly we have completely sanitize war, at least as it is perceived by most Americans from the limited pictures coming back from places like Afghanistan. The footage is invariably damn near black and white if not infra-red green, so blood is not really visible when theses ‘targets’ get ‘droned’. In the most ideal cases selected for release seem to simply show the guys Toyota blowing up from a point of view that seems at least a quarter mile away at best. Poof! Bye-Bye Bad Man.
Reality has no frame of reference to where this is going, so I am forced to go with a 1967 episode of Star Trek called “A Taste of Armageddon”. The Enterprise forces contact on a planet where they have been at war with a solar neighbor for 500 years. The Enterprise crew marvel at the fact there is no sign of war whatsoever. This intensifies when the planet they are on is ‘attacked’. This is when Captain Kirk realizes the war was in fact a computer simulation and that the ‘casualties” were alive and well and eager as hell to jump into suicide booths so that the war would not turn “real”.
The fear was that war was a problem in itself, but the collateral aspects of war, beyond combat deaths, are even worse. Famine, plague, pestilence; all outside the equation. War was so surgical and precise and its cost so minimized that there was no need to end it. It became a fact of life. No one questioned it. NRA comparisons aside, is it possible we are so sanitizing war that there will be no point in seeking a lasting peace? Why negotiate when you can drone your problems out of existence with the ease of changing the channel.
Oh yeah, you can bet this technology is being used domestically for a variety of reasons.