14 April 2013

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 1991
  • Director: Nicholas Meyer
  • Based on book: No
  • Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Christopher Plummer, David Warner
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Most of them  – The old Star Trek series from the 60’s
    • Christopher Plummer – Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Lake House, The Twelve Monkeys, Dolores Claiborne, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
    • David Warner – Wallander (Kenneth Branagh’s father), Ladies in Lavender, Titanic, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Holocaust
  • Why bought: connection to Hamlet
  • Seen: January 19, 2013

  Oh yes, Hamlet showed up early; well, immediately, being that “the undiscovered country” itself is from the “To be or not to be” soliloquy. The toast to the undiscovered country  – in Shakespeare meaning death, here defined as the future – is given in the beginning of the movie as the Enterprise crew host a dinner for the enemy Klingons (they’re trying to reach a truce). When bad guy Chang says, “You haven’t experienced Shakespeare until you’ve read him in the original Klingon,” it’s an indication of the zany Shakespeare to come. Always being on the alert for Shakespeare and making notes, it was a busy evening for the pause button. I scribbled down ten quotes from various plays. By rights we should have a contest. In fact I will. But not here. I’ll start a movie contest column soon on this blog. But now, no more Shakespeare details here. Suffice it to say that this is definitely a Shakespeare-connected movie.
Other than that, the movie itself? Well, not being a Trekkie I don’t know all of the details of what they’ve been up to since the 60’s when I  watched the original TV series but everyone is there, only older. The story is pretty much the same – intergalactic war, only this time the Klingon are on the brink of annihilation (does that really happen in the movies to come?) and there’s a big peace conference going on.  The Enterprise crew don‘t trust the Klingons but they’re ordered to play nice. Someone torpedoes the Klingon ship, Captain Kirk is accused of treason and murder and is sent to the Klingon version of Siberia, escapes and all that, and rescues the president in the end.  Spock says a few philosophical things, Kirk continues to be rebellious and then everyone is supposed to retired. They’re old, after all. Being a citizen of the planet Earth, I am aware that somebody named Jane and somebody played by Patrick Stewart later become captains of the Starship Enterprise but I haven’t really kept up.
Anyway, the story’s not so important. Star Trek is Star Trek. It’s fun to see the old gang again. There are a lot of lame jokes, exploding stars and space ships, funny looking creatures (actually the best line except for the Shakespeare is Kirk saying, “We’re all human”), and platitudes about peace.
Some things don’t change.  It’s comforting to know that Star Trek is still around.  Without the Shakespeare quotes the movie gets a comfortable mediocre good-old-Star-Trek-trustworthy- 2 ½ * of 5. The very fact that they use Shakespeare so cleverly raises it.
However, the extremely bizarre special feature on the DVD about Hamlet in Klingon get 10* of 10 for sheer weirdness. Did you know that somebody has actually has actually invented an entire Klingon language (I know, I know, that reveals my vast ignorance)?!? They weren’t just grunting and glottal-stopping in the movie, they were speaking a language! And now they’ve done Hamlet in Klingon. Can it get any weirder?
The movie itself: 4 * of 5

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