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January 26, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-26

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'Star

Trek':

The year's most

The Michigan Daily-Saturday, January 25, 1980-Page 5
abused ilm

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
s it already time for a revisionist
wpoint on Star Trek - The Motion
Picture? So much sentiment has
already been bounced around the prin-
ted page - almost all of it stridently
negative - that a backlash of sorts
already seems in order. So, lonely
believers, here goes: I both enjoyed and
admired Star Trek, not just for the film
itself but for the very real courage that
went into making it.
If there's one thing Star Trek is not,
the piece of huckster cynicism that
many of its detractors accuse it of
being. I can think of no other motion
picture that was fathered in the unflin-
ching knowledge that a frightening
proportion , of moviegoers would
automatically despise the finished
product. Abuse would surely spew from
the more fanatical Trekkies who, with
museum-like devotion, would decry the
merest replacement of a nut or bolt on
the hallowed starship Enterprise. No
s strident would be the "purists"
among science fiction zealots, who
think celluloid SF began 'and ended with
Kubrick and would regard any Star
Trek movie as a hokey, TV-oriented
imposter to the art of science fiction.
But surely the most .unctious venom
would emanate from the John Simons
of film criticism who see no "art" in
science fiction at all, and thus
automatically dismiss any such
nematic visualization as a low-IQ
erration barely worthy even of
acknowledgement, much less serious
analysis.
A CANNY observer like producer
Gene Roddenberry surely foresaw this
is a singular tribute to his decade-long
shepherd's tenacity that we indeed

,BALD BEAUTY Persis Khambatta leads (left to right) Leonard Nimoy.
Stephen Collins, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley to a rendezvous with
one of those mysterious alien forces in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
The TV-series spinoff has become a dartboard for criticism from the press
and public, but the movie is hardly deserving of such a fate.

have a Star Trek movie, and moreover,'
one which weathers its enemies' slings
and arrows with a solid if not sen-
sational finesse.
Considering the G-rated Christmas
straitjacket imposed on it, the Enter-
prise's new journey proves relievingly
flightworthy. Its by-now familiar plot
involves the impending menace of a
cabalistic, almost incalculably large
cloud-like somnehing emerging from the
darkest reaches of space and headed
straight on a collision course for Earth.
Predictably, the "thing" seems utterly
invincible, as it effortlessly vaporizes

MeCartney deported,
ex-Beatle heads home

any objects or beings which happen to
cross its path.
SPEEDING TO meet this dark ad-
versary is an enlarged, lavishly refur-
bished Enterprise manned by the sur-
prisingly well-preserved crew many of
us (myself included) grew to know and
love during Star Trek's endless TV-
syndication cycles, long after the
prime-time version had gone down for
the count.
Upon reaching (and being swallowed
up by) their antagonist, Captain Kirk &
Co. discover a massive, hulking
planetoid at the center of the cloud, a
strange non-organic consciousness
simply called "Veger," an entity that
knows only that it must seek and find its
"creator" -who, it assesrts, emanates
from the planet Earth. If the creator is
not forthcoming, Veger calmly
declares its intent to rid the planet of all
"carbon-baseci'units" - i.e., all living
beings.
E XER('ISING TEIIR traditional
humanistic ingenuity, Kirk, Spock and
the rest attempt to unravel the mind
and mystery of Veger rather than
trying futilely to destroy it. Through an
ironic discovery followed by what
amounts to a voluntary human
sacrifice, our heroes ultimately tran-

sform t'eger from a soulless
automation into a passionate, tempered
(though apparently still all-powerful)
life form, eliminating - by barest
seconds -the threat to humanity.
So what's so bad about this movie?
Aside from the unavoidable stylistic
crossfire ("It's not enough like the TV
show," moan the Trekkies; "It's too
mwih like the TV show," sneer the
purists), the film's detractors seem to
coalesce in three basic objections: 1) its
plot is carped from specific Star Trek
TV episodes; 2) there's no real action in
the movie; 3) it's special effects are
disappointingly dull._
OF ThESE accusations, Star Trek,
seems mosi vulnerable to the first.
There is indeed a disturbing similarity
to at least two TV installments - "The
Changeling" and "The Doomsday
Machine". One might well have hoped
for a more original approach, vet
reports have it that a far more am-
bitious, messianic script by Rodden-
berry and co-creators Harold
Livingston and Alan Dean Foster was
rejected by Para mount as "too
serious" for the holiday season. Such
dorkish interference may have
panicked the writers into treading more
familiar celestial waters; yet Star
Trek's story remains intellectually in-
triguing and philosophically laithfurl to
the series raditional commitment to
mediation over violence as a probl. m
solver. -
This also ties directly into objections
two and three: rather than basking in
the Pow!-Zap! dynamics of a Star
Wars, Star Trek has opted aesthetically
for the cool over the hot, to paraphrase
McLuhan Director Robert Wise has
patiently guided the Eiiterprise on a
leisurely, mystique-sheathed journey
into the strange, often breathtaking y
lovely unknown, a magic, deadly
universe w hich impels its protagonists
to use their brains instead of their laser
guns. 1f1 the hotheads in the audience
can't bear the general absence of the
gunfight-at-high-noon principle, more's
the pity -- I thoroughly enjoyed this
contrastiing translucen head trip.
''[H[ SAME KIN) of serenity per-
meates the work of master-effects
geniuses Douglas Trumbull and John
Dykstra- (20 1), Star Wars, etc., etc.).
They have chosen not to zap us but to
softly envelop us in mysterious, purple-
hewn netherworlds. Icy blue triumphs

again and again over hawkish red as
-each wizard does his special thing:
Trumbull's dazzling kaleidoscopes of
~ twisting, gyrating lights and colors
drift slowly across Dykstra's jagged,
agically arcane landscapes and moun-
taintops. Their extended trip into the
innards of Veger is, visually, quite
unlike anything I've seen in a motion
picture - it is composed, sinuous,
terrifyingly majestic.
It is also, alas, a blemished spell. Star.
Trek has some very real problems,
largely involving the two major ad-
ditions to the traditional cast. Capt. Will
Decker, Kgirk's temporary second-in-
command and often hostile adversary,
is woefully underwritten and acte.d with
Eagle-Scout smarminess by Stephen
Collins; his lover Lt. Ilia (played by In-
dia's Persis Khambatta) is a bald-
domed alien beauty whose physical and
emotional nature remains almost
totally incomprehensible without
reading Roddenberry's accompany ing
novelization of the movie.
The film's dialogue occasionally lap-
ses into pompons SF cliche, and the
climac ic scene in which Veger'-
secret is discovered becomes em-
barrassingly reminiscent of Hercule
Poirot or Nick Charles wrapping up a
murder case, complete with all the
suspects gathered in the drawing om.
You can practically see proverbial light
bulbs flashing above our characters'
heads as each takes turns imparting
and connecting sudden inspirations as
to Veger's true nature.
YET I"4)R ALL its admitted lapses,
Star Trek is still an intelligent, in-
volving motion picture - a sharp con-
trast to the institutionalized dumbness
which enervates its current galac ic
competitor, The Black Hole. Director
Wise lacks the imaginative inspiration
of a Stephen Spielberg, yet he manages
to hold admirable reign over a
remarkably tight for the genre), no-

loose-ends production. There is won-
drous little expository fat in Star Trek.
a typical trait of an old directoral p o
who thoroughly knows his craft.
CERTAINLY NO less welcome are
the old pros in front of the camera: As
Kirk, William Shatner not only seems
the best-preserved of the original rep
company, but in fact he looks better
thaii ever - even the famous bulge at
his midriff appears to have et aporated.
The others have aged with varying
degrees of grace: Deforest Kelley clr.
McCoy) looks considerably craggiers
while Nichelle \ ichols Lt. Uhura I has
filled out rather alarmingly. Truly
alarming, though, is Leonard Nimoy.
whose w rinkled and rather emaciated
Stiock would' seem to give I:e to the
medical assertion that Vulcans live
longer than humans.
We care enough about these charac-
ter not to want the'' to grow old; its a
concern which transcends nostalgia
and cam p to become a form o '
unashamed love. Well, let the perfec.-i
tionists scoff I would take a mistake-
plague<! wonderment like St ar Trek
over a studied, elitist concei like The
E:eE tri Ilorsenian any day. For all its
flaws, the film insults neither the i
telligence nor the heart. I can't wait lor
the sequel.
Open Tonight
Till 1 AM
Billiards
Pinball
and Bowling
at the UNIO N

'TOKYO cAP) - Ex-Beatle Paul Mc-
Cartrey headed for home yesterday,
apparently none the worse for his 10
days in a Japanese jail cell for a
arijuana investigation.
The 37-year-old rock 'n' roll uperstar
boarded a jetliner after Japanese
prosecutors decided to deport him in-
stead of charging him with marijuana
possession - a charge that could have
led to a seven-year;prisin sentence.
McCartney, flanked by 12kp licemen,
s#oke briefly to a'swarm of fans, repor-
ters and photographers who sau' him
off on a Paris-mound Japan Air Lines
plan' that was to take him as far as
msterdam.
I'M OKA1Y," he suouted into the,
pandemonium. "Japanese rock f ns
are great!" Japanese reports quoted
the British pop star as saying "Life in
jail wasn't too bad" and "if possible I'd
like to return." As a two-time violator
of Ja{>an's drug laws, it was unlikely he
ould be able to come back.
Kyodo news service said he sang a
ng as he boarded the plane, but no one
* as a ble to identify it.
TIHE MOST successful of all the
'Beatles, McCartney had been
questioned about the 7.7 ounces of
marijuana customs officials said they
found in his luggage when'he arrived at
Narita airport Jan. 16 to begin a concert
tour with his group Wings.
Japanese authorities said they
decided to release him because he had
>een punished enough.' He had
"shown signs c\f repentan'ce and
apologized,'" they said, and had told
them the marijuara had just been for
his "private use."
'F{lE plOSET('L-'ORS took into con-
sideration another factor, Kyodo said
"cancellation of his scheduled 11-
concert performance ' The can-
llat ons cost millions in ticket sales.
McCartney, still handcuffed, was
taken from the Tokyo Metropolitan
Police headquarters last evening in a
police car, escorted by two officers and
by a police patrol.
\fter a one-hour drive to Narita Air-

part, 40 miles northeast of Tokyo, he
was questioned for about three hours at
the airport law enforcement office
before his handcuffs were removed,
Kyodo said.
WITII 'I'IE British singer-composer
on the plane were his four children and
American wife, Linda, who left he
h tel "in such a hurry she didn't even
pac ," accordi'g o Haruko Minakami.
a concert promoter.
A rousing welcome. I verpool-style.
awaits McCartney ac.cordin to his
brother. Mike McGear, in London
where he is due today. It was in Liver-
pool that McCartney, John Lennon,.
George Ilarrison and Ringo Starr got
s a rted a The y Beatles the now-
dissolved rock group that hanged the
style of music in the li0s.
AG hetNofour
igh horse
SUSRIE

oin t ats pa
Have you ever attended a concert, play, or film only to awaken the
following morning to read a review that seemed to be written by soreone
who went to a different show of the same name? Ifyou've ever said "I could
do that!" after disagreeing with an arts page review, it's time to put your
typewriter where your mouth is.
The Michigan Daily is looking for new staff writers. The only prerequisites
are a specific interest in writing and a general interest in the arts (use your
own definition). Beside the usual popular music-theater-film criticism, we
have an urgent need for writers interested in classical music, the visual arts,
and arts-oriented features. The bottom line here is creativity; if you have
some insight or a new approach to offer, the arts page could be your outlet.
The meeting for priospective arts staff writers is next Sunday, Jan. 27, up-
stairs and to the right at the Student Publications Building, 420 Maynard
(right behind the LSA Building) at 3:00 p.m. Please bring a typed, triple-
spaced sample of your writing (only a couple of paget in length), preferably
representative of the kind of events or subjects you would like to cover. If
you can't make it to the meeting, stop in any weekday afternoon and ask for
the arts editors.

fJ IVEARSITY ctMUSICA L JOCIETY present(S

i#'s not too late

764-0558

_ Id

HUNGRY?
THE SOLUTION
IS THIS CLOSE!

RogerWagnerChorale
Tuesdag, Jan. 29, 830,
Hill Auditorium

U

ThP high Pct Pm fnr the C'hnrale wac c .e ihly hest

1

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