In honor of a new Star Wars movie coming out in December, I thought I’d revisit one of the classic nerd fights and rewatch the six Star Wars movies and pit them against their numerical counterparts in the Star Trek universe. So without further ado, let’s jump into Star Trek: The Motion Picture vs. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
Characters: It’s the old Enterprise crew. Though for half the time, Kirk is a dick, Spock is back to full Vulcan mode, and the other characters are ignored. Still, the old chemistry flares up every now and again and when it does, there’s a likability to this group that isn’t easily replicated. Steven Collins gives the movie a bit of an ick factor now.
Plot: It’s a hard sci-fi plot heavy on the science fiction and light on any action. A machine we built returns to us hundreds of years later and neither of us remember the relationship we had. A lot about evolving beyond our limitations, etc. It’s a decent story overall. It just really needs a bit of editing.
Villain: It’s a space cloud for half of the movie. This is NEVER a good thing.
The rest of the movie, V’ger is a 20-something year old woman in a mini-tunic. There are some interesting alien ship designs, even if they’re completely impractical. All in all V’ger is not the most compelling villain for most of the movie.
- Opening with a black screen and music isn’t a great idea. This is just padding for a movie that doesn’t need it.
- Seeing Stephen Collins in anything is kind of creepy now.
- Not enough editing.
- This movie really likes its space shots of spaceship models.
- The recurring theme in Star Trek movies: the Enterprise is still under repair/manned by an inexperienced crew/not ready for combat, but She’s. The. Only. Ship. Available. Hence Starfleet is full of incompetents to have zero ready combat ships near Earth.
- Did I mention the lack of editing?
- The clunky love conquers all, even hyper-advanced artificial intelligences resolution.
How to make it better:
- Get rid of the filler. We don’t need five minutes of looking at the new Enterprise. We don’t need 20 minutes of looking at the Enterprise’s viewscreen’s image of V’ger’s exterior. We don’t need a black screen with an orchestral opening.
- Get rid of the whole “Enterprise isn’t ready for action yet.” It’s simply a way to add unnecessary drama at the expense of making Starfleet and Engineering look incompetent.
Overall: It’s an okay 2:10 movie with some likable moments, but not enough to actually win me over. If the entire movie were about 1:30 – 1:40, I think I’d add another 3 points to my score, but as it stands, I’ll give it a 5/10.
Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Preface: I have a bad feeling about this. At least I did when I noticed that most of my notes contained profanity.
Characters: Let’s break this down quickly:
Obi Wan Kenobi: Okay
Qui-Gon Jinn: Unnecessary, but Liam Neeson is great as a Jedi that doesn’t always follow the rules.
Anakin: … Okay, Jake Lloyd, if you ever read this… this is NOT your fault. I’m sorry everyone gave you so much crap for this. You didn’t deserve it. The problem was with the script and the idea of making Anakin a kid to begin with, not with you. You did a good job with what you were given.
Padme: Natalie Portman is lifeless in this role. She has moments when the good actor in her shines through, but otherwise there’s nothing. Also, she’s supposed to be 14, but looks like an adult young lady. Per IMDB, when this movie came out, she was 18, so it’s a bit creepy that she and Anakin have a weird attraction going on.
Darth Maul: Good, but ultimately a wasted opportunity for a good villain.
Jar Jar: Fuck this movie.
Plot: The Trade Federation invades Naboo over a dispute regarding taxation of Outer Rim trade routes at the behest of a Sith Lord, who hopes to force the Queen of Naboo into signing a treaty recognizing Trade Federation control of her planet and it’s up to two Jedi to stop this. Meanwhile, an entirely pointless hour happens which involves Tatooine, pod racing, and exciting Senatorial debates about procedure. Also Jar Jar Binks. Seriously, fuck this movie.
Villain: Darth Maul is definitely menacing, but never has the chance to develop into more than a thug. Darth Sidious (aka the future Emperor) is good as always, but makes few appearances. The Trade Federation… George… you created the evil Empire quintessential space Nazi villains. Were you having an off day when you wrote this?
I mean… I guess it’s mildly better than the space cloud portion of V’ger, but V’ger still manages to feel more threatening anyway.
- There’s an hour that seriously could be cut out without the loss of anything related to the plot. From the point the Queen leaves Naboo to the point where she returns. Her entire trip to Coruscant does nothing to advance the main plot of the movie. She could have stayed on Naboo and accomplished the same thing she did at the end.
- The Trade Federation are not compelling villains. They’re goofy, cowardly, and evoke sort of a racist vibe.
- Kid Anakin. Look, I understand the idea to show Darth Vader as an innocent, good child and how even the most monstrous among us start with a clean slate to highlight the loss of innocence and personal tragedy. But you only have three movies to do the following: build up and show a friendship between Anakin and Obi Wan, show Anakin slowly being pushed over the edge, and convince us all that Anakin’s fall matters and has emotional resonance. That’s six hours. Spending time with Kid Anakin wastes two of those hours.
- Jar Jar Binks. I know kids like him. I know he has his defenders. But every time he said or did anything, I swore at my TV.
How to make it better: Everyone has an idea on how to make these movies better, but a few ideas:
- I’ll steal an idea from this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgICnbC2-_Y). Make Naboo into Alderaan. Spending time on Alderaan and getting to know people there would make the destruction of Alderaan in episode 4 more of a kick to the gut.
- The Trade Federation are not compelling villains. Let’s make the main villain a well-respected Republic officer who goes rogue with his fleet. His stated reasons for doing so are to highlight the Republic’s neglect of the Outer Rim region, his actual reasons are to retrieve a sentient droid army that was locked away in a hidden vault.
- Anakin is no longer a child. He’s a teenager (16-19) who is a pilot on a smuggling ship that Obi Wan and his apprentice Padme Organa (a member of the royal family who was given to the Jedi as a child) use to infiltrate the besieged Alderaan to find out what’s going on with our rogue Republic Admiral.
- I’ll also steal an idea from Guardians of the Galaxy and make Jar Jar into a sarcastic blaster toting Ewok who fell in with the smugglers and sort of just never left.
- R2 is also with Anakin’s crew.
- Taking a page from The Old Republic game, replace Gunguns with Killiks.
- Obi Wan takes Anakin under his wing sensing his potential. Anakin and Padme have the standard pre-romantic bickering.
- Keep the whole movie on Alderaan, with a few cuts to the Senate and Senator Palpatine using the crisis to get himself the Chancellorship.
- Darth Maul wounds Obi Wan in the ending duel, giving Anakin enough anger to choke the Sith Lord and chuck him down a reactor shaft. He gets better.
Random thoughts while watching this movie:
- Hey, you know what’s almost as bad as making me look at a black screen and listen to music for the first five minutes of your movie? A long screed about how the taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute and a trade embargo against Naboo.
- It’s the goddamned Neimodians. Also almost as bad as a space cloud… well… worse in that the space cloud never spoke in a racist accent.
- And battle droids. Yay.
- Okay, I can think of at least five ways to use telekinesis to deal with droidekas. 1.) Use the Force to crush them like an aluminum can. 2.) Yank out their blasting arms. 3.) Lift them up and point their guns at the ceiling while the other Jedi stabs them from underneath. 4.) Lift them up and point their guns away from me until I find an escape pod/airlock and shove them out into space. 5.) Make them face each other so if they shoot, they shoot each other. Qui-Gon cuts through the blast door. Movie over. Mercifully.
- Where the fuck is Anakin? This is supposed to be his story and Obi Wan’s story.
- Jar Jar. Fuck this movie.
- Jar Jar. Fuck. This. Movie.
- Ex-squeeze me… FUCK.
- I’m only 12 minutes in and I already want to start fast forwarding.
- Why I am doing this to myself?
- I need to go home and rethink my life.
- The underwater city is pretty cool looking. Nice special effects.
- How Wude… FUCK YOU…
- “Are you an angel?” To quote Harrison Ford, “You can type this shit, George, but you sure can’t say it.”
- Why… why… why?
- CGI Yoda is an abomination.
- This entire trip to Coruscant accomplished nothing except adding an hour to the movie.
- Really? The Naboo had time to program their fighter’s auto-pilots to fly their Starfighters to the droid control ship? Really? Sure, why not at this point? Anything to end the movie more quickly.
- Qui Gon’s death depends entirely on Obi Wan forgetting that he used the Force earlier in the movie to run superhumanly fast.
- Darth Maul’s method of death does make Obi Wan’s “I have the high ground!” reasoning in Episode III even dumber.
Overall: I hate this movie. It has a few redeeming factors that I mentioned above, but ultimately it just made me angry watching it. 2/10.
Winner: I’ll be honest, I thought Star Wars would win this round before I rewatched the movies. But overall, if you had to ask me which movie I thought was better and which one I’d rather rewatch, it would be Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Star Trek gets the point and takes an early 1-0 lead.