Tag Archives: Star Trek

Star Trek II: “Inside Regula I” (1982)

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One doesn’t normally associate the horror genre with Star Trek in any way, shape or form (though the infamous “Genesis” episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation comes awfully close in my opinion), and yet there is a scene midway through Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that could be straight out of a horror film.

“Aboard Regula One” (beginning to 1:35)

The Enterprise is diverted from a routine training mission by an emergency call from space station Regula One and along the way are ambushed by Khan Noonien Singh, who seeks revenge against Admiral Kirk for stranding him and his followers on Ceti Alpha V fifteen years previously. Barely surviving this attack, the Enterprise limps to the space station, knowing Khan has been there and gone, not sure what they’ll find. Kirk, McCoy and Lieutenant Saavik beam over to see what, if anything, remains on the space station.

From the moment they transport down, the music is like something straight out of a horror film. The space station appears totally abandoned, and the music is dark and ominous. Even though Khan has left, there’s still no way of knowing if he’s left any “surprises” for Kirk and his crew.

Kirk, Saavik and McCoy walk through the empty corridors of the station, and the air is thick with tension. But it isn’t until we go back to a last shot of McCoy that we get the big “horror film” moment. He’s about to cross into a new section when he’s suddenly startled by a rat (because of course there are rats on space stations). And just when he thinks it is safe to keep going….WHAM!! He walks headfirst into the arms of a dead crew member, hanging upside down from a balcony.

It’s a truly horrifying moment, and one that I think is slightly underrated, due to the space battle that happens before and after this segment of the film. But this music is beautiful foretaste of what will come when Horner scores Aliens a few years after this film. I hope you enjoy a look at the scene “Inside Regula One.”

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

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After Star Trek V: The Final Frontier went FLOP at the box office, it was very nearly the end of the Star Trek films. But the studio managed to persevere and plans were laid to make a sixth film. Initially, Star Trek VI was going to be a prequel, featuring Kirk and co. at the Academy (which later became the basic plot of Star Trek (2009)), but that was scrapped in favor of a final adventure with the original Enterprise crew.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

Now when it came to scoring Star Trek VI, director Nicholas Meyer had some trouble finding a composer. Jerry Goldsmith was so disappointed after Star Trek V that he currently wanted nothing to do with the project. James Horner felt that his career had advanced beyond Star Trek, so he declined as well. With no other alternatives, Meyer looked to a pile of demo tapes sent in by other composers wishing to work on the project and he ultimately selected a tape sent in by composer Cliff Eidelman, as he felt his music best captured the “spirit of Star Trek”.

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Eidelman’s music is a big part of why I love The Undiscovered Country so much. It’s dark, occasionally eerie, and chock full of tension at all the right moments. And the main theme is a perfect introduction to this score. The music plays over the opening credits before the story proper begins and instantly lets you know that this isn’t like the other Star Trek films. Jerry Goldsmith’s bright fanfare is absent, Horner’s beautiful strings aren’t there. What we have instead is a dark motif that will recur throughout the film.

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As the credits move on towards the end, the music becomes more and more tense, and it will later come out that what we are hearing is the music from the final battle between Captain Kirk and General Chang. The tension builds higher and higher, until finally the music ends on almost a literal cliffhanger, as the music cuts off just before a huge explosion fills the screen (talk about starting a story off with a bang!)

I really enjoy the main theme of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it is an underrated gem in the musical canon of Star Trek. I hope you enjoy listening to this theme as well.

For more live action soundtracks, see here

See also:

A Tale of Two Spocks: Spock’s Theme in Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country

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The Music of Star Trek: The Best of Both Worlds (1990)

This post is part of The Music of Star Trek Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central (me!!!)

You don’t often think of television episodes having great musical scores, but such is the case with “The Best of Both Worlds”, a two-parter that consists of the season 3 finale and the season 4 premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The events of these episodes form the basis of Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and had huge ramifications for the Star Trek universe. Given the massive size of this story, I am actually going to focus on Part 1 for this blogathon (I’ll cover the conclusion at a later date)

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At the start, the Enterprise is dispatched to a Federation colony that had reported they were under attack. The Enterprise arrives only to find that the entire colony has been wiped off the face of the planet (leaving only a huge crater in the ground). Everyone immediately suspects the Borg, an alien species first encountered in the season 2 episode “Q Who?” The Borg could easily be considered the most dangerous foe ever encountered by the Federation. Unlike other alien species, that might give up after a show of resistance, the Borg never stop. They will come on relentlessly until they reach their goal of assimilating any and all cultures they come into contact with into their “collective.” That’s the other thing about the Borg, they  function as a group mind. There is no individuality, no freedom of expression, nothing. There isn’t even the concept of “I”. If the Borg were to ever reach Earth, it would be disastrous, so the Enterprise is dispatched to engage and stop them.

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“We have engaged the Borg”

Now I mentioned that this two-parter has a great musical score and it really comes into play once the Enterprise locates the Borg ship (a massive cube structure). The music here has an almost cinematic quality to it (a rare thing in television these days). Composer Ron Jones gave an ominous theme to the Borg (mostly consisting of synthesized choral voices), to emphasize the fact that the Enterprise is up against a very dangerous opponent.

“We Have Engaged the Borg”

How dangerous? Well, after an initial attack leaves the Enterprise locked in a tractor beam (that they barely manage to break away from), the ship spends several hours hiding in a nearby nebula, as a ploy to distract the Borg from going after anyone else. See, the weird thing is, the Borg are demanding Captain Picard be handed over to them, which is weird (even for them) because hitherto the Borg haven’t shown any interest in individual beings. And despite best efforts, the Borg have this way of getting whatever it is they want. Case in point: Picard’s kidnapping scene. The Borg chase the Enterprise out of the nebula and manage to knock their shields back down.

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No sooner does this happen then several Borg begin beaming over to the bridge of the Enterprise. Note the music when this happens, it becomes very mechanical and rigid (and somewhat repetitive). This is symbolic of the unrelenting nature of the Borg. Despite the fact that they are cyborgs (part human/machine), they firmly reject the parts of themselves that were once human.

Picard is kidnapped by the Borg

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “resistance is futile” THIS is where that comes from. Actually, to hear the Borg tell it, anything other than immediate acquiesence to their demands is futile. Even DEATH is irrelevant (which is kind of a scary thought when you think about it). Picard is determined to resist his captors anyway, but he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. This is the last we see of Picard until the end of the episode (more on that after while).

“Strength is irrelevant, resistance is futile”

The Enterprise has a really big problem on their hands (even bigger than Picard being kidnapped): the Borg cube has set a direct course for Earth (also known as Sector 001, the Terran System). Under no circumstances can that cube reach Earth, so while the Federation fleet gathers at Wolf 359 (which is a real star by the way), the Enterprise sets about delaying the Borg ship at any cost, not just to give the fleet more time to prepare, but also so they can try to rescue Captain Picard (before they’re forced to try and destroy the Borg ship).

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Inside the Borg ship

Beaming aboard, the away team encounters no resistance at first (the Borg typically ignore lifeforms if they don’t think they’re a threat), but when Dr. Crusher hits on the idea to take out an increasing number of power stations (to force the ship to slow down and repair itself), the Borg take action. Borg begin attacking from every direction, and they have a distinct advantage. There’s one more detail about this species I forgot to mention: they have the ability to analyze and adapt themselves against any attack. What does that mean? Well, in Star Trek you generally attack with phasers, right? With the Borg’s adaptability, you MIGHT get off two or three shots before the Borg (collectively) learn how to shield themselves from the blast. In other words, if you can’t destroy them before they adapt, you’re screwed. The away team has reached the point where all the Borg are adapting, meaning they need to leave ASAP, but then Dr. Crusher sees someone familiar…it’s Captain Picard…or is it?

“Captain Borg” (Soundtrack only, reveal of Picard as Borg)

The “Captain Borg” cue (link above) is the reason why I chose this episode to share with you. The pivotal moment when Picard faces the camera to reveal the Borg implants on his face is haunting, shocking and remains one of the pivotal moments in all of Star Trek history!!! The part I really want you to hear begins at 0:54. First you hear the synthesized ominous Borg theme, followed by a twisted rendition of the Enterprise theme (in the full scene “Part 1 Cliffhanger”, this comes right after Worf yells “Captain!” and is approx. 1:15 in the soundtrack version). The message couldn’t be more clear: Captain Picard has been “corrupted” by the Borg (hence the mutated Enterprise theme). The crew is unable to rescue Picard at this time because he’s surrounded by a force field and they are subsequently forced to withdraw.

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“I am Locutus of Borg”

“Part 1 Cliffhanger”

The shocked team returns to inform Commander Riker that Picard himself is now a Borg. At the same time, a report comes in that a new weapon capable of destroying the Borg cube is ready to fire. Doing so would kill Picard, but at the same time save the Earth before the Borg cube is able to resume the journey to the Solar System. Arguments are made as to why they should or should NOT use the weapon, but just as Riker makes up his mind, the Borg ship hails the Enterprise with a message….and so begins one of the most enduring, iconic scenes in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Borg Picard steps forward and addresses his own crew:

“I Am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is Futile. Your life, as it has been, is OVER. From this time forward, you will service US.”

Cue shocked faces from everyone on the bridge!!!!!!

The music here is practically exploding with tension, but it’s about to get worse. As the camera turns to zoom in on Riker’s face, the music rapidly builds to a fever pitch as he utters the command: “Mr. Worf, fire.”

And what happens next??? Oh, I can’t tell you that, the cliffhanger does a much better job (so make sure to watch “Part 1 Cliffhanger”, it had me screaming at the TV by the end).

It almost goes without saying that THIS was the episode that finally got Star Trek: The Next Generation over with the original Trekkies. Before this, Star Trek: TNG was still considered something of a red-headed step-child, it was alright, but it could never live up to the original series. And then THIS episode happened, and “all hell broke loose.” Fans everywhere were hooked, begging to know what would happen next. The funny thing is, even the writers didn’t know at this point, as they’d literally written themselves into a corner and had no idea how to get out of it.

In part 2 (which will come out sometime in the remainder of this month), I’ll explain exactly how they resolved this tense situation.

Hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episode (the full episode is readily available on Hulu and Netflix). Have a good weekend! -Becky

The Music of Star Trek Blogathon is HERE!! Day One

At last! After months of planning, The Music of Star Trek Blogathon is finally here!!!! I can’t wait to see what everyone has come up with. One last note, don’t forget to include a line at the top of your post that says “This post is part of The Music of Star Trek Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central” and include a link back to my blog page, that way anyone reading it knows that it is part of the blogathon 🙂

Anything posted today will be a part of the recap below, so let me know when your posts are up!! Have a good weekend 🙂 -Becky

Thoughts All Sorts shares some thoughts on the music in Star Trek (2009): Some Musical Thoughts- Star Trek (2009)

MovieRob examines the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation “Encounter at Farpoint” : Star Trek: The Next Generation “Encounter at Farpoint” (1987)

Plain, Simple Tom examines the now-iconic music in “Amok Time” : “Amok Time”

The Temp Track provides a ranking of every Star Trek film score there is: Scoring the Final Frontier: Celebrating 50 Years of Trek Tracks

The Temp Track also takes a look at the themes of Star Trek VI: Only Kirk Could Go To Qo’noS: Cold War Allegory and the Title Theme for Star Trek VI

Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

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Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

I’m still not sure what J.J. Abrams was thinking about when he was working on this movie. Everyone who knows about Star Trek knows that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is considered to be the greatest film in the classic franchise, and that it would be downright suicidal to tamper with it in any way. Well…tamper they did, because Into Darkness, the follow up to Star Trek (2009) is nothing less than a poorly disguised remake of Wrath of Khan, and suffice it to say it did not improve on the original. To sum up the plot in brief: Kirk and his crew must stop the brilliant Khan, along with a renegade Admiral, from causing a full-scale war to break out between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. This includes engaging the superior USS Vengeance and stopping Khan from using it as a means to destroy Starfleet Headquarters! This is also the final film to feature Leonard Nimoy in his role as the original Spock (also known as Spock Prime).

To be fair, Benedict Cumberbatch turns in an excellent performance as the villain, and the main cast performs admirably, but still, the fact remains that the producers chose to rehash old territory, instead of making something new. But I digress…

(for my full thoughts on this film, see: On this day in Film History: Into Darkness? More like a rip-off of Khan )

I was beginning to despair of ever finding an interview for this film when suddenly, out of nowhere, I spotted a video with Giacchino’s name and Into Darkness put together. It seems that while promoting the film, Giacchino gave an interview on the film for a German media site/group (I’m not sure which), and the best part is the interview is nearly ten minutes long! It is so rare to find any lengthy interviews with film composers, so I knew I had to share this one with you.

Giacchino is asked several questions about the process of creating the score for Into Darkness (I apologize in advance because the displayed questions are in German), whether certain characters have their own theme (he discusses Khan’s theme in particular) and what it was like to work on such a legendary franchise. This is not just a regular interview though, there are cuts to footage from the film to show certain themes that the composer is talking about, which makes this interview even more valuable.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Michael Giacchino, see here

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Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek (2009)

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Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek (2009)

It’s no secret that I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the rebooted Star Trek franchise. However, I can’t deny that Michael Giacchino’s score for the film was well done. I was delighted to find a short interview given by the composer regarding his work on this film as part of a “Star Trek in concert” event. Giacchino, like many, grew up watching the original Star Trek series and films, and now here he is with the task of continuing that legacy!

For anyone not familiar with the story: Star Trek takes place in an alternate universe created when the Romulan Nero travels back in time to destroy the planet Vulcan in revenge for his home planet of Romulus (which was destroyed in the future when a star went supernova). As a result, the original crew of the Enterprise that we’ve come to know so well (Kirk, Spock, McCoy and company) end up leading different lives and come together under much different circumstances. The question is, can they learn to work together quickly enough to stop Nero?

Whether you’re a fan of the new Star Trek or not, Giacchino’s music is definitely worth a few moments of your time. Here’s hoping that Star Trek Beyond also features an enjoyable score.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Michael Giacchino, see here

See also:

Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

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Remembering James Horner: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

*This is part of the Remembering James Horner blogathon to remember the late composer James Horner (1953-2015)

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is (rightly) regarded as one of the best, if not THE best Star Trek film ever created. The film continues a story told in the Original Series episode “Space Seed” and brings back the villain Khan Noonien Singh (as played by Ricardo Montalban) to face off with Kirk and his crew once more.

Given how Star Trek: The Motion Picture suffered at the box office, Paramount greatly reduced the budget for the sequel and removed series creator Gene Roddenberry from the active production process. The music for the first film had been scored by Jerry Goldsmith, but with less money in the budget, he was no longer available. Nor was the second choice, Miklos Rozsa for that matter (though it would have been interesting to hear him score a Star Trek film). James Horner (who was only 28 at the time) was ultimately chosen because his demo music stood out from the group; this was Horner’s first big break into major motion pictures (his first credits after leaving film school begin in 1980). Horner stated once that the producers wanted a completely different score than what Goldsmith had given for The Motion Picture; it couldn’t be John Williams-like, but it still had to be different: more modern, more nautical. Horner did his best to oblige and the results are unforgettable.

In place of the grand theme created by Jerry Goldsmith for the first film, Horner created an entirely original theme and overture first heard in the opening credits of the film. This theme is repeated as the Enterprise leaves Spacedock (a theme I briefly discussed in the “Enterprise Clears Moorings” post below). What I love about this piece is the way the music audibly “ripples” as it builds to the climactic sounding of the main theme. I could literally visualize Horner conducting this music, and at times, I like to pretend that I’m conducting it as well. There’s a huge swelling of enthusiasm that wells up as the music grows and grows; which makes sense since the Enterprise is currently full of young cadets who have never been on a major space voyage before.

“Enterprise Clears Moorings” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Another theme from this film that I love is “Surprise Attack” (originally covered in the post linked below). Horner related in several interviews that he created Khan’s musical theme to reflect the villain’s increasingly unstable mental state. For over fifteen years, Khan has obsessed over getting revenge on James Kirk, and now that he has his prey in sight, nothing and no one is going to stand in his way. “Surprise Attack” takes place when the Enterprise is being approached by the U.S.S. Reliant (which has been hijacked by Khan and his followers). From the opening notes, this theme is full of tension, created by contrasting Khan’s theme with that of the Enterprise (in a sense this could be considered Kirk’s theme as well). Khan’s theme is full of tension, rage and a thirst for war (lots of drumbeats and high shrilly strings and woodwinds), while the Enterprise/Kirk theme is dominated by lower, calmer strings and minimal percussion. Horner knew that in the upcoming battle scenes it would be vital to have two themes that were noticeably different from each other, to make it easier for the audience to keep up with which ship they were seeing (since there would be some very fast scene changes).

Star Trek II “Surprise Attack”

James Horner’s theme for Spock is also extremely beautiful and simple at the same time. It was created using a glass instrument that is something of a bowl and a chime, put together (think of how a crystal goblet will ring if you fill it with water and rub your finger on the rim). The theme highlights Spock’s devotion to Vulcan logic with it’s simplicity, there is not one note out of place. It is just the sort of music you might expect to find for a Vulcan. After Leonard Nimoy’s death, and again after Horner passed away, I played this theme several times a day for several days, as a way of saying goodbye to them both.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock” (1982)

Another theme that always tugs at my heartstrings is the conclusion of the “Genesis Countdown” (probably the last two minutes of the piece), which takes place when the crew is observing the formation of the Genesis Planet, unaware that Spock has given his life to save the ship. The moment when Kirk races down to Engineering (because deep down he KNOWS what has happened, even though McCoy won’t tell him) always makes my heart hurt, because I think we can all imagine the horror of that moment: racing down to find our closest, dearest friend, whoever that may be, already dead or nearly dead, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. This moment remains one of the most iconic in Star Trek history, because this is SPOCK we’re talking about, one of the most important characters in the series. Typically, there’s an unwritten rule that says these major characters never die; to see this happen sent shock waves through the Star Trek Universe. Actually, Spock’s death was originally going to happen at the beginning of the film, but news of this leaked out so to preserve the surprise it was switched to the end of the film. I know that after Nimoy’s death, viewership of this scene spiked, because so many people associated Nimoy with Spock, that it seemed like a good way to say goodbye. I did a similar thing when James Horner passed away. I didn’t just listen to the Spock theme, and various other themes, I also listened to this part as well, because in my mind, I needed to let the pain of Horner’s untimely death go (film composers mean a great deal to me).

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Genesis Countdown” (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock (dies)” (1982)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan “Spock’s Death” (Film Version) (1982)

I could keep going about James Horner and Star Trek II for thousands of more words, but I think this will do. I will say that I highly recommend the full soundtrack of this film to anyone who has not heard it before. The entire soundtrack can be found on YouTube, so if you have a spare afternoon or evening one weekend, give it a try, you will not be disappointed. And if you’ve never seen The Wrath of Khan, definitely give that film a look as well, you won’t be disappointed.

We lost James Horner over a  year ago, and I don’t believe the void he left will ever be truly filled. But remembering him in this blogathon was the best way I could think of to honor his legacy, and I think that if he were here he would like that very much. James Horner, you are truly missed. Keep making music up in Heaven!

*The Remembering James Horner Blogathon has begun today! Several great posts have already appeared and I’m excited to see what the rest of the weekend will bring. Thanks again for contributing, this means a lot to me. -Bex

*all images are the property of Paramount Pictures