Ok, so I sat down yesterday to start writing out the final post looking back at my 8 months with MoviePass. I was planning on talking about the 8 worst movies I saw in that time, but as I started working through it became really clear to me that I only wanted to talk about one of these movies. So that’s what I’m gonna do, just keep in mind that while I’m only specifically talking about one movie, there are 7 others that I feel just as much contempt, disappointment, and anger towards.
So Trek: The Movie, what a mess.
Now before I jump down this movies throat lets get something clear. I didn’t expect this to be some Oscar contender. It’s a Mormon movie, and I expected the typical fare that you see in Mormon movies, cringy humour, a host of flat side characters that serve no purpose other than to be objects in-jokes or soundboards for the lead characters to talk to, yatta yatta yatta. Even with those lowered expectations this movie thoroughly disappointed me, so just relax, I’m not hating this movie because it’s not Schindler’s List. I hate it because it fails on nearly every level.
For those unaware, there is a genre of film that I can only refer to as “Mormon films” that are focused exclusively on the experience of being a member of the Mormon church, it’s super niche stuff. A couple of them are actually pretty good, (Singles Ward, The Best Two Years) but most of them range from average to mediocre. That’s not too surprising since most of these movies are more focused on appealing to their niche audience rather than creating an interesting or lasting story. A lot of Mormon movies from my observation tend to suffer from huge tonal problems as 2/3’s of the film is super light-hearted ensemble comedy, and then in the final act they suddenly become overly dramatic stories of faith and it often feels like I’m watching two entirely different movies, which if you don’t know, is like a bad thing usually. Some movies can make those tonal shifts work, but in order to do so, you need really well-established characters, a clear understanding of what motivates them, a very well written third act, and good performances from your actors. Trek: The Movie has none of those things, although the performers are clearly trying to salvage this thing, so kudos to them I suppose.
Trek’s problems are exacerbated by a plot that largely has no idea what it’s doing. There are like 5 different plots happening in this movie, and in an attempt to make them all work the movie loses track of its main story and simply leaves it half-baked. The pieces aren’t even properly set up to even make an attempt at this big tonal shift for the final act. It would be like setting up for a hail-mary play but forgetting to put your receivers on the field.
What truly frustrates me about this movie though is that they absolutely had the opportunity to get their pieces in place, but due to nothing but pure incompetence doesn’t happen. There is one scene in particular that I think really illustrates this.
This scene happens about halfway through the movie as we’re beginning to try and make our transition from comedy to pure drama. Our lead character, Tom Jensen, has just been in an argument with a close friend and has separated himself from the main group. Anna McDowell, another lead character and Tom’s love interest follows him and tries to comfort him, but he’s having none of it and after berating her he storms off again. Classic scene to push your two leads apart so the events of the final act can bring them together in a more meaningful way.
How does this scene look though? It should look something like this,
The focus is on the characters, you can see their body language and facial expressions, it lets you know how the others words are affecting them, then after Tom leaves you to pull back to a wide shot to make Anaa small and emphasize how powerless she feels in the situation. That’s what you’d do if you had like a basic understanding of blocking.
Here’s what Trek actually did,
Do you see the problem? By leaving the whole thing in a wide shot you miss all the important non-spoken language between these characters that actually give gravitas to the scene. This crude drawing doesn’t actually show how bad it was in the real film, because the lighting was really dim so you couldn’t even tell which one was which without really squinting in on it. Good lord what a giant pile of laziness and/or incompetence this scene was.
This crap would be forgivable if it was like a one-off thing, but it isn’t. This happens level of failure happens consistently throughout the film and makes it made it just an aggravating experience for me to endure. Screw this movie. Later Y’all.