Baumann and Burch Conversations #8: Trilogies

Tim: Glad to report we’re back for another conversation. Also glad to report that this one may have less structure in mind than any previous conversation we’ve had. (That we’re typing and putting on a blog. I have no doubt this would not even register in real life.) Howdy, Matt.

Matt: I’m wondering how many people are amazed that our real-life conversations aren’t highly and weirdly organized. I suspect more than a few.

Tim: They’re mostly just giggling, really. Occasional Wittgenstein jokes and stuff like that. Puns.

I guess we may as well start by talking about what has triggered this particular line of thought. I finally saw The World’s End last night, and while it is quite firmly the worst of the Three Colors Cornetto trilogy, it got me thinking about this idea of cinematic sequels/trilogies which are absolutely not “cinematic universes.”

Matt: Yeah, Marvel has really done in our understanding of series as a concept.

Tim: I think what really annoys me about it most is that people are so amazed by this idea of a “cinematic universe” that they start trying to toss any group of movies that have like, the same actor or director or something into a “cinematic universe,” and like, no, it worked on its own just fine. Not everything has to be ridiculously grandiose to be interesting.

Matt: Our brand just took a hit.

Tim: I feel like grandiose is a strong word…I like to think of it more as petite hubris.

Matt: The Pokelosophers…

Which are amazing and I’m still proud of them, I might add. But let’s not totally go down the rabbit hole of our new Frenchly worded philosophy, let’s go back to the Cornetto trilogy. First question: How have I never watched Hot Fuzz while listening to Hot Fuss?

Tim: Wouldn’t that be hard?

Matt: I feel it’s necessary for science now. Maybe I can time it just right so a good “Yarp” happens after “Promise me she’s not your world.”

Tim: I suppose one of the reasons I want to start with those three movies is because they’re like, obviously not a trilogy in the conventional way of thinking about it. It’s different characters in different scenarios every time, and it’s certainly unusual for a trilogy to come out over a nine-year period. But Edgar Wright, as he is so good at doing, has bridged two concepts. The first is the prestige director “these are my three technically unrelated movies which we’re going to group together because,” and the second is the popular cinema way of giving you sequels.

Matt: This is exactly what people rave about Christopher Nolan for while Edgar Wright (and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) just plugs along doing his thing.

Tim: I want to interject briefly to say that while Matt and I were brainstorming some trilogies we were interested in talking about, neither one of us mentioned The Dark Knight, and it honestly didn’t even occur to me. And this isn’t me being that pretentious, snooty jerk – it really didn’t cross my mind.

Matt: Mine either until you started writing about Wright. Nolan has the Batman trilogy, of course, and a section of his fanbase arguing that more of his movies talk to one another. The “big” theory being that The Prestige offers a metacommentary, of sorts, on the Batman trilogy in the form of a magic trick metaphor (the pledge (ordinary), the turn (extraordinary), the prestige (reality + awe). So fans are ascribing a bit of a Nolan universe, but my larger point here is that he’s the common example of a director with prestige who can put butts in seats.

Now that I’m thinking of Batman, we also didn’t mention X-Men.

Tim: Thinking about X-Men movies makes me sad, and there ought to be a tribunal for anyone involved with wasting that many good actors and that many interesting stories.

Matt: I like more of the X-Men stuff than you (they still wasted a lot), but we have a podcast episode about that.

Tim: The halcyon days of “our computers worked and we could just talk like normal people.”

The Nolan stuff is what drives me nuts…everyone is so desperate for answers that they decide the place to look for “answers” is in the other movies by said director, where of course they find similar ideas that are bound to be thematically connected. I think that’s what interesting about Edgar Wright, who is arguably the biggest movie nerd (as opposed to like, scholar) of any mainstream director today. There’s that tongue-in-cheek nod to Kieslowski in the name of his “trilogy,” which I don’t think he’s ever trumpeted as one. And that similar strand is in so many great directors who pump out similar movies with similar casts or, barring that, similar themes: Ingmar Bergman (twice!), John Ford, Howard Hawks, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Andrzej Wajda. Not that Edgar Wright is there, but Three Colors Cornetto has way more in common with some of the “trilogies” by those folks than it does with the average series pumped out for your cineplex.

I’m trying to decide if I’m being disingenuous about how annoyed I am by the Nolan stuff and how totally on board I am for like, propping up three loosely connected movies about Poland during World War II.

Matt: There’s something to be said for a good, straight line trilogy. I think the fault is less on Nolan and more on how people are taking up Nolan at this point. It also begs the question of when are we making a trilogy out of loosely related films, perhaps being those needy fans. I don’t think you’re doing that here, but there’s a line somewhere.

Tim: What really gets me about Wright is that he makes those similar movies with similar ideas and similar folks over the course of nearly a decade. Just in the trilogies made by those folks up there, including Kieslowski, there isn’t one that was made over so many years. I think that’s as much as justification as you get for deciding that Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence, just to throw one of my boy’s trios out there, are a trilogy. Those are consecutive movies for Bergman. John Ford made his Cavalry Trilogy if not consecutively, at least in three years. (And being a studio director like he was, it’s hard to do anything consecutively.) Wright does something quite interesting in starting in 2004 and finishing up in 2013.

Matt: (I just realized that if I keep growing my hair it’ll look kind of like Wright’s). Wright’s really interests me because there’s a three year gap between Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and then six more before The World’s End. The doubling of the gap interests me. He’s not the most prolific director but, if not for a few stray ice cream wrappers, one could ask why not Scott Pilgrim?

Tim: I think that distance in time you’ve noted genuinely contributes to the differing quality? Hot Fuzz is probably the best, followed kind of closely by Shaun of the Dead, and then distantly by The World’s End. It’s like he’s lost the thread a little bit. I could have watched The World’s End without the robots, and there’s a point in the movie where you genuinely wonder if they’ll ever get to the twist and will it even matter.

Matt: I haven’t watched it in a few years, but I didn’t dislike it that much. I think Hot Fuzz is solidly the best, then Shaun of the Dead but with The World’s End perhaps a jump rather than a chasm behind. But that extra time could very well be the reason. I think what sets Wright apart, regardless, is him maneuvering in three unique (albeit not entirely separate) genres over the run of movies.

Tim: What makes them more than just parodies is that they are great movies if you’ve never seen a zombie movie or an alien invasion movie before, and they are great movies if you’ve eaten all of them like a bowl of popcorn, like Wright has.

Matt: To deconstruct one must firmly understand the object. I think the best parodies all have a heart and can reveal to you the details of a genre/style on their own. Wright’s movies are funny about what they’re imitating, but they’re also serious about that process.

Tim: I also love that each one does something different with the actors they bring back. Pegg and Frost both play the serious-minded ones in at least one movie, and they both play total nincompoops in others. Paddy Considine is the romantic hero in one movie and a, uh, wanker in another. It keeps them fresh.

Matt: And also wonderful spots by people like Martin Freeman and Jim Broadbent.

Tim: And Bill Nighy doing things in all of them. David Bradley is probably my single biggest laugh of Hot Fuzz. And the proliferation of Bonds! (I cannot believe how handsome Pierce Brosnan is with a goatee, and it makes me wish I were dead or Pierce Brosnan.)

Matt: The more we talk the more these become a parody of England as much as anything (I know Brosnan is Irish, before anyone jumps at me).

Tim: Hey, that opens us up.

Matt: I don’t exactly know where to go with it, but it’s certainly a larger theme than I’ve ever thought of with the trilogy.

Tim: It’s another thing that Wright has in common with those other directors who have “trilogies” without a running plot. You get to have it called a trilogy when it takes on a giant topic like that and it succeeds. Somehow “England” is bigger than “parody of pulp genre movies.” That’s part of the reason that I think Hot Fuzz is so successful. It translates The Wicker Man so marvelously into a more modern setting, and it sees the piddling nature of small-town life and realizes that’s as cultish as anything Christopher Lee is running in the original.

Matt: You mentioned Kieslowski’s “Poland” trilogy above, I’m guessing Ford has some claim to “America” or a piece of the U.S.?

Tim: Wajda has Poland. Kieslowski has the fun French Rev stuff. But bless you for setting up a John Ford take! You know those take as long as a John Ford movie! And yet here we are!

Matt: I got you.

Tim: The thing is that I don’t think of any of Ford’s Cavalry trilogy (Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande) rank individually as one of Ford’s best. But they have so much ambition as a package deal. All of them are set in the West, following U.S. calvary around as they alternately fight the Native Americans and try to keep a fragile peace. All of them have John Wayne. On the big picture front, we have a bunch of Civil War veterans (frequently from both sides of that war), we have the expansion of the West, we have what is for the time a seriously nuanced view of Native Americans, and as much as anything else it’s John Ford’s reaction to the end of World War II. He looks at the country after the end of the last war that really pushed us to the edge as a people and looks backwards for the answers. And they are optimistic answers on the whole, but every now and then they’re tinged with sadness or warnings about arrogance, which is sort of the point of Fort Apache. Or they’re really smart about how old people will eventually have to yield to a younger crowd, which She Wore a Yellow Ribbon does.

That’s my short interpretation, anyway.

Matt: That last point feels particularly American at the moment. So they’re of a similar time but not about a particular place so much as a spirit (which I mean generally)? Is that way off base?

Tim: They reuse the cavalry and even a name, which is interesting. Wayne plays Kirby York in Fort Apache and Kirby YorkE in Rio Grande, which is funny. But yeah, the spirit is a more important thread than the place or even the types of people, I think.

Matt: I’ve realized if there is a trilogy about America it’s probably the most obvious one: The Godfather.

Tim: Am I allowed to admit that I haven’t seen the third one? I’ve seen parts of it, but never beginning to end. It has just never called my name.

Matt: It’s not great.

Tim: Isn’t it funny, too, that John Ford is from Maine and made all of those movies about the West and Coppola is very Californian and made those movies about New Yorkers?

Matt: Ford’s focus is especially amazing given Stephen King would have us think people from Maine can only talk about Maine. The Godfather series moves into Vegas, but definitely from the “East coast people go west for money” angle. Vegas is pastiche much more than West.

Tim: I don’t want to overstate the whole Mainer angle for Ford, because he spent the vast majority of his life in Hollywood, but like, he grew up there. Anyway, Vegas is barely anywhere, and the best element of those three movies is in the De Niro plot of Part II, which is the New York of long, long ago and not long ago.

Matt: Vegas is America. Also Italy. The Godfather trilogy is definitely of New York in spirit, but American immigration (by Europeans) at a more general level. I do appreciate that it looks at America via immigrants and, eventually, the Vegas mentality of the American Dream.

It’s not a trend just yet, but we are noticing that the third movie in a series can sag.

Tim: You know, we need more movies that actively poke holes in the American Dream not just in the sense of “Oh, you’ll never get it” but that the American Dream itself is pernicious.

Matt: Absolutely. And that to achieve any approximation of it means, more or less, total corruption of the self. It’s always been a dream and not real, which is the problem in itself. One might even say that as the Corleone family becomes more American it dies.

Tim: Or that as mainstream America bends its arc to meet the Corleone it loses its soul. Which is basically the same thing. I am very interested in what you said a second ago about which movie in a trilogy tends to be the worst. Is it usually the third one?

Matt: Thinking very quickly, I’d guess so. I don’t know of any off-hand where the third movie is the best, at least. The Academy would say, apparently, that Return of the King is the best in Lord of the Rings.

Tim: I think part of the problem is that in a trilogy we expect some level of culmination that’s really tough to pull off. Return of the King deserved Best Picture (per my just exhaustive analysis), but it’s absolutely the worst of the bunch. And Fellowship should have won its year and The Two Towers should have had a shot if they’d left The Pianist the heck alone.

Matt: That’s where I land, too. With Three Cornettos and Godfather, you can chalk some of the weakness of the third movies to time (Godfather III comes out 16 years after Part II), but the Lord of the Rings movies come out in relatively quick succession.

Tim: In the past six months or so I’ve started to think of those as one movie, not three.

Matt: They might as well be. There’s no real reset between movies, which most other trilogies have, even if they’re following the same people and general goal.

Tim: I think it helps that they were all made at the same time rather than even a year apart.

I feel like the first one is sometimes the worst and the second one is almost never the worst.

Matt: I like the second the most.

Tim: In Lord of the Rings or generally?

Matt: Lord of the Rings, but I did start thinking about which movie in a series I tend to like most. Maybe the second slightly more often but not enough for me to plant my flag there. Have you thought of any where the third isn’t the worst?

Tim: I think we’re going to disagree about this, but the Before movies are like that in my opinion. I think She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Search for Spock, which we have not mentioned yet, are the weakest entries in their trilogies. But yeah, the third one is just so tough to pull off because there’s so much to be done.

Matt: Let’s talk about Linklater. If any trilogy is going to test our want for closure, that’s the one.

Tim: And it’s the one that I hope to heaven does not remain a trilogy. I need a new one every nine years like I need new flip-flops every nine years.

Matt: I remember you walking around on busted ones for awhile. So what’s your ranking of Before movies? (before we talk about why that trilogy is so so good)

Tim: (I have a long post from last summer about those three movies, and I apologize for probably reiterating a lot of those.) I have Before Sunset first, then Before Midnight, and then Before Sunrise.

Matt: Bah! Before Sunrise speaks directly to my soul.

Tim: There’s a rumor, and maybe it’s not true, that Before Sunrise is based on an experience Linklater actually had, but before that movie even came out the woman he had been talking to over the course of one night died in a motorcycle wreck.

Matt: I’m very interested where you’re taking that potential factoid…

Tim: I was just going to leave it there. I think if it’s true it’s romantic and charming and maybe a mite mimetic. I adore Before Sunrise, but speaking as someone who witnessed you witnessing those three movies for the first time all at once, I am curious why you like that one so much.

Matt: My head has a hard time saying it’s the best, but my heart keeps it close. Maybe it’s some youthful naivety on my part, but I felt more connected to the feelings of that one. That was vague. I think it probably has something to do with the physical distance imposed at the end of that movie and me feeling so physically far away from so many people in my life.

Tim: That got heavy.

Matt: Like, there’s a smidge of romantic hyperbole when I say it speaks to my soul, but it’s not a total exaggeration. I think a lot of the conversations they have in that movie are ones I see myself having, too. Before Sunrise felt the most relatable for me at this point in my life. And it ends on such a bittersweet note that worked well for me and whatever closure I was going to manage. There’s a hopefulness that I desperately want to maintain and worry won’t stick around because of the ebbs and flows of life, if that makes any sense.

Tim: It’s a movie that starts off very nonchalantly, like, “Oh, let’s just hang out for a night” and ends with “I think I can’t live without you,” which is very teenaged and young person to think. It’s dizzying, and incredibly bold, because that’s a choice that you can’t shy away from once you’ve made it and it works. All of us have been younger once, although this is a feeling I associate with being 15 instead of 19 or so, and thought for sure that some girl was the light of the world.

Matt: It totally is. And I watched Celine roll away in that train thinking “they won’t meet up in six months” but it’s such a compelling passion to me.

Tim: You didn’t think they would?

Matt: I didn’t. I knew they would meet again because I had the benefit of knowing there are movies after before watching (shout out to all the people who’ve watched and waited nine years between movies), but I was skeptical of the six-month meeting.

Tim: You’re right, that was a stupid question.

Matt: I thought you were asking if they would meet when they say they will, which I didn’t think was a stupid question.

Tim: We’re gonna roll with that!

Matt: I only knew that they would because future movies, but not when.

Tim: The thing about Before Sunrise is that I would think it was a better movie if there weren’t follow-ups, which probably isn’t fair.

Matt: Burdened by the future. I mean, it makes sense to re-evaluate movies when their sequels come out. I can’t say you’re wrong in thinking Before Sunset and Before Midnight are better, my heart just can’t abide. Before Midnight is one of the heaviest movies I’ve watched. Definitely not a sagging third movie.

Tim: My not-so-hot-take is that Before Midnight is less a sequel to Before Sunrise than it is a sequel to Journey to Italy, which the movie actively references and that’s when everything really goes to crap. That, plus the fact that there’s not a closure to shoot for the way there is for like, a Star Wars trilogy, makes all the difference.

Matt: The Before movies can really only close when they die, which is morbid but they’re tracking people and not a plot. Or the people are the plot, if you prefer.

Tim: Which is why I’m holding out hope for more in 2022, although I really don’t know if they’ll do another. We may be spoiled for more, and there’s no real reason they have to.

Matt: The twins would be, what, high school? Definitely a new wrinkle if they want it. But they certainly don’t have to. Fingers crossed at any rate.

Tim: I am extremely curious to see what they would do. They ran out of room on the tarmac for just the two of them chatting by the end of Before Sunset, and they really put the characters on the razor’s edge at the end of Before Midnight. Not just in terms of their plot, but also in terms of seeing how they could add new people to the background. That movie has characters who like, kind of matter for more than ten minutes. Would they do that in Before Time-Space Continuum? Or would they go more for new people even if that took away what was so good about the earlier movies? I dunno.

Matt: To when the next movie would be “Before,” I like to think it’ll be a 3am Waffle House run.

They hit a deep valley in Before Midnight, it’s hard to see what could be the tension to carry a movie after that. I think their kids would have to be a bigger part of any potential fourth. I do know part of the immense charm of Before Sunrise for me is reveling in two people just talking for an entire movie and they probably can’t do that again.

Tim: That they do it basically in real time is part of why I think Before Sunset is special.

Matt: I enjoy the trilogy so much because we’re watching people grow and change over time and it balances so well the individual circumstances and quirks of each movie without losing sight of what carries the arc.

Tim: So, to recap: we have talked not-related stories by the same people over time (Three Colors Cornetto), related stories by the same people over time (Before movies), and sort of touched on stories with huge vision (John Ford’s Cavalry). But we have not really talked about movies that like, super closely follow the trilogy model we’re all used to. Is Toy Story the transition?

Matt: Toy Story, soon to be not a trilogy, still takes its time between installments, but uses those gaps to its advantage in ageing Andy. Which is a long way of saying probably a good transition into traditional trilogies before we get into compressed time.

Tim: The gap between 2 and 3 is eleven years, which is longer than the amount of time it took to make Three Colors Cornetto, which is something. And as far as I can tell that’s a major reason that movie had the effect on people it did, and that may be why the last movie hasn’t aged super well. Not that we all think it’s bad or anything.

Matt: That Andy is basically the same age as us makes the third movie easy to be emotionally invested in for our cohort (especially when that came out, us a year into college and Andy moving away) even though the first two are probably better movies. I like a lot about Toy Story 3, but as the years pass I wonder how much is because of the movie and how much the metanarrative.

Tim: It does what only Return of the King does well, and that’s closure. It ends everything in the best way. (I’ve said this before, but like, if you think about how much time it takes to end a nine-hour movie, that ending doesn’t feel overlong.)

Matt: The ending does exactly what it needs to, and I love it for that. Bonnie’s toys are a load of fun too, which gives the movie some extra zest.

Tim: I like them, though I never felt they were all that important.

Matt: They aren’t super important, I just think they’re fun. Chuckles is my homie.

Tim: I need to break out more Baron von Shush stuff in my real life. Has your Toy Story 2 take changed since the last time we went over all our Pixar stuff?

Matt: Not really? I think I like it a little better but don’t have a tangible reason why. That’s a movie I’ve long thought was good but didn’t connect to as much as others, which is kind of weird with as many heartstrings as that is trying to tug.

Tim: The fact that the movie deals with the idea of immortality, more or less, makes me appreciate it more. I don’t know if it’s fair for me to foreground that as much as I do over some of the spoof that’s less wonderful, but I do.

Matt: I like how it carries on with what Woody more or less wants in the first movie, which is perpetual stasis. Immortality in Toy Story 2 requires as much.

Tim: I think that’s something that we’ve bounced around but not really landed on yet. Trilogies and character-building. And part of the reason is that we keep talking about trilogies with different characters, but how much do you care about that aspect? Do they need to change very much, or is it okay for them to sort of be the same and give us a similar story each time?

Matt: It depends on the characters. Toy Story has strong characters and (usually) a good sense of what to do with them so it’s enjoyable watching them across three movies. Without strong characters, weak and samey plots will become even more distracting.

Tim: I think it’s interesting that you can’t change your characters too much in these movies, or otherwise they’re unrecognizable for your later ones and then everyone complains about how they’re fooling around the characters too much, but if they’re too much the same at the end of a single movie people start saying “character arc” like you have to totally alter someone for them to be interesting.

Matt: That feels like the Star Wars segue. I would say you’re right in general; I tend to be more open to big, weird changes in characters but there’s a tricky balance to find. Knowing what the crucial traits of your characters are, what can change and what needs to be poked or stressed, is the key. Woody, for example, changes across the trilogy but never completely loses his selfish (asshole) tendencies – maybe at the very end, but not before then.

Tim: And Woody kind of changes more than most of them? Again, he’s given the avenues to do so in the way that supporting characters don’t, but this is a person who changes as much as anyone and is totally recognizable the whole time.

Matt: Here’s an open question, what would you say the Toy Story trilogy does best?

Tim: I think it balances sequences which are very wordy with sequences which are not. Something that sets the first two apart from the third is that they use songs to get a point across in lieu of dialogue or straight flashbacks. The first one has “I Will Go Sailing No More,” which is still the standout scene from that movie for me, and the second has the sequence which shall not be named. But of course we have all those incredible one-liners we like so much.

Matt: It does well at making each movie and small elements memorable while staying cohesive despite so much time between parts.

Tim: I agree. It really does pick up seamlessly in Toy Story 3, which I had not thought about before but that’s big for it.

Do we have Star Wars takes? Should we have Star Wars takes?

Matt: I don’t know that I have anything someone invested in Star Wars hasn’t heard before. It’s the paragon of the “traditional” trilogy, right?

Tim: Almost to the detriment of everything else, honestly. I wish someone in 1983 had yelled a little louder about the whole “the Death Star is back again” so we could have been more nervous in the present day. And it really does end with everything basically wrapped up if you’re not looking for interstellar politics (and if you were, then a bunch of novels made up for it). The characters changed a little, though, which I think I admire.

Matt: It’s sort of hard to think about how they change now because they’re basically (if not obviously) tropes.

Tim: Those are movies which have definitely ruined other Star Wars movies for other people because they do fulfill those tropes so neatly.

Matt: Thinking about that in conjunction with what the Before movies do is interesting. In the latter we expect big changes (if for nothing besides 9 year differences) and would love another movie because of that, but Star Wars became so solidified that a section of the fanbase can’t abide any change. Which, like, do you want literally the same movie over and over? How is that appealing? Maybe there’s a connection to Toy Story 2 and immortality there. I don’t totally know, but it does seem the best trilogies have a sense of age and the passage of time and connect with viewers along those lines. Not all, but a lot. If the characters are static you get horror movie franchises that begin novel and get sadder with each movie.

Tim: I think the goal for the angry audience folks is to feel the same way they felt during that earlier film, which for about, I dunno, maybe a zillion reasons is impossible.

Matt: That they aren’t willing to grow and change with a trilogy makes everything worse. I guess that’s not much of a Star Wars take besides Episodes IV-VI are the trilogy if there is one.

Tim: I’m kind of more interested in the must-have-been-planned-but-was-it-though? trilogy that is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Like, the plots align, and there are only two directors for three movies, and it’s got the same people over and over again. But I dunno that you can expect that all of those movies will get made if you’re financing this stuff in the ‘80s.

Matt: I tend to think those original series movies have an air of “how long can we keep going” behind them. They definitely feel episodic. Spock’s katra transferring to Hank connects to Wrath of Khan well but didn’t have to happen, and the court-martial in The Voyage Home is sort of similar. The transitions make sense and it all works together, but they feel like transition points.

Tim: Hank?

Matt: Bones. I honestly have no idea what went through my head. I don’t even know a Hank offhand. Beast! I wanted it to be Beast! Wrong McCoy!

Tim: …that was weirdly insightful.

Matt: My subconscious insists on X-Men talk, apparently.

Tim: Star Trek movies are always just long episodes of Star Trek, but I really like the way that those three movies build on three seasons of TV and a previous movie, but also set a tone for the nine other Star Trek movies that have happened in the last three decades. That’s something the other movies we’ve talked about haven’t had to deal with.

Matt: The Star Wars extended universe happens after the initial trilogy, obviously, and now retcons itself. Star Trek, impressively, manages its elements and threads better. Or did until recently, anyway (Star Trek in general, not II-IV in particular).

Tim: And tells three completely different stories during this one long arc. You’ve got the Moby-Dick cosplay in a thriller, the very Star Trek alien anthropology business, and then one of the most interesting environmentalist movies I’ve ever seen/gags about a Russian asking to find the nuclear wessels during the Cold War.

Matt: Best movie featuring humpback whales?

Tim: In the sense that I cannot remember another movie featuring humpback whales, I agree. On the whole I like that there’s a lot of ambition, although it’s hard to tell if you watch any single one of them.

Matt: Because we already knew those characters and the universe beforehand? This is sort of a reiteration of something you’ve already said, but this trilogy starts in medias res unlike everything else we’ve talked about.

Tim: I wonder if it makes a lot of difference how much Star Trek you know before you come to those three movies. I was a kid when I saw all three, but uh, Star Trek was big in my house, maybe you could guess that. I still haven’t seen a lot of Original Series stuff, but all the same I wasn’t totally new to it either.

Matt: I’d seen a chunk of OS before any of the movies and I imagine anyone seeing those movies in the 80s was familiar with the characters and world already. What you’re saying hadn’t occurred to me, somehow, but is a good question. I wonder how they someone new to Star Trek would do if those three movies are their first exposure. Probably fairly well.

Tim: Like, I don’t think having seen “Space Seed” makes Wrath of Khan better.

Matt: No, the movie can work and inform on its own. But seeing episodes beforehand probably affects how ambitious any one movie seems, or how much change one tracks.

Tim: I believe it. I kind of miss the part of me that cared a lot about Star Trek.

Matt: I have inadvertently burned all bridges with Star Trek fans with my McCoy snafu. That sort of totally invested fandom is fun though. For Star Trek there’s just so much now.

Tim: One of the better summers of my life was spent watching all of Deep Space Nine, i.e. the best Star Trek series, and I regret none of that.

Matt: You shouldn’t. And now Patrick Stewart is coming back because nothing ends.

Tim: Maybe that’s how we need to close this off…the idea of the neverending franchise.

Matt: Because nothing ends…except this conversation!

But really, if we plan on talking about reboots in the next conversation this is the cliffhanger.

Tim: Ooh, that is branching out for us. Or, I guess if this is a cliff, rocking out?

Matt: I’m amazed at how often you work rocks into our activities. I know I wrote cliffhanger first, but I appreciate your geology love.

Tim: It’s good to be well-rounded.

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