Monday, November 29, 2010

The Moonraker? Really?

Here's something cool: a list of the 100 best movie spaceships. I was especially gratified to see that they don't allow the fact that a lot of those movies are, well, total crap to color their estimation of the ships themselves.

Of course, I do have a quibble or two. Like, the Moonraker. Sorry, but it's just a space shuttle, and I know, we got a lot of stuff done with the shuttle over the last thirty years, but face it -- the shuttle was the Honda Accord of spaceships. Nobody's excited by one. Frankly, that goes for the shuttles in Armageddon, too.

:: I don't even remember the ship from Starman, and the photo doesn't do it any favors.

:: I was also less than impressed with the Narada from Star Trek 2009 -- it just seemed like something invented to look threatening on the screen, and there's nothing from the movie to indicate that it was made with Borg technology or whatever. I suppose this is from the comic book that came out before the movie, but that's weak tea, as far as I'm concerned. Plus, I didn't like the way the Narada's weaponry was either powerful enough to swat around entire fleets like flies, or wimpy enough to fail to take out individual ships, based on whatever the needs of the plot happened to be at that moment.

:: Space Cowboy's ship from Battle Beyond the Stars? Among those geeks who have seen that movie, who remembers for a second what Space Cowboy's ship looked like? If you've seen it, you know what ship you remember from that movie. Damn right: Nell, the boobs-in-space spaceship!

:: I always liked the Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Treks III through VI. (I think they might have used it in Generations too, come to that.) Thinking back on Trek, there were a lot of ship designs that I really didn't like, though -- particularly ones from the TNG era, whose Enterprise always looked oddly distended in the saucer section. The Big E on that show looked great from certain angles, and utterly awful from others. And I was never able to figure out which end was up on the TNG-era Romulan Bird of Prey.

:: OK, I know this is geeky fan-stuff, but there are a few Imperial shuttles in use in Return of the Jedi. Only one of them is the Tyderium; that's the one the Rebels use to penetrate the Death Star shield and land on Endor. The one that Vader uses in the first scene? Not the Tyderium. The one the Emperor lands on the Death Star? Not the Tyderium. The one that Vader uses to bring Luke back from Endor to the Death Star? Not the Tyderium. The one that Luke uses to escape the exploding Death Star at movie's end (which is what's pictured in the article)? Not the Tyderium.

:: I'm glad that a little love is given to one of the ship from the Star Wars prequels, which were chock full of fantastic spaceship design. Lots of fans complain that there's not one single ship in the Prequel Trilogy to root for the whole way through, like the Millennium Falcon. Those fans are dummies.

(OK, maybe "dummies" is too strong a word. We'll go with "oddly misinformed".)

Still, a cool article with some surprising entries that I was glad to see on there. Check it out!


Jason said...

One quick thought on the Moonraker... you say "the shuttle was the Honda Accord of spaceships. Nobody's excited by one." I would counter that no one's excited by them now. Thirty years ago, however, it was a different story. I recall a tremendous level of excitement surrounding the shuttle in its early days. There was constant news coverage of the Enterprise glide tests, primetime TV specials about our incredible future where access to space would be as commonplace as weekend flights to Vegas, and shuttles or shuttle-looking vehicles were turning up in a lot of late '70s movies and TV (Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica both featured a shuttle-esque spacecraft -- actually the same filming miniature).

I saw Moonraker for my tenth birthday. It was my first James Bond film, but I was far more impressed by a fleet of space shuttles -- including one equipped with a laser cannon! -- than by anything Roger Moore was doing.

Besides, how seriously can you take a list of spaceships that includes "Giant Eddie Murphy" from Meet Dave?

Jason said...

Sorry... big shuttle fan here, and really bummed that the program is winding down.

I agree with you that the SW prequels had a lot of kick-ass ships. I especially liked the Jedi fighters with the hyperdrive rings, the Republic cruisers, and the clone gunships... although maybe the gunships don't really count as spacecraft...

Kelly Sedinger said...

I remember excitement about the shuttle when the program was starting, but I always felt this was residual space-race excitement rather than excitement over the ship itself, which was never improved upon, never a stepping stone to something better, and so on. I'm not bummed that the shuttle is ending; I'm bummed that it's ending with nothing waiting in the wings. It's literally as if cars stopped developing in 1978.

Jason said...

You're probably right about at least some of the early excitement surrounding the shuttle program being good will left over from the Apollo program. However, the way I remember it, there was also a considerable amount of enthusiasm for the shuttle itself. It was a whole new type of spaceship that didn't look or work like any that came before it -- it was reusable, and it landed like an airplane, and that was supposed to be a quantum leap forward. It felt like one, back then. But you're right... it was a step forward that ultimately led nowhere, and the excitement and affection for the thing dissipated over the years as that became more and more obvious.

As with so many other things, I guess I continue to cling to the feelings I had back when...