Saturday, May 09, 2009

Like Guinan said, “It’s time to throw that book away.”

If you haven’t seen the new Star Trek movie and intend to –
Spoilers ahead.

After a year of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) waiting, I finally got to see the new Star Trek movie. I knew that Abram was going to reboot the series and I was okay with it. With all the good things that I heard about it from others who had seen it early, I was excited to see it.

Generally speaking, I thought that movie was pretty good. It wasn’t the greatest Trek film but I did enjoy it over most of the previous ones. I’d place it below Star Trek VI, II, and IV but higher than the rest.

Very quickly the movie is this: in the Trek universe that we are familiar with and in the TNG era, a star goes supernova and destroys the planet Romulus. Ambassador Spock (Spock Prime) had attempted to stop the planet from getting destroyed by imploding the star into a black hole using a substance called red matter. He is too late as the star explodes and destroys Romulus before creating the black hole that saves all the rest of the galaxy (and I’ll get to this in a bit). Well, a Romulan named Nero, who has just seen his home planet swept away blames this on Spock Prime and attacks him. They both fall into the black hole. They both travel to the past and by doing so, they set into motion an alternate reality.

It is in this alternate reality where we get our reboot. The cannon of Star Trek gets tossed aside because the time line is now different. So this movie depicts a new story of how James T. Kirk and crew come together.

I liked where this movie was going and totally bought into the reboot but then the fan boy in me cried foul and felt they crossed the line when the planet Vulcan was destroyed and with it, Spock’s mother. Honestly, I think that a reboot of the series did not need to make a connection with our more well known “reality.” If you leave out the time travel element and change Nero’s motivation, the reboot would have been far more acceptable. Now we have the fan boys dismissing this as just an alternate reality which means that it’s not really Trek.

I did like the references to the old series (and even the new ones.) For example, knowing the red shirt (Olsen) was doomed to die, the Ceti Alpha V like creature, Admiral Archer and the poor beagle, and Sulu’s fencing. My favorite was probably when Capt. Pike described Starfleet as a humanitarian armada—something that Gene Roddenberry was always going for.

What I didn’t like was the plot holes. Forget the cannon stuff and let’s focus on the common sense stuff.

1. A supernova will certainly destroy nearby star systems but they wouldn’t threaten a galaxy like it was said. So if a star did go supernova, it would take years to get to Romulus. Even if it was the Romulan star itself, any attempt to create a black hole after the fact is ridiculous. A black hole isn’t going to suck back the energy which would have already been beyond its reach.

2. You don’t just “enlist” in Starfleet and get a seat at the Academy. (Although Star Trek had a distinct lack of NCOs. It was always a crewman or a chief.)

3. If the entire corps of cadets was called to active duty, why were there cadets streaming out onto the campus when Earth was attacked?

4. BTW, it sure sucks to have been those cadets that were called to active duty. Assuming only the seniors were called up, that’s a huge chunk of the academy wiped out.

5. Why couldn’t the Vulcans fight off Nero? I don’t really care that the Romulan ship (and it was a mining ship) came from the 24th century. Vulcan would have a large enough fleet to have destroyed it. If I wanted to bring up canon, I could tell you that this would have been definitely true.

6. While en route to Vulcan, Chekov said that the mission was to determine why Vulcan was under distress and if necessary start evacuation of the planet. Evacuation of the planet was also mentioned again later. How the hell are they going to evacuate a planet? It is a mystery why such a point would be in orders. Determine threat? Yes. Neutralize threat? Yes. Evacuate a planet? Uh… let’s jump off that bridge when we come to it.

7. You can get command of a ship in 8 years? What the hell kind of turnover does Starfleet have?! My God, in comparison, I think service on a Klingon ship would increase a person's life expectancy.

8. Spock abandoned Kirk on a planet within view of a black hole (okay he’d see it if it was visible). Is he out of his Vulcan mind? How long before that world got destroyed by it? Hint: a lot less time than Kirk, Spock Prime, and that crusty character spent on it.

The new crew selection was largely great. I thought Karl Urban did a great job with the McCoy character and is probably my favorite one. Pegg brought so much liveliness to Scotty that I liked it to the point that I wanted to hit him in the face—if that makes sense. As for Chris Pine, he’s definitely not the Kirk that I remember and is probably the most changed character. I like it but I don’t recognize much of a connection to the original so I’m sort of conflicted on it.

I did like the new look of the Enterprise but I do have two problems. One, it’s missing half its ass. Two, it has rather large interior sections looking all pipey--like an industrial plant. I’m having trouble believing that space like that could exist in such a small ship as the Enterprise. Seriously, it doesn’t have that much interior space.

My conclusion is that it is a very great movie and is definitely worth seeing. If you’re a Trekkie, be prepared to hold down your nitpicking because you will deprive yourself of a good time if you let it get to you. The movie is rated PG-13. I think kids under 13 and above 7 are fine to see this movie. Parents, just cover their eyes for about a minute during a not-so-hot scene.

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