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Star Trek spoilers

I can't quite wrap my head around it.

The movie started with a bang, an extremely powerful scene depicting the birth of James Kirk under rough conditions... This was awesome. It was an awesome space battle. It showed a moment of great heroism, great personal sacrifice. In a way that Star Trek has never shown before, it depicted a starship as a physical edifice - the damage it took seemed more real; girders fell in what felt like an actual engine room.

The heroism in the opening scene brought a tear to my eye.

I *did* twig to the fact that this was going to be a time travel movie, in that opening scene, and it did have me concerned. For good reason. The plot of this movie sucked, but in a way that Star Trek has often sucked.

Spock Prime's (that's what they call him in the IMDB credits) failure to save Romulus ... from a supernova that threatened the galaxy? The story as Spock Prime tells it: "The supernova threatened the galaxy, so we came up with a plan to use red matter to create a black hole to absorb its energy. We got everything together and were about to implement the plan when the supernova suddenly destroyed Romulus." So, uh, was it something they were watching, or somehow unpredictable, or...

A mining vessel overpowers a top-of-the-line ship - not a ship from its past, mind you. This science vessel is one of its contemporaries, and as Spock demonstrates, it has some real offensive capabilities. But the "plot" requires pieces to be maneuvered into place, so maneuvered into place they are.

I'm a little concerned that I didn't even notice surrealestate's concern during the movie. The movie totally treats women as arm candy and chess pieces to be moved around by men, and little else.

I'm also annoyed at the hoops they had to jump through to get the cadets manning a starship... Starfleet seems extremely thinly manned indeed if they can have all their ships off-world like that. Earth's defenses are nonexistent while the fleet is off doing their "rescue mission" to Vulcan. The only place Starfleet has any actual military force available to it is where Kirk is standing, and that's just wrong.

The idea that Kirk's first official assignment, ever, is as captain of Starfleet's flagship is Just Too Much. Sorry.

At one point, Spock's ship flies in and attacks an orbital installation that's drilling a hole to the Earth's core... As near as I can tell, no other ships or defenses exist to try to attack this thing. The excuse? "They brainwashed a single Starfleet captain into giving up the frequencies of Earth's defense grid." Um, how does that stop either Earth *or* Vulcan from trying to defend itself? There should have been some sign of a battle, if not an ability to stop this stupid plot without the need of our cadets' help.

And now, the big one. I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that in this Star Trek, none of the Star Trek we've ever seen ever happened. TOS, TNG, DS9, all of it is wiped out, for an alternate history version of the universe where a black hole now stands where Vulcan once was. (Oh hey, did we just see the birth of the mirror universe? Huh, that'd be pretty awesome, actually. But no, that doesn't seem likely.) They don't seem inclined to *fix* it, so it seems any sequels to this movie are in this other, new, rebooted Star Trek.

And somehow, as silly as it must seem, this diminishes the rest of Star Trek in my mind. I need to figure out why; need to pick apart this feeling and ... I need to watch me some more DS9, I think. That'll fix it.

Entertaining movie, but way unrealistic in too many ways.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
No regrets on reading the spoilers; thanks for the review!

Bear in mind that the plot of one of the most popular Star Trek movies ever was "this thing is gonna blow up the earth so we'll go back in time to get some whales". If it had been a TV episode, Spock would have learned to speak whale and there would have been a love plot or something to fill in the rest of the time.

In my favorite Star Trek movie ever, they blew up God with a photon torpedo.

Was the premise of the first movie "if you leave a computer alone long enough it will develop intelligence"?

Too bad they've gone back to old-style female characters; glad I didn't pay money to see that.
May. 12th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, the miniskirts really bothered me.
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May. 9th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
Of course, there was the green-skinned Orion not-slave girl who was Uhura's roommate (you know, Kirk's conquest). Oh, and Amanda (you know, Sarek's wife and Spock's mom?) And Kirk's mom, of course. Did she have a name?
May. 9th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
The movie totally treats women as arm candy and chess pieces to be moved around by men, and little else.

Howso? The two 'placement of women' bits I can think of were
1) Sending the woman-in-labor off the doomed ship when everyone else was evacuating anyway. Somewhat reasonable.
2) Uhuru being placed on not-enterprise. And if you think that scene showed an unempowered woman I'd have to laugh at you :-P

I think that given the cannon they had to work with they did very well taking the glorified space secretaries and turning them into valued and intelligent women. Ignoring Jim hitting on everything with breasts which was one canon and two funny.
May. 9th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Do you think that "Starfleet is 90% male" counts as cannon?
May. 9th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know - it's been too long since I watched classic star trek but I remember the ratio being pretty bad. Only so many nurses and comm officers you can fit...

Arguably they could have fixed that too and tried to blame it on the new timeline along with the rest of the changes. Honestly I didn't even notice, but maybe I'm biased from working with the same male/female ratio in engineering.

May. 9th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
Alternatively, you could treat the male:female ratio and the white-person:non-white-person ratio as being in the same category as the quality of the special effects... artifacts of the FirstGen production, to be improved without remarking on it.
May. 9th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
May. 9th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, and the one photo I can find of people milling about doens't look like 90% male


The movie was certainly male dominated but it was all about characters from the first series which was entirely male dominated. I don't think they could have done much with it. I suspect if they make a series out of the movies, the new officers introduced in this timeline will be picked to help out with the diversity issue.
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May. 9th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
I will now take all womankind backward a step by noting that she got to make out with Spock, and that is kind of pwning. ;)
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May. 9th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Both Sulu and Chekov had painfully gratuitous humor in their introductions. Making Sulu screw up at the one thing he should be best at, as the first thing we see, is just mean.

And Russian accent jokes? Really?

I also liked the changes in Uhura though. She did get the moment to shine, when Pike asked his comm officer to listen for Romulan transmissions and he was like "What would that sound like?"... "All three dialects" is an excellent line.

Of course, the *other* guy should have been able to say there was no comm traffic at all, and therefore none of it could be Romulan, but that's a different point altogether, that's more in keeping with the rest of my post :)
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May. 12th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, she really should have got to punch someone in the bar fight scene.
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May. 9th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Which canon? There was no reason for this movie not to keep the female second in command from the pilot, for example. Wouldn't that be more in line with Roddenbury's vision than what the networks forced him to compromise about?
May. 9th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
By and large people aren't fans of Roddenberry's original vision. He wasn't a prophet---just the man at the helm as something good was made.
May. 10th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Maybe that'd work for the hardcore fans but honestly I wouldn't have known who she was. To me the movie was about characters I did know and care about, and introducing random 'new' people simply for the sake of diversity would been irritating. I don't think there's a way to make all the fans happy here unless they went back in time and fixed the original show. And they make enough of a mess of time paradoxes in the shows and movies for me to even want to imagine how that'd play out :-P
May. 10th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
So who was second in command of the Enterprise in the normal times when Pike was captain? Pike was a "random new person" too from your point of view, it sounds like, but he worked. They could easily have made his first officer work just as well.
May. 10th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
Pike was a "random new person" too from your point of view

Nope. I remembered him from the original series, and I thought it was a nice touch. Could I have enjoyed the movie without that nice touch? Yes. Would I have liked the movie quite as much if they replaced someone I knew and remembered with a woman, to make the group of women-who-want-women-as-role-models" happy? No. Can we agree to disagree on what was hypothetically the best thing to do? I hope!

Edited at 2009-05-10 12:02 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
Wait, so you remember Pike, but not his second-in-command?

I'm not talking about replacing someone you knew, I'm talking about adding *two* people who were from the *same episode*.
May. 10th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
I remember pike mainly in a wheelchair. But I remember him. I don't remember her.

If his second command were there, spock wouldn't be it. And then she'd either have to die or step down to have spock and kirk in charge. And I doubt having "the only strong woman" killed would really make for a better role model. And having even more things have to happen to put spock and kirk in charge would not make anyone happy.

So really. I disagree. Please accept this.

May. 10th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
I'm fine with you disagreeing, I just want you disagreeing with what I'm actually saying, not the patently wrong thing that you thought I was saying.

(Which is to say, yes, I agree that it would be annoying had they replaced Pike with a woman just to appease the "no-strong-women" people. No one ever suggested replacing Pike, and if I implied otherwise, I misspoke.)

Edited at 2009-05-10 03:02 pm (UTC)
May. 9th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Oh yep. All of that. All true.
May. 9th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
The idea that Kirk's first official assignment, ever, is as captain of Starfleet's flagship is Just Too Much. Sorry.

Actually, this was probably my biggest problem with it. This, and the "disciplinary meeting in front of a giant auditorium full of students" kind of thing -- would they really waste everyone's time like that? And when Kirk and Spock transported to Nero's ship, why didn't they take more people with them so they'd have the advantage of numbers? Basically, I'm fine with a tale of heroic cadets, but I don't buy how the rest of Star Fleet is MIA while this is going on.

I am perhaps alone in really liking the alternate-universe thing. Now they can contradict canon and get away with it. And I really enjoyed seeing everyone when they were young and a little bit bumbling... that was quite entertaining.

+1 to the opening scene -- that's the first time I've cried at a movie in quite a while. As I grow up I get sappier, maybe because I understand things more, like what it would be like to lose a spouse.
May. 9th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
I just realized why this treatment of Starfleet cadets felt so wrong... it's because they did it so very right in The Wrath of Khan. In that movie, the cadets got to man the Enterprise in a shakedown/training voyage, but mostly in non-command positions. Saavik was the senior cadet, I believe, and given a position of honor at helm, accordingly. (Or was she even in command, but with oversight? I forget now...)
May. 9th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
Just because the future can be different doesn't mean it has to be. Treat all subsequent Vulcan characters as from a colony instead. I just woke up, so I'm probably missing some obvious way in which not having Vulcan is a problem for a later series, but I haven't thought of it yet, so yay bubble of ignorance. :)

As for the women, well, about a million popular culture phenomena have real issues depicting women. Compared to Observe and Report's let's-play-date-rape-for-laughs concept, Star Trek is freaking Gloria Steinem.

I respect others' concerns with the gender aspects of the movie, but my outrage fatigue kicks in here. If they reboot TNG and don't feature Dr. Crusher kicking ass, I'll be right there with you, but TOS never had any strong women to begin with.
May. 9th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Star Trek is supposed to be a bastion of diversity and awesome future prospects, though. That's one of its original strong points, and has remained so throughout its history.

I suppose it's true though (borrowing arguments from elsewhere now), that in Trek, people who aren't the main characters aren't well known for their competence... and the main characters are kind of all accounted for, and only one is a woman.
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May. 10th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
What Kathy said, I think it's ridiculous to think that a woman can't be strong and confident without asserting it loudly to everyone in the room every chance she gets. She pretty firmly kept Kirk in line and strongly stood up for herself and her abilities, and I think those abilities -did- actually end up being important considering her interception of the klingon information was instrumental in supporting Kirk's case about the attack. I mean...there's only so much you can do to highlight a communications officer, it's a fairly subtle job.

I think really what the movie ended up highlighting was the lack of female main characters in the original series and the ridiculously unrealistic way Kirk's interactions with women were portrayed. The movie's scene with the green skinned gal was a pretty amusing poke at the Kirk ego where he finds out his "conquest" is just as, if not more sexually empowered. Uhura, the only real female main character was not at all deferential to her male counterparts and had no problem asserting her superiority.

And really in the end, the movie was there to entertain me and it totally did. I just can't work up a real case for feminist outrage here.

May. 10th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
I agree with practically everything you said, but I think what bugged me the most was the amount of time Kirk spent dangling by his fingertips on the edge of a cliff. Did that happen a lot in the series or something? Or is it a warped reference to how TJ Hooker was always clinging to the hood of a speeding car?
May. 10th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)
I love that last explanation for this phenomenon best of all the ones I've heard. :)
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May. 11th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
Actually, as I recall it was:

"The supernova threatened the Romulus, so I offered to save it. We came up with a plan to use red matter to create a black hole to absorb its energy. We got everything together and were about to implement the plan when the supernova suddenly destroyed Romulus."

I mean literally in the theater after he said that I was thinking, "Um, you promised to save Romulus from the supernova, specifically."

Also, maybe I'm not up on my history, but "random red matter that can create a black hole..." really?
May. 11th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
That last one I can accept as new "future tech" that the Vulcan Science Academy just came up with in the nick of time to save the ... er... galaxy... from the ... supernova.

The red matter is the least offensive part of this stuff, because it is, in fact, science fiction. The rest of it is just science wrong. :)
May. 11th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
Well, the rest of it is "wrong", not necessarily "science wrong".

The problem is that they didn't even bother to *say* "it's a new technology" and nobody bothered to *ask* what it was. There's usually more exposition than that in Star Trek, and I'd like to hear about some kind of inverse entropy system. At least say "the Vulcan Science Academy invented an inverse entropy system that absorbs energy" or something.
May. 11th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Ah, now *that* I think is a conscious departure from traditional Trek, trying to avoid "technobabble." And in the face of that, they decided to use more terms that people had already heard of, such as supernova and black hole, to the detriment of those of us with two brain cells to rub together.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )