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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.

Comments

( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
mathhobbit
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.
chenoameg
May. 12th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, the miniskirts really bothered me.
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crs
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?
motyl
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.
mathhobbit
May. 9th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Do you think that "Starfleet is 90% male" counts as cannon?
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soong
May. 9th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Oh yep. All of that. All true.
flexagon
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.
crs
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...)
lemurtanis
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.
crs
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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kallan
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.

heisenbug
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?
crs
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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awfief
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?
crs
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. :)
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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )