Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Nitpicker’s Guide to Star Trek 2009 Part 1

Well it has been said that those who criticize Star Trek 2009 are just nitpicking every little detail and should just enjoy the movie for what it is.  In honour of that sentiment I’m going to pick apart the film scene by scene and anything that contradicts canon, isn’t explained, or that I think is just plain stupid is getting called on the carpet.  Now I know people are thinking, this film came out almost three years ago, isn’t this a big waste of time?  Maybe so, but I’m having fun.

Let’s get the ball rolling.  The opening music over the logos is good and the pull back of the Kelvin was actually quite nice.  The movie’s off to a good start.

The shot of the Kelvin against Nero’s ship would look a lot more impressive if Nero’s ship in anyway resembled an actual ship.  I mean what do all the long tentacle things on it have to do with mining?  An iconic image this is not.

If this is supposed to be the old timeline right before Nero, literally, shoots it all to hell why are the computer readings still more advanced than they should be on the Kelvin?  Also if the visual readings can be so good, why are they wearing communication headsets that look like they belong in a modern day call centre?

You don’t use the communicator to talk to people inside the same ship, this is what the intercom is for.

What are the stupid plastic flaps in the shuttlecraft for?

The captain is going over to the enemy vessel and knows he won’t return, and a dramatic moment is ruined by a lens flare blocking out the craft as it flies across the screen to certain doom. 

The inside of Nero’s ship is as stupid as the outside.  Why in the world is the bridge a giant open area?  What is with the flying holograms, and where the heck is the viewscreen?

Nero hasn’t even spoken yet, besides yelling, and already I think he’s an idiot.  Why would you kill the only source of information you have about the time period you just entered?  Keep him prisoner and torture him to learn everything he knows, then kill him. 

I can’t tell what the phasers are shooting at. (Also yay for taking the gun design for Star Wars guys, which shouldn’t look like that if timeline hasn’t been polluted yet.) I can’t tell what’s being broken during explosion close-ups and so the battle is boring.  It does pick up though after the shuttle has left without George.  We get to see the phasers actually hit missiles, and prove that George was right that he needed to stay behind so they could survive.  All right the explosions have shut up so we can focus on the characters and get emotionally invested in their loss.  This is a part of the film that I think really works.  Okay naming him Jim and still having his full name be James is awkward, but I’m willing to ignore it for the sake of tone.  Unfortunately we have to end the emotional scene on a nitpick.  Why if George rams the Kelvin into the Narada is there a shot of the ship exploding behind him, and the force of it throwing his body forward?   

As I said in my first review the title shot for this movie came up and then everything went to crap and boy does it ever.  First off how does Kirk know how to drive?  And a stick shift at that.  Since that car is an antique I’ll take a wild guess and say nobody taught him how it worked.  Why is there a kid randomly hitchhiking on the road?  And yes I hate the song selection as much as everybody else does, moving on.  And move on we do as Kirk crashes the car gives his name to the police officer and the scene is over.  Okay what exactly was this scene supposed to do?  If it was supposed to establish Kirk as a bratty kid who runs from the law and destroys other people’s property, then well done movie mission accomplished!  

We cut to Vulcan and-okay seriously what is up with all the Dutch angle camera movements?  Guys your film does not look more artistic if you don’t use a straight ahead shot of a planet.  Although the design of the Vulcan city is interesting, movie gets a point for that.

I also like the conversation between Sarek and Spock.  It is acknowledged that Vulcans do have emotions and that they can be more volatile than those in humans; that the Vulcans control their emotions so that they are not ruled by them.  Spock then counters by saying that Sarek thinks he should be Vulcan and yet Sarek married an emotional human.  It sounds like it might even be setting up a theme where the cool logical side, Spock, and the impulsive emotional side, represented by Kirk in the previous scene would learn to cooperate.  It doesn’t end up mattering much at all, but it was good dialogue.  The stuff about destiny annoys me, but that’s because of a later scene so I’ll save the ranting for later.

Cut back to Iowa, after Spock tells the Vulcan Science Academy to die in fire, and we got another stupid twirl of the camera.  In Iowa our bratty car stealing protagonist has now grown up into a loud drunk, who can’t flirt with a damn.  Oh, joy.  (Also we have a drink, Cardassian Sunrise, for a race the Federation hasn’t encountered yet, and probably will never be on friendly enough terms to have a shipyard bar name a drink after them.)  Well, we get a glimpse of smart Kirk when he counters Uhura, and then he goes right back to being an asshole.  Egging on the cadets and then grabbing Uhura’s breasts.  Yes, that was technically an accident, but the ‘woo look what I just touched’ look that he plasters all over his face just makes me wish Pike hadn’t broken up the fight so Kirk could get punched some more.

What do no win scenarios have to do with Kirk in a bar fight?  And Pike that instinct to leap without looking nearly got Kirk a broken nose.  It’s probably a good thing Starfleet lost that instinct.  Also if I’ve got the ranking system for the fleet right you don’t enlist to go to Starfleet Academy.  Enlisted personnel go directly to serve on ships and get some basic training.  Kirk would have to apply to go to Starfleet Academy, he would not enlist.  Also your own ship in eight years? From Ensign to Captain (six rank movements) in four years?  Kirk’s right Pike must be down on his recruiting quota if he’s trying to shovel crap like that at people. 

Now I like that Kirk is trying to avoid talking about his dad.  It’s probably a conversation he has had to hear all his life, about how he should live up to that man.  How George didn’t give his life for Kirk to waste it with a criminal record and bar fights.  Now here comes some punk from Starfleet to tote the banner of George Kirk the hero high just like everyone else.  Well Kirk isn’t going to change his mind.  Except that he does for some reason that I really don’t understand.  If Kirk doesn’t want to be like his father, which appears to be the case as he is defensive about talking about him and what a great hero he is, then why does he start looking at the salt shaker shaped like the Kelvin?  Why does he drive out to look at the half-finished Enterprise? (And no the Enterprise should not be being built on the ground.  It was established in the prime!timeline that that ship can’t land.  The reason I didn’t mention it in my last review is that I honestly didn’t know that’s what it was he was looking at.  The lens flares were that bad and my TV was so crappy that all I saw was a big bright blob.  I was better off in my ignorance.) Now we know that Kirk Prime loved the Enterprise, but that was because he felt the most useful there.  He had a great crew there.  He made the most difference while he was there.  In short, he was happy there.  None of this applies to young Kirk, so why is it now that he is contemplating going beyond his drunken playboy ways in Iowa?

The thing I come back to is that Pike dared Kirk to do it, and Kirk wants to prove that he can stick it to authority.  But if his motivation is sticking it to authority, then why does he want to work towards being in a position of authority?  Oh, screw trying to figure out character motivations it’s not like those are ever important! /sarcasm.

Well Kirk is going to Starfleet even though I have no idea why so it’s off to the shuttle.  I like the close-up visual gag of there actually being seat belts on the shuttle though.  We also have a good introduction for Bones, but if the shuttle is for new recruits, why are Uhura and Cupcake on it too?

Cut to three years later, and the Narada has apparently being flying around in some big gold void for twenty-five years.  And how do they calculate the coordinates for Spock Prime’s appearance in this universe?  With what data?  And why is Nero’s crew going along with the waiting plan?  This is not like Khan, where the crew swore allegiance to him two hundred years earlier, and even then they weren’t above at least questioning Khan, Nero is the captain of a fricking mining ship, nothing more.   

Oh, good now we have voyeur Kirk watching under a bed, while Uhura gives exposition while getting undressed.  Star Trek 2009, we’ve come a long way from the sexism in the 60’s.  We no longer just dress up the guest stars in skimpy clothing.  Now we have the main cast undress, with suggestive camera positions, purely to have sex appeal to the audience.  Yay progress!

And man we just keep going down-hill at break neck speed.  We get to see the supposed hero ogle a woman like a piece of meat, then we get to see him act like a cocky bastard while cheating on a test.  And man all of this makes me miss Wrath of Khan, when people were taking this test seriously.  It isn’t just Kirk slouching in the captain’s chair and eating an apple.  It’s McCoy sitting in a station that he shouldn’t be in, and Uhura giving her lines to Kirk with thinly veiled contempt.  This should be a sign to the teachers that Kirk needs to work on his people skills before he can sit in that middle seat.  Their attitude is showing that he isn’t inspiring any respect in his fellow cadets, who he will one day serve with.  As both Uhura and McCoy talk back to Kirk, and roll their eyes when his back is turned; what great command material he is. 

I’ll ignore the Klingon Warbird screw-up since Enterprise made the mistake first.  But what is up with Starfleet Command ordering the ship to rescue the Kobayashi Maru?  In the original test you had the option not to rescue the ship.  At first I was going to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and say that this test is different and isn’t taking place in the neutral zone, but then McCoy’s next line is to inform Kirk that two Klingon ships, not three, have entered the neutral zone!  So Starfleet Command ordered a ship to violate a treaty, that it won’t make with the Klingons until the organian agreement but whatever, in order to rescue one ship.  If no one questions this in a simulation, because it’s standard procedure then it’s no wonder Kirk is allowed to be a made a captain with no real experience at the end, everyone at Starfleet Command is a moron!         

And we also had a miscommunication with the computer animators and the script writers.  McCoy clearly says two Klingon ships are attacking, but three ships are shown firing and being destroyed at the end. 

Okay how can Spock not know how Kirk won?  Because the system malfunctioned.  Either through accident, or deliberate tampering as we see later, the test was compromised.  Therefore the results of it shouldn’t count; and this whole thing is really just there to make Kirk look good and Spock look like an idiot.

Have I mentioned how much of an asshole I think Kirk is for doing this?  According to his conversation with McCoy he just wants to say he passed the test.  As he, delightfully, explains at the hearing he doesn’t think the test is fair so he is going to change it.  He doesn’t believe in no win scenarios he says, but when did that happen?  The last time that line was mentioned in clunky dialogue Kirk disagreed with Pike on it.  So when did he change his mind?  Also Kirk won’t take responsibility for his actions.  Instead of saying yes he cheated because having only one possible outcome no matter what you do is unfair, he turns it around on Spock, saying that Spock just doesn’t like the fact that he beat his test.  No, Kirk he’s trying to get it through your big head that the purpose of the test is not to pass, it’s to deal with the experience of facing certain death.  To quote the film this film is so happy to steal from, “how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.”

And of course, because the movie has decreed that Kirk is right and everyone else is wrong, Kirk doesn’t actually have to come up with a response to Spock’s dressing down, because we get the distress call from Vulcan.

I did smile at McCoy’s response to Kirk that he like that pointy-eared bastard though.  Why couldn’t this movie have been about McCoy instead?

So the shuttles are heading out and Uhura tells Spock she’s on the Enterprise and he agrees.  Well you’re right Uhura using your personal relationship with Spock to get your way doesn’t show favouritism at all.  Meanwhile McCoy sneaks Kirk onto the Enterprise in his usual charming manner.  At least someone in this movie is fun to watch.                  

You know I never realized that the bridge was only three floors up from the shuttlebay on the Enterprise, good to know.

Yay we get introduced to Sulu as he…fails to do his job.  Wow what an entrance.  It’s like running out on stage to start your big solo dance number, and falling into the orchestra pit.  And the sad part is that this only happens so the Enterprise will be later than the rest of the fleet.  Get used to it.  Characters behaving in stupid ways to shove the plot along will be a constant milestone in this film.

Oh ick! Who thought giving Kirk giant paddle hands was a good idea?  And where the hell is Uhura working?  What are the big drums for?  Besides to save on budget costs by reusing the brewery location.  And what is up with the medical scanner?  In sickbay it looked like it should, a small cylinder.  Now it has some metal circle spinning on top of it, why?

The reaction shot of Amanda seeing the drill of Nero’s ship makes no sense.  Not just because she and Sarek are later going to be seen in the katric ark, but also because if the drill is visible like that, why aren’t the Vulcans sending a distress signal that they are being attacked?  Also why is no one firing at the drill?  Spock is going to do just that later the film, and be successful.  And no I don’t buy the explanation that Spock can do damage in the Jellyfish because it has future weaponry.  Nero’s drill is a long metal chain with no shielding.  When Pike sends Kirk and company down to disable it all they got was explosives.  Performing a suicide mission and crashing a small one manned ship into it should have achieved the same results.  Also framing Nero’s ship in a giant lens flare from the sun doesn’t make it look any less stupid.

“It’s because they’re being attacked.”  Thank you Captain Obvious the tension in the scene was building just fine before you opened your big mouth.  Also when they arrive at Vulcan we have a lousy attempt at creating the ‘everyone lean left while the camera goes right trick’ from the original series to create the shaking effect.  That worked there because for the rest of the episode the camera was still.  In this movie the camera does nothing but shake, turn, and draw attention to itself, fail! 

Hey, Pike diverting power from the nacelles to reinforce the forward shields doesn’t help if you’re manoeuvring the ship to show your starboard side to the enemy. 

Well we’ve had some more explosions and shaking cameras so now it’s time to have Nero hail the ship, and the widescreen bubble effect does not make him look intimidating in the least.  And why would Pike’s refusal by unwise, Nero?  You just said that you wanted Spock to watch something so you won’t destroy the Enterprise.  You’re already attacking Vulcan so you can’t threaten them with that.  What exactly was the plan if Pike didn’t come aboard your ship?

Well none of that matters because he is going to go, but Pike is showing that he has a brain by coming up with a plan to disable Nero’s ship on the way.  Too bad the plan is filled with stupid.  Why if he wants those trained in hand to hand combat does he tell Kirk to go?  All we’ve seen Kirk do in hand to hand combat is lose a bar fight.  Now if Pike had said “Kirk, I know you’ve been training in several fighting techniques you’re coming with him.”  That would be one thing, but what he says is “Kirk, you come too.  You’re not supposed to be here anyway.”  Well that doesn't sound like he’s cannon fodder at all does it?  Way to show that you have faith in Kirk’s skills, whatever they are, Pike.

Now I was willing to ignore it in the bar because the lighting was darker, but why is Pike so old in this film?  He was a couple of years older than Kirk Prime in the original show.  And where the hell is Number One?  If this film wants to show that it has more respect for women than the show did there is no reason not to have her here.  In fact having her here, and then incapacitated in some way would have helped the story.  Because then Spock goes to command and Kirk would then go to second in command, rather than having Pike say he’s first officer on the way to the hangar bay when he should already have one.  After Kirk has shown that he will disregard rules, argue, shout, and anything else that shows he is not fit as an officer in command of anything.

You know in an earlier draft of this review I was going to give this movie the benefit of the doubt once again and say that it wasn’t ripping off Star Wars because many of the themes Star Wars uses are myth based ideas, and this is common place in filmmaking.  But then I re-watched the special features where they went on about looking to Star Wars for inspiration and wanting to infuse Star Trek with Star Wars essentially.  That combined with the space jump scene here that rips off the Darth Vader breathing technique have taken away any good faith I had in the creators.  They are ripping off Star Wars in an attempt to make Star Trek have a broader marketability, and I want to scream at them for doing so.  Also in the space jump we see Kirk, Sulu, and Ensign dead shirt dropping into atmosphere from space, and Chekov confirms it.  How are they not fried to a crisp by friction from doing that?

A comment on poor Ensign dead shirt, the red, and later gold, shirt trope that the TV shows used was to show that the situation was deadly by having crewmembers die.  It was not done to show how cocky they were by opening their shoots too late.

Kirk you’re a moron.  You don’t charge at the enemy yelling like that, especially when one of your crewmembers is in their line of fire.  The guy was facing away from you; use the element of surprise to your advantage dumbass!

Why are there Romulans on the drill anyway?  The fire vents at least make some sense to me.   They release excess heat as the drill works, but why do you need people down there to man the drill?  And if you do, why can’t the drill just be a separate part of the ship, why have the big chain?

Kirk stop fighting in open hand style, you suck at it.  But yay for Sulu getting to be competent for once, and working to use his surroundings to his advantage.

Why would you only give charges to one guy?  You give charges to everybody for exactly the reason that just happened, because people may die on the mission and the others need to be able to carry on without them.  Kirk does get a point for thinking on his feet and using the Romulan weapons to disable the drill though.  Too bad it’s all going to be for nothing in ten seconds.

The swirling transporter effect blows, that is all.

How did Chekov get down to the transporter room before Spock?  And why aren’t they using the transporter to beam up as many Vulcans as they can? 

Now others have complained about what the Vulcan council is doing in the ark and how Spock knows they’ll be there, but I have a theory for it.  The council is preserving the culture of Vulcan by protecting the katras that are housed at Mount Selya.  Those katras will obviously be lost in seismic activity, and that’s what the Vulcans claim this is.  If we ignore the whole visible drill stuff.  That’s why there are standing around the big statue with their hands raised.  When Spock comes in and tells them the planet only has seconds left they take what katras they have and run for it.  Do I have any evidence for this beyond the fact that katric and katra are similar, and the information given in The Search for Spock?  Nope, but it’s my way of dealing with the on slot of stupid that is the last half of this film, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Okay why is Amanda standing at the edge of the cliff?  I know she has to die to show the gravity of the situation, but did you have to show her as an idiot in her last moments too? 

So Vulcan blows up and now we get the reveal of the Spock and Uhura relationship; and I still hate it; because it’s there as a shock moment for the viewing audience nothing more.  It’s not there to enhance Uhura’s character beyond being ‘just a secretary’ because we don’t get to learn anything more about her; for example why she might be interested in a personality like Spock’s.  If anything it diminishes her character, because now instead of being a good officer who didn’t need a man to be a part of the plot, she is eye candy for some unexplained love triangle.   The creators have decreed, Spock needs comfort and Uhura gets to give it, because we’re in a new universe and can do things like that.  Also we have to have a romance of some kind, because the female demographic likes that stuff.  It doesn’t show anything new with Spock, because this is how he always deals with loss; working through it by focusing on duty.  If anything it also blackens his character, because he is involved with a student, and he may be having an affair if his bond to T’Pring still exists here.  This doing stuff because we can business is also how I view the loss of Vulcan.  It’s not there so we can explore how this would change the Federation.  It’s not there to provide depth for the characters, besides the small scene with Spock and Sarek, and that’s really about Amanda’s death not the loss of Vulcan.  It’s not even there to push the idea of loss further, something that the villain, Kirk, and Spock are all dealing with and allow this film to have a cohesive theme.  It’s there to say we have this universe and it is all shiny and new and look what we can do to it!  

After that we check in with Captain Pike.  Why does Nero suddenly need the codes for Starfleet’s border protection grids?  He was able to go up against Vulcan unopposed, and you’d think they would have those protection grids too.  Why is Earth suddenly harder to attack than its oldest ally?  And why is a simple mining vessel full of water?

Oh good we get to hear Nero’s backstory.  How he lost his planet and his wife, and is using a giant bug to get answers he needs, and it all sounds so familiar.  All of it is just a reminder of a much better film I could be watching. 

We cut back to the Enterprise and-why is McCoy on the bridge?  Shouldn’t he be in sickbay, dealing with casualties and repairs?  Yes, I know he needs to be there to provide banter with Spock and because that’s what the show did.  But in this situation he does not belong there.  If they really wanted McCoy in this scene all they had to do was make it a debriefing and set it in a meeting room.

Spock is right Kirk is being illogical.  You don’t risk the entire ship and crew for one man, even the captain.  Regrouping with the fleet is a good plan and trying to increase warp capability with no way of taking over Nero’s ship is an incomplete and stupid plan.  Also yes Kirk you guys just determined that there will be a next engagement even if Earth is lost, because you just said they had to assume that every Federation planet was a target!

But now we get to what this scene is really about.  It’s not really about Kirk and Spock’s different views about what to do.  It’s about shoving down the audience's throat that this is a new universe that has been totally changed from what came before.  Now no one can predict events.  Because apparently there was no possible way to do an engaging story in the prime!verse, because everyone knows what’s going to happen.  Never mind that the entire time period between the Enterprise going out as a new ship and Kirk Prime assuming command of it is pretty much a blank canvas.  We don’t know a lot about Kirk’s time before he was captain outside of the events of ‘Obsession’ and ‘Court Martial’ and his time at the Academy.  We know nothing of Spock’s time with Captain Pike outside of Rigel VII and Talos IV.  There’s no backstory for Uhura, Scotty, or the rest of the cast so they could have done any number of things.  Instead we get a new universe and now Spock is going to tell us how we have to sit back and like it.

Well after we make through the explanation of what Nero did, which doesn’t tally because Spock only proposed that Nero could be from the future he didn’t confirm it, we’re on to the next bit of contrivance.  That is Kirk yelling at Spock and getting his ass kicked once more.  Again if anyone is acting irrationally and with undue emotion it is Kirk, since he’s the one telling everyone they have to go get Pike with no plan about how to go about that.  He’s the one who keeps punching anyone within reach, and refuses to listen to anything he doesn’t want to hear.  Why I am supposed to root for this guy to prove Spock wrong and sit in the big chair again?  Actually now that I think about this, this could have been a good turning point for Kirk as a character.  Where he sees that yelling and acting like a hothead won’t get results and tries different tactics.  But no when he does get back on the ship he’ll be right back to screaming, yelling, and losing fistfights.      

Let’s ignore the whole why didn’t Kirk get put in the brig thing.  We know why, because the writers couldn’t think up a good way for him to get to Delta Vega to run into the mentor figure in this movie that is Spock Prime.  It’s just another example of characters being stupid so the plot will work.  Now there are those who say that Spock kicking Kirk off the ship here shows that he is unfit for command.  To that I ask, why then did Kirk not bring that up when he was trying to get Spock emotionally compromised so he could take over the ship?  If this action was supposed to show that Spock’s judgement was compromised from the loss of Vulcan, why does no one call him on it?  McCoy even says that sending Kirk away was maybe the logical thing to do, and if there ever was a person who would oppose Spock’s actions hard, especially since they involve the life of his best friend, it would be McCoy. 

One question I do have about this whole thing though.  Why does the Enterprise have one man pods like that?  What function do they serve?  Oh, and before I forget we do get to see friction fire on the pod when it enters the Delta Vega atmosphere so someone on the filmmaking team knows about science after all. 

Oh, screw you to whoever put snow splatters on the camera as the snow beast runs toward it.  You are not Jean-Luc Godard!  Stop reminding us there’s a camera there!

The beasts on Delta Vega also look completely unrealistic.  Well to be fair the first one isn’t too bad.  It has a thick fur coat which matches the climate.  But what the hell is up with the second one?  It looks like a giant hybrid of several different insects.  How does something like that evolve on a barren ice rock?

And now Kirk meets Spock Prime.  Again I was going to say that this wasn’t a rip off a Star Wars because Kirk is supposed to be having a hero’s journey, and those often have mentor figures, but nope this is ripping off Star Wars and Wrath of Khan all at once in an attempt to create pathos.  It’s doing a good job of it I’ll give it that, but that’s because Leonard Nimoy is a gifted and seasoned actor.  When he is telling Kirk that Nero is doing all of this to get revenge you can feel the pain and loss of the character.

With the mind meld though there are far more science fails than I can possibly list, as physics and I went our separate ways back in high school, and as I said in my other review this whole thing is just riddled with plot holes.  And no the fact that the Countdown comic tries to explain some of it doesn’t count.  Movies are supposed to be self-contained.  I should not have to seek outside information to understand the motivations of the villain, and the whole event that started this clusterfuck in the first place.  To quote SFdebris, “you don’t get credit for stuff you don’t put in the movie because…you didn’t put it in the movie.”  

The other problem I really have is: how can Spock Prime know all this?  Like what the exact stardate is.  Or that there is a Starfleet outpost nearby.  Why would Nero tell him this?  Also an earlier line would make more sense if he didn’t know so much.  “Mutiny?  You are not the captain?”  Now Spock Prime isn’t stupid he knows at what age Kirk took command of the Enterprise.  But if he was confused about when exactly he is, or even that the Vulcan that was destroyed was not really his, Kirk could explain some things rather than just get dumped information about the villain, that the audience already has no less, and having this all just be more exposition.

Also I think it would have been better to have Kirk explain some events from a character perspective too. For example being the one to tell Spock Prime that there’s a Starfleet outpost nearby, the computer did tell him that in the escape pod.  This I think would have helped lift the film in three ways.  One is that it would have given him a chance to act like the Kirk we know from TOS.  That is, as the man who, when all hope seems lost, buckles down and through brains and instinct pulls victory from the jaws of defeat.  Yes, this is a different reality and so this Kirk should act differently in certain situations, because of his different up bringing from Kirk Prime, and his different outlook on life in general, but the core traits for the character have to be there otherwise we’re not watching James Kirk.  We’re just watching a guy who has the same name.  Second it would allow Kirk and Spock to act as a team.  Say Kirk tells Spock about the outpost, but then says there’s no way to reach any ship in time now and Spock counters with the transwarp beaming equation.  We get to see how they should work, and want that for Kirk and Spock back on the Enterprise too.  Finally it allows for Kirk to be proactive.  Instead of Spock Prime taking them to the outpost, and knowing how to get back to the ship, and how to get control of the Enterprise, Kirk could be doing at least one of these things to be driving things forward rather than being carried along by events; to be acting instead of simply reacting.

Also if Spock Prime was not aware of certain things it allows Kirk to bring hope to a hopeless situation.  Kirk renews Spock Prime’s faith that not all is lost after all. That is what Kirk does best after all.

“My God, Bones, what have I done?”

“What you had to do.  What you always do, turn death into a fighting chance to live.”  

This also would have tied back to the test, where we see that Kirk does believe that even in the face of certain death, stuck on a barren ice planet with the Enterprise going the wrong way, and Earth on a count-down to certain doom, he is going to find that third option and fight to live.  

Another thing I’ll bring up now is the complaint made by some that Spock Prime is too emotional in this film.  I don’t agree with it because his emotional stance is explained, not by this film, but from what came before it.  After the mind meld Kirk asks:

“So you do feel?”

And Spock Prime answers:


With a tone of, of course I do, why would you ever think otherwise?

This character has come a long way from the man who felt ashamed of even feeling friendship for Jim Kirk.

The thing is that Spock Prime has had that time to come to terms with who he is and how he wants to function in the world.  All the way back to The Motion Picture when Spock realized that logic wasn’t everything.  All the way through to The Undiscovered Country with his line that: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”  He still goes by it of course, we see that in his actions and words from Wrath of Khan, but he knows that for himself he needs something more than just logic.  He even starts acting on instinct by the time of The Next Generation where he tells Picard that yes some of his actions are not logical and he’s doing it anyway.  And all of that came for continuity.  It came from the history of the character, and the events that went on around him, and that he went through in his life. Continuity isn’t such a bad thing after all is it writers?

Well enough fawning over the only character to have any layers to him, back to the movie.

Okay the Spock McCoy conversation is clearly here to have Spock McCoy banter nothing more.  It doesn’t reveal anything new.  It just continues to try and shove down our throats the idea Kirk is awesome, despite all evidence to the contrary.  McCoy tells Spock you don’t leave your prized stallion in the stable.  The problem is I haven’t seen Kirk do anything to show that he is the ship’s best man.  If McCoy had even told Kirk earlier that failing the Kobayashi Maru wouldn’t be a blot on his perfect record that would at least have been something!  Instead Kirk has been cocky and a jerk to everyone he comes into contact with.  Why I am supposed to like this character?  Why I am supposed to cheer for him to win the day?  Spock doesn’t need to act like it was a hard decision to shoot Kirk out the airlock.  It was the best decision anyone’s made for the whole movie!

Back to Delta Vega and we get introduced to Scotty.  The film is more than half over and we’re just now getting introduced to another member of the starring cast.  Why do I think this won’t end well?  Oh good now Scotty is treating the Enterprise like a piece of meat.  Have I mentioned how much I love the treatment of women in this film? 

“Coming back in time, changing history, that’s cheating.” Kirk he didn’t come back in time deliberately, but that does seem to be the closest thing to a theme this movie is going to give us.  Cheating is a-okay kids! 

Everyone is back on the ship and now we get to look at the engine and…oh boy.  Why did they pick a brewery of all locations to have as the engine room?  Now I don’t have a problem with them wanting a more mechanical look for the engine room.  I like that we have lots of railings and the water tubes are a nice touch.  Scotty riding around in them is stupid, but once again we have to have a stupid action so Spock will get security to Kirk and bring him to the bridge, nothing new here.  The big problem I have with engine room is that its look in no way matches the rest of the ship.  The rest of the ship is white and clean and sparse, and this is not.     

Well we get everyone back to the bridge and Kirk gets to be an asshole some more.  Hey, Kirk seeking vengeance on a man is not the appropriate response when you are in charge of other people. Let’s use another quote from a good movie shall we?

“How can you pass that up, Mate?”

“By remembering that I serve others, Mr. Sparrow, not only myself.” 

It doesn’t matter if Spock wants Nero’s head on a pike to parade through the streets.  He knows that the lives of others take priority over his own feelings.  Again going to gather reinforcements is a smart move, because you already know you can’t take on the ship alone.  Yes, that would probably mean the loss of Earth and everyone there, but losing one planet doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war.  

Well Spock tries to choke Kirk to death over the console, after Kirk is a total douchecanoe, and that means Spock is apparently compromised, because Kirk was insubordinate, again, and now Kirk is the big chair.  Surak help us all.  I’m sure most of the crew are thinking the same thing when Kirk announces that they are going to engage the enemy, that handed them a royal ass-whooping already, with the line “either we’re going down, or they are.” 

The scene with Spock and Sarek is actually well handled.  I think the scene should have been between Kirk and Spock to cement the whole idea of Kirk and Spock growing better together than apart.  Rather than having Spock Prime simply state that at the end of film, but I have no complaints otherwise.

Okay Chekov assuming the whole Saturn ring idea isn’t complete bullcrap, how exactly will getting to warp factor four help?  It was established earlier that they couldn’t catch Nero’s ship, but warp factor four will somehow change all of that?  Even though they have to travel back from the course they were on to the Laurentian system thus eating up more valuable time.  Also I love the scene of everyone crowding around the console scrambling for ideas before he gives his announcement.  Just proves that Kirk literally had no idea what to do beyond get the ship turned around.

When did Spock learn that Nero’s black hole device was stolen?

Yay Sulu gets to be competent at maneuvering the ship for once.  And Kirk tries to have a badass moment by telling him to destroy Nero’s ship even if they’re still onboard, but I’ve seen too many of this character’s bad qualities that I don’t give a damn anymore.

Why is Scotty manning the transporter?  I thought he was supposed to be down in the engine room keeping them at warp four?

I have no further comments on the Spock Uhura matter except what I said before, that performing a human kiss in public is too open for him as a character.  Now if I hadn’t been sitting through this film for over an hour I might think that this is showing how Spock is becoming more open, more accepting of his human side and its need for expression, but I’m not willing to give these writers that kind of credit after all I’ve already seen.   And that this scene is basically there to up the romance content and show off the love triangle some more, by showing Kirk that he isn’t getting the girl.

Why does the phaser fire hitting metal sound like metal hitting metal?    

Seeing more of the inside of Nero’s ship just make me scratch my head in bewilderment.  I know they want a certain look for the fights and chase scenes, but could they not come up with something that also looks remotely like a functioning spaceship?

This is first time I’ve noticed that the phaser flip out colours when switching from stun to kill.  This is actually interesting to look at and a neat idea to build upon something already set out in canon, movie gets another point.

Movie quickly loses the point for having Spock mind meld with his hand in the wrong position, and unless we’re going to chalk this up to ‘the universe is different’ he shouldn’t be good at mind melding since this would be his first one.

If the cadets were supposed to report to the ships earlier in the film, why are there still so many of them running to stare in horror at the drill as it fires on Earth? 

“James T. Kirk was considered to be a great man…but that was another life.”  You’re damn right it was!

How does Nero know that the man who stayed behind in the Kelvin was George Kirk?  Why would he even care to find out?  And for that matter how the heck does he know that this guy is James T. Kirk?

Well Spock destroys the drill while Kirk is busy getting his ass handed to him for what, the tenth time this film? So we all know who the real hero is. And then…ugh!

You know in Wrath of Khan Kirk’s scream was one of frustration and anger at all the events that have happened up to that point, including that Kirk’s bluff to get Khan on Regula to hopefully defeat him once and for all has just failed.  Nero’s scream is just crap.

Spock drives the Jellyfish into the Narada, Kirk finds Pike, everyone gets beamed back, and Scotty is still not in the engine room.

Since when does the Narada have shields? 

Enterprise hails them offering assistance because the ship is too close to the singularity.  Wait the Jellyfish went inside Nero’s ship shouldn’t the black hole be forming in it like it did with Vulcan?  And if not then why offer assistance at all?  The Narada is close to a singularity like it was when it went through the black hole the first time and didn’t suffer any damage, so what’s the problem?  This is why the red matter sucks, I mean that figuratively, it does whatever the plot needs it to do with no explanation of any kind.  It’s about to do the same thing with the Enterpirse.  Again the Jellyfish and the Narada went through the first hole intact, but being close to this black hole literally causes the Enterprise to start cracking apart? 

Why is Scotty the only one in the engine room? Oh no, wait Scotty yells at one other guy to go, okay we apparently have two people manning the engine of a ship that apparently has a thousand person capacity, well I feel better.  Also the warp core being shoved out of beer vats negates any cool factor the engine room might have had.

Okay so Scotty ejected the warp core so they’ll be getting back to Earth via impulse and or battery power only.  Well that should only take…a couple of years since everyone went to warp and no one ever said where they were.

Actually that would have been a really cool move for the end of the film.  The ship is now lost, but heading into the great unknown, as a ragtag team, to boldly go where no one has gone before.  That could have been a great cliffhanger, not knowing where the crew will be, and in what shape, when we see them again in the next film.  Instead though we now get to the face-palming Kirk gets promoted to captain ending.  Now I know what the film was trying to do here.  This was supposed to be the point where the hero, having left home under troubled circumstances, has gone on a journey that has seen him change for the better.  Has seen him go out and defeat a threat, and society is now better for his actions.  The problem, as I’ve ranted about so much here, is that Kirk has not changed for the better.  He was a reckless kid who drove cars off cliffs in suicidal joy rides.  He was a loud mouth youth who hit on women and got into fistfights.  At the end…well shouting, getting into a fistfight, and having no plans at all, got him in the captain’s chair.  He hasn’t learnt anything, he hasn’t changed, and the actions of his crew won the day, and not with any prodding from him so we can’t even say he was inspirational to his crew as Kirk Prime was.  So, where exactly is the arc from rough and tumble youth to responsible captain?  

The other thing that comes to a close here is Spock’s story.  Now this wasn’t quite as bad as Kirk, because there was an actually an effort made to have this character change over the course of the movie.  I certainly think some of those changes were stupid, but at least change happened.  With the meeting with Spock Prime, and the one with Sarek earlier, Spock is allowed to rethink his actions and decisions; to want to take a different path and change, thus growing as a character.  And so we end the film with Kirk sitting in the big chair that he didn’t earn, and Spock Prime giving the iconic narration, that has nothing to do with this film and is there as another wink to audience.  (It's also incorrect, it's seek out new life not seek out new lifeforms, fuck you writers.)

Well at least with credits here I can enjoy the original Star Trek theme and remember that there was a time when Star Trek movies worked to be about more than just trying to entertain the audience for an hour and a half.  They didn’t always succeed, but at least an effort was made.

Continued in  part 2

1 comment:

  1. Also we have to have a romance of some kind, because the female demographic likes that stuff.

    Not this member of the female demographic. I could have done without the lame Spock/Uhura romance. They had as much chemistry as a wet blanket.