Friday, January 6, 2012

Movie 11 Star Trek

Rating: 4. Exciting, watchable. Great special effects, fabulous acting, great editing, but nothing to chew on. No exploration of scientific or social issues. It also violates the laws of logic, physics, physiology, and of the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Movie (Star Trek XI)

This is not your Grandfather's Star Trek (TOS) (Or you Grandmother's). It's not your father's Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise). Nope. This is your Grandfather's Star Wars with Trek characters.

Doubt it? Check this out:

In anticipation of Star Trek Into Darkness, the following "honest trailer" was released about this film: (4:13)

Any similarity with the Physics of the real universe or the Star Trek universe is purely coincidental. May the force be with you, Captain James T. Skywalker. Oh, and I guess those star ships came from the Babylon 5 set.

The best thing about the film was the casting. It was really, really good. Having a real Russian, Anton Yelchin play Pavel Chekov made that character bloom. If they had let him have a real Russian accent, though, it would have been an improvement. The actor himself, however, apparently had no problem doing the fake accent even though he is Moscow born and speaks Russian fluently. In fact, I believe he switched to real Russian at one point in the movie. Having Chris Pine, a real WASP, play Kirk didn't hurt, either. Shatner's Kirk combined midwestern bravado with the broad physical gestures of Yiddish theater, (think early silent movies), while Pine's Kirk is far more refined, and easier to believe. Nor can I say having a Brit, comic Simon Pegg, play Scotty, who is supposed to be a Brit, is a problem. Quinto and Pine are both fine actors, and they showed it here. I wonder if Quinto's pay scale may rise above the charts for future Trek's though. Sulu? John Cho? Harold and Kumar go to Vulcan...? OK, that didn't turn out to be bad, either. After all, if Kumar can work for Barack Obama, who is himself accused of being a Vulcan, (Tuvok Obama?) why can't Harold?

I did not need Uhura to be channeling Nurse Chapel... but I could get used to that. It didn't violate the laws of Physics. It worked for me. It explained why she was the only female crew member who never got into bed with Kirk. Speaking of the laws of Physics, the cartoonish treatment of them and human physiology left Dr. McCoy with nothing to do in this movie. Karl Urban had little to work with, but did a wonderful imitation of DeForrest Kelly, the only original show cast member not cast against type. Having a green Rigelian Animal woman be a Star Fleet Student was nothing short of brilliant.

The flick was fun, but I'd have preferred it be an alternative universe, not a new timeline. The Superman Canon reinvents itself about every 20 or 25 years, but it adds a new alternative earth and alternative universes (and we don't have Supes, we're on Earth Naught... Earth Prime has the Superman of the 1960s, Earth 2 the World War II Superman, Earth 3 has the 1980s Superman. At some point it will become formal that Smallville's Superman is on Earth 4.... or 44. Alternative universes deal with such ongoing franchise issues as changes in the understanding of science, and actually reaching the years in which a future story is set.

This works way better for me than a new timeline that wipes out the entire history of the franchise, except Enterprise, which so far appears to be what they did here. Also, an alternate universe has the benefit of not being stuck with such old timeline problems like the Clone Wars of the 1990s... which didn't happen in OUR universe. Perhaps we will find out, in a future film, it didn't happen in the Chris Pine Kirk/Zachary Quinto Spock universe, either. I'm told there is a comic that sets the movie up as an alternative universe, but that won't do for the casual fan who doesn't read every bit of Trek available.

I'm a science fiction geek/fanatic, but I'm picky about my fantasy. Science fiction is a discussion in the form of fiction of real scientific issues, ideally looking at how it would effect human interactions and society, while good fantasy fiction looks at how people would act in fantasy situations. Star Trek has traditionally been science fiction, while Star Wars was fantasy. For an unrelated example, the idea of emergent intelligence in machines is a real issue being discussed in the Scientific community (e.g. "The Ghost in the Machine."... nonfiction). However unlikely the stories in I, Robot or Terminator may be, (or TNG's episode, "Emergence") they are science fiction. On the other hand, however amusing the CW's Supernatural may be, it's fantasy. The current TV show on Fox, Lie to Me, which uses the emerging science of microexpressions is also science fiction (no real connection between reading microexpressions and being able to tell truth from lies has yet been established).

So, understanding that I value Star Trek Television shows for their Science Fiction nature, I would have chosen more realistic fight scenes (even Spiderman would have trouble grabbing onto ledges and pulling himself up from a fast fall as much as Chris Pine's James T. Kirk does), a better explanation of the creation of black holes, (punching a time space hole into a universe which has not yet experienced it's big bang would do it, 'red matter' does not) ... The fact that Scotty went through an ordeal that should have left him physically shattered without so much as a bruise was very Star Wars (or Road Runner) and, for me, the most unacceptable part of the movie. It also made Dr. McCoy unnecessary. The red beast chasing Kirk and leaving him without a scratch wasn't much better. Star Trek(TOS) might have been cheaply made, and it's 'rule of parallel development' might have been a weak excuse to use old movie and TV sets, but it was never a cartoon. This Star Trek movie was a cartoon.

The Red Matter thing aside, if you tried to drill a hole into earth, the planet is molten, and the hole just wouldn't happen. Vulcan, likewise, is volcanic (DUH). A black hole on the the planet's surface would just as effectively destroy the planet as one at it's center, so why drill at all? What's more, if a tiny black hole did suddenly appear at the center of a planet, the planet would collapse much more slowly than in the new Trek movie, and it would spin faster and faster. From the outside, the event would take many years, even many centuries, not minutes. If the black hole were big, it would happen faster, but it also would capture that nearby small planet on which Nimoy Spock and Pine Kirk were sitting. Due to the time warp factor (yes, traditionally, Trek used real science constructs) the collapse of the planet Vulcan would appear to happen much faster if you were ON the planet than if you were outside. However, even there, the event would take much longer.

And even today we would be able to forecast a star going supernova centuries in advance, there's no way a little debate in the Vulcan High Council 375 years from now could slow Spock down enough to stop him from saving Romulus. Not that putting a black hole in the middle of the star would stop it from going Supernova. Some Supernovas actually end in black holes... they CREATE black holes.

So, this is why I say that Star Trek XI is really Star Wars disguised by better character development. After all, what made Star Wars great? Beautiful special effects. Lots of fight scenes and explosions. Good guys and bad guys. No science issues, no hard human issues, no nontrivial interpersonal issues, no projection of real problems faced by society for discussion in an abstract way. I liked Star Trek XI a lot more than Star Wars. I wouldn't take my money back if it meant I had to erase the experience from my mind. But, as a fan of Star Trek as real Science Fiction, I was disappointed.

AFTERTHOUGHT: J.J. Abrams has never been a fan of Star Trek. He is, rather, a declared devotee of Star Wars. George Lucus's original vision of Star Wars was of nine, not six, movies. He has declared his intention to not do the last three movies of the Stars Wars Novemity (?)(latin for nine is novem, like November), or Thetalogy(?) (Theta is nine in ancient Greek). J.J. Abrams appears to be trying to use Star Trek as a tryout film to prove to George Lucus that J.J. Abrams should be permitted to finish Star War's missing three movies.

Other Star Trek XI reviews:
Roger Ebert

15 Blunders that Ruined J. J. Abrams Star Trek and Destroyed the Franchisep://
Film School Rejects Reviews
Video reviews:
Arguments on why Star Trek 2009 was an Abomination(11:29)
Argues that JJAbram's Star Trek is truer to TOS than other Star Trek films: (5:27)
Star Trek 2009 v. Star Trek: The Original Series in Review by Kayleighkill (3:47)
Phase II weighs in: (1:16)
Another recuts STXI ("Star Trek") and STVIII (Star Trek: First Contact) to restore the prime time line: (1:56)
SF Debris Opinionated (Video) Review:  Intro, and Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4: (Yes, the review is more than half as long as the movie, and they waited 3 years to review it... they thought about it, OK?)

Other Comments of interest:
A science review of the movie by an astronomer, finding things I missed, both positive and negative:
Another review:
Another review: (3:01)
"Honest Movie Trailers":  (4:13)
Defense of JJ Abrams Physics by E. Adam Thomas: (7:48)

Ethical Review of this movie:

Things left out of the movie:

Fan Redos:
Kirk as Jane Kirk:
Star Trek presented by Girls on Film: (3:16)

The drop from space: (8:08)
transporter effect: (5:20)
Trek treatment of changes in timeline in the past interjects commentary on JJA Trek: (5:51)

From prior location:


Anonymous said...
I was actually disgusted that Pegg was cast as Scotty. Jim Doohan was a war hero, he lost a finger fighting on D-Day. His grandson was dead set against Pegg, as was I. I refused to see the film (partly because I was afraid Scotty would have a Winchester.. and shoot a zombie), and this review just gives me reason to hate it more. I've seen their reinterpretations in snips and flickers, and I'm completely convinced that only FANS can continue Gene's legacy. Paramount only wants money, they don't care for art. My best hope is Pete Crawley and STNV/STP2 - I can only hope he continues to film for years to come. ~KJK
Barb said...
I think you are referring to James Cawley, who does do excellent work. His work is discussed here, . I remind all fans that donations to further the work of any favored Star Trek Fan Film are it's lifeblood, because they are not permitted to charge for shows or for copies of their works. Phase II has to spend in the neighborhood of $70,000 on each show. If you enjoy them and send them whatever you can afford... $10, $25.. $50 ...or if you can, whatever, you will help them produce more. None of these folk are rich, and many sacrifice much of their lives for their art. None of them are paid.

1 comment:

  1. good write up Barb.

    I have never seen star wars but agree the movie was not trek enough for me.It lacked any substance decent story line, cannon was thrown out the window and any actual sense of direction was replaced with gimmicks, over the top action scenes, or at least what I could see through those ridiculous lens flares.
    As for the humor, it was like it was aimed at immature children and young teenagers.


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