Star Trekkin’ across the universe.
I finally saw the new Star Trek movie over this past weekend. I took my son and we both had a good time. Him as a novice Star Trek viewer (he said he’s seen me and my wife watching Next Generation) and me as a long time fan (yes, I did go to a convention way, way back, before the first movie!). The film is fun and fast moving and opens up whole new avenues to expand the ST universe. I liked how lots of the technology wasn’t all clean and gleaming and had everyday wear and tear on it. The actors seemed to channel the original characters while bringing newness to the roles. And I’m glad the technobable was kept down. Overall I felt it wasn’t a great movie but it was OK.
There are things about this movie that have been nagging at my brain. I don’t consider myself a hard core ST fan. I’m more casual. I’ll watch an occasional episode when I see one in the listings but never got much into Voyager, DS9, or Enterprise.
The things that bug me fall into four groups:
Group 1 is filled with lots of little annoying things that I can overlook. All that blackhole timewarp and “Look who we just found” coincidence stuff. That all seems to be standard ST “get the story moving forward without worrying about details” writing. I just overlook all that and go with the flow.
Group 2 has more annoying stuff. Why is a mining ship so large, so heavily armed, and near invincible? And why do they not believe in guard rails in the future? One would think that the combined powers of military ships from the Federation or the Klingon Empire would have made a dent in a commercial vessel. And why did Vulcan and Earth seem to have no planetary defenses? I can still overlook these questions to a point. SciFi movies seem to have a thing for crazy all powerful solo villains. Look at Kahn. Give the bad guy his power and see how our scrappy heroes can overcome him in the end.
The last two groups really bug me.
Group 3 has to do with all this time travel crap. I’m tired of it! Give me a new story that doesn’t call for somebody from the future coming back to seek revenge before the fact. It works in Terminator because that’s the whole point of the story, but it’s been done to death now in the ST universe. I’d think everything is so intertwined there it would all implode on itself. But if you are going to have time travel story lines, be consistent! Spock (old and young) were a bit too willing to accept Vulcan’s destruction. The old Spock has time traveled to save Earth so why not Vulcan? He’s already done the equations on TV and in the movies so give him a ship and Bon Voyage!
Also in group 3 is the look of the engineering spaces. I was very disappointed. They have nothing in common with the technology of the rest of the movie. The first time I saw people among all the pipes I though they were in a building, not a starship. I understand they were filmed in a brewery and they look it. And what was that pipe Scotty ended up in? Is the Enterprise water cooled? Where is the radiator? Blah!
Group 4 really frosts my buns. I can accept Kirk as a rough and troubled kid who needs Star Fleet for discipline. I can see him completing four years of the academy in three and beating the Kobayashi Maru test. I can see cadets (in the graduating class?) pressed into early duty in an emergency. But I can’t see a cadet, outranked even by a 17 year old, pimply-faced Checkov (17 year old Ensign?), becoming first officer, and then acting Captain. And I really can’t see him, at the end, advancing to Captain in his own right over the heads of other officers when he’s only been in the academy for three years. How long did it take for Spock to become a Commander? (And I don’t care how brilliant he is, a 17 year old Checkov would have face disciplinary action for abandoning his bridge post to race down to the transporter room where a Transporter Tech or Petty Officer with years of experience would have already rescued Kirk and Sulu. “Get out of my transporter room Mr. Checkov!”) The whole thing of raw cadets running the Enterprise right out of school stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. What was wrong with having a young but more experienced group come together on the Enterprise and meld into a crew? Were they worried about the teen age group not identifying with the bridge crew?
Looking over what I’ve written here makes me think I cared about this movie more than I thought I would. I confess I did have ambivalent feelings and wasn’t sure I did want to see it. But ST was a part of my life when I was growing up and I still like to see it from time to time. I didn’t hate this movie, but I’m disappointed by the easy outs they used. Maybe with all the “passing the torch” stuff over with the next one will be better.