Sunday, May 10, 2009

French and Just Star Trek

Fuck you.

Fuck you.

Fuck you.

Fuck all of you.

Fuck you, The Onion. Fuck you, Saturday Night Live (fuck you twice for not allowing videos to be shown in Canada from and then filing a copyright clain against for showing the same video!). Fuck you, Fuck you Leonard Nimoy.

And fuck you*.

*If applicable. Otherwise, have a good day.

Fuck you for buying into this ridiculous lie, that if someone doesn't like the new Star Trek movie. . . it's okay. It's not because it's a bad movie. It's because it's a great movie, and the only people who would be dumb enough to complain about it are those closed minded, continuity horny Trekkies. That's right, only the hard core losers who never moved out of their parent's basement would dislike this movie. Those pathetic losers don't realize what their missing out on. It's not our (ie. your) problem, it's their's.

Now that I've undoubtably won you over. . . what did I think?

Star Trek is a bad movie. It's not exceptionally all bad, but it's bad. I say this as a lapsed Trekkie, open minded enough to want to see where the film-makers would go with this movie. In fact, I was anxious to see some change. Like I said, I'm a lapsed Trekkie. I'm lapsed because the stories that Star Trek the franchise was trying to sell me all sucked. I wanted something new.

I'm stressing this because I truly believe that the fact of Star Trek the movie's badness is something objective. It does not rest on your being or not being a Trekkie. Everyone, of all colors and creeds, should be able to see how bad this movie is with but a little bit of thought. This film is borne of a suckiness that transcends barriers of (sub-)culture, the kind of badness that, I had hoped, would touch the very depths of our common humanity.

But no. I was wrong. 96% wrong.


It's not the changes that bother me. I don't mind the parallel universe time altering thing. I don't mind the new design of the Enterprise. I don't mind new actors-- in fact, I thought Karl Urban and Simon Pegg were great in this film. I don't mind a more emotional Spock, and I don't mind Spock and Uhura becoming intimately involved (though I did perform a truly earth-shattering head-smack when Uhura looked longingly into Spock's eyes and told him "I will be monitoring your communication frequencies" as though she had just said "love means never having to say you're sorry"). I don't even mind the fact that the Death Star somehow missed Alderan and instead destroyed planet Vulcan, or at least I don't mind it for fanboy reasons.

What I do mind is that it's a bad story. In fact, it's a fractally bad story. Just when you think you've found every plot hole, every ludicrous motivation, a closer look at one reveals a dozen more. It's like the Madelbrot set of incompetance (Just so you know, I may have "unconsciously" borrowed this metaphor from SFDebris).

Just to list off things as they come to me, in case this didn't look enough like a rant:

The main villain, Nero, is driven to genocidal rage by the fact that his homeworld, Romulus, has been destroyed by a supernova. He directs this rage, specifically, at Spock, and more generally at the Federation for failing to save his homeworld.

First of all. . . this was Spock's plan. He, personally (what, did they run out of red-shirts?), will pilot a small ship into the doomed Romulan star. Right at the moment it explodes, Spock will release a strange substance called Red Matter (or as I call it, Red Bull) that will magically, and I mean magically, create a black hole that will suck up the exploding remnants and save Romulus. . . at least until the planet freezes thanks to the lack of a life-sustaining sun (hat-tip to Spoony).

Now. . . as both a lapsed Trekkie and a masters student in physics, I know that Star Trek has frequently raped humankind's vast knowledge of science for the purpose of cheap story-telling. But I couldn't let this slide. Besides, I'd like to beat SFDebris to the punch for once in pointing out a huge scientific boo-boo. Here's my first problem with the whole create a black hole to suck up the supernova: when a star goes supernova, quite often IT CREATES A BLACK HOLE! That's where black holes come from! Supermassive stars are the stars that undergo supernova. It is these stars that have the mass required to collapse into a singularity. So what makes Spock think that creating a black hole will suck back the exploding stellar remants? In countless supernovae, it's never happened before. . . why would it work this time?

Okay, okay, you might argue that Spock will just use the Red Bull to create a more powerful black hole, one of those million solar mass monsters that will easily suck back the star in on itself. Even if you ignore what effect this would have on Romlulus (the planet we're trying to save, remember?), there's that pesky matter of, you know, the million solar masses! Hell, forget a million masses, what about the minimum 1.4 to 3 solar masses needed to form a black hole? Are you just gonna store it in the trunk? Well, I hope you have pretty big trunk, at least as big as the minimum Schwartzchild radius of 4 to 10 km needed to contain your not-yet-a-black-hole on your way to Romulus.

But on to the plot. . . Spock arrives at Romulus too late, and the star explodes-- cause, you know, scientists can't predict which stars will go supernova many millions of years in advance or anything like that. Still, Spock, not wanting to let perfectly good Red Bull go waste, decides to release it. . . or at least a very small part of it. I don't know. Anyway, this creates a black hole and, funny thing about black holes, they pull things in, and soon Spock finds his ship in an inescapible free fall of death. And so too, convineintly, does the ship belonging to the aforementioned bad guy, Nero.

But as it turns out, Red Bull, in addition to magically creating black holes and giving you wings, also causes time travel. Thus, both Spock and Nero plus crew are sucked over a century back in time to before the events depecited in the original Star Trek series. Actually, to more accurate than this film deserves, the two are launched to different times, twenty-five years apart. This, by the way, is not revealed at the beginning of the movie, but rather right smack in the middle, by means of the Vulcan exposition meld. . . but more on that later.

Nero and his massive ship arrive right in front of the Federation starship Kelvin. This is where the movie begins, and it's at this point that some reviewer, I think Spoony again, asks a good question: What was a Federation starship doing in the Romulan system at this time? I mean, even if you don't know that the Federation and the Romulans were in a centuries long state of cold war. . . there is no explanation given for this. In fact, there's no indication given that they're even at Romulus. And if they're not at Romulus, what is Nero doing there? Anyway, Nero's ship, the Narada or Ramada or Nirvana or something like that, does what any good Star Trek villain does-- he opens fire on the Kelvin after the Kelvin attempts to hail them. Now, knowing what I've already told you, you know that this makes absolutely no sense, but as I already mentioned, what I've already told you about Nero's situation and motivations isn't revealed until the middle of the movie. What that means is that the first time viewer has no way to know how stupid this is until the end of the movie. This goes beyond mere incompetence and into the realm of dishonesty, as though the writers knew how moronic this was and, instead of trying to create a plot that makes sense, instead just tried to cover it up with bad non-linear exposition.

So Nero orders the captain of the Kelvin aboard and starts asking him questions. Again, Nero has no reason to know that he's travelled back in time. . . and yet the second question he asks of the Kelvin's captain is "what stardate is it?" When the Kelvin's captain answers, Nero flies into a rage and kills him, and then proceeds to destroy the Kelvin. When I saw this in the theatre, my first thought was that Nero has deliberately travelled back in time to kick ass, but has arrived at the wrong date. That would explain Nero's question about the stardate, as well as why he was attacking the Kelvin. Looking back, I seriously wonder whether the writers were just making this up as they went along.

(Just to nitpick-- we learn in the film that Nero's ship is mining vessal. . . what's a mining vessal doing armed to the teeth? To fight pirates? Maybe.)

So it turns out that the first officer and acting captain of the Kelvin is none other than George Kirk, father of James T. Kirk, who, in another amazing coincidence, was just being born right at the moment the Kelvin came under attack.

Why am I doing this?

So Captain (George) Kirk protects the fleeing crew of the Kelvin and, once they're safely out of range, slams the Kelvin into the Narada, a heroic sacrfice. . . preceded by an argument over what to name the newborn baby. I'm serious. George Kirk on the Kelvin, and, let's say Wheezy Kirk, on a fleeing shuttle, communicate via radio over what to name their son, right in the midst of battle.

"Let's name his after your father, George!"

"Wheezy, no son of mine is going to walk around with the name Tiberius!"



"George, I don't care if you're about to crash into that Romulan death star, we are going to pick a name for your son!"

"Fine. We'll name him after your father, James."

"My Father's name is Jean-Luc. . ."

Kelvin smashes into Narada. The theme song starts.

Movin' on up
To the east side
To a deluxe apartment in the sky
Mov-movin' on up
To the east side
We finally got a piece of the pie!

So after destorying the Kelvin, Nero just. . . hangs around. For twenty-five years. Again, having no foreknowledge of his motivations or reasons for his current situation, I thought that maybe the damage caused by the Kelvin was so significant that it took twenty-five years to repair. But no. You see, he's been waiting for Spock. As I mentioned earlier, Spock and Nero arrive twenty-five years apart, and Nero has been waiting at the black hole, for Spock to come out. First. . . if he's been waiting there, how come no-one else found him? I mean, he destroyed a Federation vessal. Don't you think they'd send send the space marines to go looking for him? Second, even though he didn't know that he had even been sent back in time and even though he, presumably, knew nothing about the properties of Red Bull-- other than perhaps that it exists and makes black holes-- he actually mentions that, according to his calcuations, Spock should be coming out of the black hole (you know, the thing from which there is no escape!!!) at about this time. So what was he doing all this time? Coming up with his brilliant plan of. . . sigh, I'll get to that later. I mean, couldn't he have been trying to warn Romulus about thet Supernova that's about to engulf their world in century's time? But then again, everyone in this universe is so stupid they can't figure out that the Romulans' massive red-giant star that's produced an awful lot of carbon will probably go supernova. Maybe Nero just decided it was futile.

So, Spock arrives, Nero captures him, takes the Red Bull, and unleashes-- oh, Jesus fucking Christ in a bag-- his plan.

"It's very simple, Mr. Spock," says Nero, stroking his Romulan British Shorthaired Cat. "I cannot save Romulus, for reasons neither of us could possibly comprehend. So I will do the next best thing. . . I will destroy each and every planet in the Federation! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

"Yure Inshane, Neroh," says Spock, speaking, for reasons known only to him, with a lisp and Scottish accent. "To do that, you would need a firepower greater than half the Starfleet!"

"That is where you are wrong, Spock! You underestimate the power of the Red Bull! I will use this mining ship to drill a hole to the core of the planet. Then, I will drop a small bit of Red Bull into the core, causing a massive singularity that will envelop the planet! And since you were packing enough Red Bull to collpase a supermassive star, I will have more that enough to destory every single planet in the Federation!"

"But that makes no sense! We tried to help you!"

"And you failed!"

"Well sorry! Last time we try to help the Romulans. Sheesh. And besides, I've seen that drill! All anyone would have to do is shoot it off from a distance."

"Wrong again! I will block all transporters and communications!"

"But what does that have to do with--?"

"The only way to stop the jamming signal would be for a small group of soldiers to skydive from space onto a small platform and destroy it, and no-one would dare try anything that stupid!"

"Do you expect me to believe this cockamamee plan, Goldfing-- I mean Nero?"

"No, Mr. Spock. I expect you to die. . . with a guilty conscience! You see, I will leave you behind on an ice planet, near the desert planet of-- wait, ice planet near a desert planet, (sigh) whatever-- and make you watch!"

"What do you mean 'watch'?"

"I think it's time we demonstrated the full power of this Red Bull. So your course for Vulcan!"

"No! Vulcan is peaceful! We have no weapons, you can't possibly--"

"Would you prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this so it will be the last time: Where is the rebel base?"

That's it. That's the plan. And we spend the whole movie following the crew of the Enterprise trying to stop it.

I haven't been focussing too much on the introduction of the crew because, to be fair, that part is handled okay. Not great, not even good, but okay. Okay, that is, save for one huge exception, which leads back to the Vulcan exposition meld I mentioned earlier.

Nero Arrives at Vulcan and drills his hole. Because most of the fleet is busy elsewhere, it's up the the newly minted cadets of Starfleet Academy to save Vulcan. Once everyone is aboard their assgined ship, they fly off to Vulcan. . . except for the Enterprise. For the purposes of this film, Sulu, the pilot, is an idiot. An idiot who can handle a sword real nice, but an idiot nonetheless. You, see, Sulu forgot to turn off the "external inertial dampener," which prevents the Enterprise from reaching warp. Seriously, "external inertial dampener?" That's as stupid as calling something an "inert reactant." Anyway, they arrive, find all the other ships blown up, and are attacked by Nero. Nero is about to about to destory the ship, when. . .
"Wait!" says Nero. "Zoom in on that ship!"

The screen zooms on the ship, revealing its name-- Enterprise.

"Ah, yes," says Nero. "Finally, my chance. . . for revenge."

"Revenge," says General Zod.

"Revenge!" says Ursa.

"REVENGE!" says Lex Luthor. "Now we're cooking!"

As he did with the Kelvin, Nero orders the Enterprise's captain, Christopher Pike, aboard his ship. Capatin Pike orders young Spock, ie the one just out of Starfleet Academy serving on the newly commissioned Enterprise, to serve as acting Captain. He then orders Kirk to serve as first officer. . . which is weird because he had to sneak aboard the Enterprise with Dr. McCoy's help and. . . you know what, never mind. Spock takes command, Captain Pike goes to Nero's ship, and Kirk and Sulu do the flashy oribtal skydiving thing onto the aforementioned platform and accomplish nothing of consequence.

Nero then drops the Red Bull into the Planet's core. Vulcan starts imploding, and Spock beams down to the surface to rescue a small council of Vulcans responsible for the preservation of Vulcan's cultural heritage. As the planet is imploding, the council is hiding in a transporter-impermeable fortress. All six of them. There are a couple of things to nitpick here. First, are they just keeping all that culture in their heads? That, strangely, would made a weird sort of sense; we already know that Vulcan's had pass their essense or Katra from one individual to another, and it might make sense for culture to be passed on in the same way. Unfortunately, this is never explained. Second, and this relates to the chain of events leading back to the Vulcan exposition meld, Spock's mother is there. Now, I presume the reason for that is because Sarek, Spock's father, is on the cultural heritage council, and spouses of council members, for whatever reason, allowed into the cultrual fortress of logitude where they're all hiding. Still, it seems strange, given events earlier in the film, that she'd be allowed in there. Spock was tormented endlessly as a child for having a Vulcan mother. They even called Sarek a "traitor" for marrying a human. And yet this same apparently threatening human is now allowed into the vault containing, presumably, the very essence of Vulcan culture?

But anyway, Spock's mother and father are kneeling in the Fortress of Logitude-- apparently their plan was to just sit out the destruction of their planet. Spock brings them out into the open and orders a transport. Unfortunately, due to surface instability, the Enterprise fails to beam up Spock's mother from Vulcan. You gotta love the false moral equivalence on display. An enitre planet, aand its six billion inhabitants, are wiped in in a span of minutes. Men, women, and children, all extinguished. But what's really bad is that Spock lost his mother! I guess the writers though audiences couldn't possibly relate to mass genocide. . . so they decided instead that they could relate to the death of their Winona Ryder looking mother.

So, naturally, Spock is a little pissed off, though being a Vulcan he handles it well, or seem it seems at first. Unfortunately, his fellow cadet-turned-crewmate, James T. Kirk, has been giving Spock shit over the decisions he's made. Spock, understandably, orders Kirk removed from the bridge. Kirk then fights backs against the officers asked to remove him, and Spock nerve piches him, rendering him unconscious. Again, all well and good. Then Spock says this:

"Get him off my ship."

Wait. . . what? "Get him off my ship", not "Throw him in the brig"? Immediately we see Kirk marooned on some ice planet with minimal supplies. The computer aboard his space pod makes some excuse about how there's a Federation outpost fourteen miles away, but see. . . it's an ice planet. An ice planet that turns out to have ice fucking dragons that try to eat Kirk, and nearly succeed. There is no way Spock couldn't have known that it was dangerous to send Kirk down there, but he did it anyway. This relates to yet another a stupid plot point which I will get to later.

So Kirk is eventually chased into an ice cave by the aforementioned ice fucking dragon and is about be devoured when all of a sudden the dragon is chased away by a man with a torch. The man turns around and reveals himself to be none other than. . . future Spock! That's right, my friends! Nero happened to maroon Spock on the very same planet that younger Spock would later maroon Kirk. Not only that, they were marooned within a fucking ten-mile radius! How overly convenient it that?!

So Spock greets Kirk, with an allusion to an earlier movie. Not, "Jim. . . your name is Jim," (or maybe he did say that, I don't remember) but "I have been and always shall be your friend." I remember him saying that because it felt just so damn out of place in this context. You do not say something like "I have been and always shall be your friend" as a greeting, but as a parting. That's why it worked so well in Star Trek II when Spock was dying, and why it just feels awkward here.

Anyway, Spock reveals that he is, in fact Spock, from the future. The conversation that follows, as usual, is utterly idiotic.
"I'm Spock," says Spock.

"No way," says Kirk.

"I am. And you're James Kirk."


"I'm from the future. That's why I look like an older version of the Spock you know." (Just go with it.)


"I was brought here by Nero."

Kirk looks back at Spock with a sudden somber seriousness.

"How do you know about Nero?"
How do you know about Nero? Fuck that! How do you know who I am? How do you know Spock? Anyhoo, we proceed with the Vulcan exposition meld and Spock then tells Kirk "You must get Spock to relieve his command."

Why? Who knows.

"But how can I do that?" asks Kirk.

"You must show that is showing emotional distress which makes him unfit for command."

Ah. Do you mean the kind of emotional distress that would prompt him to abandon Kirk on a deadly planet with few supplies and no defences?

Anyway, they go to the Federation outpost, meet Scotty, and teach him about his own invention of transwarp transporting or some such. Kirk and Scotty then beam aboard the Enterprise, leaving Spock behind. They could have kept this simple, but nooooooo. They had to be funny. When they arrive, Kirk is just fine, but Scotty, he's. . . *snicker* . . . he's trapped in a tank of. . . "inert reactant"! And then. . . *snicker* he's pumped along a series of pipes! Ha ha ha ha! He's pounding on the pipe walls and Kirk is running after him, trying to save him fron drowning! Hahahahahaha! And then, Kirk, *snicker*, Kirk pulls an emergency release, and Scotty falls fifty feet onto a hard floor! And the best part is that this scene served absolutely no purpose to the overall story! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Seriously, fuck you.

So anyway, Kirk and Scotty are captured and brought to the bridge, and Spock asks how they were able to beam aboard. Kirk decides this is the ideal moment to provoke Spock into anger and thus show he is to emotionally unstable for command. He does this by. . . berating him about his lack of emotional response over his mother's death and the near extinction of his race. Well, it does the trick, and Spock proceeds to beat the living snot outta Kirk. Spock ends up nearly strangling Kirk to death, only to pull back and declare himself unfit for duty. Wow, it happened just like Spock said it would. It's almost as if everyone were following a really hackeneyed script.

So, with Spock relieving himself, Kirk crowns himself, Napoleon-like, as the captain of the Enterprise. And what does he do with this newfound authority? He beams over to Nero's ship, leaving Chekov, fucking Chekov, in charge. Is there no chain of command here? And of course, because we need these two to be friends again, Spock decides to join him on his little away mission.

"Say, sorry about saying that you don't love your mother and aren't saddened by your species' near annihilation."

"No worries. Sorry about nearly killing you in a fit of rage."

"You know what I say? That's why pencils have erasers!"

So they beam aboard, some stupid action sequences ensue, and Kirk and Spock destroy Nero's ship with Red Bull. They return to Starfleet academy, Kirk earns a commendation and, I swear to fucking God, is instantaneously promoted to captain of the Enterprise! There really is no chain of fucking command! And to top it off, Spock comes aboard and requests a position as first officer. Kirk replies, saying he would be "honored." This is supposed to be touching, but it just feels cheap. This friendship was not earned in any way. One minute they're rivals, the next minute they're friends. Why? Because that's what the script needed to happen.

The Enterprise flies off into the unknown, its crew united, with Leonard Nimoy narrating the famous Star Trek opening, as he did in Star Trek II.

And that's it.

If you've made it all the way through this long-winded rant, I defy you to still tell me that Star Trek was a good movie. In fact. . . could you explain to me what you saw in it? Please? I mean, this movie makes the Star Wars Prequels look good. It makes M. Night Shayamalan look. . . better. I mean, you hate the Star Wars prequels, and you hate M. Night. What do you see in this? Please tell me! And if you didn't like it, for reasons other than fanboy BS, please let me know as well. Me and ConfusedMatthew can't be the only ones out there.

Until then. . . live long and . . . on second thought, don't.


Naomi said...

You forgot to mention the shameless cinematography. DAMN YOU LENS FLARE!

Naomi said...

Also, you neglected to mention the undeniable reprecussions that will result in the transport of Vulcan's survivors to a new suitable home. I believe that the (scary notion of an)impending sequel will no doubt deal with said Vulcan relocation, which will displace another race that is exactly like them with slightly different religious beliefs but because they have Star Fleet behind them, it will be an easy take over that will lead to an ongoing war over territory and a lot of paranoid delusionals accusing Vulcans of planning their own holocaust in order to get sympathy so they can relocate. I mean, after all, Romulans DID destroy Vulcan and they are the SAME THING practically....seems suspicious....(cough cough)

I'll show myself out.

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