Well you asked for it, and so I was compelled to deliver.
Following my pre-review of Transformers:RotF, some of my biggest fans have strongly suggested I write a review of the new Star Trek film, the sole reason being that its script was also written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the same pair that have raped Transformers. Believe me their dirty fingerprints show in Star Trek as well.
Warning: There are plenty of spoilers here, so stop reading now if you want the story to be a surprise.
Here is the plotline, after we piece it back together linearly. In the future, a star goes supernova, threatening to destroy Romulus, home of the Romulans. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) tries to save the planet using Star Trek's latest deus ex machina "red matter", which apparently can create black holes out of nowhere with a single drop. The intent is to put a black hole where the star used to be, sucking back the star explosion. The only problem is, he arrives too late. He creates the black hole anyway, just as a Romulan mining ship returns from another part of the galaxy. It seems that he missed with where the black hole was supposed to be, and both get pulled into the it and spit into the past. Since this is accidental time travel they both arrive at different points in time.
The Romulan mining ship arrives first, and tries to capture a Starfleet ship to find Spock since they want revenge for his failure to save Romulus. When they find out that they are far in the past, they try to destroy the ship to keep their presence a secret. By this time, Kirk's father is in command of the ship, Kirk's mother is in labour with him, and the ship is being evacuated. Kirk's dad sacrifices himself so the evacuees (including his wife and newborn son, Kirk) can escape.
Jump 25 years later and we see the Original Cast of Star Trek as twentysomethings joining Starfleet. By this time Nimoy-Spock has come through the time warp and is captured by the Romulan mining ship.
The mining ship drills a hole to the center of Vulcan, and creates a black hole in its center, destroying it and killing all but a few thousand Vulcans. It then moves on to do the same to Earth and then every planet that is part of the Federation.
The rest of the movie is peppered with action sequences and lines from the Original Series, and ultimately ends with a large mass of red matter splashing on the mining ship and creating a black hole in it, destroying it (we think).
As a whole the movie was enjoyable, but I would have liked it more if it was not a reboot. They have wiped out almost every bit of Star Trek media ever created, except for the series Enterprise, which, as I understand, sucked so bad that it caused the need for a reboot to begin with.
There's a paradox in there so big, I can taste it.
Please note, that I am not assuming this. In fact, the characters practically break the fourth wall in an extended conversation to make it clear to the audience that we are dealing with the same Star Trek reality, but with a massively altered timeline (think of Back to the Future Part II's explanation of alternate timelines, this is EXACTLY the same thing). Many sources will incorrectly say this movie is an alternate reality, but Paramount is not going back to the old storylines, so it is an alternate timeline whose starting point is set so far into the past as to be practically irreversible.
That was a tremendous waste, given the incredible amount of time, money, love, and effort that has been put into Star Trek by fans and Paramount alike. All apparently caused by two lousy movies and a failed series. Considering The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager were essentially money spinners, so saying that rebooting the ENTIRE francise was heavy handed is really understating the matter.
Rebooting Batman did not have nearly the same impact. The Batman reboot only scrubbed the four movies, and left all canon material in tact.
Also destroying Vulcan was clearly the idea of Orci and Kurtzman, who have a history of shitting on the things fans hold beautiful and sacred. (Next up, KITT from Knight Rider is going to be a Le Car). I'm actually surprised Michael Bay was not associated with this movie at all!
A perfect example of this lack of respect for the source material is in the reference to Admiral Jonathan Archer, who would be 141 years old at the time. Orci justifies such a blunder as "...Admiral Archer is a reference to the Archer we all know and love, and yes he would be over 100, which is a likely life expectancy in a futuristic space faring race of humans." Now I know the Bones appeared in The Next Generation as being over 100 years old, but it seems to be implied that such life expectancy is not at all common and defiantly did not exist in Kirk's youth.
I think JJ Abrams had to use all of his powers to keep this movie recognizable as a Star Trek film.
If this was, instead, a prequel, I would have said the movie was excellent, but as with any Star Trek movie, I have technical squabbles with it.
Ignoring the actual mechanics of red matter, the movie plays pretty fast and free with creating a bunch of black holes while ignoring the massive, awesome power that they possess. This is primarily seen when the mining ship obsessively has to create a black hole at the center of each doomed planet.
For Christ's sake, this is a black hole! Accuracy is a moot point! A few thousand kilometers of distance are not going to make any difference! Just shoot the red matter drop at the surface and move on, the end result will still be the same. No need to waste hours of in-movie time just to dig a hole.
It's like swatting a fly with an atomic bomb; you don't actually have to squash the fly with it directly. Remember, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades and black holes.
Secondly, it doesn't seem that the destruction of Romulus was going to be prevented anyway. You see, if you are close enough to a supernova that it threatens your planet, then you are too close to a black hole at the same location. Maybe Romulus would have had more time to be evacuated and re-located but that's really about it.
Thirdly, a star doesn't just go nova. And one would assume that in a future where black holes can be created at will (and humans live to over 140 years old), the technology to monitor nearby stars for stability would exist and therefore warn of impending star explosions.
Finally, for a mining ship, the Romulan ship had some heavy firepower. Yet, for some strange reason, no famous Romulan cloaking technology (which by this time could also fire while cloaked). There may be some undisclosed explanation for this, perhaps they don't use cloaking technology in non-military crafts. This is really left up to the imagination.
Overall, one thumb up. It would have been two, but Orci and Kurtzman and this reboot obsession really left a foul taste in my mouth.
"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Well you asked for it, and so I was compelled to deliver.