Star Trek 2009

I'm going to offer a counter argument to Dan Coulter's review of Star Trek, but only because I really like Dan and I know he's a huge Star Trek fan and a lover of good science fiction, of which there are scant decent works.

(Warning, there will be spoilers, both here and on Dan's site.)

I saw ST:09 at the Alamo last night around 7pm. Got there early and got a good seat. Was then treated to a typical Alamo tribute to William Shatner, some more comic moments of Star Trek, TOS, and a bit of fun with Austin improv comedy troupe Start Trekkin.

Not gonna lie, I enjoyed the bejesus out of this movie. Enjoyment is a personal reaction and had I seen in alone instead of with somone, seen it at a big cinaplex instead of the Alamo, took my kids to see it, I would have reacted differently. Yes there were parts I didn't like, but they were few and far between. I was entertained by the movie and that's the biggest compliment I can give it.

There's been a lot said about J.J. Abram's handling of the franchise. The fans and non-fans are equally divided. I've heard a lot of fans of TOS say they'll see it and probably hate it and a lot of casual or non-fans say they'll see it and it looks interesting. Based on Dan's review, I think that plays out. He doesn't say he hates it, but he offers a lot of points about why it's not good. The problem I have is I don't think these are J. J. Abram's Star Trek problems, but Star Trek or science fiction problems in general. Let's take a look.

1) Idiotic Science - Yes this movie has a black hole through which ships jump around like revolving doors. The black hole is literarly a hole in space. It's not right, not even close. Near the end, they throw anti-matter into it and it all blows to hell without blowing up the ship. Is this Abrams' fault? Not entirely. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote it in and Abrams let it go, but were they playing off established paradigms? I know of an episode where a "black star" flings the Enterprise into the past. In fact, Star Trek is riddled with hypothetical situations involving time travel, celstial bodies and dubious science. Are we blaming Abrams for this? If we wanted real science, would we really be expecting it from Star Trek?

2) I will give Dan this. I caught it too. I'm surprised something like this isn't caught in storyboarding. Someone could just say, "Could we have the 2nd in command Romulan say the last encounter with the Enterprise damaged their warp and they can't go above 1 or 2?

3) The introductions were crazy because the characters were crazy. They're archetypes, parodies of themselves. There was going to be no right way to introduce them, no one would have been 100% happy. Personally, I thought they were excellent. Given the history we've all built in our minds about each character, it actually added a lot to who these people were, something the original never did.

4) I agree the sexism was high here. No bad looking people, even Bones was moderately crush worthy. But again, you can only hate it for being a reboot and being totally not the same thing or you can say it's bad because it's not the same thing. You can't do both. Short skirts, like 'em or not, were something the original series had. It was just as much part of the show as phasers, warp drive, unbelieveable fight scenes and bad make up.

5) I thought that about the monsters too, even though I haven't seen Cloverfield. (I've been told to stay away.) But monsters do exist in Star Trek. Most of the time they are just sentient aliens with an ax to grind, but honestly, seeing another life form that's not a homonid with a rubber band stuck to its nose is enriching. If a klingon were dropped in the middle of the woods on Earth, would it have to deal with a bear?

6) There wasn't a time during the movie when I thought, "Oh just stop talking already." There was plenty of action for me, I'd almost complain there was too much and not enough talking. I'd have liked to see more explanation that wasn't crammed in at the end or during Spock's mind meld. The lends flare thing was annoying and we talked about it later. Once or twice I can understand, but I think the bridge was built out of LED flood lights or something. That was actually one of my biggest gripes. It was distracting.

7) And this was the other. Unless Nero had some fancy projector on that ship of his, there was no way Spock would have seen Vulcan implode like that. And...wait for it...the science...wouldn't something visible, that close, suck the other planet in as well? Black holes generally gobble up anything near by and I'm sure anything within even Vulcan visual range is going to end up within the event horizon of a planetary sized black hole. But, Malcom McDowell did try to steer a dimensional super string, so who's to say what can be done.

8) No arguments there.

9) Watching this reminded me of the Galaxy Quest bit where they have to run through the chompers. I think they had the idea of beaming someone into water and liked the idea so much that they had to get him out. But get him out with fun and action. I mean, it makes sense to have large tubes of water in engineering. Your cooling and potable water would need to circulate somehow, with a large turbine perhaps. But I don't think we'd see them like an early Microsoft screensaver as it was.

10) This actually did upset me. We're 200 years into the future. It'd be like my kids stealing my car and cranking Bach. Yes it's a good song, but for Frak's Sake, get Evervescence to write one specifically for the movie or something.

Agree with the nitpick, but I can see in the planning that he shoots him and drops the gun in order to have both hands free to almost fall.

I'll tell what I didn't like, and take this as you will.

A) Goofy science is one thing, but I know what a black hole is. I don't know what Red Matter is unless we're talking medical analysis of stool samples. Is it like Dark Matter? It's introduction to a material we have to take on faith and that causes three different plot points in the movie. At least make up something we're already afraid of. Boson Matter, maybe. Sticky Muons. And then for Sarek's Sake, explain it. It takes one line. Kirk, "What is that stuff, anyway." Spock, "I'm not sure, but if I were to guess, the future me has been able to discover a recently theoretical partical that can drastically alter space time."

B) Nero's ship was a mining vessel from Romulus. Why are so many bad things (ships, asteroids, monsters) these giant pokey claw like things? I know it's pyschologicial, but a display of evil is not evil. A show of power is not power. Plus, it made it hard to understand what was going on. Action in action movies has always been about quick edits where nothing may actually be happening. If you've got a visual frame of reference, that's fine, but when your backdrop and subject are these twisted and sculpted pieces of aliens spacecraft, it's just a giant jumble of "What the hell is that?" and you have to let your music and sound cues pick up the movement. Armageddon and Transformers are two examples of this where there's just too much going on. Just because you CAN make a computer animate 2,000 different moving parts, doesn't mean you should.

C) I didn't actually understand the time loop thing. I had to think about it after the movie. I will admit I'm very visual and at times complex plot points make me furrow my brow and grunt, but I thought a time travel Star Trek movie would be kind to me. But Abrams loves that.

That's all I can think of right now, and I don't mean this to color the fact that I really enjoyed the movie. I wasn't bored. I laughed. I was excited. I was emotionally invested in a few characters. I was surprised. I left the theater recapping scenes and lines.

I also don't want this to seem like I'm downing Dan's assessment. He was right on a couple times, but I think over all this was a very enjoyable movie. I'm going again to IMAX to see it and honestly I'd buy this DVD. I enjoyed it more than all but one Star Trek movie to date. I consider myself a fan of Star Trek, so take that as you will.

Carry on.

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