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Why Trekkies hate the ’09 Star Trek movie

29 December, 2010 (00:37) | Uncategorized | By: Lancer Kind

’09 Star Trek 11

Hal and I were talking science fiction over beers one night, and for some reason Hal started listing a number of well thought out reasons why I shouldn’t have enjoyed the latest Trek. Before you could read this recounting, I used a high-tech, Xindi web technology to protected Hal Dace‘s identity from the hordes of people fooled into believing Star Trek 11 was a great movie.

Hal, you’re insane! The last movie was fantastic! Rebellious young Kirk, space battles, and another cool looking Enterprise. What more could a Trek fan want?

A Trek fan you may be, but a Trekkie you’re not. I’ve owned a Spock costume, both Enterprise sets of blueprints, the original ST Concordance, an action figure Spock, The Stare Fleet Technical Manual, The Physics of Star Trek, several “making of” books. I’ve studied the Star Trek canon and Trek 11 broke it often.

Shatner warned me about people like you! But since you’re buying the beer, let’s hear it: why is Star Trek 11 a fall from the garden?

The biggest reason for TOS’s (The Original Series of Star Trek which started in 1966) success was bringing together four elements: character-lead drama, intelligent analysis of scientific ideas, adventure, and a very positive approach to the future. It’s not easy, is rarely achieved, and Gene Roddenberry insured TNG (Star Trek–The Next Generation) kept to this rigorous formula. With Roddenberry gone, there has been greater experimentation.

Come on man! Paramount Pictures is based in California; there’s going to be more experimentation than a co-ed dormitory.

The most notable drifts have come with the darker dramas of DS9 (Deep Space 9) & Enterprise. I accepted it because all other elements were consistent with TOS values. In any future history there’ll be bright and dark stories.

DS 9 is a rough reflection of the Palestine-Israel conflict: suicide bombings in crowded markets, the Bajoran faith driving Bajoran policies. Enterprise turned into a “post 911 story” where an organization that seemed to have no home world attacked Earth.

In TOS, the Federation always took the high road. In DS9 and Enterprise, the Federation did a lot of things in the gray to sometimes even black. Star Trek 11 went too far in allowing our future to appear dark and there are too many inconsistencies. The tagline was, “This is not your Dad’s Star Trek.”

I was exhausted of the usual Star Trek stories. The movie before this one started with finding Data’s head, like a TV episode. I went to see the cool effects and the Borg but didn’t greatly care about the characters because they’d finish the movie with their dignity intact and no great character change (except for killing Spock). I liked what Federation did in the beginning although the writing was too derivative of TOS episodes. When it was clear Star Trek 11 was going the direction of Federation but sexed up, I hoped I’d see something that didn’t boil down to a 1960’s TOS episode.

Yes. Initially, I liked the idea of showing TOS characters at Star Fleet Academy. I didn’t even mind too much the idea of a permanent change to the original timeline. However, the producers made too many random changes to the original characters, values, and details, suggesting a simple lack of care and attention required by Trekkies. Leaving behind the Trekkies was a major mistake that will be regretted with time.

That sounded like a threat! Shatner was right about you guys! ‘Emo’ Spock worked for me. I was in love with Uhura as a kid so seeing a hot looking Uhura again was most excellent. Kirk womanizing, again! This was revelatory because until this movie, I thought Kirk was getting the chicks because of the captain’s uniform. The movie teasers got me excited, like that scene of cornfields and then in the distance, a starship construction yard. I wasn’t let down like some Trek movies did when I finally saw it on the big screen.

Yes, it’s easy to enjoy the glittery MTV-like Star Trek movie, dumbed down for your consumption. And you’ve just struck upon number 10 on my list: starships are never built on Earth, not to mention Iowa.

Ouch! OK, you have at least ten reasons. What one thing would you tell the producers of Star Trek 12 that they must do to be lauded by Trekkies? Remember, the film still has to be interesting enough to make money.

Don’t make the story about good guys and bad guys. Make it about exploration of a new planet that has strange life that raises ethical questions. Allow the adventure to build slowly until completely out of the blue the whole universe is threatened and Kirk & Spock save it. It’s not easy, but then it shouldn’t be, should it?

Hal, Hal, when did your work pull out your heart and replace it with a critic’s cold, calculating movie caliper?

Lancer, it comes with the territory. Star Trek 11 was just lazy movie making. Here are 55 points about why I feel this way:

  1. They’re too arrogant to provide a subtitle.
  2. A woman is sucked into space and sound effects fade, denoting the silence of space. The rest of the film sticks with the tradition of sound effects in space. This is annoying.
  3. It feels more like Star Wars than Star Trek which, in my opinion, accounts for its unearned success (it’s been dumbed down). It is important to remember that one of the reasons kids in the 70s made fun of their Trekkie fellow students is because the Trekkies were nerds. Star Trek is supposed to be for nerds because it’s more intelligent than Star Wars. Most people who never liked Star Trek always pointed out that they didn’t want intelligent drama, just soap operas. Well, now they’ve got what they wanted and the true Trekkies have been left behind.
  4. The Corvette scene directly contradicts Roddenberry’s vision of a future Earth as paradise; a place where parents are consistently loving, even step-parents, and that teenage rebellion has become rather rare due to the universal acceptance of the precept of personal achievement. A policeman would never appear dystopian. There are no canyons in Iowa. The scene is a cheap trick to wow the audience, and Kirk was never depicted as rebellious in nature (i.e. – they’ve changed the basic nature of his character which is simply unacceptable).
  5. Sorry, I just don’t believe Vulcan children bully one another.
  6. Spocks’s accents are completely inconsistent. It should be mid-Atlantic.
  7. Uhura is from the United States of Africa and speaks Swahili. There really should have been at least the smallest reference to this. I personally found the dropping of the romance between Spock and Chapel to be very sad. The romance with Uhura is illogical! Vulcans only engage in romantic activities during the Pon farr. How could they drop this most basic of Star Trek elements?
  8. In the TOS episode The Menagerie it is made clear Kirk only barely knew Pike.
  9. Starships then never had more than a crew of 430.
  10. Spaceships are never built on Earth, not to mention Iowa.
  11. There’s no reason why Star Fleet would have any major facilities in Iowa (just because Kirk grew up there?).
  12. It is too contrived that McCoy would refer to his bones.
  13. Nero is depicted like an avenging human. Romulans, even disturbed ones, simply don’t act like this.
  14. Nero’s dialog never rises above cheap exposition.
  15. Orions do not join Star Fleet.
  16. Why would McCoy be at the navigation station? No other version of ST ever made basic mistakes like this.
  17. The Kobayashi Maru tests character and therefore can only be taken once. When a person already knows it’s a no-win scenario it is pointless to test a person again. Kirk would never have been allowed to take the test twice. In The Wrath of Khan the suggestion is that somehow Kirk knew the purpose of the test before taking it the first time, which makes sense. This doesn’t.
  18. Spock refers to the Kobayashi Maru as, “a lesson”. Clearly it is not a lesson, it is a test.
  19. Star Fleet Academy would never punish Kirk for the Kobayashi Maru incident, let alone put him up for trial in front of his classmates. Hopelessly stupid storytelling.
  20. The constant fake lens flares are annoying.
  21. Uhura bullying Spock to get on the Enterprise is ridiculous. This is the military. Things just don’t happen like that.
  22. The depiction of how Kirk gets on the Enterprise is ridiculous.
  23. San Francisco is ugly, like it’s supposed to be a dystopian future.
  24. Why does Vulcan need help? Vulcan is more advanced than Earth and has many more ships. Furthermore, the Neutral Zone is mentioned as if everyone knows what it is. At this time in future history very few people knew about the Neutral Zone and the Romulans were a very mysterious species. For once some exposition would have been appropriate.
  25. It takes longer than a few minutes to get to Vulcan. The dialog suggests it takes only a few minutes.
  26. If they knew that going to Vulcan was a trap, why did they walk into it?
  27. Why are torpedoes loaded manually on the Enterprise?
  28. Romulans always speak very formally, just like Vulcans. Neither do so in this story.
  29. Humans are depicted falling from orbit to just a couple of miles above Vulcan’s surface. Why don’t they burn up like meteors?
  30. Sword fighting between the Romulan & Sulu is silly.
  31. The drill idea is preposterous. The vast majority of the interior of any planet is made of liquid. A drill would simply have no effect.
  32. Why didn’t anyone shoot at the red matter torpedo as it headed towards the drill hole? Also, Gene Roddenberry would never have allowed an event as dark as the destruction of Vulcan to occur.
  33. It is too contrived that Kirk’s parachute should break.
  34. They wouldn’t fall on the transporter pad just because they were falling when energized.
  35. Why is it that Chekov can catch falling crewmen but not falling mothers?
  36. Captains don’t verbally record their logs in front of the crew.
  37. It’s unmotivated and contrived that Uhura would suddenly kiss Spock and he would hug and kiss back.This is the most obscene contradiction with the real ST universe. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, knows Spock doesn’t show emotion.
  38. Nero’s character is too monstrous without proper explanation. He’s not even a two-dimensional character and ST has always been excellent at providing proper motivation for its villains. This is simply not good enough.
  39. Nero’s ship’s so powerful, his torturing of Pike serves no purpose. Gratuitous nonsense.
  40. Why would Spock ask a communications officer (Uhura) which direction a ship is headed?
  41. The talk of an alternate reality is completely unnecessary exposition. They would never have this conversation. Science fiction characters should only ever worry about changing the past. It should never occur to them that their future has been changed while in the middle of a conflict. They might briefly reflect on it when it’s all over, but it has no bearing on the conflict itself and so would never be mentioned.
  42. Spock twice uses the word “destiny”. This concept is simple superstition and Spock would never use this word.
  43. Spock was emotional in expelling Kirk; the brig would have been fine.
  44. It’s inconsistent that Nero’s ship was able to destroy several Star Fleet ships in just a few seconds, but George Kirk’s ship (the Kelvin) was never destroyed and was able to protect shuttlecraft and ram Nero’s ship. Nero would easily have killed everyone on the Kelvin and hence no Jim Kirk, hence no story. In other words, Nero’s ship’s abilities change with the requirements of the writers; this is the definition of a contrivance and is the second biggest crime of the producers of this movie.
  45. Spock asks, “You are not the captain?” Since he is not aware of the precise circumstances of the new timeline, his assumption that a 21 year-old would be captain is preposterous.
  46. Why would a powerful empire like Romulus need Spock’s help to survive a nova? Novas are always predictable at least thousands of years in advance. The Romulans would have been well prepared, again, rendering the whole story implausible.
  47. Scott’s materialization and trek through large transparent piping in the engineering section seems more appropriate to Willy Wonka.
  48. Spock would never say fear is necessary for command, because fear is an emotion.
  49. Scott says he’s beaming them to an unoccupied section of Nero’s ship. There is no acceptable explanation for why he failed. They have sensors. Star Fleet characters always know whether there are people about when using the transporter. Again, totally contrived.
  50. The fist fight between Nero & Kirk is unmotivated and Romulans just don’t act like that.
  51. I don’t like old Spock telling young Spock to put aside logic. Spock is logical and he should stay logical.
  52. Why is McCoy always on the bridge?
  53. Spock’s called a commander, but his rank at this time of the future history was lieutenant.
  54. Again with the preposterous drilling of a planet, this time Earth.
  55. Apparently black holes are taken for granted as being transportation hubs through both space and time. As we know, this is not true (notwithstanding string theory, which is unproven and extremely unlikely). Real Star Trek always provides at least a bare minimum of technobabble to explain why known physics have been circumvented for the sake of story. The producers of this film couldn’t be bothered. Lazy.

Other reviews of the movie:

Hal’s not the only one. Others have decried the movie and the criticism does seem to stem from the more Star Fleet Academy bumper sticker crowd, IE the far-out (sounds better than calling them the far left/right):

The comments connected with the Star Trek 11 trailer are grassroots movie reviews:

Some of my hardcore–geek twitter friends say: Twitter buds on ST11

I invite the readers to add comments and more review links. Commenting on this blog site is free of hoop-jumping–no activation email nonsense. Enter your contact email in the form below along with your comment and then blamo! Trekkies that agree or disagree and Trek fans that agree or disagree, this blog loves angry letters or “yeah, that’s so right on!!” responses. The comment field is right below. Have at it!