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May 13, 2009

To boldly spoil: Trek thread
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:22 PM * 231 comments

Space, the final frontier…these are the voyages of the starship Spoilerprise. Its ongoing mission: to seek out new interpretations and new associations. To boldly spoil only where everyone has already seen the film.

Seriously. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read this thread. It’s going to have spoilers the way Deep Space Station K7 had tribbles.

Of your courtesy, people, please do not drift off-topic here. Otherwise it will turn into fun that not everyone can join in with. And that’s Uncool.

Comments on To boldly spoil: Trek thread:
#1 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:32 PM:

And to kick the spoiler thread off, here is my rant about aliens in Trek, as posted on Lee's LJ. I am not as upset as I was before I put the effort into writing it out.

- o0o -

I thought there were far too few aliens on the show, and that the other two who had speaking parts were pretty humiliatingly portrayed: as a sex object and as a pet, basically.

And's true that the only force in his life that was not canon was that his parents are more supportive. That's all fine, the canon and the change. But what I hate is what the scriptwriters made of those influences.

The original Spock was alien, and didn't really want to become human. He ate like a Vulcan (in that he was a vegetarian). He retained the customs, including the sexual customs, of his alien side. Although he wrestled, over the years, with the fact that he was human as well, he didn't try to assimilate.

(This continued through later Trek series, as we saw more and more people who were not human. The fact that the series drops back to one major nonhuman character is a retrograde move in itself.)

The new Spock does try to assimilate. His relationship with Uhura must certainly break Starfleet regulations, since he's her superior officer; would a Vulcan break the rules that cavalierly? And I am bothered by the abandonment of pon farr, by the way that his sexuality is portrayed as being basically human in its nature and frequency.

His choice at the end of the film is made on emotional grounds, not logical ones. It's not surprising that he does this, since his father essentially gives him permission to act on his emotions if they're really strong (which is very much not canon for Vulcans). Throughout the film, using one's emotions as a base for decision making is explicitly portrayed as human, in particular as characteristic of Jim Kirk.

I saw the film, to a certain extent, as a struggle between Kirk's way of doing things and Spock's. That's certainly canon: Trek has always had that tension. It is a good balancing act. But the scriptwriters took sides; specifically, they took Kirk's side. He is not required to change to make the relationship work; Spock is.

I'm hugely emotionally tied up in this, because I've always identified with Spock. He was the first not-entirely-human person I encountered. I had plenty of reasons for alienation in my childhood, from mild Asperger's (in contrast to my Kirk-like mother) to being a hippie kid in a preppy town. And as an adult, I am a long-term expat, surely the most alien of lifestyles. A TV series that emphasized that fundamentally and irreconcilably different people could not just work together but be brothers was and is a major part of my psyche.

It was only in reading a few post-RaceFail things that I really did see where my anger is coming from, and how much of it is tied to the destruction of the Vulcan race.

Basically, whether or not the decisions that the writers made on Spock's character can be derived from the canon, I feel that they tried to erase alienness from the series. More than that: I feel that they chose to murder the characters that I identify with before my eyes.

I've been humanwashed, and I want my aliens back.

#2 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:51 PM:

I loved the movie beyond reason, and admit that I like this version of Spock even more than the original. Nimoy was amazing, yes, but I loved the balancing act of human-and-Vulcan, and the feeling that a young Spock would still be in the point of over-correcting in different directions from time to time. (I can even read TOS Spock as being one who has over-corrected towards Vulcan, and gets better at negotiating the middle road as he ages into Spock Prime, with the Spock of the movie being him during one of his overcorrection towards human sides. And if Spock of the movie has swung more towards human than Vulcan, he is still very much not only human with pointy ears...)

But I still can't believe that they BLEW UP VULCAN.

Okay. I can believe it. It made sense in context. It had to not be retconned with time travel, or you'd be able to retcon everything. It made the movie have a lot of emotional punch. It's part of why I loved Spock: how he dealt with that, in both his versions.


I'm going to see it again next week.

I still can't believe that they BLEW UP VULCAN oh my god that poor planet and the 'planetary evacuation' was apparently a shallow mockery of such if basically no one got off in time anyway...

#3 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Spock helped me get through some rough times in my adolescence as well, Abi.

But I think two things help me accept the new Spock; first, it's an alternate universe, and the original universe still exists (though without the original Spock, who's now moved to this universe to continue his story).

Second, the fact that there is no longer a Vulcan homeworld and that Vulcans are, as Spock puts it, an endangered species, will have to lead to some differences in how they live if they want to survive as a species. I can see varying reactions being discussed among the surviving elders -- do they accept this as their evolutionary fate and fade away, withdraw and seclude themselves on a new colony, start interbreeding more with other races, consider it the new duty of every Vulcan woman of childbearing age to have children as fast as she can, develop uterine replicators and raise children in chreches, try to find a way to reverse what happened? Abandoning the discipline of pon farr may be necessary in order to get the breeding population up to a safe size again as quickly as possible. It's a new dynamic for Vulcans, and it may take some time to develop a "new normal." There are bound to be deep differences among them as to the best course of action. But in Sarek and Spock we are seeing the first signs of how this upheaval affects individual Vulcans -- there will be a need to reach out to others to get through what happened.

I did see a fair number of aliens in the background, which is one way of saying this fits the Star Trek paradigm we know -- they're utterly unremarkable, just there. The nurse who delivered Jim, for example. OTOH, yes, it would have been great to see them in more important roles. I'm kind of seeing this movie as a pilot, though -- we meet the characters and get the set-up, and now we can start seeing what happens.

Hm, you are right about the breach of command protocol in the relationship between Spock and Uhura, though. Not so good. Another thing that makes it look like they are setting up the next episode...

#4 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:11 PM:

The movie makes much of being an 'alternate reality' due to the presence of old Spock and Nero. I'm worried that they simply won't carry through on the right implications of this for the Star Trek universe.

When you drop a traveller into our time from a century hence, his knowledge of history and politics becomes rapidly obsolete the more he impacts the course of development. Certainly old Spock will face this problem, living with the destruction of Vulcan. And this provides a "reboot" where the crew can have different adventures. (Though I've seen a complaint or two that the same crew getting together smacks too much of fate.)

But, it doesn't go quite far enough. That traveller will bring both knowledge of events he can't alter, and knowledge of the properties of the universe. When it's somebody as well-versed in science and technology as Spock, he brings the capability for a technological leap. )Which was used even in this movie._

The first property implies that there are still Borg. Still the Dominion. That whale probe from Star Trek IV. The Doomsday machine. Heck, even Organians. Based on the explanation given for the reboot, the Federation is still going to have to deal with all of them--- even if the Enterprise does not. I'm unhappy if these world-shattering events are simply ignored, but equally unhappy to retread them. How do you deal with that in a 'reboot' which tries to hook into the same continuity through time travel?

The second implies that rather than being at technological parity with the Klingons and Romulans, the Federation may come to dominate its local space. What does a hundred years of new science do to the Federation? To the balance of power with its neighbors? I don't trust the writers to pay sufficient attention to this. As others have said, I'm surprised they left old Spock alive.

#5 ::: Samuel Bierwagen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:12 PM:

The one called bbot wrote a Rod Hilton-style abridged script for the Star Trek movie. He spent rather more time complaining about how black holes are portrayed than how awesome Simon was for my taste, but whatever.

#6 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Did anyone else think that the on-screen destruction of Vulcan and Romulus was an attempt to one-up Alderaan?

#7 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:33 PM:

And Gallifrey. Let's not forget that nuWho happened while they were planning this thing.

#8 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:40 PM:

As I mentioned in my rotted post on the open thread, there are aliens in the background, but they're not all that prominently featured. Still, with modern make-up, CG, and budgets, couldn't we have had more?

What I want to know is where Uhura making out with Spock in the turbolift even came from. I assume there's stuff showing a bit of a relationship before that lying on the cutting-room floor, because otherwise it came out of nowhere. Some people saw Uhura's complaint to Spock about not being assigned to the Enterprise and his response about protecting against favoritism as showing that there was a relationship, but I don't really see that as enough; it could just mean that she was his best student, which is how I took it when I saw it. It was just random and disconcerting.

Spock was quite important to me when I was growing up as well: an American kid in an English school; a perpetual outsider. It helped me. He was someone to identify with, and also, to some extent, a role model. All that said, apart from the completely random relationship with Uhura, I think they did a fairly good job with him. I'm not sure they did a good job with the rest of the Vulcans. Yes, they are supposed to have a little bit of a superiority complex, but it was just so utterly blatant here.

Having one's planet destroyed would probably make for a bit of internal turmoil and a different assessment of emotionality. That said, it does bother me a bit that no one else seems to care. Sure, Alderaan goes boom, the Empire is Evil, but that's a part of the whole feel of Star Wars. Star Trek is supposed to dwell a bit more on humanitarian side of things.

Before we even get off the planet, I was disappointed by how much their earth is like ours. Whatever you have to say about how well Roddenberry actually executed Star Trek, he wanted to show humanity as having moved on from petty bickering, consumerism, and cheap thrills. Instead we have something like earth from today, only with hoverbikes. Nokia and Budweiser are still around, presumably selling their products. Kirk gets into a barroom brawl with a bunch of cadets. Cadets who beat him pretty soundly. Cadets who don't seem to have been disciplined and wind up serving on the Federation's flagship.

As well, humanity is supposed to have moved on from sexism. Looking back on the original show it doesn't exactly seem like an icon for feminism, but it was still pretty good for the 1960s. We can see its faults now, and I'm disappointed that the new film repeated so many of them. It's worth noting that the women in the two pilot episodes wore trousers instead of those miniskirts. The first pilot even had a female first officer. This doesn't excuse where the original show went wrong, of course, but it does show where it could have gone right.

It's nice that the Orion woman was a Starfleet cadet instead of a slavegirl, but if all we get to see is her being a tart is there any real difference? And what in the name of all that's holy is Uhura disrobing like that supposed to serve? It's so dramatically out of place it's not even funny.

The alien monster that Kirk runs from on Hoth the ice planet looks like someone took it straight from the Spore creature creator. Besides, ecologically improbable monsters are supposed to be in the purview of Star Wars, not Star Trek.

The interior of the Romulan mining ship (why does a mining ship have such impressive weapons and armor, anyway?) looked like it had been approved by Imperial Health and Safety from Star Wars as well. Catwalks above chasms with no railings and all that. And that was a bit far for Kirk to be jumping without hurting himself.

To me, Star Trek rests on three pillars: exploration, action, and humanism. Not every episode or movie had all of them or in the right mixture, in my opinion, but they were there. This film scored highly on the action front (almost too highly for Trek), kind of did a little exploration, maybe, but absolutely failed on the aspect of humanism. That's what really galled me.

All that said, I liked the film in spite of all this. It's a good, solid action film, which I have a weakness for. It made a lot of nice nods to classic Trek, which I liked, although I don't want to fall into the trap of thinking that referring to something is the same as being something. The music seemed to almost quote some of the original music. The plot wasn't too mind-blowingly stupid. I just wish I could like it more.

If you want a good handle on Kirk and Spock's relationship, I'd suggest watching the two play chess, and watching Undiscovered Country again.

#9 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:47 PM:

I loved the movie, and I'm very curious to see what they do with the next one. Since they got the origin story out of the way (and quite neatly, too), I'm hoping they do a story about actually finding something new.

And hopefully it won't be some kind of God. Or space anomaly. Or a computer to be driven mad with illogic.

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Yes, the nuWho destruction of Gallifreycould easily have inspired things. But remember that a lot of the nuWho since has depended on finding ways around the situation described in that first episode.

Sure, there were some clever stories, but they'd made themselves a huge plot problem by killing off every other Time Lord in existence. And the Daleks.

#11 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:17 PM:

If the characters were to act true to their natures, the next step would be for Spock Prime to lead a small team of Vulcan commandos to the Guardian of Forever (which the Federation doesn't know about yet) to go to the might-have-been-which-was and prevent the destruction of Romulus, thus indirectly preventing the destruction of Vulcan.

It won't happen, of course; the people running the show want their reboot. It won't happen any more than that Nero would, finding himself transported back in time with a supply of red matter, go out and prevent the destruction of his homeworld rather than devoting himself to revenge on the guy who will have failed to prevent that destruction.

#12 ::: Duvall ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:19 PM:

It won't happen any more than that Nero would, finding himself transported back in time with a supply of red matter, go out and prevent the destruction of his homeworld rather than devoting himself to revenge on the guy who will have failed to prevent that destruction.

To be fair, he had plenty of time to do both.

#13 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:20 PM:

Overall I really liked the film, but I mentioned some of my issues with sexism in the open thread.

Yep, miniskirts are stupid.That scene with the two roommates was right out of a Frank Miller comic. I found Zoe Saldana underwhelming.

And frankly, while I like that little was made of the Uhura/Spock relationship, can a woman only exist in a sci-fi action flick if she's somebody's fucking girlfriend? Underwritten as the original Uhura was, at least her character wasn't defined by her relationship with a man.

All in all, just a couple of infuriating points in an otherwise enjoyable film.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:32 PM:

* I'm told that the prelude-to-movie comic books explain the mightiness of Nero's ship. Short: The remaining future-Romulans equipped a simple mining vessel with Borg technology weapons.

This sounds like a savvy comics author explaining something unlikely, rather than a detail that the screenwriters planned.

* I figured that the Spock-Uhura romance was the afterglow of an affair held during Spock's last pon farr cycle. Spock is human enough to still feel some affection after the hormones die down.

* I generally don't like the "Muppet Babies" syndrome, in which a set of characters we know and love is reimagined to have always been together. In fact, I recall a college friend mockingly calling the notion of an Star Trek Academy series as "Star Trek Babies." This was at least a decade ago!

While I really liked the movie, and thought the character chemistry was great, there's definitely a Star Trek Babies element to it. The reality of military life is that people come and go, and are of different ages. I always pictured McCoy and Scotty as old hands compared to Kirk, for instance.

* I don't think the franchise's new handlers will give a damn about any residual-canon effects. They'll pick and choose what they want, make stuff up, change stuff, and from the POV of even a casual old-timey fan muck stuff up.

Face it: We're dealing with commercial entertainment.

#15 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 11:

Star Trek's flirtation with time travel is not something you want to think about too much. I'd like it very much if, now that they've generated their alternate universe, they never did another thing with it ever again. City on the Edge of Forever was a good episode, going to see the whales was fun, and Time's Arrow actually did it right, but otherwise it just creates far too many problems.

nerdycellist @ 13:

Uhura didn't do too much in the original series, but it was a big thing that she was there. In 2009 I expect more, and I was disappointed that I didn't get it. We are told in the film that she's an accomplished linguist (and get a somewhat sexist joke about oral skills), but we're never shown her doing anything useful at all.

Sadly, we have a long, long way to go with women's roles in film.

#16 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:45 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 14:

Er, I thought that they got sucked through as soon as the 'black hole' was created. Sounds like a really weird explanation to me.

None of the Star Trek shows or movies really deal with the military life aspect of changing posts. Riker's turned down command so many times that Starfleet should just give up on him, for example.

#17 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 14:

Regarding Nero's ship, I like the explanation suggested in the film better -- that a mining ship from over a century in the future is extremely powerful relative to the TOS era.

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:23 PM:

#16: That was my impression. I'm just reporting.

I respect the heck out of all the novel authors and comic authors who spackle over the holes in Star Trek and Star Wars. I don't doubt that they're smarter and more knowledgeable than your average screenwriting committee.

But I don't accept their explanations as excuses for dumbness in the movies and TV shows.

#19 ::: Jon R ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:46 PM:

I dunno, I really like Gaila (that's the name of Uhura's Orion roommate, in case you didn't know). I think it's because of the second scene she's in, where the cadets are getting their assignments, and she turns around and gives Uhura this giant grin. That, though tiny, is enough to make her more than just Kirk's sex interest for me. If I get in the fanfic-y mood from this movie, I'm pretty sure she'll be involved.

And yeah, Spock-Prime could bring up the Guardian of Forever, or the intermix formula, or the slingshot maneuver, or any of the other time-travel methods from canon. That's the problem with having such an expansive canon, though; the same concerns apply to every other bad thing ever in the history of Trek. Picard gets captured by Borg? Go back in time and stop it. Federation blindsided by an invasion through the wormhole? Go back in time and stop it. Easy access to timetravel destroys 90% of Star Trek plots, so we agree to just ignore it.

Regarding Spock/Uhura, the hardest part for me to swallow is the cross-rank fraternization. (I never thought that the existence of pon farr meant Vulcans couldn't enjoy intimacy at other times.)

#20 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:49 PM:

I can really only reiterate what I said ROT13'd in the Open Thread: I liked it as AU fanfic, although I suppose it's really AU canon. I thought it was an interesting and generally well-done "what if" story.

And the spacejumping was cool.

The characters are all very very young. I thought the actors did a very good job of portraying these alternate versions of the same characters. A person will act and react differently when he is 20 years old than when he is 30 years old, but he will still (generally) be the same person. The characters were different but recognizable to me.

KeithS, I agree with you that the movie was weak on the humanism element. That was what I disliked about Kirk blasting Nero -- too action-movie revenge-fantasy.

#21 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Not that we need it, but Henry Jenkins posted an essay titled Five Ways to Start a Conversation About the New Star Trek Film.

I was also amused by this: Do Gay Martians Have the Right to Marry?.

#22 ::: Casey ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 08:44 PM:

The first time I saw this movie, the first thing I said after the closing credits was "My god, what a brilliant reboot!" - meaning, absolutely, blowing up Vulcan and *not* going back in time to undo it.

The first thing I said after seeing the movie a second time was, "My god, that Kirk is hotter than a hot thing." (My brain is still stuck on that one, has been repeating it like a mantra. Very distracting.)

The first thing I said after seeing the movie a third time was, "My god, we have to wait until 2010 for the sequel?!"

If from this you surmise that I love the movie with all my heart, soul and might, you would be correct. It's embarrassing how much I adore this movie. I have an even more embarrasing urge to write ST fanfic again - which I have not done since, oh, 1975.

BTW, regarding Kirk, the screenwriter John Rogers, on his blog, has some interesting things to say about the nature of Kirk's Hero's Journey, and the difference between 'transformative' and 'revelatory' character arcs. Well worth checking out.

#23 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 08:47 PM:

Someone has compiled an exhaustive list of the ST AU implications from the new film here, starting from the 19th century.

#24 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:11 PM:

Jon R @ 19:

I suppose I should have been bothered by the cross-rank aspect of the 'relationship', but it was just too out of the blue for me to even get that far. Is it bad that my second thought was the age difference rather than the rank?

Here are the two excerpts from Undiscovered Country that reading Abi's post reminded me of. On aliens, humanness, Kirk, and Spock:

Scene: a dinner on the Enterprise to which the Klingons have been invited.

Chekov: We do believe all planets have a sovereign claim to inalienable human rights.

Azetbur (Chancellor Gorkon's daughter): "Inalien..." if you could only hear yourselves. "Human rights." Why, the very name is racist. The Federation is no more than a Homo sapiens only club.

General Chang: Present company excepted, of course.

Spock nods in acknowledgement.

Scene: Kirk enters Spock's quarters. Spock is lying on his bed.

Kirk: Spock?

Kirk moves to turn on the lights.

Spock: I prefer it dark.

Kirk: Dining on ashes?

Spock: You were right. It was arrogant presumption on my part that got us into this situation. You and the doctor might have been killed.

Kirk: The night is young. You said it yourself—it was logical—peace is worth a few personal risks. You're a great one for logic. I'm a great one for rushing in where angels fear to tread. We're both extremists. Reality is probably somewhere in between. I couldn't get past the death of my son.

Spock: I was prejudiced by her [Valeris's] accomplishments as a Vulcan.

Kirk: Gorkon had to die before I understood how prejudiced I was.

Spock pauses, and then sits up.

Spock: Is it possible that we two—you and I—have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness? Would that constitute a joke?

Kirk: Don't crucify yourself. It wasn't your fault.

Spock: I was responsible.

Kirk: For no actions but your own.

Spock: That is not what you said at your trial.

Kirk: That was just captain of the ship. Human beings...

Spock: But, Captain, we both know that I am not human.

Kirk: Spock, you want to know something? Everybody's human.

Spock: I find that remark insulting.

Kirk: Come on, I need you.

#25 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:31 PM:

I hated the direction. I hate fight scenes where you get so many close-ups you can't actually see what's happening.

Also, I must be missing something because no one else remarked about it, but: The older Spock was waiting on that frozen world for a long, long time. He is surprised when Kirk arrives ("How did you find me?"). There is a mining colony not far away. So...why was he sitting in that cave all that time doing nothing?

#26 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:35 PM:

Good movie, but why did the Federation have the Thurmians design the new Enterprise? Seriously, that thing with Scotty and the Water Pipes of Doom/Gigantic Blender of Equal Doom was straight out of Galaxy Quest. They even used the same "push the level forward to make the ship move" control for the helm!

#27 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:36 PM:

The thing that bothered me the most about the movie was having an actor who could actually act playing Kirk. That's just wrong.

#28 ::: Tom Courtney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:40 PM:

"His relationship with Uhura must certainly break Starfleet regulations, since he's her superior officer;"

I suspect not - we have examples from both TOS, Enterprise, and NextGen.

Enterprise: Trip and T'Pol
TOS: Kirk and Dr. Helen Noel, McCoy and Yeoman Barrows, and if she had her way, Chapel and Spock.
NextGen: Troi and Riker, Troi and Worf, Crusher and Picard, sort of.

Now it's true that none of these, except for Picard/Crusher, feature a pair with one being the other's immediate commanding officer, but in general, military organizations either have rules against officers fraternizing with each other or with enlisted personnel, or they don't.

#29 ::: At Home With Pneumonia! ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Some thoughts, shotgun fashion.

- My take on the whole Uhura / Spock thing was that it was clearly meant to be a Big Surprise Twist on Kirk's legendary womanizing. Will New Kirk make out with New Uhura? Noes! She already has the hots for... (drumroll) ZOMG SPACE ELF!

So, it's not merely insipid and destructive to the chain of command, it's not even really about Spock and Uhura at all. It's just a cheap "gotcha!" from the writers (And hell, Deep Space Nine already did that particular joke, more than ten years ago in its neato TOS flashback episode).

- The whole "Starfleet is really busy elsewhere / we're the only ship in the sector" shtick (as a reason for going out alone / undermanned / crewed by rookies / whatever) is beyond tired. It's been used over and over again, movie after movie, TV show after TV show. In reinventing Trek you'd think they could have attempted to reinvigorate the bullshit excuses that drive the plot.

- Nero and his buddies hit the past, destroyed one Starfleet vessel, and then, they uh... uh... hung around in space for 25 years? Maybe this is one of those things that was explained in the comic, but I'm not terribly impressed by the idea of leaving gaping plot holes in the feature film and graciously explaining them in secondary media.

- I loved, loved, loved the cast, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy in particular, with Simon Pegg's Scotty as a close second. I wanted to see more of them, and found myself getting really pissed off when the movie kept replacing their dialogue and interaction with whatever running / jumping / exploding action beat was playing out at that ten-minute interval. I love action flicks, I'm all for people running around and things exploding, but for god's sake, it wouldn't have killed anyone to let the actors take their shiny new characters for more of a drive. The ice monster sequence was particularly superfluous. Fuck the stupid ice monster; let Kirk and Spock talk, let Dr. McCoy talk, let anyone talk.

- Leonard Nimoy's elderly Spock was marvelous; I'm glad they did a lot more with him than a quick face-check and a couple of lines. Spock Prime seemed to be swinging heavily to his human side (understandable, in light of events, and he admits as much on screen). Nimoy brought real grace to the thankless task of explaining all the backstory and stir-fried technobabble.

- On the other hand, other than one instance of identifying a language, Uhura really didn't get to do anything. For all her talk of outstanding ability, she never got a "hero moment." In fact, neither did Dr. McCoy... but at least he was briefly seen and heard taking over from the previous chief medical officer. Assuring the audience that Uhura is special like the boys is a really cheap substitute for actually showing it.

- Hell, women in general got totally borked out of any heavy lifting or serious presence in the story. Even Spock's mother was really only hanging around to become a high-tech version of the old "Girlfriend In An Icebox" shtick, to supply rage and angst to a male character.

- I also have to concur on the subject of extraterrestrials. It's 2009, and the makers of this film had more power to visualize anything onscreen than any previous Trek creative team could have ever hoped or begged for. And with that incredible power, they gave us a Starfleet that looks an awful lot like the population of rural Wisconsin.

- Uh, a transporter computer can track every molecule and electrical field in a human body as they're pulled apart and flawlessly re-assembled, but it can't auto-target an object falling at a couple hundred miles an hour? Well, that's fucking... stupid.

- Wow, there's a lot of wasted three-dimensional space inside the new ships. And warp engine compartments with a "high school boiler room" design motif? The Enterprise's, engineering spaces looked like a 3M chemical plant. And... the... giant water tubes... with the conspicuous spinny turbine things... jesus! Galaxy Quest was awesome, guys, but it was a parody.

- While I'm harping on the general subject, it's really silly to keep seeing Starfleet extras getting mulched by their own horrendously unsafe working conditions. You can't walk more than a few yards in a 21st century wet navy vessel without finding damage control gear, breathing apparatus, etc. But the fictional 23rd keeps forgetting to put seat belts, safety fuses, respiratory protection, etc. where they would do a great deal of good.

- And Nemo's Planet-Busting Plot Device... I just don't get why starships and their crews are the only defense the movie allows against this thing. Given how utterly fragile it is (first disabled with hand weapons, and later destroyed for good by the popguns on Spock's little space buggy), you'd think hundreds of people on Vulcan and Earth would have hopped into their shuttlecraft / helicopters / whatever, rolled down the windows, and gone after the Romulans with hand phasers. Or landed assault parties. In this milieu, little vehicles that can hop around a planet or into deep space are cheap and ubiquitous. I just can't believe that nobody on Vulcan bothered to even investigate the Obvious Menace above their atmosphere, when little space-cars should have been parked on the equivalent of every street corner.

And Earth! The damn thing was drilling right next to Starfleet Headquarters. Surely there had to be someone on campus that didn't take the bus to work that day. And wait a minute, the bus probably would have been a flying bus too... arrrrgh.

- Purest of purely personal preferences for me here, but the machine-gun style of the new phasers just didn't do it for me. I miss the portentous, elegant lethality of big honkin' beams. I wondered, at first, if the phasers were meant to be some sort of point defense system for knocking out incoming missiles, but, uh, they seem to just spray them everywhere and hit whatever they hit.

Damn, this got long. Closin' it down. Summary:

Excellent cast. Some used well, some severely underused, but every one of them great fun to watch when given a chance to borrow the camera from the effects team for a few minutes.

Action sequences filmed, like way too many these days, with every manner of shaky-cam, pointless blurring, and quick-cut editing. Drives me nuts.

Writers displayed a heroic ignorance of even the extremely generous definitions of "physics" in previous Trek. And, like the new Doctor Who, they took an atomic piss on basic astronomy. But I forgive Who, so I guess I should let this one slide, too. It's not like it was a real shock.

But... the half-seen shadowy super-skyscrapers in the far distant background in the Iowa scenes? Oh god, those were cool. I'd love a future that looks like that.

#30 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:59 PM:

skzb @ 25:

The camera attached to an epileptic break dancer seems to be standard action movie fare these days, unfortunately.

It was my understanding that Spock did the time warp and came through 20 years later than the Romulans, so they found him, put him there to watch, and then did their thing. And he didn't go to the base because... Timeline? Plot? Didn't think he could beat off one of the Spore-creatures by himself out in the open?

Tom Courtney @ 28:

Picard and wossname in the episode Lessons.

#31 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:47 PM:

Passing comment: weeks ago when all we had to look at was the trailer, I recall comments about how it appeared the ship was being constructed on the ground (which is pretty stupid for a starship).

I mentioned this idiocy to a friend. After we had seen the movie, he commented that we never actually see the starship leave from earth. That they appear to have been in space already. Maybe the ship on the ground was a crew trainer.


Sounds plausible to me.

#32 ::: Vir Modestus ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:55 PM:

No way, no way, no WAY is an in-disgrace cadet going to be put in permanent command of the flagship with the rank of captain. Chain of command would have him fragged before he gets back to Earth. He might get out of the doghouse, he might get the rank of Ensign on a better ship than he might otherwise have deserved based on his Academy record. Anything more than that completely tosses me out of the story and makes the next movie's premise suspect sight-unseen.

As it was pointed out to me, did Uhura have to have straight hair? And I agree with all those who have pointed out that pretty much all of the female characters are simply male accessories. The reboot did not have to utilize a 60s approach to sexism.

IMO this was a good action movie and a bad Star Trek movie. I'm in denial. I am not ready to have 40 years of Star Trek universe simply deleted like bad fanfic.

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:58 PM:

Mark, #4: I would bet you that Spock Prime is as aware of this issue as you are, and in all honesty, I don't expect to see Nimoy in the next movie more than peripherally. I think that Spock Prime will go into seclusion as far as the Federation is concerned, and put all his energy toward helping to rebuild Vulcan society. That would make sense from both practical and ethical standpoints.

KeithS, #8: If/when you see it again, listen closely to that conversation about Uhura's assignment. There are a couple of very definite double-entendres in it that made me, at least, prick up my ears and say, "Oh REALLY?" And I think there might have been another one in the conversation in the dorm room, but I'll have to go back and check to be sure.

Stefan, #14: I like that explanation for Spock/Uhura. I think I'll adopt it into my own view of New!Canon. I also agree with Jon @19 that the implication of fraternization is far more troubling than the relationship itself.

The re-imagining that grated on me a bit was Chekov, who wasn't even ON the Enterprise until Season 2 of TOS. I just keep repeating to myself, "It's an alternate universe. It's an alternate universe, dammit!"

And while we're on the subject of retconning and AUs, I'll toss in this gem from a review of the movie by ironychan on LJ:

Today I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if a million Trekkies cried out as one, lamenting, "they erased everything and started over from the beginning! All the stories I loved never happened!"

This was followed by a second disturbance, as if a million fans of Marvel and DC comics rolled their eyes as one, replying, "CRY MOAR, N00B."

*sigh* Too true!

#34 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 11:04 PM:

skzb & Keith: There wasn't any indication that Spock had been on the ice planet for all that long. Nero grabbed him at some point in the last few years, but he didn't go to Vulcan right away. Assuming that planet is somewhere near Vulcan, it would've made sense to just drop him off on their way there, so there'd be some chance of him still being alive to see Vulcan go boom (or scrunch).

At Home with Pneumonia (aw! get well soon): about Nero hanging around for 20 years doing nothing -- I can't remember where I read this, but it was apparently explained in the original cut of the movie and then dropped after test screenings because audiences didn't seem to care. Shortly after arriving in the past, Nero blundered into Klingon space and ended up in a Klingon prison (either alone or with his crew, I'm not sure). When Starfleet hears about a bunch of Klingon warships being destroyed, that's supposed to be Nero finally getting loose.

Jon @19: When Spock and Uhura got acquainted, he wasn't her superior officer, was he? None of them are regular crew on the Enterprise during the movie - they're a bunch of cadets hastily thrown onto a ship. At the end of the movie they get their real jobs, and this could clearly become a problem.

#35 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 11:18 PM:

Vir Modestus @ 32:

Unfortunately, the reboot seemes to have used a 2000s approach to sexism.

Lee @ 33:

I think that my subtlety detection skills had been turned off by the movie at that point. If I do go see it again, I'll pay attention.

The Chekov discussion already came up for Wrath of Khan. I think the explanation offered by one of the novels was that he was just on a different shift.

Hob @ 34:

Yes, he was. In fact, it's almost worse: at that point in time, Spock should have been a graduate of the academy, so it would be a student/professor or student/TA relationship.

#36 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 11:56 PM:

Found an interesting take on Spock/Uhura over on Firefox News. Summary: just because a female character has a love interest, that doesn't mean that she's nothing but a love interest.

And that leads me to ask... why do we persist in thinking of her as his love interest? Why can't he be hers? Particularly since she is very clearly shown choosing Spock in preference to Kirk, not being a Bad Conduct Prize to be won by whichever neanderthal manages to beat up the other one first.

#37 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:09 AM:

It's interesting, the conversation. I'd be upset if I felt like the AU in this movie was attempting to erase and replace the Trek universe I grew up with and love, as it seems like many here feel. But I don't feel that way at all. I do view it as "not real," as a sort of interesting branch from the original universe, but the original, "real" universe is still there. It's not good enough to replace the original, by any means. But I enjoy it as an AU.

#38 ::: Jon R ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:25 AM:

Excellent point, Lee. She certainly seems to be the active one in the relationship.

#39 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:50 AM:

Lee @ 36:

That is interesting, but I can't say I agree with her opinion. Spock/Uhura first, and then more general comments on the essay.

Uhura seemed to be the one most intent on it in the turbolift. Spock seemed... passive.

Still, I don't really think she can be said to have all that much volition more generally in the film. She is his love interest because that's how she acts. He is hers, technically, but he actually does stuff, and is therefore defined by what he does. Is it sexist to assume that the man is an active force and the woman is the love interest when that's how they act?

Onward. The author of the essay makes the point that brains should be just as cool as brawn. I agree wholeheartedly. It also does not match what we see on screen. We get shown all the action stuff the guys do. We get told what Uhura does. Radio interception and translation isn't as showy, but we're still not really treated to seeing much of any of that. Contrast that with Sulu's 'fencing' or Chekov's control of the incredibly badly-programmed transporter.

Chekov is an interesting case because here he's portrayed as a boy genius. We get a good few minutes of seeing him at the transporter console saving the day. Contrast that to the couple comments that Uhura can translate Romulan and that she was the one responsible for intercepting the Klingon transmission that sets part of the plot in motion. I don't see the equivalence.

Additionally, we're told that Kirk is smart. Are we really shown it? We're shown him blowing off the Kobiyashi Maru test (which was exceedingly disappointingly done), but his attitude suggests more of a script kiddie than an intelligent hacker. We see him in action for a very hefty portion of the film.

We are told Spock is smart. We see him being foiled by Kirk, succumbing to anger (albeit justifiably), and being an action hero.

I also disagree with her take on the miniskirts. If you want to be an utter purist about the issue, yes, the women in the original series wore miniskirts. Does that make it right? We're talking about Star Trek, which managed to be inconsistent with itself all the time, not a period historical drama. As well, the women got trousers in the two original series pilot episodes, and in the films it seems that the women have a choice. Since I just watched Undiscovered Country, Uhura wears a skirt, but Valeris and all the other women I noticed wear trousers.

(Amusing aside: in some of the early TNG episodes they still had miniskirts, which were incredibly ugly. You can occasonally see a man in one in the background. This is equality of a sort, but it's still not a practical uniform.)

The movie wound up being an action movie. This has its own set of tropes, which typically include objectification of women on some level. In Star Trek's future, we're supposed to have moved beyond sexism. We're often told that, and unfortunately more rarely shown it in the original series, but that's the ideal. I think that the sexism in the Transformers trailer was worse than that evidenced in Star Trek, but I expect more of Star Trek and so I feel its failure more acutely.

Wow, I wrote far more than I intended to. Sorry.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:53 AM:

Hey . . . this was Captain Pike's Enterprise.

Where's Dr. Boyce, or at least Dr. Piper?

And where's Number One?

#41 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:13 AM:

Caroline @37: Star Trek classically has treated time-travel as though some change in the past erased the 'present'. However, that has never made sense to me, and it has been ignored on occasions in the ST Universe (I can think of a couple of instances in DS9).

So yes, Alternate Universe distinct from Original Universe.

#42 ::: Keith K ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:53 AM:

Casey @22 It's embarrassing how much I adore this movie.

Um, yeah. I'm there as well. It's kinda spoiled TOS for me. Even TNG, a little. TNG has been in heavy rotation lately, and every time I sit down to watch an episode, I'm ... disappointed at how not as awesome as the new movie is. It takes some serious time bending cool to warp my perceptions that badly. I'm sure the original timeline will reassert itself, and I'll be able to enjoy televised Star Trek again, but damn, that movie is like crack for geeks.

#43 ::: Oliver ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 08:14 AM:

The thing that got me was the enterprise rising from the mists of Titan with Saturn proud in the sky, and a huge magnficent rush of pride: *we've been there*. Don't know if the rings were Cassini images or not, but that doesn't matter. That was the Enterprise in deep space, and at the same time it was the Enterprise where our robots are currently at work. Height of cool.

Of course Titan doesn't look like that, but still...

#44 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 08:31 AM:

I haven't seen it yet, though I don't mind spoilers.

I just popped in to share with you the cultural mashup that happened when my favorite gay knitting blogger went to see it.

#45 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:32 AM:

The 'science' in the new movie was even worse than the normal for Star Trek films. They had plot holes so large, they had Schwarzschild radii. If the viewer stopped to think about almost anything in the movie, they would immediately realize that it made no goddamned sense.

That said, it was still a fun action flick.

I don't know. This seems to me to be the triumph of dumb popcorn escapism over intellectual entertainment. Previous Treks may have been boring at times, but they were seldom brainless. This film was brainless...but shiny enough to make the viewer like it anyway. That troubles me. I hope it doesn't become a trend -- or more of a trend than it already is.

#46 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:28 AM:

KeithS is reading my mind.

Why yes, in real life being someone's girlfriend doesn't relegate you to existing as some sort of peripheral "love interest", however the way this film was written, that was Uhura's primary character trait. Part of this I will chalk up to the fact that with that huge a cast, not everyone gets to be featured, but the other dudes who get the short shrift pretty much all get a highlight - Sulu kicks some ass with a sword, Chekov figures out how to lock onto someone moving very fast with the transporter, Scotty's just all around cool... Uhura does make an important discovery, but we don't actually see her do that; she tells her underwear-clad roommate about it while she's taking off her top all sexy-like. At the moment this information becomes relevant, it's used to prove how valuable Kirk is.

I would hope the next film gives her a bit more to do, and I'd love to see the romantic subplot either dropped or so far in the background it's just another aspect of the character, like her brown eyes, and not her main characteristic.

But Keith is right - these are action flick tropes, and it's unlikely that they'll change too much in the next film. It's one of the reasons I prefer TV sci-fi over film.

And again I say, give the women some damn leggings. Or put one of the main men in a minidress.

#47 ::: Dave Robinson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:29 AM:

I enjoyed the movie - my only problem was with Simon Pegg. He just wasn't Scotty. He did a great job otherwise, but it felt like he was playing Lt. Commander Nott not Scott.

#48 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Adam-Troy Castro pointed out one of those Schwarzschilds, really the biggest one. Say you're Nero. You've just seen Spock come too late to save Romulus and now you've been dragged 125 years into the past. Do you A: forswear vengeance and go home to Romulus to prevent its destruction or evacuate its people, having more than a century to affect events? Or do you B: Focus solely on attacking Spock, the Federation, and the Klingons? If you said A you're an intelligent, rational person who has no business writing a Star Trek movie.

Now somebody upthread was mistaken about Spock being on the ice planet for 25 years. In fact he was just there for a matter of days. He arrived 25 years after Nero.

There was a simple fix which they could have implemented. Have Nero forswear vengeance and take his advanced ship to Romulus. There the Tal Sharar takes his ship away and goes on the warpath. Then you could have the destruction of Vulcan. The defeat of the Federation and Klingon fleets. All the happy stuff.

#49 ::: Keith K ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:51 AM:

This seems to me to be the triumph of dumb popcorn escapism over intellectual entertainment.

I used to get all uptight about this as well but then I realized that it's just a byproduct of the medium. Given the production costs of making a movie and a need to recoup those costs, you aren't going to get a cerebral sci-fi movie, as explosions are a known money attractor. But that's OK. That's what books and extended TV/web series are for.

And I'm OK with that. Honestly, when I'm in the mood to watch a movie, I don't necessarily want to plod through 3 hours of Solaris or the giant mind screw that is 2001. I want a fun story that carries me along with it. This Star Trek did that admirably.

Now, if they started a rebooted TV show based on this film, I'd want something that at least reached for the complexity and thematic event horizon of BSG and would be disappointed by anything less, but that's because the bar has been set at that height for TV series, which have the elbow room for such intellectual explorations. I'd be perfectly happy with a new model that incorporated both: 13 episode TV seasons of intellectual rigor and high drama, with a new popcorn movie that filled in the action quota to hit theaters in between.

#50 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:01 PM:

I don't think anything could ever spoil TNG for me, much as the new movie was fun and popcorny. Picard is and will always be my captain :)

(Incidentally, Star Trek: The Experience has reopened in Vegas, although their website has not reappeared. They at least used to offer Star Trek wedding packages. In case Keith and I decide to chuck it all and elope, that is the plan. It rather looks like you can get a Picard impersonator to officiate.)

Remus Shepherd, I dunno. Sometimes I like a good shiny popcorn action flick. For example, I love the movie Independence Day, even though it's utterly ridiculous. It's fun. Doesn't mean I don't also like a good thoughtful intellectual movie.

It's possible I'm weird, though.

I am seeing a lot of my non-Trek-fan friends get very interested in the new movie. My hope is that it will lead them to check out the previous canon, and maybe realize what they were missing.

#51 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:17 PM:

nerdycellist @ 46:

I think that a good metric for how important a character is in a film is how many edits of the script it would take to remove the character. You can't take out Kirk and Spock, as they're the main characters woven throughout the script. McCoy provides a good excuse to get Kirk on the ship and a couple good lines; he's harder to remove, but not all that hard.

Sulu could just as easily be replaced by some other navigator and a redshirt good at throwing punches, but this is still an active role in some sense. Chekov could be replaced by a competent transporter operator. And poor Uhura could be struck out of the script with three swishes of a red pencil and no change to the story at all.

It's true that in the original series the same is often true of Uhura. However, the 1960s are not the 2000s; just having a black member of the crew, and a woman at that, on the bridge was something special. She's shown as being a professional woman, not someone hanging around on the bridge for looks. It was also something of an important step for Uhura to be from Africa and not the US. In the future, we're supposed to be a multiracial, multiethnic, non-discriminatory society.

It's now 2009. We're supposed to have improved at these things. We have in a way, as we look back on the original series and cringe in places. We just haven't moved on far enough.

Which of the guys would you put in a miniskirt?

Wyman Cooke @ 48, Keith K @ 51, and Caroline @ 52:

The film is no stupider than many action flicks. The problem is that Star Trek was always supposed to be about thinking as well. Sure, there are plot holes in the original series and films, but they were a little more subtle as they didn't have the driving force of an all-action-all-the-time pace.

Even the good Star Trek films had explosions and time for a little introspection. I did enjoy it, but I wished they would slow down every now and again. The CG-monster chase and Scotty going for a swim are both examples of needless action just to keep the pace going because, damn it, it's an action movie and we want to keep the pace going.

I don't want something like ST:TMP, and I'm surprised Star Trek survived after that. It was agonizingly slow. It was beautiful, it had the right sort of Star Trek philosophy, but it had no action.

I like action movies. I liked this movie. I just hoped for more from something claiming the Star Trek lineage.

#52 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:24 PM:

I'm with Caroline on this one. It works as AU fanfic. In fact, I almost feel as though that was how we were supposed to take it. The writers were clearly happy to play in the ST sandbox, and whatever commentary they had to make was regarding the source text itself, and not the Other, or exploration, or the search for home, or any of the series' other favourite themes. They critiqued the text from within the text, by taking Kirk down a peg (but lifting him up shortly thereafter) and giving Spock short-but-sweet origin story that also took him down a peg (and off the pedestal the series continually put him on). Being Vulcan doesn't preclude one from making mistakes or having feelings, and while it's true that Spock may seem less alien to us, I think the film was trying to say that he had always been alien to his own people. Stories about friendship are fine with me. Then again, I watch my share of anime, and shounen stories focus primarily on surviving struggle together. (Hey, wow, Ishida Uryuu is cosplaying Spock in my head. That works.)

Also, maybe my expectations have been lowered by years of television, but I actually liked Uhura. For the first time, I identified with a woman in the franchise. She may have been defined through her relationship with a (half) man, but not solely. She had a whole constellation of traits. I liked that she stood up to her roommate and shot Kirk down, and that she actually got excited about her work and believed in her own talent. She seemed like a person this time, and not just a prop.

#53 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Wyman Cooke @48: I don't really understand the problem people seem to have with Nero.

AFAIK, Romulans aren't the most emotionally stable people to begin with (nor are Vulcans, which is why they spend so much effort in keeping their emotions in check). He and his crew saw their world blown up, and now they've been dropped into a time before they were even born, possibly in an alternate universe. No matter what they do, their old lives and the Romulus they knew are irrevocably gone.

Given that I'm perfectly willing to accept they go crazy and embark on an overblown quest for vengeance against people who have nothing to do with the loss they've suffered.

#54 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:16 PM:

I'm pretty sure there won't be any future TV shows or movies set in the original ST universe. Books, to be sure, but the expense involved in film and TV production guarantees they're going to chase the dollars, and the new movie upset the old canon.

#55 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Wakboth @ 55: They may very well be crazy, but that is not shown in the movie. Even if you posit temporary insanity, there's still the matter of 25 years.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Caroline, #52: Can you provide any further info about the Star Trek Experience? My partner & I are taking a Real Vacation in July which will include passing thru Vegas, and I definitely want to see that if it's available!

KeithS, #53: Which of the guys would you put in a miniskirt?

Any of them! In order of preference: Sulu, McCoy, Kirk, Chekov, Scotty, Pike, "Cupcake". And don't forget that there was eye candy for the women in the dorm-room scene too, in the form of NearlyNaked!Kirk.

#57 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:01 PM:

re 53: I have disagree, somewhat. I agree the chase/plumbing scenes went on longer than they needed to; I'd say about half for the first and a third for the second would have been adequate. But I think the movie really was mostly character-driven. Maybe it's just because I saw it again recently, but I think that Wrath of Khan provides most of the basis for this film, in that it's largely focused on the same set of character traits, especially up to and including the Kobiyashi Maru hack. And as far as necessary characters in that movie are concerned, I can only come up with five: Kirk, Spock, Saavik, Khan, and Scotty's nephew. (McCoy, when it comes down to it, serves as little more than a Vulcan flash drive.) In terms of the new movie, it seems to me that Sarek is one of the necessary characters-- indeed, he, by virtue of his nature and his relationship to Spock, delivers one of the most important lines in the movie: "I loved her." Pike is also a necessary character-- not that he has to be named Pike, but that a different character (minus the canonical baggage, that is) would nonetheless have to be just like him. And Amanda, of course.

I could go on about the Uhura character, but most of what I could say has already been said, so I'll just add that the one thing she doesn't do with that short skirt is fill it in same way that Nichelle Nichols did, or for that matter, Terry Farrell. There's a line between "yes I know I'm irresistable in this getup" and "I want you to be aware that you'll never have sex with me even though I'm going to make sure it's on your mind every second of the day."

As far as the plot holes are concerned, I think maybe the source of the problem is that they had to take the story too far and therefore got themselves into too many storytelling issues along the way. In particular they were having to work rather hard to get everyone on the bridge together, and it shows all over the place. One of the reasons that Khan works so well is that they didn't have to work very hard to set the story up.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:02 PM:

Dammit, how'd I leave out Spock and then fail to catch it in preview? He would fall between Kirk and Chekov.

#59 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:34 PM:

Lee @ 58, never having been, the only information I can provide is from this article. It's a museum and I believe a ride, although apparently it's questionable how much stuff will actually be there and operating this summer.

#60 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:36 PM:

Lee @ 58:

No Spock? Glad you didn't forget Spock. I'd put Spock at the head of the list.

Kirk was always losing his shirt in interesting ways in the original series. Maybe the people on the ship responsible for his wardrobe intentionally weakened the seams.

Hmm... I can't say I was exactly bothered by Gaila's near nudity in that scene, but something didn't sit quite right with me about it. Kirk is, after all, rather interested in the female form, and what they were up to at the time justifies it. I think what did bother me was that she's Orionian, with all the green-skinned girl baggage that goes with that.

It's a matter of justification: the scene shows us a bit about Kirk, and what's going on is appropriate to the situation. Uhura undressing like that, not so much, unless she and her roommate both have a habit of studying in their skivvies.

C. Wingate @ 59:

Interesting points. I don't think we disagree all that much on the aspect of how character-driven the story was, although I haven't really stated that clearly. I think in my posts I've more been focusing on the parts that weren't character-driven, since these are the bits that wound up bothering me so much. I'll have to think about it a bit.

I always saw Kirk beating the Kobiyashi Maru simulation as a much more elegant hack than what we got to see in the new film, but I suppose part of that is that this Kirk grew up differently. I was still disappointed by it, though.

I agree with you on the likely source of many of the plot holes. There are probably a bunch of explanatory bits that were cut for time.

Also, I laughed out loud at: "McCoy, when it comes down to it, serves as little more than a Vulcan flash drive."

#61 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:39 PM:

And because the Star Trek: The Experience bit is OT and non-spoilery, I will now repost it on the open thread.

#62 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:39 PM:

Also, I went on the Star Trek Experience a few years ago. It was fun. You go to whichever casino it is, buy the tickets, go through the line looking at memorabilia, then get in the ride. It's one of those simulators like Star Tours at Disneyland or the late, lamented Back to the Future ride at Universal.

#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:02 PM:

J.J. Abrams was just interviewed on NPR.

There are agreements with the writers and the cast for a sequel but there have been no meetings. Everything is wide open.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:03 PM:

I laughed at the "Vulcan flash drive" comment as well. Wonderful phrase.

I found the new actors did my head in a little, particularly the ones who were close in appearance to the first set. I kept focusing on McCoy's lips and Spock's nose.

And I miss Mark Lenard more than I thought I would.

#65 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:59 PM:

Hmmm...while I appreciate the arguments against it, count me among those who feel that Uhura was shortchanged.

Of course, the general feeling that these movie was made by boys, for boys, wasn't helped by the choice of casting Winona Ryder (b. 1971) as the mother of Zachary Quinto (b. 1977), opposite Ben Cross (b. 1947). I mean, WTF? Like there are aren't any talented female actors between 40 and 60?

#66 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:01 PM:

KeithS @ #30, you're thinking (as did I) of Nella Daren, who was the D's head of Stellar Cartography, and is probably the closest example of a similar chain-of-command relationship. I think it's pretty clear that Starfleet doesn't specifically regulate against such relationships, but I'd expect they're strongly discouraged, and the whole climax of that episode pinpointed why.

And just to have it in the clear somewhere, I'll repost my thoughts on Spock/Uhura from Open Thread 123 here: How can we fit this into a structure that is believable for the characters we know in such a minor alteration of the timeline? My best shot: The destruction of the Kelvin leads the Academy to re-evaluate the emotional resonance they are trying to test with the Kobiyashi Maru simulation, an initiative that comes to a head while Spock is completing his advanced training (i.e., he becomes the simulation head's grunt-work grad student). His work on the simulation is so impressive that he's assigned to head up programming for the test instead of the berth on a science mission that would have occupied TOS Spock. This is good work, but not the challenge young Spock needs to be fully engaged, and so a bored and frustrated young half-Vulcan is more interested in exploring his sexuality than a fulfilled and work-immersed one would be.

#67 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:32 PM:

debcha @ 67 -
Of course, the general feeling that these movie was made by boys, for boys, wasn't helped by the choice of casting Winona Ryder (b. 1971) as the mother of Zachary Quinto (b. 1977), opposite Ben Cross (b. 1947). I mean, WTF? Like there are aren't any talented female actors between 40 and 60?

They may have been trying to emulate the difference in age between Sarek (b. 2165) and Amanda (b. 2202) (married 2223 - she was just 22, to his 58), rather than between Amanda and Spock (b. 2232) (amusingly, the age difference was reversed in TOS actors - Mark Lenard was 14 years younger than Jane Wyatt).

#68 ::: khadjair ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:34 PM:

On the Nemo time discrepancy, and why he didn't just take over:

First point: A mining vessel with that sort of power is likely to be tasked with deep mining - places not covered by the more heavy industry of the closer-in worlds. It would need fairly effective weaponry to fend off pirates, unknown explorers, Klingon (and Federation, perhaps) spies and infiltrators, etc. The big weapons are the drones.. rockets. Which leads to point #2:

Second point: Resupply. Warp technology likely hasn't changed fundamentally - you could still fuel up a Model T with gasoline from the pumps, perhaps with a few additives. Weaponry, especially something with an ammunition count, is a different story (ignoring for a moment the idea that they may have replicator technology) This would've kept them from being able to move on the Federation directly. They could've easily overmatched Federation technology of the day (as a friend put it: Give me an AK-47 and an old Buick and send me back 130 years and I'll SHOW you some world domination!), but the fact is they could only go so long before they ran out of ammo and were forced to retreat, to be hounded until captured or destroyed. They had to make sure they were still around when Spock came through to complete the second part of the plan.

Point three: We don't know how badly damaged the mining vessel was as a result of the Kelvin ramming it. The impression I would get is that there's a significant amount of damage - the lack of ability to fabricate spare parts might meant hat large areas that were damaged or destroyed by the Kelvin's impact might have led to replacing large areas with skeletal structures - it's not like you have to be careful about green crew falling off the edge.

#69 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:53 PM:

Scott Taylor, #69: I see your point, but given that you just pointed out that Amanda is in her mid-fifties at the time the film is set, I don't know if I really buy your argument about emulating the age difference (particularly, of course, since Ryder was made up to look older).

#70 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:18 PM:

re 67: In that age spread, it's Quinto who is the anomaly. Ryder is playing a character maybe a bit older than her age, but Quinto is playing someone is on the order of a decade younger than he is (if he were human of course, but it seems to be established that Spock is the Vulcan equivalent of about-to-leave-college). I haven't been a boy in years, but I didn't see year as looking too young.

#71 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Er, see her......

#72 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:39 PM:

winona ryder didn't look like she was supposed to look too young, but she did look like a person in age-advance makeup, which was distracting.

#73 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Sarah S@44: Well, that answers my question. I left the movie wondering if anyone besides me got a serious leather bar vibe from the Romulans.

#74 ::: Tapestry ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:44 PM:

I thought it was funny that, 300 years in the future, Nokia phones still have the same ringtone.

...And what the hell is "red matter???"

#75 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Tapestry @ 76: Phlebotinum.

#76 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:12 PM:

Following up on khadjair@70, I'd also add that a large part of the success Nero has is based on surprise, as well as luck. Destroying one of the Federation's rear squadrons (with green crews, to be sure) is impressive, but without total tactical surprise I think it would be very difficult to duplicate that feat without one or two ships escaping or pulling a Kelvin.

I think of it this way: with surprise, a minesweeper from 1950 could destroy the strongest battleship in the world from the Napoleonic era. If it were armed to the teeth, it could decimate a squadron. But it couldn't singlehandedly fight and win Trafalgar- an opposing fleet would simply scatter, spread the word, and the advantage would be quickly lost. One lightly-crewed ship wouldn't have the manpower to seize London or coup Paris, and if her captain tried to join forces with one side, that nation would be much more interested in dissecting the tech and duplicating the weapons than say, simply annihilating other countries. (Let's grant the minesweeper a few nuclear depth charges for argument's sake)

If Nero were captaining a warship, or leading a squadron, then I think the takeover scenario would have been much more likely. But I think it's precisely because he's more of a civilian turned pirate/guerilla/terrorist than a regular military man that he seizes on a plan which is simply intended to take as many federation lives with him as he can.

#77 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:24 PM:

Re: Spock's lateness in saving Romulus:

Perhaps he would have been on time if he hadn't made far, far, far too much "red matter", and maybe if that really fast ship of his would actually go in a straight line.

(A friend tried to get around this which lead me to the conclusion that unless it's the primary of Romulus that goes Supernova, both Spock and the Romulans have months if not years of warning of the event before the arrival of the explosion in the Romulus system. But for the primary of Romulus to be that far off the Main Sequence... and so on and so forth until the whole film makes no damn sense at all.

I enjoyed it a lot.)

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:39 PM:

debcha, #67: Oh, you won't get any argument from me about Uhura being shortchanged! I wanted to see more of her being an active character, too. But then, my iconic image of Uhura Prime is the scene in The Search for Spock where she backs young "Ensign Adventure" into the storage closet with a phaser...

John, #75: Actually, what I got was echoes of Nemesis, which I didn't care for. (Either the movie or the echoes.)

#79 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 79:

It's worse than that. If it was their primary, they'd still have, oh, hundreds of years of warning of the event. We know what kinds of stars go supernova and the conditions under which they do. I didn't comment on the incredibly stupid science of the film, because I've already written way too much here already.

Phil Plait discusses the science.

Lee @ 80:

I'd forgotten about that scene of hers. That was great.

#80 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:58 PM:

In #27, Throwmearope objected to having someone play Kirk who can actually *act* -- i'd like to point out that, starting midway through the fight on Nero's ship, Chris Pine began displaying body language swiped straight off tapes of Shatner!Kirk. Culminating with a perfect rendition of his 'end-of-episode cheerful' trot onto the bridge and grin, plus crossed legs in the command chair.

It looks swishier on Pine. :->

#81 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:59 PM:

DISCLAIMER: I have yet to see the film.

I will have to stop reading spoilers for this film as I will end up loving the action but hating the Wesley Crusher version of James T Kirk.

So I will only comment on two-and-a-half peripheral points mentioned.

Nyota Uhura:
1 - even ignoring the 'relaxed' military rules of conduct that a number of people are using to excuse this in the AU Star Trek, would the Uhura-Spock relationship truly pass in a university environment? Even if it was a kissing-only affair, rumors of teacher mis-conduct or of s*x-for-grades would circulate. Even if official notice was not taken, the rumors are not likely to go away.

1 1/2 - From what I am read, the movie audience is being told that Uhura is an expert linguist, as in one character talking to another. If the director was pressed for time, they could have shown a shot of two Romulans talking over communication circuit and then a shot of Uhura providing a direct translation?

2 - the Kobayashi Maru test. Originally I was none too pleased about this ret-conning of the character. I got used to it. I mean, here is a cadet that does not like to lose hearing of a test that cannot be won, and this is the solution. The fact that the other Wiki mentions that he gets a commendation is jarring given that military-style academy would most likely have some sort of 'honor'-system that would officially frown on this. "Oh, you want to talk to me about my cheating on the last test? Let me finish putting up my poster of Cadet Kirk's Kobayashi Maru win. ... There. You were saying?"
Even if an honor-system was not in place the student body would not be amused. This is not talking about somebody winning a Nintendo-Hard simulation, this is somebody winning a Nintendo-Hard simulation by hacking in a god-mode.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 08:38 PM:

Did they actually pay someone to write that story? It's too bad the whole mess didn't include Christine Chapel, because then they could have belted out her drinking song.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 09:09 PM:

I get the impression that the production people (writers, directors, whoever) have never actually looked at the demographic figures for TOS, TNG, and DS9. They seem to be aiming at stereotypical-SF-audience teenage boys, and missing the reality of many females and older people. (Hey, you! Off lawn, pls!)

#84 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:15 PM:

#67/69/71 debcha and Scott Taylor

It appears that there was a scene that was cut that involved the birth of Spock; the thinking is that they cast a younger actress because it's easier to make one look old than to make an older actress look young, whether or not that is actually true. But since they cut that scene it ended up appearing to be a nonsensical choice.

#85 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:39 PM:

KeithS @ 62: It's a matter of justification: the scene shows us a bit about Kirk, and what's going on is appropriate to the situation. Uhura undressing like that, not so much, unless she and her roommate both have a habit of studying in their skivvies.

I think the idea was that Uhura was changing from her cadet uniform into her civvies, but heard Kirk halfway through the process. It's still gratuitous, but maybe not ridiculous.

I think what did bother me was that she's Orionian, with all the green-skinned girl baggage that goes with that.

Isn't Kirk's proclivity for green-skinned women sort of a running gag at this point? I thought this was the same sort of winking reference as the redshirt dying in the drill-raid scene.

#86 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:50 PM:

Tim Walters @ 87:

I'm sure that's what Uhura was doing. It's the way she was doing it, and the way the camera looked at her, that bothered me.

I'm not sure that Kirk's proclivity for green-skinned women was ever established, but I could be wrong. However, Orionian women have a bit of a reputation, perhaps unjustly deserved, owing to the slave girl thing. I don't think I'd have had any problem if she'd been human (or some other alien), because then there isn't the Orion slave girl baggage.

#87 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:14 AM:

A small data point:

When un/dressing in front of an unavoidable female roommate (also in a jr. hi or high school lockerroom) most women will, say, put on pants underneath their dress, and then turn with back towards roommate before removing top, often quickly throwing a shirt on in front of the bosoms before removing the dress. Also, there's the famous bra-through-the-sleeve maneuver. These are skills honed from relatively early ages, probably passed down from older sister to younger sister, or friend to friend at slumber parties. There is a certain pride taken in being able to disrobe in the most modest way possible; I was delighted to discover that even at my advanced age (and magnanimous size) I can still completely change a shirt in the front seat of a Honda Civic without anyone getting a glimpse of anything. Score!

What doesn't happen (unless there is possibly a bit of flirtation going on, I suppose) is any back-arching, or hair shaking, or buttock wiggling.

If the writers (or director) were interested in finding out how a couple of gals might act in a certain situation, I am certain they could have asked a female cast member - or girlfriend, or spouse. But they weren't, because they wanted to throw a little soft-core in there. Lame!

But then, this seems to be my particular hobby horse. It could have been so much worse. I appreciated that while Kirk displayed a certain amount of appreciation of the female form (always a bit too innocent to be called leering) he wasn't a masher - didn't grab any ladies, or stalk them in the time-honored "rom-com" fashion, knew when to take "no" for an answer, and generally didn't make himself a skeevy nuisance. The lack of outwardly offensive weirdo dude behavior was definitely appreciated.

#88 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:49 AM:

Adam-Troy Castro pointed out one of those Schwarzschilds, really the biggest one. Say you're Nero. You've just seen Spock come too late to save Romulus and now you've been dragged 125 years into the past. Do you A: forswear vengeance and go home to Romulus to prevent its destruction or evacuate its people, having more than a century to affect events? Or do you B: Focus solely on attacking Spock, the Federation, and the Klingons?

Presumably he did save this alternate-universe Romulus, just by showing up and giving the galaxy 125 years of warning. In this splinter timeline, Romulus will doubtless be evacuated well before the "supernova", or the supernova properly defused, thanks to Nero showing up — his rampage did the trick just as well as a nicely-worded note. His own planet is still destroyed, of course — nothing to be done there — but Romulus B should be fine.

#89 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:38 AM:

What's the purpose of the Kobayashi Maru scenario?

Presumably the cadets are expected to try to win. Isn't running away a tactic that might minimise the losses?

The staff can learn something about the character of a cadet. But what does the cadet learn. "You too are mortal?"

As something not seen, as a famously tough challenge in training, Kirk winning matters.

But Kirk cheating?

#90 ::: Michael Martin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:48 AM:

The purpose of the Kobayashi Maru is to lose. Running away gets you killed too. Everything gets you killed. The reference to "Nintendo-Hard" video games in #83 isn't actually fair, because those were beatable if you were really good. The equivalent would be beating Pac-Man; you have to define down what "beating" means. (And, indeed, beating Pac-Man means "playing well enough that the system crashes.")

Their page on this observes "Responses to the scenario are varied, with several characters improvising solutions but losing anyway (Scotty, for instance, used a physics trick that worked on paper but not in the real world; the computer's response was to spawn more ships than the entire Klingon navy had)."

Those of us who are a little younger and read the books of an author we try not to name directly tend to think of game scenario involving a certain large person's beverage.

#91 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:54 AM:

...unless [Uhura] and her roommate both have a habit of studying in their skivvies.

Well, clearly Gaila does, because otherwise Uhura would have immediately asked, "Why are you in your underwear?"

B. Loppe, #86: It appears that there was a scene that was cut that involved the birth of Spock...

Ah, thank you. That's both plausible and reasonable.

nerdycellist, #89: There is a certain pride taken in being able to disrobe in the most modest way possible...

When you think about it, that's quite strange. It's one thing to be able to change modestly in public (a useful skill, as you describe). But it's quite another to go through contortions to maintain Victorian-level modesty while changing at the gym, as I've frequently observed women do. I just take off my clothes, myself, but like everyone, I face my locker when I'm doing it. And even if I'm not optimizing for modesty, I'm still optimizing for efficiency. I've spent a lot of time in college gyms, and I know what women look like when they are just getting changed - almost entirely unlike Uhura.

#92 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:28 AM:

"It was only in reading a few post-RaceFail things that I really did see where my anger is coming from, and how much of it is tied to the destruction of the Vulcan race."

It was genocide, racist and plain
motherfuck 'em and John Wayne....

My anger has not subsided since seeing it last week, and knowing that these fools killed both the Vulcans and the Romulans for kicks.

Setting aside their xenophobia, or more precisely their perfection of the post-TOS tendency to diss and deform Vulcans as nagging schoolmarms and freaks without emotions (rather than a people trying very, very, very, very hard to keep their more violent than human emotions from killing themselves), Abrams and co. jettisoned one of the deepest stories ST has generated - the possible perestroika between controlled yet compassionate Vulcans and the fascist yet passionate Romulans. Hell, those Nimoy TNG episodes gave me hope that two extremely different peoples were finally doing the hard work of practicing IDIC, even though that work would take place underground.

Then, they destroyed Romulus, for no good reason that it set Nero off.

Then they let Spock get near Nero's vessel with a Big!Red!Ball of destruction... and let him board instead of self-destruct, which nuSpock (no fool him) thought of immediately. Knowing Nero had no good business to carry out, whenever time he had fell into, why didn't Spock use the one weapon he had, to at least curb the damage to the Federation?

Then, Vulcan. Does no one at Paramount remember that:

a) Vulcans pair-bonded through pon farr suffer a psychic break when their mates die (and since T'Pring bonded with Spock prior to puberty, that bond still holds, and even if she didn't die, would he feel what grief she felt?);

b) That in the Immunity Syndrome Spock fainted when a Vulcan science vessel was destroyed in close proximity? If those few deaths made him weak, what should happen when six billion Vulcans die a planet away (and *don't* get me started on how a mining site near the *edge of the fucking galaxy* is close enough to see Vulcan as larger than our moon); and

c) That in All Our Yesterdays Spock lost control of his emotions because the Surak reforms on Vulcan had not yet occurred, when he traveled back 5000 years? A handful of people holding onto the katra archives ain't enough, and it's shameful that the writers traded exploration of these richer emotional states for Kirk's "nyah, nyah, you didn't love yer mom, did you?"

If you want to plunder the canon, plunder it.

If you want to reboot, do it and have done.

But don't make excuses when you refuse to do your homework, from Vulcans to black holes (what, temporarily stable wormholes too good for you?), then bitch because you were too lazy to fact check, so we could truly leave our minds at the door for your popcorn movie. I didn't even need pretentious exposition, just getting the details that mattered correct.

Now I have to hear all this crap about 'oh, no, the canon hasn't been changed, it's just an alternate universe'. An alternate universe that Paramount will now focus on, as the past series' stories are now shoved away in the ghetto of books and comix.

So, yeah, Abi, you speak for me. Don't even start on Uhura; she broke my heart.

#93 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:36 AM:

"* I figured that the Spock-Uhura romance was the afterglow of an affair held during Spock's last pon farr cycle. Spock is human enough to still feel some affection after the hormones die down."

Nuh, uh. You think a man who disappointed his parents by fighting as a kid, then by not attending the Vulcan Science Academy, would be so rebellious as to ignore his pre-teen betrothal to T'Pring?

Nothing in nuSpock's timeline prior to boarding the Enterprise indicates that his destiny was different from ogSpock's. His human side would have let himself get a little somethin' somethin', but his Vulcan drives would kick in... and he'd kill Uhura, since she doesn't have the mental talents to control his burning, um, blood.

#94 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:50 AM:

"Mark, #4: I would bet you that Spock Prime is as aware of this issue as you are, and in all honesty, I don't expect to see Nimoy in the next movie more than peripherally. I think that Spock Prime will go into seclusion as far as the Federation is concerned, and put all his energy toward helping to rebuild Vulcan society. That would make sense from both practical and ethical standpoints."

Well, he might very well want to do that.

But Starfleet Intelligence, Section 31, the Tal Shiar and any other alien secret police force might have other plans. The existence of a man who is the future version of the friend of a brash captain with a weakness for booze, will be held in deeper secrecy than the erased discovery of Talos IV? Not one crewman of Nero blabbed to a Rura Penthe guard about Spock and wormhole, during 25 years of imprisonment? And that the legendary Romulan spy network (hell, Gaila's peeps in teh Orion Syndicate) will never hear of this? Pull the other one.

Remember that the DTI might want to have a word with him, too.

#95 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:00 AM:

nerdycellist, debcha,

from my time in uniform, i can confirm that stripping it off was indeed something i'd do in the first seconds of entering my barracks room/home. & i bet that minidress is more uncomfortable than my acrylic fatigues were.

as far as roommates, it wasn't necessary to be completely covered, but you weren't supposed to be completely uncovered either. the rule in the army (& in my apartment shared with three girls pre-army) seemed to be that you could show your bra & torso, or your underpants & legs, but not both at once.

if you were topless, you had to have shorts on, if you were bottomless, you ought to have a shirt on. just a data point.

#96 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:02 AM:

this was in the room of course, not the showers, where nudity in front of your peers was fine.

#97 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:03 AM:

62. "Hmm... I can't say I was exactly bothered by Gaila's near nudity in that scene, but something didn't sit quite right with me about it. Kirk is, after all, rather interested in the female form, and what they were up to at the time justifies it. I think what did bother me was that she's Orionian, with all the green-skinned girl baggage that goes with that."

No, what bothered me was that Gaila said, "I think I love you" to Kirk -- and then it became a bedroom farce.

Then it looks even worse once we learn that a missing scene had Kirk use Gaila to hack the Kobayshi Maru. I've heard it was either through Gaila opening a viral email at the computer center, or by seducing a computer tech, for Kirk's sake. Either way, being the stud who made an Orion woman fall for him, without him going nuts, seems more the punchline to a smutty joke than an event with real people, and real hearts in play.

#98 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:31 AM:

Am I right in thinking there's some age-related differences in how people are saying Uhura should have behaved in the fan-service scene? People clearly have different views on what is plausible.

And that does give wiggle-room to justify some of the scene. This is the future, and people have changed how they behave. Trouble is, the film-makers are using the visual language of soft porn. It's not Uhura, the character, being relaxed about casual nudity in a particular context; it's a performance by the actress for the audience.

I suspect that if you tried to do the scene in a "realistic" way, you'd get a "Janet Jackson's nipples" reaction.

The Uhura character in TOS pushed limits. I'm not sure what we're seeing now, but maybe, instead of pushing change in a time when change was happening, we seeing the product of a media industry scared of a backlash.

#99 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:50 AM:

I do want to say one overall positive thing: there wasn't any point at which the new actors didn't bother to act, which was a running problem in the oldest movies (e.g. some of the transitional scenes in Khan).

#101 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:41 AM:

@Dave Bell: Possibly. I'm Miriam Beetle's age, and my roommate experience was the same. Now, if they were really going for realism, we would have seen Uhura's unshaven legs, the way the bra straps bit into the flesh of her shoulders, the moment when she relaxed her breathing enough to let her stomach sag forward, the smear of mascara when she removed the tunic, the snowy anti-perspirant stains, the dark blots of sweat, and maybe even the thread of a tampon peeking out from her underwear.

Speaking of reproduction: how come 23rd century labour only lasts five minutes? If I remember correctly, Mrs. Kirk rings her husband to say "It's time," and James Tiberius emerges only moments later. I mean, what did the nurse from Planet Ryden use, a shopvac? After that, I knew the science would be bad all the way down.

#102 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:00 AM:

re 103: Hmmmm.... it seemed to me that labor had been going on for quite a while, and IIRC when they are wheeling her to the escape pod, one of the docs says something that indicates they've gotten to the "better start pushing" phase.

To go off in a completely different direction for a moment, along the "inappropriate survival of technology" line: when Kirk is being haul into the outpost, I looked at the door and thought, "they're still using a circa 1990 door latch??" It was the same model used at my son's high school.

#103 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:53 AM:

cgeye @ 99:

I can only go by what I've seen on-screen, not what wound up on the cutting-room floor. I did forget about the "I think I love you" line, though. Ick.

Dave Bell @ 100:

As a data-point for you: male, mid-20s. I thought that the way the scene was shot was entirely inappropriate.

Social mores have changed over time, from acceptable amount of skin to show, to styles of clothing, to sexual equality, and many others. I can imagine a well-to-do person from Victorian London looking at what goes on on a modern California beach and blushing from the impropriety. However, I still can not imagine a woman at the beach disrobing to her bathing suit the way Uhura undresses in the film, unless she's putting on an impromptu performance for her significant other.

All of which is to say that I agree with you.

Judging by the way that women are constantly portrayed in action films, the media industry is positivly regressive. However, the media industry when Star Trek was originally made was pretty regressive, too. The networks all had censors, and the scripts had to be approved by them. Frankly, I'm amazed that the original show got away with as much as it did.

C. Wingate @ 104:

The entire interior of the outpost looked like a run-down current laboratory building built in the 1960s. Pathetic.

The engine room of both of the ships looked like a set-designer's idea of a chemical plant. How realistic the engine rooms had been up to that point is, of course, debatable, but they looked futuristic. These engine rooms looked like stuff we could do now.

And the clear water pipes with spinny death turbines were, as pointed out above, straight out of Galaxy Quest.

#104 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:12 AM:

My husband pointed out that the Uhura/Gaila scene neatly subverts the Bechdel test. Aside from "I need you to push" in the opening sequence (and I agree, that baby came out *awfully* fast), this scene is the only time that we see women speak to each other in the entire movie. They don't discuss men - they discuss the intercepted distress call from Klingon space - but the subtext on one side is "Can't you go away? I wanted to have sex!", and both women are close to naked.

Those uniforms look pretty uncomfortable, and Gaila doesn't so much as grab a shirt for herself, so clearly she and Uhura have figured out a level of modesty (or lack thereof) that suits them as roomies. So it doesn't bug me that Uhura stripped to her scanties as soon as she came in. I am not, however, going to make any claims that the point of that scene *wasn't* fan service.

#105 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:39 AM:

I agree generally with the complaints about how Vulcanness was treated. Afaik, the only time Vulcan rationality/stoicism was presented as a good thing was Vulcans evacuating immediately when they were warned about the destruction of their planet.

I thought there was quite a bit about Uhura being a skilled professional, even though it was described rather than shown.

What I didn't like seeing was that she turned down one unwelcome pass from Kirk after another, but never told him to stop it in general.

As for her relationship with Spock being against the rules-- considering how easy it seems to be to shuffle people and assignments around, I wonder if Starfleet is simply more chaotic than any large organization (military or otherwise) we're used to. I'm not saying this is plausible world-building.

Most of my livejournal review:

I seem to be one of the few people who didn't love it. I do think it's one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen-- the frames are well composed (sometimes I got pulled into the story enough to fall out of aesthetic appreciation mode, but mostly I was seeing just how nice it was visually.) Sorry, guys, I can't define good composition, I just know when looking at things makes me feel good. And the colors! I think that movie had the most complex and satisfying use of color I've ever seen.

I can't help wondering if a lot of the "optimistic sf" bounce-bounce is actually an effect of how delightful it was visually, because it wasn't all that optimistic. Maybe it was optimistic compared to most recent sf because everything was well maintained and there wasn't obvious massive corruption, malice, or incompetence among the viewpoint characters.

The music was awful, except for a little which was innocuous.

The fight scenes weren't interesting. Steve Barnes describes them as underrehearsed. Well, he's a movie buff and a martial artist, so he might be right. I think they were underchoreographed and possibly badly directed.

And irritating. Not that I'm in love with modern warfare, but hand-to-hand on the drill? Haven't these people heard of weapons?

I'm going to do another post about different kinds and levels of outrage, so take the following as irritation, not a desire for the world to be remade or for anyone to stop enjoying what they like. Practically the whole movie was men butting heads with each other. I don't get *that* much fun out of watching it.

It was nice that Spock moved with inhuman smoothness. I don't know if it was personal skill or skill amplified with a little CGI.

Kirk was very ornamental, and it's nice to see a somewhat non-standard face as a lead.

If you have black holes, what do you need the drill for? Oh well, at least it looked good. So did the Romulan ship.

I suspect a movie critic could have some fun with when the Enterprise was large on the screen and when it was small.

Can we haz a cube-square law? When the big red monster kept going floomp, it should have taken some damage. Yes, I do realize that the sense of plausibility is personal and somewhat random.

I wish Kirk's mother had somewhat in the way of warrior virtues, and not demanded that her husband be with her when he's in a battle. Poul Anderson would have written her differently.

I really think Kirk could have quoted the reg about emotional discombobulation to Spock, and if Spock was really Spock, he would have stepped down. There was no need to hammer on Spock to make him show emotions.

#106 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Dave Bell @ 100: Am I right in thinking there's some age-related differences in how people are saying Uhura should have behaved in the fan-service scene? People clearly have different views on what is plausible.

It might also be geographical--I'm 46, but I live in the Bay Area, and what with the hot tubs, the nude beaches, and the Burning Man, I'm accustomed to casual nudity dissociated from sex. (Although the time a woman I'd known less than 24 hours invited me to come hang out with her while she took a bath, with no provocative intent, was on the East Coast 20-odd years ago.)

And while I was primed by nerdycellist's comment on the other thread to see Uhura's body language as erotic, I didn't. I could well be wrong, though.

That said, plausibility is in a way beside the point--the purpose of the scene is to give Kirk a key piece of information, and there's no reason for Uhura to be en déshabillé at the time. It's pure fanservice. It didn't offend me, exactly, but the film would have been better without it.

#107 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:52 PM:

nerdycellist, #89: Kirk certainly didn't know when to take "no" for an answer in the bar! I was also disappointed that Uhura didn't tell the other cadets, "Boys, let me handle this," and proceed to mop the floor with him. But that's my own personal hobbyhorse, not a serious plot gripe.

Dave, #91: The stated purpose of the Kobayashi Maru test is to force each cadet to face the very real possibility of being in a situation in which they cannot win, and seeing if they can handle it or if they'll break. Kirk's "solution", in Universe Prime, is seen as problematic both because it was a cheat and because it means that he never really grasped that it could happen to him. In a very real sense, Kirk still thinks of himself as immortal in the way that a lot of 19-year-olds do.

And I was really, really upset with the way his solution was presented in the movie until someone else pointed out that this was completely in character for AU Kirk, though not for Kirk Prime.

#108 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:04 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 107:

Actually, what bothered me about Kirk and Uhura wasn't that Uhura didn't explicitly tell Kirk to knock it off forever and amen, it's that Kirk Did Not Take The Hint At All. Is someone without even that grasp of subtlety a person we want in command?

As for the drill, it's worse than that. If the drill can be disabled by hand weapons and didn't seem to be guarded by anything more than a couple guys, surely someone could fly a shuttlecraft with phasers up to the thing from the surface and shoot it. At Home With Pneumonia! at 29 goes into a little more detail about how stupid this is. But, it's an action movie. Action movies are full of things like this because they're cool.

Regarding the fanservice discussion:

I have, as Dave Bell said on the open thread, no objection to it provided it's fit into the story well. I don't think the point of the scene was so that Kirk would learn useful information; the comment was so off-handedly delivered that it could have been fit into the story anywhere. The point was to show two women in sexualized states of undress that would pass muster in a PG-13 movie. This is different from Kirk's or Wolverine's or Amidala's shirt suffering a loss of structural integrity during a fight, or disrobing in the context of a love scene.

Thought experiment: how would the situation differ if the genders of the participants were flipped; or would that not be filmed in the first place, because having a male character drop trou (to reveal something nicer than baggy boxers) and have the camera linger on him for no reason be 'icky'? I don't think that the scene would have been filmed at all.

At least Kirk wasn't wearing ugly, baggy boxers.

#109 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:46 PM:

An AK-47 and an old Buick a hundred and thirty years ago? Well, you'd need a heck of a lot of ammunition and the Buick might manage to carry that, but you'd also need fuel for the Buick and roads unless you wanted to get bogged down and find yourself walking with your AK-47 and whatever ammo and supplies you could carry. Besides which, sooner or later you'd end up facing a military unit with enough firepower to overwhelm you. Anyway, I think you'd need a lot more firepower and at least one loyal, trustworthy friend to watch your back.

#110 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Lee, #109: It's a serious plot gripe to me, because:

a) It established Uhura as a woman able to verbally fend off a man only so much -- when she gets bored, she lets her Starfleet goon friends pile on him, to keep beating the townie until *they* get tired or bored (which really wasn't happening, Pike or no Pike);

b) It weakened her image as a Starfleet officer. It was the disproportionate use of force that she did not stop or avert, *and* the designation of others to fight her battles for her.

Kirk didn't need beating up; he needed to be kicked out, if he were that obnoxious, which he wasn't. Does any woman on Earth get that level of protection, in a bar, other than a Saudi royal -- and if that level of protection were needed, why the hell was Uhura in a bar, anyway?

That was when the movie started going south, for me; it traded a vision of Uhura as a fully-competent crewman for a stereotypical image of a high-maintenance lady who needs men to protect her, promote her and amuse her, despite the competencies she supposedly has.

And, yeah, ST XI fails the Bechdel Test so hard it bounces and circles the Schwarzchild plot-hole radius. Having a man hide under the bed is like a bomb under the table; sooner or later he will participate in the scene, or some girl will talk about him. Feh.

#111 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:32 PM:

In re Kirk circumventing the Kobayashi Maru test by cheating (linnen @83, Dave Bell @91, Michael Martin @92, Lee@109), I should note that my favorite sorta-canon addressing of same, in the novel _Kobayashi Maru_ by Julia Ecklar, Kirk ALSO cheated. But differently. And he got reprimanded for doing so, of course.

Scotty cheated too, in a hilariously geeky way. I highly recommend, the whole book actually.

#112 ::: Shan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:49 PM:

cgeye @ 112

The way I viewed that scene was that she was handling Kirk just fine on her own, and those (appropriately named) goons interfered unnecessarily. The main goon calling Kirk a "townie" just before attacking him, to me, meant that it was more of a fraternity jerk versus local boy snobbery than a protect the girl thing- Uhura was just an excuse to beat somebody up. I've only seen the movie once though, so I could be forgetting how that scene went.

I should also admit that I went to the movie in Uhura's TOS dress… (though not quite as short). She was always one of my favorites. (Uhura's Song, a TOS novel featuring talking/walking cats- so you know it is cheesy goodness- showcases her linguistic skills.)

#113 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:55 PM:

cgeye @ 112:

I saw it the same way as Shan: Uhura was handling it just fine and repeatedly told the other cadets that she could handle it, but the group of cadets just had to pick their fight. She wasn't capable of physically stopping them. I was disappointed that those cadets never seem to have been punished at all.

#114 ::: khadjair ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:26 PM:

DaveKuzminski @ #111: The statement was more to the point of expressing how we have casual technology today that could well be unstoppable 130 years ago. The amount of damage many of us here could do if we went back with just streetclothes and the knowledge in our heads is incalculable.

#115 ::: khadjair ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Re: shuttlecraft flying up to defend against the drill

It would be a suicide mission, and wouldn't succeed anyway. By the time they could get in range for shuttle-mounted phasers to get a lock, or to line up for a suicide mission, Nero's ship would've taken its 100+ year advanced point defense phasers and blown them out of the sky - the same reason the Enterprise didn't launch a shuttle to intercept the drill.

Granted, especially post-Vulcan and presuming some sort of report had gone out, there would've been shuttles launched, regardless of how suicidal it seemed (and would likely have proven). So far, I'm inclined to give the cinematographers the benefit of the doubt, that this was deemed tangental enough to the main plot that the few seconds needed to establish a shuttle crew, get them launched and get them shot down wasn't important enough compared to keeping things focused and running time down.

#116 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:19 PM:

Now I have to hear all this crap about 'oh, no, the canon hasn't been changed, it's just an alternate universe'. An alternate universe that Paramount will now focus on, as the past series' stories are now shoved away in the ghetto of books and comix.

Well, cgeye, you obviously feel very strongly. I don't know what to say except that I just don't feel the same sense of loss. Maybe it's because I'd already drifted away from the new stories being told in the original universe; I drifted away halfway through Voyager and never watched Enterprise at all. For me, the heart and soul of that universe -- at least in TV or movie form -- were already faded. I couldn't find a compelling new character or a compelling new story, and I doubted that one could be told, because there was no way it could be as compelling as the stories already told in that universe.

So to me, the introduction of the new AU doesn't change anything in my relationship to the canon U. It was already essentially in the realm of memory for me. I would have been more disappointed in this movie if it had tried to follow a new crew in the old universe, and not lived up to the old characters I loved, even if it kept all the events and history scrupulously accurate.

I think I'm going to stop reiterating this now. There's some deep disconnect between my sense of the movie (and the AU) and yours and abi's, and a lot more logorrhea from me isn't going to help, and it doesn't matter anyway.

#117 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:35 PM:

khadjair @ 117:

Knowing that the drill can be destroyed by hand weaponry, and knowing that shields can hold up for at least a little while even under Nero's phaser fire, I think that shuttles, which are fairly maneuverable, could have taken it out easily. It would probably still have been a suicide mission, but I think it would have worked.

#118 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Shar @ 114 and KeithS @ 115, that's what I thought too. Uhura was handling it just fine; the long-faced guy in the middle seemed a bit, I dunno, bored and bemused by the same old human song and dance; and if Kirk had gone a little further and Really Annoyed her, she would have Taken Steps. But she seemed perfectly in control of the whole thing at that point. I want to see it again and see if she did a bit of an eye-roll when her male friends stepped in -- "drat these guys for stepping in with their testosterone-fed rivalry" -- or not. Whether or not, it seemed to me she didn't need, or want, her buddies to jump in.

#119 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Shar @ 114 and KeithS @ 115 and Janet @ 120: Then it's a sin of omission instead of commission, isn't it?

Um, does Starfleet Academy have an honor code?

Did Kirk call any of those men kin to Regulan bloodworms? He only pointed out how outnumbered he was, and said they should get more -- the complete drunken foolhardy move, not a "let me get my Glock" move. Stupid, bragging, but a tipoff that this clown should be pushed away from Uhura, and encouraged to go elsewhere, not a signal that he should be pounded into the floor.

Once the fight started, yes, Kirk bounced into Uhura and took the chance to grope her. Did that justify her not standing between him and the fratboys, until they cooled down?

And since when did Starfleet officers live in a culture where they beat up townies for minor insults? Beating up Klingons on a neutral space station when the Klingons deliberately provoke a fight, I understand. But just one bum, talking trash? Starfleet egos are so fragile that such insults must be answered with blood?

Any way you slice it, that fight did not reflect well on cadets who are supposed to live in a better version of our culture, down even to the "not hitting first" thing. Bad form, all around.

#120 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:59 PM:

And Caroline @ 118:

Your view is the majority one on just about every other general SF website I've read.

I'm glad the minority view can be discussed here, without its adherents being insulted ad hominem. Thank you for your respect for my opinion, no matter how unprofitable to Paramount it might be.

And, as for compelling new stories:

How about the reconstruction of Cardassia after its disastrous participation in the Dominion War? The involvement of Section 31 throughout ST history, told from the view of a pair of dashing spies? Worf's son's adventures as an atypical Klingon man in a changing Klingon culture? The repatriation of personnel off a Borg cube, as they struggle to come back to the remnants of their cultures, as the Borg forces slowly re-coalesce?

Howabout any Mirror Universe show? Abrams sure as hell opened the door to the standing AU story in ST, and there's no reason why TNG and VOY (which never did a Mirror episode) couldn't walk right in....

#121 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 07:07 PM:

abi and cgeye: I'm also glad that both of you can express your dissatisfaction here without being treated like... well, like people who think the Iraq War is a bad idea get treated in the real world. When it comes right down to it, this is just a movie -- I can understand and respect the reasons behind your opinions without sharing them, and also without feeling any need to convert you.

#122 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 07:15 PM:

cgeye @ 121:

I don't see that it reflects badly on Uhura, otherwise we're in agreement. There's not a whole lot that one can do to stop a brawl once it's started.

I'm in full agreement that the brawl is against all the principles that Starfleet is supposed to uphold.

#123 ::: Shan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 07:23 PM:

KeithS @ 124-
Maybe they were disciplined off screen, spent the next three years at the academy proving themselves/making up for it, and were allowed berth on the Enterprise. :) I just remember so many twerps torturing our heroes in the novels it is easy to believe boys will be boys.

#124 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Shan @ 125: I dunno. 'Cupcake' seems to have held onto a grudge for a very long time.

#125 ::: Shan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Darn it, I forgot about that! (Funny line though!)

#126 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:41 AM:

Having just seen this, I have to agree with some things, and disagree with others.

First of all, yes, Uhura, while we're told she's smart, mostly stands around and has men compete over her and/or lean on her emotionally.

Mind you, I really /like/ her relationship with Spock. Among other things, she's not, one might notice, offended at his control of his emotions, she merely asks if there's anything she can do. That scene in the elevator was actually quite sensitive, or anyway, sensitive in the context of a movie that was mostly big explosions and/or fight scenes.

But still. If she weren't in such a stupid costume, /she/ could've been in an explosion and/or fight scene. But noooo.

Also, Zoe Saldana is SKINNY. And /tall/. (This is so completely minor as to be ridiculous, but it nonetheless kept throwing me out of things. Nichelle Nichols is far curvier, and I think shorter.)

The fanservice scene in their bedroom really bugged me, since it was /yet another/ in a long line of fanservice scenes in Trek pilots/movies, where the nudity/sexuality is just shoved at you, with very little actual character development reasons behind it. I well remember the scene during _Enterprise's_ pilot episiode, where they slathered decontamination cream all over each other. It was irritating and it made me turn the damn thing off.

On the subject of Spock... The books that I most love in the Trek franchise (and glancingly some of the episodes/movies) deal with the Vulcan control of emotion by articulating that it's just that, control. Not suppression, not rejection, but control (and/or mastery of). Kolinahr is an extreme of the control of emotions, and it's by no means for all Vulcans. If one is me, one can see Spock's journey in the show and in the movies as one that recognizes his own emotional core (/as/ a Vulcan) and his own way of expressing it, eventually. (With false starts and backs and fills -- His decision to try for Kolinahr was clearly in reaction to /something/...)

So it's a journey, and a journey for someone who is, yes, explicitly not human, and conflicted about that, and working through that to realize he doesn't need to /be/ human.

My main problem is, you had SpockBeta making the journey that SpockPrime made over the course of decades in the space of 2 hours (or, you know, a week, in-story), and that's just... shoddy. Or ridiculously compressed, at the least.

Another thing that turned me off about this movie was less the Victory Of Emotion Over Logic (since for me to even vaguely be OK with it, I had to transform it into something else), but the violent way in which they went about it. (Hell, the violent way they went about /everything/. Where'd the nerve pinch go, people?) Someone upthread said Kirk should have mentioned the regulation involved to Spock, and that was /exactly/ what I was thinking. Sure, great, the pushing him around will be great for a lot of K/S fanfics (no, seriously, you have no idea), but it was really... lacking in the humanism, yes.

#127 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:49 AM:

nerdycellist @89 said, What doesn't happen (unless there is possibly a bit of flirtation going on, I suppose) is any back-arching, or hair shaking, or buttock wiggling.

Oh, come now. James Tiberius Kirk was in that room. It's been firmly established that Kirk emits an electromagnetic field that causes women (of any and every species) to arch their backs, shake their hair, and wiggle their buttocks. It's just science.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Jon Lomberg, co-creator of Cosmos, contributes:

My Own Private Star Trek

In it, he writes something that really struck me:

". . . the recent movie, which is completely character driven and self-referential. The excellent casting found actors who plausibly play the crew in the film version of an Origin Issue in superhero comics. The film is really not about space at all — there’s no exploration, no interesting aliens, no sense of wonder."

This nails some vague feelings of discomfort I've had about the whole reboot notion. They've achieved reboot . . . but to what end?

I realize that I'm tired of all that inbred stuff. It's all variants of the same few comfort food recipes. I want to see something new, really new, that makes a stab at showing us what it is really like Out There.

"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."-- J.B.S. Haldane

Word, John, but you know, we can at least make an honest try.

#129 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 01:07 AM:

Also, while I don't really /like/ how he dealt onscreen with the Kobayashi Maru, it's quite consistent with how it's described in STII.

Then again, I thought it was a problem when he recounted the story in STII, too.

#130 ::: Troylis ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:17 AM:

I hope this doesn't sound too silly, but I think what we're seeing in this movie is a change in the Star Trek phenomenon from a fan-supported, canon-based universe to an iconic mythology. It's becoming the same as the way the classic super-hero characters (Superman, Batman and later on, Spider-Man) are able to be periodically reinvented, as long as the core qualities (their myths, perhaps) remain. Similar as to how there are hundreds of versions of the Arthurian legends, but they are all still Arthurian legends.

While the fan community has latched onto the universe of Star Trek and is exploring it's possibilities and progression, the popular culture at large has had time to absorb TOS, digest it, find what it believes to be its core story, and attempt to re-tell it.

I personally found the movie entertaining and felt like it captured much of the spirit of the original TV series. It had a very limited vision, but the original series had 79 episodes in which to explore the different elements that make up Star Trek.

I guess the question that will be debated (mostly amongst the fans) is what IS the core mythology of Star Trek? When you're re-telling the story of Kirk, Spock and Bones, what is the central legend?

Apologies for the writing--it's late and I've had wine :)

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:32 AM:

Just saw it last night and still getting caught up on this thread, but wanted to respond to this before I lose track:

KeithS (53): I don't want something like ST:TMP, and I'm surprised Star Trek survived after that.
On the other hand, ST:TMP was the first Trek I ever saw (long story), and it got me hooked on the franchise. As many problems as this one had, maybe it will get some new people hooked.

#132 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 11:51 AM:

#128 ::: kate:

Thanks for the word "fanservice", which I assume covers more than out-of-place sexual imagery.

For the specific, I've been using "eye candy for the imagination" for text. I was pleased that Saturn's Children didn't have any, even though it was about a sex robot. It was from her point of view, she had non-human sexuality, and it's plausible that she didn't think about how she looked.

#132 ::: Troylis:

To the extent that the movie had any sense of wonder, it was about time travel-- especially the two Spocks meeting.

The destruction of Vulcan had some, but for me, it was overridden by horror.

#133 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 130:

It had action, but barely any exploration, and no sense of wonder. I liked it as an action movie (and I have a weakness for action movies), but it failed for me as Trek.

kate @ 131:

I always thought that the way Kirk would have done it would be much more subtle. Somehow tweak the simulator to make the Klingons less aggressive or worse shots or something. Not something totally obvious, where he could lounge back and take it easy. To me, the latter fits new Kirk's personality, but not the old one's at all.

Troylis @ 132:

If people have digested the original Star Trek and thought that an action movie was at its core, and that Kirk has an abusive relationship with Spock, they missed the entire point. You're right, Star Trek is as much of a cultural property as it is Roddenberry's (or Paramount's) at this point. For all the obviousness and cheese of the original Star Trek, it was about adventure and excitement, yes, but also exploration, morality, and wonder. Sure, it failed a lot of the time, but it also succeeded.

Mary Aileen @ 133:

Looking back on when it was made (1979), I have to take back a little of what I said. It seems to me that it was made, films that were slower and more about atmosphere were still more popular. (For calibration: it took me a few watches of Blade Runner before I realized that the important thing was the atmosphere, not the slow story.) I still think that TMP succeeds on the exploration/sense-of-wonder front, as well as on the philosophical side. It just falls flat on the action.

#134 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Before the new one, the only Trek films I'd seen were ST:TMP Khan, and the first TNG film. I liked TMP much better than the other two. TMP had grandeur, whereas the other two were just medium-quality episodes, TV in the theater. I haven't seen either since they were released, so I might feel differently today, but I suspect not.

I'd put the new one in between--it's too dumb and too violent, but it's reasonably well-acted (unlike any other ST entry I've seen) and looks wonderful. That last is a big deal for me--if I'm not going to get visual pleasure from a film I'd rather just read a book.

If future entries get some of the original series' idealism and science-fictionality back, this will be a nice series.

#135 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:19 PM:

I just saw it and OMG, they rebooted Trek? The whole thing!?!

That used to be a death penalty offense just to discuss.

On the other hand, they just tossed gawdonlyknows how many pages of embarrassing accumulations of canon out the window. This is, like, a full employment act for every trade paperback writer in SF! Every novel, every technical manual, all out of date! And right as a nasty recession hits, I can only imagine this is good for employment.

#136 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:56 PM:

You really ought to see the fourth one, with the whales. It's the closest one, IMO, to TOS had at its best. (Too bad it isn't this universe! I want to go with them ....)

#137 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:51 PM:

I just came back from watching the movie for a second time (so yeah, I liked it), and since I'd read this thread yesterday I made sure to pay close attention to Uhura. I thought she started out strong and then got shoved back into a "stand there and look worried" role.

In the pre-brawl scene, I actually thought she was flirting with drunk-jerk-Kirk just a little. She doesn't call on anyone to help her at any point, and in fact keeps screaming at Cupcake and co. to stop. The one time Kirk stumbles into her--which is an accident, although his expression makes it clear he's not a bit apologetic--she retaliates solidly and knocks him back into the fray.

I liked her relationship with Spock, and I really liked how we're shown more of Spock's struggles with his background and his emotions. I'm not sure I agree with the statement that Kirk should have reminded Spock of the "emotionally-compromised" regulation; at this point, as alpha-Spock seems to imply, beta-Spock truly is emotionally compromised, to the point where he's not going to admit it to himself without Kirk forcing him to realize it.

I hope that Uhura gets a chance to really shine in the sequel, and I'd like to see her relationship with Spock explored from her point of view too, not just from Spock's.

#138 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:12 PM:

KeithS @135: I always thought that the way Kirk would have done it would be much more subtle. Somehow tweak the simulator to make the Klingons less aggressive or worse shots or something.

IIRC, the ST novel referred to by Elliott Mason @113 (in which various ST characters in a lifeboat situation pass the time describing how they each dealt with the Kobiyashi Maru scenario) has something like this:

Kirk: This is James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

Klingons: Not the James T. Kirk! Stand by while we render assistance.
Fellow 'dead' cadets are described as convulsing in silent giggles.

#139 ::: lori ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:24 PM:

I have long been a fan but have yet to even be interested in seeing the movie.

I note in an MTV article on the creation of the new movie that they supposedly read "fan fiction" while reimagining it. One fan fiction series in particular (one of the better ones) featured a Spock/Uhura relationship - however, I'm certain the movie handled the concept in a less mature, less interesting fashion than the fanfiction. I suspect the fanfiction they refer to are in fact the published novels.

Another favorite fanwork of mine: The Trouble with Tribbles as if Edward Gorey had reimagined it

#140 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:26 PM:

#139 ::: K.C. Shaw:

Ok, how about splitting the difference? Kirk starts by reminding Spock of the regulation. If that doesn't work, he pushes Spock to show how emotionally compromised he is.

Or would that be too un-Kirklike?

#141 ::: Marian ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Since this conversation seems to be continuing, I have a question:
I complained to an old friend that this reboot was accomplished by two genocides--Romulus and Vulcan were destroyed. He reminded me that Romulus had a twin planet.
Are all of the Romulans gone?

On another note--I am hoping that future movies don't cross alternative histories. However, I am hearing rumors that they might. In which we are back to a world where anything goes.

I've enjoyed reading all of these comments and the links. Reads like old times.

#142 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Marian @ 143:

In the original universe, Romulus was destroyed, but Vulcan lives on.

In the splinter universe, Vulcan was destroyed, but Romulus will presumably be saved, since they have 125 years to evacuate the planet and/or stop the "supernova."

As for Remus, it orbits the same star as Romulus, so I imagine it went kapoof as well. But I expect there would be enough Romulans on ships, on colonies, and otherwise offworld to keep the race going in the original universe, just as 10,000 Vulcans were left alive in the splinter universe.

#143 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:08 AM:

Overall, I thought it was far too much of an action movie. To me, the most precious and unique theme Trek represents is the idea that maybe fighting isn't the only choice, or the best choice. The new movie ignores this entirely. Other than a few handwaves towards "humanitarian relief" for Vulcan, it's all violence and retribution. What happened to "Set your phasers on stun"?

On aliens: the treatment of Scottie's little sidekick was vomit-worthy. What, he's (she's?) short, so it's all sight gags and one-sided ragging? Can't (s)he at least speak up and return the insults?

On the redo of the Kobayashi Maru test: while Kirk's behavior during the test itself was irritating, it's his utterly lame defense when challenged that I can't get over. I can imagine on his behalf an impassioned, reasoned defense of his actions,* but what I heard come out of his mouth was "Waaaa! But I want to win!!!"

*"The Kobayashi Maru is designed to teach captains to fail. Why is that such an important skill for a captain? Resigning yourself to the inevitable is only a good when it is truly inevitable, and often the only way to discover what is inevitable is to try, to try as hard as you can, even when defeat is breathing down your neck. You demand that I learn to fail: I refuse."

nerdycellist @ 46: "the other dudes who get the short shrift pretty much all get a highlight...Scotty's just all around cool"

If I were Scottie, I would be absolutely infuriated with someone from the future showing up to teach me some discovery I would have made. I would feel robbed. What's the Bujold quote? "By their essential nature triumphs can't be given. They must be taken, and the worse the odds and the fiercer the resistance, the greater the honor. Victories can't be gifts." Handing his own discovery to him like that was a slap in the face, and what's more, it could easily have been avoided. Spock: "I believe you said the key insight was, 'to treat space as the thing which is moving.'" Scottie stares into space a moment, then starts scribbling equations furiously. "That's bril--no, I'm brilliant," he breathes.

#144 ::: Jeremy Hornik ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:17 AM:

As someone who mostly enjoys the various Treks as cultural funhouse mirrors, I just want to note that miniskirts, phasers set to kill, and action heros getting beatings (instead of dishing them out) are in. And of course, sex as the primary metaphor for cultural exchange. Or, once you go green, you never go back. And: Ohhhhh, green sugar, how come you taste so good?

A couple of questions:

Why doesn't anyone on Earth or Vulcan just shoot at the dang drill? It looks pretty flimsy hanging up there in orbit.

Man, that dude is quick to get mad at Spock. If he just took his time and blew up Earth, he could totally have killed Spock later. It's not like anyone was ever going to shoot down his giant, slow, flimsy, industrial space-mining drill.

Wouldn't a black hole started right next to a planet wipe it out just as thoroughly as one dropped into the planet's core? Why mess around with a drill at all, even? Just drop a black hole bomb, then go kill Spock.

Finally, I saw previews for Terminator 8, Transformers 8, and GI Joe. They all kind of looked the same, and then, I remembered what movie I was seeing. Are we really that drained of filmable Science Fiction ideas?

#145 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Late-night thought: What we're seeing here is the direct and perhaps inevitable result of Star Trek (and science fiction in general) going mainstream. "It's not your father's Star Trek" is code for "it's not just for you few sci-fi freaks any more." I'm not sure whether to take that as a positive or a negative thing.

#146 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:34 AM:

heresiarch @ 145: On aliens: the treatment of Scottie's little sidekick was vomit-worthy.


#147 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:22 AM:

#143 ::: Marian:

Most of what's called genocide is actually attempted genocide-- there are survivors.

I expect that there would be a separate word for destroying inhabited planets.

#148 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:31 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 140 said:

.. IIRC, the ST novel referred to by
.. Elliott Mason @113 (in which various ST characters
.. in a lifeboat situation pass the time describing
how they each dealt with the Kobiyashi Maru
.. scenario) has something like this:

.. .. Kirk: This is James T. Kirk of the
Starship Enterprise.

.. .. Klingons: Not THE James T. Kirk!
Stand by while we render assistance.

.. Fellow 'dead' cadets are described as convulsing
.. in silent giggles.

Yes. And when his instructors called him on it and said (to paraphrase), "Very nice, Cadet. Now tell me what you'd do in the real world where you can't cheat that way?", he stood up straight, smiled at them in a driven-but-charismatic sort of way, and said, "I just have to make sure that by the time I'm captain of a ship, they ALL know my name (and will act with deference towards me)."

[Please pardon the free-verse-esque appearance above; it wouldn't let me italicise the quote, and I wanted to make the citation clear]

#149 ::: Troylis ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:36 AM:

I have to wonder if calling the destruction of Romulus a genocide is accurate. Unless there's something in (an increasingly irrelevant) canon or the Countdown preview comic to dispute this, it's my understanding that Romulus is the centre of an empire. That would seem to imply quite a few colonies and client-states. How much of the Romulan population was on Romulus?

OTOH, they are pretty xenophobic, so they may have ended up in the same position as the movie's Vulcans.

For my part, I've decided for my own convenience that Nero and Spock didn't create an alternate timeline—they passed through the wormhole into one. Now I can happily ignore any discrepancies between the two pre-Nero alternates.

And for what it's worth, this movie ranks right below Khan for me.

#150 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:52 AM:

Mark Gritter #4: Heck, even Organians.

It would have been a very short movie if the Organians had shown up to veto the reboot.

#151 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 03:50 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @149L

Most of what's called genocide is actually attempted genocide-- there are survivors.

We blur those two terms in real life, too; the three cases* I can think of that are generally referred to as "genocide" all include the ongoing survival of the gentes in question.

* Nazis, Rwanda, Native Americans

#152 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 03:56 AM:

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines genocide as (emphasis added):

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

(Not piling on; just went looking for definitions.)

#153 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:41 AM:

I'm not feeling piled on, considering that you're the only person who's answered my point.

I wish language would be a little tidier, with homicide and genocide matching up, but reality isn't simple, so why would language be?

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:13 AM:

Abi... cgeye... Going back to your earliest comments, yes, they did mess with Vulcan culture, but nowhere near as badly as Enterprise did. The latter didn't have the excuse of time travel to undermine a species that was such that, at the end of This Side of Paradise, Spock says:

"For the first time in my life, I was happy."
#155 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Kirk rigging the game by making the Klingons scared of him does tell the instructing staff something about Kirk. He knows he can't win the scenario. He knows he can fail. But he has a positive plan. He has to cheat to implement it in the simulation, but it's a valid personal objective in reality.

They can work with this.

nuKirk sounds much less pardonable.

#156 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:16 AM:

It's always been understood that Vulcan had little planetary defenses, as befitting their scientific and non-aggressive manner. Nero would have had little trouble in attacking the planet with his futuristic mining ship.

Against Earth, however, he needed Pike to give him the deactivation codes for the planetary defenses.

The Nerada used modern Romulan plus Borg technology the future Romulans got their hands on.
Now, why the Romulans fitted it to a mining ship is another story, though.

I was glad to finally see the screenwriters use ALL of the Enterprise's phaser banks, instead of just the ones on one side of the main hull. I thought the scene of the crew loading the photo torpedoes, though, was ridiculous; we're talking about weapons that can tear a ship in half with one hit, and they're loading fire extinguisher sized weapons in a rotating magazine?

Didn't mind the reboot of the series; this is an alternate timeline, not the original one, so yes, things will be slightly different. However, having Spock Prime here will help Kirk avoid some possible problems:

"Spock, we found this ship called Botany Bay; did you guys find it before?"

"Yes Captain, just use it for target practice or tow it into the sun"


"Spock, we've found a ship that's eating planets."

"Captain, place an antimatter warhead on an asteroid and throw it into the ship. Oh, and don't let Decker on board the Enterprise."

Of course, I don't expect Kirk in any universe to actually ask for advice prior to any scenario taking place, since that would mean he's thinking before acting...

#157 ::: Marian ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:55 AM:

Hmmm. when I spoke of genocide, I was thinking of the filmmakers who were casually killing off two races in order to increase the stakes in this movie. Within the framework of the movie itself, I guess that only the destruction of Vulcan can be considered genocide. Romulus was destroyed by a natural process.

But thanks, abi at @154. I was taken aback by the idea that it can't be called genocide unless it succeeds.

After @144, my head hurts. I was content to think that we were looking at one time stream whose course had been changed by George Kirk's death. I love alternative history novels, but alternative history Trek is annoying to no end because they are always discovering a way to traverse those realities.

#158 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Heresiarch, 145: I would have loved seeing that treatment of Scotty and his discovery!

As for Scotty's sidekick, all I could think of when he/she/it turned up onscreen at first was, "Uh-oh, they're not going to do what I think they're going to do with this character, are they?" And then when that same creature resurfaced later in the engine room, in uniform and apparently there to stay, I knew I'd been right. It seems that Scotty's buddy is none other than a redesigned JarJar Binks. Because apparently you can't have a modern SF action flick these days without a JarJar Binks analogue.

Dave Bell, 157: Indeed.

#159 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:16 PM:

John L @ 158:

I know you're being funny about the potential uses of original Spock, but if they seriously did that then the series would truly be dead to me. There would be no optimism or hope left in Star Trek.

Marian @ 159:

The worst part is that the filmmakers treated the destruction of two planets as only slightly more noteworthy than the destruction of Alderaan. They wiped out two entire planets and billions of lives with a word processor. Why? So that Nero would become tremendously unbalanced, and so that Spock could be goaded into anger. That doesn't exactly strike me as a noble cause.

#160 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Summer Storms #160: It seems that Scotty's buddy is none other than a redesigned JarJar Binks. Because apparently you can't have a modern SF action flick these days without a JarJar Binks analogue.

I think that Keenser is an analogue of Twiki ("bidi-bidi-bidi"). And may Ghu have mercy on our souls....

#161 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:02 PM:

Keenser is played (in a thick rubber suit) by Deep Roy, who did all the Oompa-Loompas in the Johnny Depp "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie.

#162 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Twiki, JarJar - either way. Though to be fair, the common thread with JarJar here is that we're talking about an ostensibly sentient alien who is - to at least some extent - marginalized and/or objectified. Twiki was an artificial construct (who may or may not have possessed true sentience).

#163 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Lee @147 "It's not your father's (known brand)" has been for decades a means of discarding one brand's target audience for another, without doing the hard work of introducing a new brand into a marketplace. And, as seen in so many articles featuring brands or activities done by a previous generation, the derisiveness towards that generation is deliberately insulting. "Father" is not used with reverence; the tone associates it with obsolescence.

Looking back, the lack of ads now for "It's not your father's pension plan", "It's not your father's job security" or "It's not your father's home equity appreciation" point up how negatively this phrase is used in our culture, when the marketplace insists that new is better.

As for Serge @156, I'm not throwing in ENTERPRISE in with this movie precisely because Berman/Braga knew they'd made a mistake, and allowed Manny Coto to repair some of what we knew was odd about Vulcan culture, through the "Romulan Spies stole our IDIC!" subplot.

Although if one thinks about it, the Romulans would have had to pollute Vulcan culture for centuries, in order to keep hidden Surak's full teachings so an antagonistic posture toward humans and Andorians could be maintained. That's a lot of work on top of the eventual war preparations against Earth, the suppression of their people, keeping the Klingons in check.... in ENT, the Romulans are the chessmasters of the Alpha Quadrant. I wonder if they stay that way in this universe. The ST XI ARG implies that some Romulans tried to warn Earth, but in the wrong time-period -- if that time reach is canon (and who knows what Paramount will decide), then it could happen that AU Romulans might get that technological leg up the Narada had, simply by them adapting Borg tech where they find it.

#164 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 06:58 PM:

Just got back from the movie before reading this thread, got a couple of comments. "Red matter", "black holes"? Obviously, strange matter, or something even more exotic, and worm holes, though they probably decided not to invoke the DS9 wormhole because of all the implications that would bring with it.

About Uhura undressing, I know nothing about women undressing together, but beyond the Hollywood posing and camera-angling, that scene didn't seem too unnatural to me; is this a cultural thing, like the reaction to Dr Manhattan's... nudity? Being British, I can't claim to be very European, but I'm more in sympathy with a relaxed attitude to partial nudity, and roomies is one of those situations where a relaxed attitude seems to be in order.

I was wondering about the plumbing in engineering. The water flow didn't seem particularly fast for, say, the primary reactor coolant for a ship travelling at flank speed to a rendezvous with the fleet. Perhaps it was actually something to do with life-support?

Clearly, Romulus' star collapsed because of a weapons test, possibly related to red matter. This explains the suddeness, in astronomical terms (too little warning for a natural event), and the slowness, in human terms, of the collapse (enough time to arrange a courier from Earth or Vulcan to Romulus). Or possibly it was an attack from another alternative universe, by someone driven mad by their home planet being destroyed by Romulans.

One other thing I didn't like was the camera work during the action scenes. The dizzying sweeps through CGI scenary that modern directors seem addicted to were bad enough, but the hyperactivity of the cameras during the fights I just couldn't keep up with; those scenes were just noisy blurs to me. In fact, I think it gave me the migraine I walked out the cinema with (aura only, no great inconvenience).

Overall, I don't feel as though the film interfered with my childhood. TOS and my childhood were a long time ago, and those memories are too firmly bedded to be disturbed by any fiction, even one with a superficial resemblence to ST:TOS.

#165 ::: Jay Blanc ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Wait... I'm confused by many of the above comments...

Star Trek is supposed to have internal consistency and good science? This is the universe with Heisenberg Compensators right?

While the new movie may have left it's ass hanging out on consistency and science... I'm pretty sure TOS was wearing assless chaps the whole time.

#166 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:31 PM:


Please pass the brain bleach. You do *not* want to know where my mind just went with your last sentence.

#167 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:32 PM:

I think this movie requires invoking the rule of thumb from the TOS movies:
the odd-numbered ones are not good (although 3 wasn't bad enough to need to be avoided and TMP was mostly just slow, even for then).

#168 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:01 PM:

I think Jay's remembering the series from the mirror universe.

#169 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:33 PM:

#168 ::: Summer Storms :

" You do *not* want to know where my mind just went with your last sentence."

Was it boldly going where no mind has gone before?

#170 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:52 PM:


Sadly, no. After all, this is *my* mind we're talking about.

#171 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 10:54 PM:

(In other words, it's been there before. I should buy stock in whatever company actually makes that brain bleach.)

#172 ::: Jonathan Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:49 AM:

I hated the film, for reasons well enumerated by earlier commentators. In this version, Vulcan logic was an afterthought, an inconvenience which never got in the way of emotional scenery-chewing.

One question, though: why exile Kirk to Delta Vega? If the Enterprise can have a water-filled Habitrail (tm), why not a brig?

Another thing no one has mentioned: the music. When I heard those first few chords, I thought, "Batman ripoff." Basil Poledouris, the late composer of the music for RoboCop, couldn't have written such a heavy-handed score if he'd tried. And the closing TOS theme? Completely over-orchestrated.

#173 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 12:52 AM:


Maybe Spock was afraid Kirk would trick his way out of the brig in much the same manner as he'd gamed the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

#174 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:12 AM:

jere7my @ 144,

I agree that in the AU the Romulans will have time to get their act together. But what is wrong with the Vulcans that after centuries of space travel they only have ten thousand individuals living off Vulcan? It's pretty clear that the Federation colonizes uninhabited planets. Even if the Vulcans have ethical objections to terraforming (vulcanforming?) and/or colonization, anybody interested in the long-term preservation of their species and culture needs to have significant presence elsewhere in the galaxy--- building orbital habitats in other systems is well within the capability of Star Trek (even ToS) technology.

Maybe this is yet another case of Vulcans hiding their irrational biases under the pretense of "logic".

#175 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:35 AM:

Re #165 and #147:

The slogan "Not your father's Oldsmobile" made its debut in 1988. It was a great success in grabbing public mindshare, but failed to goose the sales of Oldsmobiles much. Indeed, as of 29 April 2004, the Oldsmobile brand has now officially gone away. But people are still quoting the slogan.

Here's an oddly relevant anecdote from someone involved in shooting an Olds commercial starring, well, a very familiar face.

#176 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 01:42 AM:

Mark, #176: The novels aren't officially canon, but in Spock's World it's mentioned that Vulcan has one of the lowest space-travel percentages in the Federation -- only about 5% of Vulcans have been off-planet at some time during their lives. Although apparently enough of them have entered Starfleet to have an entirely Vulcan-crewed ship, the Intrepid...

(And I think the accepted analogue is "vulcaniforming".)

#177 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:00 AM:

Bill, I've been known to quote that line about Oldsmobiles. You see, I currently drive a 1994 Oldsmobile Achieva originally purchased new by my father, which came to be mine after Dad stopped driving a few years back. (Among other things, I now chauffeur him around in it.)

It's become something of the in-joke among my family and friends.

#178 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:04 AM:

I will say One Nice Thing about the reboot: Their Barbie Dolls are nice.

And the end TOS theme? I thought it was lovely... except they cut the middle out of it, even though they had enough time to play it TWO FRICKIN' TIMES... sorry, guess I canceled the nice thing out.

#179 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:24 AM:

Lee writes in #178:

The novels aren't officially canon, but in Spock's World it's mentioned that Vulcan has one of the lowest space-travel percentages in the Federation -- only about 5% of Vulcans have been off-planet at some time during their lives. Although apparently enough of them have entered Starfleet to have an entirely Vulcan-crewed ship, the Intrepid...

In the olden days of Chicago's SF comedy group, Moebius Theatre, there was a sketch based on the entirely logical premise that somewhere in Starfleet was a ship entirely crewed by Vulcans with the exception of one human science officer. Mr. Jones would giggle at his own jokes, fall head-over-heels in love with hot Vulcan babes (earning a nerve pinch for his trouble), and fly off the handle in a crisis... I recall that Mr. Jones was usually played by Phil Foglio, displaying his full manic range.

#180 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 05:14 AM:

Summer Storms @ 160: "I would have loved seeing that treatment of Scotty and his discovery!"


@ 164: "Though to be fair, the common thread with JarJar here is that we're talking about an ostensibly sentient alien who is - to at least some extent - marginalized and/or objectified."

Honestly, Keenser (he has a name? that's nice) makes Jar Jar look rounded and self-respecting by comparison.

("It's not a jungle gym! Get down from there!" "Yeah, sure. Because I enjoy staring at human reproductive and defecatory organs so much.")

Nel C @ 166: "One other thing I didn't like was the camera work during the action scenes. The dizzying sweeps through CGI scenary that modern directors seem addicted to were bad enough, but the hyperactivity of the cameras during the fights I just couldn't keep up with; those scenes were just noisy blurs to me."

I agree. Once upon a time, it was interesting--it pulled the viewer into the action in a really visceral way. Now it's just disorienting. I want to be able to tell what's going on. Is that so wrong?

#181 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:24 AM:

NelC (#166), that high-speed/low-information way of editing action scenes is common these days. A lot of people are irritated — some like you affected even worse — by it, but generally the response (if any) is along the lines of "this isn't your father's fight scene".

And I agree that it seems strange that people would remark on roommates seeing each other in varied states of undress. But perhaps this is also an Australia v USA culture thing. The 'flirty' mannerisms doing it didn't strike me, but I'm not all that good at body language, being a fairly standard weird loner outsider type found in fannish groups (just ignore that internal contradiction).

[Later: Strewth. I was interrupted & went off thinking I'd sent this; have come back hours later to find it still in preview. Think it still holds.]

#182 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:25 AM:

Mark Gritter @176: But what is wrong with the Vulcans that after centuries of space travel they only have ten thousand individuals living off Vulcan?

The adventurous and outward-directed Vulcans became the Romulans.

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:46 AM:

cgeye @ 165... Berman/Braga knew they'd made a mistake

I'm not sure what that says about their judgment that they ever thought it might possibly be a good idea. As for the repair you mention, I had long given up on Enterprise so I missed it. I did stick long enough though to catch the episode revealing that some Vulcans had been on Earth in the 1950s to observe things, and was actually amused that one of them had become a fan of I Love Lucy.

#184 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Mez @ 183:

It's not that roomies don't see each other in various states of undress, and I don't think it's a matter of American prudishness. It's that it served no story purpose whatsoever, combined with the way the camera was watching her that really annoyed me. I still think that the way she undressed was not how a normal person just undressing does it.

I didn't complain about the way the action sequences were filmed because I've pretty much resigned myself to the blurry queasycam these days. See the discussion of good CG versus bad, and the hyperkinetic camera a couple open threads ago.

Serge @ 185:

I, uh, what? I gave up on Enterprise well before that. That's just not logical.

#185 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 10:40 AM:

One thing I forgot to mention is that I didn't notice what any of the female officers were wearing*. I didn't even think of it until I read this thread. The only picture I have in my mind is of the midwife in the opening scenes who I'm fairly sure was wearing trousers (or pants, if you prefer). I can only assume that the design of the other female crew uniforms was sufficiently similar to TOS that it didn't register. As a straight male, I feel oddly discomforted.

*Except for Uhura and Gaila in that scene.

#186 ::: Laura from Faraway ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:20 PM:

So no-one else thought: "Oh, so that's from whence the Mirror Universe stemmed?" (Sorry if it's been mentioned--- sometimes you *have* to rip through the comments because each one is better than the next... and because you need to at least keep up the *appearance* of being neck-and-neck with your offspring on matters geeky...)

I know, I know, it's explained elsewhere, but... mrph. And I wonder if in the "reboot" universe, craggy Spock warns Newhura to wear a tinfoil hat on the day NOMAD shows up, or if he tells his younger self he must "dare her to lick it"?

#187 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Laura 188,

Since canon is out the window anyways, I had the Star Trek comics and they gave the back story of the mirror universe divergence point being that Earth lost the sublight war with Romulans and was occupied territory. It took a full uprising for freedom followed by a, never again; we will be the conquers from now on pledge.

I just outed myself as a particular type of geek haven't I?

I am not very forgiving of reboots that are no more than teenagers taking the parents car after pleading "Yes we will be careful, promise." only to go off somewhere get drunk and do doughnuts in a parking lot while hooting and hollering.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 03:08 PM:

TW @ 189... According to Enterprise, the Evil Universe began when Cochrane and the rest of the locals shot the Vulcans in cold blood during that first contact. That show really has quite a few messes to answer for.

#189 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 03:31 PM:

"That show really has quite a few messes to answer for."

No kidding. The 30 year old comic was way more plausible.

#190 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 03:34 PM:

John L @ 158:

With regard to Earth's planetary defenses, I can see Pike having command codes that would let Nero's ship get into Earth orbit without being fired upon by automated systems. However, I fail to see how it would make sense for those codes to lock out any *manual* control of planetside systems, or the option of resetting those codes. Codes that give complete and utter control of the system to any returning captain possessing them seems a little too convenient for anybody wanting to play Caesar. We know from TOS that recent Federation history is not without its incidents of the corrupt or mad getting into positions of power, e.g., Governor Kodos of Tarsus IV, not to mention the possibility that comes to fruition here, of a captain with those codes being captured and coerced into turning them over.

#191 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Re: roommates and undressing, I got the feeling that Uhura knew someone was under that bed (confirmed by later dialogue), perhaps even suspected who it might be, and was undressing provocatively to mess with his brain(s). Not that this interpretation precludes fanservice as well.

#192 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 04:55 PM:

TW, #189: As long as we're talking about non-canon, Diane Duane postulates in Dark Mirror that the split goes back much further than that. There's a scene in which our-universe Picard, having beamed over to the mirror ship with the intent of capturing and impersonating mirror-Picard, finds that his counterpart is also a collector of classical literature -- including a King James Bible, valued for the antique beauty of its language -- and he looks at some of it. The ancient Greeks aren't much changed, but by Shakespeare's time the difference is very noticeable... especially in the comedies, which have all become dark and cruel. Best line of the scene: "Picard looked mistrustfully at the Bible and, beautiful language or not, decided not to open it."

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 05:12 PM:

I wonder if someone in the audience assumed that some of the action took place on planets Iowa and Vulcan, or in the USA's Iowa and in Canada's Vulcan.

#194 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 05:17 PM:


In 1991, my late father-in-law bought an Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais sedan. A couple of years later, when we needed a new car and he needed cash, we bought it from him (he put 40k miles/year on the car, so it had almost 60k on it already). We drove it until we lost it in a snowstorm enroute to Boskone in 2000. So for those 7 years or so, we *WERE* driving her father's Oldsmobile.

#195 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Serge@185: No, but I'm pretty sure I saw The Star Trek Rocks there (also used in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, inter multi alia).

#196 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:24 PM:

Lee, 194: I just re-read that book recently. Diane Duane did indeed place the branch-off point somewhere around the time of ancient Greece. I remember thinking I didn't much blame "our" Picard for avoiding that Bible.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2009, 08:50 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 197... You mean the Gorn rocks, right?

#198 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 12:20 AM:

Yes, the exteriors on Vulcan were based on the Vasquez Rocks, where "Arena" was shot.

Anyway, Trek has dabbled with this level of death before -- just ask the the Malurians.

#199 ::: mdlake ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 09:48 AM:

I went to the theater expecting to see things I wouldn't like, and I saw them. I also expected an amusing visit with old friends, and got that, too.

Ever the old school advocate, I got past the bits I didn't like through extensive preparation: every time I worried about what canon or character they might break, I reminded myself that the original Star Trek series didn't care a rat's ass for consistency.

Often those inconsistencies BECAME beloved canon. Kirk sometimes upheld the law, and often blew it off, according to what the writer du jour found convenient. That fed into what we now perceive as Kirk's limitless arrogance, but it started out as short-sighted plot necessity.

And you know? That reminder made it all okay. Spock and Uhura getting it on, touchy-feely Sarek, lame Romulan villains, all of it. The details were unreliable, but the overarching decision to write to the desires of the moment were deeply true to the original Star Trek.

#200 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Sadly, we have a long, long way to go with women's roles in film.

Both Uhura and Galia have names, they talk to each other, and it's about something other than a man. Passes that test, at least.

Of course it immediately degenerates into discussing Kirk, but they did exchange several sentences that weren't about him first.

If I get in the fanfic-y mood from this movie, I'm pretty sure she'll be involved.

She wasn't on the Enterprise, so she probably died at Vulcan. A whole class of cadets, poof, gone.

What doesn't happen (unless there is possibly a bit of flirtation going on, I suppose) is any back-arching, or hair shaking, or buttock wiggling.

You know, I was on the lookout for that bit, and I gotta say, to me it looked like she was taking off her tunic. That's it. She arched her back enough to get the thing off, nothing more. And as a girl myself, I have to say that if I have a roommate in the habit of lounging on the bed in her undies (and note Uhura didn't look surprised by that, see debcha@#93) I rapidly lose the urge to care whether she sees mine.

...And what the hell is "red matter???"

I'm voting for "red mercury", myself.

I wish Kirk's mother had somewhat in the way of warrior virtues, and not demanded that her husband be with her when he's in a battle. Poul Anderson would have written her differently.

While I agree, she was in the middle of childbirth. That might tend to screw up one's priorities, I'll bet.

(Uhura's Song, a TOS novel featuring talking/walking cats- so you know it is cheesy goodness- showcases her linguistic skills.

I have three favorite Trek books, counting the Rihannsu series as one; Uhura's Song and How Much for Just the Planet? are the other two. :)

especially in the comedies, which have all become dark and cruel. Best line of the scene

The bit I remember is from The Merchant of Venice, in which Portia cuts out Shylock's pound of flesh, on the theory that the blood is in the way of being interest on the debt.

#201 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 01:00 AM:

Keith S writes in #53:

Which of the guys would you put in a miniskirt?

As a data point, Simon Pegg wore a kilt to the London premiere.

#202 ::: Kim ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Can I just say, I hated everything about the costume design in this movie? I even hated Gaila's underwear. I've never known a costume design aesthetic to be so completely opposed to my own. Until now I would've thought my tastes were too bland and agreeable to allow such a thing.

Anyway...As much as I'm a big nerd for Trek, I made peace a while ago with this movie as a whole different species not to be compared to the other. The bar it had to hit for me was that it had to be no more annoying than a typical episode of Fringe. I think it mostly achieved that while also hitting all the low points of JJism(tm) I expected. Quite a feat.

At least Captain Pike was surprisingly hot.

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2009, 09:53 AM:

Kim @ 204... I rather liked the form-fitting outfits in the movie's beginning and not just because I could get away with wearing one like that. (By the way, did anybody else recognize Kirk Sr's captain from Iron Man?) As for Captain Pike, if you want to see more of Bruce Greenwood, watch the movie The Core, or TV series Nowhere Man if it's available on NetFlix.

#204 ::: Shannon Roy ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:40 AM:

Can't believe no-one mentioned the biggest McGuffin in the film:

The "space lightning" effect is caused by Nero's ship exiting the "black hole" -- we see it.

So why is the same effect in evidence when the ship simply _arrives at Vulcan_?

Also, as I put it to a friend: "It's a Romulan planet-cracker from the future, crewed by angry Romulan roughnecks out for revenge. Coooool!"

And it is cool. It's awesome! Kudos to all those involved in making it up.

So why do they have super torpedoes? Where did they get them?

Why don't they just have a frackin' huge and spectacular "mining laser" that puts out much more power than "anything I've ever seen, captain..." that we _think_ is a super-weapon (and so do the characters), but then later when Spock Prime does the mind meld we go "Oh yeah! They're _miners_! That makes _total sense_! It's a big, planet-cracking mining laser from the future on the big planet cracking Romulan mining vessel crewed by miners! That makes total sense! And it's sooo cooooool!"

Nope. Dumb green super torpedoes it is...

You can't think about the "science" in the film -- it just drops a gallon of "red matter" right into the "plot".

#205 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:02 AM:

Could it be any more obvious that Kirk was cheating between not even trying a poker face and the simulation reboots in the middle of the scenario you need to be pretty thick as a test evaluator to not put two and two together.

#206 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:04 PM:

TW, given that the everyone knows the test is unbeatable, they'd have known he'd cheated as soon as he won, no matter how he played it - so maybe he felt there was nothing to be gained by pretending?

#207 ::: Shan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Carrie S. @ 202: How Much for Just the Planet? is absolutely one of the best, and so funny. Talk about non-canon Vulcans. (I actually first came upon this web site looking for more writing by John Ford, The Final Reflection is another favorite.)

#208 ::: Rick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:12 PM:

As C. Wingate # 59 said, the movie was character driven. And that is all that mattered to me. I loved it for the same reason I loved TOS and Firefly. Trek canon and all the rest were, for me, hardly even tertiary considerations.

#209 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 09:45 PM:

TW @189, Serge @190, a few years back, I was thinking of running a Star Trek RPG Mirror Universe game (which I never did do), and settled on the 2000 US presidential election as the divergence point: In the Mirror Universe, Bush won.

#210 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2009, 10:09 PM:

OK, OK, so it didn't open in Puerto Rico until the 14th, and then I was packing the truck, and then I was driving with the dog, and then I was overwhelmed by The House, and then my mother said she wanted to see it with me and could we wait until Saturday.

So I just now saw it. I was never a big fan of the original series (I really got into it with Next Generation and so that's "my" Trek) but ... holy Mother of God, just for me, this was the best damned Trek I ever saw. More of this, please!

#211 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 12:14 AM:

Chris and I just saw it tonight. I'm glad I had my expectations lowered by all the reviews talking about how little the plot made sense, because it made more sense than I was expecting it to.

#212 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 04:58 PM:

I seem to be the only person on Earth who liked the Enterprise version of Vulcans. The Terrans as of First Contact were pretty much the same kind of people as we are today. By Kirk's time there has been tremendous social and ethical growth. I liked the idea that instead of us learning how to grow up from the already mature Vulcans, the two species learned from one another. Each stimulated the other to grow, not into the same thing, but into a more mature version of themselves.

#213 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 01:07 AM:

We just saw the movie this evening & both liked it a lot. Great eye candy. Lots of fun. Yes, plot holes you could drive a truck through, but it moved alone fast enough that you -- well, I -- didn't mind.

One thing I liked about the characterization -- they're all so *young.* We see Jim Kirk as a cocky hot-headed late teen, not the cooler thinking man of action he becomes as he matures. Same with the others. Young & excitable. It's part of the effervescent fun.

And I'm seriously in love with Dr. McCoy. Again. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that dark grumbling as he walks away from a conversation with Spock ("green-blooded hobgoblin"). His little riff on how space is just death and disease surrounded by darkness and silence -- well, he does seem to get some fine lines.

#214 ::: Keith Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:30 AM:

The Spousal Unit and I just saw it last night. We both loved it. I had managed to avoid hearing about the time-travel plot, so I was prepared to be mildly annoyed at the Galactica-style violation of canon. I was pleasantly surprised to see it done reasonably consistently.

Here's a thought I had.

The original series was about exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations.

This movie was about Star Trek.

Not that that's a bad thing, especially for those of us who are Trekkies. And it was probably necessary to establish a place in the franchise. But I'm hoping the sequels do a bit more of their own storytelling.

#215 ::: Villain ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Re: Kobayashi Maru:

Kirk's solution to the Kobayashi Maru test always involved reprogramming the simulator. In the AU reboot, instead of putting the Klingons in awe, he appeared to have nullified their defenses. Is that approach worthless in the field? Hardly: in Khan, he saved the Enterprise by hacking the Reliant's computer to lower its shields.

#216 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:33 PM:

If you ask me, the point of an "unwinnable" test is to cheat. And it's typically Starfleet not to get that. Bunch of stiff bastards.

#217 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 05:10 PM:

As I understand it, the original premise was that the candidates being tested weren't supposed to know that the test was unwinnable beforehand. The intention wasn't to see how they would react to a situation they knew they couldn't beat, but to see how they would react to being beaten, in a situation where there was no clear "right" answer. Kirk was an exception in that he took the test several times.

#218 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Watched the movie last night. IMO, Abrams went for an iconic action flick heavily sprinkled with in-jokes treatment for the re-boot.

I've read all the comments up to #130 and what everyone is upset about (i.e,: Uhura sans shirt, Trek sans science, time connundrums sans logic) all fall in line with Star Trek: Buddy Action Flick Circa 2250. Kirk is the Plot Focus, Spock is the Side Kick, Uhura is the Romantic Love Interest. Only Abrams turned the "Hero Always Gets the Girl" trope on it's head. The Side Kick got the girl. In fact, I'm surprised that more people aren't upset about Uhura getting more face time with the daring duo than Bones. After all, Bones was the original third in the big 'threesome'.

Once I saw the Infant Immortality trope played out, I knew what I was getting into and adjusted my expectations accordingly. See for a complete listing of tropes with examples.

In addition to "Infant Immortality", I also saw: "Katanas Are Just Better", "No OSHA Compliance", "Rated M For Manly", "No Plans No Prototype No Backup", "Punch Punch Punch Uh Oh". After a while it got to be a game of Trope Spotting. I need to re-watch the movie to find all of the applicable tropes.

Something about the Uhura as a sex-only object people are forgetting is that she backed Kirk up on the bridge when he was trying to convice Captain Pike to not go unshielded into a trap. If Uhura hadn't said, "He's right, they did say that. I translated it." Neither Spock nor Pike would have done anything but throw Kirk in the brig.

Before someone says, "Spock had to back her up, first," please remember she's a wet-behind the ears ensign and Pike didn't know what her specialty was. She was a last second reassignement to the Enterprise from the Farragut.

I only had two issues with my WSOD. The first was the "Giant Red Gumball of Doom" aka Red Matter. That was followed closely by "A Hypodermic Needle The Size of a Warp Core." I started out with "according to the Hubble scientists and current astronomy experts, super novas are slow events," but that was based on the spoilers here. Once I realized it was a buddy action flick, I allowed for instances of hand-wavium.

#219 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Saw it last night, loved it. I could heve done without the shakycam and some of the pointless action scenes and jokes, but a big thumbs up from me.

I even like the miniskirts: this is TOS reimagined, not TNG. Hopefully they'll go out and do some exploring next time.

#220 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 08:34 AM:

when serial fiction starts to get overdone, it tends to reduce to the fewest number of tropes possible. This is called entropy.

#221 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 09:42 AM:

I still liked it on second viewing. I will say that it has single-handedly set the cause of astronomy back a hundred years at least. (Things in space really, really aren't that close together.)

But there were some science-like aspects I actually found not so bad. For instance, in the first scene, with the USS Kelvin getting pounded to pieces, a hapless redshirt is sucked into the icy blackness of space by a hull breach. What impressed me about that is that once the viewpoint is outside -- the sound stops. I believe this is the first time I've ever seen a blockbuster movie acknowledge that vacuum is silent.

Also: floating, weightless debris. First time I've ever noticed weightless debris from a space battle before. So thumbs up on that, too. You gotta take your realism where you can find it, with Trek.

The actor playing young Spock just bowls me over. He does a fantastic job, if you ask me. His voice control is marvelous, and he manages to inject volumes of emotion into the minute quiver of an eyelid, or a hundredth of a second of hoarseness when speaking.

Old Spock's ship is shown zooming around to a new trajectory twice in the movie; once (I think) in the flashback old Spock gives us from the future, and once when new Spock decides to ram the Romulan mining vessel. I am utterly convinced that they reused that footage. It reminded me of, say, Aristocats, or 70's TV cartoons, where they reused a little snippet to save a few bucks. It sure looked like an identical trajectory to me.

There were a couple of space scenes where it seemed that the director was trying to go beyond the old Star Trek two-dimensionality of space thing. The camera's viewpoint purposely rejects up and down in many shots of ships in space, and the flight trajectory of the Enterprise when first arriving at Vulcan ("It's a trap!") seemed pretty three-dimensional as well.

I found the shaky-cam rather effective. I first noticed the refocusing camera technique in Serenity, and liked it then. I still like it now; they did it during the space jump scene and I found it really enhanced the realism (for me). I know it bothers some people, and certainly it's way overdone in many movies (Transformers springs to mind; I actually had to buy the DVD and watch some scenes in slo-mo before I could visually understand them) but here, I found it pretty effective. And only sometimes silly (the weird zoom in on Spock when he's admitted to the Vulcan Science Academy was a tad jarring, for instance).

Anyway -- second time through, still liked it.

#222 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:58 AM:

I got into a lively discussion about the movie with a couple of other Trek geeks at ConQuesT, and they pointed out that as long as Uhura is wearing her earpiece, she's technically not leaving her post. Since I'm one of the people who brought up that point, I thought it was only fair to mention the refutation.

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Am I the only person who thinks that Uhura's outfit having no sleeve makes it quite reminiscent of the one she wore in the Evil Universe? All that's missing is the bare midriff.

#224 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 08:05 PM:

In #220 Victoria writes:

In addition to "Infant Immortality", I also saw: "Katanas Are Just Better", "No OSHA Compliance", "Rated M For Manly", "No Plans No Prototype No Backup", "Punch Punch Punch Uh Oh". After a while it got to be a game of Trope Spotting. I need to re-watch the movie to find all of the applicable tropes.

I wrote this elsewhere on the Net, but it's worth repeating here:

I predict that in some future time, the labyrinthine discourse of TV Tropes will replace all other forms of entertainment. People will be fully occupied simply reading, and occasionally writing, entertaining discussions of enertainment.

#225 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2009, 11:14 PM:

Strangely, this happens to reply to Bill Higgins ...

An awesome summary/parody of the movie.

#226 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2009, 08:16 AM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @226: I predict that in some future time,
the labyrinthine discourse of TV Tropes will replace all other forms of
entertainment. People will be fully occupied simply reading, and
occasionally writing, entertaining discussions of enertainment.

The interesting part is that some of the tropes there don't necessarily
apply just to entertainment, so to some extent TV Tropes is starting to
slowly branch out into explaining the whole Universe. Almost like some
kind of Jacobian "add new work to old" development process.

#227 ::: Abi's Mom ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Sadly, I cannot agree with Abi on this one.

I just went over to Emeryville, all by myself, in the middle of a business day, to finally see this movie, and I was so happy that I sat through all the credits and cried. Mind you, I was an adult when the TV series originally aired, and I watched it at that time. As well as a zillion times since.

I'm not Jim Kirk. Neither the new one nor the old one. (That character is pretty consistent I thought. They even look alike!) Not even close. But thanks for the complement anyway, Abi.

"Under the circumstances, I find my customary farewell curiously self-serving." Or words to that effect.

#229 ::: Nathanael ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 11:50 PM:

For those who haven't noticed, this movie was a pastiche of Star Trek.

It was written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who have an excellent record of writing very good pastiches for Xena and Hercules. They watched the six original series movies and a few episodes. Then they wrote pastiches of their favorite scenes, plus a few from other movies (Empire Strikes Back, Robocop), and stuck them together.

Each scene is rather good -- just like they were good in the movies they were lifted from -- with the exception of the ones lifted from Star Trek V. Unfortunately, like most pastiches, it doesn't actually make any sense, manages to get all the ideas wrong, and is generally rather brainless.

Oh, and they just couldn't resist time travel, could they? It's only been done decently, what, twice, three times in the entire history of Star Trek? This is not one of those times.

Plus, the changes they made to the universe are.... stupid and gratuitous. Bad Buffy tropes
are still popular, apparently. (If only the *good* Buffy tropes were popular.)

#230 ::: KeithS Sees Inept Spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2009, 10:43 AM:

They can't even be bothered to try.

#231 ::: [Spoiler deleted] ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2009, 03:59 PM:

[Spoiler from : -312559.8238203956]

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