I finally got around to watching the travesty that is the 2009 Star Trek reboot attempt. Now, please keep in mind that I am not a Trekkie. I somehow never got on that bandwagon. I’m not sure why, actually. Other than my lack of love for Trek I am petty much a perfect model of nerditude: I write software for living, I read comic books, watch anime, read science fiction, play pen and paper RPG’s, collect and paint miniatures, dabble in collectible card games… You know, the whole nine yards. But somehow I never got into Trek… I mean, I watched few of the movies, and for some time half-followed The Next Generation series, back when it was new, but I never really considered myself a fan. To put it plainly, I don’t know enough Trek lore to get annoyed at minor continuity violations. Going in, I knew that this movie takes some liberties with the Trek universe and messes around with the established continuity but I did not think this would bother me too much.
Sadly, it seems that the whole idea behind this movie was to break away from the existing lore and completely re-invent the franchise. To create an alternate Trek Light version – a re imaging of the franchise that would pander to the lowest common denominator of viewers. A Trek with no science, no techno-babble and none of the continuity baggage, with a new youthful and sexy crew, action cranked up to 11 and enough explosions per minute to give Michael Bay a raging boner.
But, I guess there is nothing wrong with that. If they want to re-invent and re-boot the franchise, that’s fine with me. Especially since the movie comes with a big warning label on the cover that says “this is not your father’s Star Trek” which is basically a roundabout way of saying “Trekies GTFO!”. In fact, the movie makes it perfectly clear that it’s setting is a rebooted alternate version of the Trek universe, changed by the time traveling shenanigans. Which means that trekies can safely ignore the entire movie, labeling it as non-canon and go on with their lives. If you ask me, this is pure brilliance. Movie studios get a newer, hipper and dumber version of a legendary franchise while die-hard fans can just pretend it never happened, because it technically didn’t. Next time someone wants to make a new Trek movie, they can just pick whether they want Shatner-Kirk or Pine-Kirk universe.
Oh, how I wish George Lucas did something like this when he wrote the Star Wars prequels. We can’t just ignore Midichlorians because the are fucking canon now – the only thing we can do is to agree never to speak about them. But I digress.
The point is that you cant really slam the movie on continuity violations because the writers covered their backs. You can however slam it because it is a terrible movie. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a list of things that really annoyed me while watching this film:
- Don’t mind me, I’m just gonna give birth to Kirk right here…
Why is there a 9 months pregnant civilian lady on a military ship during combat maneuvers? Is that standard procedure? Do Star Fleet officers always take their spouses with them on dangerous missions? Especially when they are about to pop out a kid? I mean, couldn’t they drop her off somewhere before they went into potential combat situation? Would you want to have your pregnant wife on board when you knew you might get shot at? Of course not. But no one even bothers to explain this. Everyone acts as if this was perfectly normal.
- Too Many Coincidences
Since this is a prequel, the writers had an occasion to give us an origin story, explaining how all the prominent USS Enterprise officers got to where they were. It would seem pretty straightforward, right? I mean, they are all in the military, so they just one day get assigned to Enterprise based on their qualifications, credentials and all that stuff. But somehow Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman decided that this is way too boring. Instead they went out of their way to construct a series of improbable coincidences that leads to creation of the crew everyone knows from the original series. So initially no one is where they are supposed to be. Kirk is not even a captain, McCoy is not the medical officer, Sulu only becomes a pilot because the other guy got sick, Uhura is not the communication officer, Scotty is not even on Enterprise… But through a series of accidents and twists of fate they all fall into their assigned slots…
Which is fine the first 3 or 4 times it happens, but after the improbable coincidence number 28 you sort of start rolling your eyes.
- Super Massive Science Fail
So apparently in the Trek future a star goes supernova, threatening to destroy an entire galaxy. No, I’m not making this up kids. I actually had to rewind the movie to make sure I heard it correctly. You can check it for yourself. Just skip to the moment when the old-Spock mind-melds with Kirk and explains the back-story to him. Its in there.
Do I need to explain this? Galaxies are huge. Milky Way has a diameter of about 100,000 light years, and it’s average thickness is about 1,000 light years and includes about 400 billion stars. And they go nova all the time. All in all, we observe 30-40 stars going kablooey every years, and that’s just in our light cone. Granted, most of these are not in our galaxy but nova explosions are far from uncommon, and a single star has nowhere near the power to affect an entire galaxy.
- More Science Fail
Check this out: Romulan empire is completely blindsided by the Nova. They did not see it coming. Neither did the federation. Spock acts as if the nova shock wave suddenly and unexpectedly swerved to the left and smashed into an unsuspecting planet by surprise.
But if you think about it, the only star that could affect Romulan home world was their own. How did they not see it coming? I mean, I’m pretty sure a dying star gives off a lot of clues as to it’s condition. I mean, our scientists right now can already estimate the lifespan of our sun. How would a space faring empire miss something like their start going through the final stages of it’s lifetime?
And if we assume it was not their star, but some fictional mega-star that has enough power to send planet destroying amounts of energy outside of it’s solar system, it still does not make sense. You have to realize that a nova shock wave would propagate no faster than speed of light. And considering that stars are usually petty far from each other (we are talking light years), Romulans, a space faring civilization with Warp capable (ie faster than light) ships would have years to evacuate and make preparations.
- Your technology is now magic
Of course the only way to stop a supernova from consuming an entire galaxy is to throw a black hole at it, right? I mean, this is basic science, no? And you can easily make black holes by setting “The Red Matter ™” on fire. So you send one guy in a small ship, and just make him throw a single drop of this magical unobtanium into the infinitely expanding supernova shockwave. But just to be safe, better equip him with like six gallons of this incredibly unstable and dangerous stuff. You know, just in case he spills half of it or something.
- Apocalyptic Lack of Foresight
Let’s for a second assume that Spock’s insane mission succeeds. He gets there on time, throws a black hole into Romulan sun and saves the day. What happens next? Well, Romulans now have a black hole in the center of their solar system and no sun to warm their planet up, and feed their plants. So they still have to evacuate, or just… I don’t know, freeze to death or starve. Or both…
- Black holes are also magic
Did you guys know that getting sucked into black hole will automatically transport you into the past? You don’t even have to reverse polarization of your bipolar shield dampeners and increase resonance of the vectoring engines or do anything silly like that. If you get sucked up into a black hole, you get tossed into the past. How come no one is exploiting this to like take over the universe, or at the very least make themselves rich. I mean it is so simple. Buy sports almanac, find black hole, jump in, become insanely rich. Sigh…
The galaxy is about to be destroyed. Who do we send on a suicide mission to save the world? Oh, I know – there is this guy Spock. He is an elderly ambassador now and he knows science and shit. Lets send him. Yeah, just give him a one-man vessel and load it up with the most unstable, volatile and dangerous substance in the galaxy. There is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with this plan.
Why not send a flotilla, or at the very least a regular fully crewed Federation star ship? Fuck you, that’s why.
- Your star fleet academy is now a fancy boot camp
I sort of figured that something called “Star Fleet Academy” is an institution akin to West Point. You know, a school that takes gifted students and churns out officers. But in the new Trek everyone on board the Enterprise goes through the academy. This includes every red shirt and maintenance janitor. Also you don’t enroll or apply to this academy. You enlist… Sigh…
- There is no brig on this ship
Kirk throws a temper tantrum and disobeys the acting captain. What do we do with him? I know, let’s put him in the brig. No? How about some spare storage room then? No? How about we take him to the kitchen, cuff him to a fucking radiator and make him peel potato or something?
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that standard Federation procedure for dealing with insubordination is to skip the court martial and just put the insubordinate officer in a life raft, and jettison him on an uninhabited ice planet. No that makes perfect sense.
- Comedy of Coincidence
Kirk gets jettisoned and lands on a random uninhabited ice planet that the Enterprise happens to be passing by. Luckily enough old Spock is also there. So is Scotty… And his Umpa Lumpa companion…
- I like this guy. I’m gonna make him my first officer
Kirk is a cadet who has not even graduated yet. Furthermore he is on academic suspension because he cheated on an important test. McCoy sneaks him aboard of the enterprise using a clever rouse. This makes Kirk a stowaway on a military vessel. What does Captain Pike say when he finds out Kirk blatantly walks onto the bridge? He makes him the first mate. Makes perfect sense!
- Oh no! We have no captain!
Kirk refuses a direct order from the captain which is tantamount to mutiny. He gets escorted off the ship, placed into a life boat and shot into space. He then sneaks back on board, and provokes Spock, the acting captain to lose control by getting all up in his face and insulting his mom. Spock loses his shit, tries to choke Kirk then realizes that he was “emotionally compromised” and steps down. Everyone on the bridge panics and goes “good job Kirk, now we have no captain!”. Cause, you know – in the future chain of command apparently went out of fashion.
But that’s not all. Kirk immediately goes “chill, I’ve got this” and takes over command. Why? Because few hours before he commuted mutiny, got court martial-ed and kicked off the ship, the Captain said he can be the first mate. No one objects to this.
- He was needed elsewhere
Scotty abandons his assigned post without even bothering to notify his superiors. In the real world we would cal it desertion. In Trek universe, Scotty is rewarded by being given a chief engineer position on Enterprise.
- Brain Dead Villain
The bad guy is a miner who survives the destruction of the Romulan home planet, and then gets sucked into the past. What is the first thing he decides to do? You would think that he would fly straight back to his home world, and try to warn them about the impending doom. And chances are they would believe him, because he is actually in possession of the most technologically advanced space ship in the entire galaxy. A ship that can pretty much take out an entire fleet of federation ships. He could just land there, and say ” I am from the future, and if you don’t believe me just look at my ship motherfuckers.” and that would be it.
But no, he decides to take revenge on Spock and the entire Vulcan race instead. Why? Because Spock was like 5 minutes late to deploy his Red Matter™ magic. So obviously, the only logical thing to do is to destroy planet Vulcan and then the entire Federation because despite their best efforts they failed to save Romulus in time.
- There is always a bigger fish
Kirk lands on a planet, and gets attacked by a big furry monster. Big furry monster is eaten by even a bigger monster with claws and tentacles… And then that monster is eaten by an even bigger monster… Yeah, George Lucas called, and he wanted his stupid gimmick back.
- Even More Science Fail
Old Spock watches the destruction of Vulcan from some random ice planet. He can clearly see his home world in the sky, about 3-4 times as big as our moon. This means that the ice planet must be closer to Vulcan than out moon is to Earth. And for some strange reason, that planet is an icebox while Vulcan is quite a toasty world. How the hell does that work?
- You did well today, here is a starship
So Kirk is a cadet. He has not even graduated from the Starfleet Academy. Not only that, he is on academic suspension for cheating. He stowed away on a military ship, then incited a mutiny against the acting captain. He was removed from the ship. Then he boarded the ship again, verbally assaulted the acting captain and illegally took command. What do they do to him?
He gets a medal. And then they give him a Federation flag ship to command. I mean, I guess considering that he saved the world they could have turned blind eye on his academic dishonesty and his mutiny charges. But how in the hell do you go from a cadet straight to a Starfleet Captain? That’s just ridiculous.
Honestly, the movie is just bad. And I’m saying this not because I’m a pissed off fanboi – far from it. I picked up this movie with no expectations, an no preconceived notions. I did not expect it to be faithful to the Treck lore, of which I am mostly ignorant. But there is just nothing good about this movie, other than special effects, and action sequences. And these are dime a dozen these days. Which big budget movie does not have good special effects and cool stunts? But this film is full of massive plot holes and bad science. The characters are completely flanderized and seem to have no motivations other than to further the contrived plot.
It is an awful movie and a complete waste of time.