2009 Star Trek Reboot

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.

Star Trek: The Reboot

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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…

  8. Badassador

    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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

  11. 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…

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

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9 Responses to 2009 Star Trek Reboot

  1. TopperH ITALY Safari Linux says:

    I really share your feelings about this movie.
    If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at plinkett’s review.
    It’s really worth it.

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  2. Nathan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I think you’re missing the point:
    * The Abrams Trek reboot isn’t a complete reimagining of Star Trek. In fact, there are several shout-outs and references to the original series and previous movies. Sort of a reassuring “don’t worry, I know the canon and I’m not going to completely screw it up” pat on the back.

    * If you’re going to complain about science fail, implausibility, contrived plot devices, or things that are just plain silly, you probably shouldn’t be watching Star Trek in the first place. It’s a campy space opera, not a freaking master’s thesis. The ships go faster than light, you can near-instantaneously transmit exabytes of qubits of physical information from one point to another, alien species all speak flawless English…and that’s just the original series. Let’s not even talk about holodecks, replicators, and the DS9 worm hole.

    * One your points is just plain wrong:

    …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

    Um, that makes no sense. The earth from the moon looks much larger than the moon from earth, and presumably Vulcan is closer to the size of earth than the size of the moon. Presumably the ice planet (or more likely the ice moon) is a distant satellite of Vulcan. And Spock Prime was put there by Nero explicitly so he could see the destruction of Vulcan. Thus, it’s not a complete coincidence that he would be there when Kirk landed.

    I’m not saying that your points are all wrong. However, the Abrams Trek fits in well with the rest of the Star Treks: campy, fun, geeky, not a lot of attention to actual science. Honestly, my gripes about the film are with Abrams’ cinematography rather than the plot.

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  3. SapientIdiot UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    The more i watch star trek (any of them) the more logic/science fails i start to notice.

    For xmas last year my girlfriend gave me a book called “The Nitpickers Guide to Star Trek TNG”. It actually got me into watching the entire series again just to see all the plot oversights.

    Having been really into both TNG and DS9 as a kid, i would still say i wasn’t really disappointed with the new movie. Its like you mentioned, they did a good enough job making it so fans could just ignore it. I’ll admit i actually kind of enjoyed it for what it was, a very condensed, action oriented tribute to the original.

    Although I think that they could have done without tying it to the original timeline at all and just said it wasnt supposed to be cannon. Then they could have avoided all the silly things about spock and the red matter… but then again i guess they wouldnt have been able to fit Nemoy in.

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  4. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    You really have to suspend disbelief when it comes to the science stuff in all of Star Trek, not just the Abrams movie. It’s kind of a recurring theme all throughout the series.

    I thought it was a fun movie overall, my biggest problem with it is that I wished they had just gone and created a new Star Trek television series that was another jump forward in time like TOS to TNG. Have a whole new crew with a whole new ship in a whole new era. So much more possibilities in my opinion than trying to re-imagine old characters.

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  5. jambarama Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I don’t have as many hangups about the organization side of the movie as you, but the plot had an impressive number of holes and absurdities, and the dialog was crummy. When I made some comments about it being a weak movie, my in-laws (particularly my mother-in-law) about disowned me.

    Luke – you’ll appreciate this, if you haven’t read it already.

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  6. Ron NEW ZEALAND Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I did like how they tied the retcon into the plot, rather then simply ignoring that. But as you pointed out the implementation was rather flawed

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  7. John Bohlke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Regarding families on starships, that silliness was worse on the next generation. The Enterprise, the flagship of the Federation, is loaded with families and sent into dangerous situations all the time. Can you imagine the Star Fleet military personnel that are okay with that?

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ TopperH:

    Interesting. Plinket seems to like it, but he does complain about the science fails. Also, his complaint about the Vulcan and Hoth being too close together is better than mine.

    @ Nathan:

    In my defense, I wasn’t comparing this to other Trek movies or TV series. I haven’t really watched that much of them to be able to accurately compare the amount of silly plot holes they had. So I was reviewing it as a “summer science fiction flick” that just happens to be Trek related. And as such, all I expected it to do was to keep the plot free of major holes and at least make their science failures minor and obscure enough to pass by me.

    Also, you are right. My complaint about the planets makes no sense. What I meant is this:

    Since Vulcan is visible from the ice planet it means they must be passing very close to each other. This means that the ice planet has to be in a similar orbit. So at that particular moment in the movie, the Hoth planet should be about the same distance from the sun as Vulcan. Which would indicate that both planets ought to have similar climate – the ice planet should be experiencing a balmy summer. But it does not…

    @ SapientIdiot:

    Very true. I suspect that if they skipped all that time traveling craziness it could have been a better movie.@ Rob:

    Yes, it would be much better. But I guess what they were trying to bank on is the nostalgia and instant recognizability of the characters and famous quotes. Also, remakes are in vogue these days. :P

    @ jambarama:

    I LOL’d. Thanks for the link.

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  9. Kevin UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Not to be unkind but the one thing that you think makes you an objective reviewer is the one thing that makes you a bad reviewer for this movie: you aren’t a fan so you don’t understand the movie. The Star Trek movie really isn’t about making sense, but about getting the old gang back together, so the coincidences are sweet. Though it was made to reach a wider audience, it probably is pretty hit and miss for entertaining people who aren’t already fans. There were tons of things referring back to the original and the personalities caught the same old atmosphere although with a different flare this time around. I’m sure there are fans who find the movie an abomination, but for this fan it was great.

    Also, there’s the fact that “they” have pretty much messed up the Star Trek franchise by making bad movies based on it with the occasional good one mixed in, and then started making really bad movies based on it. Most any movie based on ST that does it half well is going to be good. And as Nathan said, it really is a space opera kind of franchise, not a for-science-nerds kind of movie. Fans study the science and factoids of this alternate universe to great detail, and they even learn to fluently speak a language that was totally made up just for the ST universe.

    Note: If you didn’t like or understand Galaxy Quest you wouldn’t understand this movie either. It really is a niche movie for fans.

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