Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

50 Problems of Star Trek Into Darkness...


From the beginning:

1. Uncinematic zooms. Yes. The opening shots immediately reveal the ego of J.J. Abrams. No, not that they are pretentious as hell and immediately irritating because of that, the camera is looking down at the planet below, and immediately it zooms in and the camera shakes, as if to suggest the cameraman is the first thing you need to think about. Somebody's operating the camera, it zooms in as if this were not a movie made for 200 Million dollars. The zoom bounces, the camera bounces, and a very unsteady quick move to the left is reminiscent of a videogame cut-scene. Why is that? It's J.J. Abrams either reminding us that he's making this movie, or he's using a very over-used technique in creating overly dramatic videogame story cut-scenes, where they attempt to make it look 'more realistic' by pretending there's a camera. (They don't make videogame cut-scenes with cameras). This is ridiculous, especially for a 200 million dollar movie. I know we're in for a video-game here...

2. Ooga-booga men. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the 'primative' savages are the classic ooga-booga men, I'm surprised they didn't have bones in their noses, big lips and ... wait, if these aliens are so primitive that they smear clay on their faces and chuck spears, how did they create such an intricately written 'scroll?' Oh, should I even be thinking about that? Probably not right? 

3.DAMMIT JIM! Okay, he says "Dammit man" but this being the first line of the movie immediately following a monster sound effect from Star Wars is really the first eyeball rolling moment and we're only at a minute and 35 seconds into the movie. Mushface Pine gives us his first mushface dumb look and we're off with the introduction that this Kirk is dumb. Really dumb.

4."This ash is really killing our coils" says Sulu, piloting a shuttle. Huh? What? I'm not even going to try and understand how even a techie-trekkie might take that, but it makes no sense to me anyways, but they of course have to have a reason why their shuttle doesn't work. (This is the first of many one-line explanations of why something is happening, this is the worst kind of writing). Each character from this point onward has to say some stupid thing, in order to excuse what is happening on screen, usually something that isn't making any sense, and they don't care because it's always focused on mindless action moments and the writers really didn't care how the hell they get there. 

5.After whining to Kirk about being seen by the aliens, Spock says, "This is our only chance to save this species." He's already broken the Prime Directive or has he?

6.Kirk and McCoy jump off a cliff into the water, a height that would surely kill them or at the very least break every bone in their bodies when they hit the water. 

7.They also have some kind of magic jet boots on that propel them through the water another convenient thing to have when you need to get to a submerged spaceship...

8.They all the sudden have goggles on when they get inside the ship... 

9.Spock is sitting on a rock surrounded by hot lava, the temperatures there would melt his suit, transparent aluminum or not, Spock would be standing there on fire and most certainly his device as well. Should I even mention that its utterly ridiculous that he HAS to set if off himself while he's there... couldn't they have beamed the device there and set it off remotely? Oh, that's right, these are the dumbest Starfleet officers in history, they're so dumb that they landed the Enterprise in the water (fearing they'd be seen by the aliens) displacing the water and most likely making a shit load of noise when they did it. 

10.Cold Fusion. Sorry idiots, the "cold" in cold fusion doesn't mean it's cold. You're morons. Might as well have used 'frozen dynamite.'  

11.Transporter problems that conveniently allow for actions scenes. This particular issue happens so many times in this movie, I think you could make a drinking game out of it. Every time they either should have used the transporter, or the transporter isn't working, take a shot. As soon as this starts happening, it occurred to me that half the dialog in this movie is there to explain to thinking people, smart people who like to try to follow "plots" why some bullshit is happening on screen that shouldn't be happening on screen. If it isn't stupid re-used lines from old shows or movies, its people talking about why they have to have an action scene right now. This bullshit with the transporter happens so much in this movie, I forget about the lens flares.

12. Lens Flares. Yes, they're back, a little less of them, but what's worse about them is that many of them occur in the middle of the screen somewhere in the middle of a dramatic moment. How stupid are you J.J. Abrams to put lens flares on characters when they're talking, or right at the moment some gigantic ship comes on screen where you're supposed to be in awe of this big massive ship, the music is blasting, but all you see is a lens flare. WTF is that? Idiot.

13.This music is seriously way too dramatic for what's happening on screen half the time. Even the opening cue builds up as if you're about to see some unbelievable thing, but instead you get a shaky camera zooming in to a guy running very far away from the camera. I assume it was all CGI, so it's not very dramatic.

14.Why is Spock holding out his arms like that when he's on the rock about to die from the lava? What is this Shawshank Redemption?

15. Full dutch angles are happening a lot in this movie. The camera zooms out when it is completely on its side while the cameraman turns the camera upright. I guess this is supposed to be 'dramatic,' but all this 'dramatic' gimmickery with camerawork and music isn't helping this movie at all, it's hindering it. So far it's been pretty lame, we're at about 9 minutes in, but it could get better you know, but so much shit starts happening with everything from the goddamn lens flares, to dumb little details, etc, that it adds up, by trying to shove so much shit on screen and making it so that the camera is always moving or something is always exploding or moving around, is already starting to give me a Transformers Headache, what just happened? Huh? What's happening? 

16.Kirk is now no longer a 'ladies man,' a 'ladykiller' or a 'womanizer' he's a complete pervert now. I assume that our protagonist hero is presented here as the manliest man there is, because the manliest men in the world always fuck two chicks all the time. Underwear scenes? That's what people are complaining about here? They've got Kirk having a threesome? What are people too embarrassed to discuss it? The men don't want to say anything about how perverted that is? Fuck it, i'll say it, fucking two people isn't right, no matter what the fuck television and movies make it seem. This one shot alone is all Gene Roddenberry would need to turn over in his grave. Spare me the 'don't push your morals on me' crap, Star Trek was always about morals, and I'll tell you, if there's one thing sexually that isn't moral its polygamy, multiple sex partners, and threesomes. Fuck you if you think otherwise, I won't get into the rest of it right now, and don't tell me that its the next thing that needs pushing the envelope for social acceptance.  I'd rather have Kirk smoking crack, do you forget kids watch this shit?

17. Did I hear Pike say Nibiru? I believe I did. Zechariah Sitchin's 'planet X' eh? You seriously couldn't think of a better planet name? Does everything have to be a reference to something in pop culture now? 

18.At the 15 minute mark, James Kirk in this movie is a stupid, amoral asshole who I'm barely capable of imagining anyone could like. Perhaps I'm out of the cultural loop these days, I guess this is what a 'bad boy' is nowdays? I can't wait to see the crack smoking, gambling, tattooed, and verbally abusive Kirk in Star Trek 3: The Search for Integrity. When Pike is yelling at him, I just want to smack Kirk in the face, not because he disobeyed orders and Prime Directive, but because he's standing there like a smug little bastard who honestly probably couldn't comprehend the Prime Directive in the first place. The Prime Directive could have been a rule that says "Never Land Your Ship or Enter the Atmosphere of another Planet with Your Ship" and he still wouldn't know what the fuck it was or care what it was. He looks like a total douchebag idiot, this is our protagonist. 

19. Our villain, John Harrison, Bunnadict Cabbagepatch, makes the guy blow up buildings in order to save his dying daughter... How convenient and lucky ole Cumpersnatch is to happen to have the security guy at the building have his daughter get sick so he can donate his "Super Blood" (as McCoy actually called it) and save her. No really. This is a plot?  Cuntersnatch is supposed to be smart, brilliant and ruthless eh? He can steal a Minority Report Police Helicopter, outlandishly big cannons, and 'personal transporters' but he can't get hold of a remote-detonation device which he could probably easily take to the front security desk and leave there without messing around with kids with cancer? Oh, that's right, we have to establish he's got magic blood. This bullshit with the bomb, and the contrived 'plot' to get these Starfleet people together is dumb dumb dumb, and I haven't found anybody, any movie critic who hasn't thought any different. It's about 19 minutes in, and I'm already thinking "Cystal Skulls." I' m already thinking "Nuked the Fridge," only in this case, "Kicked the Warp Core."

20. Everything that has happened in the last 20 minute is now pointless. Kirk loses the Enterprise because he violated the Prime Directive, the only reason for the stupid action scenes at the beginning, and not less than 5 minutes ago the big scene occurs where he gets yelled at and oooooooooh get's demoted. 5 minutes later Pike shows up, and says, naaaaaaaaah, you're back on the Enterprise again, everything's cool. So all of what has happened is so Kirk can be in this room of Starfleet Officers and be there when Cumberbund shows up to shoot everyone with his stolen Minority Report Helicopter. This means you could have just fucking started with this scene. That would cut 20 minutes out of the movie, and all you have to do is say that Kirk is up on charges, for violating the Prime Directive, its a tribunal, and while this happens, Cumberbund attacks, kills Pike, and bang, he saves the rest of them, showing what a hero he is, and it's on with the plot. What did  a 6 year old write this shit?

21. Benedryl Cumterfuge's bomb only killed 42 people? Really? That's it? What the hell was all that screaming? He only killed 42 people with that? I find that hard to believe based on that explosion and the damage. This is lame.

22. Kirk's "smart" observation at the meeting actually turns out to be pointless. His little "i figured it out" moment is another waste, as it turns out in fact, not only is it just too late as they all get shot, it makes no sense as Cumberbitch transports himself to Kronos, literally another fucking planet, and for what exactly, does he know Kirk is going to show up, bring his frozen crew aboard, fly out there to get him, so he can take control of Evil Enterprise and threaten them to get his crew back? What the hell is Cunderdumb doing here? What the hell is his plan? He should have just beamed aboard the secret ship, he had the co-ordinates, he gives them to Kirk, who in turn gives them to Scotty.... why not just beam aboard straight away, since he obviously takes over the ship later in 10 seconds all by himself, he has absolutely no reason at all to beam away to Kronos... or wherever they kept the people-stuck-inside torpedoes and he could have freed them. What the hell is his real plan here? This is like LOST, shit just happens in succession so that some other thing they make up as they go along happens later, so that something in turn will also happen, and so on with no actual plot.  Kirk's "I figured it out" moment is also pointless, as he turns out to be wrong as well. He 'figures out' that they're about to get attacked because "why would Harrison blow up an archive that's on the internet?" HE MUST HAVE AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE! No, he did it because it was the HQ of Section 31, so in fact Kirk's reasoning which lead to his conclusion was wrong. He didn't figure anything out at all, he just happened to have imagined that Cumberpunk would attack them and it so happened he did, but for completely different reasons!

23. Whenever action takes place it's hard to keep track of what the fuck is going on with all the zooms, shaky cameras, and lens flares, the action becomes really boring really fast.

24. Scotty finds some doo-hickey in 'the crashed jumpship,' "this is how he got away." Why is Scotty rumaging through the crash on earth? Shouldn' t the police be doing that? Why is he doing CSI work on earth? Shouldn't he be messing around with the engine room on the Enterprise? What? 

25.Carol Marcus shows up. Why? Who is she? Why is she there? She's a 'torpedo specialist' or claims to be. Who sent her? Herself? Huh? What is she doing there, we never learn this ever for the rest of the movie. She says she was assigned by Admiral Marcus, with 'transfer orders,' but as it turns out she lied. So who sent her there and why?

26.Star Wars Imperial hats. Somebody needs to remind this asshole he's making a Star Trek movie, not a Star Wars movie again...

27.Chekov replaces Scotty as Chief Engineer. This is ridiculous. They obviously didn't know what to do with him. They give it one of those 'excuse lines' again, "You've been shadowing Mr. Scott and you know all the systems of the ship now right?" Bullshit. He's the guy who presses buttons that shoot things. 

28. Star Trek references. 'The Mudd Incident,' making fun of McCoy's metaphors, Christine Chapel, "i once operated on a pregnant Gorn..." Klingon honor... I find it hard to believe Uhura knows everything there is to know about Klingon culture, but it's convenient to the plot, or should I say 'what happens next' since there is scarcely a plot here.  Once again, it's like they're trying to remind us that we're watching Star Trek again. SEE SEE IT'S REALLY STAR TREK GUYS! SEE SEE! 

29. If you didn't keep ripping off Star Wars, you wouldn't have to keep pointlessly referencing Star Trek. The Millennium Falcon that they just happen to have on board for no reason other than they want to make a new toy to sell (They must have learned that from George Lucas) flying in a scene stolen from Empire Strikes back (including sound effects), where the Falcon flies sideways to evade Tie-Fighters is not only obvious, the Star Wars references are getting annoying. This is Star Trek man, and if you didn't think it was Star Wars all this time, we wouldn't be having these fucking problems. The Klingon Darth Vader helmets are not a nice touch. 

30. New Klingon facelift. Another new look for the Klingons? Jeez, just after we got done trying to explain the last one. I think Star Trek Fans are ready to give up on this one, because there literally is no explaining this one. (Especially now that they have pointy ears too).

31. Action scene. Takes too long. Can't tell what the hell is going on half the time. Running too long. Stopped caring. Don't care what's happening. It's too long. Action. Action. Action. Boring. Boring. Boring.

32.Loki getting caught on purpose is getting old and tired. It really really is. If it isn't the Joker, or Loki, or the guy from Skyfall. Do we have to watch the same thing over and over and over again? The jail looks practically the same as the one in Avengers. At least make it look different man. This guy acts more like Hannibal Lector in that cell than....Khhhaaaaaannn!!!

33. Khan. Okay. Here's the big reveal we've all been waiting for. Or have we? He says that line as if Chris Pine and Quinto are supposed to react to it, it's way over-done. The problem is that not only should they not know who is obviously, it truly doesn't matter all to this story. He might as well have just been "the first genetically engineered Augment ever created" or something else, he's obviously not the Khan of Wrath of Khan, he certainly doesn't look or act or sound like him, he's just a british villain. This scene is there for a laugh? Why the hell would Spock ask Spock about it? There's no reason for him to be asking Old Spock who Khan is. It's only there so Nimoy can have a cameo, and verify to the audience that it is supposed to be in some deranged way the 'same' Ricardo Montelban Khan, which is ridiculous. If Nimoy had died before this movie had been filmed, they would not only not have gotten somebody to replace him, they wouldn't have even thought of having this scene in there, which doesn't make any sense at all. 

34.Underwear scene. I don't get it. At the moment it takes place, it's actually confusing, because not only does the viewer have no idea why the hell they just walked aboard a shuttle, nor why she's changing, the next edit literally, the next shot, Kirk is on the Bridge... talking to Sulu. What? Huh? What the hell was that scene? What the hell was she doing? Why was she changing? Weren't they about to go somewhere...or something in that shuttle? Huh?

35. Transporter problem again. Can't beam up Doctor McCoy. Shit these transporters are fucking useless in this movie. You know, if they didn't keep mentioning it they would have been better off. Just have the damn ship hit an asteroid and smash the fucking transporter room to pieces, get rid of it, that way you don't have to come up with a new excuse every five minutes of why you don't want to use it in this scene. ENOUGH WITH THE DAMN TRANSPORTER THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO USE ALREADY!

36.Guys in the torpedos. Huh? Is this ever explained? Why the hell are they inside torpedos? I mean what's the purpose? Is Khan's plan to shoot them all over the cosmos or something? It's a dumb idea and a dumb plan. 

37.Scotty travels to a secret base out in space in a shuttle. Did he sign out a shuttle? Does this shuttle have warp drive? Wouldn't it have taken him years to get there?(To Jupiter) How does a secret base built by the Federation Secret Service Security Department Section 31 not notice he's just flying around spying on them? Don't they have extra-paranoid security scanners? Does Scotty steal some kind of Stealth Shuttle with Warp Drive on it?

38. "This man is 300 years old." Really Khan is from the 1950s? This really is a parallel universe. 

39. Benedick Clumberdump's mouth seems so big I keep thinking it's CGI. Is it?  People keep saying how good he is in this movie, all I see is a ridiculous over-acting. People think Shatner over-acts, this guy takes the cake. 

40.Why does the Enterprise when it's getting shot up by Evil Enterprise 'fall out' of what we can only understand as a special effect that is illustrating for us what "Warp Travel" looks like? It falls out of it like it was in a Stargate Wormhole tunnel? Am I missing something, is this how it works? Is Warp Speed like a wormhole tunnel? It moves out of it like it was inside a tunnel or something? Somehow that doesn't make sense to me, unless this is Stargate?

41. Sulu says they're 237,000 kilometers from earth. Jeez, I guess it's a good thing they got knocked out of Warp Drive,  because at that speed, I'm guessing they would have just plowed right through the planet...

42.We're now at the Hour and 22 Minute mark and it's starting to get tedious because so much shit keeps happening, one kind of action scene after another and since there's no real plot except the fact that scenes just occur one after the other for whatever reason until it ends, you stop giving a shit. How is this all going to end? Who cares at this point. We can only assume that more people are going to get killed, Kirk and Spock will do more action shit, and are the characters really all that interesting? Khan's bad, Khan's good, Khan's bad, Khan's good, Khan's bad again, the transporter works, the transporter doesn't work, it works, it doesn't work, it works, it doesn't work. All I know is that we've got at least 10 more excuses to go with why the transporter doesn't work again before it all ends...

43. Tribble. Why? What? Where'd that come from? Huh? Obviously another cheesy setup for their so-called "plot." It's there for no reason because there is no plot, they didn't get it from anywhere, just like the Millennium Falcon, it's just there because, well, it's from "Star Trek" and we need to set up this cornball story element about "super blood." Here's the deal when you write a story this way, the 'impact' of your event later in the movie which is tied to this ridiculous contrivance is NILL. We're supposed to connect the dots, only the dots don't matter. There's no impact. So what if there's a Tribble there. No, we're not supposed to question why there's a Tribble there, with the blood experiment. When it just appears out of thin air, the audience automatically starts wondering, why the fuck is that there? Why did that just happen? You know automatically that this is some cheesy plot contrivance, you know how to predict what's going to happen. It's silly, it's really bad writing. 

44."This door is very wee." Yes, I know, I know, the Leprechaun from Lucky Charms uses that word all the time, it's that word those Scottish/Irish people invented... but I have to say, it's an adjective, and they don't speak like that with their sentences. But since Scotty is Scottish, well he must therefore say something "scottish" right? I wonder why Uhura isn't talking jive, and why Sulu doesn't talk by pronouncing his L's as R's in this movie too. 

45.The extended hallway where Kirk and Khan will end up after the fly through space has no reason to be that big other than that they need to tumble around on it once they get through the door. Does everything that exists in this movie have to be a contrivance? Does everything have to be convenient? Yes it does, because when writing, and you're just making shit up as you go along, this is the kind of shit you end up with. 

46.Do those space-suits come with Tron Discs? Why does everything have to be re-designed all the time? It's been what, a year or so since the last movie? They have new space-suits already? Re-designed for the action figures? 

47.Oh, yes, well, the transporter's not working again, that's why they have to have this action scene with the space suits...

48."As you know, I have made a vow never to give you any information about your future..." But in this case, aw fuck it, I'll tell you whatever you want because they're paying me a thousand dollars a minute to do this cameo. Nimoy? Cash it in baby, it's time for you to go bye-bye. Enough already.

49.Oh, guess what, we have no transporter capabilities again, can't beam those torpedoes man, but since the other ship does, sounds good. 

50."Kicking the Warp Drive." I think in this case, this is as good a way to tell the world this shit is over with. When you cannot come up with anything better than rehashing the end of another movie, while pretending to be ironic, because you haven't the talent to be ironic, well, it's done. You've jumped the shark, you've nuked the fridge, you've lost all credibility and it's time to cancel this shit. The KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN screamed by Spock sounds an awful lot like Darth Vader's NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, and it about the same thing. The contrivances continue after this, and yes, more shit happens with the transporter not working of course. You know what's going to happen when Kirk goes in to the Warp Engine Room, you know it's going to end up with the Wrath of Khan scene, it's pretty damn predictable, and the only tension and suspense you have is, "They're not going to do this are they? Yes, they're going to do this, oh God..."   The problem is that they didn't earn it, it's not the same, and other than the fact that you know where they got it from, it has no weight. It's as this entire movie was...dumb. So Spock beats up Khan and the next cut, as if we were watching the end of an episode of Magnum PI, is Kirk in the hospital. That's a TV ending, and I don't think they're trying to be ironic about it. Oh, and also, Khan's blood means nobody has to die ever again, the end.  There's more, to be sure, but this is all just the initial volley, and I'd have to watch this shit again. It occurs to me that almost none of these 'nitpicks' as some will call them have ANYTHING to do with Star Trek continuity...at all... 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Time to Face the Facts

It is literally the second decade of the 21st Century. Star Trek is being "warped" from its original intent and ideals. One fact to face is how far from the original Star Trek J.J. Abrams 'star trek' has become, but another is that there are still fans arguing about the validity of different series like ENTERPRISE or VOYAGER. Yes, these petty little infantile squabbles still appear on the internet, regardless of what might be yet another fact that they all were closer to the original ideals of Star Trek. If you're still complaining about Voyager, and Enterprise and DS9, there is no help for you. J.J. Abrams has warped Star Trek into something far worse than some little petty continuity discrepancy. It reveals what kind of world you now live in.

The 21st Century has begun rather poorly, and isn't getting us any closer to anything even remotely like the ideal of Star Trek. You can mess around with internet bullies who tell you that because you hate J.J. Abrams Star Trek Remake you're a 'fukin fagot' or you can move to another level. There are more implications to J.J. Abrams Remake beyond whether Archer could have even been alive during the time of Scotty's Academy days, or whether Red Matter could create Black Holes, or the simple fact that Benedict Cumberbatch isn't Indian, there are criticisms beyond whether lens flares are a really cheesy attempt to make your crappy blockbuster 'seem more realistic,' or whether Damon Lindelof is a hack. The new Star Trek can be seen as not simply a degeneration of Trek, but cinema itself, and why it was made the way it was has more to do with how the companies which make movies see us, and even worse, how audiences eat it up and why.

I'm going to continue to criticize the J.J. Abrams films, but more in the context of our very real world, and plump the depths of the world Star Trek alluded to of our next century, the one we've already started living in. Can we turn this back? Can we get not only our original Star Trek back, but the ideals that it promoted as well? Will films like the ones J.J. Abrams make contribute to a degenerated society, fully corrupted,  and will it lead us to the horrors of something similar to Star Trek's 21st Century? Can we get out of it? Is a more positive future denounced now by our society? Can Star Trek still show us anything? Can a pioneer come along to take us in a new direction? Can we remove ourselves from the infantile internet hate-antics, and move up a level? Can we fans reach higher levels asked of us by the very show we claim to admire?

Join me. http://zeframandme.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 24, 2013


The Annihilation of Star Trek ?

Not simply one generation watched Star Trek between 1966 and 2007. There are many arguments for and against the J.J. Abrams "version" of Star Trek. Those two statements reveal more than you think...

Star Trek began in the 60s, was rerun for years afterwards even beyond the movies starring the same characters as the original series.  Children of the people who watched it in the 60's watched reruns in the 70s and 80s, and later watched 'The Next Generation.'  "Your father's Star Trek" isn't necessarily a correct statement by J.J. Abrams, but in fact, "your grandfather's Star Trek" may actually be more accurate. His audience is most certainly NOT kids who grew up on 'The Next Generation.'   From 1966 to 2007 or 2008 people watched various different Star Trek series, possibly any one or all of six different series. Fans of the past have often liked one or the other, only watched and liked a couple series, and some watched all of them. In any case all the series' and all the movies was a continuation of one long series, at no time did this "Star Trek" become a different series, no other 'versions' existed. 

Star Trek, regardless if you watched it all or not, liked it all or not, is one long series which takes place over a time period from the years of the 2100s to the 2300s.  There may have occurred time travel where certain elements or events had changed, but essentially everything took place in one big long timeline (give or take a few moments of 'alternate universes' in certain episodes) but even episodes taking place in the 'future' of the Original Series, at no time did they suggest that even the original Enterprise Bridge set was anything but what we saw in the 1960s series.  The reverence for this continuity went for 20 years. It was one version, whether the characters re-occurred or not.  A "prequel" series even existed which still took place in that same universe, or time period. 

J.J. Abrams movies are called many things, 'prequels,' 'reboots,' 'remakes,' and 'alternate timelines.'  Like the movie or not, one thing cannot be argued: IT IS NOT A PREQUEL, IT IS A REMAKE,  it is a 'version' of Star Trek that has basically not much to do with anything seen before it. It is a remake, it is not a prequel, and commercially it is "called" a 'reboot,' and within the movie itself it takes an 'alternate timeline' from itself not from anywhere else. It begins as a remake because no matter what time-travel scenario begins, it already is in a completely different world than the original Star Trek. It contains characters that are similar, have the same names, including one actor who plays a character called "Spock," but this is neither a continuation nor any sort of connection to the original series' in story, characters, or intention. Just as 'The Amazing Spider-Man' has no real connection to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, except for the names, and that is simply "based" on the original source material. It is not a prequel or sequel, it is a 'remake.' Just as the David Fincher "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a remake, regardless of pre-existing source material as novels. It is a remake, it has nothing to do with the original movies. Commercially, these are called 'reboots,' as an attempted marketing re-definition, but what all original Star Trek fans need to understand is that the J.J. Abrams movies are a completely different version of Star Trek that has literally nothing to do with anything you've seen before it. They do not 'fit' in any way, they are not a 'continuation with a time-travel induced alternate timeline,' any references to the earlier series' or their characters are part of the marketing of the movies, in attempt to make them 'seem' like they are actually connected. 

The marketing concept is to sell the 'idea' that these films are a kind of prequel depicting younger 'versions' of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc, but in fact they are not. These characters in these movies are not the same characters played by different actors. No attempt is made to connect these characters with the original ones, they are completely different. It has nothing to do with time-travel events altering time, they weren't the characters from the original series to begin with. Nor is this 'Star Trek' universe the same at the beginning before any time-travel. These movies do not fit in with the original series' in any way. Understanding that this is the case, that just as The Hulk is not the same as The Incredible Hulk, or the Captain America made in the 1990s is not a prequel to the Avengers nor does it have anything to do with the other new Marvel Films I think will help the original fans a great deal.  Captain America in that film is not the same 'Captain America' in the Avengers, nor Captain America (The First Avenger). They are all based on the same source material, but not only do not 'continue' from that source material, they have nothing to do with eachother other than the names, the titles, etc. They are variations, remakes.  Tim Burton's Batman is not related to Christopher Nolan's Batman. They do not take place in the same fictional universe. It isn't simply that different actors play the alleged 'same characters,' Batman Begins is not a prequel to Michael Keaton's Batman.  While in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, characters continue being played by different actors (Katie Holmes) they are of course all a series, but one which has nothing to do with any Batman movies which were made before it.

J.J. Abrams' marketing scheme is an attempt to sell the movie to the audience who may have watched Star Trek from 1966 to 2008, but once they've seen the movie, some confusion may have occurred while watching his two new movies labeled as "Star Trek" and "Star Trek Into Darkness." These films are not presenting the backstory of Kirk and Spock and the Federation, they are not prequels depicting the 'early years' of the Kirk and Spock seen in earlier series' or movies. They are not 'episodes' which depict a science fiction scenario which 'alters' the original characters timeline or universe, and while within the self-contained films, a scenario takes place where those characters in them experience an alternate timeline or universe, at no time did these characters have anything to do with the ones portrayed and depicted in the 1966 series.  Once all fans, be they Abrams fans, or Roddenberry fans realize this, their confusion will cease. 

The new Star Trek is a departure. It is neither a continuation, nor a 'revitalization' of the original story in some way, possibly in a commercial sense it is a re-fit, a reintroduction of the brand name, but in story it has nothing to do with the earlier 'version.'

Everything that takes place within the two movies made by J.J. Abrams is a complete remake, regardless of science fiction story details within it. Its departure essentially disavows all connection to the original series not only because J.J. Abrams says so, and regardless of the appearance of Leonard Nimoy as a character called 'Spock,' this is not the same 'Spock' he portrayed in earlier movies and series.'  So this is like having Danny Devito appear in a fourth Christopher Nolan movie as 'The Penguin.' This would not be the same 'Penguin' he portrayed in an earlier film, even though he did in fact portray a character called 'The Penguin' in an earlier "Batman Film."   Leonard Nimoy did reprise the same character he played in the 1960s, and in various movies in Star Trek the Next Generation, which was a continuation of that same character.  Bryan Singer's Superman Returns is supposed to be a continuation of the Christopher Reeves Superman series, while Man of Steel is not.  George Cloony's Batman is not the same character as Christian Bale's Batman. Even though Leonard Nimoy is playing a character again called "Spock," though through marketing it is "implied" to consumers that he "might be" because he's Leonard Nimoy and he's always played "Spock," in this particular case, this "Spock" is in a movie whose story has nothing to do with the original series, his appearance is nothing more than an homage, but not a continuation. He is not the same "Spock" as the one in the 1960s series, nor Wrath of Khan, nor The Search for Spock. Even his dialog which makes reference to things seemingly taking place in earlier series' and movies, this is nothing but a marketing ploy, in the reality of the stories, he simply isn't this same character, though we are told not in the movie, but by fans and critics that he is. 

"Spock" in these new movies played by Nimoy is not a character in the sense we understand it, nor even the one we are supposed to be familiar with, he is a gimmick and a device to create an imaginary connection to the old series' in the minds of the audience. It is his only purpose, we may have once assumed that he is the same Spock, but as soon as the first J.J. Abrams movie begins it is not connected in its story or 'fictional universe,' it is a completely different world, universe, franchise, reality, whatever you want to call it.  It is not a prequel any more than Batman Begins is a prequel to Tim Burton's Batman. 

The use of Leonard Nimoy is a marketing device, not the re-introduction of a character from previous story we may or may not have seen. The name of this 'character' is obviously the same, and he is "based" on that character, but he is in a completely new 'remake universe' in which no story, episode or film which came before it can be relied on for any 'development' of this new character called "Spock." Our familiarity is manipulated or used in this device, in order for it to fulfill it's function or purpose, but it only exists because Leonard Nimoy is still alive, and was willing to appear in it, if he had died, you can be certain that this "character" he plays would not be played by anybody else, and these scenes would not exist in the films. He is there as a gimmick and a device, simply to make it "seem" like a connection exists to the earlier films.

A "connection" does obviously exist to the earlier series' and films, just as David Fincher's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has a connection with the other films based on those novels, while they neither take place in the same "fictional universe" or "reality" nor is Fincher's movie part of that other 'trilogy' of films, Daniel Craig's character simply is not the same character played by an earlier actor, nor is the Lisbeth in Fincher's film the same Lisbeth in the earlier films. One cannot replace the first "Girl with the Dragon Tattto" with the other and then watch the sequels. "Star Trek" from 1966 to 2008 will not prepare anybody for watching J.J. Abrams "Star Trek."  The earlier series' have nothing to do with J.J. Abrams Star Trek. They are neither 'altered' nor 'changed' as these two have nothing to do with eachother. J.J. Abrams is banking on public perception that they are connected or related, while they are only 'related' in a commercial sense, a financial sense, or perhaps a property sense. In the sense of story, in the sense of 'series' or 'fictional universe,' they are not related. 

Watching J.J. Abrams Star Trek will not prepare an audience for the earlier series, any more than Christopher Nolan's films will prepare you for Tim Burton's films. There is a character called "Batman" who is similar, played by different actors, contains what seems like similar themes, but in fact, does not. Certain details of the characters are the same, but these are very different. They are not an entire series. There is no logical continuation of Batman Begins... to Batman... to Batman Returns... to Dark Knight, etc. The remake of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD has nothing to do with the original television series, it is not a continuation, it is not as Star Trek continued in 'Star Trek The Motion Picture.'  J.J. Abrams Star Trek is not a time period before Star Trek the Original Series starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, it has nothing to do with it. 

What is confusing of course about these two new movies is that aside from whatever plot or story which takes place in them, a marketing scheme is being employed to create the perception that they are related to the original series,' but in fact they are not. Even though Leonard Nimoy appears and the actor who plays Doctor McCoy is impersonating Deforest Kelly, and even though most details of certain names have been re-used, this is not the case, and many fans have been particularly confused by it all. This is side effect of its marketing purpose. Regardless of what has been said about it all by J.J. Abrams or critics or actors appearing in the films, conceptually this is in no way to be understood as a continuation as many other Star Trek movies were, whether they were The Undiscovered Country, First Contact, Generations, etc. Those were all continuations of one long series, featuring characters that span one single timeline.  

What J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies are is simply explained as this: Imagine Christopher Nolan making a Batman 4. In it, Danny Devito plays a character called 'The Penguin,'  but Vicky Vale is played by Scarlet Johanssen, along with the rest of Nolan's usual cast.  He has introduced characters from Tim Burton movies (or rather the original DC Comics), he even has an actor who once played 'The Penguin' and has a new actress playing Vicky Vale, but the film has nothing to do with the Tim Burton films at all, though it may be perceived to be. He may have Danny Devito re-cast as 'The Penguin' again as an "homage" and no matter how similar his characterization may be, we know that he can't be playing the exact same character who appeared in Batman Returns.  It may be fun, it may be something people want to see, but it does not equate to being either a sequel or prequel to Tim Burton's Batman Returns. 

Nimoy's appearance does not equate to a continuation of the original series, no matter what anybody perceives, this is what he wants people to think when they're buying tickets, or the DVD, but within the story itself, this is not the case, which of course is why many critics objected to having him in the films once they realized what his role really was and how different these movies are. Many people have had a difficult time trying to explain it all to themselves, but simply, no matter what other references exist (most of which have caused a great deal of debate in the earlier Star Trek Fans community because they often don't fit or make any sense), they are nothing but a ploy, and so is the 'perception' created by dialog describing an 'alternate timeline.'  

Of course this is why is so appropriate that earlier fans have called this 'new Star Trek' everything from "STINO" (Star Trek in Name Only) to NuTrek, to AbramsTrek, to the 'reboot Star Trek,' etc. Criticisms of the actual movies themselves may range from attempting to illustrate the bad plots, or other filmmaking issues, but also amidst the confusion of making the assumption based on the marketing campaign and the gimmicks within the films that they actually have anything to do with the original movies and series.' Once one realizes that these new movies are nothing but a Brand remake, you can now separate the valid criticisms from the misunderstandings of what they are and what they were sold as. A new and separate criticism can be seen, that these movies are not prequels, but remakes, though an attempt was made to deny that they were remakes. They were possibly a new kind of marketing or re-branding, but attempting to connect their stories with earlier stories can now be realized as totally impossible. They cannot be reconciled because no original intention had them to be connected in the first place, at least not in the sense of what the continuity had been for 20 years. 

Criticisms of all of the continuity issues involving character, places, details, are clearly understandable being that these movies were essentially sold with a kind of misrepresentation, backed with a marketing campaign allowing for 'reasonable denial' in any direction. Having Nimoy in the cast, yet saying "This Is Not Your Father's Star Trek," yet referencing things in the old series or at least their names, and attempting to recast story elements as if they are being 'ironic' but this is  a misrepresented self-referential deceit. The latest James Bond movie, SKYFALL also attempted this, though when one looks at it closely it makes no sense.  It is purely a marketing ploy, and while certain references are directly obviously pointing at earlier movies starring Sean Connery or Roger Moore, the 'continuity' of the James Bond films in no way can be understood as having Casino Royale or its sequels being "prequels" to Dr.No or Goldfinger, or in any reality having anything to do with them. They are banking on perceptions and playing a new game of referencing older works as 'homages' to what people have recently called "pandering to fans" or "fan service." This new criticism is that these references make no sense in the context of the plots, stories, characters, events of these newer movies. The attempt to create a perception of connection or continuity when there is none. James Bond did not enter an 'alternate timeline' in Casino Royale through time-travel to explain these references. In terms of story, these things simply make no sense. The Daniel Craig films are operating in an entirely different universe than any other James Bond films which came before it, not that James Bond had any real continuity in the first place, while Star Trek actually did... from 1966 to 2005. 

Now that one understands all this, the criticisms of these new J.J. Abrams films must be separated. The criticisms of the filmmaking, acting, directing, etc, must be separated when deconstructing the continuity problems or differences of characters in discussions. J.J. Abrams may have completely discarded all the original philosophy and themes of the old series, and changed all the characters, but this can be seen as a marketing and conceptual problem. He may not even have ever watched a single episode of Star Trek, and has no knowledge of the original Star Trek at all, this is certainly a problem, and though he's marketed and built these movies with the artificial perception that they are related to the old series on purpose, since they are not related, whatever differences there are, this is entirely a public issue of defining whatever he's doing on a commercial level. His films may be extremely flawed as films, but this is also a separate issue than the idea that this has absolutely no continuity with the other Star Treks.

He has changed quite a bit, and one can speculate as to why, and he has made movies which are flawed with plot-holes and contain vapid and distasteful characters, but these things have nothing to do with the idea of "Star Trek" whatsoever. His Kirk and other characters in his films could be said to be 'loosely based' on the characters which were portrayed over the last 20 years. They are not the same, and why he's done this has to be questioned, whether it is his poor directing, bad writing, or personal problems or personal agenda, it may be his lack of understanding of those characters, but not likely since none of this was obviously intended to really be connected  to that 20 year story at all. This causes people to evaluate his motives, whether it is money, or his own personal shallowness or superficiality or whether he wrote them because he believes that the public should relate to shallow characters and it will make more money if more people relate, is anybody's guess. I do believe however that this new Star Trek that he's made was all ultimately about money, not art, not philosophy, not about relating to human beings, but simply to re-brand and make a lot of money for himself and Paramount. That was his job. The fact that he's stated he never even liked Star Trek makes a lot of sense, and only from a commercial sense, not an artistic sense, does it in fact MAKE SENSE. 

This whole fiasco has made a lot of people angry. Of that there can be no doubt, but I doubt he cares, or ever will. I would speculate that his Star Wars films will be no different, and the public should be aware of what he's done here, how he does things, and be prepared for the very same experience. A "Star Wars Episode VII" from J.J. Abrams will likely NOT be a continuation. It will not be part 7 of a series, but rather an opportunity to put a new varnish on an old commercial franchise with the expressed purpose to make money, not to tell stories that people will enjoy.  Star Trek 2009 is not a story about anything. It is a mindless action film with enough characterization to make it work as a movie, no more, no less. They are not so much developing characters as they are employing cliches in variations that have never been applied to these 'characters' we were familiar with so as to make it appear that it is development, but it is not development, nor it is exploration, it is manufactured manipulation. It is not art, it is commercial filmmaking not what some might even call true cinema.

It is not even really true science fiction, as both it's science is ridiculous and not even attempting to predict anything nor imagine anything, its technology is there to serve as gimmicks and plot devices, and there is neither irony nor specific focus on any plausible reality there. "Red Matter" might as well have been "Magic Goo from Outer Space" and it's supposed technical "reality" is laughably unrealistic and highly improbable and implausible. Making Black Holes from planets, and magic blood that brings people back to life because it was "genetically engineered" makes about as much sense as Magic Goo that miraculously causes black holes to appear on planets...  Automatic-fire phasers seems pretty implausible in that a phaser beam can simply be fired in a constant beam and do more damage. Aim your phaser, press the button, and if you move your hand you can cut people in half or disintegrate them completely. Automatic-firing seems senseless, and having it makes the films seem more like action movies, but to ask Star Trek fans to shut off the critical thinking part of their brain goes against what they are used to going all the way back to 1966. One feature of Star Trek was always that it involved the viewer's critical thinking part of their brain, whether it be science, or it be understanding a cautionary scenario that implied something in the real world. J.J. Abrams asks the viewers to shut off their brain in order to watch his movies. He asks them to not think about what's happening. He relates nothing that is happening in the films to reality in any way, it's nothing but action, and sensory overload, and empty and utterly useless content. Star Trek fans are certainly not used to this. 

This leads one to ask a major question about it all, and that is, is this what happens when you have to make a fortune off of everything? Sacrifice all that Star Trek was and meant to people just to keep selling movies with it's name on it? Sounds like it to me...   Star Trek, the original Star Trek has not been destroyed, yet...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

10 ideas a new Trek show should incorporate

Let’s take a moment and look at what made Trek great. Well, many things. It was a great space adventure show, it had cool aliens, cool technology, interesting characters and it offered an interesting view on the future. That special future is what I want to explore here. One of the things Trek was famous for was providing a positive view of humanity while being modeled on our own society. Let’s face it, Trek often dealt with current events and used science-fiction to criticize them.


A new Trek show would need to do that, so here’s my top 10 list of how the crew of a new enterprise should mirror our own society. Simple points that would show the viewers a future they can relate to and hope for.


1. A multi-religious crew. Let’s face it, religious tolerance isn’t at its best these days. Religious terrorists in the Middle East advocate violence against non-believers, redneck preachers in the USA plan to burn the Koran, constant debates about children wearing religious icons at school or the simple teachings of religious ideas vs scientific ones. I know that Roddenberry was an atheist, but I believe a new Trek show should show crew members still practicing various religions and get along just find, embracing it as a difference that makes us humans, even if beliefs aren’t always shared.


2. Sexual openness. Let’s face it, our society is often plain scared of openly talking about sex, so instead, we get movies and tv shows exploiting it. I believe that in the Trek utopia, people would be free to talk about sexual topics and respect each others in the process. Yes, people use the holodeck for sexual fantasies. Everyone suspected it, and it was confirmed in DS9. Let’s show that yes it is natural and people shouldn’t be ashamed of their own sexuality. People should also respect themselves in the process.


3.Homosexuality. We had crewmembers of various races, a blind pilot who later became an engineer, a female captain and various aliens. I think it’s time we got a gay couple on the bridge.


4. Technology and privacy. This is a subject that I believe should be tackled. We live in a society where teenagers live out their lives on social networks and the like, where we share our private thoughts on google, thoughts that are later used for targeted advertising. Some people, myself included, worry about this and take active steps to protect online privacy. Let’s show a future where this is true. Where the captain just doesn’t have access to what crewmembers do in their quarters, where transport inhibiters are placed inside private homes, where you just can’t enter the holodeck during someone else’s private session. Trek, after all, is all about the positive uses of technology, and that means it should be shown as used responsibly.


5.meaningful entertainment. This is something where I feel Trek often failed very hard. Let’s face it; characters in Trek always were interested in antiquated stories and characters. I have no problem with the idea of characters like Sherlock Holmes still being popular in the future, but the Trek universe always felt stagnant in it’s literature to me. Voyager tackled the issue a bit with that one episode where the Doctor writes a holonovel. We need more of that. Let’s see creators taking their role seriously, aka providing meaningful entertainment while offering criticism of society and making the audience think. You know, what Trek should be doing in the first place.


6.The Captain’s power is not absolute. Starfleet isn’t a military institution. Forget what DS9 said, Roddenberry was against the militarization of Starfleet and I happen to agree with him. In fact, we should use the enterprise as a way to mirror our own professional lives and relationship with our superiors. Let’s not show the ship as a dictatorship, but as a place where crewmembers can question the captain’s order when not in a crisis situation. The TNG episode “lower decks” touched the issue of the little guys on a spaceship. Let’s get further into that and show the equivalent of a lower deck union with the power to change certain ship policies that might not be fair to common crewmembers.


7.Copyright issues. This issue was also tackles a bit in “Author, author”, the Voyager episode I mentioned earlier. Let’s face it, copyright issues are an important subject nowadays. Not only the rights authors have regarding their work, but the rights of distributors and customers too. Should works of art belong to everyone? Well, in a moneyless society, piracy isn’t a problem anymore, and that would be a good way of showing artists and authors who create not for profit but to share ideas. We could also see works of art parodied, even modified, and explore the social implications. In fact, I think the crew of a new enterprise would need at least one non-starfleet holodeck program creator, just so we can touch issues like that.


8.Free healthcare. Nothing new here, this was explored in every single episode involving the Ferengi and sick bay. Still, wouldn’t hurt to remind watchers that essential services such as healthcare are free in the future and that a doctor will treat every patient with respect and dignity.


9.Command transparency. Here’s an idea. On a regular basis, the captain and senior staff members have to declassify their official log entries for the crew to review. Crewmembers would then be allowed to criticize their superiors. A recent study showed that 75% of red shirt deaths are avoided if the Captain has to account for his actions at the end of the month.


10.Crazy, out of this world technology. Trek was always about technology. Let’s show amazing medical advancements, new AI technologies, basically any tech that would captivate the audience’s imagination. One important note here, it’s about technology that’s truly revolutionary, not technology that just looks great.


Those are my ideas. I definitely think a new Trek show would be possible, but not under producers that worry more about ratings and copyrights then telling a good story. So I’m looking at you, fanfic writers. Let the people know good Trek can still be done. If you wrote or worked on a trek story in any form, or if you just know of a good one, leave a comment.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Star Trek (2009) or how Star Trek XI is still holding up the odd numbers suck curse

http://cougarcinema.blogspot.com/2010/08/lets-review-movie-star-trek-2009-or-how.html


by Norma Harvey
It’s my first attempt at a review so let’s discuss a fandom that has over forty years of history and enough broken bases in it that people will be arguing over things until its hundredth anniversary. Gentlemen, ladies, and others welcome to my review of Star Trek.



First off, despite the title of this post, I have to say that I don’t hate this movie and I don’t think it’s the worst thing to ever bear the name Star Trek. There are things that I enjoy about this film. I think the cast is excellent. They chose people who look enough like the old actors that I could accept them as the characters, at least physically, and they can act. Two thumbs way, way up for Karl Urban especially. I like the music. I like the new design of the ship and the sets, with the exception of the engine room, I just wished they’d turn down the lens flares so I could see them better. Seriously, who decided that having your audience squinting at the screen was good cinematography? I enjoyed the opening sequence and was emotionally invested in George and his wife being pulled apart; a nice contrast of the birth of Jim with his father’s death, then the title shot showed up and everything went to crap. Finally, I like the idea of time travel to create an alternate universe. Star Trek has always had a weird relationship with this from the beginning anyway. Making changes to the timeline should alter the future ala ‘City on the Edge of Forever’, but we also see that alternate universes can exist along side the prime one with ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and ‘The Tholian Web’, and I’m not even going to get into the timey wimey ball headache that is ‘Yesteryear’. So, I can buy that the writers have created this new universe and the beloved one remains untainted. However, almost from the moment this new universe is created problems arise. We have this whole new expanse to play in, to boldly go in all new directions and we don’t.

In terms of dropping the ball with this film lets start with the characters. We have a Jim Kirk who has grown up without a father making him more reckless and more of a rebel than the Jim Kirk of TOS. A realist versus an idealist if you will. Great, how will this change affect how Kirk acts now in comparison to what we saw in TOS? He becomes an asshole that’s what. We see in a deleted scene that he appears to have had a difficult childhood, and honestly the scene with his brother and Frank really should have been kept in because it gives him depth in the following scene with the car. Without it Jim Kirk evading the police and driving an antique car into a quarry for reasons unknown makes him come off as an asshole. Feeling annoyance at the main character is not the emotion you want to be invoking in the audience if you want us to care about what happens to him for the next 100 minutes of the film. Unfortunately the feeling of annoyance at Jim Kirk won’t be leaving anytime soon. Now after he acts like a slime ball to Uhura in the bar, playing on the whole pop culture ‘Kirk is a playboy’ idea which I hate by the way, we get a glimpse into why he acts the way he does. We hear from Pike that like his counter-part Kirk is smart, but he doesn’t apply himself. We can see the subtle change in Kirk as Pike talks about his father. His whole body language just screams:

‘Oh, great another person who wants to tell me how great my father is and thinks I should be just like him. I don’t want to talk about this and need another drink.’

Too bad we didn’t actually go anywhere with this. When Pike dares him to do better he contemplates it, but honestly I don’t know why what Pike is saying is any different from what Kirk seems to have heard before. When he goes to the recruit shuttle he seems to be doing all this to prove that he can do a dare, to stick it to authority. What it is his real internal motivation for doing this? Nobody knows and so we have no way to connect with the character except via way of nostalgia which as we all know, from all the Easter eggs in this movie, they’re pushing that imagery hard. Especially with the next big scene, the infamous test.

The Koybashi Maru scene again makes him come off like a cocky asshole who is sticking it to authority rather than the intellectual exercise
Wrath of Khan made it feel like. He sits in the chair acting all at ease, because he knows he’s going to win and I just want to punch him in the face. Then came his whole reason for doing it: “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.” Why? When was this established? Why does he now apparently want to be just like his father? What caused this change? Explain stuff movie I dare you!

What drives Kirk to want to be in that captain’s chair? How has he proven that he deserves to be in that chair by the time the movie is over? He’s rude, he’s obnoxious, he’s arrogant, and the only command decision he makes is to direct the Enterprise to Earth to stop Nero. Getting the Enterprise there without being seen, disabling the drill, and getting the ship away from the black hole, that Kirk kept them in because he’s a revenge loving idiot, are all done by other people. This is the cadet they want to command the Federation flagship? In my eyes he certainly hasn’t earned that right. He was simply slotted into his predestined role so we can have the whole bridge crew assembled properly by the time the end credits roll. This was a mistake in my opinion, but since it is in place now I hope it is something that will be addressed in the sequel now that we have Kirk in command a good decade earlier than he was in the prime!verse. This has got to cause resentment among the officers in the fleet that were in the Laurentain system. Creating conflict as these captains have to deal with, in their eyes, some wet behind the ears little punk. Leading to Kirk having some self doubt as to if he really does belong in that chair and then perhaps some Kirk/Spock/McCoy discussion about the issue. The golden trio component was another vital missing element in this film and one the producing team apparently doesn’t even want if the DVD cover and posters are anything to go by. (As an aside am I the only one who thinks having closes-ups of the character’s faces in shadow looks awful?)

Well Kirk has been badly handled and that brings us to our next glaring character issue: Spock. And let me get this out of the way now because it’s one of the big issues I have with Spock; no I do not like the pairing of Spock and Uhura. It comes out of no where, it has no bearing on the plot, and it blasts a big hole right through Spock’s character. Also the excuse of, ‘it’s an alternate universe stuff is different just go with it’ doesn’t wash. We were shown that Nero altered the timeline to create this universe when he attacked the Kelvin and this changed Kirk’s life profoundly. We get no indication that this event affected Spock’s personal life in any way. In fact we see that the duel nature of the character, in constant conflict internally, that was present in TOS is still in place here. He is tormented by his peers for being a half-breed. His heritage is seen as a handicap by his elders. Sarek wants him to be fully Vulcan and yet he himself married a human. The conflict is set up perfectly, and then we get to the academy and it all goes right out the transparent aluminum window. Spock is an instructor, why was he okay with having a relationship with a student? And yes the way I interpret the hangerbay scene the relationship didn’t just pop up when Uhura comforted him in the turbolift after the destruction of Vulcan. Spock specifically said that he does not wish to show favouritism and glances over as people pass by, so whatever is going on between them is more than professional at this point and others have noticed. Then at the end they stand on the transporter pad kissing goodbye in public. What the hell? Even Spock Prime in the movies, who had accepted his human side and that emotions were necessary in his life didn’t act like that. If Spock is willing to be so openly affectionate in public then there is no struggle for him. If there is no internal conflict between logic and emotion then the cornerstone of the Spock character is lost. Now once again this is something the sequel can deal with now that this stupid relationship is in place. It can delve into deeper character issues as other Treks did. With Vulcan gone does Spock pull deeper into being a Vulcan to preserve that culture? Just like Kirk he has had a glimpse of who he might one day become, does he wish to be Spock Prime? Who is open to emotion and displays it when the situation calls for it. Is it destiny? Or will he forge his own path and be his own person?

In our next character misstep we have Nero and his stupid motivations. Yes I know this has been commented on a lot, but I’m throwing in my two cents anyway. Honestly this, to me, is nothing more than an attempt to shove in a concept from
Wrath of Khan in an attempt to tie this film to the best Trek movie made to date. Why does everybody who makes Trek think that they have to rehash this concept in order to have a successful movie? Newsflash everyone at Paramount, you don’t. What you need to have are good themes, a good story, and some great character growth. The most financially successful film of the first ten movies is in many respects the very opposite of Wrath of Khan. It has no central villain, it’s a comedy not an action/drama piece, it doesn’t even take place in space. What both films do have though are great themes, well told stories, and growth of the characters and that’s why they, generally, are the most beloved of the Trek movies. Simply giving Nero a revenge motive does not automatically elevate him to Khan’s level. Yes Khan wanted revenge on Kirk for marooning him on Ceti Alpha V and never checking up on them; thus allowing his followers and wife to die, but Kirk was directly responsible for this. Also Khan was an egotistical tyrant who couldn’t stand the fact that he had been beaten by an inferior who had obviously long forgotten all about him. So, it makes sense that Khan acts like he does in the film. Nero, on the other hand, has none of this. He wanted revenge on Spock for the destruction of Romulus, but Spock was not responsible in any way for the destruction of the planet. He had been trying to save it and didn’t get there in time. Not to mention this whole scenario just brings up a whole ton of plot holes. Nero said he saw the destruction of Romulus. Which implies he was near the planet when he was working, so how was his ship not destroyed in the supernova? And if he knew Spock was coming that means there was at least some knowledge of the impending disaster, why was the planet not evacuated? How did Nero manage to transform his simple mining vessel into a doomsday machine and get back before Spock got there, just how late was Spock? Finally why would Spock inject the red matter into the star if it had already gone nova? This has a partial explanation in that he wished to prevent further destruction as this thing was supposedly threatening the galaxy, and right here is the key point to giving Nero’s motivations some much needed depth. Have Nero think that the nova is threatening two planets in particular, Romulus and Vulcan. Spock is sent to help and Nero thinks he deliberately delayed in order to wipe out the heart of the Romulan Empire, while saving Vulcan, and returning a hero. We in the audience know this isn’t true of course, but Nero doesn’t. This also gives the loss of Vulcan in the new universe another layer of depth. Not only would Nero be doing this to get revenge on Spock by having him watch the destruction of his home just as he did, but he would be twisting the knife in even deeper by showing Spock that he hasn’t saved his planet after all. To quote a villain who doesn’t suck, “I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you, and I wish to go on hurting you.”

Aside from the character issues the next big problem for me is that the film has no theme to give all the events cohesion. We have Kirk starting out as a reckless kid, becoming a reckless young adult and then getting a captain’s seat as a reward for that. We have Spock struggling with his duality and then just having it all deflate into nothingness like a popped soufflĂ©. We have Nero running around screaming about revenge and wanting to destroy the Federation to save Romulus. Even though destroying the Federation won’t stop the star from going nova in 129 years anyway, but what could have pulled this all together thematically? Well since it’s establishing a new universe where characters are aware that the prime!universe is out there we could have had a whole thing about fate and destiny. How much of life do we really influence? Are things predetermined, can they be changed, do we want to change them? It could have been about loss and coping with that. Where Nero chooses a revenge filled and eventually self-destructive path at the loss of his family; Kirk in contrast starts out self-destructive and grows into a man who will use his pain and loss as a driving force to help others. Where Spock starts out confused and conflicted, working through his loss he comes out of the events more whole, more at peace with himself. Instead we just have a bunch of scenes that are strung together in a flashy sequence.

With the lack of theme comes the next greatest issue: nothing is explored in any great depth. We have the destruction of Vulcan, the home world of one the founding members of the Federation, what are the consequences of this? Nothing. Yes Kirk uses it and the death of Amanda to get Spock emotionally compromised, but that’s it. To me it’s comparable to the destruction of the Enterprise and the death of David in
The Search for Spock. Both these events are huge and yet they don’t have any really impact on Kirk or anyone else, until the sixth movie that is, they are just things that Sarek can list off that Kirk lost at the end of the film. Same thing here; it’s used for shock value and to get the plot rolling and the consequences are not dealt with. The same thing is true with the death of George Kirk. We start off with Kirk seeming to not want to be anything like that man and then he turns around and does want to be just like George for reasons the audience is never given. If you aren’t going to deal with the butterfly effect you so painstakingly set-up then you might as well have done a direct reboot of canon and have done with it.

The most annoying thing of all though is that the more times I watch this film the more I see that this story is just awful. Things do not flow naturally from it all. Events and people are merely pushed around to get things where they need to be for the plot and to give us pointless actions sequences. For example there is no logical reason for Spock to kick Kirk off the Enterprise and leave him marooned on some planet in the middle of nowhere, except of course that Kirk needs to meet Spock Prime. As with many things discussed in this review so far this is easy to fix; by having Kirk found as a stowaway and put in the brig earlier only for him to escape it with ease. Thus Spock knows he must get Kirk off the ship if he is to retain proper command. Or how about having some Vulcan ship that’s escaped the imploding planet in trouble, hailing the Enterprise, and having to land on Delta Vega? The Enterprise goes to help and Jim, as part of a landing party, runs off to do something heroic and runs into Spock Prime.

For an example of a pointless action sequence there is the whole drill on Vulcan sequence. Kirk and Sulu drop down to disable the drill and fight with the Romulans. It looks cool no question, but it wasn’t necessary, because right afterwards Nero lifts up the drill and they’re able to use the transporters again. Yes they say the drill was sabotaged, but nothing comes of that line and they don’t start the transport until Nero retracts the drill. When it would have been turned off by his crew and the transporters would have come back up anyway. So, the whole scene was entirely pointless. We could have had everybody sitting on the ship doing nothing and the outcome would have been the same. Also why does it take about five minutes to get to Vulcan from Earth, but at least five hours for everyone to get back? This is where the skydiving scene could have been made more relevant. Have Kirk and Sulu successfully disable the drill and Nero and his crew have to make repairs before they can go to Earth. Now the Enterprise is in a race against the clock. They don’t know how long it will take the enemy to fix it and get to Earth. Do they go to the fleet and hope they can all make it back in time, or do they risk heading straight for Earth and taking on the Narada one on one?

Why does Pike promote Kirk to first officer? Because the story needs him to be in that position to take over the Enterprise later, but what in story reason is there? Pike sees potential in him you say, but what potential? Outside of losing a bar fight he started and cheating on a test what has Kirk done to show that he is command material? I’d have been totally willingly to go along with this if we were given some indication that Kirk deserves it. If McCoy had mentioned that he knew Kirk was the top of his classes and the failing the Koybashi Maru wasn’t a sign that he was a bad cadet. Or if we had seen Kirk up for a promotion or a reward of some kind and was turned down for seemingly petty reasons and Pike objects and then gives him a field command, to give Kirk the opportunity to show his skills. Instead he is just put there because the plot needs him there. Shoving your characters around like pieces on a chess board so they can fit into neat boxes by the end credits is a sign of bad writing. Other weird or pointless crap includes the Pike integration scene. Again it’s a cool scene, and another rip off of
Wrath of Khan for those of us keeping score, but it was there so Nero could get some border protection access code to disable Earth’s defences, which are never spoken of again; huh?

Why can they not contact Starfleet after leaving Vulcan? The drill was what was causing the disruptions before and it isn’t there now. Of course the answer is that if Spock could contact the fleet they would all converge on Earth to face Nero and the whole Kirk Spock struggle would be non-essential. (It literally took me re-watching the bridge scene three times to hear Spock say that the sub-space communications have been damaged and that’s why they can’t contact anyone. Hey, director! If you want to convey information to the audience don’t have a character do it when another character is trying to shout over him.) Why can’t any Vulcans shoot the drill if Spock was easily able to do it with the Jellyfish? Why does Kirk have to run away from two creatures on Delta Vega? Why does the Enterprise arriving late to Vulcan have to be because Sulu is an idiot? Why do we have to have a scene with Uhura in her underwear? Why does everyone who works with Trek now a days insist on making it an action, sex, filled vapid piece of work with nothing of substance?

In closing, I don’t hate this film so much as I am disappointed in it. The potential here is so great to explore new themes in Trek. To have the characters grow and interact in ways we’ve never seen before. Instead of being new and innovative though it has a pointless empty romantic couple, pretty actors, and lots of CGI explosions just like every other summer blockbuster we’ve had in the last ten years, because Apollo forbid that we actually have the audience think instead of switching off their brains when they park their butt in the theatre seat. Now having ranted to death about these things I will still be going to see the sequel when it comes out because that will be the true lynch pin in all of this for me. Now that they have set-up this situation, however clunky and contrived it may be, what are they going to do with it? The writers and producers have received the feedback and supposedly know what to improve on for the next one, but will they? Will they deal with character issues, will they have an over-arching theme? They have a chance do something really unique and forward thinking, you know, what Star Trek does best, will they take it? If they can prove that they can execute the true heart and soul of Trek, and not just give us Easter eggs as winks to the audience, I will be onboard. If not then I’ll be sticking with ‘my father’s Star Trek’ thanks ever so much.

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

MONDAY: SHATNER AFTERMATH

http://www.biography.com/aftermath/

Premieres Monday, check listings on the BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL for William Shatner's new show!

TREK: Where Did it All Go Wrong?

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Where did it all go wrong?

By now, we know it, the latest Star Trek movie sucked. I’ve been thinking for a while about the franchise, and where it all went wrong. While Trek reached a new low, it’s been a while since anything actually good came out of the franchise. Now, I understand that some of you might actually like Voyager, Enterprise or the TNG movies. I warn you, I didn’t, and will criticize them. Any of you who liked them, I respect that. I’m personally a DS9 fan, even if it was the beginning of the end in my opinion.

I have to admit, I've fallen back to Doctor Who lately, now that I’ve given up on ever seeing good Trek I haven’t watched a 100 times already. Sure, it's cheezy and often childish, but the writers really give us imaginative monsters and places. In fact, the show is all about exploring strange alien worlds or other time periods. It lasted for so long because it didn't try to "tie-in" everything, keeping it mostly in a "monster of the week" pattern. Bigger story arcs are usually contained within a single season.

This is precisely the error that Trek made. While I love DS9, I do feel it made the mistake of explaining everything. The Romulans where no longer those mysterious aliens we know little about, but became a nation where we send diplomats. The mystery was gone. Let’s face it; you can’t have characters like Trellane, for example, in post-DS9 Trek. Even Q was ignored, only to be reintroduced and stripped of all his mystery in Voyager. The fact is that Trek stopped being about exploring, and became a show that’s about explaining.

Speaking of Voyager, its original concept could have worked wonders and put Trek back on course, giving us weird aliens and space exploration, discovering more about the human race in the process, aka what made Trek great. Instead, that show lost itself in explaining everything, and ruined both the Borg and Q. I will admit that it had its moments, and a few episodes where pretty good from what I remember. (My memory is fuzzy, as I haven’t watched it in years. I mostly remember the specific episodes that pissed me off, not a good sign.) It also started playing with the one thing that ruined Trek: Time Travel plotlines. While one shot episodes, such as “The City on the Edge of Forever”, can work great, Voyager’s time travel plot holes were always confusing to me. The last episode of that show is about time travel, but doesn’t deal with consequences. Instead, it’s about “kicking the bad guy’s ass”. This, to me, is where Trek truly went wrong. At the same time, we had the TNG movies that were turning Trek into an action franchise. Voyager went the same route.

I have to admit, I’ve never finished watching Enterprise. I gave up somewhere at the beginning of the third season. I didn’t like the characters, hated the way they presented the Vulcans and found the time travel plotlines even more ludicrous then Voyager’s. To me, it never felt like the Trek I knew and loved.

After all that, is it really surprising that the new franchise is a dumb action movie full of explosions and sexist jokes? Sadly, no. While it could be possible to make a new Trek series that would work, it would need to be about the ideas and concepts behind Star Trek, not about reusing the characters, locations and aliens. It’s a great idea for an old enemy to come back once in a while, but it should be about paying homage to the original while moving forward. A good sequel should use the original material to build something more, keep the concept alive, but push it further. A bad sequel will forget about what made the original great and keep telling the public how great the characters are.

With this said, I’m sad to say that I’ll go back to watching Doctor Who and will probably stop paying attention at anything new that comes from Trek, at least while the Jar-Jar club is in control. If you’re looking for a good example of a revival of an old show, I suggest you take a look at Who. It’s not perfect, but it modernized the concept while staying true to the original, and it actually respects the original material.