Star Trek

I had never seen a Star Trek movie or even a whole episode of any of the series before today.

First this was because (as far as I noticed) they never rolled through Finnish television when I was willing to be rolled up; then it was because ghosting through Memory Alpha (and visiting Youtube to heard the “Khaaan!”) was enough to get a working knowledge of the references, enough to get by on the Internet; I simply didn’t want to bother, as I had plenty of entertainment already. (Besides, the condensed, indexed nature of Memory Alpha the Star Trek wiki is much better for a raging infophile like me.)

Now, today I went and saw the new reboot-prequel Star Trek movie.

I have three judgments to tell about it. (And I promise to keep this spoiler-free, except for the last paragraph, so feel free to go on.)

One, as an action movie it was good. Lots of explosions, vertigo, shooting, last-second rescues, strife and reconciliation, witty banter and even more explosions.

Two, as a world-building exercise it was excellent — the first half especially left me wanting to scream “Stop! Tell me more about this! Tell me more about that copper — the Starfleet Academy — the Romulans — all of it!” Then again, this was only to be expected with all the background material available. I think I will be wandering, wondering around Memory Alpha quite a bit, later on.

Three, plot-wise it was an abominable pancake.

I do not so much refer to the premise, but to the way the events were stitched together.

There were so many fortunate coincidences that if the movie had slowed down for even a bit (it didn’t), it would have tripped in all the lucky guesses and fortuitous accidents required to keep the action going. Too many miracle cures, too many all too improbable accidents and survivals… why is it okay to rip a movie apart for stilted acting, but somehow silly to ask for a bit of probabilistic realism? (I wanted to scream when the Scots engineer came in with his useful invention. How convenient!) I don’t know anything about writing movies, and in action movies this is to be expected, maybe, but by the empty heavens the plot was stitched together in way more repulsive than anything Victor Frankenstein ever put a needle on.

Some people have griped about continuity errors, too: something the movie tries to get over with a handy application of time travel. This, though, fixes only the differences after the travel! That won’t change the color of skies or the number of suns — but I won’t say anything, as I am not a fan, just a layman fascinated by the immensity of the world behind this all. And while (so I hear) the original series were loose with continuity too — well, what kind of an excuse is that? Maybe it is impossible with such a wide number of people involved, but if you aren’t going to go for compatibility, just think up something new altogether. Secondary worlds start to die when you sacrifice consistency for cheap drama.

A few other points: I won’t say anything about casting and acting because I have no eye for them. The dialog was witty or at least half-witty, but there was little substance in it: just the familiar kind of magical techno-babble. (Note: please kill the person responsible for the “galaxy-threatening supernova”. Please. See Phil Plait for more about this.)

And, of course, again and again the movie emphasised that you shouldn’t be logical, shouldn’t rely on experience or knowledge; you should just do what feels right and stop being such a nerd. Death to logic! Take the risks! Follow that cocky, inexperienced youth! I don’t think that is a particularly praiseworthy admonition, but I don’t have the necessary spleen to go rippin’ it apart right now — just a thought, then: have you ever seen a movie that advocated cool, dispassionate logic over hunch and emotion? I haven’t. What the duck is wrong with us?

Final verdict: An excellent action movie if you go with the emotion; but if you think, even for a moment, you are lost. Lost!

(One final thing, for those that have seen the movie — did you, too, get the feeling that when the Narada went kablooey, it was just a way to get a black hole so Kirk and his friends could go back in time and save the planet it had destroyed? And that the writers backed away because a double Kirk, plus a triple Spock, would have been just too much?)

One Response to “Star Trek”

  1. Star Trek: Into Chaotic Evil | Masks of Eris Says:

    […] summary: The reboot Star Trek was a so-and-so film. Star Trek Into Darkness was a die-Kirk-die film. Now if you excuse me, I have a date with a goat, a […]

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