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Star Trek Movie : RevolutionSF Roundtable
© RevolutionSF
May 19, 2009

RevolutionSF discusses the Star Trek movie even though we have no round table. Or a watercooler. We are not even in the room together. Anyways, here we go.

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Loved it! Loved it! The time travel/ screwing up the space-time continuum is so much a part of Trek that it works. Remember the TNG eps with the multiple Enterprises? This was exactly the same thing. The only thing that didn't work was Spock and Uhura making out on the transporter pad. Vulcan-ness aside, they are military officers in uniform on duty. Not going to happen. -- Deanna Toxopeus

Wunderkind Chekov seemed out of place. The filmmaker's impulse to shoehorn every single character and reference into the first installment of the reboot is one reason why I generally despise prequel/flashback narratives (as a point of reference, I hated the "Young Indy" sequence to Last Crusade which everyone else seemed to go gonzo over, for this specific reason).

I was startled they hadn't included Janice Rand in the mix, although I have to admit I was disappointed Captain Pike didn't have a female brunette "Number One" officer on the Enterprise. So I'm wishy-washy. Sue me.

My biggest problem with the film, however, came via the very conspicuous hand-waving the popped up at various key points throughout the film. This is a recurring problem I've had with other J.J. Abrams projects, and when Nimoy-Spock said "And then the unthinkable happened" I went WTF? How was that unthinkable? You forgot to change your watch to daylight savings time or something?

There's a good bit of handwaving here, in addition to Scotty's on-the-fly invention of transporters that have no distance limitations. Am I being picky? I just hate it when writers write themselves into a corner and cheat to get out of said corner, hoping nobody will notice.

And while I'm ragging on the writers, let me say I am sick to death of this nonsensical "Destroy the entire galaxy" riff writers pull out of their collective asses whenever they want to up the "Oh no!" factor, when their script and narrative clearly aren't threatening anything of the sort. Sheesh. I won't rip them too hard for the alternate universe changes that clearly didn't stem from the destruction of the Kelvin early on in the film. Those were design decisions and dramatic license for emotional impact, and were effective as such. Diverging timelines and alternate reality is a bone thrown to the existing fan base to tie this film into existing continuity. That wasn't necessary, but it works well, better than the movie would've worked without it, so I'll cut 'em some slack here. But if Starbuck is a girl in the next movie, all bets are off. -- Jayme Blaschke

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The source of greatest pleasure for me with the movie was watching the mythology get reconfigured. I like Legion of Super Heroes semi- annual reboots for the same reason. It's liberating seeing all the built-up baggage get thrown out of any universe.

As I sat there enjoying the movie before me, another part of me was getting giddy over the implications beyond the screen: This new Trek world where there may not be an omnipotent alien around every corner, where they may not have to save humpback whales, where Kirk may not get fat, and where Kirstie Alley doesn't have to join the crew. And maybe in the future, Neelix won't even be born. -- Steve Wilson

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I enjoyed it. Now, enjoying something has little to do with thinking something is good. I like Godzilla and zombie movies, but would hardly call them good. that is what I think of the new Trek movie. J.J. Abrams did a decent job of fitting some old school Trek lore into a new movie.

Kirk was a young, ballsy and brazen version of the Kirk we grew up with. Uhura, well, she was there. She was easy on the eyes, but pretty boring and Scotty was a little over the top, but I could almost stomach him. Almost.It was fun, it was fast, it gave me motion sickness to watch it in Imax, but it was still fun.

But (uh oh, here it comes)

I have a major problem with reboots. What makes a director think his vision is so much better than the previous writers and directors who worked with the material? Hubris. Maybe a good director can reboot a flagging movie series, changing the story to suit himself, but only if he is comparing his work against a small list of writers. Abrams in his attempt to add a dramatic flare walked right out on center stage, smiled, dropped his pants and dared anyone to say his family jewels weren't the largest and prettiest in sci-fidom.

By making a critical change to the Trek universe he had the hubris to say his vision is better than all the writers and directors of 5 TV series, hundreds of books and ten movies. That is a long list of people to piss off, and piss on.

Fun as it was, it wasn't that good. It might well be OK as a summer blockbuster, maybe, but it is going to be a movie that gathers dust on the back shelf of most DVD libraries in years to come. It was a fun ride, but Abrams needs to pull his pants up before someone gives him a solid, well-deserved, kick in the hoo-hahs.

Leave stuff with a solid body of work behind to someone who gives a damn about the material and at least tries to make their movie fit the nebulous concept of canon.

And once you are done putting those cojones away, nail Scotty's irritating gargoyle sidekick onto the side of the Cathedral where you found him. It didn't work for George Lucas with Jar Jar , and you just don't have the skills to even hope to pull off an annoying sidekick. No matter how much you pray they paint him onto the side of a Burger King glass. -- Todd Shearer

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Todd: Interesting opinion here. Particularly since I don't really have a problem with the issues cited. Voyager and Enterprise should've worked to revive the franchise, but they didn't because for the most part they were sanitized, milquetoast pablum. The final two Next Gen movies were so bad, I swear, I'd rather watch the Shat's Final Frontier again. And I say that with a straight face.

I have big issues with J.J. Abrams. He's genetically incapable of maintaining continuity or coherence in an extended storyline. But for an alternate reality/ multiverse reboot of the kind we got with his Trek, he and the writers did -- in general -- the job that needed to be done. I have no problem with obliterating Vulcan, since "alternate" means things are different now. It was an origin story, and as such, it does its job while preserving the existing continuity of everything that's gone before, even the crappy stuff. It was shallow adventure with no deeper philosophical themes, but I'm willing to let that slide this time. At least it had adventure.

The trouble is the reboot might not have gone far enough. They're already talking about Khan, which would be a big, big mistake. They need to set their own course, create their own continuity rather than give us big-screen remakes of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," "The Squire of Gothos" or, saints preserve us, "The Trouble With Tribbles."

Give us a nasty Gorn invasion. Pit the Enterprise against a brilliant Klingon commander who didn't go on to betray humanity to the Cylons. Don't even think Borg. If people start bitching that Khan hasn't shown up yet, simply say that in this timeline, the Botany Bay hasn't been found and is still floating derelict somewhere. Let Alt-Picard deal with him 20 years from now.

My biggest beef is the sloppiness of the script. Much blame is heaped on the writers' strike for the failings of the script. I hope that's so, but these kinds of writing shortcuts permeated Alias and Lost. Let's see if the next film, not burdened by the origin and revamping a universe suffers the same. But that's a different gripe than taking issue with premise of the alternate universe reboot.

Fascinating what bits and pieces stick in our individual craws. -- Jayme Blaschke

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Jayme: I agree that an alternate timeline is fine and dandy, as long as it varies enough from the original to classify as an alternate time line. If they wanted to destroy Vulcan and make a new time line, then start the movie with Vulcan and spin out a new story that clearly diverges. Just off the top of my head, perhaps the destruction of Vulcan is what develops the Mirror, Mirror Universe into the Terran Empire.

It didn't feel different enough to be an alternate universe. It felt like Abrams woke up and decided he wanted to shake things up for the sake of shaking them up and walked in on the writers and special effects boys and said, "Hey, Let's destroy Vulcan!" Even the way it was done felt half-assed.

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