Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek XI is...Out

I suppose it is inevitable that I would post a review of the new Star Trek film. The film is out, I am a Star Trek fan and I do have this blog. With great power comes great responsibility but mediocre exposure comes with the right to mouth off about things. Such is life.

First, I'd like to say that I was really excited when they announced this film and the prequel/reboot concept intrigued me. I was ready for something new, something different, even if it was applied to the Star Trek I call my own.

I love all the incarnations of Star Trek (to varying degrees of course) but the Original Series is what made me a Star Trek fan in the first place. To me, Star Trek is many things but regardless of everything else, the legend begins with Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and the crew of the USS Enterprise in 1966. That said, I went in ready to weep, laugh and jump for joy at this revised incarnation. I...didn't.

Red Alert...Spoilers Ahead

The first few minutes, the scenes with the USS Kelvin leading up to the first appearance of the 'Star Trek' title across the screen, were awesome. I almost cried it was so good. The movie went on from there as a fast paced, action packed adventure film with awesome characters and dazzling special effects. Pine was a very good Kirk, Quinto a great Spock and Karl Urban a Super-Freakin' Awesome McCoy. Pegg, as expected, was also excellent as Scotty though I'd hoped he would be there for more scenes. Everybody was good actually.

Then it went on to become...a movie. A typical, sloppy, Hollywood blockbuster. I kept trying to love it, kept trying to see and feel the magic, but as the film went on it did everything it could to drive the magic away.

There was just too much 'huh?' in the movie. Too much convenience that made no sense. Everything happened in a way that it needed to regardless of logic or believability. The visual design of the sets and locales ranged from fair to downright terrible.

Why did the starship bridges look like they were from the future and the engine rooms look like the boiler room in my old high school. Note to the film makers; in order to achieve a suspension of disbelief in a SciFi film, things have to look sort of, ya'know, SciFi-ish.

Where the heck is Delta Vega? If its a planet like the computer identified it, how is it you can see Vulcan (another planet) from the surface. We can't see Mars or Venus except as a tiny point of light in the night sky. Is it a moon of Vulcan? Then why wasn't it screwed up when Vulcan was destroyed?

So, Chekov can use the Transporter to save Kirk and Sulu moving through the air at ridiculous speeds but can't save Spock's Mom when she slips on a crumbling rock. Is she somehow moving faster then the guys who leaped off a platform hundreds of feet in the air?

Why is it that the Federation never has any ships anywhere they're needed? Between Vulcan and Earth there are only the half dozen vessels parked around Earth's spacedock? All the other ships in the fleet are in another system? No ship is defending the founding worlds? No planet has its own weapons or defenses to shoot down the laser drill rig?

Kirk gets through the Academy and receives command of the flagship in three years? If Chekov is 17 does that mean he entered Starfleet at 14?

So Kirk cheated to win the Kobayashi Maru. Did he have to act like he cheated? What a putz.

The science surrounding the plot was preposterous. A supernova is going to destroy the galaxy? Funny, hasn't happened so far. And a black hole maker made of magic red goo is going to save us? Oh wait, it can also destroy us. It can also send you through time. Wha?

I have more but its not necessary. While watching this film I felt like I had a tall glass of cool and the movie kept bumping into me every few scenes causing it to spill. By the end of the film there wasn't much cool left in the glass.

Oh, one more thing. The new version of the Enterprise is just so ugly. The shuttle were great, the Kelvin rocked and many of the ships around the spacedock were nifty (as was the spacedock itself). The Enterprise though...just so unattractive. Odd curves, uninspired dish (it looked great on the TMP era ship - this is a new design. Make a new look for the dish), bizarrely shortened secondary hull and those engines...ugh. Just a bad design and from an artist I worship too. Yuck.

Anyway...the sequel should be just around the corner. Maybe next time they will pay as much attention to the art and story as they did the characterizations.

Peace and Long Life,

Barking Alien



  1. FAIL!

    No, lol, just kidding. Can't argue with anything (well, except maybe the Enterprise, I really kind of love her). If these things had been slapping me in the face during the film, I'm sure I would have been disappointed as well. For some reason, though, I was just sucked in and most of these bumps didn't even occur to me until the following day.

    It's a strange place for me to be in, actually. I'm also a huge (but slim and fit) Godzilla fan. Back in 2004, we kaiju fans were gaga-I-mean-nuts for the upcoming 50th Anniversary film, Godzilla Final Wars. It was a similar setup: hot director, big budget, reboot the series, everything but the kitchen sink would be thrown in. I even managed to get invited to the premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the star on the walk-of-fame ceremony. It was a Big Deal. And...

    Wow, did that movie suck. Loved the first 10 minutes, but it was downhill from there. And for many of the same reasons as you cite for Star Trek! Especially the coincidence/convenience factor just pushing the story along, logic be damned. And, seriously, in that respect, Godzilla films had gotten better in that sense in the previous years. The stories may have been dull at times, but they weren't embarrassing. GFW, though, was just a mess.

    And when I reported such to fandom, I was nearly strung up for it, too! How dare I! The film couldn't possibly be as bad as I'd said. I'd lost my inner child! I was thinking about it too hard. Of course, as more and more people saw it over the following year, most reluctantly admitted it *was* crap.

    Sadly, my interest in the fandom and my passion for kaiju films themselves kind of tuckered out after all that. I hope your feelings about the new Trek film don't have the same effect on you!

  2. That's a nice summary of the film's shortcomings. And with a slick graphic, no less. The line about having a "a tall glass of cool" was great. Most of those thing irked me too, but not enough to ruin the movie. The look of the engine room really bugged me, though. I remember thinking "What is this a brewery?" Turns out it was. Yeesh! Wouldn't the anti-matter reactor control room of a starship look like, I dunno, the reactor control room of a nuclear wessel, or something? I'll give them Red Matter (aka the Lava Lamp of Doom), but using a giant syringe to extract it was too silly. And a black hole would distort space-time enough to act as a time machine. It would just kill you if you fell in. But I was willing to let that slide because there was a time that using black holes for FTL travel was thought possible. But I'm really surprised that's all that bugged you about the movie. I was expecting you to be upset about the changes they made to Kirk and Spock's relationship which ruined it for some fans. Maybe if they make a better film next time they can win you over. You will be assimilated. (Wait, that doesn't sound right...)

  3. I think that characterization was the most important thing about the movie, and in that respect I don't know that I could ask for a better film. Having never cared much for realistic science in my sci-fi, that didn't really bug me. As much of a cop-out as it sounds, I advise you try to track down the comic Star Trek: Countdown. it explains a lot of things about Nero they left out of the film, and it's also pretty good.

  4. @Robert- I tried not to let the little things bug me but as they continued to compile I just couldn't shake off the weight of all the poor scene and story editing.

    BTW, I too am a big Godzilla fan. I feel for you bro.

    @Jerry- The black hole thing bugged me because they could not seem to decide what it did, kill you or send you through time. Perhaps it did both but then at the end of the film is the villain dead or was he sent back to the future?

    I am not upset at the relationships and 'historical' changes because as Spock Prime explained, this is an alternate reality. On that subject...

    I know why they put that line in the movie. They wanted to appease the old school fans like me by saying this is not the same universe you remember, its completely different. Unfortunately this backfired for me. Once I realized this was an alternate universe and it didn't actually change 'My Father's Star Trek', the movie didn't matter to me so much. The destruction of Vulcan was wild but 'my' Vulcan is fine. It's like reading Earth 2 stories from DC Comics before Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Earth 2 Batman dies and you say, "Oh man that sucks! Well, it's not like the REAL Batman died...".

    @Rach- I did indeed read Countdown. Better then the movie in some ways. At the same time I agree with you, as I said in my review, the film's strength is in the excellent acting and characterization. Everyone was spot on or better! Chekov was a really welcome surprise. Urban as McCoy was worth the price of admission. This what made the movie not my favorite but certainly not terrible.

    At the same time, I'm not asking for hard science. I'm asking for a little common sense. Most of the things I noted (and there are more that I didn't) are just stuff that makes you go "Eh?". A little editing, a little clarification would've gone a long way.

    The newest commerical I've seen has the tagline, "This generation's Star Wars". That is inane. Star Trek predates Star Wars. So what were the Star Wars Prequel's, that generation's Waterworld?

    Barking Alien

  5. Well written and very good response Adam.
    I went in thinking this will suck. It didn't. However it certainly wasn't all the hype and I knew when that was coming on thick I was prepared to try and look past it.
    Character acting was great, many of the actors really nailed it. McCoy stole the show for me as well. I actually liked Pine as Kirk which I was on the fence about before seeing. The effects and the designs were nice and worth the price of admission. The enterprise didn't bother me yet I wasn't impressed either. I think trapped themselves in a corner by trying to keep it faithful to the original and yet made it a point to say it's not the original.
    You are spot on about the story telling. Trek has always been about the trek tech and it did provide it, yet when there was a story element that needed to occur, science be damned it just won't work.
    Overall I enjoyed the movie, yet I really don't need to see it again.
    Also, why bother with a drill at all!? Just drop some red matter on the surface, it's gonna get the planet sucked into a black hole either way.
    *I actually liked that they used a beer factory for the engine design! It made me want to grab a pint afterwards! LOL*

  6. Hi, I'm a fan fiction writer who would love use a few quotes if you'll give permission. In the second chapter of my story Down to the Bones, Nurse Chapel's patients ask questions she can't answer.

    I'd like them to be these questions:

    Between Vulcan and Earth, there are only the half dozen vessels parked around Earth's spacedock?

    All the other ships in the fleet are in another system?

    No ship is defending the founding worlds?

    No planet has its own weapons or defenses?
    In the author's note, I'd give you credit, saying: The crew questions are direct quotes from the Barking Alien blog. I can't remember how I came across it or why I read Adam Dickstein's review of the movie, but when I did, I instantly wanted to use his questions.

    You can google Down to the Bones fan fiction and get the link to the story on Fanfiction.net for reassurance that I'll do the characters and the quotes justice. :)

    Thank you for your consideration,

  7. Glad you liked it Kerichi.

    If its credited then go right ahead. I appreciate the interest. And now that you found it, come on back to the blog any time.

    We'll leave a light on for ya.


    Barking Alien

  8. Thank you! I used the quotes, and so far, all the feedback on the chapter has been positive. :D You questioned if Delta Vega was a moon of Vulcan. I found this quote from a season one episode The Man Trap that was amusing.

    Uhura: Mr Spock, sometimes I think if I hear that word frequency once more I'll cry.

    Spock: Cry?

    Uhura: I was just trying to start a conversation.

    Spock: Well, since it is illogical for a communications officer to resent the word 'frequency', I have no answer.

    Uhura: No, you have an answer. I'm an illogical women whose beginning to feel too much part of that communications consul. Why don't you tell me I'm an attractive young lady or ask me if I've ever been in love? Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full.

    Spock: Vulcan has no moon, Ms Uhuru.

    Uhura: I'm not surprised, Mr Spock.

  9. That's at once in-character, amusing and perfectly appropriate. Very well done.

    Barking Alien

  10. Hullo, I had to come back and tell you a comment of yours reminded me of something, but I couldn't think of it until a week later, out of the blue (naturally).

    You wrote: And a black hole maker made of magic red goo is going to save us? Oh wait, it can also destroy us. It can also send you through time. Wha?

    It reminded me of the scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High after Spicoli wrecks Jefferson's car.

    Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill you and he's gonna kill me, he's gonna kill us!

    Jeff Spicoli: Hey man, just be glad I had fast reflexes!

    Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna shit!

    Jeff Spicoli: Make up your mind, dude, is he gonna shit or is he gonna kill us?

    Jefferson's Brother: First he's gonna shit, then he's gonna kill us!

    I'm going to see the film again, and every time I see red goo I'm gonna giggle.


  11. Spot on, that movie was utter dreck. Star Dreck.