Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 11, 2009

Star Trek

So, a brief warning if you somehow managed to avoid learning this on your own already: the new movie knocks the canon over, smashes it, and sets it on fire. This isn't an act of vandalism, it's done intentionally and for a good reason, because the "canon" of Star Trek is such a mess that there was no way to reboot the franchise without pulling a stunt like this. If they'd tried to stick with the canon, they'd have wound up violating some other semi-contradictory part of the canon and wound up in the same boat. So doing it intentionally was probably the best way to go. Still, it's startling.

Chris Pine does all right as Kirk, although I personally think that he was a bit too much hormone-driven kid and not enough Captain. Zachary Quinto (aka Siler for Heroes fans) does such a fantastic job as Spock that it's easy to forget Kirk is even there.

The movie itself is merely okay, with an exaggeratedly implausible time-travel plot that requires so much suspension of disbelief it becomes difficult to actually evaluate the movie in any useful way. If you drop suspension for long enough to be critical, you'll wind up buried under a heap of cumulative nitpicks that make it impossible to enjoy this Star Trek. If you don't drop it, the entire movie seems like more fun then several barrels of monkeys.

To take just one example, the movie opens with Kirk's father taking over the captaincy of a Star Fleet ship to fight a delaying action while the crew escapes, his wife among them. His pregnant wife who is, of course, just now giving birth. It's a well-done and very heroic and poignant scene except for one problem . . . why the heck is his wife aboard a military vessel? There are no *other* civilians shown as in The Next Generation when the crew of the Enterprise had their families with them. She's apparently the only non-crew on the ship. Well, I'm assuming about her being non-crew. But generally it's unwise to have a hugely pregnant woman as part of a military team, in the same way that it'd be unwise to have an 80-year old or a 13-year old.

This is part of the reason why Spock is so much more engaging as a character than Kirk. Kirk's next major scene consists of a joy ride in a car. No reason is given for his indulgence. Apparently he's "just" an adrenaline junkie and maybe having lost his father he has lacked discipline or a role model. But this is never conveyed in any solid way, and "just" is bad characterization for a main character.

So, in conclusion, it's worth seeing, but everyone is likely going to have a very different reaction depending how much SoD they can manage. Don't blame me if you don't like it.

1 comment:

Brandon said...


I saw the movie today and it was my first experience with Star Trek; I've never seen any of the previous series or movies.

I think I agree with you about Kirk. His adolescent behavior was probably excessive, which may have been an attempt to appeal or relate to a certain audience (not me). Also, I think it may serve as a good contrast to show how he matures. He goes from a thrill-seeking youth to a responsible, rational leader. Though I suppose that transformation is not made clear. In fact, it may not have even occurred. I suspect that back in a normal setting, he would essentially be back to his old self.

I didn't find the time-travel plot too implausible, i.e., too far beyond what I'd expect from a sci-fi movie. My biggest problem with taking sci-fi movies seriously tend to be the inclusion of certain humanoid aliens that come across as silly to me, of which the green chick and romulans are examples. Though here I don't think that was too much of an issue. Star Wars is worse in that regard.

That's an excellent point about the pregnant wife being on the ship. What were the writers thinking?

I did enjoy Spock's performance, though I was disappointed with the whole approach to the reason-emotion issue. To me, this came across as cowardice on behalf of the writers. In action, I think he did the right things. After his fit with Kirk -- experiencing emotions he apparently has not felt since childhood and never fully learned to deal with -- he embraces his emotions and admits to his father that he feels anger; and justifiably so. His father, then, tells him that he was in fact in love with his mother, which certainly helped him to know. In my view, he never took sides on reason and emotion as if there were a dichotomy, but the integration was not made clear or emphasized. In other words, it was very weak and, again, cowardly on behalf of the writers. More cowardice is displayed (by the writers) in his words when he agrees to set logic aside, have faith, and follow his emotions for once. They're definitely playing to the modern "common sense" answer, which is wrong. Yet, contrary to the explicit statements, I interpreted this as Spock taking his emotions into consideration rather than logic to the exclusion of his emotions, which is what his decision actually reflected.

Anyway, I think the movie had some nice dramatic moments, good special effects, and was above average by modern standards. I do think it's worth seeing.

Do you have any idea what the theme was?