pew pew. maaooowwwwnnn.

I know I’m months behind the Kool Kidz, but I finally had a chance to watch the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot.  (Minor spoilers ahead, just in case you’re even less hip than I am, and haven’t seen the new Trek yet.)

Liked:

  • The visuals were amazing, as is to be expected of current-day CGI.  The space battles were fantastic, exciting, fast-paced stuff.  Favorite shot: the unlucky female crew member of the Kelvin getting sucked out into space through a hull breach, and careening off past the phaser battery that’s firing back at the Romulan ship.
  • The set design was also well executed.  The bridge of the new Enterprise makes the Apple Stores look like they were put together by the Amish.  The uniforms approximated the original series’ velvet pajamas without looking either cheesy or like a bad homage. 
  • The actors mostly got the characters’ idiosyncrasies down, and created their own interpretations without just doing Kirk/Spock/McCoy/Scotty imitations.  The only one that grated a little was the guy who played Scotty—he had a hard time keeping up a convincing Scottish accent.

Flinched at:

  • The science, particularly the “red matter” business.  Ouch.  The stuff is so volatile and powerful that it can generate a singularity, yet you can keep it contained in a Vulcan ship, siphon it off with a needle, and bottle it?
  • What was the point of Young Kirk trashing that ‘Vette, other than establishing that James T. Kirk a.) has a severe issue with authority, and b.) really likes hanging off precipices by his fingertips?  (He ends up in that position three or four times in the movie.)
  • The Enterprise being put together in a dry dock in the middle of Iowa?  How are you going to get the whole thing into space when it’s done?  Every bit of technobabble related to Trek makes clear that the Enterprise needs her transporters because she can’t make planetary landings.  It made for some awesome CGI shots, though.
  • The villain.  I’ve liked Eric Bana since Blackhawk Down, but he doesn’t come off as very menacing or convincingly motivated in this one. 
  • Academy cadets staffing a commissioned vessel (the flagship of the fleet, no less!), because the rest of the fleet is busy somewhere else?  Does Starfleet have such an abundance of ships that they have to resort to filling them with trainees in an emergency?
  • Kirk being evicted from the Enterprise, shot down onto the desolate ice planet…and ending up literally on top of Old Spock?
  • Do a three-man HALO drop with Kirk, Sulu, and a Red Shirt…and give all the detonators to the Red Shirt?  (Hands up, all of you who didn’t see Red Shirt’s fate coming from a mile away.)
  • Amazingly creative field promotions—putting cadets above Fleet officers into command positions.
  • Promoting a maverick Academy cadet straight to Captain, and giving him command of the flagship of Starfleet?

Overall, however, it was a fun ride, and a mostly well-executed (and much-needed) reboot of the franchise.  I did like how they mostly pulled off the whole “alternate reality” thing, to wipe the slate clean regarding continuity.  It’ll be interesting to see where they take the whole thing from here.

43 thoughts on “pew pew. maaooowwwwnnn.

  1. Rob K says:

    The one thing you didn’t mention that bugged the snot out of me was that the engineering section was a bunch of computers on cheap desks and office chairs among a brewery’s fermentation tanks. Realistic, it did not look.

  2. El Capitan says:

    Has anyone ever figured out why they needed that oversized Waring blender hooked up to those water pipes? (Other than for a plot device, of course…)

  3. Matthew Carberry says:

    I believe the explanation is that the ships are built on Earth so the work doesn’t have to be done in zero-g vacuum with all the attendent suits and inconvenience for the workers.

    The ship is built on the ground then disassembled, moved to orbit in pieces and then reassembled. Like building sub hull sections in a nice warm well-lit warehouse then shipping them to drydock for assembly.

    At least I read that somewhere.

  4. Don Gwinn says:

    I figured the red Corvette scene was an homage to Rush and *Red Barchetta.*

  5. wolfwalker says:

    I ain’t less hip … well, maybe I am, but this doesn’t prove it. I just don’t give a damn about the Trek franchise anymore. The Original Series is now The Only Series as far as I’m concerned, and the movies stopped after #4. Well, maybe First Contact makes the cut .. let me think about that.

  6. Tam says:

    When Uhura ran off the bridge to console Emo Spock in the elevator, I blurted out “Oh, just everybody get up and walk off the bridge. Hey, who’s driving the frickin’ boat?

  7. Mr Fixit says:

    Well,
    we watched it last night at the fire station, almost made it all the way through without interruptions too. I was really wondering how they would make the new story match or at least feasible with the old story. For the most part, I’ll accept it.

    I did think that the McCoy character pulled off the best ‘younger version’ award. I think he nailed it.

    I’m also very interested to see where the series goes. I’m ready for something new.

    Mr Fixit

  8. MarkHB says:

    It was fun, which is about all one can really hope for from Star Trek.

  9. Gabe says:

    I thought it odd the Romulan Empire built mining ships the size of starbases and with more firepower than GALAXY-class starships. I guess the Empire’s mining some shady real estate in the 24th century…

    • Marko Kloos says:

      nerdgassing

      The original Enterprise isn’t a Galaxy-class ship; she’s a Constitution-class. The Enterprise-D (from ST:TNG) is a Galaxy-class ship.

      /nerdgassing

      • Gabe says:

        Marko,

        True, but didn’t the Romulan bad guys come from TNG’s time period?

        Nerd it up, yo. 🙂

        Gabe

        • MarkHB says:

          Somewhat beyond the TNG timeframe, and they’d spent some time upping the ship’s general badassitude before deciding to come back and break things.

  10. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    One other thing that troubled me was that Chekov could lock onto a free-falling Kirk and Sulu and beam them back, but Spock’s mom still falls off the side of the mountain even though she was already caught in the transporter beam?

    Apparently, Red Matter is only activated by extreme heat, like that found in a planet’s core or on a sun. It’s not anti-matter, otherwise it would have blown Spock’s ship to smithereens as soon as the extraction needle touched it. Question is why would Spock keep such a huge volume of it on his ship if only a small drop was needed to turn the supernova into a black hole?

    • Marko Kloos says:

      The correct answer is:

      “So J.J. Abrams could incorporate a red sphere into the movie, the appearance of which seems to be his running trademark.”

    • MarkHB says:

      I think the transporter question’s a duration thing. It took Chekov several seconds to establish a moving lock on Kirk and Sulu. He’d have had to unlock, re-target and re-lock while completing the transport for the others.

      Or, you know. Drama. That, too.

  11. Schmidt says:

    I am even less hip, so it seems.
    But I dont get why otherwise sensible people watch this Trek nonsense.. I mean, it looked ridiculous to me when I was thirteen. I saw just a trailer to this new film and it made no sense at all, with some guy trying to kill himself and destroy some nice sports car in some senseless stunt. Not impressive.

    Now, if someone had the director who made “Jin-Rô” money to make a nice, grim, depressing anime, CGI or live action series based on the Revelation Space series.. that would be something I would buy.

    Never gonna happen. Though with the Japanese, one never knows.. and in the next twenty years maybe there will be a market for relentlessly depressing entertainment, since the times will probably be worse.

    • Tam says:

      If I am reading you right, you are expressing astonishment that people would watch this goofy Star Trek stuff instead of proper highbrow entertainment like Japanimation?

      [Comic Book Guy Voice]”Funniest. Snobbery. Ever!“[/Comic Book Guy Voice]

      Dude, you’ve got Cheeto crumbs in your neck-beard.

      • Owen says:

        well, the Revelation Space books (novels by Alastair Reynolds) are really good, some of the best hard SF I’ve read in a long time. Check out Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days for some short stories set in that universe.

        Why he needs them animated, I have no idea.

      • Kevin Baker says:

        That should have come with a drink warning, Tam. I nearly choked!😉

      • Schmidt says:

        Spinster, I’ve never been to a country where they speak English, and certainly not to a country where they sell Cheetos. (whatever they are, something unhealthy and American, judging from the silly name)

        Though I’ll give you that I do eat junk food on occassion. Who doesn’t?
        As to beards, I don’t have a neckbeard and I’ll probably never grow one. All the testosterone seems to have gone to my primary sexual characteristics and at age 26, it’s not likely to change. It’s not a good tradeoff, as when I get old and grey and start feeling that need to compensate, I’ll have to buy myself that .500 SW BFR revolver. And I suspect those are pretty expensive.

        As to anime.. allow me to enlighten you: most Japanese animation(Jin-Rô, Ghost in the Shell, Nausicaa, Grave of the Fireflies, other studio Ghibli films. I like to stick to the 10% that’s not crap..) that I’ve watched leaves A-grade Hollywood films in the dust. Ghost in the Shell especially stands out as an example of sf series where you don’t have to keep your brain swimming in alcohol to make watching it bearable.

        Plots not entirely predictable, it’s original stuff(Japanese are not big on remakes, unlike the US film industry..), fresh (as in not been seen before on screen. Where do you think they stole visuals for Matrix from? ), and what I love most of all that it’s not that saccharine evil-punished, good triumphs nonsense Hollywood puts out. A lot of it is more ambiguous.
        You know how they changed the name of that clerk who was awarded a silver star for his role in the battle that inspired Blackhawk Down? He raped his daughter some time later, and that’d be a mixed message sort of.
        Japanese, they don’t need to sugarcoat human nature. They’d have left that one in. Especially if the film was for adults. War heroes are people too.

        For one, in Japanese film and series, you can’t guess the plot from the first ten minutes, and more importantly, they’re not big on silly happy-ends, or the idea that if someone is pretty he can’t be evil and all that. In fact, the nastiest people in the world, as a group are often described as ‘charming’.

        @Owen

        I don’t ‘need’ them animated. They’re fine as books.. it’s just that I have this crazy wish, that I’d like to see at least one proper well-made space sf screen series before I shuffle off my mortal coil. I keep hoping, but ..

        Judging from what crummy sf-series (Galactica, Trek, Babylon V, etc)Americans have put out, that they’re not up to the task. Brits, they don’t shoot much sf, Indians neither.. so it’s up to Japanese. Maybe Chinese will get into the game later this century.

        There is Firefly, but for I’d like sf that actually made at least some sense, from technological, biological, economical and other standpoints. It’s not that hard. Just take a sf writer who would recognize science if it bit him in the arse and leave him in charge. He needn’t do all the characters, just the enviroment and tech.
        I want solid, well thought out technobabble(you have to have that, otherwise deep space is just for machines), not the flimsy Trek kind.

        Considering the budget involved, animation is cheapest, as it doesn’t matter what kind of weird shit you draw, it all costs nearly the same.

        • Kristopher says:

          Completely missed Tam’s point, dude. Anime is lowbrow entertainment in Japan. Otaku is NOT a compliment.

          Oh, and your anti-self-defense projection won’t fly too well with a loy of us, bigot.

          Although admittedly I do carry a pistol to compensate … I just can’t kill at 100 yards with my penis, so I guess my penis really is an inadequate self-defense tool.

        • Schmidt says:

          Well, go educate yourself some more.

          Saying ‘anime’ is lowbrow is like saying ‘film’ or ‘sf literature’ is lowbrow.

          And I’m most likely not an otaku having seen maybe two dozen films and three series.
          If all I do is give quality anime a chance instead of saying it’s all silly cartoons with no morals.

          Sure, some of it is lowbrow. But not all of it. Just like films, or computer games. Sure, losers play Halo, or CS, or whatever is flavour of the hour, but those who can play UT.

          That projection, if you don’t get it, was a joke. I can joke about half-baked ideas that I find amusing, right?

        • Tam says:

          Sure, losers play Halo, or CS, or whatever is flavour of the hour, but those who can play UT.

          OMFG, now we have video game snobbery!

          You keep settin’ ’em up, I’ll keep knockin’ ’em down, champ. :p

        • Kristopher says:

          Heh.

          Didn’t say it was all lowbrow, kid. Said it was considered lowbrow in japan. Which is why I am still snickering at your attempt to paint the genre as other than that. I like the stuff myself … but I don’t put on airs while I talk about it.

          As for the projection … ya still did it, and compared gun owners to people who were neurotic about their penis size ( I can’t imagine Tam worrying about her penis size, BTW ). Claiming you are making a little joke is a common ploy when getting caught at bigotry.

        • Tam says:

          Wow, Schmidt, I must have touched a nerve to trigger that Wall O’ Text.

          I see you attempted to get snarky. Work on that.

          I’m going to watch my cheesy lowbrow anime DVDs and sulk, now. I’ll hold the Cheetos, though. They taste like ass.

        • Schmidt says:

          @nerve

          Not really. I was just looking for an excuse.

          Hey. You’re almost twice my age… Snark doesn’t come easy. I’m better at it in my native language though.

          @Video games

          It’s not snobbery. Any dolt can hit something with an AK-47. But try hitting a moving target with that flak shell…

        • Matthew Carberry says:

          If anyone is thinking anime is particularly innovative in plot or complexity they are demonstrating a distinct lack of familiarity with the overall Western (hell, even Japanese) canon both literary and film.

          Visually? Sure, the Japanese can animate like nobody’s business if you like that style. The fact remains that, although the majority of modern commercial Hollywood output does suck, cherry picking the few “great” anime, which are a distinctly recent phenomenon, within my lifetime in fact, and that draw (read copy) in large part on those canons, and then comparing them to H-wood blockbuster tripe in general is invalid both in fact and logic.

        • Kristopher says:

          If anyone cares …

          Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood, is getting run in real-time subbed on Funimation’s website for free … good lowbrow fun.

          About episode 20 or so, the original series suffered from the studio deciding to completely ignore the original manga. This new series follows the manga fairly well … but will seem like a bit of a re-run until you are maybe 18 or so episodes in.

        • Kristopher says:

          Ermmmm … when you speak of hitting things with AKs … have you fired one?

          Just asking. Most euro folks I have talked to get handed a rifle for a few days for basic marksmanship courses when drafted, and that’s it.

          The Swiss being an obvious exception of course. Some of those folks start shooting as early as we do.

        • Schmidt says:

          Well.. I was speaking of computer games.

          Anyway, the difference I mean is, that with the AK, you don’t really have to lead, or to guess the ballistic trajectory. It’s pretty flat. Flak shells in UT behave more like grenade launchers, you need to have both correct elevation and lead, and then guess the trajectory your target is taking. And the shell is slow, 15m/s or so. Much harder.

          As to firing rifles, my father got to shoot the model 58. He says that hitting a stationary man-sized target at what.. 300 m is not that hard. I’ll see for myself when I get my weapon permit two months from now.

          I don’t think I ever want to fire an AK. Just the look of the thing makes me want to puke. So ugly, crude, metal stampings and all that. The 58 is much nicer.

          Anyway, it’s not rocket science. Hitting things with an airgun is pretty easy I can manage 70×70 mm target @ 20 m 66% of the time, standing up, airgun unsupported. That approximates to ~ 1×1 m at @300 m. With a bipod and scope, it’s probably child’s play. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it in time.

          @Carberry
          I’m not saying they’re that great. It’s just that only halfway decent sf series I’ve seen was Japanese. Sure, there are good sf films, but they’re very rare.

          I just think that if anyone is ever going to make a non-insulting sf series, it’s them.

          Hollywood plays it too safe. I think they’d do much better if instead of a 300 million predictable blockbuster they gave 50 million each to six promising directors. They don’t do so, for some reason.

          @comparison:
          Well.. truthfully, when I watch any random Japanese film, it’s on average more interesting than a random American film. Maybe it’s because I’m at odds with the prevailing US worldview and mentality.

          As to copying canons, isn’t the modern action film pretty much copied from Kurosawa’s style? I’ve read somewhere that the Seven Samurai introduced a lot of concept now widely used.

          Best thing to do is download/buy just the good stuff, and don’t give a flying fuck about what goes in cinema right now. I doubt I’d have ever seen Network, for example, If I haven’t been going fishing for information about good films and instead was content with just what I can get off our street warez server.

  12. Caleb says:

    Man, I think Marko just nailed all my feelings about the movie. If you could successfully ignore all the stuff that would never happen in the real military (silly promotions, cadets manning ships of the line, etc) it was a totally bitchin’ movie.

  13. Shootin' Buddy says:

    Spock’s continual whistling while talking drove me mad. Don’t they have dentists on Vulcan, or California?

    One would think it would be logical to brush and floss so one does not need dentures.

  14. Jay says:

    I was driven into a geeky slobbering rage every time i saw the enterprise being constructed on the ground. Even the NX-01 (Star Trek Enterprise) was built in space dock.

  15. The “kiddie Kirk is now CO of the Enterprise” bothered the crap out of me. Can anyone think of a situation where some kid out of the Naval Academy is going to get his commission and be given command of a guided missile cruiser?

    I mean, Jeebus, why not just make Wesley Crusher the captain of Enterprise -D?

  16. Matthew Carberry says:

    Captain Crusher of Starfleet?

    has a certain ring….

  17. Windy Wilson says:

    Captain Crusher of Starfleet?

    You just leaked the main plot device of the next movie. You will have to be silenced.

    As for the accents, I’ve spoken to several Brits of various extraction, and none thought the original Scotty’s accent was authentic sounding.
    They might as well call a bad Scottish accent a “Scotty” just as they call a bad Cockney accent a “Van Dyke”.

  18. MarkHB says:

    Yeah, after Jim Doohan’s rendition of a scottish accent, Simon Pegg gets a pass. Not to say Mr. Doohan wasn’t one hell of a bloke, on-screen and off, it’s just his accent was as wonky as the sets.

    Also one other thing I’ve decided I really like about the movie (I keep remembering little things). The apple he’s munching during the Kobayashi Maru test – as Kirk was noshing an apple in the Genesis Cave, saying how he cheated. It’s the little things, for me.

  19. Matthew Carberry says:

    Since you bring it up, I didn’t particularly like the “cheat” they came up with. I envisioned more that he changed the odds to be more realistic or something and then fought it out, not that he just, in effect, shut down the simulation, took his ball and went home.

  20. jeff says:

    The vette bit made sense, if you watched the deleted scenes. Apparently it belonged to his father, and was now owned by the uncle he was living with who apparently was not thrilled with having two(!) Kirk boys living with him (the boy he passes on the road is his older brother that has just left home). The vette theft and crashing make more sense after that. The rest of the deleted scenes are better left in the rubbish bin, like the ones that have the Romulans spending 20 years in a Klingon prison before escaping and stealing their ship back.

  21. Duncan Snowden says:

    As the owner of a genuine Scottish accent myself, I have to say I never thought Doohan was too bad. Obviously fake, certainly, but not Van-Dyke awful.

    Robert Duvall in “A Shot at Glory”: there’s a terrible Scottish accent for you. Imagine a British actor playing a New Yorker with an accent that wavered between Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico. That bad. Seriously.

    (Haven’t seen the “new“ movie yet. Don’t care about spoilers. Sounds good.)

  22. Cargosquid says:

    +1 to all of the above.

    But, the worst thing? Old Spock knows what’s going to happen in the near future. He knows what will happen and where. Tholians? Don’t go there. Planet eater? Yep. Get it early. Khan? That movie will not be remade….

    Will Old Spock keep quiet and let people die?

    • Marko Kloos says:

      I think the whole gist of the “alternate timeline” thing was that it freed everyone from the restraints of established Trek continuity. Vulcan’s gone, Kirk’s dad died while Kirk was born, and nothing in the “rebooted” future can be like it was in the old Trek canon. A blank slate for the new crew, if you will.

      • Matthew Carberry says:

        The Tholians will still be there, Andorans, the salt vampire is still around, Romulan cloaking device, Squire of Gothos, the Organians, the planet eater, Klingon politics, fake God guy, earth ship with Indians, tribbles, etc. etc..

        On a strategic and tactical level original Spock is still a font of info, he knows where all the threats and resources are, how to identify them and how to exploit/defeat them.

        Some of that “location in space” stuff isn’t really subject to much change due to a change of an earth-based timeline pre-interaction therewith.

        I really wish filmmakers would quit using time travel as a deux ex, it always creates more suspension of disbelief problems than it solves and there’s nothing new to be explored about it.

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