While everyone I meet is raving about Avatar, I only just recently caught up to the big Sci-Fi movies of last year. I’m speaking Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, and District 9.
Mind you, I plan to go watch Avatar at the theater, maybe even at the I-Max, but for the three movies listed above I had to wait for the DVDs to be released. Now that I’ve seen them I can write about them, and I’ll start with the one for which I had the highest expectations.
A lot of people liked the Star Trek reboot, but I was not one of them. Sure, the movie was a passable action flick, but it lacked a decent plot, and the characters – while sporting familiar names – were seriously deficient in the likability department. I get it, the universe changed because some dude traveled back in time, but apparently the main change was to turn nearly everyone into jerks, while still ensuring they all end up in the same ship, with the same Starfleet ranks, and without credible evidence of their professed abilities.
Some people I know made the argument the improbable paths to their respective slots in life were the result of the universe’s attempts to realign timelines and events. That might be a good argument were it not for the millions of people who died on Vulcan alone, not to mention those meeting their demise when a large portion of Starfleet was wiped out… by a mining ship. Apparently none of those people were franchise players… just a bunch of Red Shirts as far as the Universe was concerned, their sole purpose to provide an emotional hook for the audience; an audience which obviously has no need for decent plots.
At this point I have to wonder if it’s time for me to stop referring to myself as a science fiction fan, but then I remember… there was no evidence of science in this movie, only fiction. Well, OK… bad fiction. For that’s my biggest beef with this thing; the original series also played fast and loose with science, but to their credit, back in those heady early days we knew a lot less than we do now. The moment I saw the Narada hang motionless halfway out of the black hole I knew the writers did not bother with even basic science, let alone looking up the “spagettification” effect near the event horizons in black holes. The Narada is a mining ship, and as such would not have any special properties allowing it to negotiate singularities. Certainly there is no indication, or explanation of how/why, it has the ability to hang half-in-half-out of a black hole.
Further, the original series utilized science fiction as a neutral vehicle for the exploration of social themes and the human condition. What did we get here? Revenge is presented as the driving motivator, but there is no exploration beyond that, no resolution, no moral to the story, and most of all, nothing is required from the audience other than to suppress any thinking process.
For if one were to think they might start wondering about the odds of Nero dumping Spock Prime (!) on a planet in the Vulcan system so he can watch the destruction of his home planet, which he got to see appearing larger than our own moon looks from Earth, through a small break in the clouds (lucky that – a few minutes either way and he would have missed it), and the Spock-not-Prime dumping Kirk on the same planet, and that being the same planet where Scotty is stationed doing transporter research. One might also wonder about a transporter powerful enough to beam two people onto the Enterprise which has been traveling for some time at warp speed.
I won’t even mention the idiotic monster chase sequence on the moon or the water pipe incident once they beamed aboard the Enterprise. Wait, now that I did mention them, I should say something about them… oh yeah… WhyTF WERE THEY IN THE MOVIE!?!?
Sorry, small outburst. Where was I? …something about thinking, or not thinking, as it were. As in why launch three people to glide onto the drilling platform above Vulcan when later we learn all it takes is a small ship to shoot the drill to bits. And if that’s all it took, why didn’t Vulcan, or for that matter Earth, send out a couple of military vessels to do the same thing?
And most of all, if it was 150 years before the destruction of Romulus, why didn’t Nero fly there and warn them about what would happen, thereby saving those he loved and the whole planet to boot?
And then there are the characters themselves. I suppose if one accepts the altered timeline hooey, one must accept the differences in personalities from the original characters, except… we have an original character, Spock Prime… only he’s not. Spock Prime shows few of the traits of the original Spock. He seems more relaxed, apparently mellowed in his old age. Why he almost smiles a couple of times while cracking jokes. In fact, he reminded me of Mr. Miyagi in mannerism and comportment. I half expected him to pipe up with “Logic On, Logic Off” while waving his splayed fingers of the traditional Vulcan greeting.
And so, here I am. I’m wondering why this movie was so well liked. The only serious complaints I heard were about lens flares. Yes, lens flares are stupid, but as a Star Trek fan I felt insulted by what was shown to me, not the manner it was shown.
I normally add the disclaimer this article expresses my opinions, and I respect differing opinions about less-than-life-shaping entertainment. BUT… I am at a loss to understand why Star Trek fans liked this effort. I still respect other people’s opinions, but I plead with someone, anyone, to explain to me what made this the supposed great reboot many rave about.
About the only argument which comes even close to making sense is this opens up the way for more Star Trek tales. But that just saddens me for all it points to is more plotless action, and since filmmakers feel compelled to top themselves with each franchise offering, I suppose we can expect even more absurd stories adorned with these newly introduced cardboard characters. I’ll repeat my oft-stated opinion we should hold film makers to higher standards, and crappy sci-fi is not a viable substitute to no science fiction at all.