"It was ... fun."
Yes, that's true. But dear sweet heaven the main plot was full of holes and silliness. I mean, I like it as just a fun film . . . it had that fun fluffy romp feel of, say, the Lost in Space
movie. Suspend disbelief and lose a couple of hours for eye candy, and you're done.
But I don't want to be completely unfair. The first few minutes set in 2233 are excellent, in my opinion, and if you're not careful they could be tear-jerking (for anyone
, not just Trek people). The segments regarding Spock's youth are virtually flawless, soon turning a simple talking moment with a no-thank-you into a moment you almost want to cheer.
Frankly, that was all wonderful stuff.
But after such a great start, we quickly slip toward meaningless-but-fun action-adventure, without depth, and contrivances begin to multiply.
Let's be clear, here . . . I want to like it. And besides, after the Onion so deftly poisoned the well
, there's almost pressure to. I'm just not sure I honestly can.
That said, you can't fault any of the people involved in the technical aspects of making the film. The effects were flawlessly professional, the actors were all very good in their roles, and the pacing was effectively frenetic. Whoever did the sound mixing threw in lots of old 60's Trek noises for buttons, beaming, et cetera, and I appreciated them.
(( However, the excessive lens flares were distracting
and annoying, and the music rather surprisingly sucked. ))
Alas, there are (1)
gaping plot holes, (2)
Trek and real science butchery, and . . . well, frankly, (3)
I'm not even sure this has any relation to TOS, over and above its acknowledged splits.
Let's consider some of the plot holes.
1. In 2387 a "supernova" threatens to "destroy the galaxy", and threatens Romulus specifically or first with its blast wave. Spock is late to save the planet with some black-hole-making magic red stuff. Romulus goes boom. Then Spock stops the supernova.
Seriously? How could Spock be late
to something with a predictable arrival time? He might as well have overslept.
2. An angry Romulan space trucker (Nero, flying around in his big rig the Narada) concludes that the Federation stood by and watched his planet burn, and that Spock was personally responsible and must be punished. He attacks Spock's ship and both of them fall into the new black hole Spock made, naturally going backwards in time and popping out at random places in Federation space.
Nero emerges in 2233, incidentally destroying Jim Kirk's father and his ship, then he hides out for 25 years. He is waiting for Spock's arrival in 2258 to continue his quest for revenge and hurt Spock, intending on using the red matter on Spock's vessel to create black holes and destroy every planet in the Federation.
Frankly, I think Nero was right to want to punish Spock, given the goofy idea that he was just running late that day. I mean, I'm not the most timely individual in the world, but I'm pretty damn sure I could wake up on time to save billions of people in a pre-planned event. I'm just sayin'.
But the rest of what happens doesn't make sense to me at all. Captain Space Trucker just watched his planet burn with his wife and child on it. And now he just realized that he is in the past
I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm interested in revenge when I am in the frickin' past
. I am interested in fixing the thing I got pissed about, if possible . . . saving the wife and child, in this case, or even the whole planet of Romulus.
(And y'know, it's really, really simple on this one, if you're Nero. Take the red matter from Spock, go to the star that went supernova, and nip that little sumbitch in the bud. Or, if you want to make sure that doesn't screw with the timeline, you do it in the 24th Century shortly before it goes boom (getting there either via time travel, hanging out near a black hole, suspended animation, or just plain boredom waiting).
Instead, he decides to engage in the costly and troublesome maneuver of taking his 24th Century garbage scow into assorted battles with 23rd Century frontline military starships. Even the 2233 ship had kicked his ass with a ram, apparently even causing a head injury to Nero that left him scarred, so you would think he might reconsider this idea. Maybe the head injury is supposed to explain his stupidity.
. . . no, sorry. I still can't get over the fact that he had 25 years to come up with a good idea. I mean, even if there were complications (given that as soon as he got there he shot up a 2233 starship, thus changing history), there would still be ways to make it work. And even if you're pissed at Spock, the not-even-all-that-smart idea at this point in the reasoning is to seek his assistance
, even as your prisoner. After all, he does know a thing or two about time travel, and he is
involved with the Vulcan Science Academy, which by this point does
acknowledge the idea.)
And incidentally, if Spock's ship was so damned important to the whole galaxy, and
carrying a weapon of mass destruction no less, how is it that the stupid thing had no escort at all, so a random guy in a mining scow could know of it and challenge it?
3. Spock apparently surrenders to Nero, who spares his life and maroons him on planet Delta Vega where he is to watch the destruction of Vulcan.
? Okay, whatever. Not really seein' it, but he's old.
But why maroon him anywhere? Could he not watch from the Narada bridge or even a special room with a window
, a room where you could taunt him at your leisure? I mean if you really want to emotionally torture Spock and make him watch helplessly as his homeworld is destroyed, isn't part of the fun being there to enjoy his pained reaction?
4. Later, Spock assists the 2258 Kirk in getting back to the Enterprise, feeling he must be there along with 2258 Spock because they have to become friends so they can beat Nero. Old Spock even refuses to come along with Kirk to the Monsterprise to assist because Kirk had to get the ship on his own or something, along with the implication that it would weird out the timeline or something. I lost track, really.
I lost track, really, because this whole concept was retarded. Old Spock seemed to be of the opinion that Nero's ass could be kicked so long as people named Kirk and Spock were friends on the Enterprise, with Kirk as captain. He even says he didn't come back to the ship because he couldn't withhold from young Kirk and Spock the friendship and understanding of their potential or something.
Basically this is all the most retarded Trek-wank bullshit I've ever seen. Trekkies love the whole idea of their favorite characters always kicking badguy ass, and we've had the deep bond scenes of their friendship always coming in above all (The Search for Spock
being the prime example), but now all of the sudden we're supposed to believe in some Care Bears crap wherein so long as alt-Kirk and alt-Spock like each other they can defeat a huge ship with technology that is 100 years more advanced.
That's . . . that's . . . just wow, man.
What should've happened is that old Spock should've been like "yeah, I've gotta come with you, 'cause I know how 24th Century shit works and maybe I can hook you up with some tricks." He could've even caused Kirk and Spock to be friends by mind-melding with both to show them the friendship that he'd had with his Kirk, in the process showing young Spock what an awesome Captain Kirk could be, at which point he steps aside graciously.
Except that last bit shouldn't happen either, because young Spock could go "so what? That's an alternate Kirk, whereas this one is an asshole." And he would be right to point that sort of thing out. It's strange that old Spock decides this universe should be like his, with Kirk as the captain. He doesn't even know
5. Spock adapts himself completely to the new timeline, becoming emotionally invested in the destruction of Vulcan and resigning himself to his fate as dictated by Nero.
This is the biggest leap for me of anything, and frankly this is where I call bullshit
against the movie.
Let's imagine, for a moment, a different film. This one starts in 2387 and follows the chain of events from the star going supernova to Spock promising to help the Romulans to Spock failing to wake up on time that day to Spock fighting Nero and ending up in the past.
With that chain of events by itself, you have to know the next step for Spock . . . he's going to fix the timeline, the universe be damned. That's what every
Trek character has ever
done, even when they shouldn't have.
When a drug-addled McCoy went through the Guardian of Forever and changed the past, did Kirk and the gang just start building shelters from the ruins and start populating the planet? No, although Kirk probably did feed Uhura that line for a minute just to shag her rotten. But after that, he immediately
went back in time to bone Joan Collins, potentially causing even more of a temporal incursion, just to try to fix whatever McCoy did.
When the Borg went playing in the past in First Contact
, Picard's first reaction was to follow them back and "repair whatever damage they've done". He didn't say "aw, man, Earth vacations are gonna suck now."
When Archer's condition due to an anomaly resulted in the failure of his mission and the destruction of Earth, and when it was suddenly realized that a treatment for his condition could change the timeline, the Enterprise people didn't play around . . . they fixed it via suicide in a warp core breach.
Then you have the shouldn't-have. For instance, the humpback whales had died out when Earth was threatened in Star Trek IV
. . . Kirk told the entire universe to suck it, went back in time, showed a chick his "humpback whale", and brought some whales forward to end the threat.
And hell, remember Annorax and the Year of Hell? That guy spent 200 years trying to fix his temporal mistake. Even in the Lost in Space movie they were trying to fix stuff.
But instead, in this movie, Spock surrenders completely to whatever happens to him.
The hell you say.
6. Planets are defenseless.
Why the brainbug about naked worlds with not even a frickin' F-14 Tomcat to defend against a frickin' drill on a long cable dipped into the atmosphere?
And now for some of the astrophysical silliness and odd Treknology changes. Skip these if you don't care. Most people probably would or should not.
1. Supernovas do not threaten to destroy galaxies and do not blow apart planets light-years away. This is the cause of the 2387 events but it is silly. (And Spock being late to meet the shockwave thingy is even sillier, because it isn't like it would've been accelerating even if we accept the stupid idea of it.)
2. Black holes are not two-dimensional, "Yesterday's Enterprise"-esque doorways to yesteryear, and if you are falling into one with your megaship you cannot be half-in and half-out of it like it's a stargate
3. Vulcan had a blue sky. It has never
had a blue sky, T'Pol be damned.
4. Delta Vega is a cold planet and apparently a moon of Vulcan now instead of a remote lithium cracking station site, because you can see Vulcan with the naked eye. Except they act like Delta Vega is still remote. But Spock was left there to watch Vulcan's destruction with his naked eyes.
5. Starships are now huge. Whereas before the round bit atop the teardrop bit on the top of the saucer was the bridge, now the bridge is just a little round room taking up a tiny portion of the teardrop bit. In the image below (from a TrekBBS poster), note the little black horizontal line where the superstructure atop the saucer begins . . . that is the bridge window/viewscreen, and it is far too big for the actual one in the film.
The hugeness is also confirmed by various other scenes like shuttles flying over, people working on the hull, and so on, not to mention the fact that even a ship like the Kelvin from 2233 had 15-20 shuttles escaping from it.
But the Enterprise seems to be about largest. You'll hear a lot of people talk about a huge half-saucer from a destroyed ship that the Enterprise almost runs into, but in a wide shot it is clear that this saucer is no larger than the one on the Enterprise herself. Most people seem to miss that.
Some have referred to the new Enterprise as the Monsterprise, and I rather like that. Not only is she big, but she's ugly, too.
5. Normal transporter range is now just 100 miles, unless you have an equation. Plug that into the computer and it's like a cheat code allowing transporter ranges measured in light-years. Titan to Earth beaming is no problem.
6. Warp factors seem to be redone, again
. The ship leaves Vulcan at warp factor three, then later Chekov hopes Scotty can get the ship to warp factor four. Unless the scraping of the port nacelle caused way more damage than it appeared, I don't see what the deal is unless the scale's been redone again.
7. Stardates are boned now. It is currently stardate 2009.05 or something retarded like that.
8. Warp speed looks different, again
. Instead of even being unique like it used to be, now it just looks like everyone else's FTL.
9. Thrust seemed to come out of the Kelvin's warp engine instead of its impulse drive when a collision course was set.
10. Shields don't seem to do anything anymore. Sure, a Kelvin officer asks if they're even up, but they do decline as the attacks go on, even though the ship is getting punctured anyway.
11. What the hell is up with starships, now? The bridge looks like an Apple Store, while the new Monsterprise engineering section has frickin' analog dials and single-gang electrical knockout boxes
everywhere. And shuttles were mixing high-tech touchscreens with old metal toggle switches
. Even the bridge had sporadic LED-clock-type number displays, which was just weird. Might as well have had Nixie tubes in random spots.
12. And back to real science for the big finish, it is unnecessary to drill to the center of the planet to drop a black hole there. Per the fears of the LHC, small black holes are more than happy to make their own way
to the center of the planet, and would consume mass as they went.
Certainly that is more like how the special effect of Vulcan looked, given that it seemed to collapse into a gravitational crater at the front instead of just smush in on itself.
Finally, why the hell would you have to lower
a beam emitter capable of drilling to the center of the planet into the atmosphere
? Could this drilling beam not make it through the wisps of air at higher altitudes?
Just a silly excuse for the base . . . er, space jump, I guess.
So does this movie relate in any way to the old Trek? Has the 2233 incursion, as the Monsterprise characters suggest, deleted the old timeline?
The answers, in my opinion, are "no" and "yes".
First the "yes" . . .
As I noted last time, Star Trek has been surprisingly consistent in that "time travel
stories have suggested a single timeline which, when altered, reshapes the Trek fictional universe." Therefore, despite the production staff attempting to say that this is a parallel timeline, I think the Black Hole timeline (e.g. Nero in 2233, destruction of Vulcan, et cetera) represents a replacement of the Supernova timeline (e.g. the one old Spock came from).
This is proven by the fact that the Narada left 2387 first, arrived in 2233, and changed history. Meanwhile the Supernova timeline's Spock left a few seconds later and arrived in 2258 right in the middle of the changed history.
However, the Supernova timeline is not what others have called the "prime" timeline of Trek. That is to say, old Spock comes from (and, really, arrives in) a different universe than the Prime timeline anyway.
How do we know this?
1. Romulans from the Prime timeline have had ridges since at least the 2100s
. And tattoos have never been observed as a Romulan normal trait, even among the civilians. Nero and the gang do not have ridges but do wear tatts and shave their heads. Ergo they are not our Romulans.
2. Even in the Supernova timeline, they give stardates just like they do in BH 2233, a modified timeline.
3. Supernova Spock is a pussy.
4. Supernova Spock's apparently now part of the Vulcan Science Academy (where was Starfleet when help was needed?!?!) with the rank of Ambassador (like Black Hole-Spock's father in this film, presumably) instead of hanging out with the reunification crowd. Sure, there's no telling what happened after Nemesis
, but none of that makes much sense in the Prime timeline.
5. Supernova Spock says Scotty discovered transwarp beaming. Our Scotty never did that.
6. Supernova Spock had no apparent interest in McCoy's friendship, though his ought to have mattered as much as Kirk's.
7. We never saw any of Supernova Spock's past with Kirk via the mind meld, thus we have no way to know what the events were.
I could say that Spock recognizing people who look nothing like the TOS cast was proof, but I'm letting that slide.
There's also one other aspect.
Nero and the Narada go through the black hole first and the Narada arrives in 2233 in a revised Black Hole timeline.
Supernova Spock goes through the black hole last and arrives in the Black Hole timeline's BH 2258, meeting Nero.
But that doesn't make sense in a single-timeline universe. How could they be the same guys meeting in BH 2258?
After all, as soon as Nero fell in, the timeline ought to have changed. Thus the 2387 that existed after Nero's departure should've been one in which Nero arrived in 2233, fought the Kelvin, and then waited in vain for Spock, because there might not've been any black hole to fall into at that time. This is the Nero-Only Black Hole timeline.
Any Spock that arrived in BH 2258 thus ought to have appeared from the Nero-Only Black Hole timeline. Vulcan would have survived in this timeline because the red matter never arrived, and perhaps enough other details remained the same (e.g. Nero disappears somehow or other) to allow for Spock to be an Ambassador and with the Vulcan Science Academy in 2387, trying to save Romulus but pissing off a space trucker, and both wind up caught in the black hole.
You see the problem, though. Anytime Nero goes in first, we wind up with a NOBH-style timeline. So we somehow need Spock to be wrong about Nero going in first, because otherwise we never get Spock in the black hole. Otherwise it's like trying to go somewhere by traveling half the distance with each step.
We can presume that at some point Nero's ship goes in the black hole but is destroyed prior to time travel, or perhaps it arrives in NOBH on top of Nero's first ship (or vice versa), producing no other changes, and so bingo, no changes occur. We thus have a Nero and
Spock from a NOBH, a timeline pre-modified for our convenience.
The alternative is that, instead, the movie's original 2387 timeline apparently persists for some number of seconds at minimum, at which point Spock falls in to the black hole and arrives in Nero's 2258.
But a timeline that persists after a timeline change without outside influence (the pocket of the Borg time vortex in First Contact
, or the Guardian in City
...) is no timeline at all, in the Trek rationale . . . that is a parallel universe. Certainly arrival from a mirror universe would explain things a bit better, such as why the Kelvin is such an odd vessel. It would also allow for the persistence of the Prime universe.
Either idea would allow for the stardate variation from the Supernova timeline.
Anyway, I'll ponder these issues more later, but for now it is making my brain hurt. Suffice it to say that they could've severely improved things by being more clear on that point . . . but given that they were making such a nonsensical universe anyway, I suppose they decided not to bother.
Perhaps I shouldn't either.