Short version of my previous post:  I really didn’t like the movie. To me, it not only doesn’t work as Star Trek, it just doesn’t work as a movie, period. It has Big Stupid Summer Action Blockbuster in its very cinematic DNA. 

Lots of fans seem to be embracing it, though. Ironically, I could do worse to underscore my points than merely to quote a few bits from this review, which strains far too hard to be positive by way of excusing its myriad flaws:

“It’s clear there was something about Shatner’s Kirk, the very human but sometimes high-flown soldier-philosopher, which the filmmakers either couldn’t relate to or felt no longer spoke to modern audiences.”

“McCoy is in there pitching throughout the movie, often seeming to reprise every trademark line the Doctor ever uttered in the series—but he doesn’t get the kind of intimate, key scene with Kirk where he can truly function as the film’s conscience.”

“The one unfortunate artifact from the success of 1982’s The Wrath of Khan is the need to have a madman out for vengeance in every other Star Trek movie.”

“Nitpickers will have a field day with some of the movie’s science, tech and logic issues…. [and] may also wince at the amount of coincidence that drives the plot.”

Really, after making all those apologetic exceptions, what’s left? I’m particularly amused by the dismissal of “nitpickers”—as if plausible science were too much to ask for in a science fiction film, or coherent plot logic in any kind of film at all.

Meanwhile, while reflecting back on the movie and surfing the tide of opinions about it, yet another continuity snafu occurred to me:  has it struck anyone that Nero’s revenge plan actually guaranteed the destruction of Romulus in the new timeline just as in the old? It was the Vulcans who created the “red matter” that defused the supernova, but with Vulcan destroyed, there’s nobody left to do that. However, an altered timeline does nothing to change the internal processes of the star itself. It will presumably still explode on schedule, except this time with no way to stop it at all. 25 years cooling his heels, and yet it didn’t occur to Nero that he could save his race; instead, he doomed it.

And another, almost too obvious to mention (at least among Trekkers):  somehow Nero’s single initial time-change must have greatly increased the Federation’s contact with and knowledge of the Romulans. (In “Balance of Terror,” one of the best TOS episodes, Starfleet hadn’t encountered them in a century, had no idea what they looked like, and didn’t know they shared a heritage with Vulcans.)

And another, just a bit of sheer idiocy:  Spock’s claim that it’s “logical” for him to go aboard Nero’s ship because that “shared heritage” would help him decipher the Romulan computer systems. What, even though the cultures split two thousand years earlier? Really?

And another scientific whopper: the villain’s final defeat is achieved by opening yet another massive black hole, in Earth’s solar system. Possibly just a wee bit of danger in that?

There were so many of these little jarring moments in the film that it just wasn’t possible to keep them all at the top of my mind. But they keep bubbling to the surface again…

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12 Responses to “More on Star Trek XI”
  1. Andrew says:

    Although I’m not a very great fan of the series, the information you provided has proven to be quite useful!

  2. Carl says:

    Well as I have been reading some of the letters and blogs, and as any of you that have seen my letters on so many web sights know I did not like this film. As I’ve been called I have to admit there is some proof to the fact that I’m an old die hard STICK IN THE MUD fan of Star Trek. The biggest problem I’ve got with the film is that it completely goes against Star Trek canon. As some people agree with me, some do not. So I think we both can come up with a solution that will appease both new fans of this film and us die hard STICK IN THE MUDS. We die hards cant do it alone so we need you new fans help and the best part about it is any of you that don’t know anything about Star Trek shouldn’t notice a thing anyway.
    I purpose introducing characters that are not considered canon but are still known to us old STICK IN THE MUDS. As well as some we didn’t get to know real well and for those of you that don’t know what I mean here some names to help you out.

    ROBERT APRIL he was suppose to be the Enterprises first Captain before Pike and was the only character ever played by Gene Rodenberry himself

    AREX he was a navigator in the animated Star Trek and had six limbs. With new C.G.I. he could be created vary easily

    WILL DECKER he was killed in the first movie but was suppose to be in the second T.V. show witch never happened.

    ILIA also killed in the first movie

    M’RESS also from the animated Star Trek she was of a cat like race easy to create now

    I feel a letter writing campaign would help with this and then maybe you new fan and us old STICK IN THE MUDS can both enjoy the ride the next film takes us on

  3. I can’t help feeling that I’m getting nitpicky here, but just for the sake of defending my initial observations…

    1. Did Nero actually identify himself as a Romulan to Captain Robau and the crew of the Kelvin? I don’t recall that; at least, they certainly didn’t react as if they’d just gotten the first glimpse of a previously mysterious historical enemy. My reading of the film was that something else, behind the scenes during the “skipped” 25 years, must have informed the Federation about the Romulans.

    2. The “black hole” created by the “red matter” must have been able to greatly enhance the effects of local gravity, and to propagate its effects at FTL speeds, or it would have been no use at all against the supernova. Seems pretty risky in almost any setting, IMHO.

    3. Yes, Nero *would* have been able to use the red matter to destroy the star ahead of time and save Romulus, even after destroying Vulcan… if he hadn’t gotten himself Blowed Up Real Good by launching an insanely pointless attack on Earth. This is actually one of the *problems* in the movie: the needs of the plot so transparently drive the villain’s motivation that they prevent him from doing sensible things that would actually serve his goals.

    4. I think in terms of relating to either culture or technology, a connection attenuated by 2000 years *is* equivalent to none at all. (It wasn’t the only illogical thing Spock said in the movie, but it was the most laughable one being passed off *as* logic.) He’d still have a *genetic* similarity, so if the goal was to avoid the Romulans’ on-board sensors or something, sending him might have made sense, but that obviously wasn’t the goal either, or Kirk wouldn’t have gone along.

  4. Glenn Simpson says:

    For the record…

    1. If a guy calling himself a Romulan shows up and destroys a Federation ship, that could accellerate the issues around learning more about the Romulans.

    2. The red matter was intended to just reduce the effects of a sun going nova, right? So whatever kind of “black hole” it’s creating is obviously safe to use within a solar system, thus opening one near Earth must not be a problem.

    3. Nero had possession of the red matter, so he’d be able to use it to save Romulus without the Vulcans’ help.

    4. Even assuming Spock wasn’t just trying to come up with an excuse to do something heroic, two thousand years separation is still better than having never had any connection at all.

  5. I don’t think we can get even that specific. The simple fact is that the premises of this film preclude even the possibility of many of the events chronicled in TOS and the movie series, including some of the best episodes (from “Balance of Terror” to “Conscience of the King” to “Menagerie” to “Journey to Babel” to “Amok Time” to “Obsession” and many more). Khan is presumably still floating around out there in suspended animation, but beyond that any details regarding “Space Seed” and TWOK are entirely up for grabs.

    What we have is an absolutely new franchise that resembles the old one in name only, and seems to operate with cartoon-level story logic and philosophical depth. That’s all.

  6. Carl says:

    Has anyone stopped to think about all the things that could go wrong with the way this universes Star Trek is? Sarek will die in Journey to Babel because it was Spock’s mom that convinced Spock to go thru with the surgery to save his fathers life and if that happens when David (if he even exist) when builds the Genesis Device and its explodes Spock will die. But no one will go to Kirk to ask him to retrieve Spock’s body so the Kingons will kill David, Spock, and Savak. McCoy will most likely die in some mental hospital so sick from Spock,s Katra that no one knows how to treat him. When the Enterprise /A doesn’t work properly Kirk will go on vacation he will fall to his death because Spock will not be there to catch him. But I guess that that will all work out in the end because that mean that Spock cant make a promise to save Romulus and he and Nero cant go back in time and Screw every thing up.

  7. Nomad says:

    this new Star Trek is high quality cinema indeed, except at the theater i went to the reel kept jumping and the sound went out a couple of times… why are movie theaters still using film i wonder?

  8. Oh, I’ve seen Greenwood in lots of things. I particularly enjoyed him in Nowhere Man on TV back in the ’90s, and as JFK in Thirteen Days, but he’s also been good in any number of smaller roles, like in Capote.

  9. Born in the mining town of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. Last I heard, he was calling the Vancouver area home between gigs. And if you’ve seen Exotika, The Sweet Hereafter or Ararat you’ve already seen him at work.

  10. Good point, RAB — Trek in recent years has become far more about defeating Evil Enemies than was ever originally intended,and that’s a shame. The heart of Trek, IMHO, is about using SF storytelling as a vehicle for social commentary. This film is very, very far away from that. I think perhaps you overstate things when you assume such moral simplification is all audiences want, though. (Although it may well be what Paramount, Abrams etc. think they want. Frankly, I think their take on what “speaks to modern audiences” is unbearably cynical.)

    Dwight — while the original Trek history is nominally “still around,” and can presumably be used in novels, comics, etc. (as long as someone thinks it’s still commercial), the chances of ever seeing it on screen again are now essentially nil. Moreover, the more successful the new “alternate reality” Trek turns out to be, the less likely we are to see even those ancillary products set in the original reality. I think that’s a shame.

    Glad to hear, though (re: the other comment thread) that Greenwood is in fact signed on for a sequel. Not that I actually have much interest in a sequel now… but Greenwood was at least one of the better things about the movie. (And I didn’t know he was Canadian!)

  11. Well, if it was an erasure of established history they were after, I still persist in saying that Paramount failed at that. And a good thing, too.

  12. RAB says:

    One of those quotes ties in to something that occurred to me while reading your review: ever since Wrath of Khan, the subsequent iterations of Star Trek have pitted Earth heroes against an assortment of “evil space villains” even though that’s pretty much the opposite of what the original series stood for. In fact, we seem to have spun around 180 degrees from the original series to the point where the greatest threat to peace and prosperity and the future is Ming the Merciless and his weapons of planetary destruction. Clearly that’s what the mass audience wants; that’s what the mass audience has always wanted. The original Star Trek was never all that popular. The public wants to hear that the source of all our worries is bin Laden or Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il, and that if we can just bump him off in a thrilling military adventure everything will be good. (And while we’re at it, we can erase history so there’s no need to keep track of the confusing, ambiguous parts!)

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