I thought it was complete nonsense.
It looks good – mostly. The special effects are state-of-the-art. The cast all do a good job with their parts, although Karl Urban probably nails the essence of Bones McCoy from the original cast better than the others do with their roles. And yes, Simon Pegg’s Scottish accent is a bit suspect.
I’ll forgive the “sounds in space” thing. It’s scientifically impossible, but it’s become a convention of science fiction cinema. And I’ll willingly suspend my disbelief for the black hole which allows Spock and the Romulan Nero to travel back in time. Likewise for the “red matter”. It’s a daft idea, but it’s a maguffin in a science fiction film so it doesn’t really matter.
There are many things I didn’t like in Star Trek – not just in the science, but in the plotting, the characterisation…. They played Chekov as a joke, which was not entirely fair. And quite a bit of the humour in the film appeared at strangely inappropriate moments. I’m all for livening up scenes with a bit of wit, but some of the jokes in Star Trek just seemed to fall flat.
And then there are the outright stupidities. The following comments will necessarily include spoilers.
If you stick a spaceship on top of a chemical planet, it doesn’t look like a spaceship dock. It looks like a chemical plant with a spaceship stuck on top of it. Far too much of Star Trek was filmed inside a chemical plant. Those scenes looked like they belonged in some cheap straight-to-DVD sf movie.
James T Kirk is about to be drummed out of Starfleet Academy for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. But then evil Romulan Nero appears, and he gets smuggled aboard Starfleet’s new flagship, the Enterprise, and – sigh – goes on to win the day. So at the end of the film, they pin a medal on Kirk’s chest and make him captain of the Enterprise. Hang on. He’s a cadet. He didn’t even graduate. And they make him the captain of their best ship?
And speaking of cadets being unfeasibly promoted to high rank: Dr Bones McCoy is also a Starfleet cadet, but when the trouble caused by Nero kicks off, he is assigned to the Enterprise as Senior Medical Officer. A cadet as a Senior Medical Officer? Where do they get the junior ones from? Kindergarten?
And then there’s Scotty. He’s no longer an engineer but an engineer and a genius theoretical physicist. But Starfleet still exile him to some out of the way planet – Delta Vega, in fact (see later) – because of an experiment/prank that went a bit wrong. But then they give command of their flagship to a cadet, so why not exile their best brains?
Oh, and did I mention that Kirk is also described as “genius-level”? He had me fooled.
The planet Romulus is destroyed by a supernova which “threatens the galaxy”. Must have been a pretty big star which exploded, then. The Milky Way contains approximately 200 billion stars. And some of them are huge. But not big enough to destroy all the other 199,999,999,9999 or so stars should they turn supernova. But the silliness doesn’t end there. Earth’s nearest star – other than the Sun – is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.24 light years away. If Alpha Centauri went supernova, and its wavefront were powerful enough to destroy the Earth over that great a distance, it would still take four years and three months to reach here. That’s plenty of time to find a solution if you’re as advanced as the Romulan Empire or the Federation.
It’s fortunate Romulan mining ships are as well armed as battleships. Otherwise Nero would have had trouble exacting his revenge. It’s also fortunate they’re absolutely enormous and very spiky – even though their “mining” seems to consist of dangling a platform in the planet’s atmosphere. Which is, well, illogical. Since they need to keep the platform’s giant laser firing at the same spot on the planet’s surface, the ship would need to be in geosynchronous orbit. For Earth, that’s 35,786 km above mean sea level. Space effectively begins 100 km above sea level (travel higher than that and you can officially call yourself an astronaut). So at the very least the Romulan ship needs a cable that is 37,686 km long. In the film, you can see the ship from the platform. It’s a big ship but not that big.
When Kirk and Sulu fall from the mining platform dangling in Vulcan’s atmosphere, and Kirk’s parachute is ripped from his back – I think they should make them a bit sturdier like, well, like present day parachutes – Chekov manages to transport them as they fall… So, they’d hit the transporter pad with the same velocity at which they were falling. Which would make for a nice splat and a somewhat abrupt end to the film. Or perhaps – and this is probably what earlier Trek films would have done – they’d have mentioned something about converting their velocity into energy in the transporter buffer or something. You know, completely bogus science. But at least they’d have made an effort to explain why the conservation of momentum didn’t apply. Whatever they did, Kirk and Sulu wouldn’t have hit the transporter pad as if they’d just dropped a metre.
Spock is marooned on the world of Delta Vega, and from there he sees the destruction of Vulcan. The two planets are not celestial neighbours, like the Earth and Moon. Which means Spock must have amazing eyesight in order to magnify a view of a planet located at least several light years away. And time-travelling eyes too, in order to see the destruction in real time rather than many years later when the light actually reaches him.
So, not so much a reboot as a lobotomy. It has been said – by John Scalzi among others – that it’s a bit silly to expect correct science in a Star Trek film. But I disagree. There’s no reason why Abrams had to get it so wrong. The sfnal devices – time travel through black holes, red matter – are maguffins to make the plot work. Giving command of the flagship to a cadet is rank stupidity. Suggesting that you can see a planet implode from another planet in an entirely different system is rank stupidity. Imagining that a mining ship will have sufficient armament to defeat the whole of Starfleet is rank stupidity. It is, when you think about it, insulting. The makers of Star Trek clearly have nothing but contempt for their audience.
As if all that weren’t bad enough… I saw in the foyer of the cinema something which persuades me Hollywood holds people in even greater disdain than I could have possibly imagined…. G-Force. “Gizmos, Gadgets and Guinea Pigs”. Yes, Disney have made a film about anthropomorphised guinea pig secret agents. And one of them is supposed to be a femme fatale spy. Yes, that’s a sexy female guinea pig. Voiced by Penélope Cruz.
Western civilisation is well and truly doomed.
Filed under: film review