Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So how familiar are you with the Star Trek movies? Can you name them all and give a synopsis? Can you quote most of Khan? Are you familiar with the odd number curse? Yeah I can do all that but don't worry that isn't required for you to read this post. Well you do need to know about the odd number curse. If you have seen the movies you are probably somewhat aware of this curse. Each odd numbered movie was significantly worse than the even numbered movies. Think about it. Star Trek the Movie. The first, the suck. Seriously, who's idea was it to cast Kirsty Alley as a bald Vulcan? I'm assuming lot's of drugs were involved in that decision and also the choice to make the "villain" a Voyager Satellite that wondered off into deep space becoming sentient and deciding to come back looking for daddy. I'm assuming this is the origin of the Borg and Kirsty Alley became the first Borg Queen. This isn't canon but it sure makes me feel better about the movie. Compare that to Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan and you get the picture. If you are a fan the first movie isn't bad, but compared to Wrath of Khan it isn't even a shadow of how frigintastic the series can be.

This curse carried through with the Search for Spock, The Undiscovered Country, Generations, and Insurrection. Each of these had good parts and a theoretically good plot, but each failed to really push into a great movie with game changing moments.

This brings us to Star Trek (2009). This is a reset movie and is the 11th Star Trek movie in the franchise. It is an odd number but also another one. In many ways the curse should have doubled down on it resulting in something worse than The Undiscovered Country, in which they find god who isn't God. This movie, on the other hand, is easily in my top 3 favorite Star Trek films. It is difficult to surpass Wrath of Khan, which was the second, or First Contact, which was the second Generations movie. I think Wrath of Khan is still more quotable which means it was better writing, but you can't get past the action from this movie.

Actually, I feel like Star Trek (2009) took a lot from Wrath of Khan. Not to say that they stole things but rather that they saw what made it good and tweaked it into a new and very different movie. They did use the giant ear wig looking things and there was a speech from the villain that sounded like one of Khan's speeches but other than that there were no direct pulls just a general kind of feeling that linked the two.

I'm not saying the movie was perfect though. They really messed with some parts of the franchise. I mean really messed with them. That kind of hurt but I get the reasoning.

Still the pluses way outweighed the negatives. It was great watching the characters interact. They did a great job with the dynamic of various character interactions. I especially enjoyed watching Spock and Bones. There were plenty of jabs and one liners that were a throwback to the original series. Scotty was awesome and they even had a great red shirt homage (didn't think I knew that word did you?).

Of course I've been very careful to avoid any specific details. I want to talk about those for people who have seen the movie though, so beware

There be Spoilers beyond this point

Can't say I didn't warn you. This is a reset movie. The timeline from previous movies and shows is changed in the opening sequence of the movie. In it a Romulan mining ship travels back in time and destroys a Federation star ship. Kirk's dad becomes captain for about 12 minutes before going down with the ship to save the escaping crew including his wife who is delivering their son James Tiberius Kirk at the time. It really is a great sequence but it changes, somewhat, the character and most certainly the timeline. Later it gets worse though. Eventually Vulcan is destroyed leaving an estimated 10,000 Vulcans in existence. This will not be something that the race will quickly recover from.

One thing I'm not sure about is the future of the franchise. In the past they would make a huge thing like this to happen then reset things back to normal. In the shows this would often happen at the end of the season allowing fans to wonder how they will fix it between seasons. In Wrath of Khan they kill of Spock but bring him back in the Search for Spock. It is possible the next movie will offer a reset by repairing the timeline. This isn't impossible and it would allow for some variances because the crew the restores the timeline would be able to remain themselves thus explaining differences in canon. At this point I'm not too worried either way but I would love for the next movie to offer a reset, unless they bring back Khan. In the original series Kirk faces Khan much later in the timeline for the first time, but with a reset they could bring him in sooner and have an epic showdown again. It would be pretty amazing to see them go that route and I'd rather see that than a reset.

My single biggest complaint is the relationship between Uhura and Spock. If you didn't see the movie I'm sorry for ruining that for you but I did warn you. Yes, you heard me right Uhura and Spock have a relationship. She is hanging all over him and kissing him and he is … well a Vulcan. That really didn't make any sense to me. I'm not saying she should fall for Jim. In fact I think that is just plain wrong, but so it Uhura and Spock. This is something they must fix before bad things happen.

That said, I will be buying this movie at the earliest possible moment. It was truly epic and is very honoring of the franchise even with the unbelievable changes. What did you think?


Greg said...

First of all, I think the miserable failure of Nemesis threw off the odd number curse. I also thought that Insurrection, though a poor title, was a good movie, but then again that's me.

I also wanted to know what you thought about engineering. On one of the forums I frequent, the consensus is that Engineering was too industrial and too big for the size of the ship. I thought it was great because it has always bothered me, with the exception of the TOS series, that main engineering always looked like a five-star hotel lobby. I work in a factory and it was great to see an industrial area that looked industrial and unfinished.

The bridge also was spectacular. It did have a very refined finished look, which a bridge should have. It looked more futuristic and the viewscreen seemed to be more of a window, which I think one would expect. The movie was pretty frenetic, so we didn't get a good, long look at it, but I'm sure that some sort of a HUD is possible, even to the extent of making the window completely opaque in order to show a face-to-face hail or other data such as zooming in on a far away ship or showing a planet's surface.

Personally, I've come to terms with them not pushing the big red time-line reset button and I hope they go in a completely new and different direction in the next movie. Kahn has been done. Perhaps Klingons, Tholians, or a brand-new race/villain.

Nick the Geek said...

I know Khan has been done but I think their take on it would be pretty amazing. It would also be pretty relevant as a struggle against technology within the confines of advanced technology. The Klingons were intentionally avoided as the main bad guy because of the future relations with them having already been established. The Romulans were picked because of the existing relationship with Ambassador Spock in TNG.

As for Engineering. First it is not too big for the ship. The ship isn't a big as 1701D but it is still much much bigger than the original Enterprise (as in Captain Archer, while I'm there did you get the reference to him and his beagle?). It had to be pretty freaking huge when you consider the shear number of shuttle craft parked in the hanger in that one scene. Each of those was bigger than a full sized cargo van based on the scale of people next to them.

I think many people are hung on the idea that this is the NCC-1701 from TOS but it isn't. That ship was changed because of the events in the beginning of the movie. It is likely that people involved with the design and planning of the NCC-1701 from TOS died on the Kelvin. Moreover the destruction of the Kelvin likely sparked changes to the construction of the newer ships the same way the Borg and later the Delta Quadrant wars altered changes in the construction.

Each time they had to deal with new over powering threats the Federation upgrades their ships to deal with the threat. When the Constitution class was commissioned in the original series as the flag ship of the Federation it was sufficient to the known needs of the time line.

With the overwhelming force of the destruction of the Kelvin it is likely that they made many upgrades to the Enterprise and so the end result is very different from the original series. This ship is likely larger and supporting even more photon batteries and phaser turrets. These are actually related in that the extra batteries and turrets require more space and a larger engineering which means more space. Further in the future they can make more powerful ships that are smaller, such as the Defiant, but at this level of technology they must have made the ship and engineering bigger to create a more powerful ship.

Fans need to get past the idea of the Enterprise from the original series. That Enterprise never existed in this time line. I'm a much bigger fan of this new one because it seems more real.

katdish said...

Ugh! I'm covered in slimy geekiness after reading this post. I need a shower.

Shark Bait said...

Nice post dude.

But surely you mean "who's idea was it to cast Persis Khambatta as a bald Deltan"

If memory serves me correctly, Kirstie Alley as Lt Saavik appears for the first time in Wrath of Khan, and she had hair.

Of course I could be wrong, but...


Nick the Geek said...

I tried bu honestly I can't resist and it is so wrong I'll need a shower for just saying it but you had to go there and ... we you would have said it to if you thought of it but I really don't want to have to say it. Why couldn't Steph have come by to say it for me?

That's what she said.

There see what you made me do? I'm so disappointed in you.

I looked and you are right. I also not that they replace the actress in the next film. I wonder why? It has been a very long time since I watched Star Trek the Movie. I watched it when I was young, very young, and I remember being so bored. Then I watched Wrath of Khan and it was frigintastic. I didn't watch the Movie again till I met my wife and she hadn't seen most of the Star Trek films. Of course we needed to rectify that if we were to wed so Blockbuster helped us out and the Movie was every bit as boring as I remembered and the Search for Spock was every bit as contrived to get out of a "oh no we screwed up and killed off the most important character in the franchise" as I remembered. And so on and so forth.

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