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May 29 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

I was off in the big city (Alexandria, Mn) to run some errands, and I figured as long as I was there, I’d catch the latest summer blockbuster. I went in with low expectations: I’d heard it was just a fun action movie, mere mindless entertainment. The reviews underestimated the movie; it wasn’t just mindless, it was in a vegetative state. This movie was so stupid it was stillborn with acephaly. This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.

I will tell you a few of the annoying inanities that made it impossible to enjoy the movie. Spoiler warning? Maybe. I’d be doing you a favor if I spoiled this movie for you.

  • At the very beginning, a protagonist is being lowered into an erupting volcano on an alien planet. No, not lowered — careening at the end of a cable dangling from an out of control, damaged shuttle craft. His cable melts, he falls. Does he fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he lands on a solid rock floating in a lake of magma. Does he splatter, bounce, break, fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he drops his tools, gets up, gathers them, goes about his business.

  • Meanwhile, two other protagonists are running frantically away from alien primitives who are throwing spears at them. Why were they even in the village? Don’t know. All the important action is going on in the volcano. This is something the movie often does: if a problem does not require gratuitous physical conflict to solve it, people will be thrown into it anyway to flail and thrash around.

  • This volcano, which is actually on the smallish and mostly unprepossessing side, has a small village of aliens at its base. When it erupts, it’s going to destroy the entire world and the aliens will go extinct. It makes no sense. Somehow corking up one volcano while two crew members run through the jungle will save the planet.

  • The aliens are doomed anyway. They all seem to be male.

    OK, that was just the opening scene. It has no bearing on the rest of the movie at all. I’ll be less specific for the rest.

  • The bad guy can make a bomb with a ring and a glass of water that will explode with enough force to destroy a city block with a giant eruption of flame. He does this to get Starfleet leaders to congregate in a conference room…which he then plinks at with some guns in a plane, killing one or two. Hey! I bet there are glasses of water in that conference room!

  • No less than three times, we get dialog along these lines:

    “Get him/her/it out of there! Use the transporter beam!”

    “I can’t get a lock! But…say, I could beam someone to those coordinates…”

    “Do it! Right away!” <someone wastes a few minutes running through the halls to the transporter> “I’ll just beam one person to the danger site!”

    Next: one person shows up at danger site with new swirly transporter effects, proceeds to engage in thrashy stupid fisticuffs for a prolonged period of time.

  • Lens flare. So goddamn fucking much lens flare.

  • Listen. If you’re on a flying vehicle weaving at high speed through the sky, don’t stand toe-to-toe with someone else and punch them. Especially not with the flailing haymakers that everyone tosses around in this movie. You’ll fall off.

  • If you jump off a flying vehicle weaving at high speed through the sky, planning to land on another flying vehicle weaving at high speed through the sky, you probably won’t. You’ll miss, fall thousands of feet, and go splat. If you do fall 50 feet and land on top of another flying vehicle weaving at high speed through the sky, you will bounce, slip, and fall off to go splat and die. You will not land, scrabble a bit, catch yourself and stand up, and then start punching someone.

  • Giant interstellar spaceships can get shot up, suffer massive internal explosions that tear them up internally and rupture their structure, and then fall out of the sky to crash on earth. They can be of a grossly non-aerodynamic design in addition to having massive structural damage, but they will still manage to skid into San Francisco Bay, bounce a few times, then go sliding into San Francisco, shattering skyscrapers and leveling entire city blocks, before coming to a stop.

    Then the sole occupant will jump out of a hole in the side to jog through the city. He will have one small scratch on his cheek.

  • Said occupant will then be engaged in slap-happy hand-to-hand combat by a single guy transported to his location. Of course.

  • Someone in a small craft that gets blown out of the sky and goes spiralling down in flames will manage to escape by use of the magic transporter beam, which will zap him all the way from his burning ship on Earth to…the Klingon home planet. Why do they have spaceships anyway?

  • Related weirdness: A ship somewhere near the Klingon home planet enters warp drive, is immediately chased by another starship which shoots at the first ship, knocking it out of warp. The occupants of that ship are stumbling about to figure out where they are, which happens to be…somewhere inside the orbit of Earth’s moon. It’s a very small universe.

  • The warp core of a giant starship can get “out of alignment”, which can then be fixed by a guy going into the core and kicking it back into place.

  • The writers are so bereft of any trace of creativity that they just juggle around the ending of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan in horrible arbitrary ways. I was offended. It made no sense.

  • Benedict Cumberbotch plays Khan, the classic role played in the original by Ricardo Montalban with awesomely hammy panache and brio. Benedict just looks spoiled and sullen through the whole movie — it’s a role the corpse of Montalban could have played with more liveliness. There’s a moment where one of the good guys reprises that iconic scene where William Shatner shouts “KHAAAAAAN!” — and it’s pitiful, tacked on, dully performed. It’s a defining moment — there is no life in this movie.

I could go on. This was a movie that lost me with its stupidity in the first scene and never got me back, just getting worse and worse. There was no intelligence to any of the solutions to any of the problems — in a universe with spaceships, every problem was resolved by someone getting in a fistfight.

I hope they never make another one.

I do hope this one makes buckets of money, though, because I want JJ Abrams to get disgustingly rich. I want him to be so rich that he retires to some fabulous villa in Tuscany, or a lovey cottage in the south of France, or perhaps a glitzy condo in Cabo. Or all three! I want him to settle down and live a long, contented life with a loving family and good friends to keep him company.

And then, many many years from now, as he lies dying painlessly of natural causes, his family gathered tearfully around his deathbed, I want him to think back with regret to his last movie. I want him to realize that in his life, he made negative art, art that sucked a little beauty and joy out of the universe and made millions of people less thoughtful and less aware. He will feel a deep existential remorse. And then as he begins to fade, he will feebly gesture for his loved ones to come closer, and a fat tear will roll down his cheek, and he will whisper, “into…darkness…” before slipping away.

And his family will be baffled and wonder what it meant, because they never watched his shit movies, and don’t even give a damn for the titles. And then they’ll go off and waste their inheritance on overpriced champagne and ridiculous little sports cars.

It’s the only just fate.

177 comments

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  1. 1
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    So… Better than the Arrested Development reboot?

  2. 2
    Doc Bill

    Yes, all that I noticed. Grrr.

    But! There was a scene when the guy is driving his hovercraft to the hospital, and his hovercraft makes a sound that reminded me of The Jetsons! Did they use the Jetsons hovercraft sound in the film? Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. 3
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    And just remember, we have the JJ Abrams Star Wars to look forward to.

  4. 4
    Lachlan

    Decent film. Looking forward to his treatment of Star Wars.

  5. 5
    PZ Myers

    I haven’t seen Arrested Development, so I have no idea.

  6. 6
    docsarvis

    Don’t sugar coat it, PZ. Tell us what you really think.

  7. 7
    alkaloid

    This was a work of art-almost like reading one of the reviews in Ebert’s “Your Movie Sucks” files. Have you perhaps considered doing this more often?

  8. 8
    Marcus Ranum

    [...] protagonist is being lowered into an erupting volcano on an alien planet. No, not lowered — careening at the end of a cable dangling from an out of control, damaged shuttle craft. His cable melts[...]

    What’s the melting temperature of a cable? And what’s the melting temperature of a protagonist?

    I’m sure they probably don’t use mere steel (melting temp 1000+deg) in Star Trek land. Perhaps they use silly putty?

  9. 9
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    I was planning to go to the theater this weekend. Now I am looking for it on “bay”.
    PS: Who is missing Ebert? Did you say two thumbs down?

  10. 10
    skeptico

    That sounds even dumber than Prometheus. I didn’t think that was possible.

  11. 11
    ChasCPeterson

    This movie was so stupid it was stillborn with acephaly. This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.

    YES! Jesus fucking shit-hell yes.
    See, but I knew it. I read the io9 spoiler FAQ (exactly right imo) and knew I would regret spending the $9.50 so instead I, like, obtained a, y’know, digital copy…heh…and watched it at home on Sunday and OMG it sucked.
    I haven’t even read your specifics yet, but yeah. phew.

  12. 12
    Eamon Knight

    And then as he begins to fade, he will feebly gesture for his loved ones to come closer, and a fat tear will roll down his cheek, and he will whisper, “into…darkness…” before slipping away. And his family will be baffled and wonder what it meant,

    I see what you did there.

  13. 13
    Eristae

    And what’s the melting temperature of a protagonist?

    Win!

  14. 14
    billygutter01

    I saw this flick on Sunday. I was hungover, had smoked a joint on the way in, and slept through 2/3 of it.

    I’m glad.

  15. 15
    Zeno

    And what’s the melting temperature of a protagonist?

    Human or Vulcan? You have to expect a Vulcan to be forge-tested, right?

  16. 16
    lutzifer

    as a trekkie i cant hear you, la la la la la la la xD

  17. 17
    phillipbrown

    Spock’s ‘Phone a friend’ moment

    Kirk calling Scotty *on a friggin communicator* from the Klingon homeworld

    Being able to build a Dreadnaught-class starship, without anyone finding out.

  18. 18
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    So basically, it’s one of the few Star Trek movies my wife will watch with me.

  19. 19
    John Morales

    Plot stupidities?

    There’s a point where they have to do the fisticuffs thing because they can’t kill Khan because his magical blood is needed to regenerate the dead Kirk* — because they forget that they have 72 other supermen sleeping in their hold.

    * Dr “Herbert West” McCoy at their service!

  20. 20
    PZ Myers

    Scotty being able to completely disable a dreadnought-class starship, but having to struggle to get an airlock door open.

  21. 21
    ChasCPeterson

    OK, now I’ve read your specifics and may I just add one? It’s a biology one, so.

    Dr. McCoy is fascinated by pale-Khan’s healing-resilience. Hey, Khan’s a 300-yo relict of the Eugenics Wars (1990s…in this timeline…I guess). And…so…I guess they forgot some medical technology, in the meantime, apparently. So anyway McCoy’s fascinated. So he figures the best way to approach the question is to draw some blood from Khan, see, and then take that blood and:
    inject it into a dead tribble.
    He’s got this dead tribble, see, just over here on one of the lab benches in sickbay.
    But now our attention is diverted by yet another Cliched Action Scene.

    Some days later (after the complete destruction of San Francisco) , we’re back in sickbay because now of course El Kirk is dying selflessly, and but hey fortunately nobody did anything with the dead tribble on the benchtop over there because *SPOILER* hey now it’s alive!! What luck that it’s just sitting in the same spot visibly breathing! Because abviously this means that if we inject Khan’s blood (nope…sorry…) if we inject a synthetic version of the ‘serum’ that Bones isolated from Khan’s blood into dead-or-dying Kirk…then…
    a year later, everything’s cool in The City: Kirk’s healthy, everybody’s wearing extremely ugly official Starfleet North-Korean-officers-style military caps, and nobody seems to remember that many thousands died a year ago because come on, Teh Kirk is starting a five-year mission!

    p’tui!

    Horrible, horrible crap; a disgrace to The Franchise, and I say that as someone who kind of liked Enterprise.

  22. 22
    Jafafa Hots

    Can a movie be its own spoiler?

  23. 23
    Marcus Ranum

    Human or Vulcan? You have to expect a Vulcan to be forge-tested, right?

    Is that a variant on the “African or European swallow” question? ;)

  24. 24
    Jafafa Hots

    Wait… is this an even-numbered one or an odd-numbered one?

  25. 25
    Rob

    Ok, so everything you say is true. Every bit of it. There is still a way to enjoy this movie. Suspend your disbelief. All of it. Leave yourself so open minded that your brain slides out the side of you skull. You’re now good to go. Do all that and it’s modestly entertaining, as long as you can cope with the slight sense of shame and self-loathing in the morning.

  26. 26
    mikeyb

    Good I won’t bother.

    Honestly though, most of the post(OS)-TV trek movies (except Wrath of Khan, and parts of others) were inane self indulgent parodies of the original series. Kinda like Firefly, they never lived down the fact that the series was cancelled before it got its proper dues.

    Sound’s like it might be as dreadful as the infamous humorless Hitchhiker’s film.

  27. 27
    lylelaw

    in regards to the transporter: this was a loose thread from the previous movie where Spock Prime had given Lil’ Scotty the info necessary to do ‘Transwarp Beaming’ (which is probably similar to Subspace Transporters like the one used by Daimon Bok in the ep… long story short future-future tech that’s already been established in the canon.) Lil’ Scotty made a passing reference to Star Fleet confiscating all the work he had on it, which apparently fell into Section 31′s hands.

    the biggest mistake of this new stuff is by trying to be clever and weld itself to the original universe’s canon. hence unlike, say BSG which could be it’s own new gritty beast, we are constantly reminded this is an alternate Trek reality that isn’t ‘right.’

  28. 28
    astrofiend

    The only thing that sucked worse than the movie was this review. It was boring and stooooopid to a near-crystalline degree.

  29. 29
    ChasCPeterson

    astrofiend: thanks for sharing.

    One more, just one more: li’l Scotty’s mute little Ewok/oyster sidekick.

    ?

  30. 30
    Mark Rogers

    Much preferred the original Planet of the Apes, shown recently on PBS. At least they had fun with their non-sense.

  31. 31
    Akira MacKenzie

    This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.

    Best. Critique. Ever!

    I saw it last week for want of something better to do. I admit it was colorful, and fast paced, with lots of action. Then, after the nerd-gasm was over I started to apply thought o what I had just seen, and I started to come to the same conclusions.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp @ 3

    Oh, haven’t you heard? J.J. admitted that he doesn’t “get” Star Trek with all that science and social commentary stuff. Apparently he is only capable of two types of science fiction: post-modernist naval-gazing with a plot you need a philosophy degree to even begin to comprehend (i.e. LOST), or brainless pew-pew-pew action. Something lacking actual depth, like the glorified fairy tale that is Star Wars, should be just about Abrams’ speed

  32. 32
    magistramarla

    I’m not a science person, so I find it very easy to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the film.
    And I did enjoy it! I especially enjoy watching the young McCoy. I think that he really nails the character and I love the one-liners that he throws out.
    I also enjoy watching the young Sulu. As my students said when the first film came out a few years ago – “He’s a hot Asian!”

  33. 33
    John Pieret

    So, Basically, you’ve never gotten the hang of this “willing suspension of disbelief” thingie, have you?

    Sometimes, it’s justified when the characters are interesting and original … as in “Independence Day,” which was no less illogical and scientifically silly, but was, I thought, entertaining.

    When they had Kirk instead of Spock in the ‘chamber of death’ but didn’t have the grace to have him actually die (at least to the next movie), I firured this was a waste of time.

  34. 34
    microraptor

    The reviews underestimated the movie; it wasn’t just mindless, it was in a vegetative state. This movie was so stupid it was stillborn with acephaly. This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.

    So it was slightly better than any of the Transformers movies?

  35. 35
    Marcus Ranum

    So it was slightly better than any of the Transformers movies?

    When I desperately hate a movie, I switch over to playing “spot the product placements”
    How was this one?

  36. 36
    rorschach

    For me the biggest letdown was Cumberbatch(and the character he got to play), especially after his performance had been so hyped up before the movie was released. He is not Khan, he is not anywhere near Ricardo Montalban(and Urban shows that it is possible to be close to the original character), his role is rubbish, his performance anaemic, and the whole thing is just pathetic and annoying.

  37. 37
    kevinalexander

    AFAIK the Constitution prohibits Hollywood movies from making any sense. Just shut your brain off, lean back and enjoy!
    Sheesh! You science people. So pedantic!

  38. 38
    AJ Milne

    I had a friend once comment he planned to monogram ‘Rosebud’ on everything he owned prior to his death, just to create confusion.

    In more related, I used to assume I would, sooner or later, see any Star Trek film at least in part when it hit some cable network or ‘nother and I happened to flip past. This is how I wound up seeing the last one, I think. I remember some weird spinning Vulcan ship, some fistfights, some explosions… truth be told, it’s a bit of a blur.

    Anyway I’ve stopped watching cable, now, too. So it’s hard to say if I’ll see this one. Far in the future, perhaps. Who can predict the chain of happenstance? Possibly, I’ll get inadvertently cryogenically preserved, wake up in New New York some several thousands of years from now, work for an interplanetary delivery service, and this Abrams thing will turn up on cable in the break room. Yes, in this future, somehow, cable makes sense again.

    Or not. It’s the cable making sense again part that seems implausible to me, for the record.

    But I’m betting this review was better, anyway.

  39. 39
    R Johnston

    Sounds like what I would call a Direct-to-MST3K movie. Enjoyable as a free broadcast if you have a bitingly sarcastic sense of humor and the right frame of mind about the thing, but why anyone would pay to subject themselves to the movie in a theater is a mystery to me.

  40. 40
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    And that volcano planet that introduces the movie:
    it’s named Nibiru.

  41. 41
    thebg

    Racebending.com has a compelling article on the whitewashing of Khan.

    I agree with the sentiment that some suspension of belief is required but Into Darkness requires the viewer to suspend belief in order to move the plot along or to create tension, and that’s just sloppy writing. For me this movie put too many demands on my credulity. Though I was dragged to Fast 6 this weekend and by comparison Into Darkness looks like PBS Nature programming.

  42. 42
    jasonfailes

    Pharyngula: Into Cynicism.

    As if the original series made any more sense. The moment they decided to have a human/alien hybrid, Star Trek gave up any pretense of being serious science fiction. Much like the imaginary Leave It To Beaver golden age social conservatives pine for, non-embarrassing Star Trek stories never actually existed.

  43. 43
    chigau (違う)

    ST:TOS Never made any pretense of being “serious science fiction”.

  44. 44
    peppercarey

    I’m pretty sure that the sooper sekrit Starfleet shipyard that Scotty infiltrated had camo netting draped over it. That’s pretty much where I stopped hoping that the movie would redeem itself.

  45. 45
    Karen Locke

    At the very beginning, a protagonist is being lowered into an erupting volcano on an alien planet. No, not lowered — careening at the end of a cable dangling from an out of control, damaged shuttle craft. His cable melts, he falls. Does he fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he lands on a solid rock floating in a lake of magma. Does he splatter, bounce, break, fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he drops his tools, gets up, gathers them, goes about his business.

    That’s the believable part — just your average volcanologist. Did they leave out the part where, afterwards, s/he drinks a case of beer?

    (Sorry — I’m a geologist, and I have a great deal of respect for the chutspah of volcanologists. Also a great respect for their ability to knock back beer. I’m a sedimentologist myself. Sand is much safer to study. You also get to go home at night and drink green tea.)

  46. 46
    Michael

    I posted this rant on my Facebook page the day after seeing the movie:

    Okay, I understand how the head of Starfleet wanted to use Khan’s intelligence to build advanced weapons, then use Kirk to start a war, setting himself up for power while eliminating all the evidence against him. However why did he give Kirk 72 missiles to kill one person? That should have made Kirk suspicious, although they were evidence that would be destroyed if the Enterprise was destroyed, but it seems strange.

    Even if Khan thought that the missiles had been destroyed, it was still a waste of missiles in either case.

    Why did Khan go to that planet? If he was orchestrating things in order to get access to the ship, he was taking quite a big risk that the head of Starfleet would send Kirk after him, that Kirk wouldn’t kill him, etc. Once he knew about the missiles he might have been able to orchestrate the rest but despite being on a planet that the Federation wouldn’t normally go to, it would be relatively easy to find the only human on that alien world. Wouldn’t it have been easier to hide out somewhere else, or go directly after the head of Starfleet?

    The tribble set up was obvious and predictable.

    How did Khan force the father to blow up his workplace? Since his daughter was going to be okay, why did he go through with it? Was the message he sent a real warning, or was he also ordered to do it by Khan to get the meeting to occur?

    Did the head of Starfleet expect his daughter to keep her mouth shut after he destroyed the Enterprise, or was he somehow going to remove her memory or lock her away for years?

    I can understand Khan being engineered to be stronger, etc. but there are limits. How could he withstand multiple stun blasts by a phaser? Why did Uhura beam down instead of a security officer (ie. someone trained to fight)? Why couldn’t Bones use blood from one of the other frozen crew instead of the primary villain’s?

  47. 47
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Michael #45:
    According to Abrams’ TED Talk, he thinks a story is more compelling if it’s riddled with mysteries that ultimately never get explained.

  48. 48
    robertwilson

    Regardless of how seriously you take any Trek (to me DS9 is the only good one on its own, but lots of Trek is fun and overall it’s more about the mythos and the cult of optimism that grew around it than about any of the parts) these new movies are entirely devoid of any of that content (no matter what you think of t that content).

    To me they’re Where’s Waldo sorts of entertainment. Oh look a mention of Section 31 here, a Tribble there, an Orion girl here, an Uhura in a 60s skirt uniform there. The women are just eye candy, even the 60s series did more with them – did no one realize there was some idealism in this stuff? That the regressive values you might find often reflected the times the series were made in, not the ambitions of the writers?

    And not to forget the Where’s Waldo comparison – these are less cohesive compositions than any such image, the comparison is only useful in that there is a lot that you can point at. Again, all of it stripped of any soul it once had (or aspired to have).

  49. 49
    woofle

    “I hope they never make another one.”

    Sadly, well-said, PZ. This movie is fatally flawed, but not because of plot holes and convenient but ridiculous, even stupid resolutions — the original franchise did this sort of thing more than occasionally, and sometimes hilariously with cheesy time-loop silliness.

    The reboot is BROKEN for a far deeper and more fundamental reason than merely being stupid.
    It’s BROKEN for failing to make the audience want to live in that time, on-board that Enterprise.

    Past Star Treks’ were saturated with a core optimism about the future and the nature of progress which appealed to its fans. The universes so created were appealing, and so many fans would love to imagine serving on board the Enterprise. Science improved life. The slow struggle between barbarism and enlightened values gradually came to favor the latter in sentient species, at least more often than not. Ours and other races’ flaws were often on display, but somehow in the end we could identify with and prefer their set of problems to ours.

    While imperfect, theirs was still a better future than we have now. That, IMHO, was a core competency of the franchise which was destroyed by the reboot.

    While the action was exciting and at times stunning visually, the last thing Trek fans want is yet another dark semi-dystopic movie that reminds the audience of terrorism, our often barbaric animal nature, and the bleak reality that our better angels may NOT win out in the end, or may come at such a great cost that more generations must be lost before there’s any benefit. We already know this. It’s a depressing reality that Star Trek goes out of its way, in prior incarnations, to address and spin towards optimism and progress rather than pessimism and collapse.

    We just don’t want our “Star Trek” movies to betray that faith in science, progress, and the equally strong faith that the future will be a better place that we would love to visit, if not live in.

    In my opinion any “Star Trek” franchise that doesn’t make the viewer want to be on-board and participating in the events unfolding on the screen, has failed its most basic mission.

  50. 50
    Kagato

    Spoilers, as with PZ’s post…

    Spock in the volcano was stupid, but it seems no one in Hollywood understands how volcanoes work. But — while stupid — I followed what I think they were trying to get at with the scenario:

    There was a small, primitive-yet-sentient population living in the shadow of the volcano. The eruption wouldn’t destroy the planet, but it would exterminate that entire species. They had a way to stop the eruption but needed to do it unseen. From the events, I inferred there was some sort of temple close to the site, and the “plan” was to sneak in disguised and steal an important artifact, getting the priests to chase them and thus removing the witnesses. Still very weak, but okay, whatever.

    This in no way justifies the truly stupid idea of submerging the goddamn Enterprise to hide it. It’s a SPACE SHIP, and these guys don’t appear to have any technology, let alone a powerful telescope. They have transporters and orbital transfer shuttles; there was no reason for the ship to ever leave orbit, let alone “hide” a few hundred metres off shore!

    The warp core scene was also pathetic. They had a really cool exterior set, it actually looked like functional technology for once, but they fucked up the end-game. Typical for Hollywood though.

    The wholly unnecessary underwear scene was highly offensive. At least it was quick.

    I could tolerate most of the rest of the crappy tropes. It would be nice to expect better, but the car-jumping and fist fights were pretty standard fare, so I just rolled with it.

    But the thing that totally broke my suspension of disbelief was the ship crash. This was a major metropolitan city in the middle of the day, and the ship plows through a dozen or more super-skyscrapers. Tens, even hundreds of thousands of people must have just died — but once the immediate risk of the crash itself is over, everyone seems to just go back about their day! Air traffic continues unaffected! What the fuck?

    And yet… and yet… I still managed to pretty much enjoy it, despite all of this.

    And compared to Prometheus, it was Citizen fucking Kane.

  51. 51
    Marcus Ranum

    a story is more compelling if it’s riddled with mysteries that ultimately never get explained

    … indistinguishable from loose threads and missing plot-devices, bad editing, and a script written by a committee that kept screaming “MOAR EXPLOSHUNZ PLZ!”

  52. 52
    bricewgilbert

    If you are looking for big dumb entertainment I still think The Fast and Furious franchise has become the best out there. At least in that you feel like the creators know they are making an impossible cartoon. Also it might just be one of the most progressive big budget Hollywood franchises going right now. Of course you have to ignore (like you have to do with every action film) that they are causing a bunch of accidental deaths.

  53. 53
    Marcus Ranum

    the ship plows through a dozen or more super-skyscrapers

    As we’ve seen, the Star Trek universe lacks inertial dampers (at least E.E.Smith got that right in his books!) – so what is the shape of a protagonist after the ship they are standing in slams into a building? Are they protagonist-shaped or bulkhead-shaped or just a sort of reddish paste?

    ((I’ve read too much about what happens when a commercial airliner hits the ground at 400mph, I don’t want to think too closely about a mega-spaceship hitting a building))

  54. 54
    Marcus Ranum

    BTW – this guy: Sendhil Ramamurthy – should have played Khan. I’m fucking sick and disgusted by Hollywood casting white guys in weird make-up as ethnic stereotypes. Don’t even get me started about Joel Grey as Chiun in Remo Williams.

  55. 55
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    Now that the glitz and novelty is wearing off and I’m thinking over the myriad plot holes, yeah, it’s pretty dumb. Abrams is really only partially to blame: Damon Lindelof was one of the main writers, and his reputation for plot holes is LEGENDARY. Unfortunately, he’s also been best buds with Abrams since being one of the lead writers for LOST, so separating the two is nigh-impossible, but he is NOT involved with Star Wars VII, so there COULD be hope on that front. I was still able to enjoy Into Darkness by turning my brain off, but some bits still seemed off to me (why aren’t the top minds of Starfleet meeting in an underground bunker during a terrorist crisis? Why isn’t the terrorist using a bomb when we’ve just established his fondness for them? Why did getting knocked out of warp mean arriving right behind the dark side of the moon when any sane pilot would pull you out of warp when you were that close to Earth ANYWAY? Why didn’t they ever explain the warp core malfunction that stranded them in the neutral zone for 20 minutes in any satisfactory manner? Why was the big prototype ship able to get from “under construction” to Klingon space in under 5 minutes, and how did Scotty avoid detection?). I DID think that Zach Quinto gave a decent performance (though he will never be at the level of Leonard Nimoy; Nimoy and Kelley really carried the original Trek), and Karl Urban is practically channeling DeForest Kelley. Chris Pine…eh. He’s nice to look at, and acts at a more appropriate level than Shatner, but Shatner’s use of EXTREME ACTING to cover for the fact that he was struggling to remember his lines was part of the charm of Kirk (true story; original Trek scripts were revised often, heavily, and late, and Shatner’s famous acting…STYLEisasymptomof…THIS. He was struggling to remember lines he had seen for the first time five minutes ago, then rushing to avoid wasting film.).

    Lindelof did NOT write the previous Trek movie, which is probably why it was overall stronger. He WAS, however, one of the writers and producers of Prometheus, which should explain…EVERYTHING. He had more of a filter for Into Darkness, so…could have been worse, I guess?

  56. 56
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    @Marcus Ranum: Dev Patel for Khan! DEV PATEL FOR KHAN!

  57. 57
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    You know, I’m gonna say it: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith had a more believable star cruiser crash-down than Into Darkness. Star Wars DOES have inertial dampeners (hence why the protagonists come out unscathed), the need to cool off the ship as it came down was established with those firefighter ships that came alongside it, it came down on a largely flat area, and the front half of the Invisible Hand actually DOES have a vaguely aerodynamic shape (that being the shape of a submarine, though it does lack wing assemblies).

  58. 58
    woofle

    Much of the appeal of Star Trek is its faith in progress, the future, and belief that there’s a slow-but-inevitable path from barbarism to our better nature, if only we try to do the right thing. This theme features in so many episodes, it’s difficult to count.

    In many ways, this optimism may be an artifact of the explosive growth of the economy, technology, and the application of science to everyday life in so many fields (medicine, electronics, space) that seemed so visible in the 1960′s (and continues, but is arguably taken for granted today.)

    We tend to see a lot of dystopic, vaguely anti-technology (or technology-gone-horribly-awry) kinds of movies today. That’s fine, and maybe even good, but … not for a Star Trek movie.

    I would argue that many Trek fans share that belief in reason, progress, and humanity’s ability to overcome its limitations with the sorts of folks who are here on this blog.

    I wonder if anyone else felt mildly betrayed by the dark, foreboding attitude in the new movie, whose final scene (presumably meant to be a “happy ending”) reminds me as much of the aftermath of 9/11 and NOT of a future any better than ours is today?

  59. 59
    mikee

    I completely enjoyed the movie. I’ve gotten used to suspending reality for most sci fi movies and not looking too closely to the holes. I would also hazard a guess that most of the holes could be explained using technobabble but thank goodness they didn’t try that as it makes it even worse.
    It was a fast paced, action filled, visually appealing movie – that’s fine by me.

  60. 60
    timberwoof

    I saw it in 3D. It wasn’t any better.

    Scott earned enough money as chief engineer on the Enterprise for … a year? … to buy himself a warp-capable shuttle which he flew with a nine-digit coordinate to a super secret starship factory on the far side of one of Jupiter’s moons where he nonchalantly joined in with the rest of the construction labor traffic and got past the Federation’s stupidest security setup ever as though there wasn’t any security at all and on board the **** spoiler.

    Khaaaan! You flew in Way Too Low over Alcatraz Island and then made a sloppy landing on the Marina district. Rest assured the FAA and the Federal Park Service will never stop hunting you…

  61. 61
    John Morales

    Khaaaan! was a soopergenius but didn’t work out the cunning ruse of the torpedoes.

    (Vulcans are sneaky!)

    timberwoof’s coinage is good enough for me. :)

  62. 62
    laurentweppe

    His cable melts, he falls. Does he fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he lands on a solid rock floating in a lake of magma. Does he splatter, bounce, break, fall into magma, aaaaiee, hisss, die? No, he drops his tools, gets up, gathers them, goes about his business.

    High-Tech Magic Varia Suit From the Future

    ***

    This volcano, which is actually on the smallish and mostly unprepossessing side, has a small village of aliens at its base. When it erupts, it’s going to destroy the entire world and the aliens will go extinct

    Tiny opening in a Yellowstone sized caldera

    ***

    Why do they have spaceships anyway?

    Because there can be only one Scotty

    ***

    in a universe with spaceships, every problem was resolved by someone getting in a fistfight.

    While in our universe with more rudimentary yet very real spacecrafts, every problem is ficed with guns, bombardment campaigns and tasers. Even with JJ Abrams at the Helm, the space federation is still more civilized than us.

  63. 63
    Kagato

    As we’ve seen, the Star Trek universe lacks inertial dampers

    You’re kidding, right?

    so what is the shape of a protagonist after the ship they are standing in slams into a building? Are they protagonist-shaped or bulkhead-shaped or just a sort of reddish paste?

    Couldn’t care less about the people on the ship. Starship. Handwave.

    I think it’s fair to assume that all the people working in those buildings that were just levelled weren’t protected by inertial dampeners, though.

    I mean, this is an American film. Didn’t it occur to anyone on the production crew that this event should be treated with just a little more gravitas than as a setup for the next fight scene? Surely it must make some people uncomfortable, especially given the complete lack of acknowledgement of the casualties.

  64. 64
    lsamaknight

    You know, this movie was fatally flawed from the start. No matter how many of the minor niggling details you fix, the casting (I prefer Cumberbatch’s Sherlock), the weird plotholes, the art department screwing around with Klingons for no apparent reason, there is still a deep problem, right at the heart of the movie.

    It wants to be Wrath of Khan redux but it could never be that. It lacks the back story of ‘Space Seed’ to give Khan a proper motivation when dealing with the Enterprise crew and even more fatally, Kirk and Spock lack the chemistry. This is not an indictment against Pine and Quinto, but something the movie brings up itself. This Kirk and Spock have only known each other for a year ago while the original versions had spent a five year mission together and then some. It fatally undermines what is supposed to be the big scene in the reactor core.

    What’s worse is that said scene is lifted too directly from the original scene that makes the it painfully obvious that it’s riding on II’s coattails rather than trying to stand alone and establish itself as a new entity in the Trek franchise.

  65. 65
    Kagato

    Blockquote fail, 2nd paragraph’s also from Marcus Ranum @52.

  66. 66
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    After reading the io9 faq spoilers and this thread, I think I’m actually going to enjoy this movie, in all its stupidity.

  67. 67
    unclefrogy

    I was deeply disappointed by the last one and have expressed little desire to see this one.
    I think JJ Abrams must be some kind of ________ or a _______. He is Hollywood so I guess that should come a no surprise He apparently likes to make hack movies that without CGI would be worse than a 1930 saturday kids serial version of anything.
    CGI does not make a movie good.
    uncle frogy

  68. 68
    danilodanilo

    I think most of the blame for how shitty this film is doesnt go to JJ Abrams but to Damon Lindelof.The same genius writer of Prometheus and Cowboys & Aliens.It seems that it is impossible for that man to write something that doesnt have gigantic plot-holes.

  69. 69
    rorschach

    What’s worse is that said scene is lifted too directly from the original scene that makes the it painfully obvious that it’s riding on II’s coattails rather than trying to stand alone and establish itself as a new entity in the Trek franchise.

    Utterly cringeworthy scene, that. It felt to me like Abrams was intentionally taking the piss here. Could not take it seriously.
    Why we had to have Dr Marcus in black undies all of a sudden, nobody knows. The Spock – Uhura relationship is not fucking logical! And on it goes with the absurdities…

  70. 70
    Louis

    I’m not happy that Trek has been fucked up. I’m incandescent that Star Wars is going to get even more fucked up. Lucas was doing his best, but I enjoyed the three prequels to anon-zero degree, I could cope. Even with Jar-Jar Binks. THAT is how dedicated I am. I’m scared, and the world is a dark, dark, place. They’re going to hurt my trilogy.

    Louis

  71. 71
    latsot

    I can suspend disbelief to some extent, but sheer lazy writing shows nothing but contempt for the audience. Plot? Oh those idiots will come and see the movie anyway because it’s Star Trek, we don’t need a plot that, say, MAKES THE SLIGHTEST SENSE.

  72. 72
    Island Adolescent

    What exactly was so wrong with the 4th season of Arrested Development…?

  73. 73
    Ysanne

    Surely it must make some people uncomfortable, especially given the complete lack of acknowledgement of the casualties.

    Me, for example.
    When I saw the trailer, I thought the big ship pulverising a lot of skyscrapers was the “we’re establishing the villain’s badness by having him kill thousands of people 9/11-style” moment. And then the villain is evil because he blows up an archive with 40 casualties, i.e. an event on the scale of a bad bus crash, whereas this major carnage is just a tiny accident with no casualties even mentioned?
    A bit like Star Wars: Blowing up Alderaan with millions of people (or a Death Star with thousands) is worth 5 sec of screen time, the moaning of an injured Ewok gets 20.

    Also, this:

    Someone in a small craft that gets blown out of the sky and goes spiralling down in flames will manage to escape by use of the magic transporter beam, which will zap him all the way from his burning ship on Earth to…the Klingon home planet. Why do they have spaceships anyway?

    Because the writers, in their excitement to cram in lots of new technology that would have contradicted by established continuity before but now can be justified with Spock having given them future science, completely forgot to sense-check whether the making-the-plot-work gimmicks they invent wreck the whole assumption of needing starships.
    They should have stuck with the seat belts on the Enterprise as the only new tech.

  74. 74
    botulf

    Why would they have a regular door without apparent safety features or locks in to the reactor core? And without radiation suits nearby? Kirk would have had plenty of tome to put one on if not for chatting with Scotty.

  75. 75
    thetalkingstove

    That sounds even dumber than Prometheus. I didn’t think that was possible.

    No, it’s not as bad as Prometheus. At least the Trek film, for all its ridiculousness, wasn’t particularly pretentious. It didn’t present itself as posing some weighty and deep questions about the origins of humanity and then utterly fail to say anything vaguely interesting at all.
    And it didn’t have a character almost sobbing because he was so scared of an alien cave and then moments later happily trying to play with an alien snake exhibiting an obvious threat.

    But on topic, doesn’t having Khan’s blood in the freezer effectively mean they’ve solved death in the Trek universe? What happens in future adventures…’ah no, Scotty’s gotten himself stabbed by a Klingon again. Give him a Khan slushie, will you?’

  76. 76
    Andy Kimber

    I’m not clear on something PZ…did you not enjoy the movie? I think you should come off the fence one way or the other :)

  77. 77
    mudpuddles

    I’ve seen the movie and you’re right on everything PZ, but I think its really a big live action cartoon. Complaining about lack of credibility is a bit like complaining that Finding Nemo is bogus because fish can’t really talk. I enjoyed it (though not very much) for what it was, a way to chill out on a wet Friday afternoon and to disengage the brain from work stress and bad news for a while. The original Star Trek series (which I love) was also full of nonsense, from humanoid English-speaking aliens with American accents to teleporting and travel back through time, so I give the movies a little more leeway. At least it was no way near as bullshit-laden as Prometheus.

    …and made millions of people less thoughtful and less aware

    Agreed. Most good cartoons of the past 10 years don’t do that, while most big action blockbusters are brain dead and have no interest in making people think.

  78. 78
    iiandyiiii

    I thought it was fun.

  79. 79
    Alex

    Rev.

    And just remember, we have the JJ Abrams Star Wars to look forward to.

    Oh do you still remember the good old days, when we knew that Star Trek was going to be ruined by Berman/Braga, and Star Wars was going to be screwed up by Lucas? Those were the days!

    —-

    But honestly, telleth me, because I simply don’t understand: why does an Industry doing near-billion-dollar projects put at the core of its projects scripts which read like they were written by idiots on the tram on the way to the studio, and direction by people who could not care less about films? Why does this gigantic industry in a city full of gifted writers and directors keep going back to the same handful of idiots? I would really like to see the decision making process. In an alternative universe that made any sense, the script would by the holy of holies at the center of a monumental project employing thousands of people.

  80. 80
    timanthony

    Good god, I would have thought all scientists knew how awful Star Drek is. I do! But then, I’m not a scientist. Also, I just described “god” as “good”. I guess I’ve blown my credibility already. But to continue…

    For those who have not been paying attention since Star Drek’s “launch” in 1966:
    1. The battle-shields have not withstood an attack. EVER.
    2. The Prime Directive gets violated at least once per episode. But it’s their own rule!
    3. Species fuck with each other and have offspring (calling into question the def. of the word ‘species’).
    4. Spock is/isn’t/is/isn’t/is/isn’t human-like. Same with Mr. Data. Make up your mind! Ok, now make up your mind AGAIN. Differently this time.
    5. The “Quark” character (DS9) nearly destroyed the entire colony single-handedly, multiple times, due to simple but extreme greed. But they all loved him anyway. Even though he happened to be spectacularly ugly by human standards. “Love” sure can be stupid on that show.
    6. If they have a machine (called a “replicator”) that can produce Beef Wellington, or Earl Grey tea, upon spoken demand in about 3 seconds, on board every starship, why can’t they just use it to make whatever ELSE they need, that would obviously be so much simpler to synthesize than the almost impossibly complex organic molecules constituting food?

    If you spend your whole life merrily overlooking details like those, you’ve overlooked your whole life. Sorry, it’s true. Entire books have been written pointing out in detail how ridiculous that show is. I cannot feel sympathy for anyone disappointed by going to see a Star Drek movie in the year 2013. You/we were warned so many times!

    But then, I’m a rationalist. Just not a scientist.

    But here’s a question: If PZ can find within himself the “faith” to believe he might not be disappointed by a Star Trek movie, why can’t he understand religious faith a bit more easily? I don’t get that!

  81. 81
    Alex

    Star Drek

    witty!

    I do! But then, I’m not a scientist.

    good for you, honey!

    blablabla

    You miss the point. Star Trek was/is never popular for being anywhere near hard scifi. It was popular for the optimistic outlook on society and technological progress, the scope of moral questions (more so in TNG than after) that are being raised, and simply because space and spaceships were still awe-inspiring back in the 60′s…90′s.

    But here’s a question: If PZ can find within himself the “faith” to believe he might not be disappointed by a Star Trek movie, why can’t he understand religious faith a bit more easily? I don’t get that!

    Why did you put one faith in scare quotes and not the other. Maybe that answers your question.

  82. 82
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    Here’s the GOOD news on the Abrams Star Wars: Damon Lindelof isn’t writing. Instead we get Michael Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. So it’s a damn solid writer JJ will be working with. Abrams is very solid on visuals if the Trek movies are anything to go by, even if he is annoyingly willing to let bad writing slip right by him.

    The BAD news: going by Michael Arndt’s writing so far, he’s very good at maintaining the voice of an established character, but both he and Abrams have VERY distinct styles for original material, neither of which are very “Star Wars”-y. Even if they’re good movies, even if they’re better than The Empire Strikes Back (a low-ish bar, and I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan; I agree with PZ [http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/15/the-commonality-of-bad-movies/] on this one; Star Wars will never match The Godfather or Citizen Kane — or even A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) it’s not going to have that try-hard operatic charm. We’re going to see slick iPod spaceships and unquoteable (but believable) dialogue with highly kinetic camera movement. It will never have that cheesy fun again.

  83. 83
    shouldbeworking

    Cowboys and Aliens was better. A root canal without pain killer would be more enjoyable. Reading the Income Tax Act makes more sense.

  84. 84
    timanthony

    The above comment is slightly harsh… slightly… so I’ll explain the rant-like aspect more clearly. Harshly, of course!

    There is no excuse for making shitty S-F movies based on shitty premises, because it isn’t at all hard to make good S-F movies based on plausible, or near-plausible, premises. That’s the whole reason, right there.

    There is also no excuse for enjoying S-F movies that have shitty premises. You could go outside and play instead. Many, even most, Hollywood “blockbuster” movies are made for the lowest common denominators of society. If that’s you, shut up the complaining, it’s all you’re getting. If it isn’t, stay away from blockbusters and re-learn how to enjoy the sunshine.

    To wrap up this in-depth analysis… SHEESH! Some people!

  85. 85
    Elena

    Kagato @62:

    I mean, this is an American film. Didn’t it occur to anyone on the production crew that this event should be treated with just a little more gravitas than as a setup for the next fight scene? Surely it must make some people uncomfortable, especially given the complete lack of acknowledgement of the casualties.

    This is the movie series where Vulcan was alderaaned and nobody cared, either. What did you expect?

  86. 86
    Alex

    If it isn’t, stay away from blockbusters and re-learn how to enjoy the sunshine.

    Have you seen the weather lately?

    Many, even most, Hollywood “blockbuster” movies are made for the lowest common denominators of society.

    I appreciate that, Hollywood movies are mostly well-calculated efforts to make money, and that’s ok I guess – it’s just that, I am convinced that with projects like Prometheus, spending 120001000 on it instead of the 120000000 it cost, and spending the difference on a better script, would have made it a movie watchable for the more sophisticated watcheur without alienating the lowest common denominator.

  87. 87
    carlie

    I haaaated it, both for regular plot reasons and for Trekkie reasons.

    As for why they were in the village at the beginning, it’s what Kagato said: they were creating a distraction so that the shuttle could hover unnoticed over the volcano. They were trying not to violate the Prime Directive and all, never explaining how they got the Enterprise landed without anyone noticing in the first place.

    But aside from all the nitpicky things, what they won’t ever address is how the world has been fundamentally changed in this movie and what it would mean. In this universe, death is now not a permanent state. Anyone can be brought back, but in the very limited sense of there being only 73 bodies’ worth of blood to do it with. Can you imagine the amount of carnage resulting from trying to obtain and control those bodies? There is already a fanfic story online from Bones’ point of view detailing the apocalypse that would follow.

    Also, in this universe, there is now a portable transporter that can take a person at least the distance from Earth to the Klingon world. Forget about god’s needs; what need will anyone have for a starship now?

  88. 88
    unbound

    I agree with you on everything and there were plenty of other issues with the “plot” (need to quote that). Even my 11 year old was pointing out hugely ridiculous flaws. As I’ve told others, sit back and enjoy Independence Day…er, Star Trek Into Darkness, just keep your brain checked out while watching.

    @79 – This is supposed to be a reboot of the series, and JJ Abrams never watched any of the old Star Treks (interesting trivia from the 2009 Star Trek), so I don’t think your ‘what happened in the past’ arguments really mean anything at this point.

  89. 89
    flex

    Saw it last week, and while I was able to enjoy it as it was, there were so many insane plot holes that I’d have a hard time wanting to watch it again.

    A few of my favorite problems:

    Ice bombs can’t be made with altitude remote activated detonators? Okay, the whole ice-bomb thing was an introductory scene popularized with the Indiana Jones movies, but they are not necessary in every action movie. They either extend the time unnecessarily or cause necessary information to be lost on the cutting room floor. If you want Kirk to be demoted, do it for a sexual misconduct charge and get it over with in 2 minutes. But cracky, lowering a man on a rope to set a bomb is stupid. If the bomb is big enough to affect an entire volcano, put an altimeter on it and drop it from a great height.

    Spock makes a person-person call to the Vulcan home world, from near Earth orbit. But no one thinks of broadcasting the entire conversation between Kirk and the leader of the Federation to Earth? Is the Federation a global dictatorship so that the head of the Federation has no accountability to anyone? What the fuck?

    I thought Khan would have saved the little girl’s life at the beginning by some super-genius medical technology, but simply giving her a vial of his blood? Squinky. Alternatively, I thought saving the girls life could have been a prelude to Khan recruiting followers for his diaspora in a cryoship; that would have been cool. But instead, it’s all about setting up the Federation for another attack, for no apparent reason. And Khan’s blood cures massive radiation sickness?!?

    Why didn’t they teleport Kirk right from the bulkhead into sickbay? Don’t they have radiation treatment procedures for sickbay?

    Finally, while I really like Cumberbatch’s acting ability, he wasn’t really right for the role. I blame Abrams for this, not Cumberbatch, but still. Cumberbatch would be fine for a highly cerebral character, put him into the role of Doc Strange or Bernard Quartermass, or maybe a young Magneto. I admit I was looking forward to Cumberbatch in this role, I wanted to see what he would do with it. But the role needed more passion, like Montalban brought, and maybe someone a little bulkier. I really didn’t believe his fight with the Klingons.

  90. 90
    Alex

    I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again, Cumberbatch would have been such a glorious Romulan adversary, but no…

  91. 91
    jasonfailes

    So, new Khan, who has been given a secret identity and probably cosmetic surgery so no one will know he’s WWIII Hitler, is racist because the shades don’t quite match*.
    But original Khan, a Mexican “Redfaced” to play an Indian, isn’t racist at all?
    Makes sense.

    *And which appearance of Khan do you want to compare him too? The difference in skin tone between Space Seed and Wrath of Khan is far more than between Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness.

  92. 92
    Alex

    The difference in skin tone between Space Seed and Wrath of Khan

    Erm, it’s the same actor…

  93. 93
    voidhawk

    If I hadn’t had a free cinema ticket I’d have been tempted to ask for my money back.

  94. 94
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    What exactly was so wrong with the 4th season of Arrested Development…?

    Ok admittedly I’m only a few episodes in, but so far it has left me seriously wanting. I understand the reason they had to do the episodes like they did but that still doesn’t make me have to like it. I want to see all the main characters interacting all the time in all episodes with various plots working together. Yes I’m sure that is and will happen but it just doesn’t “feel like” the AD rebirth I’ve been waiting for. These compartmentalized single character focused episodes irritate the shit out of me. Hopefully it comes together better later.

    Michael’s character is a complete disaster if it’s being based of any semblance of his character from the original series. Again, maybe that will change.

    Too much god damn Lucile 2. period.

    It’s entertaining at a low level but a shell of its former self. Perhaps if I get through the rest of them I’ll change my mind, but right now I have doubts.

    /rant
    /threadjack

  95. 95
    eamick

    Benedict Cumberbotch

    Freudian slip? :)

  96. 96
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I haven’t seen the movie, but the mere description of the Spock and Lava scene has me severely irritated. This is what the lava-filled crater of an active volcano looks like. Note how far from the lava the volcanologist is standing… and note what he has to wear to even be that close. Why does TV always ignore the fact that lava is fucking hot?!

  97. 97
    AussieMike

    You are supposed to leave your brain in a bucket beside the door on your way in. It’s a little like the one outside the entrance to any church.

  98. 98
    latsot

    by use of the magic transporter beam, which will zap him all the way from his burning ship on Earth to…the Klingon home planet. Why do they have spaceships anyway?

    Actually, there’s an episode of TNG where fancy long-distance beaming is being used and it turns out it kills you if you use it too much (thank goodness for the reset button). Maybe they have spaceships because they already built some (and started building others) and are still testing the trans-magic transporter or have already found it to be harmful.

    But I now feel dirty for excusing an unnecessary plot hole with a cobbled-together retrofitted arse-pulled explanation.

  99. 99
    carlie

    Rev – as for Arrested Development, stick with it. It comes together later and then some. There are still some issues, but if you kind of turn your brain to admiring the structure rather than the actual execution of everything, it’s pretty impressive.

    Why does TV always ignore the fact that lava is fucking hot?!

    But that’s why he has to wear the suit that makes him look like a shiny version of The Thing from Fantastic Four.

  100. 100
    Karki Meade

    I was horrified to see that Khan was played by a white Englishman rather than a Mexican-American actor, as would be proper.

    As for Star Trek, this film had the ONLY thing all the movies and series and reboots and fan fiction and such had that succeeded: those iconic characters doing fun things in a utopian future that’s as flawed and absurd as our non-utopian present. That’s what I want in a Star Trek movie.

    I hope Abrams realizes that Star Wars is a series of adventure settings built around a battle of good and evil, where technology and greed and power fight on the side that appears to be winning. But it all is just a huge bore if there isn’t a Han Solo with a smirk and a blaster to make it interesting, saying “This is boring, let’s shoot stuff and run down corridors and jump through airlock doors.” Mel Brooks understood the hero mythology better than Lucas did.

  101. 101
    Gregory in Seattle

    “This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.”

    Best movie review ever.

    There were two things that pissed me off about the movie. One, you would think that Abrams could have spent $200 to hire a science consultant to provide feedback on the script. Star Trek science has been a clichéd expression of awfulness in SF circles for decades, but ST:ITD has set a new low.

    And while they were being so free with the money, why not spend $20 and take a fanboi to lunch? S/he would have told them that the range of a transwarp teleporter is a few hundred million miles — say, Earth to Mars — and not light years, that even transwarp beaming is limited to the speed of light, that Khan was Punjabi and not a northern European, and that Kronos was almost a week from Earth at the top warp speed of the time.

  102. 102
    carlie

    I was horrified to see that Khan was played by a white Englishman rather than a Mexican-American actor, as would be proper.

    But the character is Indian, so it was never correct in that sense in the first place.

  103. 103
    carlie

    Gregory – also, my spouse couldn’t stop muttering that the Daystrom Institute was an independent entity, not part of Starfleet proper.

  104. 104
    Jackie the wacky

    PZ, my daughter (an original series fan) has resisted all attempts to take her to this movie. Even argumentum ad Cumberbatch has not swayed her. I just read part of this post to her and she threw a fist in the air and assumed the Freddy Mercury pose.

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/166/745/queen-rock-group-freddie-mercury-in-concert-at-st-james-park-in-newcastle-1986.jpg?1314380489

  105. 105
    latsot

    @carlie:

    Yes, I think there are two issues:

    1. The character is supposed to be of Indian descent.
    2. Given that, someone of such descent would be more appropriate to play the role than someone who wasn’t.

    The fact that TOS didn’t use an actor of Indian descent to play a character of Indian descent is not an excuse for this movie making the character whiter than tippex for no reason at all.

    There might actually be 3 issues. The supposedly brilliant and enormously superior Khan, whatever his background, was about as tactically aware as my cat when she is presented with BOTH ends of the string at once.

    4 issues. Among the issues are :)

    Maybe everyone else read the script and turned it down due it being shit.

  106. 106
    ChasCPeterson

    the Freddy Mercury pose.

    the what?

    carlie: recalibrate sarcasm meter.

  107. 107
    charlessoto

    I had already written this movie off because the first one committed the cardinal sin of moviemaking – it was boring.

  108. 108
    jasonfailes

    @91 Erm, I know. The point is that once they decided to avoid “Redfacing” Ricardo Montalbán for Star Trek II, perhaps because his chronic portrayal of Asians and Indians was pretty racist (all non-white people look alike, amirite?), it turned out he’s pretty damn white too.

    Space Seed Khan:
    http://www.startrek.com/legacy_media/images/200611/tos-024-khan/320×240.jpg

    Wrath of Khan Khan:
    http://www2.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/wrath-of-Kahn-2.jpg

    Into Darkness Khan:
    http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/hammerandthump/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/cumberbatch.jpg

    Again, the difference between the first and second is greater than that between the second and third.
    Again, he was hiding his identity. Abrams could have hired anyone.

    It’s also funny that Khan, proud Eugenics supporter, wouldn’t even recognize today’s obsession with race. Uhura is black, Kirk is white, and Sulu is Asian? Are any of them genetically engineered superpeople? No? Then they’re all the same useless inferior Human 1.0 to him.

  109. 109
    anthrosciguy

    Wait… is this an even-numbered one or an odd-numbered one?

    It’s odd numbers all the way down now.

  110. 110
    slatham

    I went to see it because I heard that Ann Coulter hated it. It was dumb, but I was amused for a while. But I found Idiocracy to be much more entertaining and even stimulating. PZ hated that one too. I should go back and look read his review of it. I think I just saw his disapproval of the portrayal of human evolution (and potential damage in anti-education) and accepted he knows better and moved on. But maybe its a trend. PZ — you might consider writing a short story (or maybe a blog post) on genetic engineering for intelligence or relaxing selection for it or assortative mating wrt that particular trait. What would be legitimate hypotheses for outcomes and what ones would be stupid?

  111. 111
    microraptor

    I guess I can say one good thing about the movie: reading this thread has given me more entertainment value than I’d have received if the movie had been halfway decent and I’d gone to watch it.

  112. 112
    slatham

    I hate to assign homework, but I’m just trying to think of an effective way in which to combat the preconceptions that are so prevalent.

  113. 113
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    #79

    Mostly good points, but…

    1. The battle-shields have not withstood an attack. EVER.

    False. See “Conundrum” for one example.

    6. If they have a machine (called a “replicator”) that can produce Beef Wellington, or Earl Grey tea, upon spoken demand in about 3 seconds, on board every starship, why can’t they just use it to make whatever ELSE they need, that would obviously be so much simpler to synthesize than the almost impossibly complex organic molecules constituting food?

    They do use it for stuff other than food. It has some nonsensical limitations, but they do use it. For instance, it’s been mentioned in medical contexts (though usually only when it can’t be used for some silly reason). I think there was some handwaving once about how it actually takes existing impossibly complex organic molecules from storage somewhere and assembles them into food or blood or whatever. But yeah, totally missed opportunities in manufacturing. We’ve made better uses of 3D printing than they did with replicators.

  114. 114
    The Science Of Sarcasm .

    One of the most annoying aspects of the movie for me was how completely pointless the female characters were made to be by the sript. Uhura’s entire purpose in this movie was to act as a prop in the Spock human/vulcan internal conflict and show that even highly successful and intelligent women are still defined by their men and are completely incapable of acting in a professional manner when they have ‘teh feelz’.

    On their way down to the surface of Kronos she decides that it’s the perfect time to air her and Spock’s relationship issues in front of everyone. Seriously?! You’re in enemy territory trying to assassinate a ruthless terrorist who just killed most of your bosses and if you’re caught it could result in a war that will kill billions. You want to talk about this shit NOW?! In front of our Captain?!

    She almost has the chance to redeem herself when she goes to speak with the Klingons alone. She uses her intelligence and knowledge of the Klingon language and culture to defuse an incredibly tense and already violent situation. Now, what happens this one time a strong, woman of colour uses her mind and finds herself in danger of actually being useful? A white guy with a giant gun turns up and solves their problems with violence. YAY!

  115. 115
    ChasCPeterson

    She uses her intelligence and knowledge of the Klingon language and culture to defuse an incredibly tense and already violent situation. Now, what happens this one time a strong, woman of colour uses her mind and finds herself in danger of actually being useful? A white guy with a giant gun turns up and solves their problems with violence.

    Good point.
    However, the film suggests that women of the future may also be useful as lingerie models.

  116. 116
    alpetterson

    Maybe in JJTrekVerse, Klingon orbits our Sun? Maybe in the Earth-Sun L5 point? It would make some of that make more sense….

  117. 117
    gAytheist

    Too bad I didn’t see this before I went to the movie yesterday. I wouldn’t have wasted $15 at the IMAX theater. Everything PZ says is true, but add the fact that the frantic movement will make you motion sick if you see it in IMAX format (OK, it made ME motion sick, maybe you’re immune).

  118. 118
    firstapproximation

    I’m not a science person, so I find it very easy to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the film.

    There is a limit to how far I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. This movie passed it.

    But original Khan, a Mexican “Redfaced” to play an Indian, isn’t racist at all?

    Yeah, but having a Mexican play an Indian in 1967 isn’t as bad as having as whitewashing in 2013.

  119. 119
    Greg Amann

    Suspension of disbelief? check
    Suspension of scientific knowledge? check
    Suspension of prior mythological knowledge? check

    They seem to want a lot just to get me in the door…

  120. 120
    David Marjanović

    Star Dreck: Into Whiteness

    This movie sucked so bad it was a miracle that the Hawking radiation didn’t kill the audience.

    *steal*

    Someone in a small craft that gets blown out of the sky and goes spiralling down in flames will manage to escape by use of the magic transporter beam, which will zap him all the way from his burning ship on Earth to…the Klingon home planet. Why do they have spaceships anyway?

    What the fuck. There’s a whole episode of Enterprise that explains why this is not possible. This is canon, people!!!

    There was no intelligence to any of the solutions to any of the problems — in a universe with spaceships, every problem was resolved by someone getting in a fistfight.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    [...]

    It’s the only just fate.

    It’s hard to laugh that much without letting anyone hear. My diaphragm must be a trampolin now.

    Oh, haven’t you heard? J.J. admitted that he doesn’t “get” Star Trek with all that science and social commentary stuff. Apparently he is only capable of two types of science fiction: post-modernist naval-gazing with a plot you need a philosophy degree to even begin to comprehend (i.e. LOST), or brainless pew-pew-pew action. Something lacking actual depth, like the glorified fairy tale that is Star Wars, should be just about Abrams’ speed

    Huh. Interesting. I agree this bodes well for rescuing Star Wars from George Lucas.

    I’m a geologist, and I have a great deal of respect for the chutspah of volcanologists. Also a great respect for their ability to knock back beer. I’m a sedimentologist myself. Sand is much safer to study. You also get to go home at night and drink green tea.

    I’m very confused. I thought all geologists are contractually obliged to knock back case after case of beer.

    According to Abrams’ TED Talk, he thinks a story is more compelling if it’s riddled with mysteries that ultimately never get explained.

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

    The wholly unnecessary underwear scene was highly offensive. At least it was quick.

    Abrams (I think) has even apologized for it.

    While in our universe with more rudimentary yet very real spacecrafts, every problem is ficed with guns, bombardment campaigns and tasers. Even with JJ Abrams at the Helm, the space federation is still more civilized than us.

    Heh.

    The Spock – Uhura relationship is not fucking logical!

    ~:-| What’s wrong with it? Did they manage to fuck that up, too? :-(

    They should have stuck with the seat belts on the Enterprise as the only new tech.

    They have seatbelts now!?! :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) ♥ ♥ ♥ &hearts, ♥

    3. Species fuck with each other and have offspring (calling into question the def. of the word ‘species’).

    You Fail Biology Forever.

    First, by your definition, mules are impossible.

    Second, you’re aiming at the definition where species can’t have fertile offspring with each other (noting that Spock’s fertility has never been tested). But that’s just one of about 150 definitions of species. Seriously, they all describe different kinds of entity, some of them actually interesting ones, but with little overlap. Depending on the definition, there are from 101 to 249 endemic bird species in Mexico.

    Third, you’re right that Spock is right next to impossible. But fuck “species”. It’s much deeper than that: Why should we assume they have DNA on Vulcan??? And if so, why the same 4 bases? The same 20/21 amino acids? It is canon that the Vulcans’ ancestors “spawned in a different ocean”. As Carl Sagan observed, Spock is much less probable than a human/artichoke hybrid.

    (The way they later retconned this is even more embarrassing. Creationist frontloading.

    At least they established in Enterprise that making a human/Vulcan hybrid requires some genetic trickery, they can’t just fuck. But still everyone, Rigellians, Klingons, everyone, has DNA As We Know It.)

    4. Spock is/isn’t/is/isn’t/is/isn’t human-like. Same with Mr. Data. Make up your mind! Ok, now make up your mind AGAIN. Differently this time.

    I think Spock was originally meant to be pure Vulcan. It takes a while, within TOS, till his hybrid origin is brought up. And even after that, he’s often referred to as just “Vulcan”, even calling himself “not human” in The Wrath of Khan – is that the American “one drop makes you black” rule?

    Star Drek

    witty!

    My friends (the few I had) probably said “Star Dreck – Raumschiff Entenscheiß”* before the 80s were over.

    * Spaceship Duckshit. That’s the phonetically closest you can get to “Enterprise” in German.

    was alderaaned

    Oh crap, it’s a verb now. Fleeeeeeeeeeeeee.

    Also, in this universe, there is now a portable transporter that can take a person at least the distance from Earth to the Klingon world. Forget about god’s needs; what need will anyone have for a starship now?

    + 1

    If you want Kirk to be demoted, do it for a sexual misconduct charge and get it over with in 2 minutes.

    Full of win.

    Is the Federation a global dictatorship so that the head of the Federation has no accountability to anyone?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Ponder section 9.4 with its postscript.

    Benedict Cumberbotch

    Freudian slip? :)

    I bet it’s fully deliberate.

    The supposedly brilliant and enormously superior Khan, whatever his background, was about as tactically aware as my cat when she is presented with BOTH ends of the string at once.

    A recurring problem in Star Trek. From a slightly different context: “The bane of round-robin universe-design is the phenomenon of Concept Erosion, of which the Borg are a perfect example. As introduced in STTNG2, they were a threat which should soon have been consuming all of Starfleet’s resources; but each time they turn up, they are diluted further by writers who have clearly failed to grasp the point that the Borg are tougher and smarter than anyone else.” The scriptwriters can’t imagine anyone smarter than themselves, wherein the rub lies.

    in medical contexts (though usually only when it can’t be used for some silly reason)

    Vitalism. It’s *headdesk* canon, see section 9.6 for examples.

    Now, what happens this one time a strong, woman of colour uses her mind and finds herself in danger of actually being useful? A white guy with a giant gun turns up and solves their problems with violence. YAY!

    X-D

  121. 121
    David Marjanović

    First, by your definition, mules are impossible.

    …or, of course, as I wanted to add, horses and donkeys are the same species. *sigh*

  122. 122
    R Johnston

    There needs to be a better distinction drawn between a piece of fiction calling for the consumer to ignore contradictions between the the product and real world facts (suspension of disbelief) and calling for the consumer to ignore contradictions internal to the piece of fiction (pathetic writing worthy only of mocking that force feeds you contradictions until you choke on them). The unexplained interplanetary transporter/starship combo, the melting rope/unmelting suit and Vulcan combo, and Scotty penetrating an uber top secret high security ship building project armed only with a set of coordinates don’t call for suspension of disbelief because they don’t allow for suspension of disbelief.

    Point of departure fiction is fine and dandy, and there can be as many points as called for by the demands of the story. Gross internal incoherence in world building, however, is a lazy cardinal sin of writing that prohibits any meaningful suspension of disbelief and instead calls for simply turning one’s brain off entirely.

  123. 123
    penasquito

    Everything you said, and:

    *When can we expect technology to progress to the point where our propulsion systems are not fatal to anyone who enters the room with them?

    *Two spaceships traveling at warp speed, and one fires phasers and hits the other one? How would that even work? What the hell are phasers, anyway? I thought they were some kind of coherent light technology, but maybe I’m wrong.

    However, I think you may be looking at the episodes of the 60s and the movies of the 80s with a little bit of nostalgia. Neither Ricardo Montalban nor William Shatner could act their way out of a wet paper bag. When you throw in John Cho, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, etc., as much as I loved the originals, you end up with much better acting in the current reboot. And outside of Star Trek 2 and Star Trek 4, the original movies were at least as bereft of entertainment value and just as full of plot holes and ridiculous non-sequiters as Into Darkness. Remember James Doohan trying to talk into the mouse one minute and synthesizing transparent aluminum the next on the same computer?

    Plus, I enjoyed seeing Khan and Dr. Ruth Marcus again. I think they handled the old characters in the new timeline well.

    But the best part about the movie, IMO, were the three examples of people acting as moral agents within a system that were presented, and I thought that would be right up your alley. The first was lil’ Kirk breaking the prime directive (the biggest ‘rule’ there is) to save his friend, and he wouldn’t have even had to make that choice if he hadn’t taken it upon himself to save a sentient species. Then he refused to go outside the rules to kill Khan from x parsecs away with a missile strike, and captured him instead, so in the second case, the ‘system’ had the morality right and staying in the system was the moral choice. And lastly you had Admiral Marcus doing a poor imitation of Col. Nathan Jessup, but going outside the system to provoke a war but believing that what he was doing was absolutely moral. All of these situations had details that might be debatable, and like all good ethical dilemmas the answers aren’t obvious. Well, OK, that last one who was right and who was wrong was pretty easy. But I was glad I took 2/3 of my kids to see it, they really enjoyed it.

  124. 124
    kevinalexander

    Remember James Doohan trying to talk into the mouse

    I remember laughing when he then somehow knew what a qwerty* keyboard was and somehow instantly had the skill to use it.

    *Have you ever noticed how easy it is to spell qwerty?

  125. 125
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    *Two spaceships traveling at warp speed, and one fires phasers and hits the other one? How would that even work? What the hell are phasers, anyway? I thought they were some kind of coherent light technology, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Particle weapons, actually, according to the TM. Unfortunately, firing at warp is not something new. The literature handwaves it away with some mumbo jumbo about subspace confinement beams.

  126. 126
    tgriehl

    If I missed a post regarding this, apologies. But did anyone note that the final space battle took place over the moon… but the starships plummeted to Earth? After only a few minutes? I know science is verboten in Hollywood, but that was so painfully obvious.

    And if we’re talking about a south Asian actor playing a south Asian character named Khan Singh, I would have suggested Faran Tahir. Sadly, he was the captain of the Kelvin in the first movie…

  127. 127
    ChasCPeterson

    I think Spock was originally meant to be pure Vulcan. It takes a while, within TOS, till his hybrid origin is brought up.

    hmm. Not sure about this. He’s explicitly half-human in the undated Writer’s Guide first edition (3rd edition is April 1967), and ‘kipedia sez he was made half-human at the suggestion of of Samuel Peeples, who only wrote the second pilot.

    And even after that, he’s often referred to as just “Vulcan”, even calling himself “not human” in The Wrath of Khan – is that the American “one drop makes you black” rule?

    yeah, but that’s self-identification. He decided to (try to) be fully Vulcan.

  128. 128
    ChasCPeterson

    *Have you ever noticed how easy it is to spell qwerty?

    Nm.

  129. 129
    sigurd jorsalfar

    I haven’t seen this movie and I wasn’t planning to. But I’ve seen enough science fiction to recognize that what PZ is describing is a movie in which the Rule of Cool is the dominating trope, as it is in so many action/sci fi films these days.

    The Rule boils down to the idea that any level of stupidity is tolerated if the director believes that a typical 13 year old boy would exclaim ‘so what? It was totally cool’.

  130. 130
    freemage

    Some apologetics. Like all such, these are mostly desperate ass-pulls in an effort to justify the fact that I was able to mostly enjoy the movie while watching it:

    0: As noted, Kirk’s actions at the beginning of the movie are, in fact, largely explained by circumstance. They stole the artifact in order to lure the tribe away from the volcano to give Spock’s bomb room to operate. I suppose we might even opt to say that’s why it needed to be taken down and detonated manually–the casing might’ve been somewhere between the cable (insufficient) and Spock’s armored suit) in terms of ability to cope with the heat. So they couldn’t just set it inside, wait for Kirk and McCoy to succeed, then trigger the bomb remotely. They had to put the timer on a narrow window and hope things went smoothly. And the important thing about this scene is that it is, in essence, the end of a typical Star Trek: TOS series, with better F/X. (I’ve said I’d actually enjoy seeing a 40-minute ‘episode’ as Bonus Material on the eventual DVD release.)

    1: Short-distance beaming is obviously a Thing. I’m going to assume that the Federation, in general, has an emergency evacuation drill that triggers any time a large metropolitan center is threatened, whereby any life forms are targeted and removed from the danger zone to a safe facility somewhere underground (say, Arizona?). So as Khan’s ship is incoming, the post-singularity computers track the impact path, and clear the zone. Lots of buildings destroyed, but minimal life lost, and a considerable population left fairly close. Small debris and even dust may’ve been also beamed out afterwards, thereby preventing something akin to 9/11 syndrome, or maybe they just make buildings of materials that don’t generate toxic clouds when destroyed. I dunno, future-tech. This would also explain why Khan resorts to a bomb in the first strike–he needs actual lives lost, in order to produce the proper panic.

    2: Khan going for something more up-close and personal in the post-bombing strike makes sense, actually; this is a revenge strike, and he wants it to see the man die.

    3: Okay, I’m taking the plastic surgery theory and running with it. I actually liked Khanberbatch. That said, I rather enjoyed You Are Dumb’s reverse-engineering of the rationale–Abrams’ wanted a surprise reveal, and because Hollywood, any attempt to cast the villain with a non-melanin-deprived actor would’ve immediately blown the ruse. So, Khan wanted to hide his identity, or the Fed Commander did, and did the surgery. Yes, weaksauce, I know, and I’d rather they didn’t do it.

    4: Assuming all the aliens were male just because they lacked breasts is actually a curmudgeon, PZ. It was pretty clearly meant to be the entire tribe chasing them, and as the rest of the film shows, you only need breasts once you have an environment with brassieres. (Okay, yes, the blatant fanservicing DID piss me off. Apparently time-travel undoes feminism.)

    My big problem with the movie is that yes, it pretty much completely makes coherent storytelling going forward nigh-impossible, between the long-distance beaming being a regular thing, AND an immortality serum. The amount of “We’re going to ignore this even exists” going forward will create a rather impossible hurdle.

    However, no one’s mentioned my favorite scene in the movie:

    Kirk, feeling constrained to play the military game, orders Scotty to violate safety protocols and his own personal ethical code.

    Scotty resigns, on the spot.

    That, folks? That’s a Big Damn Fucking Hero.

  131. 131
    Amphiox

    The interstellar transporter was a direct callback to the first Abrams movie, where they had the same thing “invented”, and used to beam Kirk back to the Enterprise (while moving at warp!), invented by Scotty. They even name-drop it with Scotty complaining about how the Federation is letting “his” technology get in the hands of terrorists.

    But it certainly raises many questions.

    If you can transport a man to the surface of the Klingon homeworld, you can also transport a Genesis Device. They’re about the same size and mass, based on the earlier films. The technology presents a “Killing Star” style defence dilemma maxxed to the elevens.

    And why threaten to fire your super-dooper enhanced torpedos at your target? Why not transport them on top of his head?

  132. 132
    firstapproximation

    Neither Ricardo Montalban nor William Shatner could act their way out of a wet paper bag.

    It’s been mentioned elsewhere that Into Darkness has good acting and special effects, but is weak with ideas and plot; so it’s basically the opposite of Star Trek.

  133. 133
    Amphiox

    The biggest problem I have with the opening segment is that, with the technology we know they have available to them, there is absolutely nothing the Enterprise could have done while hiding underwater that it could not have done parked in geosynchronous orbit over the volcano, where it would look to anyone on the surface as nothing more than a twinkly star.

    I like to think Kirk was demoted not because he violated the Prime Directive to save a primitive species (that kind of thing might get you a demerit or official reprimand, perhaps, but not the stripping of your command), but because the entire Federation Admiralty, upon examining Kirk’s tactical and strategic decisions in the incident all facepalmed in unison and went “he did WHAT with a STARship?”

  134. 134
    typecaster

    I don’t think that anyone’s mentioned my biggest problem, which is a carryover from the first film. It is utterly inconceivable that a cadet, not yet graduated, would be given the command of a first-rate ship as his first assignment straight out of school, no matter HOW brilliantly he’d performed in a crisis. At most, he’d get assigned to such a ship (as an ensign) to start his climb to captain. (For those more familiar with Army ranks, a Naval Captain is the equivalent of a full colonel. No cadet out of West Point ever jumped immediately to that rank.) Without the experience, and age, that comes with such a career path, the Captain is incompetent, and will not be a successful leader – at least, in those situations where the writer isn’t stacking the deck. In this movie, every line of the script underscores this point. Oh, Pike rigged it so Kirk got the command? The ship is Starfleets, not his to give away. What about the other officers who’ve put in their time and deserve this command? The rebooted Kirk shouldn’t be given command of anything until he grows up and fixes his attitudes. The one line in the move that I almost cheered was when Kirk admitted that he wasn’t the person qualified to sit in the Captain’s chair, Spock was.

    Aside from that, I have no strong feelings on the issue.

  135. 135
    David Marjanović

    *When can we expect technology to progress to the point where our propulsion systems are not fatal to anyone who enters the room with them?

    In the 1960s, the future was nookular.

    *Two spaceships traveling at warp speed, and one fires phasers and hits the other one? How would that even work? What the hell are phasers, anyway? I thought they were some kind of coherent light technology, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Roddenberry adamantly refused to explain what phasers are, how they work, or where the name comes from. See sections 1.2 and 1.7.

    He’s explicitly half-human in the undated Writer’s Guide first edition (3rd edition is April 1967), and ‘kipedia sez he was made half-human at the suggestion of of Samuel Peeples, who only wrote the second pilot.

    Ah.

  136. 136
    ChasCPeterson

    any level of stupidity is tolerated if the director believes that a typical 13 year old boy would exclaim ‘so what? It was totally cool’

    Yes. This captures exactly the ethos of this movie.

    Assuming all the aliens were male just because they lacked breasts is actually a curmudgeon, PZ.

    It’s actually a…what?

    Scotty resigns, on the spot.

    Yeah, but his reaction to Kirk’s acceptance clearly suggests he was bluffing.

  137. 137
    ChasCPeterson

    The rebooted Kirk shouldn’t be given command of anything until he grows up and fixes his attitudes.

    Agreed.
    They could have done it right and spent a movie or two following the characters, together and apart, in a realistic manner–all kinds of ways to have fun with that–but fuck no; it’s The Fellowship of The Enterprise straight off.

  138. 138
    markd555

    I think the biggest disappointment is the abandoning of Gene Roddenberry’s ideals. It’s all mindless action and no social or moral message.

    He had a story of a Übermensch (Kahn) and made him distinctly non-Caucasian. One of the most intelligent an charismatic character in the Star Trek universe, supposedly perfect genetically and Gene had a Latino actor darken his features to play him on purpose. Movie replaces him with a white guy.

  139. 139
    kreativekaos

    Really PZ? I mean REALLY?

    Your comments make one wonder how many sci-fi/action movies you’ve seen in your life. The commentary on the implausibility/impossibility of many, if not most, of the action/stunt scenes in the latest incarnation of TREK are par for the course. One could point out the same flaws in SOOOO many sci-fi/action/spy/cop flicks that it’s not funny.

    I’m definitely not defending this latest trek into TREK; I certainly agree that it’s the usual shallow, non-thought provoking celluloid installment,…but it’s no different in terms of the questionable plot events that such movies/sequels employ routinely.

  140. 140
    MarcusC

    Sure the movie had issues, but many of the ones listed were actually answered if you watched the movie rather than immediately tuning out. Many of the other issues seem to imply you want a movie with no tension or excitement. If it were a roller coaster you’d want a flat, safe loop. What is the point in all those dives and twists, we all know we’ll be back where we started 45 seconds later.

  141. 141
    myeck waters

    Sure the movie had issues, but many of the ones listed were actually answered if you watched the movie rather than immediately tuning out.

    True. And the answer to most of them was “This is a shitty movie.”

  142. 142
    carlie

    Also problematic from an internal coherence perspective: “I can’t beam him up, but I can beam you down.” What? I could understand if it was that the target couldn’t be locked on because he was moving, but they were then beamed down to the thing that the target guy was moving on, so obviously the movement itself wasn’t the problem.

    When can we expect technology to progress to the point where our propulsion systems are not fatal to anyone who enters the room with them?

    YES THIS. During the movie I commented that they really need to stop putting the way to fix something right in the middle of the most dangerous part of it. It was only a step removed from the blatant “there’s a manual cutoff switch that can be shutdown by a person, but it’s located in the area most impossible for a person to access” trope. It’s like the reverse of the big red button that should never be touched but is in an easy to trip over location.

  143. 143
    shoeguy

    Thank for saving me ten bucks PZ. Perhaps if the producers would spend some money on writers and eschew all the FX cheese people will remember what science fiction used to be. If the studios are going to spend that kind of cash, why not do a multi part movie of the Foundation series or, even cheaper to produce, the Cities in Flight novels. It’s not like there is any shortage of good material out there.

  144. 144
    David Marjanović

    He had a story of a Übermensch (Kahn)

    Oliver Kahn the (former?) soccer player isn’t an Übermensch. Trust me on this. :-D

  145. 145
    freemage

    ChasCPeterson:

    Assuming all the aliens were male just because they lacked breasts is actually a curmudgeon, PZ.

    It’s actually a…what?

    I… Holy crapstick, that was horribly written.

    I think I meant that that particular complaint was PZ being a curmudgeon, actually seeking out flaws and working to create them, rather than just tripping across them. We can’t assume that the entire population of the alien tribe is ‘male’ by their appearance. Maybe those WERE the females. In fact, some of them being female, or the tribe as a whole having a non-binary-gender base would actually be good setting-building.

  146. 146
    zmidponk

    @timanthony #80, I’m not saying Trek is the epitome of fact-based sci-fi, because it’s simply not, but most of the examples you’ve given there aren’t as bad as you make out, or you seem to be missing the point with them:

    1. The battle-shields have not withstood an attack. EVER.

    Actually, yes, they have. Even in the cases where they haven’t, they’ve stood up for a little while, unless the script called for them to fail immediately or almost immediately to emphasize how hopelessly outmatched they seem to be, or how dire things are for them.

    2. The Prime Directive gets violated at least once per episode. But it’s their own rule!

    This one’s basically valid – once per episode is a slight exaggeration, but it does get violated fairly routinely, even by Picard, who was supposed to be something of a stickler for the rules and regulations.

    3. Species fuck with each other and have offspring (calling into question the def. of the word ‘species’).

    Well, this has a kind of handwavey explanation that doesn’t really make sense to people sufficiently versed in biology to realise it doesn’t make sense, but does sound kind of plausible to the average person. Around 4.5 billion years ago, an ancient race developed space travel and began to explore the galaxy, but found they were the only sentient species around. Believing that all species eventually die out, they seeded many planets with their own DNA, so beings something like themselves would eventually evolve, and their species would be reborn, in a sense (this is how most of the major Trek species, such as Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans came about). Coming from the same basic DNA make these species sufficiently alike, genetically speaking, that cross-species pregnancies are possible, though sometimes only with some medical assistance.

    4. Spock is/isn’t/is/isn’t/is/isn’t human-like. Same with Mr. Data. Make up your mind! Ok, now make up your mind AGAIN. Differently this time.

    Well, this is because Spock is half-human, so, although he’s very Vulcan most of the time, sometimes his human half shows itself, and Data is an android who’s actually specifically trying to become more human-like, with varying degrees of success.

    5. The “Quark” character (DS9) nearly destroyed the entire colony single-handedly, multiple times, due to simple but extreme greed. But they all loved him anyway.

    I’m not entirely sure which ‘colony’ you’re referring to, but ‘loved’ would perhaps be a bit strong. Depending on the character, it really went all the way from ‘liked, despite his many flaws’ to ‘actually quite disliked, but haven’t come up with a good enough excuse to kick him off the station yet’.

    Even though he happened to be spectacularly ugly by human standards. “Love” sure can be stupid on that show.

    I’m sorry, Star Trek isn’t exactly a hugely deep, philosophical series, but even it isn’t as shallow as basing whether someone can be loved purely on how they look.

    6. If they have a machine (called a “replicator”) that can produce Beef Wellington, or Earl Grey tea, upon spoken demand in about 3 seconds, on board every starship, why can’t they just use it to make whatever ELSE they need, that would obviously be so much simpler to synthesize than the almost impossibly complex organic molecules constituting food?

    Actually, this happens quite a lot, just not on-screen. Indeed, one of the reasons Ferengi, like Quark, prize latinum so highly, and use it as currency, is that it’s one of the few substances in the Trek universe that cannot be replicated.

    Now, as for Into Darkness, I haven’t actually seen it yet, but, from the sounds of it, it’s even more towards the mindless action direction than the last J.J. Abrams effort. If that’s the case, then all you really need to do to enjoy it is simply turn off your brain and enjoy the pretty explosions. Problem solved.

  147. 147
    zibble

    I’m really sick of the excuses people make for this movie. It’s complete and utter trash.

    It’s not because of the glaring plot holes.
    It’s not because of the nonsensical plot.
    It’s not because of the absurd casting choices.
    It’s not because of the shallow, hammy acting.
    It’s not because of the stupid action scenes.
    It’s not because of the ignorance of the themes and lore and characters of the series they’re remaking.
    It’s not because of the pandering references to (read: outright theft of) better scenes from a better movie.
    It’s not because the central message of pacifism was stated so incompetently and so insincerely that the film feels outright fascist.

    It’s because this movie failed on the most basic level of creating a story around likable characters, despite the fact that the story and the likable characters WERE ALREADY MADE. If you can’t even manage the most basic principle of narrative fiction (getting the audience to give a shit about your characters) then you’re a crap storyteller. If you can’t manage to create an enjoyable movie with a budget of $190 MILLION DOLLARS, then you’re a fucking disgrace.

    ST:ID is, by any standard, a really shit movie. It doesn’t mean you can’t like it, but you’re liking a shit movie doesn’t make it not shit.

  148. 148
    Island Adolescent

    Yeah Rev, I was actually pretty let down by the first three or four episodes myself. But the plot is highly interconnected and as it continues unweaving and as the characters become more entangled with one another (even if not all of them are around at the same time, as all the actors apparently were too busy to film full-time), the show starts to feel a lot more enjoyable. I was very satisfied by the end of it all. The first half does more or less build up to the second half.

    It is a completely different structure to the first three seasons, but I think it’s comparable in overall quality assuming change in a series does not bother you. There’s duds here and there, but I’ve felt that way about the first three seasons as well.

    (More Arrested Development discussion.)

  149. 149
    kreativekaos

    woofle @ 58: mostly agree with your analysis.

    Kagato @ 50:

    This in no way justifies the truly stupid idea of submerging the goddamn Enterprise to hide it. It’s a SPACE SHIP, and these guys don’t appear to have any technology, let alone a powerful telescope. They have transporters and orbital transfer shuttles; there was no reason for the ship to ever leave orbit, let alone “hide” a few hundred metres off shore!

    The warp core scene was also pathetic. They had a really cool exterior set, it actually looked like functional technology for once, but they fucked up the end-game. Typical for Hollywood though.

    Couldn’t agree more on your points here.

  150. 150
    kreativekaos

    shoeguy@143:

    …why not do a multi part movie of the Foundation series…

    Oh, if that could only be done. If done well, with the right writers and director/s, that would have the potential to be SOOO cool! I have always dreamed longingly for the rare film projects with integrity–that would be great one!

  151. 151
    Kagehi

    Why did Uhura beam down instead of a security officer (ie. someone trained to fight)?

    Yeah, well, the security officer would have died, duh!! lol

    6. If they have a machine (called a “replicator”) that can produce Beef Wellington, or Earl Grey tea, upon spoken demand in about 3 seconds, on board every starship, why can’t they just use it to make whatever ELSE they need, that would obviously be so much simpler to synthesize than the almost impossibly complex organic molecules constituting food?

    Actually, they did, for most things, though, sometimes, it happened “behind the scenes”, so if you where not paying attention, it might seem like they where not. That said, there did seem to be some cases where they may not have had a) replication patterns, b) a clear enough model to allow them to simply replicate it yet, or c) it required components or parts that the system either couldn’t properly reproduce, and/or not safely. And, this isn’t that unbelievable, especially the, “we don’t have a pattern for this”, issue, and technology doesn’t always have the capability of being able to do “everything” all at once.

    That said, one would think that “tech”, at least some of it, would be less messy than organics. Or.. maybe not, since you could be fairly imprecise with an organic construct, but a few molecules out of place in, say, a computer core.. and its not going to work right. I never had that big of a problem with the idea that some thing would have been made without replication, or, for whatever reason, would still involve basic tools, to do basic repairs.

    But aside from all the nitpicky things, what they won’t ever address is how the world has been fundamentally changed in this movie and what it would mean. In this universe, death is now not a permanent state. Anyone can be brought back, but in the very limited sense of there being only 73 bodies’ worth of blood to do it with. Can you imagine the amount of carnage resulting from trying to obtain and control those bodies? There is already a fanfic story online from Bones’ point of view detailing the apocalypse that would follow.

    Also, in this universe, there is now a portable transporter that can take a person at least the distance from Earth to the Klingon world. Forget about god’s needs; what need will anyone have for a starship now?

    I am sure both would have been used on the war ship, and the latter “was”. But, I am also sure that Star Fleet would bury both technologies so deep in any archive that it would take an archeologist to uncover them again, much like quite a few other technologies, which they opted to ban, for various reasons. But, yeah, these are the sort of things that throw a wrench into the mess, especially when doing it as “movies” instead of new series, where you might actually have some real time to address why the tech doesn’t magically get used all the time, now that it is available.

  152. 152
    Akira MacKenzie

    I confess that I like the look of the new Trek movies, they are a nice blend of “retro” and modern sci-fi sensibilities. I like a good starship battle or ray-gun-shoot-em-up as much as the next nerd, but I’d like there to be an intelligent motivation for all that thrilling action. This is sadly what new Trek lacks. All these movies do are to cram a bunch of generally recognizable Star Trek references together and try to create a plot around them. While you can get away with that in the first movie, twice is really pushing it…

  153. 153
    SallyStrange

    Remember James Doohan trying to talk into the mouse

    I STILL talk to my computers the way Scotty did whenever they are taking too long to boot, are frozen, giving me trouble somehow. “Hellloooo computer. Computer? Hello!”

    It’s been mentioned elsewhere that Into Darkness has good acting and special effects, but is weak with ideas and plot; so it’s basically the opposite of Star Trek.

    Oh, you like that? That was me!

    Also, did anyone else notice how bad the costuming sucked? Those dress uniforms at the end… denim caps? *shudder*

    I am much more familiar with ST:TOS than any of the others. I recently started watching ST: Voyager but had to give it up because of woo overdose. I took up ST:TNG and I’m enjoying it, but I keep comparing it negatively to Iain Banks’ Culture series, and how Banks took certain premises that exist in ST:TNG (magic tech like replicators & holodecks, artificial intelligences that are fully sentient) and follows them to logical extremes that allow for beautifully grandiose world-building. Almost like ST:TNG folks should basically be on the path to creating a Culture-like civilization but won’t because of these odd limitations on technology that keep the portrayal of life 400 years from now closer to what life is currently.

  154. 154
    mykroft

    PZ,
    You’re obviously suffering from a mental impedence mismatch. This movie was tuned for the average American movie consumer, used to suspending disbelief every week in church, and therefore possess much lower resistance to nonsense.

    There is an answer, however. You can purchase an impedence adapter, usually available in liquid form. About half a bottle should do it, just before watching the movie. You might be able to sneak some into the theater in a small brown paper bag, if you need repeated dosing if too much awareness returns before the credits. I understand Jack Daniels is well regarded for this purpose.

  155. 155
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)
    I’m a geologist, and I have a great deal of respect for the chut[z]pah of volcanologists. Also a great respect for their ability to knock back beer. I’m a sedimentologist myself. Sand is much safer to study. You also get to go home at night and drink green tea.

    I’m very confused. I thought all geologists are contractually obliged to knock back case after case of beer.

    It’s absolutely true. We just do it so slowly you mortals don’t notice.

    (Oh, and: “Sand is much safer”?)

  156. 156
    mykroft

    BTW, being a lifelong Trekkie I managed to enjoy it. I did get a little miffed at their showing the Klingon moon Praxis as already in pieces (it exploded in ST VI, well after Kirk’s original five year mission).

  157. 157
    Kagato

    why not do a multi part movie of the Foundation series

    I still want to see Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy filmed, but development of that has been silent for a couple of years now, and a lot of people seem to think it is unfilmable.

    But there’s just too much involved in the story to fit into movies, in my opinion. At this point I’d say give it to HBO to do as a TV series. After seeing Game of Thrones, they should have the necessary budget for the set pieces and effects, and they’ve proven their skill at adapting big novels to the screen.

  158. 158
    SallyStrange

    Oh, the Mars trilogy would make an excellent TV series! It could run for years!

  159. 159
    Sandi

    Gosh, wishing Abrams to become super-rich is the old Peter-principle. I wish somebody worthy would win sometimes!

  160. 160
    Amphiox

    The “shields (almost) always fail” thing is actually one of the relatively more reasonable projections of technology.

    Defensive technology has not been on par with offensive technology since the invention of gunpowder, and there is no reason to think why that trend wouldn’t continue into the future.

    Plus, the shield generator must project its field all around the ship, while the phasor banks can concentrate all their power on one point. Thus, assuming roughly equivalent technology level, when the two face off the shields will, indeed must, fail.

    The tactical purpose of the shield is that it doesn’t fail instantly (most of the time), so in the few seconds/minutes it takes to fail, you have the opportunity to maneuver and return fire.

    The shields can only reasonably hold if they have a significant technological advantage over the incoming firepower. There was, I recall, one humorous episode where this happened. A belligerent, comparitively technologically primitive alien vessel, accusing the Enterprise of tresspassing, opens hostility with laser weapons, refusing all of Picard’s attempts to defuse the situation, and keeps on attacking despite the fact that their lasers “can’t even penetrate the [Enterprise's] navigational deflectors”. My memory may be faulty here, but I believe this episode was the origin of the famous Picard-Riker Double-Facepalm.

  161. 161
    Amphiox

    One thing notable in the plot of the movie was that, at a pivotal moment, it was actually Kirk who betrayed Khan first. Now this was done because everyone was suspecting Kahn of planning a double-cross, and everyone was probably right, but it is notable that Kahn had not to that point directly done anything to suggest that he was planning to, or on the verge of, breaking their “enemy-mine” nonspoken agreement of temporary cooperation.

    Since Khan survives in the end, this opens the possibility of grudges to be held in the future.

    This would mean that this movie is not actually the parallel to “Wrath of Khan” in the old timeline. It is actually a parallel to “Space Seed”, where Kirk and Khan meet for the first time and the grudges for the future are set in motion.

  162. 162
    Kagato

    Sorry, David Marjanović — missed this from earlier:

    Abrams (I think) has even apologized for it.

    It was the writer Damon Lindelof:

    I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress.
    We also had Kirk shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe as mysogenistic.
    What I’m saying is I hear you, I take responsibility and will be more mindful in the future.
    Also, I need to learn how to spell ‘misogynistic.

    Mind you, I think he’s got a fair bit to apologise about, given his earlier comments on the subject. He clearly thinks he’s funny, and perhaps in parts he is, but mostly he reads as a bit of a jerk:

    Why is Alice Eve in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made as to why in God’s name she would undress in that circumstance? Well there’s a very good answer for that. But I’m not telling you what it is. Because… uh… MYSTERY?
    [...]
    As for the shirtless scene… we scripted it, but I don’t think it ever got shot. You know why? Because getting actors to take their clothes off is DEMEANING AND HORRIBLE AND…
    Oh.
    Right.
    Sorry.

    Seems he knows it was inappropriate; but hey, movies, amiright?

    And he’s no stranger in having to apologise to his audience, either.

    Before the Lost finale:

    If you had an experience anything like that, then it was mission accomplished. If you didn’t, we blew it and I apologize.

    But when fans didn’t like it after all, rather than follow through he accused them of not being true fans after all.

    Then, after himself being disappointed by the Harry Potter cliffhanger, he kinda sorta got where they were coming from:

    And so I sincerely and genuinely apologize to all those whom I have stripped of their Lost fandom just for complaining about the stuff you didn’t like. It doesn’t make you any less a fan. In fact…
    It just makes you honest.
    I respect that. And I’m genuinely sorry for ever feeling otherwise.

    Yeah, okay. He does actually admit when he’s wrong, so I’ll give him that.

    But I really don’t think I like this guy.

  163. 163
    SallyStrange

    Wow, I totally hate Damon Lindelof. What a jackass.

  164. 164
    SallyStrange

    Look how he signs off in that interview David linked to:

    Live Long and BlahBlahBlah,

    D.

    Pretty much captures the attitude towards the Star Trek tradition exhibited in Into Darkness. What a jerk. I’m boycotting any Lindelof projects from here on out.

  165. 165
    Alex

    Wow, I totally hate Damon Lindelof. What a jackass.

    Where can I sign up for the club?

    To me, Damon Lindelof is a Megachurch preacher or Teleevangelist who took the wrong exit on carreer lane.

    With his lazy contempt for grand ideas, the intelligence of those he is supposed to entertain, and for the stories they hold dear, the penchant for pretentious faux philosophy and complete lack of intellectual integrity
    - why did this guy not become a teleevangelist or megachurch pastor?

  166. 166
    Kagato

    From the interview, summarising the conspiracy plot:

    And yes, typing all that made me realize how silly it is.

    Here’s an idea, Mr. Lindelof — when you’ve written a movie script, try and summarise the core plot in a couple of paragraphs.

    If it sounds silly when you do, throw out your fucking script and start again.

  167. 167
    atheistchaplain

    Maybe its time to hang up your wallet and never venture into a Cinema again PZ, I worked in the Cinema industry for over 20 years and one thing I have learned is you hang your sense of disbelief at the door, enjoy the popcorn and never try and read anything real world into a Sci Fi movie…………… EVER!!

    And for the record I don’t think Cumberbatch was trying to reprise the role of Khan, remember this is a re-booting of the original franchise, not a remake, Another thing, Actors don’t need to add a lot of inflection to their voice to be effective, for my money one of the best performances in the last decade or so was by Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta, we couldn’t even see his face but he conveyed his emotions and intent beautifully

  168. 168
    Alex

    And for the record I don’t think Cumberbatch was trying to reprise the role of Khan, remember this is a re-booting of the original franchise, not a remake

    No, the new Star Trek is an alternativ Timeline which is according to its own logic identical with conventional star trek until the events of the first movie – it thus splits from the original Star Trek universe after Khan was born. It would be the same person in both “Universes”

  169. 169
    rrhain

    While I agree with many of the points raised, PZ, you are off on some of them.

    Point 2: Why were they even in the village? They explained that: They were creating a diversion so that the population would be focused on them and not what was happening in the volcano. Prime Directive: Don’t let the primitive culture know about hyperadvanced tech before their time.

    Now, that leads to the question of: Wouldn’t the Prime Directive require them to let the population die? There was an entire Next Generation episode about that very thing: Homeward. The planet is suffering an atmospheric catastrophe and the entire population will die. Worf’s brother was on the planet to observe the primitive people and he has decided to interfere rather than let them die. Picard goes off on him for violating the Prime Directive.

    But we do know why Kirk and McCoy were running away from the village with the sacred scroll.

    Point 3: It wasn’t going to destroy the entire planet. It was just going to destroy that village which had the only people.

    Point 4: They weren’t all male. And some of them were carrying children (there was a big closeup of one carrying a baby.) Now, ignoring the fact that pretty much all the aliens in Star Trek (and most sci fi in general) can be played by human actors and thus have all the physical characteristics that humans have (sexual dimorphism and all that for one), you have forgotten the lesson of Star Trek VI: Kirk and McCoy are on the prison moon, Qo’noS, and Kirk gets into a fight with one of the other inmates who is much bigger and stronger. Kirk is knocked down and in desperation, he kicks the alien in the knees which drops the alien.

    He quips that he was lucky that the alien had such bad knees to which another inmate replies, “Not everyone keeps his genitals in the same place.”

    Just because they look like men to you doesn’t mean they are. They’re aliens.

    Point 6: Pushing is different from pulling. If I am trying to pull you in, I need to know where you are. If I activate the transporter beam and I miss you, I might kill you. But if I only have a general idea of the landing spot, I can place something there without too much trouble as long as I’m not too picky about where in the general area it lands.

    Suppose I have a backhoe. I want to extract something from the ground. I had better have a really good idea of where it is when I go scooping for it because otherwise I’m going to destroy it. But if I already have it in the scoop and I’m trying to put it somewhere, I just need to know the general location of where to upend the scoop.

    Point 12: This was explained: It was a trans-warp transporter. Major tech the Federation doesn’t really know anything about and only Scotty had any inkling of. From the previous Star Trek movie, Scotty tried to demonstrate it by transwarping Admiral Archer’s beagle and losing the dog. The claim is that it is like “trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse.” It’s not safe.

    Future Spock then told Scotty how to make it work and they used it for some deus ex machina saves in the movie and Starfleet took the technology away from him.

    Point 16: Cumberbatch was just fine in the role. Did you get a chance to see him play the monster in the National Theatre production of Frankenstein when it was in the theatres? The opening scene of his emergence is pure genius. While I wholeheartedly agree that the whitewashing of Khan is unforgivable, it was refreshing to see him without the cheese.

  170. 170
    David Marjanović

    Well, this has a kind of handwavey explanation that doesn’t really make sense to people sufficiently versed in biology to realise it doesn’t make sense, but does sound kind of plausible to the average person. Around 4.5 billion years ago, an ancient race developed space travel and began to explore the galaxy, but found they were the only sentient species around. Believing that all species eventually die out, they seeded many planets with their own DNA, so beings something like themselves would eventually evolve, and their species would be reborn, in a sense (this is how most of the major Trek species, such as Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans came about).

    This is, of course, creationist frontloading. Giving evolution a goal in advance is impossible without breeding for that goal throughout.

    Defensive technology has not been on par with offensive technology since the invention of gunpowder

    There were unconquerable fortresses in WWI. But you’ve been right since the invention of nookular offensive weapons.

    My memory may be faulty here, but I believe this episode was the origin of the famous Picard-Riker Double-Facepalm.

    LOL!!!

    it was actually Kirk who betrayed Khan first

    Han shot first. :-)

    Look how he signs off in that interview David linked to:

    Wasn’t me.

    Where can I sign up for the club?

    To me, Damon Lindelof is a Megachurch preacher or Teleevangelist who took the wrong exit on carreer lane.

    With his lazy contempt for grand ideas, the intelligence of those he is supposed to entertain, and for the stories they hold dear, the penchant for pretentious faux philosophy and complete lack of intellectual integrity – why did this guy not become a teleevangelist or megachurch pastor?

    All seconded.

    the prison moon, Qo’noS

    Uh, Qo’noS is the Klingon homeworld, you know, “Kronos”. You’re thinking of the asteroid “Rura Penthe”.

  171. 171
    Eric

    It’s a frickin movie! Get over yourself, if that’s possible.

  172. 172
    botulf

    It’s a frickin movie! Get over yourself, if that’s possible.
    It’s a frickin blogpost! Get over yourself, if that’s possible.

  173. 173
    Amphiox

    There were unconquerable fortresses in WWI. But you’ve been right since the invention of nookular offensive weapons.

    This is true, but I was referring more to individual weapons and their direct defensive counters, rather than larger weapons systems.

    The fortresses of WWI relied on machine gun nests and other attack weaponry to work.

    The phaser-shield analogy parallels instead something like longbow-plate armor, pistol-bulletproof vest, howitzer-battleship armor plate, etc.

  174. 174
    Orac

    This in no way justifies the truly stupid idea of submerging the goddamn Enterprise to hide it. It’s a SPACE SHIP, and these guys don’t appear to have any technology, let alone a powerful telescope. They have transporters and orbital transfer shuttles; there was no reason for the ship to ever leave orbit, let alone “hide” a few hundred metres off shore!

    Having seen the movie just last night, I strongly suspected that the only reason Abrams did this was so that he could juxtapose shots of the Enterprise rising from the water with shots of the Vengeance crashing into San Francisco and leave the audience with the impression that it was the Enterprise that crashed. At least, that’s what I thought when I first saw those trailers, that this was another movie in which the Enterprise was destroyed, like Star Trek III or Star Trek: Generations. So did a lot of other people.

  175. 175
    SallyStrange

    Oh yeah, that was Kagato who linked to that Lindelof interview, who mentioned your name in doing so, David Marjanović. Oops.

  176. 176
    anteprepro

    It’s a frickin movie! Get over yourself, if that’s possible.

    Fuckin’ movie reviews, how do they work?

    (Thought his name sounded familiar and glanced at a few old threads. Surprise surprise that ericyoungstrom is one of Teh Menz. I think that the condition has spread and become a terminal case of Contrarianism.)

  177. 177
    hypatiasdaughter

    #142 carlie

    ..they really need to stop putting the way to fix something right in the middle of the most dangerous part of it.

    You made me laugh and reminded me of the “chomper scene” in Galaxy Quest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZODzdqVptUs
    #143 shoeguy
    I cannot figure out why Hollywood isn’t turning to decades of great science fiction writing for their movies. I suspect they believe that the non sci-fi crowd will only turn up for an established series or a best selling novel (like “The Hunger Games”).
    Sci-fi writers did some of the best scripts for TOST (& Twilight Zone & the Outer Limits). If only they had hired an established sci-fi writer to script the new ST movies.
    The biggest failure of the ST movies is that the series story lines were “intimate” – mostly happening within the ship community and character driven. The movies are all epic end of the world (or universe) scenarios and the human interaction takes back seat to spectacular special effects. Compare the V’Ger plot line between the series and the first movie. You can almost see the gears burning as the scriptwriters and special effects guys try to dream up ways to turn V’Ger from a threat to the Enterprise into a THREAT THAT WILL DESTROY THE ENTIRE PLANET EARTH!!!!

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