Quick Review: Star Trek

I enjoyed it. First, it was substantially better than the last two Trek films, which shouldn’t have been hard to do, but then one should never underestimate the power of Hollywood to mess up a sure thing. But they did their reboot well enough; it was big and pretty and noisy and didn’t look like a TV episode blown up to movie size, which was what sunk the series in the first place. No one wants to pay movie ticket prices for TV.

Second, it did the job of bringing in new folks to the party, box office-wise, so all the Treksters who were wondering if their beloved federation universe would keep on keeping on can breathe a sigh of relief; no doubt Star Trek II 2: The Proto-Wrath of Khan is already being typed up. Third, I like the new cast, who get the characters without trying to do 1:1 imitations of the previous cast. Fourth, the way Abrams, Kurtzman and Orci sidestepped the question of fiddling with the Star Trek canon was nicely done and frankly necessary if they plan to make more movies with this cast. I know it annoys some old school fans, but given this film is likely to be the most successful film of the series in at least two decades, even adjusting for inflation, they’re just going to have to suck it up.

What I didn’t like: Good lord, was the science in this one bad. Dear Kurtzman and Orci: The next time you play with black holes, won’t you please talk to an actual scientist? Also: “Red Matter”? Seriously? Mind you, I don’t expect much out of Star Trek, science-wise, because, well. Let’s just say the track record’s just not there. Even so, at a certain point the science in one’s science fiction should at least wave in the general direction of plausibility. It’s not too much to ask for.

That said, at the end of the day it was more important for the filmmakers to make Trek fun again, and they did that. Let’s hope they keep doing it.

[Update: as a warning, the comment thread contains some spoilers, so if you’ve not seen the film and want to be surprised, beware.]

179 Comments on “Quick Review: Star Trek”

  1. I really liked it, but could have donewith maybe half of the lens lfare effects. Once I started noticing them, it seemed like they were in every shot. Otherwise, I really liked it. Enough to see it twice on opening weekend.

  2. I enjoyed it as well. My biggest complaint was the quick cut editing during the fight scenes. Seriously, someone needs to sit all Hollywood directors down and tell them that quick cut editing is NOT a substitute for hiring a good fight choreographer.

  3. I thought it was fantastic, although the ‘red matter’ bit bugged me as well … but the actors nailed the characters pretty well, I thought, and the canon-avoidance technique was perfect. :)

  4. I dunno, I thought the movie acknowledged that it only had a passing acquaintance with science, in keeping with the rest of the series, and even played it for laughs here and there. For example, Spock’s paradox discussion near the end. That one still makes me giggle.

  5. The gaping plot holes and lack of internal logical consistency bugged me more than the science. That being said, the character-stuff was well done.

  6. If you’re going to make up some science-y stuff, at least try to make sure it doesn’t conflict with the science we already know.

  7. Abrams nailed the best parts of the original series – for one thing, it was actually funny, unlike Next Generation and all the borefest series that followed it. Great casting – everyone got the essence of their character without doing an impersonation. And the female crew all looked great in their minidresses and go-go boots. I also enjoyed seeing Spock getting some Uhura action (maybe that’s the real reason he changed the timeline!)

    My only complaint was we didn’t get to hear that awesome fight music from the original series.

    I will also note that one of the people I saw it with was VERY upset about the way that all the post- original series canon was jettisoned – he was grumbling about it all night! I had no problem with that at all. I never liked Next Generation, especially the ugly bridge that looked like a cross between a dentist’s office and the interior of an eighties Buick.

  8. I like the “Star Trek II 2” angle. So do ST movie titles start filling some kind of two-dimensional matrix?

  9. I’m still trying to figure out just where one would find a canyon some bunchteen thousand feet deep … in Iowa?!

  10. With respect to “Red Matter”, la la la, I can’t hear you…
    Yeah, it wasn’t the movie’s crowning moment. I enjoyed the movie in spite of it.

    I think I remember reading that they’d signed up the cast for three movies total if the first one did well. In that case, not only are they working on Star Trek II 2, but also thinking about Star Trek II 3. (However, with this movie, they’ve already kind of done The Wrath of Khan. They’ll need a different story for the other two movies.)

  11. I think in any given Star Trek plot you’re going to have to deal with toxic levels of Applied Phlebotinum. Star Trek may not have invented Applied Phlebotinum, but it put it adopted it and put it through college. That is, unless Stephen Hawking can explain how it’s possible to reverse the polarity of the neutrino field around the dilithium crystal in order to bounce the graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish. Star Trek hasn’t been about real science from episode 1, with a shape-shiting salt monster who just wanted to be loved. It isn’t so much nodding to scientific concepts as word salad with a science book.

    I always take the science in Star Trek at face value as nothing more than an excuse for plot. At this point the technobabble is as much a part of the franchise as klingons and hamhanded social commentary.

  12. Yeah, that Red Matter crap knocked me right out of the story, and I couldn’t get back in, no matter how hard I tried. I spent the rest of the movie cataloguing plot problems (which I have helpfully compiled at http://matthewsrotundo.livejournal.com/60068.html, if you’re interested [but be warned–spoilers abound]).

    Christopher @9–Yeah, that canyon bothered me, too, but I believe it was actually man-made. Some kind of mine, or quarry.

  13. OK, I’ll be the one to confess near-total science illiteracy and ask what’s wrong with “red matter”? It was clearly (to me at least) a play off “dark matter,” which exists SFAIK in purely hypothetical form, as something that has to exist to make the universe HWP :)

    IOW, if dark matter exists, why not variations of it, and why couldn’t red matter be a variation (a lab-created variation at that) of it?

    Now, I do agree that using black holes as a time travel/universe forming technique may conflict with what we know about black holes – bearing in mind that ‘what we know’ is also all hypothetical. They would, I think, have been better off just saying “singularity.”

  14. Well they avoided the dreaded ‘cadet’ movie fans hate any idea of, threw in ton a special effects unrelated to anything much – glued bits together and invented a awful story.

    They got the cast right (Simon Pegg – is Mr Scoot), and the ship, the story who needs a story when its got action sequences in.

    Here’s to somebody discovering pink matter.

  15. I’m right with John on this one. If you want to spend time cataloguing plot holes and/or scientific errors you can have a field day with this one. But, as a popcorn movie it was top-notch. I was especially impressed by the casting and the fact that secondary characters (Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu) got some development.

    A lot of fun, and that’s more than I’ve been able to say about any ST movie since First Contact.

  16. My only real complaint with the movie’s casting is that Zachary Quinto retains a wee hint of his “Sylar” smirk as Spock, which I think he’d be better without.

    As for science, I’ve decided that once I hear something go boom or zoom in space, that sci-fi movie has just told me that it doesn’t care about the science. Is it really that far of a leap from fireballs in a vacuum to red matter and time travel via black hole?

  17. I liked Scotty’s line after he beams both Kirk/Pike and Spock onto the Enterprise. He’s saying wow, wasn’t that great, no one’s ever done that before, and no one pays attention. I also like that he must have forgotten how to do that later…or maybe it was an alternate time line…really, best not to think about these things too much.

  18. @15: Well, ‘dark matter’ is just a name for any as-yet undetected matter, so it’s sort of nonsensical to ascribe properties to it apart from the fact that it’s hard to detect and it has mass.

  19. I want to add that I adored the movie, from the opening sequence to the closing credits; have already seen it twice, and will be seeing it yet a 3rd time tonight.

    Even Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country didn’t delight me this much, didn’t have me wanting to U-turn on my way out of the theater for an immediate re-viewing.

  20. Personally, I enjoyed it. I’ve been a casual ST fan for years- saw all of the original series in the early ’70’s rereruns, saw some of Next Gen, but not much of the others, and have seen all the movies over the years.

    My biggest nit to pick- the lack of safety railings in the future. Don’t these people have some equivalent of OSHA? Plus, of course, Kirk’s tendency to take the word cliffhanger literally…….

  21. Isn’t there a time distortion around black holes? The closer you are, the slower time passes?

    Kirk sure got punched in the face a lot.

    Seeing Leonard Nimoy was cool, at first, but then he sorta lingered. Anyone else think his part was too big? A cameo would’ve been better.

    Simon Pegg as Scotty was awesome. The whole cast was great. I hope we see more of them.

  22. COOP@10 Why you would build spaceships in Iowa, that’s the real question.

    I assume that whatever other problems the Federation has solved, pork-barrel politics isn’t one of them.

    My candidate for most egregious science error: Not understanding just how big the “galaxy” is.

    That said I quite enjoyed the movie. But those were supposed to be Romulans? I don’t see it. Just looked like generic space barbarians to me.

  23. @22: Pam, I was just about to post the same thing. JJ does seem to have some kind of fetish for dangling actors over bottomless drops. I think Kirk ended up in the situation 4 times, including once as a kid.

    As for the movie, I enjoyed it. Didn’t think it was an “A”, but it was a reboot that worked. Bring on number 2.

  24. Well, it was worth the twenty-eleven bucks it cost to get in the door. Wife and I don’t get out much these days, though, so take that for what it’s worth. But we’ve got Trek cred – our idea of a date way back when was to make it back in time so we could catch TNG first-runs and TOS reruns before curfew. But I digress.

    I got past the red matter but didn’t get past the “black hole in our neighborhood” part. Oh well. It ain’t about the science, folks.

    Two complaints: Ricardo Montalban pretty much nailed it shut as far as crazy, wronged supervillains go, so can we find another pattern for the antagonist? And Karl Urban (tried to) put a little too much DeForest Kelley into his Bones. Uhuru got more depth, and Sulu just a skosh more, but geez, why not just have Checkov say “Nuclear Wessels” and be done with it? We were all thinking it…


  25. I thought the movie was ok. It had the stereotypical problems that all origin stories have. We know that the crew was going to come together, but it took 80% of the movie for it to happen. The whole Nero part was slightly weak.

    I definitely agree about the science though. I don’t demand scientific accuracy. I demand internal logic/consistency. If one drop of red matter starts a black hole, why do you need a giant ball of it? (As an aside, what is J.J. Abrams obsession with Big Red Balls? (see Alias))

    And how can it destroy a planet in seconds but not suck in a ship? Or how does exploding something push you outside of a singularity that was suppossed to consume a supernova? I don’t know what the Enterprise was suppossed to be fueled with but I doubt it’s got Supernova level power.

  26. The whole lets-reset-the-canon-with-time-travel wasn’t bad, but it better not happen again. The last thing we need is some giant, multibranched Star Trek multiverse with crossovers and different versions of the same characters to keep track of.

    My biggest problem with the movie was very idiosyncratic. Whenever I hear anything about mines or mining, I like to pretend to misunderstand it as “mimes” or “miming”, which is *always* good for a cheap laugh. The fact that the Romulans on the mining ship had all those facial tattoos made them look even more like mimes, and I spent the whole time giggling at the evil Romulan mimes using their miming equipment to destroy planets. That’ll teach the Vulcans not to through a few quarters into the hat!

  27. It was the most fun i’ve had at a movie for a long time and I really liked the portrayels of the younger versions of much loved characters.

  28. i’m old enough to have seen the original tv series and all the movies in first release, not in DVD, and i thought the movie nailed it. by far the best of the franchise, in fact started its own franchise. there were tongue-in-cheek nods to signature dialogue and character quirks from the original tv series, but the actors and director made the story their own. one science bit that some may have missed — rather than playing out a “star trek: origins” literally, they created elbow room for themselves by noting that at a critical juncture, they’d embarked on an alternative reality path into a parallel universe. so don’t expect precise alignment with any tv episodes or previous films. i liked the young, vital cast, and was happy to see leonard nimoy appear for just long enough to provide continuity without interfering with the other characters. eric bana was unrecognizable and fine as the rogue romulan.

    yeah, the grand canyon in iowa was a bit weird. there are quarries, and there are mile-deep vertical ditches. but as with the other science quibbles, it is okay to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride….

  29. Overall, I liked it. It could use more polish. I agree that maybe some consultation with science types wouldn’t have hurt matters.

    One of the things I found myself really liking about it afterward is that I get to share a bit of my childhood with my kids. I grew up watching TOS. I had the action figures, phasers, communicator walkie-talkies, etc. My kids get to experience that, too. To me, this is worth all the plot holes and wonderflonium in the universe.

  30. Another thing, why would mining equipment cause communications and teleportation jamming? And why would it be mounted on a drill?

    Aside from this fact, I did like the idea of Nero being a thug miner who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was a legitimate threat because he was using a ship that was 150-200 years more technologically advanced than the brand new Enterprise.

    Think Spanish Armada vs. WWII era Destroyer/Aircraft Carrier or Old Ironsides vs. USS Stockdale (newest destroyer)

  31. Regarding red matter: YetiStomper@27 beat me to the Alias reference, but making it resemble the Rambaldi Sphere is what let me accept it. It’s a nice nod to his previous work. Frankly, Spock’s eggbeater-ship bugged me more — it reminded me of the Scootie-Puff Jr. just a wee bit too much.

    On the other hand if one /drop/ is enough to make a black hole, why are you carting around a couple of barrels’ worth?

    What I really liked about the characterization of Nero (part writing, part performance) is how casual and non-military he was, starting his communiques with, “Uh, Hello!” and calling the captains by their first names. This is just some pissed-off dude running around in a suped-up construction vehicle, he’s not a Romulan commander in a warship (all those skinny platforms, though, says that the Romulan version of OSHA needs some work)

  32. Everything else aside, one of the things I’m sort of intrigued by the alternate timeline is that the Star Trek 2: II can go something like this:

    Go out on a mission, Kirk screws up and Scotty gets maimed, Uhura gets pregnant by Spock and they decide to settle down in San Francisco and teach at the Academy, Chekhov gets killed, Sulu mutinies Kirk, the Enterprise is destroyed and they bring some freakin’ new characters in to shake things up a little bit.

    Well, okay. Maybe not. I enjoyed the movie a lot, but it is wide open now.

    Although Old Spock, you might drop a line to Star Fleet: When the Borg show up, shoot to kill.

  33. As a disclaimer: I largely enjoyed the hell out of this film, and it was easily the best Trek since “First Contact.”

    But. But. But.

    (a) So fine, “red matter”, I’ll spot you that one: some degenerate matter-form that, when the smallest amount is taken out of its unobtanium containment field, immediately turns into a black hole. Okay, but given that this stuff exists, how much do you load into your experimental super-fast spaceship: just enough to complete your mission (plus some margin for error), or enough to create a black hole at every single rest stop you take, like some deranged Johnny Appleseed?!

    (b) Maybe the Vulcans have something against the idea of local security, but really: there was nothing on Earth — ground-based or in orbit — that couldn’t launch a few missiles at that mining drill platform? Two guys with rifles managed to disable it an hour ago, so it wasn’t like it was going to take an entire starship to do.

    (c) …and combining the two previous points: uncontained red matter turns into a fucking planet-eating black hole. So you’re going to spend hours hanging in geostationary (or vulcastationary) orbit in order to drill a hole into the planetary core… why? Just drop the shit into the nearest ocean and break orbit: the other half of the planet will get eaten a few minutes later is all.

    I guess what I’m saying here is: dear god Karl Urban was awesome as Bones.

  34. Following seeing the movie with co-workers on Friday I make this “perfect tweet” about it, which I think sums it up nicely….

    #StarTrek is awesome! Great story, elegant solutions, action packed and perfect cast. Destroyed canon? No. New canon? Hell YES! Next please.



  35. I have a nit that maybe I simply misremembered — did it seem to anyone else that the shuttles were about truck-size when everyone was boarding, and even from the interior, but seemed to be way too big in contrast with the Enterprise/Kelvin? I’m going to go see it again next weekend and may need to retract this, but I think they got the scaling wrong between cuts.

    As to the “things don’t make noise in space” nit from Jim G @ 18, they actually had some scenes that got it right — when the Kelvin has a hull breach and the crewmember gets sucked out, they cut the sound when she’s actually outside the ship. The other moment was when they’re free-falling from the shuttle to the mining platform, the sound doesn’t kick in until they hit the atmosphere. (That scene had a typical ST cliché — the unknown crewman in the red shirt bites it!)

  36. (b) Maybe the Vulcans have something against the idea of local security, but really: there was nothing on Earth — ground-based or in orbit — that couldn’t launch a few missiles at that mining drill platform? Two guys with rifles managed to disable it an hour ago, so it wasn’t like it was going to take an entire starship to do.

    Actually, that was taken care of in the movie (and somewhat smartly).

    1) Defense codes, taken from Captain Pike, via the cousins of the Alpha Ceti eels.

    2) The reason why two guys with rifles could disable it was that they were launched from a shuttle invited onto the ship by Nero himself. Couldn’t be done from an external source and wouldn’t be fooled twice.

  37. Also, the Earth doesn’t have good defenses meme is somewhat foreshadowed by their not-very-good defenses in Star Trek:TMP and Star Trek IV.

  38. Oh, forgot a couple of other nits.

    Since when do you turn the flagship over to a just-graduated cadet who’s on disciplinary suspension? And when he gets back you make him a captain?? Starfleet has some weird ideas about promotions and seniority…

    And the scene where the Enterprise rises up through the rings of Saturn like a ship plowing through the fog. That was a bit groan-worthy…

  39. I watched it with my wife ( I have seen anything and everything official Star Trek and she has not) I enjoyed it she also enjoyed it however she was confused about a few things such as why a mining ship would be so powerful and what was up with them never actually saying the name of the jelly fish. And the fact is that there is a 4 part comic book that was released a few months ago that without reading it you do not get that info. I of course have read and have those comics so I let her read them and catch up.

  40. Also, the Earth doesn’t have good defenses meme is somewhat foreshadowed by their not-very-good defenses in Star Trek:TMP and Star Trek IV.

    Well, NOBODY has good defenses against overwhelming superior firepower, generally…

  41. It ain’t playing in Seoul yet, folks, but I downloaded a good screener on Friday night. It was a blast, perfect popcorn flick, watched it twice on the weekend, in fact. And on my 13″ Macbook! The only thing I didn’t like about the movie were some of the know-all braggers, oops, I mean bloggers, who appeared to have “missed” the movie. But I know these types. I went to school with these types. Highly functional autistic types who read 1.3 novels per week, 2.1 novels per week during reading week, and daydream in technocolor, the kind who dream about robotic girlfriends with awesome comic book collections. Enough with the continuity problems, collapsed Einstein-Rosen bridges, and how Spock’s fingers have strangely changed shape from that of his future self. The movie entertained me and my robotic girl, not the long-legged Lexus model in Japan, but rather the Hyundai model in South Korea with the detachable feet, wheels not included. She hums along good enough for me . . . especially during this most excellent flick, Star Trek Re-imaged.

  42. While I agree with you in large part – Mostly good movie, mostly good reboot – I don’t see why the change to cannon was necessary- what possible advantage does blowing up Vulcan give us? What possible “necessity” is served by this particular choice? All other “cannon” changes don’t come anywhere near screwing with the universe as much as killing Amanda and blowing up Vulcan. The rest is small potatoes and works just fine for me.

    The science, I agree, was abysmal – and for someone who grew up on Trek’s Science, it was pretty darn painful…

  43. – I don’t see why the change to cannon was necessary-

    I see perfectly.

    “This is not your father’s Star Trek.”

    I actually think they needed to do some sort of drastic change, to emphasize that this is different.

  44. Agreed on the bad science. I was willing to let the “red matter” slide, but basing the entire plot on the premise that a supernova is going to destroy the *galaxy* and that it must be stopped with a black hole bothered me. Apparently they didn’t realize that supernovae go off pretty frequently in our own galaxy, and that they are stellar mass black holes form.

    That said, as cliche as the time travel trick is, it was a shrewd choice to use it as a loophole to allow this new Trek to do whatever it wants and not have to worry about fitting in with the old canon.

    Despite the terrible science, the movie was lots of fun, so I can’t complain too much.

  45. I can fanwank the big ball of “red matter” (perhaps that’s not the best phrasing…). See, red matter is extremely volatile in small quantities. It only gets stable if you have a large amount of it. Enough, say, to look really, really cool.

    Also, there’s nothing that says “Vulcan” in TOS is the original “Vulcan.” Maybe all the surviving Vulcans settled on a new planet that was remarkably like the old Vulcan, named it “Vulcan” in memory of the old planet, and then never mentioned the destruction of their original planet through a 3-year TV series, four spinoffs, and ten movies.

    What stage comes after “denial?”

  46. Maybe the Red Matter is unstable in small quantities, but stable in larger amounts? Huh? Huh?

    Oh screw it, the big shiny red ball looked bitchin’. (Good callback to ALIAS, too.) In fact, all the production design looked great.

  47. Excellent movie. Red matter is silly… but even sillier are the people who complain about it (quick example @6) but who are fine with, oh, FTL warp technology and teleportation. Come on, rigorous science has never been ST’s point.

    This was as good a reboot as I could have imagined. I’m old enough to have been a kid during the first series and one of the things I was worried about was that it would be a good SF action movie but not Star Trek in any way. This struck a great balance between resetting canon and maintaining the essence of Trek. For people worried about ‘canon’ 1) new timeline and 2) Star Wars. Aside from the quality of the 3 prequels in SW, where was the drama? We KNEW how Anakin would turn out, so none of the struggle to guide him had tension. That’s an issue with any prequel. The new timeline approach isn’t original, but it opens up possibilities that a straight prequel would not have.

  48. I think rather than Black Holes, the Red Matter could have been written as an Enderverse-like MD Device. I forget the specifics but the MD Device would react with matter and continue to react until all matter within the area was consumed. If there was a ship within the radius, it would blow up the ship. If there was a planet within the radius it would blow up the planet, available matter sustained the “explosion” until all the available fuel was gone.

    The only issue would be how to a) introduce it into the plot and b) explain it without infodump and without confusing the audience.

  49. I had a hard time with the movie, because most of the characters were so similar, but yet so different, from the traditional ones, that it kept jarring me.

    Now, I don’t know whether to call that a failure of the movie or not. I do seem to be the only one it bugged, so probably me.

    (Spock worked perfectly, and Scotty bore so little similarity to the original character that I had no trouble at all just running with him.)

    The “red matter” made me laugh out loud — and since I was the only one, I guess I was the only one who’d watched Alias.

    There were a lot of things, big and small, which pushed that this was a completely different timeline, and I liked that. (A particular pair of scenes with Uhura, for example. Even though the one in the transporter room was wrong wrong wrong. Anyway.)

    I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to movies, but the actual worst thing I can say about this one is: there’s nothing in that will preclude me from seeing the sequel.

  50. @rick in 55.

    It’s not the science as much as the lack of consistency/logic within their use of science. Things that suck up a planet should be able to suck in a ship. If one drop of red matter is so dangerous/can consume a supernova, blowing up a barrel of the stuff should be very bad news. Why would you need that much anyway?

    I’m fine with establishing rules to the universe that bend actual science (warp drives/teleportation/etc.) just make them consistent when you use them.

  51. Ronald @48:

    No, no, the problem isn’t how Spock’s fingers have changed. It’s how he has attached earlobes when he’s young, and detached earlobes when he’s old, and yet this crucial change was never explained in the old series!

  52. If you wanna really nitpick, in TOS the Transporter is only supposed to have a range of about 16,000 miles, and in this one they’re beaming from Saturn-area to Earth… somewhat further away.

    Also, it’s a pretty neat trick to be able to see Vulcan from Delta-Vega. I handwaved it in my mind by deciding Nero had left behind some kind of projector and transmitted the picture, but I doubt the producers bothered, heh.

    I’ll also try to ignore that Vulcan (40 Eridani) is a couple days away from Earth even at maximum (TOS) warp, and Delta-Vega is out near the edge of the galaxy somewhere…

    And um, a final nit… how come the Enterprise engine room looks like a vast, echoing, rusty old industrial chemical plant or water-treatment facility, with pipes and wheel-valves and all that? I thought it was brand new…

    Other than that I thought it was freakin’ great! and quite cleverly done to reboot with a different timeline.

  53. Or, Star Trek 2 II:

    Spock and Spock steal the Enterprise, slingshot it around the sun to go back in time to just before Nero shows up the first time, and nuke the crap out of him before he wipes out Vulcan. And while they’re at it, pick up some whales. And a pizza. And some space babes and synthahol and have an intergalactic kegger.

  54. Red matter is fine by me, and no worse then warp drives or teleporters. (In the Original Series, pretty much any planet spoke English, for god’s sake. The show isn’t known for it’s plausibility). So, red matter didn’t bother me. That said, I hate science fiction movies that treat desolate planets like small towns where you’re just -bound- to run into anyone else who happens to be on it.

    So even though I could kind of see Spock and Kirk running into each other on the ice planet as somewhat plausible (since they were both presumably marooned with intent to survive, and since there was only one Federation Outpost, they would have been stranded close to each other)….

    But running into Scotty?????????

    Loved the movie, but that’s the point it went from a 9.5 to an 8 for me…

  55. Honestly, if the big timey wimey ball of phlebotinum bugged you, what’re you doing watching Trek? I took one look at it, thought “Ok, red matter = red mercury in space, thank god we didn’t get half an hour of technobabble explaining how it works” and moved on. I do like the ‘degenerate proto-matter that’s stable in large quantities’ explanation, though. See, this is why we have blogs, so the technobabble can come *after* the movie. Even the odd bit about the supernova that ate the galaxy (immediately got me thinking the Nivenverse exploding core, btw) I was able to handwave as “lies to Kirk” to avoid more technobabble than already necessary.

    The only thing that really bugs me is that after a good 20 minutes in high warp, they eject Kirk onto a frozen planet that’s in close enough orbit with Vulcan to watch it imploding from the surface, then 20 minutes later reach Earth. But it was largely overshadowed by Sulu’s (or was it Chekov?) unsung crowning moment of awesome: coming out of high warp inside Titan’s atmosphere with nary a bump. That just seemed darn impressive to me.

  56. I’ve got the same Star Trek fanboi bonafides as the rest of you, but honestly:

    Star Trek does, and always has, flip science the bird, starting from the very beginning with warp drive and dilithium crystals and moving straight through time travel via slingshotting around the sun and now to ‘red matter’ creating a singularity that will absorb a supernova but allow a ship to escape by blowing its ballast tanks.

    Anyone who wants to complain about bad science in Trek is so missing the point as to be completely hopeless. You all should know better. :)

  57. @ ChrisL in 64.

    The one thing I considered was that it was stable in large quantities or somehow there wasnt a proportional relationship between the ammount of red matter and the strength of the singularity. But the explosion to get them out of the pull at the end was ridiculous.

  58. I was very frustrated with this movie. I enjoyed it… sort of. The plot was weak weak weak. There is a difference between courageous and cocky. The character of Captain Kirk was courageous, intelligent, well-trained, loyal, an Idealist, and supremely confident for sure, but not cocky. I did not feel that the James Kirk in this movie had enough “heroic” qualities.
    Recent Hollywood writers do not seem to understand that and revel in the character of the cocky rebellious upstart that somehow (regardless of plot logic) gets propelled above all of the hardworking more qualified candidates. No third-year cadet would be made first-office of a ship, period. Incongruous leaps like that distract from the enjoyment of the story.
    I thought the development of Spock’s character was well done.
    I thought it was horrible what they did with Scotty’s character.

  59. I’m fine with the reboot. I’ve watched Star Trek since I was 10 and that was when TOS debuted. It’s what started me reading SF. I just ignored the scientific word salad, which I agree with Twilight2000 was abysmal; and enjoyed the ride. Hopefully, future movies will improve and not go downhill.

  60. @ Johnny in 68.

    I think he was a rebellious student but also a prodigy, something they didn’t really delve into the movie.

    Ender was rebellious in Ender’s Game but he was also better than everyone else, even the older kids.

  61. I really enjoyed it. The humor was just right like the original series. And Chris Pine did a great job of making Kirk just short of serious. It was also great seeing the beginning of the relationships between Kirk, Spock and McCoy form – up to and including Kirk slapping Spock on the arm. Science-wise – I’m one of those persons who can check reality at the door and enjoy the movie without it being logical. My quibble is: what was the creature hanging with Scotty? I think some backstory got left on the editing room floor on that one.

  62. YetiStomper @ 70: Yeah, but from the very beginning Ender and his classmates were being trained to lead the attack — that was the whole point. Nothing in the Star Trek universe would have you believe that Starfleet worked that way.

    It would be like Picard handing the Enterprise over to Wesley Crusher when he got back from the Academy…

    {hopes to draw Wil Wheaton into this discussion…}

  63. As has been mentioned on other websites, the media’s meme of “Star Trek purists hate new movie” is largely untrue, or at least exaggerated, but most likely is what Abrams et al *want* because it is attracting the non-Geeks to actually give it a chance. The Geeks were at least going to watch it once, and from what I’ve seen (being one such self-described) we are applauding and seeing a second, third, fourth time.

    I’ve seen a handful on some lists complaining about the canon-reboot, but they’re being drowned out by the applause, and these lists are 99% geeks.

    It’s not like there wasn’t already several timelines/multiverses.

    * Base universe (Star Trek – Prime)
    * Mirror Universe
    * Universe created by Temporal Cold War in Star Trek:Enterprise (Star Trek – One)
    * and now JJ Abrams Universe (Star Trek – Two)
    * and some might put Animated Trek into a different universe

    Of course, there were the multiple universes displayed in that one ST:TNG episode including the one where the Borg overran the Federation, and Riker was “Last Man Standing.”

    Star Trek:Nemesis was arguably set in the Temporal Cold War universe, and thus the “Prime” universe could be the way everything was left at the end of Insurrection.

    I don’t expect Paramount to explore that possibility, though.

  64. @ YetiStomper in 70
    Funny you mention Ender’s Game. I really like that book.

    Yes, I had forgotten that Kirk was supposed to be a prodigy. I had forgotten the whole Kobayashi Maru reprogramming incident from the Wrath of Kahn. But, the new Kirk was even cocky about that.

    On a more positive note, I did like the Sulu sword fight. I thought that was fitting and cool.

  65. @ TransDutch in 73
    RE: Purists hate the movie

    I consider myself a purist. I did not hate the movie. I was irked. But, I think a fare test of the quality of a movie is to ask yourself, “would I watch the movie again?” In my case, probably not. I’ve seen the Wrath of Khan several times. I read the novelization of the Wrath of Khan four times back-to-back. I just really liked it. I certainly do not feel that excitement about the new Star Trek movie.

  66. The dances-with-black holes were annoying, but the red matter? I’m betting that there was a cut scene to the effect of:


    “Red matter?” What’s that?


    It is an unstable form of a state of matter that will not even be theorized for another twenty-three of your earth years, and not synthesized for another sixty two. For me to be able to explain the process and results to you would require you to return to school and study physics far more advanced that is tought at Starfleet Academy… for another six years. However, it *is* matter… and it *is* red.

  67. Having defended some portions of the movie, I will now have to come back and say that a lot of it didn’t hang together once you think about it and some of it shows that this was the script that was interrupted by the writer’s strike (according to Jon Rogers).

    A lot of the plot difficulties were created for artificial drama. For example, the whole stowaway thing was kinda unnecessary, really–I think the enmity over the Kobayashi Maru things was really all that was needed. And the way the conflict was brought to a boil was a bit stupid (um, where did Spock think they were going to end up at the end, anyway?).

    Think there needed to be another polish to smooth out the problems (can we mention ice planet follies?), and I would have thought the studio could have managed that, because there was enough good things here to wait for…

  68. @ gwangung in 77
    Re: Think there needed to be another polish to smooth out the problems.

    I think John Scalzi should write the novelization of the movie and in the process try to add enough to the story to get it to make since. I know that is a huge challenge, but John’s a professional!

  69. re: red matter.

    It wasn’t the “a drop of this stuff makes a black hole, and here’s a big ol’ ball of it” that put me off, it was… well… “Red matter?”

    I better throw away all of the red things in my apartment on the grounds that they are both red and matter.

    I mean, they could have gotten away with “enriched anti-neutronium” or something a little bit deeper into the technobabble. But not red matter.

    Another complaint, and can I get an Amen on this one:

    seeing it on opening weekend was a BIG MISTAKE, because I could have done without the whole audience tittering with excitement every time the movie was self-referential. Green chick? chuckle. “I’m a doctor, not a (whatever)?” chuckle. “I’m giving her all she’s got?” chuckle. I’m thinking maybe that wouldn’t have happened next week

  70. PJ @79: Another mistake — taking someone who’d never seen any of the earlier series or movies and having to explain why everyone was chuckling at certain moments…

  71. @6 Nemryn – “If you’re going to make up some science-y stuff, at least try to make sure it doesn’t conflict with the science we already know.”

    Didn’t the Vatican say the same thing to Galileo?
    *ducks and runs*

  72. My favorite thing about the movie is that my significant other proposed to me right before it started.

    Which is also why I’m glad the film didn’t blow chunks, because that would have been unfortunate. The science may have been egregious, but it was Star Trek, so I just put my Bull**** meter on standby before walking in, and all things were good. It was funny, well-paced, full of great send-ups, and well-acted.

    I loved that Uhura didn’t end up with Kirk. It’s refreshing to see a female character in a predominantly-male SF/Adventure who says “no” because she means no. It made her an actual person instead of an object that the hero had to overcome obstacles to obtain. Two points to JJ for not perpetuating the “No means yes” trope.

    Also, a movie featuring James T. Kirk that actually manages to pass Bechdel-Wallace? Who saw that coming? Certainly not me.

  73. PJ @ 79: Used to be a huge Trekker, so I knew what I’d be in for. Went to a matinee on Friday. Banter with theater staff involved Family Guy references. Not a costumed nerd in sight.


  74. It was awesome. Props to Karl Urban for getting his American accent better than he used to as Caesar in Xena (cos Caesar spoke with an American accent, shhh).

    I also await with horror the appearance of old spock/new spock slash. Although now that I think of it, the movie’s been out for a week… it probably already exists. *shudder*

  75. oh good lord, i’ve stumbled into nitpickers’ paradise. of COURSE kirk was cocky — he was portrayed as cocky and risk-taking as a much older captain, too, all deriving from his troubled, fatherless childhood. hence the dynamic and satisfying contrast between his persona and spock’s. together they are the perfect team, the two faces of janus.

    i liked how they fleshed out (so to speak) zoe saldana’s uhura as a xenolinguistic prodigy, several steps up from being a mere radio operator in a miniskirt. wasn’t sure about the credibility of her and spock hooking up, but if it works for them, go for it.

    forget the red matter, just don’t eat the yellow snow.

  76. I wasn’t sure about the credibility of her and spock hooking up, but if it works for them, go for it.

    Well, it WOULD explain why Kirk never tried bedding her in the original series…

  77. And, no, this is NOT nitpickers’ paradise. Having passed the 80s and 90s in rec.arts.startrek (no .misc, no .tech, no goddam .reviews), believe me, I know nitpickers….

  78. PJ and John @79/80:

    I enjoyed the group reaction to the fan service and it thoroughly added to the experience for me, as a long-time Trekkie, to appreciate that I was in a room full of my compatriots. I can see however that it could be annoying for the uninitiated.

  79. @88, not uninitiated, just anti-social.

    This sounds a bit ridiculous, even to me, but when I go to a movie I’m thinking, “Alright, movie, take me to all of the fantastic places you have to offer,” and when the audience makes that much noise, I’m not being taken there – it’s just being shown to me.

    It’s like long loading screens in video games: it’s an immersion killer and I’m there for the immersion.

  80. My favorite moment? The Nokia product placement! That’s what the call “future longevity” in the world of marketing weasels…

    Otherwise the movie was fine :-)

  81. I just assume Delta-Vega was a missname moon of Vulcan. And yeah for science I let Star Trek slid, otherwise I’d be angry all the time.

    But — what was the reason why Sulu, Kirk, and O’Neil couldn’t take phasers with them on the assault to the drill? Was anything mentioned and I missed it? ’cause that just screamed, ‘here have a fight to let Sulu shine.’

  82. Johnny @78

    Alan Dean Foster’s novelization gets released tomorrow, I believe, and I suspect he is up to the task.

    I hope the novelization covers the ground I hear was in the comics that led up to the movie, such as the creation of the ship that Spock-Prime piloted, and everything that happened that drove Nero off the deep end.

    I understand why it was left to the comics (and hopefully the novelization) and not put into the movie. They wanted the movie to be completely watchable by a newcomer, so they couldn’t have anything that depended upon having seen a prior film or television episode.

  83. Haven’t seen it yet – want to.

    I’m not worried about the science – ST is more about Sigh-ence but I would have liked it if the plot holes were at least covered with tissue paper.

  84. @92, I don’t remember if Sulu had a phaser, but as I recall kirk had one and it got knocked off the side about 2 seconds into the fight.

  85. Took my teenage boys to it on Saturday, and we all LOVED it! I got a kick out of the nods given to the original series, they just thought it was an awsome movie, suitable for the ‘gamer’ generation they are a part of.

    Oh, and science schmience! This is Star Trek, people! Just run with it:)

  86. Plot holes? Bad science?

    I just have to say that the time I spent watching Star Trek this weekend was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a very long time.

  87. There were a couple of bothersome things about it.

    First, if Nero knew he was 120+ years back in time, and waited 20 years to capture the ship that had the plot device used to destroy the supernova a little too late, why didn’t he just fly to Romulus and destroy the pre-supernova star 119 years before it blew up his planet? (The action and f/x were good enough I didn’t actually notice this during the movie).

    Second, Westley Crusher Chekov needs to die, screaming in agony, on-screen, for an entire movie. The screams can be recorded from the real-life fate of whatever script writer did that to him.

    The back of Spock’s ship looked a lot like the back of Serenity, to me, but that was actually kinda cool.

    All in all, I like it a lot. It wasn’t the Trek I grew up on, by any means, but it’s a better followup to the original series than anything else that’s been donce since.

  88. What possible “necessity” is served by this particular choice?

    Short answer: Creative freedom. The new team’s adventures don’t need to fit into established ST history.

    Less short answer: All established ST canon is gone – not wiped out (the original ‘verse still exists in its own timeline), but non-operative in the new universe Nemo created by, first, killing George Kirk and then, most importantly, destroying Vulcan. Vulcan was/is/whatever an absolutely vital planet wielding enormous scientific and political influence. Now its gone – and the ripple effects are beyond calculation.

  89. I’m fond of calling it “Star Trek: The Re-Bootening”.

    And I will say this: I rarely feel moved to see movies in the theater in the first place, but I’m here to tell you I plan to see Star Trek a second time, probably in IMAX (which means a 50 mile trip to the nearest IMAX theater).

    I say this as a person who watched the TOS every Friday night, and whose husband (back in the day) presided over the Muncie Star Trek Appreciation Club.

  90. They wanted to make really sure that you understood it was a reboot but. But it was fun! I’m predisposed to hate characters that are written the way young Kirk is written, but the actor (don’t know his name) managed to really make it work.

    The point where the move really took off for me was the Test kirk took at the academy. It was pretty apparent at that point that you were in for an entertaining film.

  91. Being a old trek fan I was concerned about how it would all play out.
    Overall, I thought it was real good. I like the time travel plot device used to save “canon”. I hear you about the science part of it, but let’s be real. What sf book has ever been completely realistic, including the OMW series?

    When sf feels compelled to do info dumps on trying to justify their magic it gets boring real quick.

    Certainly Trek 2 is off to a good start, it is theirs to exploit or drive into the ground. Having said that, I think there are enough new fans from this movie who will buy anything they put up there that it will not much matter from this point forward if they screw it up (as far as the trekkers are concerned).

  92. When sf feels compelled to do info dumps on trying to justify their magic it gets boring real quick.

    Heh. Interesting point, but true. I think it’s more applicable in dramatized SF (Movies,TV), because of the nature of the media, but it applies to a certain extent to written SF, too.

  93. I think we’re all missing the most important point raised in this comment thread: Congratulations, Annalee!

  94. I saw the movie on Sunfay night and would like to put my two cents in. Overall I thought the movie was good, not great, but good. I do question who Capt. Pike could put a Starfleet Cadet (Kirk) as X.O. of the “Flagship of the Fleet”. Especially in a war situation. By the way, How did all the other cadets get to wear officers uniforms when they were assigned to the Enterprise? Did they get battlefield promotions? I was also a little disappointed in the uniforms. I may be an old fart, but I still like the uniformes of ST:TOS, and the ones from ST:THE Wrath of Khan, etc., Not to happy with the spandex on Next Gen, etc. Also, if you noticed in the great hall on the wall was the Federation seal of the Grand Alliance (next gen).
    The Grand Alliance did not happen until the Federation and the Klingon Empire became allies. I know John will say that all this stuff is part of the Star Trek cannon, but I think it is important. By the way, I also did not like it in ST:TNG when Wesley Crusher was given command of the Enterprise-D another “Ship of the Line” and the only “Galaxy” class starship left. Anyway, thanks for letting me share my thoughts. I will go set this movie again. Got to go, Stargate is on the Sci-Fi (not SYFY) John you need to start a thred on that one!!! Channel.
    Live Long And Prosper!!!!

  95. I do question who Capt. Pike could put a Starfleet Cadet (Kirk) as X.O. of the “Flagship of the Fleet”

    Given that EVERYONE (except Spock) were cadets (though this was a contrived situation), I’m not sure how valid a question this is.

  96. gwangung:

    My understanding is that Sulu and Chekov (as well as Spock) weren’t cadets – they were the only ones other than Pike and Spock in officers’ uniforms when the ships left Earth.

  97. Annalee @ 82:

    Hmm, it really passed Bechdel-Wallace? The closest I remember is Uhura and her roommate, and that seemed kind of overshadowed by the whole “boy under the bed who we are explicitly not talking about” bit…

    (And congratulations!)

  98. My understanding is that Sulu and Chekov (as well as Spock) weren’t cadets – they were the only ones other than Pike and Spock in officers’ uniforms when the ships left Earth.

    Well, that was sure one cadet-like mistake when the Big E tried to take off, then…

  99. I kinda saw it this way, gwangung: You’re a junior pilot, you’re on a skeleton crew of a ship parked up and not planned to go anywhere. You have no expectation of having control yourself for a number of years. Then your superiors are either absent or sick, so you have to do it. I’d sure as hell be nervous.

    I’m a lawyer, and it’d be like my partner, and senior staff solicitors being ill in my first year of practice and being asked to run a high-powered meeting with govt officials.

    Anyway, not a huge point, but I don’t really think it’s a plot problem.

  100. I really liked it (I’ve seen it twice so far).

    The technobabble about a supernova going to destroy the galaxy and red matter caused some major eyebrow raises…but what the heck, if you’re willing to accept artificial gravity, transporters, tractor beams, warp drive and starships being built in Iowa cornfields, why get picky :) ?

    The most important metric, IMHO, though, was that both my 15 year old daughter and my wife loved it. Enough so that they’re both talking about going back to see it again. Attracting new fans is a LOT more important than anything else, at least for those of us who want to be able to look forward to more Trek movies.

  101. I remember thinking that fleshy red crab creature chasing Kirk on Delta-Vega looked a little unprotected against the elements.

    And btw, why would it chase down Kirk when it’s leaving the larger ice-bear kill to be stolen. Bird in the hand rule. Or maybe evolution favors the greedy fleshy crab in ice worlds…

  102. “There were a couple of bothersome things about it.
    First, if Nero knew he was 120+ years back in time, and waited 20 years to capture the ship that had the plot device used to destroy the supernova a little too late, why didn’t he just fly to Romulus and destroy the pre-supernova star 119 years before it blew up his planet? (The action and f/x were good enough I didn’t actually notice this during the movie).

    The original cut of the movie explains this….Nero and his men (and his ship) were captured by the Klingons and thrown in prison. Remember that bit about the Klingon transmissions and a prison planet that Uhura translated? That was it. You can see the klingons from the escape in one of the trailers, but it was cut from the film because audiences found it confusing, or so I hear.


  104. The original cut of the movie explains this….Nero and his men (and his ship) were captured by the Klingons and thrown in prison. Remember that bit about the Klingon transmissions and a prison planet that Uhura translated? That was it. You can see the klingons from the escape in one of the trailers, but it was cut from the film because audiences found it confusing, or so I hear.

    Really? That doesn’t make sense either–shouldn’t the Klingons reverse engineer some of the future tech and then really put the hurt on the Federation?

  105. Why you would build spaceships in Iowa, that’s the real question.

    The spaceship yards at L5 had a tremendous amount of expensive legacy infrastructure and astronomical labor costs.

    Star Fleet discovered they can pay Iowa farmers a fraction what the unionized space jockeys command.

  106. Actually, I didn’t even mind the science being wrong. At least it is better than the Star Gate science problems – lord, who do they get on as Science advisors for THAT crap? :-)

    As a serious critique, at least they (probably) know that the Mellinium Falcon’s Kessel run should have been measured in units of time, rather than parsecs. I could wish they knew what the hell they were talking about, but since scientific plausibility doesn’t sell well, I’ll suffice with something enjoyable coupled with flashing the occasional glance toward the celestial teleprompter when the crap runs particularly deep.

  107. To be honest, I don’t hive a shit about ‘red matter’ or black holes. I was really disturbed, however, that I watched the murder of six billion — the near total genocide of a race — and thought “really cool FX”. Probably been totally spoiled by Battlestar Galactica, but should mass murder really be so… weightless?

    OH, and I never thought I’d type these words: Feel really sorry for Wynona Ryder. Three lines, hag-i-licious makeup (I know Vulcan’s climate must play merry hell with your complexion, but they’ve not invented moisturizer?), and her last scene made no fucking sense at all except as a set up to be killed.

  108. Before I complain, I need to preface this with: I LOVED IT! Best Trek movie I’ve seen, umm, ever. The actors resonated with me in a way that the actors in ToS never could.

    The science made me shudder too. I was like seriously, did you need to add that one last moment of impending doom? Also, they were inconsistent with it. For example: I noticed in the opening sequence, when some random person was sucked out into space, there was no sound. But later, when there was a space battle going on, there was sound. What gives?

    And why did they pick Wynona Ryder to be Mrs. Mommy Spock? Was she twelve when she had him?

    And what was up with the flaring camera lenses? Every little bit of light made the screen go white. Seriously?

  109. And why did they pick Wynona Ryder to be Mrs. Mommy Spock?

    Is she a closet Trekkie? Otherwise, she’s the required Big Name you need to get the film made in a cast full of unknowns…(think she’s still bigger than Leonard Nimoy)…

  110. she’s the required Big Name you need to get the film made in a cast full of unknowns

    I assure you that Winona Ryder was not the “name” that allowed the film to get made with a cast of unknown. The name that got the film made was JJ Abrams.

  111. I assure you that Winona Ryder was not the “name” that allowed the film to get made with a cast of unknown. The name that got the film made was JJ Abrams.

    Seriously? Always understood there had to be a couple names in the cast for financing from foreign sources.

    Now I know the deal itself doesn’t get put together without Abrams, but does he command that kind of financial clout for the foreign end of things? I thought only Spielberg and a couple other folks had it from the directors chair….

  112. Lots of people are kevetching because a cadet/recent grad is given a position of great command responsibilty. Ancient Science Fiction plot device.

    Kimbal Kinnison in Glacatic Patrol is give a major command upon graduation and told he will be made permanent Capitan if he is sucessful (he is), his son in Children of the Lens is given the most serious problem that currently exists because tradition now is that if the Galactic Patol and Lensmen can’t handle it give it to the senior Academy graduate. E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith.

    Heinlein has a cadet assigned as XO in Space Cadet who becomes acting CO in the book. Starman Jones isn’t military but the same plot device.

    Why are cadets in regular uniform? There can be no questions about chain of command in combat. Starship Troopers or U.S. Army Basic Training circa 1968 (personal knowledge).

    Pournell in one of the Falkenberg novels has a prisoner of war going to warrant or commisioned officer in the space of 30 seconds.

  113. Always understood there had to be a couple names in the cast for financing from foreign sources.

    It’s Star Trek. It doesn’t follow the normal rules because it has its own fandom and financial ecosystem. Also, the film was produced by Paramount, which is a studio, and Spyglass Entertainment, which almost certainly has long-term financing deals with its investors (i.e., you buy into a slate of films rather than a single film). Neither of these are one-shot production companies.

    In any event, Winona Ryder is definitely not at this point an actress whose presence in a major film would sway investors, considering her last major hit was seven years ago, and it wasn’t a “Winona Ryder” vehicle, it was an Adam Sandler film. The last film she may have been an investor magnet for was Alien Resurrection, which was 12 years ago.

  114. Doesn’t Niven use super novae destroying the galaxy as a theme in the Ringworld series?

    And everybody knows that red matter is safe in quantity, it is only when lonely that it becomes dangerous.

    Physicists have strange senses of humor, who was the safe cracker at Los Alamos? Feynman? The measure of atomic collision cross section is a barn, as in can’t hit the broad side of. A tenth of a barn is a shed.

  115. I’m sorry, but I can’t think about Star Trek without “Galaxy Quest” coming to mind.

  116. two to the seventh comments and it hasn’t degenerated into a Star Wars vs Star Trek, my franchise has a bigger dick than your franchise, who-would-win fanwank. I didn’t realize that was possible on internets! Hooray whatever!

  117. I watched it this weekend. I enjoyed it. My wife couldn’t get over how well the young Spock matched so perfectly the old Spock.

    Issues, I have issues…

    The red matter was indeed an issue with me. Why was there so much of it, it one ship? Maybe that get’s talked about in the prequel comics.

    When the hell did Checkov become the transporter genius? Yeah, I understand we didn’t have Scottie on board at the time, but Checkov? The transporter became the miracle worker. And we didn’t get any complaints from Bones about it either.

    And now we’ve got Kirk as Captain at age 25, instead of the 33 or thereabouts from the TV series. Yeah, he is still the youngest Captain, but by another 8 years??

    And what happened to Captain April???

  118. Enjoyed the film but it’s not really Roddenberry’s Star Trek. It’s a space action film. Heck, the rebooted James Bond series has more meat to it these days.

  119. Seriously? Always understood there had to be a couple names in the cast for financing from foreign sources.

    Yeah, but Winona Ryder? I love ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and ‘Heathers’ still has its sick thrills, but that was eighteen years ago.

    There’s also the counter-argument that if you’re trying to make a very expensive, very risky FX-laden film ‘names’ are actually a liability because they charge accordingly. NO disrespect to the cast of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that thing wasn’t exactly cast from the top of the A-list.

  120. Enjoyed the film but it’s not really Roddenberry’s Star Trek. It’s a space action film.

    Doesn’t that tilt it more to the Gene Coon side?

  121. I saw the movie on Sunday with my 14 year old son. The amazing thing is that I was expecting to go by myself, but he expressed interest based on seeing the trailers.

    He has never been interested in Star Trek, despite my past encouragement based on almost 40 years of liking it myself (in all forms). We both really enjoyed it.

    I thought it was well done, both from a character and story viewpoint. No, it isn’t perfect, but it was an entertaining film. Getting hung up on canon or “canon” at this point just dooms the franchise to extinction.

    It is science fiction after all, so why all the hang ups about something being a little too “out there” to work. Again, this is a movie and not a documentary. Bringing in new fans and keeping the old ones (yes, that’s me) in the loop is important.

    I think this movie accomplished this. It was better than I had expected. I had high hopes, but was basing expectations on previous films. The important thing is that my 14 year old is now interested in Star Trek.

    If that means it is new and different, so be it. But I feel that this movie still kept enough of it’s roots to make me feel a part of it too. Just my two cents.

  122. WizarDruon: Spending some time in a Klingon prison doesn’t really change the plot hole so big they literally drive a supernova throught it. The events in the movie take place a century before the supernova, but Nero prefers genocide to saving the world he’s so upset over being destroyed.

    Though, again, I’m not complaining. It’s a very Star Trek sort of plot, and I liked the movie a great deal.

    Though the subtitle should have been Space Pirates and the Magical Lava Lamp.

  123. Eddie @ 108: I believe gold is the Command/Helm color (per TOS colors), so they’re not all officers. :)

    Rob @ 127: At one point during the film, I turned to my boy and whispered, “You are our last hope.”

    Now for my tuppence…

    I really really enjoyed this film. I’ve been a fan of the series since I was a child (I grew up with TNG) but not a single movie made me do what I did after this film – sit in my chair and say, “Can we just sit here and watch it again?” I am going to see it in IMAX next.

    My only complaint is that the battle sequences went so quickly I often didn’t get a chance to really SEE what happened. But all that did was get me all excited and on the edge of my seat, so is it really a negative…? Nah.

    The cast was brilliantly… well, cast. Despite the inside jokes (which made me giggle for much of the film and bounce in my chair excitedly), they were giving nods to the previous actors, but going in their own directions with the characters. I am really excited to see what else develops from this! And I have several friends thanking me for recommending the film – friends who were not Trek fans before.

  124. Doesn’t that tilt it more to the Gene Coon side?

    Yes. YESS! THAT was the equation!!

    About bloody time Trek found someone to channel Gene Coon back into it. About bloody time.

    I wonder if Ande’s still around to appreciate it?

    Paging Ms. Fontana, Ms. D. C. Fontana…

  125. Okay, I’ve slept on it and I’m still of the opinion that the writers involved with the portrayal of Montgomery Scott’s character in the new film should all server prison time for malpractice of their craft. Was it me, or did everything around that character seem to (1) make no since what-so-ever, and (2) make Scotty look like a bit of a dodgy buffoon?

    Thanks for letting me vent. I really needed to say that.

  126. “Spending some time in a Klingon prison doesn’t really change the plot hole so big they literally drive a supernova throught it. The events in the movie take place a century before the supernova, but Nero prefers genocide to saving the world he’s so upset over being destroyed.

    The two are NOT mutually exclusive, as he explains to Kirk in the film. He blames the Federation for the death of his people in the future…and SPECIFICALLY FOR THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE AND FAMILY. The Romulan miners don’t know how to get back to the future, so for them, the Romulus they know is dead. Their goal is destroy the Federation first and save Romulus second (as you point out, they’ve got A LOT of time left to do it).

    “Really? That doesn’t make sense either–shouldn’t the Klingons reverse engineer some of the future tech and then really put the hurt on the Federation?”

    Turns out I was wrong: Nero was captured, but not his ship. It’s apparently still in the novelization and covered partly in the prequel comic. Of course, it’s entirely consistent with the way the Klingons have been written that they might arrogantly ignore a Romulan mining ship for use in war. But it would be a stretch.

  127. Goodness, I loved this movie! About that “red matter” stuff… I’d like some slightly less potent stuff (pink matter, perhaps?) to cause the cars my neighbors park in my driveway to implode and disappear.

    Star Trek may not provide us with real science, but it does provide enough pseudo science for many happy hours of revenge fantasies.

    Oh, and Simon Pegg. I LOVE this guy!

  128. To Gwangung@107
    I know that Star Trek XI was made to restart the franchise and to get younger people to become intrested in ST. I am all for that. Givening Cadet Kirk command of the Starship Enterprise is like giveing a U.S. Naval Academey Midshipmen the command of the real U.S.S. Enterprise (aircraft carrier).
    There were no other command rank officers on the bridge?
    Even on a training vessel (like the USCG Cutter Eagle) has more than one comissioned officer on board. As you can see, I really get into uniforms, flags, etc. Other than these minor things, i really liked the movie and will see it again.

  129. I have a question for everyone out there who’s saying, “I don’t worry about the science. It’s just Star Trek, after all.”

    Granted, Trek has never been about the science. Still, I’m curious–what level of scientific illiteracy would it take to throw you out of the story? How low would Trek have to go before you stopped buying it?

    Serious question. Not trying to be snarky. The topic just interests me. Clearly, this movie crossed my bullshit threshold. Where’s yours?

  130. @142:

    Even though Trek is supposed to take place in the future of the real world and therefore follow our laws of physics, etc. it’s really a space opera, not hard sci-fi. That means its science doesn’t have to be any more sensible or credible than magic. If I let Trek trip my bullshit switch, I’d have to let LotR trip it too.

  131. A couple of great things about the film that I’m suprised havent’ been mentioned.

    Firstly is the going to Warp special effects, the build up noise, and then the sub-BOOM that explodes them into the distance. Loved that each time they did it.

    Also when they came out of warp into the debris and firefight.
    All calm, out of warp in 3.2.1. CHAOS, turn turn turn.
    You can put the co-ordinates into the computer for where you want to come out of warp, but it was always so tidy, you come out of warp, drive around a bit, see the bad stuff etc.
    Here they really did land in a firefight, and it was excellent.
    And put an extra gold star on Chekov and Sulu for excellent driving :)

  132. Okay, I kind of skimmed, and didn’t see anyone complain about this, so I have to ask (and feel okay about asking this because of the spoiler-warning)–

    On the way back from Vulcan, young-Spock throws Kirk out of the ship onto Delta-Vega in a moment of temporary insanity. He crawls out of his pod, gets chased by a polarish bear. The bear randomly gets eaten by an ice-crab, which starts chasing Kirk in through what really seems like a dream-sequence. Kirk runs into a cave, where old-Spock JUST HAPPENS TO BE. This absolutely killed me. Killed. They couldn’t have come up with some way for them to find each other that made remote sense? Even meeting up in the Starfleet outpost there would have been almost reasonable, but a random cave on a nearly uninhabitable world? I’d like to hear what Spock says about those odds.

    Please tell me I’m missing something. (I really liked the movie, by the way, just got hung up on this.)

  133. This is the only discussion thread I’ve seen that caught the Alias reference with the red matter sphere.

    I think that was just purely a JJ Abrams easter egg, science be damned.

  134. @142 and 143.

    It’s not about tripping the BS meter. I noticed, and groaned a bit, at both the red matter and the star eating the galaxy. But I’m going to the movie to HAVE FUN, not sit there and be Mr. Picky. People who watch for continuity issues, pick apart minor plot issues and whine about scientific issues in a work that has several impossible things in it already just mystify me. There’s certainly a sub-genre of SF for those folks who want their fictional worlds to conform the the universe as we know it, but ST doesn’t belong to it (nor does the OMW series for that matter). If you ask me to do a single leap of faith and then tell me a good story, I’m fine with that. Asking me to do multiple leaps of faith is an issue.

    The only thing that bothered me was that the huge globe of red matter didn’t suck in Nero’s ship ASAP at the end when a small drop destroyed a planet since that seemed to be an internal inconsistency. I let it go because it was minor and in the realization that this is a 2 hour movie, not a 400 page book where taking a few pages to cover the nature of red matter would be not a big deal.

    PS: interesting that everyone is getting hung up on the red matter issue but not the more prosaic issue of where the heck Old Spock got firewood on an ice planet.

  135. Rick @147: “But I’m going to the movie to HAVE FUN, not sit there and be Mr. Picky.”

    Well, so am I, Rick. I’m there to be entertained, every bit as much as you are.

    But in the case of this movie, the science was so bad–much more egregious, in my view, than any previous Trek film (a debatable point, I know)–that I was shocked out of the story. I stopped buying it. Believe me when I tell you, I didn’t want that to happen.

    So again, I ask, at what point would you be shocked out of a story? How bad would the science have to be? I mean, if you saw the Enterprise in orbit around a flat Earth that floated on the back of a giant turtle, I doubt you would buy that, right? Even in a Trek film? Everyone has a bullshit threshold, don’t they?

  136. @142

    For me, honestly, it just depends on a willing suspension of disbelief. If you’ve got a solid director, script, and actors, you can sell me a lot of BS and I’ll go for it, as long as you can make me believe. In my case, this movie delivered on all that.

    If Uwe Boll is directing the movie, or it stars Lorenzo Lamas, or it was written by Robert Rodriguez’s kids, then not so much.

    There’s obviously a great distance between the two, but I’m not sure I can pin it down anymore than that. YMMV.

  137. Matthew@142/148:

    I find Clarke’s law to be instructive here: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    I take your point about irreffutably estabished science, i.e. the generally spherical shape of the Earth, but red matter could be anything we just don’t know about yet and might discover in the next ~200 years. Just like Warp Drive, transporters, matter replicators… in for a penny, in for a pound, and all that.

    I’m mystified that people spend so much energy nitpicking this stuff in a work of fiction set so far in the future. How plausible do you think people in the Renaissance would have considered microwave ovens and cellphones- nevermind real world-changers like antibiotics or the Internet?

    My point is: don’t let ‘bad’ science ruin a good time at the movies. It’s counterproductive.

  138. …As an aside, I’m also an adherent to Clarke’s corollary:

    “Any technology distingishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.”


  139. My first impression was that the Red Matter was a large sphere of strange matter, a ‘liquid’ composed of quarks. Calling it Red matter makes sense in a way, since quarks carry a ‘color charge’ (It has no relation at all to actual color though, it’s just used to describe how quarks interact with other quarks via the nuclear strong force. The sphere being bright crimson was a little silly).

    The way the Red Matter was handled also suggests it might have supposed to have been strange matter. Stable strange matter would (probably) convert normal matter into additional strange matter on contact, so suspending the glob of strange matter in some sort of force field or magnetic field makes sense.

    It even (almost) makes sense that strange matter could be used to create a singularity because it would be far more dense than the same mass of atomic matter. But if it is supposed to be strange matter the part about igniting Red Matter is ridiculous and a singularity with the mass of a planet (or ship) would exert the same force on nearby objects as the planet (or ship) it was formed from, no more and no less, so being unable to warp away from the Nerada-singularity makes no sense at all.

    (Disclaimer: I am not a scientist.)

  140. No, not quarks, but gluons. They come in red, green and blue (really, they do!).

    Actually, if this were a ST:TNG movie, it should have been some kind of //particle//, like a “beam of iota-omicron particles”. Nothing happened in TNG without some particle being the culprit.

  141. to paraphrase another poster:
    I came
    I saw
    It sucked (big donkey ****).
    I leave the why as an exercise for the class as I don’t want to bore everyone with my 20 page (and counting) monograph on the subject. (the next students in my Science in Science Fiction class won’t be so lucky!)
    Though here is one reason that I haven’t seen mentioned here (could have missed it though).
    Why worry about CHEATING at the academy when a senior prof officer can pork an undergrad under his command and nobody cares? Well, not quite correct, everyone seems to be absolutely thrilled about the fact. No one has ever heard of the UCMJ?
    (and basic ethics? naw, Vulcans don’t know nothin’ about ethics….and everyone knows Vulcans are stooopid too…..)
    There WERE a couple of things that kept me from walking out of the theater (I’ve only done that for the Pelican Brief, not coincidentally written (the book) by another hack (but a very nice guy who has done Good Things with his earnings)).
    Those couple of things were Simon Pegg and Karl Urban chewing the scenery as Scott and Bones. Very enjoyable and hilarious. Very easy to do also, as any honest actor will tell you. And a shout-out to Bruce Greenwood and Ben Cross for their usual highly professional work (Greenwood was probably the best of the cast, IMNSHO).
    Finally, Winona Ryder was IN this movie? who knew? (obviously not worth watching again to look for her).
    And please, no replies if, as most of you do, you disagree. That’s your right, for whatever reason, and is what makes movie criticism interesting.

  142. Matthew Rotundo, it’s nice to see someone else who shares my opinion, THANKS! It’s no use arguing with the fanboys though: if they’ve decided they want to like a movie, NOTHING will shock them out of it. They’d even find ways to explain your flat earth on the back of a tortoise scenario (after all, it WAS all explained in the graphic novel etc. etc. whatever…..or well, what Spock MEANT to say was……or, or, the science was ALWAYS bad…).

  143. Oh so now we’re down to name calling.. people who liked the movie are silly fanboys and those who didn’t are enlightened people with taste. Right. Enjoy your course of Pretentious Ego.

    Mathew – you don’t get to whine about bad science when you willingly accept FTL and teleportation without an eyeblink. ST was never about science as we know it now.

    @150 got it right. The rest of you I feel kind of sorry for as you must suck the enjoyment out of anything that doesn’t meet your little checklists.

  144. I’ve seen it now and I liked the movie.

    I thought the standouts in the cast were Karl Urban and Ben Cross, followed by Zachary Quinto who had the Spock “look” down absolutely pat.

    I could forgive a lot of plot holes and bad science because it was Trek (I saw “Spock’s Brain” and “The Omega Glory” as a kid), so the one thing that I had the hardest time wrapping my head around was Simon Pegg. I thought he did an excellent job playing someone who wasn’t Scotty.

  145. Hey, animated ST got Niven’s Kzinti- if Pratchett’s Discworld showed up, I’d think it was more of the same.

  146. @142
    I pretty much agree with #149.

    I have a BS in Chemistry. Real science is one of my loves, but I don’t go to the movies expecting serious science. When discussing politics and management fads; my BS (of the bovine kind) meter is set really low.
    That said, I also went back to school and work as a psychiatric nurse. I spend a large chunk of my time listening to peoples’ hallucinations and delusions — so I can suspend my disbelief pretty easily.

  147. coolstar:

    I’m disagree with your review, but am only going to point out the factual errors you made:

    1) They probably haven’t heard of the UCMJ – I understand that’s a US document that’d be several hundred years old by the time of the movie. And do countries even still exist in Star Trek? I forget.

    2) I understand that the Federation isn’t supposed to be a military organisation per se, anyway.

    3) Most Universities in the US today don’t forbid student/staff relationships. They’re discouraged, but they’re not by themselves grounds for dismissal or even discipline without something more.

    4) Actually, the only people I’ve see who DISlike the movie are fervent star trek fanboys, so I’m not sure of the point you’re making.

  148. Rick:

    I agree. Worry about bad science in your congresspeople, textbooks, journalism, and documentaries. Not your movies :).

  149. 3) Most Universities in the US today don’t forbid student/staff relationships. They’re discouraged, but they’re not by themselves grounds for dismissal or even discipline without something more.

    Assuming Spock is an instructor and not an adjunct appointment.

    If he’s Pine’s Chief of Staff or assigned to his staff, and he’s doing the Kobayashi Maru test as an outside, non Academy officer, then all bets are off, I think…

  150. It’s a movie, folks. Suspension of belief is par for the course. The Canadian Enterprise has yet to built . . . James Tiberius Kirk has yet to be born in the corn fields of Saskatchewan.

  151. Congratulations Annalee!

    My favourite bit was the assembling of the “away team” for the destruction of the mining platform: Kirk, Sulu and Ensign Olsen. Olsen was even wearing red.

    I whispered to my buddy “I give Olsen two minutes”; he suitably died. I should have had a stop watch.


  152. Rick @156: “Mathew – you don’t get to whine about bad science when you willingly accept FTL and teleportation without an eyeblink.”

    That’s a false choice, Rick. I’m not required to choose between “hard science” and “anything goes.” I fall somewhere between those two extremes, as I believe most people do.

    My suspension of disbelief is elastic–but not infinitely so. FTL, teleportation, and even time travel are well-established SF tropes outside of Trek. But in the case of this movie, my suspension of disbelief snapped under the combined strain of a supernova threatening the entire galaxy, some magical lava lamp goop that produces singularities, and the particularly harebrained scheme to save Romulus from said supernova using a singularity (because it’s so much more preferable to have your home planet next to a black hole than a supernova). There’s my bullshit threshold.

    (These were not my only complaints about the film, BTW. My bill of particulars was quite lengthy. I won’t clutter up this space with it, but you can find it on my blog, if you’re interested.)

    And for the record, I never called anybody any names. I am fascinated, though, by the notion that some fans of science fiction don’t care a lick about science. So I thought I’d explore that a bit.

  153. My little moment in the movie (which I enjoyed and also felt the nitpicks mentioned above) was when I heard Majal’s voice as the computer in Spock’s ship. I was so excited to hear her and watched the credits to make sure it was really her voice, not an impersonator since she passed away a little while ago. She was credited as Majal Barrett Roddenberry. I heard them mention Nurse Chapel in the movie but I don’t think she was actually seen.

  154. Matt @166

    I’m reading Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross – in it is a Supernova wave that threatens/destroys a galaxy. I guess he doesn’t care about science, huh?

    Saying that you are fascinated “by the notion that some fans of science fiction don’t care a lick about science.” and not seeing that as calling people names is disingenuous. I care about science, just not in this movie. The science “works” in the Star Trek universe, and that’s all I care about. I also care about real science. But that’s not Star Trek – not even close.

    Your page on nitpicks misses a few point, quite dramatically. The Supernova was not going to destroy everything – but it was going to destroy Romulus. It didn’t expand slowly, it started faster than they thought it was going to so they had to hurry. If you are going to poke holes in something, you should probably know what you are poking holes in.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether or not you liked it, or even whether or not you sit around and find ways to actively dislike it – you won’t ruin my enjoyment of the film in any way. I kinda feel sorry for people like yourself who find ways to ruin what little joy the world throws our way. I do, though, take issue with your “don’t care about science” comment, so I just thought I’d let you know that.

  155. Corby @168:

    Haven’t read the Stross. Can’t comment on it.

    Some reading comprehension fail here, I’m afraid. I said some fans don’t care about the science. You saw fit to take that as a personal jab. Not sure why, but that’s not my problem.

    Take issue with the comment all you like. I stand by it. Let’s just peruse some of the comments here:

    “I’m not worried about the science.”

    “Oh, and science schmience!”

    “Actually, I didn’t even mind the science being wrong.”

    And so on. Not making a value judgment; I’m just callin’ it like I see it. And it interests me, because it strikes me as a dichotomy.

    But you say you care about science. Great. Glad to hear it. So I come back to my original question: What level of scientific illiteracy would it take to shock you out of the story?

    Seriously. I’m curious.

    (And you kinda contradicted yourself in that last paragraph. Did you notice? In one sentence, you said I couldn’t ruin your enjoyment of the film–which is fine with me, since such was never my intention–and in the next, you said I “find ways to ruin what little joy the world throws our way.”)

    (Oh, and I’m touched that you feel sorry for me. It’s nice to know you care, but I’m fine, thanks. Really.)

  156. Adrienne@167m,

    Good point- where was the young Nurse Chapel? My guess is they didn’t want her presence interfering with the Spock/Uhura relationship.

  157. My guess is they didn’t want her presence interfering with the Spock/Uhura relationship.

    I don’t see any reason Christine Chapel would be “fated” to have a hopeless unrequited crush on Spock. That the first Chapel did in TOS was, per David Gerrold, mostly a dramatic device to highlight Vulcan emotional unapproachability and/or Spock’s internal conflicts.

    Also, it should be remembered that she “fell in love with” Spock after her fiancee went nuts, created robots, fell in love with one of them, and got killed (or killed himself, can’t remember). Someone who prized logic over passion would have looked really really good to her after that, methinks.

  158. @Matthew 169 – not caring about “the” science (i.e. the science in this particular movie) does not equal not caring about science. In your first comment you said the latter, and Corby responded naturally with “hey! Not caring about science in my movies is not the same as not caring about science at all!” If it was a typo, it was a typo, so be it.

    Some of the other complaints raised:

    A black hole can be orbited the same way anything else with a gravitational pull can be orbited. The problem wasn’t being “near” a supernova, it was being “in” a supernova. So if you can compress the star… then you just have to figure out where to get your light/heat/energy from! But it gives time to evacuate, at least.

    The red matter couldn’t just be dropped into the oceans or something because it had to be raised above some threshhold temperature (ignited). Strapping it onto a missile, now…

    “Red matter” is also not that far off from other names scientists have given things. Undetectable matter? Dark matter! Undetectable energy? Dark energy! Areas of such great gravitational intensity that even light cannot escape? Black holes! y’know, ‘cuz they’re dark…

    If I had an emotional investment in the trek world, I would probably feel differently about taking that sort of thing for granted – I’d want to know how the discovery fit in to the rest of the world and the rest of their science, etc.

  159. Hello there,

    personally I enjoyed the movie even if had to endure it dubbed in italian as I live in Italy (I’ll have to wait for the DVD to hear how it is in original).

    I agree mostly with rick @147, but the scene I have most qualms with is the orbital jump to the drilling platform. Why does the Space Shuttlle have all that ceramic stuff on the bottom when all you have to do to re-enter atmosphere is wearing a nice-looking, tight-fitting costume to avoid burning up? The stupidity made me laugh, but didn’t ruin my experience.
    (BTW the friend who went with me to the theather was wearing a fake red-shirt with the text Expendable on it, and during this scene half a dozen people turned to look at him maybe expecting him to burst into flames.)

  160. Why does the Space Shuttlle have all that ceramic stuff on the bottom when all you have to do to re-enter atmosphere is wearing a nice-looking, tight-fitting costume to avoid burning up?

    My impression is that the Shuttle is dumping from orbital velocity, while all you’re worried about when jumping from a shuttle is terminal velocity with respect to a drill which is stationary over a planet.

  161. @169, Matthew:

    As a science fiction fan who doesn’t care about the science in my fiction (and therefore apparently some kind of bizarre paradox), allow me to illuminate:
    Speculative fiction, as a genre, is just about the only genre telling the kinds of stories I want to read. Period. I like to read, and I’m not into Dan Brown or Tom Clancy or the various other authors in those genres, I don’t care to read about how America is great, or Iran is bad, or the Church has Big Bad Secrets. I find it tiresome. On the other hand, I like being exposed to new ideas. Basically, I just like to think. And I think that having a precisely calibrated scientific bullshit alarm would put a serious dent in my ability to enjoy myself.

    So, a decade ago, when the Star Wars franchise started pumping out the New Jedi Order series, I didn’t throw a fit about how “it’s dumb that they’re calling a singularity a “void” when it’s the exact opposite” or “starships made out of coral could never work” or “Lightsabers are absurd because you can’t make a laser just stop 3 feet from where it starts, in open air”

    Because if I’d gotten upset about those things, that’s 20+ books, all of which I really enjoyed, that I wouldn’t have read.

  162. PJ @175,

    PJ, thanks–but I still don’t understand. In one breath, you say you like SF because you like to think. In the next, you describe how you have to shut off your brain in order to enjoy certain SF books and movies. See what I mean about the dichotomy?

    But let’s leave that aside for the moment. Your comparison of Star Trek to Star Wars strikes me as apples to oranges. Let’s face it: Star Wars is fantasy, not SF. The Force, midi-chlorians notwithstanding, is a kind of magic.

    I hold Trek to a slightly higher scientific standard than Star Wars, because Trek (for the most part) eschews magic.

    Why don’t we try comparing Trek to Trek? I just finished watching Wrath of Khan again. Let’s compare the biggest extrapolative whopper in that film–Project Genesis–with Red Matter, shall we?

    Like Red Matter, Genesis poses a lot of scientific problems, which any competent biologist, chemist, or physicist should be able to explain. But I still managed to buy Genesis, for purposes of the movie. Why? Consider the following:

    We are told that Genesis reorganizes molecular structure at the subatomic level into life-giving matter of equal mass. We are shown a device–with the aid of some very cool computer animation–that effectuates said reorganization. The testing for the device follows a logical path–first in a laboratory, then in a lifeless underground, and finally on a planetary scale.

    Note how skillfully we are being manipulated here.

    The reorganization is at the subatomic level. Seems reasonable. The “equal mass” bit is a very nice touch–conforming to the law of conservation of matter. The device releases a great deal of energy, as we would expect subatomic fiddling to do. Furthermore, Dr. Carol Marcus demonstrates rigorous attention to detail by insisting that the test site be completely lifeless. “There can’t be so much as a microbe,” she says, “or the show’s off.” The scientists–especially David Marcus–are also well aware of the ethical minefield they’re negotiating. We even get to see Carol making a proposal to the Federation to get funding for the experiments.

    All these details work toward verisimilitude. Not reality, not hard SF–verisimilitude. Exactly how Genesis works is never explained, but it doesn’t matter. The filmmakers do enough heavy lifting to make it all seem plausible, albeit just barely. So even though a part of me knows that Genesis is a load of hooey–and the older I get, the more ridiculous it sounds–even so, I’m still able to suspend my disbelief. And as a result, the film works.

    The current Trek never achieved that level for me. It never even tried. What’s most maddening about this is that the filmmakers wouldn’t have had to work very hard to make the pseudoscience plausible. (Hell, the famous Genesis demo only takes about two minutes of screen time.) That they couldn’t be bothered to make the attempt shows a real disdain for their audience.

    I submit, PJ, that you shouldn’t have to put your brain on hold in order to enjoy SF. I’m willing to work a little to suspend my disbelief. But I’m not gonna do all the work.

    And you know, I think I’ve babbled enough here. If I haven’t made my point yet, I doubt I ever will. I’ll keep popping in to see if there are any responses, but I’ll leave the last word to others. Have at, and thanks for reading.

  163. I thought the red matter was actually an awesome homage to JJ and the giant spinning red ball of death from Alias.

  164. One request to my fellow Trekkies: Please refrain from calling Nimoy’s Spock “old Spock.” It’s been driving me up the wall. We should be calling him Ambassador Spock. The youthful Spock wouldn’t qualify for the little, so we can differentiate easily.


  165. I had no problem with “red matter”, which I took to mean a condensate of isolated quarks, all of the same “color”. Certainly it would require untold energy to confine these, fighting as they would, like indeterminate cats in a sack, against Pauli Exclusion.

    If you totally missed this interpretation, please be aware that your geek credentials will already have been auto-endorsed. Credit may be regained if you can explain wtf this sack might be, optically, _red_?

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