Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 006


Previous: STbtM 005 
We are on the bridge of the evil ship, Capt. Robau answers his captor's question with: "I am unfamiliar with Ambassador Spock." OK, while it may be true, it is unhelpful and an incredibly stupid response that we would not accept from a 19 year old intern answering phones for two-bit software firms in the year 2009, yet this dialogue is supposed to be coming from a ship captain? Did I mention this is not the skipper of a Pentaran mining shuttle? This command sits in the big chair for a top-of-the-line starship on a deep space exploration mission, in a future with what we hope is a passable education system. As might have been said in a performance review feedback for corrective action: "The correct response, Captain Robau, is to offer to assistance in finding the information or a resource that can provide an answer if there is one, or offer assistance in formulating options if there an answer is unavailable. Is that clear?"

For no reason, the Romulan then asks: "What is the current stardate?" which is beyond explanation. Did the Romulans suddenly decide to ignore their quest for vengeance against Spock? If they did have a major update to their information, they must realize they reappeard from a black hole (ridiculous) far in time and space from when they entered. If they wanted confirmation of their time and location requesting information about Spock and his ship make no sense. Robau replies: "Stardate? 2233.04. Where are you from?" Captain Nero decides he's had enough chatter via his intermediary and opens the cool switchblade tip on his spear, howls, and leaps toward the Captain - apparently Robau got the point. J

Now, as I recall from my single, torturous viewing, Nero went back in time and was after Spock because Romulus had been destroyed. Let's put ourselves in this situation: we've seen a horrible disaster like this, after which something inexplicable occurs and we are transported back in time prior to the catastrophe. What would you, I, or anyone do? Might we follow the most basic instinct for survival and act to avoid it? Discovering we now can easily save our entire world, families, and everything which was lost would be, well, "good" wouldn't it? No, J.J. Abrams doesn't want characters who are so predictable, he wants excitement and grittiness! His characters are full of surprises, and Nero is no exception. Rather than the typical celebration that one might expect at what everyone else would consider a miraculous answer to one's most heartfelt prayers, Nero flies into a rage and murders Robau, the bringer of the great news. This is silly, nonsensical writing.

Back on the Kelvin bridge, where everyone has been uselessly staring at a new, more anatomically correct schematic of Robau, that visual goes red and "TERMINATED" is overlaid in bright red caps. Great graphic for a sci fi movie tie-in, terrible for medical accuracy or sensibility. Exactly what was terminated? The data feed? Respiration? Did the pulse rate drop to zero? Silly.
A bridge officer announces, "Sir, they locked on our signal. They're launching again!" Capt. George Kirk calls for "Bravo six maneuver, fire full…" and the rest of the order is obscured by explosions as we cut to the exterior battle scene where we see a massive barrage from a dozen or more phasers and pulse cannons shooting at the enemy ship, and that's only from one side of the Kelvin's saucer section. The canon on this was clear: phasers are powered by the warp drive – without access to the kind of energy the main engines produce, only torpedoes are available, and I don't recall any mention or visuals of torpedoes aboard or used by the Kelvin. Where is all that energy coming from which powers all this firing? It's a miracle!
We see the "top" of the saucer show damage or destruction on about 30% of its surface. The ship shown doesn't even appear habitable, much less capable of any real operations, much less any type of combat, much less launching an attack against a vastly superior enemy. How is this possible? It's a miracle!

We see several explosions inside the Kelvin, including bridge panels exploding, downing crew members. An overhead panel bursts with smoke and sparks just over the Captain's chair and the bridge fills with smoke and sparks as Kirk jumps out of the command chair in what looks to be an effort to check the downed crew as he declares: "I'm initiating General Order 13, we're evacuating!"
We see a pregnant woman in a wheelchair who says: "That's George's voice, What's happening?" as she is pushed quickly out by a medical team. A woman on the med team announces "We'll deliver in the shuttle, go!" I suppose this comment is slightly plausible, but one would think that they would have announced this when deciding to evacuate, since it would effect what they brought from sickbay. It seems to make little sense to say this when preparations are done and the group is already jogging down the passageway, where Minute 006 ends.
Looking at this segment and the preceding, at some point all these miracles and inconsistencies appear to abuse viewers. I don't want to be petty and nitpick, especially a Trek film – rather I want to get swept away by a great story to a place I've never been on a grand adventure. But when there's no sensibility, no consistency, and the plot is advanced without plausible cause and effect events in a narrative believable for the universe in which it is set, one feels somehow insulted by the film. This feeling persists regardless of how pretty the actors, how grand the music, and how good the special effects look. In fact, better production highlights defects, placing them in sharp contrast to the great quality of the presentation.
Perhaps it will get better? Next: STbtM 007

14 comments:

crone51 said...

Are you really doing this from memory from one viewing? That's insane man! I think you will probably strain something! I, OTOH, have seen it four times and certainly cannot remember the detail that you seem to recall...unless....hmmm...you have your own copy and are not telling us hoping to win us over with your eidetic memory ..Curse Your Evil Plan!

But I jest. I am a very old lady( 58 in 12 days!) who was there at the TOS beginning ( in 1966 which I watched from the perspective of a horny 15 year old with a major crush on Spock) and I adore the new movie. It captures the essence of the characters, resets them so that they may continue unencumbered by eons of " canon" ( most of which has been completely contradicted and screwed up anyway over said eons) and gives them a new universe so that they may play on and outlive me. Plus, it's a very good movie- from a strictly movie makin' POV- Well paced, well shot, gorgeous, funny, and such a relief from all these dark "action" films filled with boring choreographed fight scenes that look pretty and never advance the plot etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Plus, the guys are cute. But I'm shallow. And of course, none of them are as sexy as Nimoy was when I was 15. Sigh.

So, you like BSG? The new one? Love to hear your thoughts on that.

This is great fun. Keep rolling! I have linked you a couple of places...

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Crone!
I saw the movie once and cried like a little through much of it, especially the 2nd half when I started thinking about Roddenberry's aspirations for serious exploration of topics the ST universe would enable. I generally liked what I saw of BSG, but I watch little TV and there are no theaters here in Patagonia, so these reviews are from a downloaded version.

BurntSynapse said...

Thanks, I'm really glad you are enjoying it. I wish I knew if anyone else was reading them!!

crone51 said...

There will be... I am spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

One minor point... phasers are not channeled through the warp engines. That was a revision only made at the time of the refit in TMP, not before. Prior to that, engines being out had no impact on pahser fire. Not that this movie cared much for canon anyway, but just a point.

BurntSynapse said...

I have to admit, I don't recall what the OS had to say on that. Was TMP where the phaser power source was first defined? Did ENT have any references to this?

Anonymous said...

Small point -

Although I thought that the Kelvin's level of armament was ridiculous, I was not surprised by its ability to return fire after being severely damaged. I would expect the weapons stations to be unmanned and have redundant power and data paths. In World War II, as much as 90% of a US heavy cruiser was not armored above the waterline. Hence, these ships could suffer apparently severe damage but still deliver a lethal broadside. Similarly, although severely damaged by the KM Bismarck, the HMS Prince of Wales managed to escape because it's well protected engines and steering gear remained intact.

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the details on the WWII encounters, they sound like a fascinating subject of study!

As for how they apply here, I would point out all of the hull in space is a bit comparable to below waterline surfaces since holes in either put the ship and crew in jeopardy but in space a rupture is much more severe: just its presence is lethal as we don’t get merely wet, we get suffocated in 2 minutes. This assumes we are not spaced by the explosive decompressions, as was shown in Minute 002.

If there were evidence 30% of the Prince of Wales sub-surface hull was blown apart and explosions were running rampant throughout the vessel, including the bridge and engineering as was shown here, I might be willing to give this proposal some play, otherwise I’m going to say this is as believable a military encounter as the animated Aeon Flux.

An earlier poster indicated that TMP featured a refit that required warp power for phasers, but my TOS memory is a bit rusty. Is this discussed in any episodes?

Thanks again for the comments!

muser said...

From TOS,during the episode with the Dolman of Elaas, "Elaan of Troyius", the Enterprise could not use her warp engines due to sabotage. According to the website Memory Alpha: "Scott manages to dismantle the bomb, but finds the dilithium crystal converter assembly has been fused, so that they can't go to warp anyhow. They must have replacement crystals. They can't call Starfleet and give away their helplessness, and they can't power up the phaser banks." Not sure how definitive this is as it was certainly made a big deal of in TMP that the phaser power was boosted by being channeled through the warp drive and this was a NEW design, which is why Decker was aware of it and the deskbound Kirk was not. But as Crone points out, in the original series canon was sometimes contradictory.

BurntSynapse said...

Yeah, if they only knew back in the 60's that in 50 years their work would be getting serious attention - LOL!

muser said...

I'm sure Roddenberry would have thought it the height of hubris. And why not? After all who's posting about "Wagon Train" or "Police Story" these days? Or even "Gunsmoke"? Hmm maybe I just gave someone an idea for a new/old movie to "reimagine".

Reminds me of a COBOL class (dating myself now!) that I took last century, where the instructor told us to "save memory" by using a two-digit year. I asked "what happens in 1999?" and he said "what makes you so arrogant as to think your code will still be running in twenty years?" Little did he know...

BurntSynapse said...

Well, people are making a multi-million dollar industry out of ancient Mayan calendars... LOL!

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"I would point out all of the hull in space is a bit comparable to below waterline surfaces since holes in either put the ship and crew in jeopardy but in space a rupture is much more severe:"

It may make those sections uninhabitable without special gear, but it also won't "sink" the ship and destroy it, either. Also, if it's properly designed, breached sections can be sealed off from the rest of the ship automatically, and larger sections should be sealed as soon as the ship goes to red alert.

As far as the phasers, I'm willing to go with the "this is a 'reset' of Star Trek canon" hand wave. Additionally, the Starfleet Command video games used the idea of capacitors being used to power the phasers, and I could see a similar mechanism in use here. That could also (just barely) excuse the scene where the chief engineer says "weapons are offline" being immediately followed by a shot of the Kelvin with all the phasers being fired at once - he meant that power to the weapons is offline, and they're firing off their individual capacitors.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hi Jake,

I agree the analogy with an ocean vessel doesn't entirely hold, especially for "sinking", or "destruction", but I stand by the similarities between crew risk from losing air to water and crew risk from losing air to vacuum as substantial.

Section isolation makes very good sense as you point out, and thanks for providing that awesome link to operational rules designed for maximizing defined capabilities. I love working on such rules & guidelines...although not so much when their objective is to kill people and destroy stuff.

If this Trek had demonstrated anything other than contempt for believable settings or logical actions by characters to whom we might relate, I'd probably be more willing to entertain some plausibility to the idea that airtight structuring was considered, but there's no evidence AFAICT for this. With mad props for your link, I consider the point a post-hoc justification.

Why so harsh? Mainly because I don't see cutting the creators slack will purchase me anything. Based on Trek, Lost, Alias, Zorro, Transformers, MI, Fringe, etc., I'm simply convinced this team has little of value to say, and a great deal that probably does, in my view, a net public disservice. They have the ability to present compelling mysteries and intriguing possibilities but seem to lack the intellectual muscle to make good on the potential of their stories' premises.

I also agree the capacitors are a Stretch worthy of the name Armstrong. :D

Thanks for all the comments, I look forward to reading and responding.

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