Monday, June 15, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 011

Grand Theft Auto, Pubescent Trekstyle

Previous: Shuttles Escape

Lens flare mania continues with a Sparticus-worthy title screen, during which we have a few seconds to contemplate the birth of James Kirk, which was previously in Iowa. I would love to ask the writers why they felt it necessary to change his birthplace, and if so, why write a cause for that change via an alternate timeline with an event (the Romulan ship time-travel) that appears AFTER a time when it would cause Mr. and Mrs. Kirk to be on a deep space mission not only far from Earth, but far from any assistance on the extreme edge of Federation space? My guess is that Kirk's birth was an afterthought to the basic plot, and as seen in The Undiscovered Country shows what a disaster this type of change can be for the entire story. This calls to mind a real space disaster that had a similar cause, illustrating an important point in change management and quality control: regression testing.

Regression testing is normally associated with software changes, but many complex systems can benefit from this technique while failure to conduct regression testing caused a failure that had the world holding its collective breath for days. A manufacturer contributing to NASA on the Apollo program had improved an electric motor used to stir the contents of a high-pressure oxygen tank. The changes to the new motor were not considered significant and the expense of rebuilding a new prototype and conducting integration testing was never even considered. It turned out that a design upgrade on the motor made it unsafe for use in high-pressure oxygen, a factor which burned the Apollo 1 crew alive on the launch pad during a routine test. On Apollo 13, when the fan was activated, the tank exploded and the crew nearly died. In an earlier segment, we learned from Gemini 8 not to abandon potential resources such as the Kelvin, and it was following that rule which saved the Apollo 13 crew. Here, I believe many of the gigantic plot errors were due to poor planning in early stages. In this specific case, the Mrs. Kirk would have to be in Iowa, preparing to deliver when the Romulan ship appeared, and began the alternate time line. The story is broken, AGAIN – and we are only 10 minutes into it! I'm absolutely baffled at the poor quality of the script.

Back in the theater, we cut to a classic muscle car tearing down a dirt road and sliding into a turn onto a paved road in a flat sea of Iowa cornfield. We zoom in on the red Corvette convertible pod-racer being driven with Dakar-veteran skill by a pubescent, straw haired boy blasting corporate music I'm sure was triple-checked by the marketing department for coolness. Barely able to see over the dash, the bucktoothed reincarnation of Anakin does one better: he can drive with world-class performance regardless of steering wheel movement or watching the road! We hear a centuries-old cell phone ring from the prominently branded NOKIA® phone mounted low on the dash. Aside from the corporate rape of the Trekverse by ramming this phone where it has no business, we are apparently to believe lawyers in the future have lost the ability to prevent installation of driver distractions that have been killing people for decades. Next thing you know, these corporate geniuses will decide to portray to millions that senseless destruction of priceless cultural artifacts and museum pieces is fun, cool, and heroic.

The kid touches the phone and we hear a man's voice ranting: "Hey, are you outta your mind? That car's an antique! You think you can get away with this just because your mother's off-planet? You live in my house buddy." Recycled evil step-parent stale by the Middle Ages, or homage to beloved Grimm classic characters? You decide!

Up next: Senseless Destruction of Priceless Cultural Artifacts is Fun

7 comments:

tkhula said...

I took a pass on the entire.. experience. For me it simply seperates the folks who really understood the original concepts and those who were along for the popular ride.
Interesting blog.

crone51 said...

As a fifty eight year old who was there at the start of TOS I object. I loved the new movie. The characters live on and can have new adventures. And that for me was ....oh dear I really am gonna go with this awful play on words....paramount.

joel S said...

Yeah, that NOKIA logo almost killed the Star Trek experience for me when I saw it. Just days earlier my local newspaper had an article on the star trek universe and mentioned the refreshing lack of product placement in the movie, but when I saw that scene I wondered if they had seen the same movie. Isn't the Star Trek universe about how we had put all the greed, corporations and stock markets aside (that TNG episode where they find a group of 20-21st century people frozen down in an old satellite comes to mind), and that everyone had all their needs provided for with the use of replicator tech?

I do think you are a bit too harsh on the movie , inconsistencies are not a new thing to the star trek universe, and most of the movies have been a lot less enjoyable than this one.
It's certainly not the perfect sci-fi movie it's been hyped to be, the story in it was extremely weak and really felt like it was re-used from earlier movies and several episodes of the different shows. But it really wasn't bad either, just a slightly above average sci-fi action movie.

BurntSynapse said...

Hi tkhula,
I’m afraid I can’t be as generous as you, because even a popular ride of an adventure should have character actions and reactions that make some kind of logic, but when McCoy says things about blood boiling in minute 026, or Nero kills Robau for informing him that his fondest wish had been magically granted? (insert 100 next contradictions here)? In that case: no slack. This movie was a spectacular production of a travesty, pop fluff or not.

BurntSynapse said...

...also, I would add that that active explicit advocacy for "faith" and implicit advocacy for arrogant violence, militarism, ignorance, and lawlessness disqualify the film from a neutral appraisal by those of us for whom these and Star Trek's traditional support for are important.

Cap said...

I don't think it is established canon that Kirk was born in Iowa. Kirk states only that he is "from" Iowa rather than from outer space. If an Iowan gives birth while traveling in China, her child will identify as from Iowa, not from China.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Based on http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/James_T._Kirk#Ambiguities, I'm going to stand by "born in Iowa" for the time being.

Aspen Music Festival: Music with a View Concert

Distinguished theory and performance teacher provides expert knowledge during " Music with a View "at the Aspen Art Museum