Showing posts from October, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 059: Retract the Drill

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Back on the Enterprise Bridge, Chekov seems to have disregarded Spock's precognitive order to run "gravitational sensors" and instead chose something like "geological sensors" since we see his panel warning "SEISMIC ACTIVITY" in bright red letters. Overlooking that seismic activity is only one of many possible results from gravitational field stress, why would we care, and why would the computer warn us about quakes, even really severe ones? Most space bodies, including stars, M-class planets and small, dustball moons are somewhat dynamic, along with everything else that isn't sitting at an undisturbed equilibrium. On the Bridge, many people begin excitedly chattering indistinctly, pushing buttons and urgently talking about strange gravity waves or whatever, but it is not about the computer's warnings nor picking up the away team. I wish there were an incoming message from the an alternate universe, a reasonable one who…

Star Trek by the Minute 058: What’s the Matter?

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Sulu pulls Kirk back onto the platform and cries "Olsen had the charges." Kirk, still panting from hanging out on the platform with previously breathing Romulans replies "I know." "What do we do?" Kirk picks up one of the disruptors lying around and yells "This!", and Sulu follows his lead as the two of them demonstrate, yet again, suicidal ignorance by firing automatic weapons at a nearby vertical section, even though it appears to be made of heavy metal and perfect for ricochets that, if one were extremely lucky, would only blind the shooter and anyone else who happened to be standing around – especially if they did not bother to put on any eye protection. Whether an energy-based sidearm is a believable weapon to attack an armored building is another matter, but a much better response for the remaining members of the assault team would be to enter the access hatch, disable the beam, and gain some intel on the enemy. Thi…

Star Trek by the Minute 057: Have Guts Enough to Get the Point

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In a sweeping shot over the drilling platform, we see Kirk and Sulu fighting Romulan miners. There are some silly stage-fighting exchanges of blows until Kirk ends up hanging by his fingers off the edge of the platform. In an overhead view, we again see the problems that the effects crew had in visualizing large objects and distances. The drilling beam is about 15-20 meters in diameter, so while the platform is shown very high from the surface, many times the altitude of the cloud layers, the drilling beam terminator point is fairly large when it should be hair thin, if visible at all. The Romulan tries a few Frankenstein-like stomps on Kirk's fingers for some reason, when all he needs to do is keep Kirk from climbing back up.
Sulu's embarrassing fight scene continues with neither participant actually trying to hit the other in a vital organ, but making lots of wild arcing sweeps with their weapons. Finally, Sulu blocks a straight down chop by the Romula…

Star Trek by the Minute 056: Sulu’s Switchblade!

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As the two struggle over the Romulan weapon, it repeatedly discharges, puncturing Sulu's canopy 3 times, giving him control problems. Sulu struggles to make the landing as the lumbering Romulan seems to get the upper hand with Kirk, but our hero is somehow able to disarm the bad guy and throw away his weapon. Then he decides to pull a phaser he apparently had the whole time, and the Romulan is somehow able to disarm Kirk by slapping it from his hand...Kirk lets this weapon fly away without a care also. His phaser dances down the platform's rusty metal like a thing possessed – then careens off the edge.
Meanwhile, Sulu is trying to overcome the problems of having a skydiving helmet that obstructs most of any lower half of the user's field of view. This helmet seems great for looking up at the drop vehicle, bad for seeing where you're going. Perhaps this is why Olsen got incinerated?
When we cut back onto the platform, where Kirk stupidly ditched …

Star Trek by the Minute 055: Olsen is Gone

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Olsen Redshirt continues his dive to the last possible moment and throws out his chute, but botches the landing, and gets dragged by his chute into the beam from the Romulan drill. His body melts away in the beam like butter, although there is no hint of the explosives he was supposed to be carrying. You would think that if he had enough high-explosives to "destroy" a mining drill, (which we would expect to be tough), there should be something that happens when vaporized in an energy beam…
Kirk lands on the platform with difficulty, showing off a very cool chute retraction button that sucks the rig back into a nice, neat hexagon. On the Enterprise Bridge, Chekov reports the successful landing to Spock, watching the viewscreen…not assigning and managing damage-control teams…not getting any casualty reports, not scanning the enemy ship for potentially planet saving information, not working on strategies for disabling or destroying the Narada, if necessar…

Star Trek by the Minute 054: Atmospheric Resistance

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This segment continues the 30 second vacuum freefall of Kirk, Sulu, and Redshirt along the Romulan drill, which gives us some time to review some first year physics regarding acceleration, and speculate on planetary dynamics. In films and TV, Vulcan gravity is shown as about the same as earth, although canon states it is "considerably" stronger with an atmosphere that is less dense.

We would normally expect planets with strong gravitational fields to collect proportionally more atmosphere, probably mitigated by the stellar wind which could strip gas away from the upper atmosphere unless the wind was deflected by a magnetic field, such as what the earth possesses. I thought this would explain why the Martian atmosphere is so thin, but then we look at Venus and see a super dense atmosphere. Since stellar wind paradoxically increases speed as it moves away from the sun, perhaps the higher density and slower speed at Venus' orbital radius is the determ…

Star Trek by the Minute 053: Drop Zone

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At this point, Sulu turns to face Kirk and deadpans: "Fencing". Like so much else, one might claim the absurdity of Sulu's reply was a joke, and that he wanted to inject a bit of self-deprecating humor into the situation. Forgetting that this reply is likely to further undermine Kirk's already-shaken confidence in his squad's members, this dialogue directly violates the spirit with which Gene Roddenberry imbued his characters: cultural pride. This is why his original first officer was female, why Spock was Vulcan, Chekov was Russion, Uhura was African, and they interacted with the central character from the center of the North American United States. Anyone with an appreciation for the grand history of Japanese martial arts and in particular the near sacred solemnity accruing to swordsmanship would be loathe to mislead a gaijin, insult the ancestors, and demean a ryu by equating bushido to a European sport activity.

Back in the shuttle cockp…

Star Trek by the Minute 052: Dr. Puri is Dead

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In response to Pike's quip, Quinto lifts one eyebrow, nods, and heads to the Bridge, walking through a beautiful set of automatic double doors that announce "AIR LOCK" four times. The set dressers /designers really could have gotten away with saying "inferiority-complex" once – we don't need all caps yelling at us, nor lens flares every one and a half seconds, nor the seriously misguided interior design "brilliance" of equipping nearly every available space with quick-shatter glass.
Spock takes the big chair, touch taps a com and sensibly orders "Dr. Puri, report." With the guts of the ship destroyed, melted, in flames, or whatever, it seems sensible to assess the situation, get a casualty report, and some sense for how rescue efforts are proceeding.
"It's McCoy," is the answer that comes across Spock's audio, "Dr. Puri was on deck 6, he's dead." Spock replies: "Then you have just …

Star Trek by the Minute 051: Be Careful, Spock

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This section opens with the Romulans finishing their red matter loading, when we cut to Pike leading Spock, Kirk, and Sulu through another of the poorly designed sets for the Enterprise seen earlier, this one was used when McCoy smuggled Kirk aboard. Pike explains: "Without transporters we can't beam off the ship, we can't assist Vulcan, we can't do our job." The transporter comment is technically true, but it's a bit like saying that without a McDonald's we can't order a Big Mac. How are these similar? Although factually true, they are hardly anything you would ever hear anyone say because "beaming" is the only thing transporters do, just like McDonalds is the only place you can get a Big Mac. The crew can still get off the ship with all the shuttles and presumably any other lifeboats aboard, they simply can't use the transporters. The statement that loss of transporter function prevents the ship from rendering a…

Star Trek by the Minute 050: Liquid Manifesto

STbtM: First /\ PreviousWe hear Chekov stutter "Ye-Yessir," confirming his acceptance of ship's conduct as this segment opens, with a zoom out from the Bridge into space with a great, dizzying roll while the Enterprise seemingly drifts toward the Narada. I can only imagine that on the big screen, this would really be spectacular. On the Romulan ship, Nero looks over the shoulder of a female (to be seen but not heard, of course) and the commander stalks up to Ayel, ordering: "Prepare the red matter." His first officer's hesitant "Yes, sir..." combined with the ominous background music let us know that whatever this is, it's serious.
For no obvious reason, Ayel runs toward Spock's ship while looking over his shoulder, above and opposite the direction he is running…weird. Although the Narada's design makes very poor use of space with all those spiky tentacles, it is supposed to be a mining ship, and presumably there would be some big cargo…