Monday, October 26, 2009

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 his helmet twice, then stupidly lost two weapons, now his helmet magically appears in his hand and he is beating the Romulan over the head with it. At this point, a second Romulan lumbers out of the drill platform, with his weapon an excellent "not ready" position, giving Kirk an excellent opportunity to reprise his screaming charge. The magic helmet starts beating up on this bad guy too. In another continuity error, the second Romulan's disrupter simply disappears between shots, and the two bad guys then stand up in synchronized choreography that allows Kirk to simply Hannah Montana swing back and forth: hit, hit, hit…down they go. I tend to prefer this kind of action in a straight kung-fu feature, like an Enter the Dragon, something with Inspector Chang, or the Blu-Ray Flying Daggers I watched recently. Apparently, Kirk's opponents' fighting style derives from an occult Romulan tradition known only to the inner circle composed of students from elite martial arts schools on the former planet and abbots from each of the many monasteries hidden in the mines of abandoned asteroids. What we do know of the tradition involves making your own weapons disappear or tossing them away, followed by exhausting one's opponent, making him repeatedly bludgeon your skull as he defends against the dreaded Romulan face-plant. The Black Knight is said to have demonstrated a western version of the techniques against King Arthur, but was no match for the coconut-shell advantage of the legendary sovereign.

Meanwhile, Sulu misses the platform and snags his lines and chute in the platform rigging. In a spectacular pendulum, our future helmsman swings down to the energy beam and hits his chute retraction lifting him up on the platform. As a huge vent on the top of the platform vents a blast of flame, Sulu is being pulled directly toward it. Apparently, the chute lines are much more heat resistant than the space suit he is wearing.

This is a good time to bring in the topic of thermal radiation. The amount of heat absorbed by an object like a person's body is proportional to the difference in temperature and surface area divided by the square of the distance. If this drill is anything like a flames of which it seems to be composed, Sulu should have been cooked at such a close range. This gaffe relates to Revenge of the Sith's silly river of lava battle. Breathing water seems more plausible than ROTS' sabre surfing volcanic flows on McFly® hover-droids, so Abram's near-tempura scene is an improvement of sorts.

Sulu whips out what looks like a utility knife, presses a switch, and a straight-sword flips out in sections in a great CGI effect. After freeing himself, Sulu takes off his helmet also! Although Kirk was previously fighting the two Romulans, apparently one of them decided to turn his back on his comrade who was fighting for his life. He also turned his back to Kirk, the alien attacker trying to kill him. Why might he do this? Apparently, he wants to pose ominously so that when Sulu gets into his own "Gunfight at OK Corral" pose, the evil, cattle-rustling Rommy looks ready… Next, although he had a disruptor rifle, and still appears to have a large sidearm, he reaches onto his back and pulls out a switchblade style battle ax. At some point, you have to wonder if anyone had doubts about some of these scenes, or whether they were ever even reviewed. I'd speculate this "creative" team is hard to work for, because a significant number of subordinates will know that their really good efforts are going into a horrible product. Weapons designers and engineers will undoubtedly share some of the emotional survival techniques of this film's production team and others like distributors, promoters, etc.

Kirk is hammered by a right and falls to the metal deck, stunned. For some reason, the Romulan decides not to kill or even restrain his now-helpless attacker, and the fight scene continues with a chest-burster homage to Aliens as we see in our next Star Trek by the Minute, Episode 057: Have Guts Enough to Get the Point.

Not a single female appears in this segment.

4 comments:

Flashman85 said...

I've heard one passable explanation for the lava river battle in ROTS: Anakin and Obi-Wan were using the Force to shield themselves from the harmful effects of their surroundings, and Anakin burst into flames at the end of the battle only when he was so enraged that he lost his grip on the Force.

BurntSynapse said...

I would consider that "passable" if such an ability had ever been demonstrated in any of the films.

In contrast, for decades we've been repeatedly shown Jedi dying from various energies: blasts, beams, and lightsabre blades which would seem to undermine the credibility of that explanation.

Flashman85 said...

Perhaps, though I doubt "Force Protection From Lava Planet" is a power most Jedi would think about using every time blasters are fired or lightsabers are brandished.

I don't know much about the science of fictional volcano worlds, but I assume it's possible to have a Force shield that resists heat in general but doesn't protect you from concentrated energy such as blaster bolts and lightsabers to the arm.

I think with Star Wars it's easier to get away with the Rule of Cool: You can get away with anything that defies plausibility if it's cool enough. A rule this Star Trek movie seems to have taken to heart.

Flashman85 said...

Also: Noticed that the "Previous" link goes way back to post #53, and that there's no post #48 in your list of September posts.

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