Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 105: SPAAAHHHK!!!

On the Narada, Nero continues to strangle Kirk with his bare hands (a pretty inefficient way to wipe out an entire species) but I suppose you have to start somewhere…  An announcer comes on loudspeakers to announce, finally: “Captain Nero, the Vulcan ship has been taken – the drill has been destroyed.”  Apparently, this is some kind of excuse for Nero NOT to kill Kirk while he has the chance, just like he didn’t kill Spock prime, didn’t make Spock prime “watch” Vulcan’s destruction, didn’t kill nuSpock, nuKirk, nuPike, or destroy the Abramsprise when he had the opportunity for those things.
Instead of finally killing Kirk, he RELEASES Kirk in order to yell at nothing: “SPAAAHHHK!!!  SPAAAHHHK!!!”  before jumping  down 20 meters and just ignoring the would-be Federation commando to recover his strength and escape.  Apparently, having a useless chat with a young Vulcan takes priority, but we can ignore Nero’s inexplicable actions if we wave our hands and say “He’s insane from grief…”
Nero orders: “Open a channel!” and then “Spock, I knew I should have killed you when I had the chance.”  Well, DUH!  Nero seriously SAVED Kirk’s life so he could deliver this vital bit of cosmically important wisdom on subspace – he must be some kind of galactically intelligent uber-philosopher!  …or at least the Paklids might think so.
Spock responds: “I hereby confiscate this illegally obtained ship and order you to surrender your vessel.  No terms.” What?  “NO terms”??   This means the captain and crew, if they agree to peacefully end hostilities, they cannot expect to survive or to receive any mercy AT ALL?  If they surrender they could be tortured as gruesomely, painfully, and for as long as it is possible to keep them alive and after that, resuscitated for even more depraved abuse?  Dare we mention that this offer comes from a MAJOR HERO in Abrams’ version of Star Trek??? Unbelievable!

Nero very sensibly orders “That ship, take it out!”, but one of his officers warns: “Sir, if you ignite the red matter…”  Nero interrupts, screaming “I want Spock dead NOW!”  At this point suicide for the Narada crew would be far more rational than winding up at the mercy of these Federation thugs – who now appear far more dangerous than one insane and grieving Romulan. 
We see a salvo of torpedoes leaving the Narada, straight  toward the Jellyfish as Spock somehow (and the scene is unclear on this) zips through them without much evasive maneuvering as this segment ends.

No women speak or appear in this segment.

Kirk’s life is saved for perhaps a fifth time by Romulan enemies supposedly trying to kill him in our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 107: Your Species is Weak

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 104: Gate Crasher

As Spock is piloting the tiny little Jellyfish science vessel unopposed through the gaping void of the Narada, he approaches an entry door and starts firing at it.  Perhaps everyone on the Narada had been relaxing in the middle of the annihilation of the Federation home planet, but surely a spaceship battle, with firing and explosions INSIDE the vessel would get someone’s attention?  Nope! 

This hull, made of a super strong, unknown material, has only been apparently penetrated by ramming, and then only once, three decades ago.  The most recent attacks against the Narada by large Klingon attack fleets, Earth’s planetary defenses, and everything from the Federation’s most powerful starships were like rain off a duck’s back, if that.  Suddenly, a one-man science vessel without any apparent shields is able to confidently crash window-first through the previously impenetrable exoskeleton.  Spock doesn’t scan to determine whether he is on a suicide plunge to his death, nor does he even slow down a little, just in case his spitball weapons are as ineffective as we have every reason to believe.  He just magically crashes through the massive space doors without any problem, with no information, with no justification as to how this could possibly happen, and there’s nothing to explain how his souped-up space moped comes through without a scratch against the civilization-crushing apoclyship.
As we cut back to yet another fistfight segment, we should recall that just in the past minute, Kirk has been clubbed in the skull with a rifle butt, thrown to the plate-metal deck, punched twice in the ribs hard enough to break bones, picked up and hammer-fisted to the deck again, picked up again, and smashed in the face hard enough to knock him backwards as he fell to a lower platform, where he was being strangled.  Then, continuing his previous inconsistency about which universe is “real”, Nero claims “James T. Kirk was considered to be a great man” as Kirk writhes in a melodramatic resistance of Nero’s equally silly choke hold; It looks more like he’s getting some clavicle adjustments from a bad chiropractor.  

In an incredibly stupid, impossible exposition Nero continues: “He went on to captain the USS Enterprise, but that was another life…”  Sheesh!  The next thing you know, he’ll probably start making some evil, Fu Manchu comments about Kirk’s family.  “…a life I will deprive you of, just like I did your father!”
Next, we cut to Spock, still zipping around and performing combat miracles outside the Narada, which continues its inexplicable, sudden and complete blindness regarding the attacking Jellyfish.  Spock uses his super spitballs to sever the lower portion of the mining drill, which falls into San Francisco Bay as this segment closes.

No women appear in this segment.

Nero proves he never learns, even when he says he does in Star Trek by the Minute episode 105: SPAAAHHHK!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 103: I Know Your Face

Aimlessly wandering around in the tunnels, it takes Kirk all of 15 seconds to run into Nero and Ayel, and it seems: completely by chance.  He tells Nero: “Nero, order your men to disable the drill or I will...aaaaauuuugggghhh!” Yelling as Ayel steps from the shadows and smashes Kirk’s skull with a rifle butt, knocking him to the deck, senseless, and his phaser slides off the platform.
In this overhead shot of Nero running toward Kirk, we see that the Narada is comparable in size to the Grand Canyon, and yet Kirk and Spock just happened to beam in right next to the Jellyfish, then Kirk just happens to run into Nero and Ayel.  One wonders if he’ll just happen to run into Pike for a rescue with the same kind of coincidences we have been shown all along, like Kirk just happened to be marooned on Delta Vega, then saved by a monster a split second before being eaten, falling off a cliff a split second before being eaten a second time, running blind right into a snow cave shelter a split second before being eaten a third time, meeting Spock prime inside that cave, who saves him a split second before being eaten a forth time, in a cave which just happened to be next to an abandoned Federation outpost, which just happened to have all the equipment needed to build revolutionary new transporter technology, and just happened to be staffed by the only person in the galaxy who could design transwarp beaming, and so on.
Look at this picture.  Nero takes one look at Kirk in this position and says “I know your face from Earth’s history.”  Ridiculous.  Nero, we are to believe, not only has memorized the service records of scientists and diplomats from a Federation which he despises and intends to destroy, not only has he memorized these for the past century, but he’s also memorized the post-pubescent appearance of Starfleet personalities.  Perhaps this ludicrous line was inserted to provide an excuse not to kill Kirk, just like the ludicrous Pike interrogation was put in to provide some justification for Nero’s inexplicable saving of Pike.  On the other hand, it could be that Nero has a fetish for the closely shaven chins of Feddies and has spend 20 years obsessing over collections of romantically lit photo's from the "Federation Neck Monthly"?

Nero, like any bad cliche of a villian, does exactly what we expect with Kirk: rather than kill him, he starts a monologue while ineffectually tossing Kirk around, making certain Kirk never slides off the edge of a platform.  A silly, predictable, pro-wrestling style fistfight ensues, as we cut to Spock piloting the Jellyfish through the great expanse of the Narada’s interior.
Again, what are the odds of randomly finding any specific location in such a maze?  Perhaps once in a lifetime if walking on foot.

No women speak or appear in this segment.

Spock and a Vulcan science scout vessel take on the Narada and do more damage than a fleet of Klingon battlecruisers in our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 104: Gate Crasher

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 102: It’ll Work

In this segment, and especially in this screenshot Kirk seems to show some feelings for his former Captain, watch out Uhura!  Spock may ultimately decide to cross a line with Kirk...

"Something tells me I already have," responds Spock with great double-entendre potential, however in this case he is responding to Kirk's earlier question.  Unfortunately here again he contradicts himself and a basic premise of the film explained earlier on the Enterprise Bridge by Spock himself: that a new timeline has been created - a new, alternate universe is unfolding in which actions and experiences of individuals cannot be predicted based on what would have happened in the future of the original timeline. See:

While his dialogue was perhaps meant to be amusing, for the attentive viewer it's simply more nonsensical inconsistency.  Unfortunately, even if this reassurance did not contradict prior explanations in the film, it is completely unreasonable because aside from poor attempts at humor, there is no evidence to support the notion that Spock could successfully pilot the most advanced and fastest ship from over a century in the future without the benefit of even a pre-flight recording on how to position his "seat back and tray table it its full upright and locked position" or not to tamper with lavatory smoke detectors.  Let's look at the Bleriot 11, the speed record holding vehicle from 100 years ago:
Now let's assume the pilot was such a super-genius he designed, supplied, built and flew this vehicle himself.  Are there any circumstances under which we could expect him to pilot from an SR-71 cockpit below from only 60 years later, much less have the confidence to put the fate of billions on the line?  
"Good luck" wishes Kirk, which is certainly appropriate since logic, planning, and competence are far out of reach. 

"Jim, the statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than 4.3 percent."  What plan?  Magically stealing a ship and through some miracle recovering Captain Pike, then stopping the drill, saving Earth and then destroying the bad guys is hardly what anyone who knows anything about the topic would call "planning".  It's more like a list put together by some selfish 4 year olds trying to scam Santa Claus.
"It'll work" says Kirk.  That's a pretty big switch to make from 10 seconds ago, when he didn't have a clue whether Spock could find the engines, much less fly the ship, much less navigate, escape the Narada, or do anything else with the ship, like avoid detonating all the red matter, destroying all of Earth. 

"In the event that I do not return, please tell Lt. Uhura that I..."

"Spock!  It'll work."  In this film, simple repetition of unjustified positions and stupid conclusions substitutes for reasoned thinking over and over and over again.  

Spock takes a nice chair in the horribly designed observation window, and ponders the deeply meaningful significance of a motor that turns his seat.  So enraptured with the concept of an electric swivel-stool, all he can say is "Fascinating."
With a few button presses, the computer reports: "Startup sequence initiated," as the Jellyfish lifts off, retracts its landing struts and presumably the gangway as well, then it smoothly heads out of this area and begins flying through the enemy ship to chorus music.   The main problem now is that Kirk is alone in a ship the size of a large city full of people who want to kill him, looking for Pike without a clue where to go.  Spock learned this location in the mind rape/meld, but never told Kirk.  On the Narada, Pike could easily be held prisoner many miles away, and finding him might involve walking and climbing for days or weeks even if one knew where to look - but he would most likely be dead since Nero has already gotten past the  non-existent "border protection grid" which we were told was the reason for keeping Pike alive and Nero wants to kill everyone in the Federation. 

No women appear or speak in this segment.

Ridiculous plot coincidence leads to another stupid fistfight in our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 103: I Know Your Face.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 101: On Their Own

As this segment opens, nUhura is sprinting flat out through the Enterprise corridors from somewhere, twisting around corners and yelling for people to get out of her way.  After the doors whoosh open, she walks onto the Bridge, where Chekov reports: “They have activated the drill.” 

Uhura says “Communication and transporter are inoperative. Sulu, please tell me you have them, otherwise we won’t be able to beam them back.”  The first question is: why isn’t Uhura at her assigned post on the Bridge monitoring communications from the com station there as she was assigned by Captain Pike, and where she should be?  Wouldn’t the Bridge be the place for this kind of activity?  Second: How did she learn of the secondary effects of the drill activation so soon?  The Bridge staff is monitoring the Narada, its drill, and presumably is on Red Alert.  How is it that she can detect the communications loss, deduce the cause and verify the transporter functionality, then leave her post, run at a breakneck speed through the ship, and careening her way to Chekov’s station just as he reads the change in status he's monitoring?  The third question is: what does she mean by asking whether he “has them”?  I can only interpret this as asking whether Kirk and Spock are already back on board the Enterprise, but “otherwise” in this case makes the statement nonsensical.  If they already beamed back, obviously there is no possible way to transport them back, and if they are not back, then the transporters are still not functioning anyway.  I’ll say it again: our educational system does a disservice by not training our youth in logic sufficient to distinguish and express conditions which apply to one scenario vs. those applying to another.  Not to mention that the people who produced these lines chose writing as their career.  That this level of incompetence can be so profitable is astounding.

“Kirk and Spock are on their own now,” deadpans Sulu.  (Note to Cho: don’t look into the camera…)  We cut to the interior of the Romulan ship where Kirk and Spock approach the unguarded Jellyfish. 

Isn’t this a bit odd?  The most destructive weapon anyone has ever encountered is stored on the fastest Vulcan ship from the future, within the Narada: itself more powerful than anything known to anyone in this universe and not a single guard in sight.  There isn’t even phony “Protected by Acme Security” sticker in the window – meaning that Road Runner cartoons featured more plausible security.  The front door was left open, unguarded, and the entryway ramp was lit up like it was ready for one of Trump’s beauty pageants.

Spock leads Kirk into the ship and says: “I foresee a complication: the design of this ship is far more advanced than I had anticipated.”  He must be referring to the anticipation that resulted from his briefing on this vessel that never took place, and his assessment of the design of both the knick-knacks hanging on the walls, and the ginormous bowling ball of red-matter.

The onboard computer announces: “Voiceprint and face recognition analysis enabled.  Welcome back Ambassador Spock.”
“Wow, that’s weird,” says Kirk, walking off to…somewhere.

“Computer, what is your manufacturing origin?” asks Spock.  Why in the world use the term “manufacturing” unless there was some reason to believe the ship was created as one unit of output resulting from a large-scale industrial production of this kind of ship?  However, since the ship seems to be from the future, Spock’s desire to know from where and when,the ship came, along with its current mission seems reasonable.  Why not simply ask “When and where was this ship constructed?”

“Stardate 2387, commissioned by the Vulcan Science Academy.”  Giving the date is responsive, but the computer then follows this with the ludicrous response of who commissioned its “manufacturing”, and omits any location, THE normal thing expected when someone requests the origin of anything.  This computer might have more accurately responded by stating the  ship was first originated when a ship designer stared into an aquarium full of carybdeida.  Not even answers from the computer meet minimal standards for sensibility in this film.

Approaching Kirk near the pilot seat, Spock declares “It appears you have been keeping important information from me.”

“You’ll be able to fly this thing, right?” asks Kirk, suggesting that he doesn't know if their plan has any chance of working.

Out of the five onscreen parts, only one woman speaks in this segment.

A flawless Jellyfish escape begins in our next segment, Star Trek by the Minute 102: It’ll Work

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 100: I Gotcha

The phaser battle continues with one Romulan after another dropping in flames, until we see a new gadget in phaser technology as Kirk switches his weapon from "red-kill" to "blue-stun", and with a smirking shot, (perhaps his leering is at the thought of his victim's upcoming telepathic rape at the hand and mind of Spock?) takes down yet another Romulan crewman with yet another perfect shot.

Spock approaches and in reply to Kirk's promise "I'll cover ya" asks: "Are you certain?"  With a decent Sarah Palin impression, Kirk affirms: "Yeah, I gotcha."

I like the idea of building coordination of their actions for a great, long term partnership but this near telepathic matching of their actions and intent on how to proceed is too sudden, has no explanation, and is completely inappropriate given their previously discussed plan.  The purpose in Spock being aboard the Narada was claimed that he would be able to access the computers given the similarity of Vulcan & Romulan languages.  A more reasonable plan would have had the xeno-linguistics expert Uhura (familiar with "All three dialects" of Romulan) accompany the best computer expert - which could plausibly be considered Spock, or Kirk if he had been presented as the hacker genius as claimed in the Kobayashi Maru sim.
Since reasonableness of plot and common sense dialog, morality, and most of science were tossed out the external space hatch long ago, we have Kirk and Spock now mind raping the unconscious Romulan like a well skilled wolf pack.  A mind meld at this point should be very unfruitful, since the Romulan's mind is not operating when he's unconscious, but perhaps Spock's meld is sufficiently strong to rip the information out of his victims skull like TOS mind scanner used on Organia.  Imitating the worse villains Roddenberry imagined has become what Abram's heroes do now without a second thought - "earning" multi-million dollar profits, awards, and fame for their creators, along with accolades from the military!

Another Romulan sneaks up behind Spock so Kirk can make good on his promise of more killing, or as aggressors invariably claim: "defending."  Kirk approaches and asks Spock: "Do you know where it is?  The black hole device?"
As if by magic, Spock replies: "...and Captain Pike..." and bolts off, presumably having gained intimate knowledge of the ship from groping his victim's scalp for 4 seconds.

Meanwhile, the drill is lowered to a position above San Francisco bay, and once again stabs its flaming pillar of drilling energy into the undefended planet below.  One has to wonder what it so critical in the Laurentian Cluster that Vulcan and Earth must be left undefended.
All these Starfleet academy people, are the doing something to save their lives?  Nope!  They are all running TOWARD the gigantic death beam... no one is getting on a NOKIA(r) to call for emergency beam out, or to arrange a shuttle for their families, or anything I'd probably already have done.

No women speak in this segment.

The Jellyfish is found unguarded in our next segment, Star Trek by the Minute 101: On Their Own

Monday, May 3, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 099: Phaser Kicks

Kirk and Spock arrive in a place never before seen in the entertainment industry: a cavernous lair full of vile and dangerous henchmen of the evil mastermind bent on domination and destruction.  Just kidding, it was old even before James Bond visited Crab Key, yet suddenly and without explanation, these Romulans stop speaking the perfect English they have been up til now.

This observation, however, is just to delay discussion of the depressingly predictable shootout which follows – with our heroes evading every shot fired at them while simultaneously showing flawless marksmanship despite running blindly in the absence of any situational awareness, leaping around poorly-lit platforms without any destination in mind, and breathing some alien atmosphere.  One by one, their opponents get reliably phasered to writhing oblivion, despite have spent every day for many years on these decks, in other words: they are as completely helpless to defend their home turf, with their vastly superior weapons and decades of futuristic experience that has enabled them to conquer everything the Klingon Empire could throw at them without breaking a sweat.  In contrast, these unprepared newcomers prance around, randomly frying bad guys with comfortable ease.  Kirk kills one with a shot to the center of his chest immediately, another (possibly the same) goes down with a center chest shot, Kirk kills a third Romulan with another perfect hit in the center of his chest, before  yelling something as he ducks and runs.  Spock then does a flying, twinkle-toes Bolshoi leap and pistol point (click photo above for closeup) between 2 platforms and fires midair, with this "hero" killing a fourth crewman with a shot to his neck - a neck which bursts into flames as the victim screams in pain.  Perhaps this entire film will turn out to be a Matrix-like simulation in the future retcon, and these killers will be absolved, unlike the real world where vets have to spend the rest of their lives living with the inevitable killing of innocents that always accompanies war.  Speaking of real-world fighting, anyone with minimal exposure to armed combat or firing a weapon can tell you how long an unprotected, bunched group of clueless infiltrators would last with the tactics shown in this segment.  In Abrams world, (a narrow slice of corporate America) lack of competence is no impediment to incredible riches.  The screen with Star Trek XI reflects this distorted, arrogant, consequence-free view.

Another chest shot kills the next, victim 6 who also cries out in painful death as our noble Starfleet representatives continue their rampaging death spree, murdering anonymous crewmen 6 and 7.

Kirk and Spock finally take some cover and begin shooting, and contrary to something like 50 years of Trek, we see the phasers actually kicking after being fired, as in Kirks recoil above.   Romulan 8 dies.

Someone reports to Nero, (switching back to perfectly understood English), “Captain, we have Starfleet officers aboard this ship.”  Adding “this” is a pretty stupid way to word the report, as if there could be some confusion regarding another ship we might be considering somewhere that we had previously believed had no Starfleet officers on it?  "Our" or "the" would have made sense if one felt the need to specify "a ship", which is sort of already implied by "aboard" isn't it?  Furthermore, how did this miner happen to determine the rank and organization of some aliens that were dashing through the gloom while shooting at him and every other Romulan in sight?  It seems like pretty stupid writing.

“One of them is Vulcan,” he continues… perhaps he telepathically read Spock’s mind?  Why contradict the prior exposition that Romulans and Vulcans share a common ancestry and are all but indistinguishable?  One wonders what possible explanation could be offered, if not incompetence...

“Noooooo…” gasps Nero before running and yelling down into the ship “Ayel!”

As he continues to run, we see various members of the crew strolling about as if nothing is wrong, in the words of Tyler Durden: “…calm as Hindu cows.”

Of the 11 parts in this segment, none are women.

Groovy new phaser technology is used to assist in the mental rape of a helpless prisoner in Star Trek by the Minute 100: I Gotcha.

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