Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 107: Alphabet of Torpedoes

After a few seconds at warp, Spock drops the Jellyfish to sublight speed, turns her about, and heads toward the approaching Narada in an apparent collision course. 
Nero, upon seeing the ship trying to ram him stares at the screen and asks (I’m not making this up) “What is he doing?”  Well gee whiz skipper, I dunno.  Maybe he’s trying to destroy you, just like EVERY ONE of the last hundred ships you’ve encountered?  Abram’s arch-villain is truly a mental midget with a chloroformed brain – and yet there were a vocal group who described Star Trek’s failure to win Oscars for “Best Picture” and “Best Writing” as an “insult” and a “snub”.

Assuming the audience is as ignorant and clueless as Nero, the film provides narration in the form of the Jellyfish computer, which interrupts cockpit operations during this combat emergency with “Ambassador Spock, you are on a collision course.”  First of all, in an emergency where a collision is imminent, do we really want to invest our brief remaining moments of life in having a computer address us individually - and include our professional title?  Wouldn’t a simple initial warning, followed by avoidance commands (used in real cockpits) be better, more intelligent, and give the film a more realistic texture?  Personally, I'd rather the pilot use that time to save the ship and any lives about to be lost, but like the George Kirk suicide bombing, these film makers have differing priorities from mine, and many real world professionals for whom incompetence incurs costs.  Also, in a one person craft, there’s no reason to preface comments with that lone person’s name – obviously the computer would be talking to the only person there. 

Without any reason at all, nuSpock has concluded the Narada has suddenly lost the capacity to capture the Jellyfish despite having done so previously.  He also seems to believe that the Narada cannot simply move away to prevent being rammed, nor can they destroy him with their weapons.  The film provides no justification for this apparently insane, nonsensical decision.

Nero shouts “FIRE EVERYTHING!” and the Jellyfish computer calmly announces “Incoming missiles.  If the ship is hit, the red matter will be ignited.”  Um, how does the computer know that?  Did it instantly scan the weapons, analyze their warheads, determine their destructive capacity, compare that to the shield strength of the its own ship and conclude that there was no possibility that the red matter could remain inert under any circumstances?  Any touch by these missiles, whether they explode or not, whether they destroy the warp core or merely scratch the paint, ANY hit is inevitably catastrophic?  Silly.  Also, where were the computer warnings when Spock was crashing through solid walls that comprised the space doors of the Narada?  Inconsistent and stupid.  “Understood,” says Spock.
Here we see 26 torpedoes creeping slowly toward the Jellyfish.  Yet again, the film’s visuals contradict what was previously presented: Spock was already shown above much closer, and closing at a much more rapid pace.  Nevertheless now, there is no reason for Nero to just sit in the path of destruction if Spock were able to miraculously survive the barrage of torpedoes, but rather than act, Nero does nothing.  Although he is supposed to be a miner, we saw with the Kelvin collision that this ship and her captain don’t seem too adept at avoiding anything coming toward them, or at least not when it has a Federation sticker on it somewhere.  The external shot above also makes a mockery of the computer’s collision warning which was given long before this super maneuverable scout ship could be expected to collide with anything, especially given the loopy trajectories we typically see it taking.  
One of Nero’s officers announces “Captain, I’ve picked up another ship,” and the Enterprise jumps out of warp with rapid bursts of fire, targeting the Narada torpedoes.  Nero does nothing to either attack the Enterprise or evade the Jellyfish, even though he knows what it’s carrying and has seen the red matter’s destruction. 
Here, we see the Jellyfish within possibly 2 seconds (tops) streaking into the core of the Narada.  Nero does nothing.  nuSpock’s ingenious plan assumes the Narada will not and cannot capture his ship, will not destroy his ship, will not move to evade the collision, will not hold him harmlessly at a distance with tractor beams or anything else we might normally expect from ANY half-competent captain with just any normal ship, despite repeatedly being shown and told how incredibly dangerous Nero is.  Whenever we see him though, he hardly seems competent to keep from stabbing himself with a pencil.
In a final insult, this segment shows us that Kirk, lost and alone in what is essentially a dark, gigantic, alien city-sized cave floating in space finds Pike.  How does he miraculously locate Pike?  See the screenshot above, he literally gapes stupidly into the distance, and the camera pans around to reveal Pike laying there.  As cinematic storytelling, this is ridiculous, pathetic, and boring.  To longtime fans of Trek who loved it for being one property that at least aspired to something better than the average shlock, this film is degrading, heartbreaking even.  Abrams’ message? Don’t think.  Just pay, watch, and applaud…(and enlist - while I cash these checks!)

No women speak or appear in this segment although by now, dear reader, we all realize that they don’t really matter.

More movie magic saves Captain Pike in our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 108: Pike’s Rescue.


Anonymous said...

Feminist shithead. Maybe take into account Spock's gender-neutral ending as used in The Next Generation. Perhaps if you cared anything about entertainment and less about steadfast nerd fiction you'd be able to enjoy things slightly more.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hello Anon,

I'm not sure what Spock's gender-neutral ending in TNG was, or how it relates to the stupidity and continuity errors in this segment, but it would be interesting to learn your thoughts.

I'm unclear what steadfast nerd fiction you are referring to...can you explain?

Unknown said...

I believe he was referring to the use of "where no one has gone before" rather than "where no man has gone before", reflecting the linguistic shift away from the masculine being acceptable for cases of mixed or uncertain gender.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

I agree he is referring to the gender switch (of which I'm a fan), what is unclear to me is a) when did Spock do this in TNG (my fave series)? ...and b) What does it have to do with anything in this post?

My guess is it relates tenuously to the closing comment somehow, but is perhaps just an emotional vent.

Anonymous said...

There are 27 torpedoes...