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Star Trek 
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Post Re: Star Trek
I don't really have trouble with the reboot aspect of it. The Trek universe is not sacrosanct, and the science was mostly babble to start with.

What I do have trouble with is how very crap-bad the storytelling was -- no regard for internal consistency of story or for internal consistency of characters (that bit about dropping Kirk off th ship is the worst idiot-plotism in the story. Technically, Kirk was not even a stowaway; he's supercargo assigned to the medical department; he should have been brigged at the very most.

This is one-from-column-a-two-from-column-b filmmaking, written without regard for the sensibility of the viewer.


Sun May 10, 2009 7:36 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
Bill Patterson wrote:
This is one-from-column-a-two-from-column-b filmmaking, written without regard for the sensibility of the viewer.

I would agree with the first part but not the second. I think it was written with the very difficult task of both pleasing the old guard and attracting/pleasing a new audience. That they had a limited number of columns to select from, each with only a handful of options, should not be held against the production.

I think they did what they had to do within the limits, and did a damned good job of turning out a lemon torte. Otherwise, we'd end up with a version of Eddie and the Cruisers ("No, it's not the story of the Doors, why do you ask?") or The Rose ("No, it's not a biopic of Janis, why do you ask?") - call it Kyrke the Great ("No, it's not a remake of Star Trek, why do you ask?") A certain amount of garbage in, with no way to eliminate it, will result in a certain amount of garbage out.

I think judging it by the standards you might use for a fresh, unburdened take on "man in space a hundred years from now" is a faulty approach, no matter how much plotsurdities might bother you.

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Sun May 10, 2009 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
James Gifford wrote:
So is it continuity-challenged? Yes. Are there absurdities in the logic of the cadets assuming command of the newest flagship in the fleet? Of course. (Um... see any of several Heinlein juveniles.) Is the film's notion of military proprieties a bit wonky? Sure... but it always has been.
...
I think you're both applying far too strict a standard to this big-fun, old-school, reboot. I think it achieved exactly what it had to achieve, could not have been made in any significantly different way and been successful... and, with all necessary limitations carefully held in mind, was one helluva movie.


I don't hold movies to any standard higher than entertaining me. If something doesn't do that, then that's when I start looking for the reasons why. I'll accept any hanky-panky if I'm entertained. I like Smallville even though it treats the Superman canon like it was drawn on toilet paper, because it earned my respect by telling a good story. I willingly suspended all kinds of disbelief for the first Star Wars because it was so good that I wanted to. But this Trek movie was like Phantom Menace for me: I went in with disbelief suspended and they failed to do enough for me to keep it up. After giving PM two re-viewings to give it an extra chance I resorted to mentally making up the parts I thought should have been there.

The military discipline issue wasn't just a bit off; it was out of the ballpark. It was so effing annoying. I'm chuffed that you enjoyed it and don't want to take that away from you. I wish I could share your enthusiasm but it's not something I can control.

I take issue with several of your assertions, however. Just because movie #1 sucked doesn't mean that only shooting matches can succeed. Exhibits 1 et seq: "City on the Edge of Forever", "The Menagerie", "The Deadly Years", "Court Martial", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "The Measure of a Man", "Time's Arrow", "The Inner Light", and "Twilight" (Enterprise - believe it or not). To claim that it can't be done in a movie or without running overtime is just lacking imagination.

Yes, the battle was against a bad guy. That's not my point; my point is that the whole movie was a shooting match. Starship Troopers with different bugs. Nowhere was there that sense of being part of an amazing galaxy harboring wonders beyond comprehension. Like the lack of discipline, I could have forgiven that if they'd made up for it enough, but both problems together made compensation all but unattainable.

It's precisely because this was not Star Trek - to me - that I am disappointed.


Sun May 10, 2009 8:40 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
Peter Scott wrote:
I don't hold movies to any standard higher than entertaining me. If something doesn't do that, then that's when I start looking for the reasons why.
<snip>
The military discipline issue wasn't just a bit off; it was out of the ballpark. It was so effing annoying. I'm chuffed that you enjoyed it and don't want to take that away from you. I wish I could share your enthusiasm but it's not something I can control.

Mmmm. Yeah. When I start looking at my watch in the middle of a movie to figure out when it's going to end, that's a bad sign: I enjoyed (for some values of "enjoy") the fast pace but Star Trek light wasn't entertaining me in anything like the universe of ways I might have been entertained.

There was just too much of what Heinlein used to call "empathy breaking" -- things gotten so wrong that you couldn't (I couldn't) sustain the disbelief. And once the experience was over and I confronted those things, the total logic of the thing just unraveled in an unpleasing way.

What I think we're seeing is a movie intended for the generation raised on Disney films -- a nightmare.


Mon May 11, 2009 7:22 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
This is really weird - it feels like we're not quite talking about the same film.

You say you don't hold movies to any standard higher than entertaining you, but then you're saying the movie completely failed on that count because it did not meet certain standards of realism and behavior that no Star Trek before it ever did.

You're also twisting my comments into a new space-time continuum. I pointed out that the first pilot sucked so badly the series almost didn't happen; the second pilot (nearly all guns'n'guts) sold it. The first movie was a huge letdown; the second one was probably the best of the whole set. None of this has anything to do with later episodes being exceptional even though they were intellectually driven. Of course Star Trek (every iteration) had some fine brainy episodes, and cerebral elements all throughout. None of that has anything much to do with what I've said. I was, and am, talking about the extremely complex needs of THIS film - the first to completely break with forty heavy years of preceding history, burdened with being a success in its own right and also successfully restarting an immensely complex franchise.

The producers looked at that sucky first pilot, and the dismal first movie, and said something like "If we're going to do a reboot, we can't do a slow, brainy, cerebral script that will appeal ONLY to a subset of prior fans. We need to please the biggest subset of prior fans AND rope in a whole new generation of admirers, too." And they did, by making an action-driven romp that wasn't exactly devoid of brainy spots.

I still read it that you are holding ST2009 to unreasonable standards. One is a standard that no prior ST ever met - portraying a sensible military structure and behavior. Another is a standard that only select episodes met: a truly brainy story about the big questions that didn't drag like a freshman philosophy lecture (or the first pilot and movie).

I'll concede, if it makes you happy, that the sequence of ejecting Kirk from the ship was almost nonsensical. But it worked on this level: Spock had NO command experience and made a very poor decision; he saw Kirk as a cancer that would continue to eat at his tenuous command even from the brig (from which he would escape in minutes anyway); and the film HAD to get Kirk into contact with Spock Prime quickly, without a lot of dissipated story time. Yes, it's absurd - but I don't think it's a disbelief breaker when accepted within the wonky ST story world and the limitations this film had to bear. (My big "huh?" - that warp travel now seems to put planets just minutes apart.)

It's just Star Trek. I didn't go see it with the slightest expectation of having my consciousness raised, my philosophizer exercised or my interest in manned exploration of the universe recharged. By expecting nothing more than a damned good slam-bang summer film, I got that plus the bonus of some very good parts, like a very complex and nuanced villain, some truly fun plot twists... and, yes, some additional charge in how much fun it will be if we get our encounter-suited butts out there in the void again soon.

If you and Bill went expecting something of so high an order, something that no ST film or 99% of the episodes ever delivered - that none of the episodes ever delivered without flaws - then of course you were disappointed. It's too bad; you missed a helluva movie. I suppose you both grump through Citizen Kane, too, because no one could have heard Kane say, "Rosebud." :D


Mon May 11, 2009 7:38 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
Bill Patterson wrote:
What I think we're seeing is a movie intended for the generation raised on Disney films -- a nightmare.

Um, Bill, all three of us - in fact, everyone who's contributed to this thread, including a couple of gents with 10-20 years on us - were "raised on Disney films." My mother (b.1926) was "raised on Disney films." I guess I get the gist of your point the same way I get the gist of both of your laments about this film... but only from a distance and with some serious WTFism.

I don't normally find myself deeply at odds with either one of you, much less both. But in this case, you're sharing a very peculiar minority position that (IMHO) fails to quite touch reality on any point. You're both assessing the film from a very removed viewpoint, from a very high critical platform, and applying standards that couldn't conceivably have applied to any prior ST entry. I mean, let's have a Nietzschean analysis of SpongeBob next!

ST2009 is not going to win any Oscars - it wasn't made to. It's extremely unlikely to even take the Hugo - I doubt that JJA even knows what that is. But it's a rip-roaring success with appeal to a vast percentage of fans new and old, a BO smash, great fun if no more perfect than anything that preceded it, and likely to lead to a string of films you both find much more acceptable.

I am truly sorry you both didn't like it. I think in looking at/for the wrong things you missed the point and the potential for a very entertaining two hours.


Mon May 11, 2009 7:52 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
I'm with Jim on this one; I loved it. I thought the casting was wonderful, and for me it had just the right amount of homage to the original series. It had some terrific lines, and the Silicon Valley audience I was part of also applauded several of them.

I say this as someone who was never a serious Trekker. I've seen only a fraction of the episodes of the original series and never got into any of the follow-ups, beyond understandable fantasies of an hour on the Holodeck with Seven of Nine. I saw all the previous movies, though, and, for me, this one outstrips them all. *My* biggest problem with suspension of disbelief was spending 2/3 of the movie trying to remember where I'd seen Anton Yelchin (Chekov) before (he played the son in Huff).

I'm looking forward to seeing this one again, and have high hopes for the rebirth of the franchise.

Dan

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Mon May 11, 2009 9:16 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
James Gifford wrote:
You say you don't hold movies to any standard higher than entertaining you, but then you're saying the movie completely failed on that count because it did not meet certain standards of realism and behavior that no Star Trek before it ever did.


Few of the movies have been satisfying, but I'll certainly claim that several TOS and some TNG episodes had that realism. Take a look at The Corbomite Maneuver, for instance. Not the most exciting episode, but the depiction of command behavior is spot on. The way Kirk reminds his subordinate that "this is not a democracy", and the discussion with McCoy about whether he was promoted too fast. Light-years away from the frat boys in space of today's movie. There's absolutely no reason why that realism couldn't have been in this movie and then I would have felt more connected to the plot instead of offended by the supposition that three years of training people entrusted with the fate of the Earth couldn't produce any semblance of competence or teamwork.

I maintain that the original series was written, produced, and directed by people with real military and combat experience, and that's where that realism came from. Today's moviemakers haven't gotten closer than their G.I. Joe dolls (trailer for that movie looked pretty good, BTW). Ultimately, I didn't feel empathy for any of these characters - maybe Pike, a little - and that is never good.

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You're also twisting my comments into a new space-time continuum. I pointed out that the first pilot sucked so badly the series almost didn't happen; the second pilot (nearly all guns'n'guts) sold it.


They are not as far apart as you make out; also, the first was good enough to warrant the requisitioning of the second, a very rare event. The first pilot had a hand battle to the death; the second had a reflection on the nature of power and both were about the projection of extraordinary mental abilities.

Quote:
It's just Star Trek. I didn't go see it with the slightest expectation of having my consciousness raised, my philosophizer exercised or my interest in manned exploration of the universe recharged. By expecting nothing more than a damned good slam-bang summer film, I got that plus the bonus of some very good parts, like a very complex and nuanced villain, some truly fun plot twists... and, yes, some additional charge in how much fun it will be if we get our encounter-suited butts out there in the void again soon.


Self-consistency is important. I loved Men in Black even though it is totally absurd, because it doesn't try to pretend to be anything more. It is congruent within itself. So is Ghostbusters. It's not necessary to have the realism of Saving Private Ryan unless you're making a movie about the Normandy landings. Trek didn't even try for appropriate realism, in my opinion. Neither did I see the need to destroy a pivotal planet and erase a major character who could be valuable to sequels. It felt like a giant single-fingered salute to fans.

If a movie makes me care enough about the characters I won't care about inconsistency. I don't give a damn that in Top Gun F-14s can apparently travel ten times the speed of sound and the pilot apparently does all the shooting. I don't care that in Air Force One the plane possesses a nonexistent rescue capsule or that an Air Force officer would hand its controls over to a president with near zero flying experience. I did find the shuttle crew in Deep Impact more believable and empathetic than the drunken louts in Armageddon. And yet Bruce Willis was in Die Hard 2 and the totally absurd premise of that didn't stop me from enjoying it. Even the flat wrong depiction of suffocating on Mars in Total Recall didn't bother me; it still worked. But Trek didn't even give me a reason to care about Kirk. Look at his character from a story writer's viewpoint. What's his arc? How does he change? Where's his conflict and resolution? I have to adopt strained and unnatural interpretations to find any trace of those. Not so in, say, The Dark Knight, a masterfully crafted movie that certainly demonstrates that character development and thoughtful plotting don't have to be abandoned in an action flick.

Yes, it is odd for Bill and I to both disagree with you. I'm not sure that Bill and I share the same reasons for disliking the movie, but we should mark this occasion for posterity somehow :D


Mon May 11, 2009 10:00 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
Jack Kelly wrote:
There were several scenes when the entire audience broke out in applause.


Had that in my theatre, too, at the end. If you haven't already been spoiled, warning!

SPOILERS!!!!!!

My main beef with the movie is that as someone who enjoys the "original universe" books, I suspect the Spock paradox is not going to make things easier for the ongoing books. Although it seems that in the last few years there's been a much better continuity effort going on with a directed storyline a la the Star Wars universe, so I hope *someone* out there is carving the chunks that the books and future movies can play in.

As an enjoyable bit of escapism, Star Trek did pretty well. Some good laughs, decent acting, enough homages to the original series to make it "look" right (Pike's wheelchair was one of those for me). "Bones" stole the show for acting, and the Spock-Uhura thing is annoying but might be OK.

Oh and Vulcan no more--possibly one of the only things you could do to make the insufferable Vulcans relatable again. They are a superpower no more and that makes me -interested- in them.


Mon May 11, 2009 10:35 am
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Post Re: Star Trek
Here's a perceptive review that I think nails why the movie works in spite of its flaws... and may hit the bullseye on why the storyline is so wonky:

http://chud.com/articles/articles/19369 ... Page1.html

CHUD is not terribly safe for work, BTW.

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Mon May 11, 2009 12:56 pm
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