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Star Trek 
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PITA Bred
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Post Star Trek
Just go freaking see it. Now. You *cannot* set your expectations high enough.

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Sat May 09, 2009 2:32 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
James Gifford wrote:
Just go freaking see it. Now. You *cannot* set your expectations high enough.


I second that. Saw it last night in IMAX.

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Sat May 09, 2009 4:30 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
We had to wait until this morning, but saw it at 11:30 in IMAX.

I am still in complete awe of the fabulous delicate balance - it's all the same old same old stuff, every bit of it... but it's all genuinely new and fresh and a whole new road lies ahead. Everything you know is right... but you'll be surprised and delighted to relearn it.

I have often admired how John D. MacDonald could tell you a character's whole life in a paragraph. The job this film did with Leonard McCoy would have had him in awe. In about six wrenching sentences someone who had never heard of Star Trek would know the character, why he carries so much inner pain, why he's in Starfleet despite loathing space travel... and why he's nicknamed "Bones." And the funny thing is, it's all new and fresh to someone who *does* know the canon.

The opening, pretitle sequence alone is worth the price of admission. JMS once said that the greatest human story is Horatius, and it's why we tell it again and again. This ten minutes stands as a monument to that thought.

One ST movie had a great villain who quoted Shakespeare. This one has a great villain Bill the Bard would have been proud to have written.

My god, what a movie. I think it's headed for a Rotten Tomatoes record - the first large-scale movie to sustain a 100 rating. Even Wall-E only managed 97.

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Sat May 09, 2009 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
James Gifford wrote:
I have often admired how John D. MacDonald could tell you a character's whole life in a paragraph. The job this film did with Leonard McCoy would have had him in awe. In about six wrenching sentences someone who had never heard of Star Trek would know the character, why he carries so much inner pain, why he's in Starfleet despite loathing space travel... and why he's nicknamed "Bones." And the funny thing is, it's all new and fresh to someone who *does* know the canon.

The opening, pretitle sequence alone is worth the price of admission. JMS once said that the greatest human story is Horatius, and it's why we tell it again and again. This ten minutes stands as a monument to that thought.
<snip>
My god, what a movie. I think it's headed for a Rotten Tomatoes record - the first large-scale movie to sustain a 100 rating. Even Wall-E only managed 97.

While your point about the Bones character is very valid, I had a somewhat different reaction to the movie as a whole. Someone over on r.a.sf.w asked yesterday if anyone had seen it, and this is what I posted:

saw it last night. On the level of pure spectacle, it was quite
well done -- I'd put it a couple of notches below the spectacle of the
Star Wars II and III episodes.

On the level of story, well, it had some entertaining elements but it
wasn't very well constructed, and they showed only a sketchy famiarity
with the existing mythos -- which they got away with by claiming this
to take place in an alternate timeline. They turned Kirk into a
transcendent superhuman comic-book character with very limited human
motivations, which was disappointing. Some of the story elements were
just dropped without explanation -- the slug used on Pike, for
instance. And they introduced huge new problems into the Star Trek
universe -- The destruction of . . . a certain planet . . . and
the . . . person . . . seeking a new colony . . . and the diplomatic
and political problems that would have been caused by the assault on
the Klingons at a time before the Klingons were integrated into the
Federation was simply dropped.


The impression I had while all this was going on was that it was
somehow *thin* like coffee with skim milk rather than half-and-half
(if that's your kind of thing), Star Trek light. Since Star Trek
wasn't all that substantial to start with, the dumbing down of the
content was really noticeable. And at the end they have Kirk, still
in his third year at Star Fleet Academy -- well, it simply wan't
credible in any sense. Sacrificing credibilty for a *feel*good*ending
kind of shows the lack of ability and lack of respect of the
filmmakers.


I guess you could also say it shows why there is considered to be a
big divide in Hollywood between television writers and production
personnel and film people. This Star Trek was a really good
television production that almost but not quite transcended the
conventions. By way of contrast, Babylon 5 started out with a feature
film, and the TV show gave us a filmmaker doing good work in
television, about the way (though not on the same level as) the first
couple seasons of David Lynch's Twin Peaks did. There are other
examples.

The discussion over there keeps opening up improbabilities and idiot plot cheesiness. Basically, I conclude, the story does not bear looking into.


Sat May 09, 2009 5:19 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
Bill Patterson wrote:
Basically, I conclude, the story does not bear looking into.

I wouldn't disagree; it is Star Trek, after all, and ST was never more than a television comic book. I think the story and character development is exactly on target - I could not have sat through a moody, dark, "realistic" take on the ST universe, which was constructed from solid cheese, one half-assed episodic brick at a time.

I am perhaps willing to cut the makers a lot of slack for NOT bogging down the fast-moving story with the resolution of every detail. Clearly, Pike talked - we didn't need to see it. Something was done to rid him of the buggy - we didn't need to see it. (Perhaps that has as much to do with him stepping down as captain as his apparent injuries.) There will be hell to pay over on the Romulan-v-Klingon side of known space; that's another story. The one who returns is going to have to do something about his presence and his anomalous ship; I think we can conclude he does, with help, and that it will be a key rebuilding block for Those People.

This is not a movie that would have been the better for another half-hour of connective tissue, and I think it's churlish and miss-the-point to complain because some of the details got skimmed while telling a huge, rambunctious, Kirk-the-walking-hardon story. Because what was on the screen was a one hundred percent success... exactly what it was supposed to be, and what it needed to be.

Remember, Star Trek II was the best movie of the whole run... and the first was a dreary, draggy, lost mess. So if we have the same ratio, and could well, then the next movie in the series is going to blow the doors off the old franchise. (This one certainly rattled its windows.)

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sat May 09, 2009 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
As good a place as any to slide in my "Star Trek in one sentence" maxim, which the new movie does nothing to refute.

"For god's sake, she's dead, Jim!"

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sat May 09, 2009 7:11 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
James Gifford wrote:
The opening, pretitle sequence alone is worth the price of admission. JMS once said that the greatest human story is Horatius, and it's why we tell it again and again. This ten minutes stands as a monument to that thought.


Yes, and it even took place on a bridge, to boot. I loved that part too, more so the way Pike describes it later (dammit, where are we going to draw the line at spoilers in this thread?).

But this is where I part company with Jim. Somewhat unusually, I am siding with Bill. Here is the nutshell of my complaint. These characters show not the slightest sign of having been through three minutes of academy training, let alone three years. This is something I have been railing about for decades, that modern Trek does not understand what command and discipline in a military organization is about. This movie went so much further in that direction than any previous Trek effort, it was ploughing up pastures to lay tarmac. And that, fundamentally, is what makes this so utterly unbelievable.

Even Pike failed to maintain authority. Ladies and gentlemen, command aboard a starship - which spends months or years out of range of all possible help, no way to call for backup - depends upon complete and well-oiled devotion to discipline and respect for authority. Had I been in the crew when Kirk took command my reaction would have been sheer terror: "We're fucked."

There was a "bible" for the original series to educate prospective writers. It described a hypothetical scene of the Enterprise facing certain doom while the attention was on the bridge, where the captain put an arm around a female yeoman to comfort her during their final moments. The question posed to the reader was, what's wrong with this picture? Not any of the fantastic details I left out of the setup behind the situation, but instead, the captain's physical affection. He would never do that under any circumstances, it explained. This movie delighted in diverging from that principle so much it felt like a giant fuck-you.

I went in wanting and expecting to like the movie. I talked my wife into rearranging our schedule so I could catch it today. I was with it until the flight to Vulcan. By the time they dropped Kirk off at Delta Vega I was lost. That, by the way, was so totally contrived for the sake of the plot and would get any officer responsible for it court martialled.

This 90210-in-space may appeal to young-'uns who have no clue about military discipline and why it exists, but it just leaves me cold, and I've never even been in the military. I would not entrust this crew with anything more onerous than walking a dog, and it would not be my favorite dog. This has nothing to do with them being green, it has to do with a disrespect for authority and training that would have been beaten out of any cadet in the first week of basic. A true raw recruit is not arrogant, he's terrified of screwing up, and has to be pushed to take initiative.

I simply do not understand the need to not merely play fast and loose with the canon, but crap all over it. I wish someone would make the movie I want to see about Starfleet Academy, and it would be more like Space Cadet. (Hmm... a boy from Iowa... fancy that.)

What I liked about the original series and Next Gen was that it was about encountering things beyond our experience, and humans having evolved to a level worthy of not just surviving as a race but taking charge of this expansion into the unknown. It was not all about the phasers and photon torpedoes. But modern Trek has decayed into an interstellar first-person shooting game. Forget about exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations, we're too busy mowing down the ones we already know about. Bah.


Sun May 10, 2009 5:06 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
At some point, you have to judge each movie on its own merits and within its own constraints. Star Trek has huge, ungainly, muddy boots to fill. I don't think that expecting it to get realistic or serious about military command and discipline, or the Meaning of Manned Spaceflight, or Man's Place in the Universe, or any such things at this very late date is appropriate.

The movie had to (1) appeal to the audience of 2009, and as big a one as possible, but (2) without honking off forty years of fanatic fandom. It also had to do the biggest reboot of a franchise since Tim Burton's Batman, but with an ensemble cast instead of one character. That meant it had to stay within certain limits - not good limits, in the most case, but necessary ones.

It also had to fit Hollywood's rules, meaning that a three-hour run time was out, and that it had this single shot to build the foundation for the new franchise (no one would have stood for part one of the origin story; get back to us in May '11 for the thrilling conclusion!)

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. (Even B5 had some absolutely eye-rolling moments in this respect... JMS sometimes did not seem to understand ANYTHING about the military. And B5 was a Marine training film compared to ST.)

So is it fair to judge it on outside terms... or do we suspend belief to tell a good, thrashing tale and lay the groundwork for the next one, unencumbered by the dreary realities of how a crew would be selected and assigned and trained, knowing that we had to end up with the crew and assignments necessary to continue the Star Trek universe's story line? So we skipped to the good part... who and what loses, there?

Do we alla-sudden start complaining about the lack of proper military behavior, or do we accept that Starfleet is a pretty poorly run "military" and always has been?

Do we hold the most famous member of Starfleet, a man who wrote his own rules and then broke them at his leisure for forty years of galaxy-saving, to the mundane jots and tittles of finishing his academy papers and learning to salute up the ranks... when he's just saved Earth yet again?

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.

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Sun May 10, 2009 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
Peter Scott wrote:
What I liked about the original series and Next Gen was that it was about encountering things beyond our experience, and humans having evolved to a level worthy of not just surviving as a race but taking charge of this expansion into the unknown. It was not all about the phasers and photon torpedoes. But modern Trek has decayed into an interstellar first-person shooting game. Forget about exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations, we're too busy mowing down the ones we already know about. Bah.

What?

No one got mowed down in this film except for one rogue alien pirate intent on destroying every home world in the Federation. (late edit) One driven so mad that even pointing out that his homeworld was, at this retrograde point, still in existence, meaning he had the chance to set things in motion to possibly save it 129 years hence, not good enough; he was on a course of destruction and would not be deflected.

With respect to what I said above, keep in mind that the first ST film was exactly what you claim to have wanted to see this time: logical, compleatist, cerebral, concerned with the big questions of man's place in the universe... and it was slow, boring and nearly killed the franchise at its birthing. The second film came close to not being made, and never again would Paramount put quite enough funding behind an ST movie.

Until now... and they did exactly what was done originally. The first pilot was slow, cerebral, and about the big questions... and a flop. The second pilot was action and adventure... and succeeded.

I'll take success, measured in audience interest and studio enthusiasm to do more installments with the big checkbook out, over some 'bettered' version of the mythos that appeals only to a subset of the existing fan base (and some handful of newcomers) and disappoints Uncle Paramount.

Bottom line to both these posts: You're missing that this is Star Trek. If you wanted a powerful, realistic, man explores the universe film, you wouldn't go see Dr. Who vs. the Nebulanians... unless they made that film powerful, realistic, grounded... and lost the intended audience.

Star Trek. It's Star Trek. Not Contact or 2001 or even Forbidden Planet. Star Trek. And I loved it for what it is.

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sun May 10, 2009 5:54 pm
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Post Re: Star Trek
Yes, it's Star Trek. It's space opera. Glad to see the original franchise reborn, complete with Trekkies in full regalia among the audience. There were several scenes when the entire audience broke out in applause. Most enjoyable movie I've seen in years.

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Sun May 10, 2009 6:20 pm
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