Ok, so I’m extending the Week of Geek Star Trek edition by one more day, because after two viewings of the new film and countless comments and forum posts I’ve read about it, I felt I should address some of the likes and dislikes about the JJ Abrams‘ prequel/reboot that people have expressed.
When I went to see the new Star Trek twice this weekend, I snarked not. I’m not saying that it’s a perfectly crafted story with no plot holes and no highly improbably scenarios. I’m just saying that the film was so entertaining for me on a whole that while watching it, I was never taken out of the story by those “WTF?” moments that every single film has. And, I really thought I would, because I typically can’t get down with time-travel stories. Yeah, I love me some Back To The Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but those are comedies. You don’t fear the time-travel complications the way you do in a movie like Star Trek, where lives can be altered permanently and you can’t just laugh off the consequences.
But, like I said, every film has those “WTF?” moments, and for Star Trek, I’m seeing posts and comments all over the internet about people’s issues with the film. Some of these queries into the film are more easily answered than others. Therefore, here’s some possible explanations for 10 issues consistently noted by people who’ve seen the film, as well as a list of why the new Star Trek film is all right with me.
WARNING: This article contains mega-SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen the new Star Trek, enter at your own risk. There be SPOILERS here, Admiral!
Possible Explanations To Top 10 Gripes
1 – How can they beam people aboard a starship that’s traveling at warp speed, but yet they have trouble beaming back two people falling from a drill platform?
It’s because that transwarp beaming, which allowed Kirk and Scotty to beam back on to the warping Enterprise, was what only Scotty knew how to do and he was not aboard the ship when Kirk and Sulu were freefalling onto Vulcan without a parachute. The real question is, if Chekov could beam two people freefalling back to the ship, why did he have trouble beaming the Vulcans up quickly when they weren’t even moving? Obviously, they had to make Spock’s mom’s death dramatic, and it certainly was, especially afterwards when Spock is staring at the spot she should have been beamed to on the Enterprise transporter pad. Perhaps it was the seismic conditions on Vulcan making it difficult to quickly beam them aboard.
2 – Kirk being stranded conveniently near a Starfeet outpost on Delta Vega.
Spock did NOT maroon Kirk on the ice planet Delta Vega to die, he just wanted Kirk off the Enterprise and out of the way, as it was obvious that simply placing Kirk in the Brig would not be enough to stop him. (Plus, Kirk was never even supposed to be on the Enterprise to begin with.) So, Spock had him ejected to the surface of Delta Vega right near the Starfleet outpost. Why Nero dropped Spock in that same location, that I don’t know. Perhaps that was the only real inhabitable area on the surface (think Greenland, can’t just land anywhere there) and since Nero wanted Spock to live to see the destruction of Vulcan, it would make sense to leave him somewhere he would survive, at least for a little while.
3 – Why didn’t Scotty know about the destruction of the planet Vulcan if Delta Vega and Vulcan were so close to each other?
Looking back, I don’t think Scotty mentioned anything about Vulcan and he seemed only concerned with getting a sandwich. Maybe Vulcan’s destruction hadn’t yet effected Delta Vega, so the computer did not bring up an alert. Or, perhaps there’s no alert system in place for that. I mean, if I google something, my computer brings up the information, but if a building collapses a block away from me, my computer does not alert me to it (and I’m in Manhattan where there are building and crane collapses all the time — and yet I don’t find out about them until I turn on the news). But, yeah, it does seem strange that Scotty doesn’t know AND that Spock and Kirk didn’t bother to tell him — although, they had more pressing matters at hand.
4 – If it was a Starfleet outpost, then why didn’t Scotty have food?
He clearly did have food, but it seems like the only food he had left were military rations — not exactly appetizing. It’s possible that he was only supposed to be stationed there for six months, which would mean he was at the end of his time on that assignment (hence why he wasn’t surprised to have visitors). This was an outpost, not a base — think International Space Station, not a ton of people up there. Obviously, getting stationed there is not ideal, but since he pissed the wrong person off, that was the undesirable assignment he got.
5 – Chekov’s thick Russian accent.
Ok, here’s the thing. Chekov’s Russian accent in the original series and subsequent movies IS strong. Remember in Star Trek IV, he kept saying “nuclear wessels”? Actually. He’s younger in this new film, so it would stand to reason that his accent would be stronger and he’d still have problems pronouncing the English V’s. Also, Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new movie, IS Russian and was born in Russia. It’s not just some American guy putting on a thick Russian accent; if anything, he knows what he’s doing. I’m familar enough with Russian accents to know that he wasn’t really putting it on that thick (my stepmother and her family are from Russia and after speaking English for over 30 years already, they can still be hard to understand). I think over time, people will get used to Chekov’s speaking and it an issue anymore after several viewings of the new Star Trek.
6 – The Spock and Uhura relationship and why were they kissing in the transporter room in front of people?
I had no problem with relationship between Spock and Uhura and thought it was great to actually see Spock in love. But there’s only one reason why I think this relationship would be improbable — because Spock was her instructor at the Academy. It’s doubtful that Spock would go against a code of conduct to have relations with a student. But, we don’t know the origins of their relationship. They could have meet when he was in a teaching assistant-type role where there would have been no conflict. Or, maybe he had been her instructor at one point and they got together much later and she was never his student again. As for the kissing scene in the transporter room, I think the only person there was Scotty and he didn’t even know them. It makes sense that Uhura would go to see him before he left and since Spock basically thought he was on a suicide mission anyhow, there was no reason to hide. He thought he was never going to see her again, so what did it matter if Scotty and later Kirk knew about them? Plus, that scene spouted some great comedic reactions from Kirk and it was really fun to see Spock get the girl for a change.
7 – If Kirk finished the Academy in only three years, how did the other cadets advance as fast?
Pike says to Kirk that he can finish the Academy in four years; Kirk vows to do it in three and he seemingly does. Before he enlists, when Kirk meets Uhura at the bar in Iowa, she is already a cadet at the Academy, presumably a year into her studies. Bones, who enlisted when Kirk did, possibly advanced quicker as well because he was already an experienced doctor, so perhaps he got to skip the more basic medical training, thereby making it possible to graduate from the Academy in three years also. We meet Chekov and Sulu on the bridge of the Enterprise, so we never knew their status when Kirk enlists. Scotty we know was already in Starfleet and obviously out of the Academy since he was already out on assignment.
8 – Why was the Enterprise crewed by cadets? Where were the senior officers?
When the alert came in at the Academy about seismic activities on Vulcan, it was stated that most of the fleet was stationed elsewhere, presumably not in range of Vulcan. (So, the bigger question would be, isn’t it unwise to place most of your fleet in one area, leaving so many places unprotected — including Starfleet Academy?) Therefore, they had to resort to the cadets going on the mission, which — don’t forget — seemed to be a relief effort from a natural disaster on Vulcan, NOT an active combat mission. If there was an earthquake in California, but most of Red Cross workers were already providing relief to a previously stricken area — say, China — hit even harder by an earthquake, don’t you think they’d send out less experienced workers to California if that’s all they had to send? That’s what happened with the Vulcan situation. And, there were Senior officers on the ship — like Spock, Pike, and the Senior Medical Officer who was killed, as well, I’m sure, as many we didn’t get to meet.
9 – “I canna change the laws of physics…” Problems with the physics of black holes, supernovas, warping, starship construction, and more.
Physics was never my best subject in college, so I won’t even try to explain this one; I’ll leave that up to the likes of Dr. Geek, PhD. But, I will say that while everyone has a problem with the changing of the laws of physics in science fiction movies, no one seems to acknowledge the super-human strengths of the heroes of these kinds of movies. Kirk started out the mission with all those injections from Bones, which had harsh side effects; he then space jumped to the drill platform and nearly fell off of it and had to fight mano-a-mano with a huge Romulan, ending in a near-death parachute-less freefall from the platform; back on the Enterprise, Spock gave him the Vulcan nerve pinch, then he was ejected from the ship onto a frozen wasteland where he had to outrun TWO ice creatures, followed by a walk through harsh surface conditions to get to the Starfleet outpost; Spock later gave him a beat down, complete with the mythical death grip choke; when Kirk went to the Narada to face Nero, he got another beat down from the Nero and his first officer. All of this takes place in a relatively short time-span. Don’t you think he would have dropped dead from exhaustion or even at least passed out at some point? But, we accept Kirk’s super-human ability to maintain his strength and never weaken because he is the action hero of the film; therefore, we should probably allow for the breaking of the laws of physics in scifi movies.
10 – How could Kirk be promoted from Cadet to Captain? How would all those cadets be assigned to the Enterprise under him?
It’s a little unclear to me how long AFTER the events with Nero that Kirk was promoted. Was it right away? Was it much later? That was really the one issue that stuck out to me in the entire film — that he would be promoted right to Captain. I don’t think any amount of heroics and valor would get your rank moved up so quickly (outside of combat, that is — in combat, we see how easy it is to move up, if your senior officers are killed, but your rank doesn’t stay that way forever; it’s only temporary). I can see Pike going from Captain to Admiral without a problem, it actually makes sense because of his performance in combat, and he probably put in enough time to earn that rank, and he couldn’t go back into active duty with his injuries. Near the end of the film, Spock tells Kirk “Tell Lieutenant Uhuru…” but I’m not sure if that was her rank for that mission only, or she had already earned it. Spock and Scotty were already officers; we never knew Sulu and Chekov’s status when we met them and in the end, they took their places at the helm, so it’s still unclear what there ranks were. It’s possibly that Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, and Chekov all were promoted too because of their actions during the battle with Nero. Regardless, it’s obvious that this was a way to get the original crew back on the Enterprise so that in the sequel they can get right back in action.
One Part I didn’t Understand Too Well:
Spock Prime and Nero go through the time warp in their relative ships. Nero goes through first and he’s there for 25 years before Spock Prime comes through. When Spock Prime comes through, only minutes have passed. Huh? I’m quite confused about the time-traveling part with these two characters, so feel free to explain it to me.
Why I Loved Most Of The New Actors… and Not Others
— “Buckle up!” and Chris Pine’s rise to action hero heights. While I thought Kirk’s final Kobyashi Maru test would have been more epic than it was, I did love Chris Pine‘s acting in this scene — it was pure Shatner and very reminiscent of Wrath of Khan (even had the apple and everything). The amazing thing about Pine’s performance throughout the film is that while it wasn’t a mimic of William Shatner, it had that same charisma. You see him as Captain Kirk. You trust that knows how to handle every situation — whether it’s seemingly a no-one situation or not — or he at least will make the attempt to handle it, even if the odds aren’t in his favor. The filmmakers did the right thing by putting this relatively unknown actor in the spotlight — they’ve discovered a true gem.
— “You will not lecture me…” and all things Zachary Quinto. Zachary Quinto totally rocked the young Spock role. He is Spock. No, he’s not at the point of Spock’s life that we are used to, but you can see that this young Spock will grow into the Leonard Nimoy character. His chemistry with Chris Pine’s Jim Kirk is spot-on and exactly what was needed to make us love Spock and Kirk together in this film and want to see their relationship evolve into the blood-brother one we love so much. One of my favorite lines from Spock to Kirk: “Out of the chair…”
— “Damnit, I’m a doctor, not a physicist” yet you can’t keep a good doctor like Bones in Sick Bay. Basically every bit of Karl Urban‘s performance and dialogue as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy was amazing, perfect, beyond belief f’n fabulous. How he almost never has to stay in Sick Bay where he belongs is still mind-boggling, but the Bridge would surely be no fun without him.
— “I’ll be monitoring your frequencies” and the liberation of Uhura. Zoe Saldana‘s Uhura is strong and capable and luckily not living under the same sexist constraints of 1960’s U.S. television as Nichelle Nichols. Saldana shows us why Uhura would land a coverted spot on the Enterprise — NOT because of her affair with Spock (that almost cost her her desired assignment), but rather because she’s a linguistics master. Who wouldn’t want an officer who can speak all three Romulan dialects and be able to intercept and translate Klingon transmissions? She is basically C3PO! Oh, and she’s sexy as hell.
— “Ready for warp” and Sulu’s unique combat skills. While John Cho is typically the funny man in his films, in Trek he plays it straight as the helmsman of the Enterprise. I loved it when we find out that Sulu’s experience in combat is in fencing! It got a laugh from the audience, but everyone cheered when he pulled out that folding Katana sword and did his best Jedi impression. (It reminded me a lot of the scene in Return of the Jedi on Tatooine with Luke Skywalker fighting on the skiff). Back on the bridge, we know this Sulu will maneuver the hell of those thrusters!
— “Wictor, Wictor…” and Chekov’s wiz-kid abilities. It’s established right away that this teenager is really a genius, so it’s a great way to place him aboard the Enterprise again at the end. Anton Yelchin does his best as the young, enthusiastic ingenue, whose advanced knowledge saves the day at least once (even if it wasn’t enough on Vulcan).
— “I like this ship” and every scene Simon Pegg is in. It’s clear that Simon Pegg, who plays the starving Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, steals every scene he’s in, so perhaps it’s good that he wasn’t in too many. I wasn’t sure how Pegg would pull off this beloved character, but he does it — and does it well. Scotty spin-off movie, I say “Aye”!
I know, I don’t even have to mention Leonard Nimoy because it’s a given that if he’s in a Star Trek film, he’s the biggest asset. I had chills down my arms and legs every time Nimoy was on the screen, not to mention the teary eyes. His presence elevated this new movie to a level that any Trek fan should be proud of.
Bruce Greenwood‘s Captain Christopher Pike served well as the mentor for the new cadets aboard the Enterprise. His promotion to Admiral at the end of the film was quite fitting.
As Spock’s father Sarek, Ben Cross reminded us of why we just love Vulcans so damn much. Yeah, he shows no emotions, but does he need to? The love and caring for his son is obvious even without emotions and we can see why Spock’s human mother Amanda would fall in love with this man.
Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Morrison
While there scenes were short, Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Morrison opened the film as Jim Kirk’s parents George and Winona Kirk aboard the USS Kelvin, which was under attack by Nero as a very pregnant Winona went into labor with Jim. After this opening sequence, you wish so badly that these are the parents Jim Kirk had been raised with. Thought his father was killed, his mother survived the attack and the birth of her son, but it’s not clear why then Jim was raised in Iowa by his Uncle in this version if his mother was still alive. (You hear the Uncle telling Jim that his mother is “off planet.”) Either way, both actors did a great job using what little time they had on-screen to make us endeared to them instantly.
Unfortunately, while I love Eric Bana, I don’t think his Romulan character or his performance in the new film were anything special. As Nero, Bana had to play the over-the-top villain who’s crazed out of his mind where he’d rather die than live without achieving his revenge, similar to Khan in Wrath of Khan. But his performance was far from Khan. The true stand-out Romulan in the film is Nero’s first mate (can’t remember his name in the movie) — he was way more badass and frightening because he maintained his wits about him. Another disappointment — Winona Ryder as Spock’s human mother. I’m not sure if it was the poor quality of her “aging” make-up or if she just will always sound like she’s her character from Heathers, but I felt that she brought nothing unique to this role. Not that she ruined it, but I just don’t see why it was so important for them to get her for the role, especially since she’s not old enough to be Spock’s mom and they had to age her on-screen.
Well, that’s it for this edition of Spoiler Talk, at least on my end. Now it’s time for you guys to offer up your explanations and comments about the new film, its possible plotholes, and/or what you loved/hated about it. I welcome all of your comments … except the ones that call me stupid and stuff.