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Star Trek: Into Insipidity

Published Sunday, May 19, 2013 @ 12:14 PM EDT
May 19 2013

(A curmudgeon's review of "Star Trek: Into Darkness")

Star Trek: Into Darkness is aggressively, egregiously, purposefully, intentionally, maliciously stupid.

A certain suspension of disbelief is necessary in order to watch science fiction of any kind, and Star Trek is no exception. But Star Trek generally limited itself to extrapolations of existing technology and scientific theory, and the techno-babble whatsits still had to function within a known universe with well-defined laws of physics.

(Warning: there are spoilers ahead.)

One wonders if those responsible for this abomination took a copy of the script from Star Trek II, a script rejected from Lost in Space, shuffled them together, and filmed the result.

J.J. Abrams' original 2009 reboot also contained major errors, but that film was entertaining enough that the gaffes didn't come to mind until you were in your car, on your way home from the theater.

The plot holes is this stinker dragged me out of the movie in the very opening scene, and from that point on, things just got worse.

The movie starts on the planet Nibiru, which is also the name of the fictional planet that was supposed to kill us all during the Mayan Apocalypse.

"Hi, I'm J.J. Abrams, and we're starting off by naming this planet 'Nibiru' just to let you know we're deliberately thumbing our nose at science in general and Star Trek in particular, which we never liked. The whole movie is like this. This is one colossal in-joke. Don't forget to visit the concession stand."

They have to lower a guy on a rope into a volcano because some kind of magnetic interference from the volcano messes with the transporter. The rope breaks, and the guy and the doohickey that's going to turn off the volcano fall into the crater. The guy and the doohickey survive. Why not just drop the doohickey into the volcano in the first place and be done with it?

In the 23rd century, humans apparently have developed the ability to jump and/or fall 50-100 foot distances without sustaining injuries. They are also all long-distance runners.

The Enterprise is a space ship. Roddenberry's explicit design requirements were "no fins or rockets."

This Enterprise has more flaming ports than a busload of tourists eating at a Taco Bell.

It's probably safe to assume Roddenberry didn't envision starships and shuttlecraft would be interchangeable with submarines, either.

In the future, military experts charged with the safety of the planet will meet, unarmed, in buildings with no security, in rooms with large picture windows.

The bad guy may be superhuman and have lots of guns, but he can't hit the side of a Nibiruian barn. Too bad he didn't have another one of those magic fizzy explosive class rings.

Despite other advances in technology, firefighting still relies on hoses, strategically placed so they can be hurled into the turbine intakes of 23rd century shuttles.

Question: if you can use a super-duper transwarp transporter to beam yourself from earth to a planet light years away, isn't it kind of dumb to waste all that money building a star fleet? And lucky for him there were no magnetic volcanoes in the way?

We need to wake up this guy who's been in suspended animation for 300 years so he can design advanced weapons for us. Just imagine if we could somehow bring Thomas Newcomen from 1712 to the present. He could show us how to build a steam engine!

I swear that was a red-skinned Admiral Ackbar sitting at the station in the brig. Another Abrams joke? ("It's a trap. Also, wait until you see what I do to Star Wars.")

I'm a doctor and a scientist, which is why I injected blood from a 300 year old mutated human into a dead tribble for absolutely no reason, a species from a totally different planet with totally dissimilar biology and by the way, did I mention it was already dead? And why did we bring the movie to a freaking stop to point this out to you? It's a little thing we learned in writing school called "foreshadowing." Aren't we clever?

When Scotty disabled the weapon systems on the bad guy's ship he could have also disabled their shields, so Kirk and whatshisname could have just beamed on over instead of doing that dangerous space-suited jump between the vessels. Well yeah, but then we couldn't put in our homage to the asteroid scene in The Empire Strikes Back. And also, Mr. Smart Guy, the bad starship was powered by a cold fusion magnetic volcano that would have blocked the transporter anyway. Pbpbpbpbt.

"To really piss off the science nerds, we're going to make a reference about being 238,000 kilometers from earth and then place the ships next to the moon, which is 238,000 *miles* from earth. Later we'll make some clever joke about even NASA getting the two confused. Oh, and screw you, science fans."

Those 72 super-duper torpedoes which blew up simultaneously inside the bad starship were neither super nor duper, because not only did they not destroy the bad guys, they allowed the ship to make it through earth's atmosphere without burning up, take out Alcatraz, and mess up all those nice Bay-view apartment buildings. Yeah, the same folks in charge of Starfleet security also run Earth's planetary defense system.

Even assuming the ships were caught by Earth's gravity, one expects it would take slightly more than ten minutes for them to cover the distance between the moon and the earth. That would make their velocity 1.5 million miles per hour or over 400 miles per second. Objects entering the atmosphere at that speed explode and/or incinerate.

This Enterprise is designed like an 80s Hyatt hotel, with a big atrium and, one presumes, a food court that didn't appear because Orange Julius wouldn't sign the contract.

23rd century starships have engineering sections which apparently also have the ability to brew large quantities of beer in massive tanks.

Speaking of tanks, when the guys are hanging from one of the ubiquitous engineering catwalks and a big one goes whizzing past, my wife noted they had not only lost warp drive, but also had no hot water.

In the first movie, they were able to beam two people falling at escape velocity from the surface of a planet being imploded by the massive, constantly-changing gravitational field of a red-matter generated black hole. This time around, they couldn't differentiate between Dr. McCoy and a torpedo (both are blunt and explosive?) or pull Spock and the bad guy from a flying vehicle. Wait- is there a magnetic volcano near here?

23rd century matter/anti-matter warp drive engine design is a lot like that of 70s Volkswagen Beetle engines, in that you can get both to function optimally by repeatedly kicking them.

Hey, remember that we discovered there was something in this guy's blood that can cure incurable illnesses and bring people back from the dead? Shouldn't we be working on this? Or do magnetic volcano-resistant transporters get higher priority?

Note I haven't said anything about the lifted dialogue or the stolen and abused plot lines from previous movies.

One can only hope that some persons who see this film will decide to take a look at Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and realize Star Trek was intended to be entertainment for thinking grown-ups, not the burlesque Abrams perpetrated in what is hopefully his last dubious contribution to a once dignified franchise.

Categories: Movies, Star Trek


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