Sunday, June 02, 2013

I Saw Star Trek Into Darkness

I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness last weekend, and I enjoyed the movie, but I have some questions for the writers.

If you haven't seen the movie, please do. It's good. And if you don't, they may not make any more Star Trek movies.  Remember, even a crappy Star Trek movie is better than no Star Trek movie.

I'm not going to spoil the whole movie for you. Just the first fifteen minutes, and this will summarize why the movie's writers are incredibly lazy.

The movie opens on a planet with red trees. There is what appears to be a temple at the base of a mountain. A figure in a brown robe bursts through the door and into the red forest with some sort of scroll in his hands. As he races through the forest, the planet's inhabitants chase after him, throwing spears. He races between the trees, and we see it's Kirk. If we spoke Hovitos, we might know what he stole.

Kirk running from the natives
A large creature rears up before him, and he kills it. McCoy appears and grumbles that Kirk just killed their ride. So they start running. Again.

Kirk, who risked his life stealing the scroll, hangs it on a red branch runs off1.  When the natives see it, they drop to there knees and worship it.  Well, most of 'em do. The rest keep chasing.

Cut to Spock suiting up in a heat proof outfit, obviously on a shuttle. Uhura tells him to be careful, then drops him on a rope into a volcano where he plans to activate a device to stop the volcano from exploding, which would kill the natives on the planet. The rope breaks, the shuttle malfunctions and Uhura and Sulu are beamed back to the ship. Spock realizes he is stranded, but sets to work.

Kirk and McCoy run through the forest to a cliff overlooking the ocean where they Butch and
Sundance jump hundreds of feet into the water. The water is inexplicable deep there and they speed through the water to a submerged Enterprise. It's submerged so they won't be detected by the natives.2

Once aboard, Uhura tells them that Spock is stranded in the volcano. Kirk asks Scotty if they can beam Spock up. Nope. The water and the volcano require line of sight before transport will be possible3.

Kirk orders the ship to leave the water and rescue Spock, if the natives see them, too bad. Here's the picture of the impressive rise out of the ocean:

Oh wait! That's the Enterprise wising from the atmosphere of Titan!  Here's the picture:

Oh wait! That's from the ending where the Enterprise rises out of the clouds on Earth. (Not really.  Can you believe no one has posted that yet?)  HERE's the picture:

The natives watch in awe as the ship rises and streaks off apparently miles to the volcano. Seriously. It flies off to a small dot. Kirk ran that far from the temple.

Anyway, Spock accepts his death, sets up the equipment and spreads his arms to be engulfed by the volcano before it is frozen. Just as the volcano erupts, Spock is beamed up, and the device freezes the volcano.

Cut to the natives as the shaman draws the Enterprise on the ground, which fades to the Enterprise headed for Earth.


1 Obviously the scroll is important to the natives, which begs the question: Why did Kirk take it? What was so important about it that it had to be taken from the temple? Was that the primary mission: steal a scroll? And if it's so important, why abandon it? Did he steal it just to use it as a distraction?

2 In the Original Series, every time the Enterprise drifted into an atmosphere, the danger was that the atmosphere would crush the hull like an eggshell. After all, the spacecraft is designed to contain one atmosphere of pressure from leaking into space. It's not designed to keep several atmospheres of pressure from getting in. And why submerge the ship to keep the natives from seeing it? Do they have such good eyesight they can see it in orbit? And why didn't the natives see the freakin' shuttlecraft flying into the volcano, for crying out loud?

3 That could explain why  Kirk and McCoy jumped hundreds of feet into the water, risking broken limbs. But couldn't they have stood on the edge of the cliff as Scotty beamed 'em up, er, down, er, sideways? He was pretty quick beaming Sulu and Uhura off a shuttle crashing into a volcano. Wait. As the shuttle plummeted into the volcano it fell out of line of sight. So, if they needed to be in line of sight to rescue Spock, shouldn't that been a factor in the mission planning? "Captain, we'll need to stay in line of sight of Mr. Spock in case of trouble." "Nah. Fuck him! I need a scroll for my cabin. Park this thing in the ocean. We'll jump off cliffs into the water."

Something occurs to me.

Comics today tend to decompress the story so that it can be republished in collections. I remember a stretch of Superman in the late 90s. Somehow, Superman was stranded on an island of cavemen. On his way to the island, a whole issue was about him seeing a sea monster and fighting it. Next issue, he's on the island.

Someone on the Internet pointed out that in the Silver Age, there was a story where Superman was racing to rescue Lois from some catastrophe, and he sees a sea monster and deals with it in four panels. In the 90s, the whole race to rescue Lois took four issues, with the sea monster taking up one issue.

Movies, on the other hand, keep trying to cram more and more into the film. The opening of the Star Trek flick would have been a great episode on TV,

Oh, and did you notice the line "We'll use Mudd's ship that we captured last month"? That was from IDW's prequel mini-series, "Countdown to Darkness." You can buy it with the link below.



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