Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Nitpicker's Guide to the New Star Trek

I won't tell you the movie isn't enjoyable, isn't exciting, or isn't a slick, well-produced film.

I will, however, say the screenwriters should have their credentials revoked--then be hamstrung, drawn, and quartered. And the same repeated for the entire production chain who vetted and signed off on the screenplay.

For credulity's sake, how exactly did Kirk get promoted as a third-year cadet all the way to Captain? He skipped his fourth year (vaguely possible, I suppose, and something he did vow to Captain Pike he'd accomplish), skipped Ensign, Lieutenant (junior grade), Lieutenant, Lt. Commander, Commander ... all the way to Captain. None of the rest of the crew received a single grade promotion, mind you, yet Kirk got bumped up seven grades counting his final cadet year.

Besides the incredibility of that mega-promotion, Kirk is now deprived some of his most formative experiences. Recall that his backstory previously included a tour of duty on the U.S.S. Farragut, where as the weapons officer he felt he failed to prevent the death of his captain when the ship was attacked by a cosmic vampire cloud. Recall the death of his brother (who apparently doesn't exist in this alternate reality) at the hand of the plastic-dog-vomit parasites. Recall his many old flames (which is not to say his sexual escapades as Captain won't still happen, of course), including the one leading to the birth of his son. No friendship with Gary Mitchell and witnessing Mitchell's dehumanizing encounter with god-like powers. None of these things will have had happened. Instead, we get brash, even-younger-than-ever Kirk in charge from the get-go, without the tempering influence of the those experiences.

For the uber-nitpickers out there, I've also added a list of my first impressions of continuity violations which, though not critical to the story or characters so much, do deserve mention:
  1. The planet Delta Vega (where Kirk conveniently encounters elder Spock) was previously featured in the retooled original Star Trek pilot episode, with a small, automated dilithium (er, lithium--the writers hadn't invented "dilithium" yet!) cracking station. A desolate world, yes, but not the Hoth we're given in the new film... and a planet near the edge of the galaxy, not so close to Vulcan that it must be a planet in the same star system!
  2. Checkov had previously been significantly younger than Kirk and had idolized his captain; now, he's of a similar age and graduated from the academy ahead of Kirk.
  3. "Transwarp" previously referred to the next generation of warp drive systems (recall the Excelsior in The Search for Spock); now, it refers to the ability to transport people through vast distances of space and onto ships in warp drive.
  4. Spock had served with Captain Pike on the Enterprise for several years before Kirk became captain. Though they're introducing some aspects of the early Spock-Kirk friction in the new film, Kirk having "inherited" the aloof alien first officer he doesn't know how to deal with was something of a key point of the prior series.
I'll be back to this post in the future to put in a few more serious nitpicks.

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