Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sean Connery's Wife Was Right

After starring in "Diamonds Are Forever", Sean Connery vowed he would never star in another James Bond film.

Then another production company got the rights to make their own Bond film, following some of the monkey business involving "Thunderball", and Connery was signed to reprise the role of Agent 007.

It was Connery's wife who suggested the title, "Never Say Never Again".

Well, I vowed I would never see the new Star Trek movie, partly because I have no interest in alternate timeline stories, but mostly because of a lot of the misleading buildup to this thing and some of the behind the scenes crap, particularly the firing of Geoffery Mandel from the production staff because he was "too attached to the original ship."

Then, I wound up winning passes to a press screening.

No problem, I have class that night, so I can't go anyway. And we're talking broadcasting school, no way am I ditching training in my beloved chosen career field for this misbegotten flick.

Then I found out the subject that night was going to be sales.

I hate sales.

Guess I was going after all. At least I could rest easy that I can still say that I'll never pay to see this atrocity.

So, I went ahead and saw it at the press screening, and all I can say is that I'm oh, so glad that I didn't have to pay for it.

Suffice it to say that I was massively underwhelmed. Plot contrivances, shaky camera, even in the CGI stuff, cringe inducing dialogue, a "Look at MEEE!" glory shot of the ship every five minutes, all capped off with a closing credit sequence ripped off from the Lost in Space movie....well, let's just say that just about everything I said before I saw it, stands.

Some of the more minor annoyances:

Pink skinned Vulcans: Y'know, JJ, there was a reason they painted Nimoy yellow way back when, and it's because of that green Vulcan blood.

The Kelvin: 800 people made it off, after getting the crap kicked out it, which killed how many? And this is supposed to be a pre-TOS ship? Sorry, but that bucket reeked more of TNG, both in capacity, the instrumentation, and in the crew complement, which apparently included families, another TNG contrivance that didn't make it past "Generations" (the Enterprise-E doesn't have families on board). The interiors also indicated a much more massive ship, on the order of a Galaxy class starship. And what in the hell is with plastic sheeting in the shuttlecraft? Does it double as a meat locker?

The technology: Compared to TOS, most it, quite frankly, sucked. The numbskull front window/viewscreen was blurry and distorted, the transporter didn't work half as well as even the NX-01's, and the phasers, both shipboard and handheld, all behaved more like Star Wars blasters and turbolasers than their TOS predecessors. And need I mention Sulu's automatically unfolding katana, which helped him in his dashing impression of Luke Skywalker in the barge scene in "Return of the Jedi"? Or how the ships going to warp bore an uncanny resemblence to SW ships going to hyperspace? Should George Lucas be flattered or should he be calling his lawyers?

Delta Vega: As an astute poster over on pointed out, the name of the neighboring planet that Spock was stranded on really didn't have any bearing on the story, but by invoking the name of Delta Vega, the writers shined a big bright spotlight on this bit, making it quite clear that, deep down, they don't know what they're doing. A big part of "honoring canon" is getting the details right; otherwise, it's just meaningless name dropping and pandering.

Chekov: Excuse me, but exactly when did Chekov turn into Wesley Crusher? He was never any kind of wunderkind in TOS, just an eager young ensign trying to impress his superior officers. Also, at age seventeen, he should be starting his first year at the Academy, not already be a commissioned officer. But then, these clowns clearly don't know a thing about military protocol, since they also take a guy who was an undisciplined cadet facing some serious charges a couple of days earlier and give him command of their biggest and most advanced ship. Never mind the hundreds of seasoned officers who've been waiting God knows how long for a command of their own, let's give it to the hotshot kid with the rap sheet, because he's just so gosh darned dreamy. At the very least, it's clear they wouldn't know the chain of command if someone came up and beat 'em about the head and shoulders with it.

And my complaint about Spock still remains: He knows how to achieve a time warp, and he knows precisely what happened when, why it happened, what went wrong the first time, and how to circumvent those events. So why doesn't he get a ship, do a few time jumps, and fix everything that got screwed up? He could not only restore the timeline, but finally cement a lasting peace between the Romulan Empire and the Federation. So why doesn't he do this?

Because Spock has to have a sudden attack of the stupids in order for JJ to get his own Star Trek universe to run amok in.

Urban was good as McCoy, Pine was okay as Kirk, can't really grade Greenwood as Pike since we never got that much from Jeffery Hunter to form a basis of comparison, but taken on it's own, he gives a good performance, Yelchin was downright embarrassing as Chekov, Quinto just seemed to be PMSing all the time, and the rest of the cast was just sort of there.

The ship still looks stupid, and the decision to build it on the surface is the singlemost idiotic move in the entire history of the franchise.

It didn't help that the "Riverside shipyards" were clearly a present day industrial facility, either an oil refinery or electrical substation. Engineering looking alternately like a water treatment plant and, like it is in real life, a brewery, only adds insult to injury.

If this an example of just how dumbed down Star Trek has to be in order to appeal to that elusive mass general audience, then I am very content for Star Trek to remain a small niche market.