Star Trek

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In a change from my usual reviews, I'm not going to avoid spoilers in this one, so read on only if you don't want to know what happens in the film as there are some big plot points ahead. You have been warned!

I've been a fan of Star Trek since The Next Generation first graced our screens in the late 1980s. The quality has varied over the years, but most Trek has been watchable apart from the frankly awful Star Trek: Nemesis.

So the new Star Trek film has recently arrived to much hype, and I did find it surprisingly good - perhaps not so surprising given it was made by Bad Robot, the team behind the excellent Lost and Cloverfield. The new flick is the best Trek film since First Contact, but it is also utterly infuriating (like Lost sometimes).

I think the most annoying thing for me was that this was billed as a reboot of the franchise - a clean break to tell new stories with the same characters. This would have been fine, but instead they felt it necessary to write in the old Spock (presumably to keep the die hard fans happy), so it became a clich�d "person travels back in time, changes some key event and creates a parallel universe" story, which is indicative of lazy writing to me.

There was also some very dodgy and inconsistent physics involved. A black hole was able to safely transport both the Romulan ship and old Spock's ship back in time, but destroyed the planet Vulcan and then destroyed the same Romulan ship at the end of the film.

Another unexplained oddity is the redesign of the Romulans themselves. In the older series they were very similar in appearance to Vulcans (which fitted in with their shared ancestry), but with ridge on the forehead and bridge of the nose. In the new film they're all bald and covered in tattoos. Also the ship design has radically changed. Far from the iconic birdlike green ships of the past, the Romulans now seem to fly around in metallic black spiky ships that looks like a strange cross between a Borg ship and a Shadow vessel from Babylon 5. If the film had been a pure reboot this wouldn't have mattered, but because of the nature of the "alternate universe" type story, this Romulan ship ought to have been from the Trek universe we're all familiar with.

Transporter technology seems to be capable of a lot longer range than in the past. Previously in Star Trek it has never been possible to transport from much further than from orbit to a planet's surface, or between ships within visible distance. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual quotes transporter range at approximately 40,000km (from memory - I'll check when I get the chance). However, here in the new film is is somehow possible to transport from a planet to the Enterprise travelling at warp some unknown but huge distance away, and also from Titan's orbit to a ship orbiting Earth.

Regardless of all this, it is still a good film that's worth seeing. Funny and fun is a hard thing to pull off in an action film, but this manages to press all the right buttons if you can switch off your "WTF?" response.

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I'm going to have to get incredibly geeky on you, but there are explanations for a bunch of the "oddities". There's a comic series that bridges the gap between Nemesis and Stark Trek called Countdown with some of these details in, but basically:
* The Romulans are bald and tattooed because they did that to themselves after Romulus was destroyed. This is a change just for these individuals, not the entire species.
* The ship looks Borg-ish, because they fitted captured Borg tech to the mining ship as part of their plan to gain revenge
* The black hole presumably destroys the ship because the black hole is being formed from the matter of the ship. That's what the red matter seems to do, cause matter to experience gravitational collapse, and the red matter directly impacted the ship.

1. OK, but that doesn't explain the lack of the "V" shaped ridges on their forehead (unless they've been to a surgeon!).

2. That's plausible I guess. I seem to recall that Voyager significantly weakened the Borg collective so in the time period the Romulans are from it's possible they'd have been able to salvage tech with a mining ship.

3. That's true, the ship was riddled with droplets of the red stuff.

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This page contains a single entry by KeefJudge published on May 18, 2009 1:44 PM.

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