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Showing posts from September, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 049: Chekov Has the Con

Previous: STbtM 048: Psychic Psycho

Spock turns from his aft-facing station on the Bridge to face the viewscreen, stands and walks forward, and monotones: "Pardon me, I do not believe you and I are acquainted." Nero responds: "No we're not…not yet." So, the dialogue here indicates Nero knows he's time-travelled backward and that what he has experienced in the future has not happened yet. Why even put this exposition in the film if Nero is going to scream the exact opposite worldview later? The only answer that seems plausible to me is that the development team had no respect for the story – they wanted profits and they wanted them fast – so they slapped out a script of drivel and funneled it into a massively funded, corporate production pipeline, after which it was excreted to theatres and now on video, all at incredible profits.

Nero continues "Spock, there's something I would like you to see." OK, what might that be? He doesn't say, but th…

Star Trek by the Minute 047: Psychic Psycho

Previous: STbtM 046: With Shields Like These…

In the flow of battle, Nero's order to destroy the Enterprise was followed instantly by his bridge crew, with missiles hot in 5 seconds, impacting the target in 10. Sulu's useless "status report" and Pike's nonsensical order to "get Starfleet Command" takes another crucial 10 seconds, during which the next salvo from the Narada should have been on its way. Spock's report on the Romulans' "high energy pulse device" and Pike's ordering of "All power to forward shields, prepare to fire all weapons" yet again consumes what should the last available seconds for the crew to avoid certain death, yet they choose to use this time to chat about information that has nothing to do with keeping themselves alive, like getting the hell away from a ship against which it is obvious - glaringly obvious - they have no possible chance of success.

Entering a battlefield under red alert, shouldn'…

Star Trek by the Minute 046: With Shields Like These…

Previous: STbtM 045: Shields Up!
This segment opens with the Enterprise zooming through the wreckage of the destroyed fleet, which the Narada has pulverized. The Enterprise crew continues their frantic activity to avoid the structural carnage and detritus as if all this debris was some sort of surprise! It's not like everyone in the theatre didn't know what happened, and what the Enterprise was getting into, yet Pike and all the other flag officers and even Kirk who had been shouting warnings about a trap until a few moments ago, they all act as if this is the biggest surprise of their lives, less expecting what they find than my 8 year old. Might any experienced space combat veteran do better than this?
As the Enterprise rolls to starboard 90 degrees and drifts forward toward a huge disc section of wreckage in front of them that looks large enough to be part of an orbital station, Pike orders "Full reverse, starboard roll 90 degrees, take us underneath…" Editors proba…

STbtM 045: Shields Up!

Previous: STbtM 044: Kirk's Sound Logic
Spock continues: "…and Lt. Uhura is unmatched in xenolinguistics; We would be wise to accept her conclusion." Bzzzt! Oh, I'm sorry, that knocks the pointy-eared Vulcanian out of our bonus round, but thanks for playing "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grade Pakled?" We have a nice parting gift basket for you backstage including WFF 'n Proof's party pack and tofu kebabs. Why is Spock sulking out behind the back curtain? Uhura's report only makes two statements: (1) She translated the message (confirming its existence) and (2) that its content was accurately reflected in Kirk's summary. Neither of these is any kind of conclusion because conclusions are logical consequences arising from the truth of some set of propositions. All bachelors are unmarried, and Bill is a bachelor. These propositions, if true, lead to the conclusion Bill is a bachelor. Spock the super-genius from a logic culture is unable to understa…

STbtM 044: Kirk’s Sound Logic

Previous: STbtM 043: Borgtapus of Death
There's a bit of a scuffle on the Bridge as Kirk tries to press his case: "Sir, that same anomaly…" to be interrupted by Pike with the meaningless "Kirk!" Spock then chimes in with "Sir, Cadet Kirk is not cleared to be aboard this vessel," sounding actually distraught while at the same time Kirk begins to talk over him with a childish: "Look, I get it and I'd love to do it again with you." When Spock offers to Pike that "I can remove him from the Bridge," Kirk yells "Try it! This cadet is trying to save the Bridge" Huh? "Save the Bridge"? What about the whole ship? Why would anyone trying to make a case for their recommended course of action EVER say something like "...save the Bridge?" This is a small part of the vessel which cannot survive on its own and is like a strawman fallacy against Kirk's own argument, advocating a different and weaker position th…

STbtM 043: Borgtapus of Death

Previous: STbtM 042: Uhura Loses Skills
As this segment opens, we see from the surface of Vulcan a monstrously gigantic Narada floating in the blue sky high above, with what looks like an enormous black metallic flail snaking down toward us – all spikes and sharp blades. We pull back to see a flaming energy beam boring into Vulcan's atmosphere. Down on the surface, Spock's mom has just moved into her swanky new Vasquez Rocks condo. (Rumors on subspace that this relocation was to facilitate trysts with a Capellan, Kazon-Ogla, and a nearby Gorn couple remain unfounded.) Nero seems to have decided to initate his revenge on Spock by obliterating mom's backyard recreation of a California park. She views the massive pillar of fire drilling into the planet with horror from her patio, without any apparent interest in... you know, looking up at the source of what would seem a bit out of the ordinary to most people. Could this cylindrical conflagration serve as the dance pole for a s…

STbtM 042: Uhura Loses Skills

Previous: STbtM 041: Kirk's ESP
Following McCoy's lead, Kirk looks down at his hands and says "What the hell's this?" as he lifts his hands which are grotesquely swollen. Hilarious or sad attempt at humor? You decide. McCoy decides to diagnose the problem and announces: "A reaction to the vaccine, dammit!" as he runs off-screen calling for Nurse Chapel. I guess vulgar expressions, religion, and obscene lyrics are some people's substitute when intelligent communication by thoughtful characters is beyond their ability. Struggling to breathe, Kirk leaps off the examination table, runs to a display panel featuring an American Splendor graphical theme ;) and with one screen touch, he is able to call up Chekov's mission briefing and start replaying it, and a quick, chubby finger slide takes him to the words "appeared to be a lightning storm in space". The screen must have some of that precognitive turbo-lift technology! Kirk grabs McCoy with …

STbtM 041: Kirk's ESP

Previous: STbtM 040: Engines at Maximum Warp
The mentioning of Chekov's "whiz kid" qualifications is apparently supposed to explain why Captain Pike chose his navigator to provide the informational briefing to the ship's crew, in spite of the fact that his accent is so thick, he is moderately difficult for native English speakers to understand. One might think that the navigator would be better used performing his or her duties, actually navigating the ship while it is hurtling through space at "Maximum Warp" on an emergency rescue mission. One might especially think this when there's an entire communications staff whose linguistic ability better qualifies them, not to mention their training and duty assignments which are dedicated to, well, "communicating". Ridiculous – if one watches the film or read the script with any awareness of operations management.

Chekov's voiceless velar fricative for "H" in "Happy to" is, with…

STbtM 040: Engines at Maximum Warp

Previous: STbtM 039: Stalled Flagship
In a more straight-sounding voice, the helmsman turns to face the skipper and reports: "I'm Hikaru Sulu." Pike posits: "…and you are a pilot, right?" Sulu flashes a sheepish grin and replies: "Very much so sir," as he swivels his seat back to forward, and stammers "I'm…uh, not sure what's wrong…" Pike looks around at the Bridge crew and jokingly asks: "Is the parking brake on?" Sulu chuckles "Um no – I'll figure it out, it's just…" Spock at this point cuts in with "Did you disengage the external inertial dampeners?" and we get another closeup of Zachary Quinto with those fabulous Spock ears, they really do look great. Mortified, Sulu stares incredulously ahead as his hands operate the controls by automatic reflex. Summoning what courage he can, he announces with unconvincing bravado: "Ready for warp, Sir." Pike smiles back "Let's punch it,&…

STbtM 039: Stalled Flagship

Previous: NCC-1701 Ready to Launch

Pike turns and walks the Bridge perimeter addressing the crew with "Ladies and gentlemen, the maiden voyage of our newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstance than we can afford today. Her christening will just have to be our reward for a safe return." Here the dialog continues to reinforce another problem with the plot: that not just a bunch of starships, but the actual brand spanking new flagship has been completed over the course of many years with no seasoned experienced crew standing by, ready to deploy with her? Aside from Pike, the only crew members we know are either teachers from the academy, recent graduates, or students. 
Starfleet would have to be pretty incompetent for such a situation to arise, especially given the constraints imposed by the Lorenzian Cluster operations described by the Admiral. No competent project manager would neglect personnel like this for a Carnival Lines fun cruise, yet here, the most serious orga…

STbtM 038: NCC-1701 Ready to Launch

Previous: Orbital Station Flyby
The first 30 seconds of this segment continue the CGI approach of the shuttles and their landing in the Enterprise's shuttle bay. We zoom onto a huge bay area with zillions of criss-crossing columns, and filled with crew scurrying in every direction. I can't help but wonder if this is another location shot, or whether the set builders actually put this up. Kirk and McCoy hurriedly march through the area and the doctor announces "We need to get you changed," which seems an odd comment, since they are both wearing exactly the same Academy uniforms. Kirk slurs out "I don't feel right – I feel like I'm leaking…" and McCoy cuts him off with "Hell, it's that pointy-eared bastard!" as they veer off and out of sight.
Spock, turns from a conversation and walks purposefully into a lift. With a slight turn of his head, perhaps a subconscious curiosity about detecting Kirk aboard in the crowd, the lift stops and Spoc…

STbtM 037: Orbital Station Flyby

Previous: Mud Flea Sauce

McCoy, still holding the floundering Kirk upright, finishes his conversation with the shuttle deck commander, who says "As you were." McCoy retorts "As YOU were" in a huff.
They scramble aboard the shuttle which we see in flight with others in another beautiful CGI exterior, this time of San Francisco. My only quibble is that the shuttles look like composite overlays on a background shot, and the two were not coordinated, making the shuttle turns and acceleration look a bit off. We next see a LEO approach as the shuttles ascend from the atmosphere, while inside the shuttle, Kirk announces to McCoy, who is gazing out the window "I may throw up on you." McCoy, riveted to the porthole, replies in awe "Jim, you gotta look at this!" We next see a space station that must be really breathtaking in IMAX. At last, the shuttle zooms toward the Enterprise as the music swells.

As this segment is mostly scenery, I'd like to share m…

STbtM 036: Mud Flea Sauce

Previous: Uhura Gets the Enterprise
Uhura continues her questioning of Commander Spock as they rapidly file through the shuttle hanger between scattered equipment, lens flares, smoke from dry ice, smoke from steamers, and the ubiquitous fire extinguisher blasts: "…and did I not, on multiple occasions demonstrate exceptional aural sensitivity and I quote: 'an unparalleled ability to identify sonic anomalies in subspace transmission tests'?" Leading the march, Spock replies "Consistently, yes." He then stops and turns as Uhura demands with increasing outrage: "And while you are well aware that I'm as qualified as I am to serve on the USS Enterprise, I'm assigned to the Farragut?" Spock nervously looks around, and in a somewhat hushed voice explains: "It was an attempt to avoid the appearance of favoritism." This admission by Spock constitutes a double contradiction of logic. Logic, (the tool for avoiding invalid reasoning) suggests …