Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Star Trek

I (rather belatedly) got around to seeing the new Star Trek movie. The movie sped by and reached its end in what seemed like much less than the 2:06 running time. But.

Then I had time to think about it, and the more I thought, the less satisfactory the movie seemed.

What struck me first was that several plot devices were pretty straightforwardly lifted from earlier Star Trek movies. The "revenge over the death of my wife" meme and the "inject him with a creature that controls his brain" meme both came from The Wrath of Khan. The "hiding the Enterprise behind a planet to escape detection" ploy was used in The Search for Spock. The "guy from the future provides a how-to to a guy in the past" gimmick was used in The Return Home (Scotty provides a 20th century engineer with the specs for transparent aluminum; Spock provides Scotty with the equations for trans-warp transportation).

So there was a significant lack of creativity.

And then there was the gaping plot stupidity. In order to set off the explosion that creates the black hole, the Romulan commander (Nero) drills into the planet's core. Um. Why not just set off the explosion on the planet's surface? That'd be a lot quicker, no? And, by the way, why was the response, both on Vulcan and on Earth, for people to run around in confusion? Neither planet's security forces had any weaponry that could have been used to disrupt the drill? Please.

And there was the "evil overlord" syndrome. Nero left the Spock-from-the-future alive so he could grieve over the destruction of Vulcan. Which, of course, left him around to help the Kirk-from-the-present. ("6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them. ") And, for that matter, Nero had the Kirk-from-the-present in his grasp...and didn't kill him. ("47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.")

Finally, the thing that has made the movies mostly inferior to the TV series. The movie was essentially a one-note, the evil guys are trying to destroy the good buys story. Oddly, the TV series, the original one and more especially Deep Space Nine, dealt with deeper issues of morality. Right and wrong were not so clear. And so the TV series tended to make its viewers think about their world in a somewhat more subtle way. Not so much with the movies, and especially not so much for this one.

So the movie moved right along and I enjoyed it until it had been over for maybe 5 minutes. Then, I began to think about it...


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