Friday, May 08, 2009

Recycled Trek

When the creators of the new movie say they were inspired by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, you better believe it. There is a guy out there in a starship seeking vengeance.

Instead of it being fifteen years since Kirk has exiled the genetic superman Khan to Ceti Alpha Six [we will mention Ceti Alpha Six again], its been over 25 years for the deranged Romulan Nero as he awaits to inflict his retribution upon a now very elderly Ambassador Spock from the future they both come from.

Wrath of Khan revolves around an item called Genesis that can turn a barren planet into a new Eden, thus solving population issues within the Federation. It is Khan who perverts salvation into a weapon. With Nero, he takes a device the Vulcans created that was intended to save his home world of Romulus from a supernova, Red Matter, and uses it to destroy Vulcan. Red Matter creates black holes, hence its application in stopping a supernova.

Star Trek II opens with a young Lt Saavik sitting center seat in a training simulation as Captain of USS Enterprise to face the Kobayashi Maru test. In the new movie at the beginning, Lt Sam Kirk finds himself commanding USS Kelvin against Nero’s ship after his Captain is murdered. With a ship badly damaged and crew evacuating, including his wife and unborn son, Kirk takes Kelvin on a death ride to save them. Later at the Academy, a very brash Jim Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru test three times before beating it.

Captain Spock commands USS Enterprise as she sails on a training cruise crewed mainly with StarFleet Academy students. To quote Kirk, “A bunch of trainees.” And she is the only ship in the quadrant to respond to Space Station Regula One’s distress signal. When Nero attacks Vulcan, something similar happens. The bulk of StarFleet’s strength is off in another system, leaving the rescue of Vulcan to a small number of starships that are crewed by Academy students.

Remember those little slugs from Ceti Alpha Six that Khan used to turn Captain Terrell and First Officer Chekov into his dupes? Nero has them as well and uses one on Captain Pike to attain the codes to Earth’s defenses. The only difference is Terrell and Chekov got theirs’ administered aurally while Pike’s was given orally.

To push the Khan motif further where the target of retribution is stranded, Nero exiles Ambassador Spock to an icy waste of a planet called Delta Vega so he can watch as Vulcan is destroyed. Surprisingly Commander Spock, now commanding Enterprise after Pike’s capture, jettisons insubordinate Jim Kirk to the same planet.

When the distress call from Dr. Marcus is received, Kirk goes to Spock and asks to take command of Enterprise. Spock accedes peacefully to this request because he knows Kirk is a better commander during a crisis. This Jim Kirk proceeds to provoke Spock into losing control of his emotions so he can command Enterprise against Nero since Pike had appointed him XO to Spock.

Like the crippled Enterprise fleeing into the Mutara Nebula to level the playing field against Khan aboard USS Reliant, something similar is in the new movie. Kirk has Enterprise warp into the murky atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan to avoid detection and ambush Nero’s vastly more powerful ship as Nero attacks Earth to further his retribution.

As the Red Matter proceeds to consume Nero and his ship in the climatic battle like Genesis rearranging Reliant and the Mutara Nebula in Wrath of Khan, Kirk offers Nero rescue. Like Khan before him, Nero refuses to be saved by Kirk. And Enterprise is in grave mortal danger as this is occurring, Kirk has stayed too close to the new black hole and its sucking the ship in. This time it is not Spock fixing the warp drive that saves the ship and crew, but Montgomery Scott, another exile from Delta Vega, who jettisons the warp cores into the black hole that has devoured Nero’s ship. The explosion propels Enterprise out of the voracious gravitational maw.


Legion said...

Well ya just saved me $10.50- thanx.

Richard L. Kent, Esq. (rkentesqva at yahoo.com) said...

Pickeee pickeee pickeee.

And Star Trek I was "Where Nomad Has Gone Before."

Who cares?

You don't go to a Trek movie to see originality or great acting. You go to eat popcorn and hear someone say with a Scottish accent, "I'm givin' it all she's got, Cap'm!" Or see planets blowed up by flying space cannolies. Or whatever.

Shakespearean it wasn't. But so what? I for one loved it--it gives us our TradTrek Crew back while clearing the slate for a whole new goround, updated to the 2010s.

:0P FFFFFFFT on you. :0)

Richard L. Kent, Esq. (rkentesqva at yahoo.com) said...

PS. The entire Trek universe was choking on 40 years of its own internal inconsistencies until this flick came out. Now we've cleared the slate. And what's wrong with that?

Anna said...

Well Richard, Trek was choking on its own problems because people like Berman and other writers did not care for what continuity there was. Or even worse like when Dr. Crusher started to babble about Picard's clone needing a whole body transfusion because his temporal based genes were mis-firing we got a techno-babble solution instead of solid writing.

And how many interim commanders did Enterprise go through while orbiting Vulcan at Red Alert? Pike, who studied the Kelvin incident, still went aboard Nero's ship. Spock stayed Captain until he abandons his post to rescue his parents. Which left Chekov as acting Captain until he had the urge to play Nintendo with the transporter controls to rescue Kirk and Sulu. And in the 23rd Century one would think controls could be reconfigured so Pavel did not have to bounce down hallways, but I guess this is a cheap drama driven plot device.

Sometimes rehashing a so-so script works. ST:TMP vs ST IV:Voyage Home. Voyage Home works because there is more of an emotional hook about it than V'ger digitizing the whole universe while Decker and Kirk battle for the center seat.

The sole rant by Nero of why he hates Spock, of Romulus being threatened by a supernova. We heard a similar plot device in ST:VI when Praxis exploded. This time its just kept until about the middle of the movie, but in both cases this event is the impetus for both movies.

Of couse there is the mater of Scotty materializing inside a coolnat tank. Glad his molecules did not merge with the coolant. But the whole sequence reminded me of Galaxy Quest, instead of fire we had the aerator from heck.

And giving Kirk command of StarFleet's newest starship when the guy is barely out of the Academy. We have seen Kirk steal the center seat in ST:TMP, borrow it from Spock in ST:TWoK, steal the whole ship in ST:Search for Spock, and then get handed a new Enterprise at the end of ST:IV. I think a: this device has been overused and b: this time just plain whacked. Be akin to giving your 15 year old the keys to the Porsche 911.

The true acid test is the sum of the whole. Did this movie work even as it borrowed so much? I chuckled a couple times like when McCoy mentions his divorce left him only the bones. But overall, did not care at all for the new Kirk, Spock, or rest of the crew. There you have it.