I buy my video games used…


Most of the time, anyway.

I also rarely see movies in the theater (unless it’s something for my son) and I don’t belong to Netflix or Blockbuster so I don’t rent DVDs. When I see movies (with a few exceptions) they’re borrowed from the library. And yesterday I saw the rebooted STAR TREK DVD sitting there on the shelf, so I snagged it.

Let me say upfront that I’m not a Star Trek devotee. The original series was mostly good. The Next Generation was mostly good after it worked the kinks out. Voyager was a bore and Enterprise couldn’t hold my attention. My favorite out of all of them is DS9.

So, understand that I’m not going to be all yay or nay based on the changes to canon…

Hoo boy. People liked this? Spoilers in the rant below.

The opening sequence showed me exactly what to expect: this would be loud, maudlin, and ridiculously over-the-top. I laughed aloud at the shot of the new captain’s pregnant wife being pushed in a wheelchair to an escape shuttle. Of course she would be about to deliver just as the Romulan ship came back through time and destroyed–what could be more dramatic?

Except it’s too much. It’s bathos. There’s something to be said for restraint and avoiding coincidence. A smaller moment, one that hasn’t been loaded with so much emotional freight, could actually hit much harder.

I’m not going to cover all the flaws in this movie. I know some scenes at a Klingon prison camp–which would have explained what the bad guy was doing for all the years it took that baby to grow up and kill him–were cut from the film. But the biggest problem to me was that the characters were in the heart of the Federation but everything fell to Kirk and his buddies.

Despite the wreckage of the Federation fleet over Vulcan, I can not believe they didn’t have any other vehicles capable of taking out that drill. Kirk disabled it with a Romulan disruptor–does no one on Vulcan have a small plan to crash into it? Something like the flying motorcycle from the car chase (but 20 years on?) Maybe even a flying SUV?

And it boggles the mind that a massive, planet-destroying ship would be warping to earth but the Federation would gather a fleet elsewhere. I also couldn’t believe that the flagship of the Federation, The Enterprise, would have so few officers onboard that Pike would make a cadet like Kirk the first officer when he left the ship.

Back when I was learning to write scripts, a friend told me of a very simple story structure he’d heard. This is it in its entirety: Only you, Dick Daring!

That’s it. OY,DD. There’s a terrible problem, and only Our Hero can solve it! And you know what? For a certain type of story, that works.

But it doesn’t make sense in the context of the world they’ve built. If you’re going to destroy a planet of six billion people, you need to actually populate it. You need to show the people who live there, and explain why they’re rolling over and dying for no good reason.

What’s more, OY,DD works for the villain, too. He keeps talking about how he’s already saved his home planet, but that must have happened off screen. And what did he do? Send them a message? He certainly didn’t swing by the homeworld, because it’s hard to imagine a ship like his–with 100+ years of advanced tech–being released by the empire.

So I can’t see how he saved his homeworld, and he’s the only one who could.

It’s stupid. The whole thing is designed to be the usual lizard brain spectacle, with little concern for how they fit together. Our Hero is a Rebel with Daddy Issues! His bromantic interest is a stuffy play-by-the-rules type! The villain unfairly blames Good Guys for the death of his wife and child! The villain has the Good Guys in his power but spares their lives “so they’ll suffer the way he has!” The Girl is knowledgeable and assertive, but she doesn’t actually do anything except offer comfort and affirm Our Hero’s Take On The Situation! The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades! It takes The Enterprise three minutes to fly from to Vulcan, but the trip back takes a ship from 100+ years in the future As Long As The Plot Requires!

And so on. It’s not a story; it doesn’t take place in a setting. It’s a series of melodramatic situations tenuously strung together with meaningless exposition and outrageous coincidence. I can’t believe I put off the end of my book for it, and I’m a little sad that so many people loved it.