Posts Tagged ‘star trek’

Do you think this counts as hate speech?

May 7, 2009

As noted below, I went to see the new Star Trek movie earlier tonight. I strode into the theater, sat in a choice location near the center, and what did I see? Some high school age kids filing in. In costume.

In Star Wars costume.

Here I am waiting to see Kirk and Spock pummel each other (like in the trailer), and I see Jar Jar Binks, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia sit in front of me, waving their cheap plastic light sticks at each other. I almost tapped one of them on the shoulder to remind them what movie they were about to see.

I mean, what’s with that? Can’t we all just live in peace, without provoking each other with antagonistic cosplaying? They’re lucky I didn’t have my phaser. I would have set it to “melt fanboys.”

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Star Trek Babies Vs. the Hard Rock Romulans

May 7, 2009

Seriously, they’ve got shaved heads, tattooed faces, and they wear Army green bomber jackets. These Romulans are effin’ metal.

I just returned for an unhoped-for opportunity to see Star Trek before its ostensible opening day tomorrow. Being a huge Star Trek nerd for as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking forward to this movie with an uncomfortable mix of excitement and trepidation for well over a year, and while I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, it was definitely not what I expected.

What I expected, at the least, was a sort of analog of the recent superhero movies: an introduction to the characters, against an impending calamity that introduces them to each other. This it was, right down to John Cho as the slightly less baritone but kickass younger version of Sulu. Also on par with my expectations, and awesome, was the look and feel of the film. Unlike the six movies starring the original cast, much of the visual and sound design was clearly inspired directly by the original TV show. That, and the ludicrous hand-to-hand fight scenes.

As much as the film was true to the source material, however, it mangled up canon in an enormous way. I won’t say much more about it, because if you care enough to be reading this post, you’ll be seeing the movie anyway, but trust me. J.J. Abrams and the lot mean a lot more than you think when they call this a “franchise reboot.”

Lest I confuse, I loved the movie, and I’ll likely be seeing it again. Having said that, I wouldn’t be a true fanboy if I didn’t rant for a while about some minor glaring inconsistencies with canon and reality for a few paragraphs. You’ve been warned!

First off, I wonder if I’m alone in thinking that Spock’s dialogue was a bit wooden. Of course Spock has always spoken in a formal manner, but with precision and a characteristic distinction. Either this was missing with Quinto’s Spock, or I’m just not used to the new voice and I want to make more of it than that.

Next, red supergiants go supernova. Big, big stars that have already depleted their fuel. Not pristine, yellow stars in the primes of their lives.

Third, what in the heck is an “inert reactant?” Didn’t anybody tell the set designers that that’s an oxymoron?

Fourth, I don’t know the requisite mathematics, but I would think that a black hole massive enough to devour an Earth-sized planet in under a minute would have a larger event horizon than the one in the movie. But I could be wrong.

And lastly, what’s with that thing that hangs around Scotty?

That’s enough for now. I’ll probably pick up more things to bore you with when I see it again, as I inevitably must. Let’s hope the next one has them boldly going where no one had gone before Picard came along.

New Star Trek Trailer

November 23, 2008

As with most things, I’m pretty late on this. The new Star Trek trailer has been up for almost a week now, after all. Still, I decided to hold off on writing my impressions until they’ve had time to gestate a bit. Now that they’ve reached full term, I’m finally ready to birth them into the world, with an ugly placenta to follow afterward. (How’s that for imagery?)

My first impression is that six months is an uncomfortably long time to wait. I’m a Star Trek fan, after all. I’d go see this thing if it were titled Star Trek: Klingons on Ice! (Come to think of it, that sounds pretty awesome.)

My second impression is one of trepidation. I’m of course not alone in this. The makers of this film are in a position to manhandle the very heart of Star Trek canon. By recasting the original characters and setting the film in their pre-Enterprise days, they are in a position to completely undo the foundation of the original stories, or even to start Star Trek over from scratch. (The former is known in Nerdish as “retconning.” The second has become known to those prone to fan-rage as a “reboot.”)

From what I’ve seen, J.J. Abrams and the rest don’t intend to let this happen. They intend to stay true to canon. And to their credit, the cast they’ve assembled so far seems to fit with that intention. None of them looks badly out of place in the shoes they’re trying to fill. (Except perhaps for the young James T. Kirk, but no amount of handsome young faces are going to fill those shoes.)

I like what glimpses of the design of the film I’ve seen. They have the bright, clean feel of the original series, with the high-tech gloss that a 1960’s TV budget couldn’t bring to bear. The starship design manages to be new and interesting, while also true to the aesthetic of the show. I’m nothing but excited by the design so far.

That leaves me with one last point of concern. I’m just old enough to have lived through about ten years of Hollywood revisitations of 1960’s and 1970’s TV shows. I’ve sat through enough Brady Bunches, Beverly Hillbillies, Dukes of Hazzard, and even Rocky and Bullwinkles to know that no decade of television is safe from being realized on the big screen, if the whiff of profit is on it. I fear that Star Trek will see this treatment. I fear that there will be too many moments of “Ooh, look how nice the Enterprise looks now!” too many CG-powered space battles, too many strings of technobabble (and “bairns”) and not enough attention to advancing our understanding of the original characters. This is not a rational fear, but I feel it nonetheless.

In any case, I’m extremely excited about this movie, and I’ll be first in line to see it when it opens. Maybe even in uniform. I’ve been known to be precisely that nerdy sometimes.

The Distant Origin Theory

November 2, 2008

Lately, my preferred method of wasting time has been watching old episodes of Star Trek Voyager. I never watched it during its original run, but, consummate nerd that I am, I recently decided to check it out. I’ve found much of it decent, some of it appallingly bad, and some more of it rising to the heights of sci fi excellence characteristic of Star Trek at its best. One such episode had me rapt: Distant Origin. I found fascinating parallels with issues in the news today.

The episode concerns a race of reptilian beings, the Voth, who carry the conceit (they call it “Doctrine”) that they were the first sentient beings to evolve in their area of space. A professor of the Voth subscribes to the “distant origin theory,” which holds that they actually arose on a distant planet, and spread through the galaxy over millions of years, forgetting their heritage in the time. He finds evidence to support his theory, in the form of bones left by a strange creature that happens to share a large portion of its genome with the Voth. The bones, of course, belong to one of the Voyager crew.

It turns out later on that the reptilian race is descended from the dinosaurs. Supposedly a lineage of hadrosaurs evolved sophisticated intelligence, built spacecraft, and escaped the dinosaurs’ extinction. (The dinosaurs’ real descendants, birds, are not mentioned.) The episode, like much of TV and the US in general, shows a sad lack of understanding of evolution. There’s one scene on the holodeck in which the captain asks the computer to extrapolate the evolution of hadrosaurs 65 million years into the future, as if that were possible outside the context of an environment populated with other organisms, and given the random nature of mutation. Still, there was one thing the episode got right, and spectacularly.

The Voth, as I noted, believe that they arose in the section of space they now inhabit. As it turns out, they are extremely hostile to anything that challenges this ideology. They charge the professor with heresy, and refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence in support of the distant origin theory. Beginning to sound familiar? Yep, it’s a perfect vision of what would happen to science if the creationists were to gain control. All findings would be run through the filter of dogma, and those that didn’t fit would be censored and ignored. Chilling, to be sure. The selective blindness and moral cowardice of the creationist movement is perfectly captured in the opposition of the Voth’s ruling council to the obvious truth.

I amused myself with the idea of showing this episode to fundies, to give them a mirror into their own way of thinking. My amusement was curtailed when I realized that most fundies would probably just see themselves in the poor, persecuted professor, and see the evil, godless Darwinists in his oppressors. The selective reality filter of the dogmatic mind is a powerful thing.

George Takei is awesome

June 9, 2008

I don’t know why I never knew how awesome George Takei is before. I’ve always been a Star Trek fan, and Sulu’s always been high on my list of favorite characters (not least for his bit in the epised “The Naked Time,” in which he storms the bridge shirtless and brandishing a foil.) For that reason, I’d always suspected George Takei is awesome, but I never learned the true extent of his awesomeness until yesterday. Let me try to break it down for you.

  1. His father named him after King George VI. That’s awesome.
  2. He spent much of his childhood in a Japanese American internment camp. That isn’t awesome, of course, but despite the fact that such an experiment would make most people bitter and angry at the United States, Mr. Takei and his family continued to participate in public policy after they were released. George himself served as student council president in junior high, and later served for eleven years on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit Direct. That is awesome.
  3. He recently announced that he will be marrying his partner in September. George Takei has long been active in fighting for gay rights, and now that California has acknowledged the right for gay people to get married, he will be able to enjoy some of those hard-won rights by marrying his boyfriend, Brad Altman. That’s awesome.

If you still doubt that George Takei is awesome, check out the Wikipedia article in his name, and his official website. Also check out this humorous public service announcement, clearly from a comedy variety show, though my efforts to find out which have been thwarted.

You can’t tell me that isn’t awesome.