/shrug I've hinted at my issues with this film in other threads, but I may as well post an "official" comment here.
It's at best about halfway up the stack when rated against other Trek films.. While I suppose there might be some original Trek fans who are upset with the treatment of the characters (although I've yet to run into any), the real issues with this story have nothing to do with fanboism, and a whole lot to do with it just not being a very well made film. In fact, I'd argue that the characters and their treatment within the plot and new timeline were by far the *best* thing about the film. It was entertaining to see a fresh take on those characters, watch them interact, hear dialog that is funny only because we know the "future" of these characters, and see various "signature" actions. Heck. I thought that McCoy essentially stole the entire film.
My problems with the film came in two varieties: Stylistic and realistic.
The stylistic issues were with the film techniques. Doing effects shots using short cuts, close in shots, with tons of action and moving bits, while introducing artificial camera jitter is IMO a horrible technique. It's becoming more popular, although I'm not sure why. By the time you can figure out what the heck you're looking at, you've skipped on to the next scene.
It's a technique used by directors when they don't have a good effects budget. It's a short cut. You keep the audience from having time to focus on any one image on the screen long enough to notice the flaws (especially with CG effects). It's annoying because you feel like you're bouncing around. It's also a cheat, and is stupid to do when you *do* have a large effects budget. So you spent the time and money on great special effects, but no one can see them? How stupid is that?
The tendency towards "too close" shots makes it hard to really feel the whole scene. This is really about style. Good directors know how to get the viewers eye to follow the action from cut to cut so that it all appears seamless and flows well. Bad directors jump from cut to cut. Guess which one this was? It makes the entire action seem jarring. So you see a close up of the front of the Enterprise, with a bunch of weapons firing. What are the firing at? Well, we can assume it's the bad guys, but we can't see it. Then we cut to the other ship firing a bunch of "thingies". What at? Well, we can assume it's the Enterprise, but we can't be sure. Then we see explosions and what not. All are disconnected from eachother.
It's just plain bad directing and bad editing.
Oh. And the Romulan ship was just dumb looking. For a whole assortment of reasons. In a universe with transporters and tractor beams, who in their right mind would design a "mining ship" that looks like that? Anyone? Nope. There would be no reason at all. You'd make a big box to hold your cargo, and strap engines and crew quarters onto it. And you'd make it just big enough to be cost effective to haul whatever it is you're chopping into pieces and putting in the hold. That ship was way too big for apparently no reason other than "it looks cool that way".
And while talking about said mining ship, let's start shifting to the "realistic" aspects here. I get that this is a ship from the future and all that, and weapon systems in the future are more powerful, but it's still a freaking mining ship. I can accept that future weapons systems might be designed to more easily penetrate older shields and whatnot (prompting the continual "OMG! Our shields are useless!!!" responses in the film). However, if we presume that the primary armaments for this mining ship might be mines/torpedoes intended for breaking up asteroids or something, and we also assume that said asteroids (even those in the future) don't normally have any sort of shields, it would be kinda silly to design your asteroid breaking bombs with the latest in shield penetration technology. This does somewhat assume some need for cost effectiveness, but the very fact that this is a mining ship, and people work on it, kinda assumes that they'd want to do things like "mining" in the most cost effective manner possible and not outfit their ship with stuff that would presumably be a thousand times more expensive than needed to do the job.
More on the ship. Why a big freaking chain? Really? In the future, they can't come up with any better technique for drilling a big hole than lowering this giant chain halfway to a planets surface and firing a big beam out of it?
And why do they need it anyway? Wouldn't dropping the black-hole-making super material just onto a planet do the trick? Is there some special magic that drilling a big hole does? Cause I'm not seeing it.
And why does it interfere with sensors, communications, transporters, etc? I know it's a plot device so as to prevent them from just using the transporter to do anything. Although, apparently the writers forgot or didn't know the whole "Can't transport through shields" bit, so they invented some other reason they couldn't do this. Um... Why? I get that you're doing a "reboot", but could you at least learn something about how the tech in the universe you're rebooting works?
Final bit on the ship. Um... Why didn't anyone else think to just fire their weapons at the chain? Didn't they go through some ridiculous gyrations to take out the drill, so that they could prevent it from interfering with the transporters, so they could beam the captain back, despite the aforementioned "forgot about shields" thing? Why? Apparently a tiny little ship could have taken out that chain with a single volley, but no one thought to do that earlier? I get that a whole fleet got wiped out by this thing, but there isn't a single ship or ground defense station on either Vulcan or Earth that could have done the trick? They contrived the entire ridiculous thing, pretty obviously so they could have the "Fight on the drill platform" scene, and for no other reason. Sorry. That's just stupid.
The Enterprise. Look. No matter how "retro" you want things to look by showing rooms full of pipes instead of the usual Trek corridors and control panels, there's just no way anyone would design a freaking space ship with that much massive amounts of empty unused space. We're inside a ship. That extra 100 feet of space up above the pipes and machines could (and should) be filled up with other decks of the ship. It was just a poor visual effect, for no reason other than someone thought it would look cool, and spent apparently zero time thinking about it outside of that.
The whole plot thingie. Ok. Here's the problem. If the star that's going to go Supernova is inside the same planetary system as Romulus, collapsing it into a black hole isn't actually going to do much. Everyone on the planet is still going to die. So that's not a solution, is it? And if the supernova is *not* inside the same planetary system, then it's probably at least 2-4 light years away. So. When Spock gets there just a bit too late to prevent the explosion, said Romulan mining captain (and why is he there) should just head off to go rescue his wife and family. Afterall, he's just got several years to do it. Instead of goes on a revenge spree to avenge a death that hasn't actually happened yet, and which he has all the power in the world to prevent.
This is the entire explanation for the plot. So basically, there's no reason for any of this to be happening, except that the writers were apparently too stupid to think of any of a million much smarter and more interesting back-stories. I get that this is just backstory, and honestly up until the point of Spock explaining things, I was ok with the film (some stylistic issues aside), but that just put the whole thing over the top into "Why didn't we just leave those writers on strike and let smarter people do their jobs" mode.
They honestly couldn't come up with a better explanation? Really? It just comes out like someone barfed up a bunch of ideas, then they wrote them on slips of paper, randomly drew them out of a hat, and then glued them together to make a story and then had to just make up reasons for it all to kinda make sense. It's bad. Really really bad. If it had more enjoyable effects, I might be able to ignore that, but probably not, and it didn't, so it's moot anyway.
This film is better than some Trek films, only because the character writing was quite good (most of the time anyway). It was engaging, and "fun". For that reason, it's above say Star Trek 5, above 9, probably above 10 (I never saw it), and roughly equal to 7 (the one where Kirk dies), 3, and 1. So yeah. About halfway in terms of ranking. It has nothing to do with being a fan of the older series' and films. It would be a bad film if it was the first Star Trek film or TV show ever done. Heck. I'm willing to wager, if it wasn't for so many people wanting it to succeed, and more were just judging it on the merits of it as a science fiction film, this would have been some B grade "straight to video" production. I've seen a ton of crappy sci-fi that was better than this. They just didn't have the "Star Trek" name on it...
Edited, May 18th 2009 8:24pm by gbaji
King Nobby wrote:
More words please