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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Star Trek Review. Space and Science News. The Imaginarium


Hello Troops, 

I said I would write a review of the latest Star Trek disaster, and I didn't.  Mind you, I did start to write, but quickly came to the conclusion that my review would take too long to write and be too long to read - for your average Troubadour with an easily distracted attention span.   

Instead, I found a review which verbalizes my thoughts and feelings toward this waste of digital space in a way I found befitting the task at hand.  The review comes from a site known for very salty language, so I edited the parts that needed editing and present the review to you for your consideration.  You fans of the film are welcome to write a rebuttal if you dare.  I will publish your comments, and add a few of my own (a right I give myself because this is my blog).                                               

Mr. W.

Star Trek Into Darkness: The Spoiler FAQ

by Rob Bricken
(edited for our younger readers)
After making a mere $84 million at the U.S. box office, Star Trek Into Darkness is considered by some to be a disappointment. Perhaps the problem is that it was a touch confusing. To help our readers better understand it, we've complied and answered these Frequently Asked Questions about the movie.
Maximum spoilers ahead...
How does the movie start?
Well, with Kirk and Bones messing with a planet of primitive aliens. They steal some kind of holy scroll, and then get chased through a red jungle.
Seems like kind of a improper move.
Well, it’s not very clear, but ostensibly they’ve stolen the scroll to get chased, in order to draw the aliens away from a volcano that’s about to explode.
Okay, that seems reasonable.
Except that 1) when the volcano erupts, it’s going to kill everybody on the planet, so it hardly matters where they are, and 2) Spock is getting dropped down into the volcano to set off a cold fusion bomb.
Wait, what?
Yeah, he sets off the cold fusion bomb and all the lava freezes.
You know cold fusion isn’t actually cold, right? It’s only “cold” in the sense that opposed to regular fusion it’s not a bazillion degrees hot.
And did you say Spock was in the volcano? Why didn’t they just beam the bomb in there?
Um, something about the planet’s magnetic field. Although they do beam Spock out of the volcano just a few minutes later, so…
And why did Spock have to go with the bomb to set it off? Are you telling me in the 23rd century that people don’t have a way to detonate bombs remotely? That’s stupid.
Well —
And why is the Enterprise just carrying around a cold fusion suitcase bomb anyways?
Look, you’re getting very upset, and this is just the first scene of the movie.

Okay, fine. What happens next?
Well, Spock’s zipline breaks, so he’s stuck in the volcano, The Enterprise is underwater, so Kirk can’t ascend without the aliens seeing it, thus breaking the Prime Directiv —
The Enterprise is parked in the ocean.
That’s ridiculous. Even the ship designed to function in the vacuum of space could handle the pressures underwater — which I’m 99% sure it can’t — even if the thrusters could function underwater, which makes no sense — and even if the ship could survive flying out of the water without the insanely large surface area of the front part snapping off like a twig — why did they park it underwater instead of just hanging out in space like they were supposed to?!
Because J.J. Abrams saw the Helicarrier scene from Avengers and got jealous, I guess.
Look, I know Star Trek is science fiction, but hasn’t Trek always at least nominally tried to get science right? Shouldn’t a Star Trek movie give the tiniest attention to such things?
One might presume.
Let’s just move on. So Kirk rescues Spock, breaks the Prime Directive by showing themselves to the aliens, the aliens start worshipping the Enterprise, Spock sends a report to Starfleet on what happened, Kirk gets busted, Kirk is removed as Captain of the Enterprise.
Yeah. You know how the first movie was all about Kirk’s journey from a rebellious kid to a more mature leader of men?
Well, we’re doing that again!
I repeat, UGH.
Meanwhile, Rose’s boyfriend Mickey from Doctor Who puts a ring in a glass and blows up the Starfleet library in London.
Why does he do that?
In exchange for Benedict Cumberbatch saving his sick kid. This forces all the Starfleet bigwigs — including Pike, who’s reinstated as the captain of the Enterprise — and Kirk, who becomes Pike’s first officer — to meet at very specific room with large windows at Starfleet HQ to discuss the situation.

That sounds like a bad idea.
As it turns out, it is. Cumberbatch bombed the library just to get all the heads of Starfleet in this room, so he can use a small gunship and shoot everyone in it. Pike dies before Kirk manages to destroy the ship with a fire hose, and Cumberbatch beams away.
Pike dies? He doesn’t get in his little wheelchair box?
Alas, no. Because everything is about Kirk, Kirk uses the opportunity to ask Starfleet Admiral Peter Weller for permission to take the Enterprise and go kill Benedict Cumberbatch. Weller accepts. After Scotty somehow figures out that Cumberbatch has gone to the Klingon homeworld, Weller gives the Enterprise 72 experimental new photon torpedoes and says when they locate Harrison, they need to just bomb him from orbit.
Eesh. So that “kill Benedict Cumberbatch” thing was literal, huh?
Very much so.
That… that doesn’t seem very Starfleet-y to me.
Well, it doesn’t seem very Starfleet-y to Spock, either, who points out to Kirk that it’s both legally and morally wrong to kill even a known terrorist without a trial. But Kirk really, really want to get revenge for Pike, even to the point of firing Scotty when Scotty refuses to allow the mysterious photon torpedoes on board unless he can see what’s in them (something to do with them maybe messing up the warp engine). 

Kirk fires Scotty? What kind of a Star Trek film is this?
Well, he accepts Scotty’s resignation, but I think your question stands. Anyways, Carol Marcus — who is Admiral Peter Weller’s daughter, although we’re not supposed to know this, and who also has an English accent for some reason — sneaks on board, because she’s a weapons specialist and interested in the torpedoes.
Wasn’t Carol Marcus a molecular biologist in the original Trek universe?
Yeah, I assume the career switch is Eric Bana’s fault.
So then what?
Then Kirk finally decides that murdering a man in cold blood possibly isn’t the right thing to do, and announces they are going to try to catch Benedict Cumberbatch alive. They head to Kronos and are pretty much immediately caught by Klingons, but are saved by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Huh? Why does he save them?
I think mostly to show what a supreme bad guy he is, since he takes them all out simultaneously, including a few ships, thanks to a very big gun. And then he surrenders.
Huh? What? Why?
Well, he finds out about the weird torpedoes — specifically, the number of them, which is 72 — and then surrenders. There’s actually a reason.
Which is?
Well, as Kirk finds out when he interrogates Benedict Cumberbatch, Cumberbatch made the torpedoes for Peter Weller, and inside each torpedo is one of his cryogenically frozen people, because as it turns out that Cumberbatch is actually — 

Aren’t you shocked? Aren’t you surprised at this incredible reveal?
No, I’m just angry. When the movie was announced, Abrams and whoever clearly stated that Cumberbatch would be playing a canon Trek character, and everybody guessed it was Khan. Then they promised he wasn’t playing Khan. And then they said Cumberbatch’s character’s name was John Harrison, even though there’s no previous Trek character named John Harrison, and again we knew it was Khan. And they tried to make it this whole big mystery as if we were all morons who had some how forgotten a classic Trek character named John Harrison, like they were actually going to pull one over on us when we were telling them over an over again that we knew it was Khan and the only thing they were accomplishing by denying it was insulting our intelligence.
Well —
And furthermore, using Khan just proves that nu-Trek is going to be nothing more than the greatest hits version of Star Trek, and not even the original hits — some new band covering the old hits. It means that Abrams doesn’t have any original ideas for Star Trek, and is content to rehash the stuff people enjoyed the first time. Of all the classic Trek characters to bring back, of all the classic stories they could have brought to mass audiences for the first time, or even bad stories that they could have improved, they go with the one character everybody already knows because they think all we want to see is the same old stuff.
You seem to have strong feelings about this.
I do. Also, did you say Khan put his frozen people in torpedoes?
He’s a brilliant strategist and that’s the best plan he could come up with? To hide the people he so desperately wanted to save in explosives? What was he going to do if Kirk hadn’t conveniently had all those torpedoes on him? And why did Peter Weller give Kirk all 72 torpedoes to kill a single dude in the first place?

Don’t shoot the Frequently Asked Question Answerer, please. Anyways, Kirk verifies the frozen torpedo people with thanks from Carol Markus and Bones, gets some coordinates from Khan, and calls Scotty, the person he’d so recently let go and asks him to check it out. As it turns out, Peter Weller is building a giant combat starship out there because he wants to militarize Starfleet because he’s certain we’re going to meet more races like the Klingons and also because he’s a jerk. Weller is also the one who found Khan floating in space, woke him up, and forced him to use his intellect and powers to make super weapons for him.
Why was Khan floating in space?
Actually, this Khan has the same origin as the original Khan; he’s a genetically engineered warrior, created for the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. He ruled part of Asia befor —
Wait, what? The Eugenics Wars of the 1990s?
We didn’t have any Eugenics Wars in the 1990s, unless you count Dawson’s Creek.
Yeah, but Gene Roddenberry didn’t know that when he created Khan in 1967.
But we do, because it’s 2013.
But it’s canon! Don’t you like canon?
I like it when it doesn’t get stupid. And why would Abrams and crew stick to Khan’s origin timeline, even though it makes zero sense, but also suddenly change him to a white dude? That’s cherry-picking the stupidest parts of canon and non-canon!
I don’t know. I think it’s nice that in this day and age, a white male can still be cast as an Indian played by a Mexican. White men really have come a long way!

I’m going to punch you in your throat.
Anyways, that’s Khan’s deal. Weller flies the Killerprise to meet Kirk and steal his prisoner, so he 1) doesn’t get caught being evil and 2) can continue being evil and militarize Starfleet. He beams his daughter onto his ship, and then starts firing. The Enterprise takes more direct hits than it does in the entirety of the original TV series.
But before Weller fires the final shot, Scotty, who has snuck upon the Killerprise and apparently been waiting for this exact moment, resets the Killerprise’s power, forcing it to boot back up like Mac (and almost as long). Since the Enterprise has no weapons or shields, Kirk takes the opportunity to team up with Khan and they fly over to the Killerprise; Scotty lets them in.
Yeah, Kirk teams up with Khan! Isn’t that cool? The two enemies, forced to work together to take out a greater enemy?
No, because Khan’s a jerk. Kirk’s being a moron.
In Kirk’s defense, it only takes him 5-10 minutes to realize he’s made a horrible mistake. This mistake is confirmed when they reach the bridge and Khan beats Kirk and Scotty up, breaks Carol’s leg, and crushes Peter Weller’s head in his hands.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what I figured.
Meanwhile, Spock calls old Spock to ask him what the deal with this Khan guy is.
I thought Old Spock has agreed never to tell New Spock anything so he could live his own life and all that jazz.
Yes. And we know this because Spock says “I had vowed never to tell you anything of your future because I want to live your own life and blah blah blah” just before adding “but Khan is dangerous and here’s exactly how we defeated him.”
Khan offers to trade Kirk and the others for his people and their torpedo beds, which acting captain Spock agrees to. Of course, Spock arms all the torpedoes right before Khan beams them over, so the Killerprise explodes (although not before shooting the Enterprise several million more times).
Brilliant strategist, eh?
He was a little excited. Also, he still had Peter Weller’s skull juice all over his hands; that would distract anybody.
So we’re done?
By no means. The Enterprise is pretty much dead and has entered Earth’s orbit, meaning it's falling really, really fast. The problem is that the warp drive is misaligned, so —
Wait a minute. I know what’s happening here.
— so the ship can’t stop falling, but the warp drive room is full of radiation and —
No, they're not going to......
— so Kirk runs into the Warp Drive room and kicks it back into place —
— and then Spock realizes what’s happened and he runs down to the room where he sees Kirk dying behind the locked glass door and —

— and Kirk puts his hand on the glass and Spock puts his hand on the glass and he makes the Vulcan salute and Kirk dies and —
— Spock —
— Spock yells —

Why don’t you like it?
I liked it just fine, the first time I saw it in Wrath of Khan. Of course, the reason I like it is because Kirk and Spock’s friendship has been part of pop culture for 15 years, so Spock’s death and Kirk’s anguish was given some actual agency, instead of now, when Kirk and Spock have known each other for four hours of screentime, two of which they didn’t like each other. I also liked it the first time because it was new and not a crass, creatively bankrupt attempt to manipulate the audience’s emotions, not through sadness because there’s clearly no way Kirk is actually going to stay dead, but because the scene is nothing more “HERE IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE SEEN BEFORE WITH A SLIGHT DIFFERENCE SO YOU WILL LIKE IT” as opposed to even trying to give us something, anything, genuinely new.
So next movie is “The Search for Kirk,” I suppose?
Nah. See, Bones drew some of Khan’s blood to figure out why he was so strong and resilient, and he injected it into a dead Tribble because… because I suppose Bones’ hobby is inject dead things with various people’s blood? It’s a little weird.
/sound of facepalm
As it happens, as soon as Bones’ hears Kirk has died, the dead Tribble comes back to life, thanks to Khan’s blood!
/sound of gun being loaded
The Killerprise has crash-landed on San Francisco, and Khan is of course fine despite the destruction of many, many high-rise buildings and thousands upon thousands of people. Spock chases Khan down, they have a fist fight on top of some moving flying cars, and with help from Uhura they get their man. And they bring Kirk back to life!
Uh-huh. So they’ve just eliminated death forever.
Beg pardon?
Kirk was dead for many, many minutes of radiation poisoning, right? He gets injected with Khan’s blood —
A synthesized version of it.
— even better. So what wouldn’t Khan’s blood fix? Decapitation, but most other mortal wounds? Poisons? Phaser blasts, I bet. Certainly most other illnesses and cancers and such. And probably aging, at least to an extent. So basically Bones has discovered the secret to eternal life, and not only will no one on the Enterprise ever need to die again unless their body is somehow destroyed, but all of the civilization — heck, probably galactic civilization – will be irrevocably changed because of this amazing discovery.
Uh, I don’t think so. I think they just save Kirk and then forget about it.
Of course they do. And I suppose the Tribble that Bones brought back to life multiplies like Tribbles do and causes its own horrible situation?
No, it’s just not mentioned again. Maybe Bones kills it with his bare hands to keep it from spawning. Or maybe he injects it with Mountain Dew or something, since that’s how he rolls.
/sound of gun being cocked
And then Kirk gives a speech at Starfleet a year later, because everything is all about him, and then they start on their five-year mission! Which will almost certainly involve Space Whales, since that’s the next biggest thing people remember about Star Trek. 

How about a few other comments on the film from others with a similiar opinion of its worthlessness.
One commenter wrote:
I know a huge chunk of the fleet is out exploring strange new lens flairs, seeking out new scantily clad aliens, boldly going where where trek 67 went before.
But Earth orbit is NEVER empty in the Trek universe, they even show that theres a station in orbit and, while not maneuverable, they ARE armed AND there would be witnesses.

Oh, come on. Have we been watching the same Star Trek? How many times has an apocalyptic threat been heading towards Earth and the Enterprise is the ONLY ship in the whole Starfleet in range?  That makes sense doesn't it, you know, with Earth being the capital of the United Federation of Planets for crying out loud?

Also, I can't be the only one wondering how Scotty went from some dive bar on Earth to a shuttlecraft near Jupiter in what felt like a couple of hours at most. What, do they have free shuttlecraft rental for Starfleet officers who abandoned their posts? Never mind how fast those things must be: I'm pretty sure they don't have independent warp drives. Anyway, once Scotty arrives at a secret military facility in a craft that was not scheduled to arrive and may not even be Starfleet, he just...hides over the top edge of the hanger bay, and then flies in with the crowd unnoticed? They didn't have any sort of perimeter security, or ID checks before letting people into the hanger bay? I'd almost buy that he can disable all the systems in a random enemy ship as the exact time Kirk needed him, but unless he invented cloaking when we weren't looking, I'm not seeing how he got that far in the first place.

Another wrote:
I've got no problem with this. It should have been called Star Trek: Into Dumbness. But one question you forgot to ask was, since they can not beam people from planet-to-planet and through shields, why do they need to build a massive fleet anyway? You can just beam bombs directly onto Klingon ships and their homeworld. War over.
Oh, and why were a 72 humans going to start a war? Why wouldn't Khan just go to the Klingons and say, "Hey, I've got a lot of Federation secrets that I'll give you if you let me kill them?"  
Also, has anyone mention that why Chekov couldn't beam a running Kahn from the ground, but was able to beam multiple people falling at terminal velocity from the first movie?
And if Khan is approx. 300 yrs old and has been a floating Popsicle for a majority of that time, how is he able to build advance weapons?...did he just mentally absorb all technology books from the past 300 yrs...
This could go on and on and on.  Every minute of this movie made no sense in the context of the universe the movie was set in. This story would be summarily dismissed without hesitation if it it were submitted to me, and maybe even to you, at the Space Center.  
Enough Said. You may now write a rebuttal if you so choose.
Mr. W. 

Space and Science News

Photo by Nina B via Shutterstock

What will really happen when the Yellowstone super volcano erupts?

Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is a massive underground reservoir of magma, capped by the park's famous caldera. 640,000 years ago, a super eruption rocked the region. What would happen if another such event blasted the park today? We asked USGS geologist Jake Lowenstern, scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Most volcanic activity in Yellowstone would not qualify as "super eruptions," in which 1,000 km3 or more material is ejected from a volcano. Lowenstern told io9 that supervolcanoes are "very large, single eruptions" that usually last for about a week. But, unlike what you'll see in certain television specials and Hollywood films, even a super eruption at Yellowstone wouldn't endanger the whole United States. It also wouldn't cause the kind catastrophe you might expect.   Read More

The Imaginarium
Where intelligent, bright, articulate people take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.  I wish someone from the Imaginarium had gotten their hands on that Star Trek script before it went into production.  

It doesn't seem right, does it?

How do you answer this question?


Turn and run mister.  Turn and Run!


And in the Stating the Obvious Department...


Too late buddy.


Death passing out exams at MIT

In a classroom

Could be my opinion of Disney if they don't get Star Wars right.

A self powered roller coaster in Japan.

A village built under a huge rock.

Not your day buddy.

I wouldn't go home.


Which direction?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Star Trek Into Darkness yet, so I skipped the review. However, I'm a bit disturbed by the note you made about inviting a debate; I've seen where such discussions lead, and I don't like the results. I don't want to see relationships damaged over a movie. A very highly anticipated movie, yes, but a movie.

I'm pretty sure that we have different tastes. I can enjoy movies with plot holes (although I still be annoyed by them), whereas some people have more trouble getting over plot holes. That's not a criticism, it's a difference of tastes-some people adore the color yellow, and others find it nauseating. Some people like chick flicks, and some can't stand them. While I may not like a chick flick, someone else may like it. I may not get along well with that person, but they like the movie.

One more thing: I agree with you that we need stricter editors. Hollywood's moving forward-and I'm not sure I like its current direction.

I'm sorry you were disappointed by the film, but I certainly hope I can enjoy it-and that if I do, that I won't be seen by others as being uncultured and unimaginative.

-A slightly nervous volunteer