Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If I'd written the last draft of the Star Trek movie

First, two things without major spoilers:

The quick review:
Heaps of fun, but too much Old Spock and not enough Uhura.

And why didn't they change the sex of any of the characters? There's a fine answer at The Panopticon: Do Gay Martians Have the Right to Marry?

That out of the way, spoiler alert!

If I'd written the last draft of the Star Trek movie, I would—

1. Make Chekhov female.

The rationalization is easy: he was born a few years after Nero's alteration to the time line, so "his" moment of conception could've shifted, even just an instant, and the genes would unite differently. (This isn't to slight the actor they cast, who was great.)

2. Add more Uhura.

In the bar, she should enter the fight against her fellow cadets to help save Kirk—which would make him have an even bigger crush on her. There should be a scene where the universal translator misses something significant that Uhura catches to save the day. And when Spock and Kirk beam aboard Nero's ship, she should come along—having a Romulan speaker would be awfully useful—and get to do some buttkicking there.

3. Leave Old Spock in the future.

I might keep a cameo of him as Nero explains his motives. Otherwise, Old Spock's presence weakens every plot point he's in so much that I wonder if he was added in a late draft.

a. On the ice planet, Kirk should be saved by Scotty and Scotty's alien buddy.

b. Scotty should figure out the necessary equations without help, damn it!

c. When Kirk meets Spock on the bridge, they should argue simply because that's their nature. Spock loses it, then gets control of himself (maybe after Uhura knocks him aside?) and turns over command of the ship. And that moment of Spock doing the right thing under pressure should be Kirk's moment of realizing that Spock is an amazing person who should be his friend.

d. At the end, Spock should say farewell to his father, not his older self.

Even so, I was happy enough with this movie that I look forward to the next. Yes, the science was silly, but when you're accepting faster-than-light and time travel, you shouldn't quibble about red matter.


  1. 1. Eh. As for having Chekhov being female -- doing so would need to matter, somehow. Science violations are one thing, but a different conception between Chekhov's parents would not merely tweak gender, but would have meant a genome likely to be at least 25% different. It meant something in BSG to change Starbuck's gender--that played into things. If it's just to do it, it's gratuitous.

    2. No real argument there.

    3. Disagree. I didn't find Spock's presence a problem--and it explains how and why Nero went through time. Given that it's just an overblown mining ship, he's not going to have the knowledge and background to go through on his own, aiming for an earlier time... or maybe even to know that such a thing could be done. But basically, this element was the plot conceit that was the jump off, and one accepted it or not.

    That said, they blew it with the ice planet -- too long a nod to the Star Wars Hoth stuff, and really unnecessary. The marooning of Spock on that world/moon (so close to Vulcan, it had to be in the same system, and probably a moon, or...) should have been shown--a cruel act; he'll die there... AFTER watching Vulcan destroyed. That way when Kirk is dumped there... it's not deus ex machina, but ironic coincidence.

    Having McCoy not figure out the equation, but be given it by Spock was an homage to the film in which McCoy gives (I forget the character name) the formula for transparent aluminum years before *he* would have figured it out.

    The new film was littered with those sorts of homages. For me, they worked nicely--but the Star Wars one didn't. And McCoy's sidekick was, I fear, a sort of Jar-Jar Jr. for me. But we'll see what they do with him, it might be salvaged.

    An enraged Vulcan is a dangerous thing--that's canon. Spock (younger) is iced over when he's in command. Kirk's got jack for insight into other people--and always did--so he needs to have the idea of poking Spock hard enough to make him crack given to him. That didn't bother me. Running it the way you've suggested would make the backstory of Spock being picked on by other Vulcan kids less effective--it works better with the older Spock shoving Kirk in the right direction.

    I hope red matter remains lost...

    Overall, a great way to reboot the franchise so that it can run in a very different reaction.

  2. Oh, I understand why fans want canon—I was a fan when it first ran. I had to ask my folks to stay up half an hour later than usual so I could watch Star Trek when it began.

    Still, Old Spock felt like Spock Ex Machina, and there are an awful lot of males in that cast. I forgive the fashions, but I don't forgive the "guys fight, girls help" flashback to ancient primetime. (But even then, not all women "helped." That was also the day of Emma Peel and Honey West.

  3. Oh, and one important difference in the scenario I'm proposing: in the kid event, he doesn't control himself. He just gets dragged off until he cools down. What the young adult Spock does on the bridge wouldn't change under my scenario--it's only Kirk's motive that would. Sorry for obscuring that with the suggestion of more Uhuru in the mix there.

  4. One nit-pick; it was Scotty, not McCoy, on the ice planet. Otherwise, I generally agree. But even though they needed Spock Prime, I agree that the two big scenes with him weren't handled well.

    Say, can the time travel/alternate universe deal explain why 23rd century communicators are so much less capable than a 20th century cell phone?

  5. Joel, argh! Silly typoing me. Fixing that now. Thanks!

    I keep thinking the feminist revolution failed in the Trek 'verse, and electronics must've taken a hit at the same time.

  6. I would not make fun of panopticon for not being a scifi fan, I would be tempted to make fun of him for seeing the gayness of Star Trek as seemingly a huge revelation of his own when Spock/Kirk love stories began the entire slash fiction genre like 30 years ago.

    I don't completely get making one character female just on account, but if I did, I'd pick Sulu.

    who does not make a habit of going around asking people if they've seen Star Wars, so she wonders how that comes up if Panopticon doesn't bring it up. She suspects Panopticon of being like one of those people who doesn't have a TV and always manages to sneak that fact into conversation, then insists "it's not a snob thing."

  7. Thought it was drek. Terrible, terrible story. Oh wait. No story. Stupid story. And apparently in this new future women don't exist. Oh wait again. There were three women: two in bra and panties and/or short skirts and one to give birth and disappear. Pulease. It had such potential. And to you-know-what to Vulcan and Romulus. WTF?

    So irritating, especially after driving an hour to see it and then spending too much money late on a Tuesday night. Granted, it was not as bad as the last Star Trek series (which was so sexist I could only watch one episode) or as bad as the last 2 Star Trek movies. But any Deep Space Nine arc was better than this.

  8. I woke up this morning thinking more about Old Spock and the coincidence of him being there to save Kirk. It would make more sense for Scotty to do it--the Federation base would be monitoring local activity, so Scotty or the assistant would go to investigate the crash of a lifeboat.

    Chalicechick, I wasn't intending to make fun of Pantopticon. I think the "twinks versus bears" and "boys plus fag hag" observations are amusing.

    If I was trying to get something like sexual equality into the Trek verse, I might also change Sulu, but it's tricky: it means all the "senior" figures would stay male and the junior ones would be female, and the only non-euro characters would be female.

    Ah! Make Scotty female.

    Kim, what story? There was no story. There was male bonding and father-son issues and blowing stuff up good. Which was more than I got from any of the previous Trek movies.

    I may've been more forgiving because we saw a matinee.

    I second the DS9 love.

  9. Sister C, d'oh! I keep wanting her name to be "Freedom." Fixing the typo now.

  10. My list:

    1. Get rid of the icky teacher-student aspect of the Spock-Uhura relationship.

  11. Nolly, yeah. And adding an established romance? Definitely a mistake.

    Another for my list: If they're going to have miniskirts, they should also have kilts--maybe just for the dress uniforms.

  12. Panoptican was himself concerned that people make fun of him for not having seen Star Wars, but I felt his protestations had a little bit of the pretty girl who loudly declares that she hopes no one throws her in the pool to them.

    I liked Sulu because he's awesome with weapons and kind of a badass. Other than Kirk, nobody else gets to be quite so much of a cowboy.

    And at least in the original series of movies Sulu is captain of his own ship by the end.

    He's at least a lot less junior that Chekhov.


  13. Star Trek as an IP sexist...so, no one else watched Voyager, then?

  14. "IP"?

    Emma and I wanted to like Voyager, but DS9 was our Trek. Tuvok and Chakotay were cool, but Belanna (sp?) was whiney, and Janeway wasn't tough enough. I dunno. We wanted Voyager to feel like Xena, maybe--a little tougher and a little more fun.