So I had a few, um, distractions last night, but the focus of the evening was really movie night with my nine year old. I’ve had mixed success introducing him to the original Star Trek series, so I decided the 2009 reboot might be more appealing to a child of the 21st century. And it was fun watching it with him . It’s a great fast-paced roller coaster of a movie — I was calling it Star Trek X-Treme when it first came out.
But there are some hugely bothersome plot points. The movie’s three years old, and I assume that anyone who cares has long since seen it, but I will nonetheless follow internet conventions and bury the spoilers below the fold.
Bothersome plot point #1, the one that kicks off the movie and bugs the hell out of me every time I watch it: out of all of time and space, the time-travelling Romulan ship just happens to pop out … in front of the starship where little James Kirk is about to be born? By coincidence?
Perhaps you’re thinking, no — the Romulans went there deliberately, in search of Spock. Or maybe you have some other explanation for this. But having just re-watched the film last night, let me assure you, whatever explanation you may have is entirely a figment of your own mind trying to fill in the gap, much as it fills in the gap between animation stills to provide the illusion of motion. Your mind is attempting to provide the illusion of coherent writing. The Old Spock mind-meld scene later makes it clear that the Romulans were thrown to that point in space/time entirely by accident.
That’s some seriously lazy plotting. And honestly, I’m very forgiving. Just give me a MacGuffin, have a character mutter something about “the currents of time and space” or “quantum probability waves” and I’m with you, 100%. Just show me that you’ve thought this through, and I’ll suspend disbelief so quickly it’ll make your head spin.
Bothersome plot point #2: As my nine year old son pointed out, if Nero has been thrown back in time 100 years, why doesn’t he go to his home planet and warn them of the planetary catastrophe down the road? 100 years is plenty of time to organize a planetary evacuation. Apparently this doesn’t even occur to him, as he spends his time chasing Spock around in order to Exact His Revenge. Whatever, dude. (Which also reminds me — why does the evil Romulan speak with a Southern California surfer accent anyway? “Hello, Chris-to-fer!”)
Bothersome plot point #3: I suppose you can chalk this one up to Vulcan stoicism, but while Young Spock at least seems bummed about the loss of his mother, both Young and Old Spock seem remarkably unaffected by the destruction of their entire planet. But your mileage may vary on that one.
Bothersome plot point #4 (multiple points about the ice planet sequence): (a) Really? When Starfleet officers misbehave, it’s accepted procedure for the Captain to order them stranded on the nearest planet, without so much as scanning to see if there are any giant carnivorous animals waiting there to eat them? I mean, don’t they have a brig on the Enterprise? (b) Not sure if this is a bothersome plot point or not, but I was initially bothered by the fact that Kirk then runs into Old Spock on this random planet on which he’s been marooned — but upon re-watching, I believe the implication is that this is the planet or moon you dump people on when you’re leaving Vulcan orbit. Young Spock marooned Kirk there, while Nero used it for Old Spock. So I’ll give them that. But it’s still a bit of a coincidence for Kirk to have been dumped within half a mile or so of the cave where Old Spock was hanging out. And speaking of that: (c) as it turns out, there’s a Federation outpost on the planet. So why is Spock hanging out in the cave? He doesn’t know Jim Kirk is on his way. None of these events occurred in his “original” timeline. (d) Whatever Scotty’s doing in that Federation outpost, he’s apparently not monitoring the planet Vulcan. Or else he’s a sociopath. Because he’s awfully chipper for someone who just witnessed the death of billions of people. (Related: if the ice planet is some sort of moon of Vulcan, wouldn’t there have been some sort of gravitational impact when Vulcan disappears into an artificial singularity?)
Bothersome plot point #5: As it turns out, all anyone had to do to stop the Romulan mining cable thing is fly a spaceship through it. Does Vulcan not have any sort of planetary defense? And on Earth, did it not occur to anyone at nearby Starfleet HQ to hop in a shuttle and fly over? I suppose you can say it all happened so quickly, no one had time to react, except for our intrepid heroes. But it still seems like an awfully easy way to counter a planet-destroying threat, especially the second time around, when you know it’s coming and you’ve already seen what it can do.
Nonetheless, I do like the movie, and feel that it’s relatively true to the spirit of the original show. But it’s not a J.J. Abrams-style implausible coincidence that J.J. Abrams was also one of the people responsible for the show “Lost.”
…adding: bonus bothersome plot point from @joXn:
@tomtomorrow Shocked you don’t mention worst plot hole of all: red matter. ORLY? That’s the best they could do?