Has anyone else noticed the major plot flaw in TWOK?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Bry_Sinclair, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    I'm inclined to think Starfleet wasn't paying attention at all. The system would seem to be in relatively close proximity to Klingon space, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Federation avoided the area as much as possible. The only reason Reliant was nearby was because it needed to find a test site for Genesis.

    --Sran
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I get that in principle, and it's the reason I'm able to enjoy the Abrams films despite their plot and logic holes. But this film is one I don't enjoy that much, for a variety of reasons. I feel it damaged the franchise by replacing the intelligent, plausible science fiction that Roddenberry aspired to (but often fell short of achieving) with cartoony melodrama and overblown action. I find it too violent and bloody for my tastes, yet at the same time extremely sluggish in pacing (and I'm saying this as someone who likes ST:TMP).


    The fact that transporters exist in the Trek universe is the one thing that makes Genesis remotely swallowable in that context, since it's the same principle of disassembling matter and reassembling it, just in a new form. But the sheer power involved to transform a whole planet demands something bigger than what we saw. I read the novelization before seeing the movie, and I imagined the Genesis torpedo as some enormous missile. When I finally saw what a dinky little thing it was, I thought it was ridiculous.


    And that is exactly my problem with the storytelling priorities of the film. It wasn't just "dramatic," it was over-the-top, corny melodrama, like everything else that passes for dramatic in the film (Kirk's "KHAAAAAAANNNN!!!" is the most embarrassingly corny moment in the history of the franchise). The original goal behind Star Trek was to approach science fiction as maturely and naturalistically as any cop show or courtroom drama or medical drama of the day -- to get away from the exaggeration and corniness and broad caricatures of previous SFTV and do a show that was about believable human beings doing jobs that just happened to be in outer space in the future. ST:TMP was in the same vein -- going for the same kind of cool, understated naturalism as Robert Wise's The Andromeda Strain, although perhaps taking the "understated" part a bit too far. But TWOK reversed that and turned ST into a broad, cartoony, larger-than-life melodrama, and I think that betrays the original intention behind the franchise. It might be a fun film in its way, but it's not a believable film, either on a technical level or a character level, and that's a failure to live up to the original goals of the series.


    I think that's bending over backwards to justify a line that doesn't really add up. Again, it's a matter of believability -- I can't believe that Kirk would feel that way about it, that he'd dismiss all the other terrible tragedies he's been through as if they never happened.


    Based on what? There's nothing in the movie to suggest that. Star Trek Star Charts shows it as being about as far from the outer reaches of Klingon space as Earth is from the nearer portions, but that's as of the 24th century; in the 2280s, Klingon space probably didn't extend as far in that direction.

    Perhaps one can assume from TSFS that the Mutara Sector was relatively close to Klingon territory, given that Kruge was able to get to it without being challenged, but we don't know how far that was from Ceti Alpha.

    And it still doesn't change that the speed of light is finite, allowing you to observe things that happened years or decades or centuries ago if you're at the right distance. If the explosion happened 15 years earlier, then the Reliant should've seen it happen as soon as they came within 15 light-years of the system. And even if they missed it, they certainly would've been able to detect the aftermath, the remains of the exploded planet. There'd be a huge cloud of debris spread out along the planet's orbit. There's just no way they could've missed that.
     
  3. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    All good points, but how could it have been done better?

    To paraphrase an old country doctor, "I'm a fan, not an astrophysicisisist!" I think the vast majority of people who watch Star Trek and plunk down their hard earned cash for a movie ticket just want to see Kirk, Spock and Bones do stuff. These relatively minor problems to people like me are just that. Minor. Give us a decent movie that takes our mind off the crap of everyday life for a couple of hours and we're good.

    I'm surprised that people still argue about this stuff all these years later.
     
  4. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    This is what I'm basing it on. Also recall Chekov's line in TWOK, that Reliant was en route to Regula One and would "be there in three days." Kirk later remarks that Enterprise is "the only ship in the quadrant" when discussing the mission with Spock. Now, quadrant was often used in place of sector in TOS, so maybe that's what he meant. In any case, if Reliant could reach Regula in a matter of days, it couldn't have been that far from Klingon space.

    --Sran
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except that ships in ST always travel at the speed of plot. Travel time has never been a remotely reliable indicator of distance. Hell, three movies later it took them less than half an hour to reach the center of the galaxy. Even if we ignore that (yes, please, let's ignore that), in the sixth movie it doesn't take long at all for the Enterprise to get from Earth to the Klingon border and for the arrested Kirk and McCoy to subsequently be taken to Kronos (one assumes) for trial and then shipped to Rura Penthe. So by those standards, a 3-day journey could represent a pretty significant distance.
     
  6. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, let's ignore the trip to the center of the galaxy in TFF.

    In any event, if we're to believe the various maps floating around the internet, a number of them depict Earth as being near the border between the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, with Klingon space located only a short distance into the Beta Quadrant. Depending on whether the map is based on twenty third or twenty fourth century boundaries, the Klingon Neutral Zone separates Klingon space from Federation space. Romulan space is just "north" of Klingon space and is also separated from the Federation by the Neutral Zone.

    I'm inclined to believe the arrangements of the three powers relative to one another given the events of TUC and The Next Generation. Camp Khitomer was located near the Romulan border, and the numerous skirmishes between the Klingons and Romulans in TNG suggest that the two species were Beta Quadrant neighbors.

    --Sran
     
  7. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm just curious, because I haven't read a lot of Trek novels.

    But in a typical story when traveling over long distances, does it say something like "time passes"? Or is there enough dialog and incidental action to cover whatever amount of time it takes to get wherever they're going?

    Does the passage of time occur in a chapter break?

    Just trying to get a handle on something here.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Depends on the novel and the situation. Sometimes, if it's plot-relevant, the travel time will be mentioned in dialogue or narration, at least broadly. Some authors in some books use date headings at the start of scenes or chapters, though that's hardly universal.

    But you don't spend time on the journey itself unless there's something story-significant going on during it. That's what they call "walking to the plot," and it's a storytelling faux pas. It can be useful to spend the time establishing necessary character relationships or tensions, or to include a briefing to give necessary exposition (though that can certainly be overdone too), but only if you need it.

    Anyway, scene breaks work in prose the same way they work in film -- the audience understands that there's supposed to be a passage of time between them, unless it's just switching POVs during the same sequence of events.
     
  9. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    ^There are a couple of Trek authors who routinely include dates in their chapter headings, but that's because many of their stories alternate between the novel's present-day and a previous period of time.

    --Sran
     
  10. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Location? What is this?
    This is where that darn human thing called subjectivity comes in I suppose. Where I find Star Trek II awesome, I'm not so excited about the JJ films, especially this most recent one.

    Well this is also debatable, but my guess would be another film like TMP would have killed the franchise. And overblown action? Would you not concede that JJ's films rely just as much if not more on action than TWOK? And how did you feel about this new movie lifting line after line from TWOK? Did you not find that terribly corny? Face-palm worthy, even? I only ask because you say you enjoy the JJ films more than TWOK.

    It was so embarrassingly corny that JJ re-used it in the new film, giving the line to SPOCK of all people! If it's corny in its original form, what on earth did you think when you heard it in the new film? You were still able to enjoy it more than TWOK??

    Anyway, to me that line and Shatner's delivery is a classic Kirk and classic Shatner moment. Honestly, TOS has corny and melodramatic moments at every turn. How is any corny or melodramatic moment in TWOK a deviation from TOS?

    So then, I guess TOS betrays the original intention as well because it was certainly full of all kinds of exaggeration, corniness and broad caricatures, and many ideas that were definitely not believable. But there was certainly truth and intelligent commentary there as well. And it was entertaining. And I love it! And TWOK lives up to all of that as well. And while there may be plot holes which can be debated (as with all films, really) and technical ideas like genesis which are not explainable today and may never be, it certainly was a believable story to me, and definitely believable on a character level. Truly classic Trek on the big screen if you ask me.

    That's because Kirk wouldn't dismiss his past tragedies. He didn't. He said "not like this." By adding that, he's actually acknowledging past tragedies and revealing that this one is different to him. A very real, honest moment and clever writing. Absolutely believable and human.
     
  11. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps most of Khan's people had died off at that point, and those were their children.

    Perhaps the eel somehow sensed that its 'brother' had died (when Terrell shot himself) and thus was a bit in distress.
     
  12. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Yet they look nothing like their parents.

    That's what I think. Why else would it try to escape just moments after the other eel had died? It's possible Chekov was able to resist enough to dislodge it, too. Too bad Kirk was waiting for it with a phaser as soon as it left Chekov's ear.

    --Sran
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think that's a question of expectations, though. Ever since Star Wars, we've been conditioned to expect that SF films are supposed to be action movies, and TMP seems a failure when viewed through that filter. But TMP was a legacy of an era from before SW, an era when SF films were often more contemplative, adult-oriented, thoughtful pieces like 2001 or Soylent Green or Silent Running. If ST had stayed in that vein, it might not have been as big at the box office, but it might've still retained an audience and gotten more critical respect.


    I don't want to dissect them point-by-point. There are things I like and things I dislike in both Abrams films (and yes, I certainly think the "KHAAAAAANNNN!!!!" homage was stupid and annoying), but I find that the total package is more agreeable to me. There are things to like and dislike in TWOK too, but there's just too much that turns me off, especially the bloodsoaked violence, Meyer's aggressive anti-futurism, and what to me is very slow pacing that leaches the energy out of much of the film. I can't break it down into a comparison of specific attributes or moments in the different films, because it's not about the specifics, it's about the aggregate, the final result. And as you say, it's subjective. There's no arguing over taste.


    As I said, it's about intent. TOS may have fallen short of its naturalistic ambitions at times, especially in the third season, but what it was meant to be was a deliberate reaction against the melodrama and caricature of previous SFTV, a more mature take on science fiction than what had existed on television before. And that's what it succeeded at being at its best. It seems natural to me to hold up the best of the show as what its successors should aspire to.

    I also disagree with the popular perception that "classic Shatner" means hamming it up. That's the reputation he's gained mainly because of his performance in the movies and later in his career when he was basically parodying himself. But early Shatner, the Shatner of the first season or two of TOS and before, was a much more understated and naturalistic actor. The kind of performance he became known for later was not representative of the best he was capable of, and again, I don't see the point of choosing to aspire to less than the best.


    We all fall short of our aspirations. But at least we try. That's the difference. TWOK was deliberately aiming for a lower standard of naturalism, for a more broad and exaggerated take. I can forgive falling short of a high aspiration more readily than I can forgive setting one's aspirations low to begin with.


    I've heard that argument before and I have never, ever bought it. It's a flimsy rationalization. "Not like this" was an afterthought, not remotely enough to salvage the line. What he actually, explicitly said was "I've never faced death," and that is absolutely a nonsensical thing for James Kirk to say, even with a qualification. Even aside from all the personal tragedies, he was always portrayed as a captain who was deeply affected by the death of any crewmember under his command. The idea that he's never before faced a no-win scenario is just not believable to me.
     
  14. Stardate

    Stardate Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Here is my thoughts on this. It is just sloppy writing and they really didnt have understanding how space and science work so the writers are in fault here. Planet dont just blow up without a trace and chance the orbit of another planet. My 2 cent is that Reliant was scouting/science ship. They mission was to find earthlike moon or earth sise planet that was 100% DEAD for Genesis project. Just watch this scene with Chekov and Reliant captain with Carol Marcus. They had found a planet that they thought was suitable but senors detects lifeform in just one area in the entire planet.
    However Dr. Marcus demanded them to go and check it out. Here is my beef. Ceti Alpha 5 was living M-class planet with millions if not billions lifeforms and all dies and vanish within 20 years except Khan and his merry men. I find it hard to believe. Life dosent end so quickly. Ceti Alpha in my opinion shouldn't never been consider as suitable planet for Genesis project cause despite changing the orbit and affect of explosion laying waste. There should still be plenty evidence of life still on Ceti Alpha 5(Khan planet).
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  15. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    You're missing an important detail: they thought the planet was the Ceti Alpha VI, a lifeless planet in the same system. They didn't realize it was Ceti Alpha V until they found the Botany Bay. That's why Marcus wanted them to check out the planet and see if it could be used for the Genesis experiment. Terrell hoped that whatever life they detected could be moved to another planet's ecosystem so that it wouldn't be affected by the Genesis wave if the device were used.

    --Sran
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^The point Stardate was making is that they shouldn't have mistaken Ceti Alpha V for the lifeless Ceti Alpha VI in the first place, because it's implausible that an inhabited, Earthlike planet could be so thoroughly stripped of life by a planetary disaster. Even in the worst mass extinctions in Earth's history, life has survived, and the oceans have survived.

    Not to mention that Ceti Alpha V clearly still had an oxygen atmosphere, since the robes Khan and his people wore outside were hardly airtight or pressurized. And anyone who knows the first thing about atmospheric chemistry knows that molecular oxygen is too reactive to remain present in a planet's atmosphere for long unless there's something to replenish it, and the only known thing that can do that is life. An oxygen atmosphere is a dead giveaway that a planet is inhabited. So there's no way in hell they could've mistaken Ceti Alpha V for another, totally lifeless planet. It never should've even been a candidate.
     
  17. Stardate

    Stardate Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah that was my point. Thanks Chris:techman: The slugs proves that there was still life on Ceti Alpha 5. If they could survive why not other life forms as well.
     
  18. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    My mistake.

    --Sran
     
  19. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There was an explanation in one of the Vanguard novels (Storming Heaven, I think) as to why Ceti Alpha VI exploded. I don't remember if they subsequently explained how the fifth planet could then be mistaken for the sixth, though.
     
  20. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    As the Reliant was the first ship to do a close range inspection/examination of the system and its planets, it is possible that the audience is meant to assume they believed the fifth planet of the previous long range scan was the one that blew up, and initial appearance of the planet still present matched the long range scan. It's quick and dirty, but it makes sense on a storytelling level.

    I've long understood the Ceti Alpha system to have many more than six planets, as well. And to Christopher, who said that the system was actually the one we have named Alpha Ceti; Says who? As far back as TOS, they probably wanted to avoid such disparities as the one you cited, and thus changed the name. No one ever said system names had to be alphabetical within the name itself, so Ceti Alpha is different than Alpha Ceti. Different name, different system.
     

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