Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Okay, there’s a scene in the new Star Trek movie that I don’t get because it’s got about forty thousand discontinuities in it that didn’t hit me while I was watching it. It was a lot of fun to watch. I just loved it. But later my brain rewinded it and every time I watched, I got more confused.

The part I’m talking about is right after the Enterprise meets the Romulan mining ship. Great big ship, looks like a mutant beetle with too many mandibles.

If memory serves, and feel free to correct me at any time if it doesn’t, they meet the Romulans in orbit around Vulcan. Or maybe they were in orbit around Earth. Either way, they were in orbit around a planet that the Romulans were going to do something really evil to. They lowered their giant laser drill on a chain that was a couple hundred miles long, cranked up the laser and started blasting away at the planet.

Just before they started drilling holes in the planet, the Enterprise came warping out of deep space to stop them and the Romulans shot the shit out of them with a salvo of unstoppable Romulan missiles. For a ship built to dig for minerals, it was exceptionally well-armed.

The Romulan captain told Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise, to climb aboard a shuttlecraft and fly over for some chips and beer. Just kidding. What he really wanted to treat Pike to was a creepy-crawly bug, and he was going to shove it up Pike’s nose or something. Bad guys are always tying up the good guys and shoving repulsive bugs or slimy slugs up their noses. It used to creep me out but it’s become so predictable it’s almost, I don’t know … would it be too freaky to say “comforting?”

Pike doesn’t know about the bug, so he gets on a shuttlecraft and heads over there. I guess he’s never watched the show before. On his way out he asks for volunteers who have special training in hand-to-hand combat, so naturally Kirk raises his hand even though Kirk’s signature style has always been, and forever will be, Saloon Fighting. He can punch guys in the face all day long, but that’s about all he knows, which is why it seemed kind of odd when he rolled his eyes at Sulu, who told him his special combat skill was fencing. At least the guy knew how to use a sword.

Off they go, and Pike’s plan is this: On the way over to the Romulan ship he’s going to let Kirk, Sulu and a guy in a red shirt jump out over the planet on a super-secret mission to destroy the laser drill. That should work, right? The Romulans would never be able to detect three guys jumping out of the only shuttlecraft headed their way, the very same shuttlecraft they were waiting for, the one coming from the enemy spacecraft piloted by the enemy captain who would never try anything underhanded so why would they be watching it?

The floor of the shuttlecraft drops open like bomb bay doors, letting Kirk, Sulu and the guy in the red shirt plummet straight through it toward the planet as if they were making the ultimate skydive out the bottom of a plane, only they were in orbit. At least, I’m pretty sure they were in orbit. The sky was black and when they jumped there was no sound, so if they weren’t in orbit they were sure pretending to be. And the trouble with that is, if the shuttle was in orbit, they wouldn’t have dropped like bombs when they let go of the monkey bars on the ceiling. They’d have just hung there, looking stupid. What they’d need is a good, solid shove at least strong enough to slow their orbital speed and drop them in a long, gradual arc until they met the atmosphere and burned with the intense heat of an exploding atom bomb. Oh, wait, no, they probably wouldn’t want that. I guess they might have had some kind of mini-impulse engines in those nifty backpacks they were wearing, but you’d think that would make them very noticeable to the Romulans, and I thought the whole point of jumping was to be all super-stealth like. So I guess I don’t know how they did that amazing skydive from orbit. Sure looked cool, though.

Kirk and Sulu land on the laser drill but the guy in the red shirt gets killed because, duh, red shirt. Sulu asks Kirk, “What do we do now? Red shirt guy had the explosives!” Wait, what? Red shirt guy was the only one who had any explosives? What was the point of sending the other two guys?

Then the Romulans show up. FIGHT! Kirk punches them a lot. Sulu whips out his sword — he brought his sword, but he didn’t bring any explosives — and completely fails to cut any of the Romulans in half. Instead, he kills a Romulan by tricking him into stepping onto the flaming laser vent, and Kirk kills a Romulan by suckering him into jumping off the edge of the laser drill. bluh. Romulans sliced in half would have been totally way better.

They blow up the drill by shooting it with the guns the Romulans dropped while they were fighting. It’s a giant laser space drill that can withstand the tremendous tidal forces of hanging from an orbiting spaceship on a chain a hundred miles long, but shoot it with a handgun and it falls apart. Okay.

Blowing up the drill means they fall. Sulu’s parachute doesn’t work, so Kirk grabs him and tries to open his. It’s a hi-tek chute that can pack itself, but it can’t support two guys and shears away. Kirk and Sulu are falling to the ground. Kirk calls to the transporter crew to beam them up. The transporter crew can’t lock on to them because they’re falling too fast.

How fast do you suppose a falling person would have to be going for the transporter to be unable to lock on to them, I have to wonder, because they’re transporting from one moving ship to another all the time. A person falling through the air moves at a little over one hundred miles an hour. That little bit of trivia is stuck in my head from the time I took skydiving lessons. So do starships really slow down to less than one hundred miles an hour when people transport between them? And they’re falling in a straight line. It should be fairly easy for a computer to figure out their trajectory. But no. They can’t get a lock.

But Chekov can! He must have taken “Beaming Up Falling People 101” at the Academy while the rest of his classmates were trying to get the panties off the green Orion slave girls. He jumps up from his station on the bridge yelling, “I know how to do that!” and disappears into the elevator. Bridge officers do this all the time, just jump up and run off. Any Academy grad realizes that’s perfectly all right, even when the acting captain has left the ship and put you in charge.

Chekov not only gets a lock on the falling guys, he does it just a split second before they make a big red splat on Vulcan, of course! And once again, the falling guys do not appear on the transporter pad rolled up in a ball the way they were when they were falling through the air, and they do not fall to the floor at a hundred miles an hour. They materialize standing up, perfectly still, but I believe they were still hugging. The transporter can stop their fall and it can make sure they reappear on their feet, but it can’t un-hug them.

So confused.

Nit Picking | 9:45 pm CST
Category: entertainment | Tags:
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2 Comments

  1. 1 The Seanster said at 9:31 pm on December 5th, 2010:

    Glad to see you’re engaged in Deep Thoughts, Dad. :)

  2. 2 Dave said at 9:56 pm on December 6th, 2010:

    That’s what I’m here for!