Monday, September 9, 2013

Star Trek Is Not Broken...Yet

It seems that Roberto Orci, one of the writers on Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, didn't appreciate it when posted an editorial declaring "Star Trek is broken". For the last five or so years Orci would occasionally would pop up on the's comment section on various articles to leave answers (or create more questions) as he worked on the two movies. Do to the negative post, it seems that support has come to an end as he went off on various posters for legit (a nonsense Indiana Jones post) and not so legit (dismissive of everything else). Here are my thoughts on the idea of Star Trek being "broken" and Orci's comments. This isn't based on what Star Trek: The Original Series is in my memory (not some great uber series but as mostly well meaning but boring and/or silly episodes with few exceptions) but what I think Star Trek could be (see most Star Trek top 10 lists).

As I said in my review, "Star Trek Into Darkness is a very entertaining action movie. That does not mean it’s a great Star Trek story." I think for most Star Trek fans, that is the main complaint of the film and is no different. After declaring Star Trek broken, writer Joseph Dickerson suggests a return to the "mission statement" as stated by Kirk at the beginning of every The Original Series and end of both movies "to explore strange new worlds..." etc. You know the one. While doing that, the idea should be less fan service and a greater focus on characters rather then action sequences, not using previous episodes to create new movies with new writers (not Orci or Kurtzman), and maybe look back to doing a TV series again. Now as a Trek fan, we all probably nod our head. As one that worked on the movie, I could see why Orci wasn't pleased. Below is a summation of Bob Orci's comments. Ignore the typos, they mean nothing (its from a comment section after all).

His comment on the article itself:
310. boborci - September 2, 2013
I think the article above is akin to a child acting out against his parents. Makes it tough for some to listen, but since I am a loving parent, I read these comments without anger or resentment, no matter how misguided.

Having said that, two biggest Star Treks in a row with best reviews is hardly a description of “broken.” And frankly, your tone and attidude make it hard for me to listen to what might otherwise be decent notions to pursue in the future. Sorry, Joseph. As I love to say, there is a reason why I get to write the movies, and you don’t.

Respect all opinions, always, nonetheless.
Orci's reply when a fan said "you guys didn't listen to the fans"...
12. boborci - September 2, 2013
Ahmed, I wish you knew what you were talking about. I listened more than any other person behind the Trek franchise has EVER listened. And guess what? Glad I did becuase it lead to 2 biggest Trek’s ever.

You think action and thinking are mutually exclusive. Ok, then. Pitch me Into Darkness. Pitch me the plot, and let’s comapre it to other pitches. Go ahead. Let’s see if you actually understood the movie. Tell me what happened?
A comment on an (idiotic) Raiders comparison in post #108 by same person in #308 and #312
318. boborci - September 2, 2013
312 Shitty Dodge. STID has infinetly more social commentary than Raiders in every Universe, and I say that with Harrison Ford being a friend. You lose credibility big time when you don’t honestly engage with the FUCKING WRITER OF THE MOVIE ASKING YOU AN HONEST QUESTION. You prove the cliche of shitty fans. And rude in the process. So, as Simon Pegg would say: FUCK OFF!
His closing statement:
1476. boborci - September 8, 2013
Glad we all kissed and made up for the most part. Now, for the good of peaceful relations and Trek in general, I will say good bye here.

It has been an incredible five year chat with all of you, but now the five year mission is at an end. Take care of yoursleves:)
I have no idea where Orci gets "the article is akin to a child acting against its parents." He does correctly point out the movie has positive reviews, did better then the previous movies box office wise and therefore isn't broken. I can agree that "broken" might be too strong a word but both movies have issues, and not in a "back to its roots" way that THR claims. As I had said, STID was a great action film. Almost all the positive reviews were either about Benedict Cumberbatch's acting, the special effects or the over all story (which as a whole was good, but big elements not so much). Almost none of them cared about the "Star Trek" aspect of the film and so didn't judge it as a Star Trek film. By the standards of most action films, especially nowadays, the movie deserved its positive reviews.

However, this is also Star Trek. That means a different standard does get applied and Orci and company simply didn't meet it. Hell most Trek films have not. Star Trek at its core is about exploration either in the literal sense (new worlds, new civilizations) or the allegorical sense (the human condition, friendship, social commentary, etc.). This movie tried for both and failed at both, mostly because it was all action movie. It attempted to hit the literal and allegorical but the attempts was basic, almost junior high school level exploration. Cause insert action sequences. As for fan service, I didn't mind it and don't think it would have been a problem if it was so poorly executed (universe wide transporters, "Khan!!!", death of Kirk, super blood etc.). Basically the things that screamed lazy writing. And yes I bet even Orci knows those moments are lazy, keep the action momentum going no matter what, writing.

Ultimately fans just have to accept it really doesn't matter what they think. As Orci has frequently pointed out here and elsewhere his Trek films were the "2 biggest Trek's ever." That is all Paramount cares about. That really is all the writers care about because big films let them write other big films for big paychecks. That is why Paramount signed Orci and Kurtzman for a third film. They want butts in the seats and if that means turning Trek into just an action film franchise with familiar characters and not much else, then so be it. If that is your only goal then the Orci and Kurtzman pair have the formula down to a near science.

Still since Orci is a lifelong fan of Trek, I hope he wants to achieve more than that. I do think that script writing is hard and something like Star Trek can be a very tough nut to crack in movie form as the (fan) goal is the ultimate challenge of a sci-fi flick (future, giant starships, new worlds), classic drama movie (character interactions, angst, etc.) and action film (hand to hand fighting, starships firing on each other, etc). Usually the average Hollywood film is one of these three genres, not all of them at once. However, that is also Star Trek at its best. Its best being a rare thing but something consistently strived for. While the Trek films tried for all three usually its can do one well and other two so-so. However, exceptions like Star Trek II and Star Trek VI prove it can be done. I hope, all the negative internet stuff aside, the current Star Trek gatekeepers recognize this and choose to achieve a great action film that is also a great Star Trek film instead of dismissing the challenge as one or the other. The complaints and advice should be taken for what it ultimately are. To quote Christopher Pike - "I dare you to do better."

1 comment:

  1. Star Trek 2009 & ITD is Crap. You destroyed the universe that Gene Roddenberry created for a distorted mess and call it STAR TREK. Your ideas are not original a white Khan? How many men in the world are white with the last name Khan? Than the total disregard for science was amazing and it seems like the writers are idiots when it comes to science.
    o he isn’t likely to succeed. But if he could, how would he go about it? There are endothermic reactions on Earth, like those “ice packs” that aren’t ice at all, but chemicals in a container you can break to mix them and turn the thing cold. That absorbs heat to change chemical bonds, but it is too inefficient for the amount of energy absorption we need here. And besides, they tell us that this is a “cold fusion device.” Ok, that makes no sense. Cold fusion, has of course been debunked -- this sounds like just another Orci / Abrams attempt at getting crackpottery being discussed by more people (see FRINGE). And besides, cold fusion is supposed to gain energy, not absorb it.

    But ok, if I had to design something that you might call a “cold fusion device,” and have it get rid of energy, how would it work? Well, iron-56 is the most tightly bound atomic nucleus. Every time you fuse two nuclei lighter than that together, you get energy. That’s what powers the sun. Only hydrogen and helium (and a little lithium) were created in the Big Bang. All the other elements up to iron were forged in a star. But stellar fusion only works up to iron. If you try to fuse any two elements to make something heavier than that, you lose energy instead of gaining it. But you can do fusion beyond iron inside a certain kind of supernova (which is what I study professionally). That’s how we get all the elements heavier than iron. Take gold, for example. It was created in a supernova -- but it took energy to produce it.

    So my idea for a “cold fusion device” would be to do just that: the kind of fusion where you absorb energy instead of gaining it. Looking at this chart, to get the biggest energy sink, we want to somehow fuse iron-56 (binding energy 8.8 Megaelectron Volts (MeV) per nuclear particle, or nucleon) to uranium-238 (7.6 MeV per nucleon). Doing that, we can absorb 8.8-7.6 = 1.2 MeV / nucleon = 2 x 10-13 Joules (J) / nucleon. To absorb 1021 J, it would take 1021 J / 2 x 10-13 J per nucleon = 5 x 1033 nucleons. Since Fe-56 has 56 nucleons (protons and neutrons) per atom, it would take 5 x 1033 / 56 = 1032 atoms of iron. A mole of iron (6 x 1023 atoms) has 56 g of it, so 56g (1032 atoms) / (6 x 1023 atoms) = 1010 g = 107 kg = 2 x 107 lb. So to absorb all the energy in the volcano, Spock’s “cold fusion device” would have to weigh 20 million pounds! He’d start with that much iron and end up with about that much uranium. If he wanted to be an alchemist, he could start with a bigger bomb and turn it all into gold. (Medieval alchemists failed because they didn’t have hot enough ovens).

    Also: why didn’t they just beam the “bomb” right into the volcano? They couldn’t beam into the volcano because they needed a direct line of sight? Bullshit, the Enterprise beams people through entire planets on a daily basis. You never hear: “Beam me up, Scotty.” “But Cap’n we have to wait until our orbit is above your position, so hold on for an hour or so.” And if so, big deal, fly over the damn thing and beam it in. And don’t give me some BS about how Spock had to arm it. We already have volcano-exploring robots. No, correction, we already had them twenty friggin years ago.