Star Trek

by on May 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm in Film | Permalink

The new movie is a good revitalization of the franchise.  It's most enjoyable moments build on, foreshadow and deepen our appreciation of its familiar characters.  The casting and actors are all superb on this score.  The action is passable, although the fight scenes are poor and I wish they had put more effort into the plot. 

Best piece of Star Trek trivia: Vulcan education includes rigorous training in mathematics, physics and economics.  (Listen carefully during the education scene!)

Addendum: Aha!  I am told unofficially that we can thank economist turned screenwriter Glen Whitman for adding the economics lesson to Vulcan!

1 James Hanley May 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Hmm, no biology? Granted it’s not as mathematical as the other three. But I’m deeply curious about the evolutionary history of Vulcans.

2 Nylund May 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

“Federation citizens possess what a 20th century capitalist would refer to as “money” only in a limited way. What corresponds most closely to “money” in the Federation is referred to as “credits”. These are earned by working, the more and harder one works, the more “credits” an individual earns. One can then use these to purchase food, transportation, living space, etc. Once one spends a credit, it disappears, it is not transferable to the store or anyone else (except parents to children). It is simply deducted from one’s total. To get more, one must work more. Credits cannot be traded, except for some controlled gamboling instances, and cannot be stolen. The deduction and accumulation of credits is more of a bookkeeping system than anything else. As above, production units that produce transporters, food, etc. do not trade money for inputs, but simply get what was decided upon by the participatory planning process.

Though one can buy and own food, transportation, living space, etc. in the federation, the ownership of the means of production is not allowed. Thus farms, ships, industrial plants, etc. are collectively owned by all, and in a another sense, by no-one.”

For more:

http://vanparecon.resist.ca/StarTrekEcon

Its also worth mentioning Krugman’s “joke” interstellar trade model which confronts the problem of how to deal with interest rates when speed of light travel causes time to be perceived differently by different agents.

http://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/interstellar.pdf

3 josh May 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm

How should we expect a society of perfectly logical individuals to be organized?

4 samson May 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

does that make me a vulcan? sweet!

5 Brian May 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I caught that too! Non-rival, non-excludable…public goods!

I wasn’t impressed with the rest of the movie myself, though. The names were familiar, but that’s about it. Too much over-the-top special effects to the point of utter absurdity, and the entire Star Trek history was rewritten.

6 Paul Gowder May 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm

And ethics!

7 jmo May 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm

These are earned by working, the more and harder one works, the more “credits” an individual earns.

And, may I ask, how do they define “more” and “harder”? Is it in any way related to how productive someone is.

Aye, there’s the rub.

8 Joshua Allen May 8, 2009 at 9:16 pm

@Doug: Don’t be so worried, it was pretty good. The first hour will have you thinking, “WTF?”, since it starts out like a teen coming-of-age romance flick. But then all of the sudden it’s pure Star Trek. More true to the spirit of the original TV series than the other movies, IMO.

I was the only guy in the theater who laughed out loud at the “non-rival”, “non-excludable” bit. Then I turned to the guy next to me and said, “that line never would have been scripted in the first ‘Trek’ episodes!” He didn’t comprehend… It was a nice touch to add to the cognitive dissonance of people dressed in 1960s clothes in the distant future.

9 Dan in Euroland May 8, 2009 at 11:43 pm

I never considered Star Trek to be overly socialist. Fascistic definitely, given the Federation’s emphasis on Star Fleet. Also I think that Nylund’s quotation claiming people could not own the means of production is wrong. Wasn’t Jean Luc Picard a farmer?

10 assman May 9, 2009 at 1:59 am

As for Star Trek’s socialism…I don’t think Star Trek is socialist. Rather it is noneconomic. In our age this difficult to talk about or consider this because all our considerations are dominated by economics. So perhaps a world in which money does not motivate would seem odd to us in the same way as a society in which the afterlife does not motivate would seem odd to people living 500 years ago.

So I don’t think its right to say its socialist or capitalist. It would be better to say that the ownership of the means of production and the economic organization itself may cease to be relevant in a society which is capable of nearly unlimited affluence. I think this is what Roddenberry was getting at.

The real odd thing is that we live in an economic age were economic considerations have come to dominate all other considerations. Money is now the ultimate symbol of power, prestige and status. This is very very odd because you would think that as people became more affluent, money would become less important because it would have diminishing utility. Instead the opposite has happened. Is this because money is more useful because there is so many more product being produced. Is there a good sociological reason? Why hasn’t Roddenberry’s vision become a reality?

11 spencer May 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm

If they can use the replicator to create anything isn’t the cost of production of virtually everything essentially zero, both on average and at the margin.

If everything is free, why would it make any difference it the economy is socialist, capitalist or Marxist and why would you have trade? But trade is about the only economic activity I’ve seen any member of the Federation do.

12 scott clark May 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

in ST canon, there are lockheed-boeing analogues, namely yoyodyne proposal systems, that firm even had an office on the promenade deck of DS9

13 Joey May 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I am mostly turned off by the imagery of the new Star Trek, Seems like there going for a “Fast and Furious in Space” but, I’m looking forward to the book (Alan Dean Foster wrote the novel based on the movie) to get all the plot details and update my self on the direction of the series.

Seems the goal of movie is an attempt to make Star Trek mainstream, I don’t find that impressive, there is a reason why the longest lived and most loved series aren’t mainstream… and look at how low-brow and ephemeral the average mainstream blockbuster movie is… or for that matter the average movie.

There are potential continuity issues some people will have, large numbers of loud people imagined lots of canon contradiction with Star Trek Enterprise mostly issues they made up themselves as opposed to true continuity contradictions… This movie does use time travel and change almost everything, so those people will probably have real reasons to have a problems there… But, still It’s still easy to preserve Star Trek Time Line 1 and have the new Star Trek Time Line. ( such as in this Unimultiverse Star Trek idea http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/jcfancy1/StarTrek-Pocket.html )
But, still this new one doesn’t look much like Star Trek to me.

14 Kirk....James Kirk May 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I’m looking at this completely different. Star Trek was dead. No TV show, no new movies. Let’s be honest, the only good NG movie was “First Contact”. This was like the new Batman and James Bond movies. I’m a huge James Bond fan, and was very sceptical before Casino Royale and Daniel Craig. With time travel and alternate universes I felt this might be the way to go with reintroducing it. The time line changed when Kirk’s father was killed. If you really thought of it, why didn’t 29th Century Star Fleet “Time Cops” from “Enterprise” show up and keep this from happening? I leave it up to fate that certain things happen like Kirk being jettisoned to a planet with “old Spock” and Scotty. I think you need to stop overanalyzing it and just enjoy the ride. I did think it was interesting that Pike was in a wheelchair at the end.

15 Alistair May 14, 2009 at 8:02 am

Nylund,

I just read you “Parecon” Star Trek economics. Hilarious, though unintentionally so.

Your primary terms are totally underdefined and would embarress a first year economics undergrad, let alone a philosophy one.

Basically, at no point does it seem to consider the impact of individual self-interest (common with trekkies, eh? Detailed schematics for the Warp Core but a childish political model. And please don’t bother telling me human nature is “improved”, perhaps by “science” and “understanding” in the intervening period, you’ll make this old historian laugh.). Anyway, your system is plainly dynamically unstable, and would be gamed in a minute. Worse of all, its plainly a repeat of the old “Labour theory of Value”. But to realise that you’d actually have to do some reading…

Sorry…your stupid idea’s aren’t even original stupid ideas.

16 Marco May 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm

“I can’t get how they could go to such great lengths to get the characters right and then totaly f-up the time line. Who will ask spock how he feels after he relives now? And who will be there when his dad goes mental in next gen? All I can say is they better pull her out of a buffer or something or why bother with even attempting to keep it Trek.”

You realize that this is a movie in which the primary plot device is the alteration of the timeline through time-travel, right?

Secondly, Amanda Grayson is long dead by the time Sarek suffers from Bendii Syndrome in the TNG era. Sarek’s wife at that point is Perrin.

So, to recap: timeline has been altered (rendering your complain moot), and Amanda’s not a Vulcan, so she doesn’t live to see Picard’s ship.

17 Marco May 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

“Checkov lost his original ultra-confident personality and is mainly a accent joke.”

I agree with most of your observations, but not this one. Yes, the accent is overdone, but as my not-especially-Trek-knowledgeable wife told me, the Chekov in the 2009 movie is only 17 years old, so it’s feasible that his accent has not yet mellowed to the point of TOS or the movies (because by that point he’s been exposed to American accents for several more years). I thought this was a pretty good point.

Second, how can you say he’s not ultra-confident? He’s butting in to conversation with senior officers at the age of 17. And what about when he frantically yells “I can do zat!” a dozen times as he somehow runs to the transporter room, shoves the attending technician out of the way, and locks on before his shipmates have hit the ground? Takes some confidence to sprint off the bridge and shove someone else out of the way because you think you know how to do what they can’t. Right?

18 Treknomore May 18, 2009 at 8:59 am

What a horrible movie.

DS9, voyager and the goofy plots of the movies after ST2:TWOK pretty much drove me away from the Trek Universe. When this movie was announced I hoped it would be something that could bring me back to being a Trekker, but sadly this is not so and I shot $12 down the tubes. I saw nothing in this new monstrosity that even reminded me of Star Trek. This was more like that “wonderful” Speed Racer Movie set in space!

I find it a sad comment on today’s society that people actually find this movie good or entertaining. Star Trek has always been “intelligent” science fiction as opposed to Star Wars more emotional action approach. The fact that plotless, pointless, hyperactive messes like this get such rave reviews has to be related to the failure of modern education or something. Oh yea! Did we have to endure another bald headed, henna tattooed humanoid alien as a villain? How overdone is that?

Where was Gary Mitchell? Do your homework, o’ ruiners of the Trek universe.

19 arizona bankruptcy attorney June 27, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I am thrilled they brought back Star Trek. Hopefully they can churn out another 3-4 really good sequels.

20 arizona carpet cleaning June 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm

You have to admit though that this movie was far better than anything made in the 60’s. The Next Generation was pretty good too.

21 arizona dentist October 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

Excellent movie. They did the franchise well in this remake. Here is hoping they can churn out another five movies of top caliber.

22 Yan November 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

I am a ST big fan (although not as big as I used to be when I first watched the TOS in the early 70s). But movie is ok and it just is being dragged by the time – we cannot expect that things be exactly they were about 45 years ago.

Anyway, I enjoyed watch this and the BEST replacement for characters was no doubt Spock. The actor is fantastic, and his characterization is formidable. He even look like Leonard Nimoy where he was young. I loved it!

However, and of course, movie have a few flawns. What more bugged me was the starship. I wouldnt bother if they had changed its design, if at least they made it look like more vintage than the original TOS Enterprise. I think that the naceles of the starship in the movie looks like way modern when compared with original naceles. Also, internally ship seems to be too contemporary and the assets looks too futuristic when compared with the original ship. The only thing that remains something earlier is that ‘submarine look’ in the engines section, with a few iron pipes and hidraulic controls, that seems very out of context for me.

The other thing is the fact that the movie ended without a solution for the two spocks and volcano destroyed, since in the TOS sequence THERE IS a Volcano and there is only ONE Spock. However, it is very clear to me that the studio just left this gap to use it as a hook to the next movie (remember ‘In the search of Spock’), when they will fix things by killing the paradox and bringing the timeline to its real sequence. Or not. It is also very interesting and fun to think about all the ST history within an entirely new timeline… 😉

I won’t touch any aspect about time travel, as all movies that uses this approach have its failures. Beside that we do not know yet if time travel is possible or not, so to discuss this matter would be like watch monkeys trying to calculate a logarythm. I think that time travel on movies is just for fun, not to be really scientific. Anyway, I think that sci-fi movies would be VERY boring if they would too realistic!

23 bucket truck April 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

I have not see this movie jet, i never really got into the ole star trek shows

24 arizona auto glass June 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The new Star Trek movie was awesome and did the entire franchise proud. They nicely introduced characters too. Now when is the follow up movie?

25 louis vuitton outlet September 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Yeah I loved the reference to non-rivalry in there. cool stuff. Hopefully New Star Trek won’t be socialist!

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