Nerd Reviews: Star Trek I & II

I’m going to start reviewing the movies I see, just for the fun of it.  I’m calling these my “Nerd Reviews”, and I’m going to start out critiquing based on two characteristics:
  • Plot Holes
  • Suspension of Disbelief Killers – these are the elements in a science fiction film (or, for that matter, any film) that jar the viewer out of the “willing suspension of disbelief” you need to enjoy a film.
To start with, although I saw Star Trek Beyond a couple of days ago, it is still in theaters, so I shan’t Nerd Review it at this time, but shall back-review its two predecessors.
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So, here my picks for the biggest plot holes and suspension of disbelief killers in the previous two films:

Star Trek I (the Reboot)

    • Overall Impression
      • I totally loved this film!  I loved that Spock Prime was a big character in it, the writing was excellent, and the backstory elements were much appreciated — specifically, Kirk and Spock’s backstories.
    • Plot Holes
      • So, the Romulan mining ship (the Narada) just floated around for 25 years after George Kirk damaged it while covering the escape of his crew? Where was it hiding?  What were they doing the entire time?
      • They were apparently waiting for Spock to show up for those 25 years, but
        • how did they know that Spock had even gone into the black hole?  They apparently went first
        • even knowing that he went into it, how did they know to the day the exact time he would show up in their time line, or even that he would show up at all?
      • Nero tortures Captain Pike to obtain codes to bypass Earth’s defensive energy shields, but he apparently had no need to bypass Vulcan’s shields, and just started drilling.  What?  One of the most advanced and important planets in the Federation doesn’t have defenses?  Of any kind?
      • The Vulcan Science Institute created Red Matter, which only requires a drop in order to create a black hole.  And so the VSI sends Spock out to Romulus with the entire supply of Red Matter on board?  There was enough Red Matter aboard that ship to create several hundred black holes.
    • Suspension of Disbelief
      • Falling into a black hole
        • The process of falling into a black hole includes being torn into tiny pieces by tidal forces.  Time travel might occur (who knows?), but it would only be little pieces that made the trip.
      • Red Matter
        • What the heck is it?  In the film, one drop of the stuff is enough to turn a planet into a black hole.  This is so ridiculously hard to believe that it almost ruins the entire film. The plot turns on this piece of idiocy, which means that Red Matter is a Deus ex Machina.
        • Even assuming a drop of Red Matter could create a black hole in the first place, the resulting black hole would be of such low mass that:
          • it would evaporate within nanoseconds through Hawking radiation, leaving nothing at all behind
          • or, even disregarding Hawking radiation, it’s event horizon would be mere nanometers in size and it would take literally years and probably centuries to grow large enough to destroy the planet.
      • Spock tries to use Red Matter to stop a supernova from engulfing Romulus. 
        • If there were a star near Romulus that was large enough to explode into a supernova that would endanger Romulus immediately upon its exploding, then it would have made Romulus uninhabitable long before it ever exploded. Supernova candidates are incredibly active and violent stars, and they emit enormous quantities of radiation and superheated gas for millions of years.
        • Dropping a black hole of about a milliliter in size into a supernova would have all the effect of farting into a hurricane.  If that.
        • If the star that turns into a supernova is large enough, its explosion will create a black hole whose mass is many times greater than our sun’s.  But even such a black hole could not stop the radiation and gases emitted by the supernova from moving outward at light-speed or near light-speed and destroying Romulus.
      • Nero leaves Spock on the ice planet so he can watch Vulcan implode
        • What kind of solar system is Vulcan part of, anyway?  Major planets in any reasonable solar system are not close enough to each other to allow an observer on one to see in detail what is happening to a neighboring one without artificial aid, such as a telescope, which Spock is not shown to have, and in fact it is strongly implied that he sees it with his naked eyes.
        • Enterprise has departed Vulcan (now a black hole) and is under way under warp for long enough for it to have arrived back at Earth — yet when Spock ejects Kirk for mutiny, he ejects him onto the planet where Spock Prime is marooned, which is in the Vulcan system!  Did Spock swing back to do the ejection, or did that little lifeboat have warp capability?
      • Half the Federation fleet has just been destroyed in Vulcan space
        • The Enterprise does not check for survivors, of which there ought to be at least a few, including those who were able reach a lifeboat, and those surviving in the wreckage of all those starships.
      • Giant predators on an ice planet
        • Kirk has to run to escape two huge predators, neither of which are covered in insulating blubber or fur on an ice planet.  These huge animals would have frozen.
        • The larger predator continues to run after Kirk, a tiny morsel, when it has just killed another predator that represents a substantial meal. With instincts this poorly developed, the larger predator would have starved to death.
      • The Narada’s drill platform and the operation of its drill
        • The drill appears to be able to burn a cylindrical hole a hundred meters across, through solid rock, to the planetary core.  Assuming Vulcan to be earth-sized, this means that the drill must vaporize 64 cubic kilometers of rock in a shaft that, as it grows deeper, would be subject to enormous pressures trying to close it.  The amount of energy required to do this vaporization is so large, that even if the mass of the Narada itself were to be converted to energy at 100% efficiency it still would be insufficient for the task.
        • Even if the Narada were capable of drawing enough energy for the task of vaporizing the rock (from where?), the heat emitted by the drill platform would be so large that mere spillover would have instantly vaporized anyone coming anywhere near it.
      • Saturn’s rings
        • In order to explain why the Narada doesn’t detect the Enterprise’s arrival in the Sol system, it is explained that Saturn’s rings provide electromagnetic interference that masks the Enterprise’s presence
        • In reality, Saturn’s rings generate no such thing.  This is glaring.  At least to someone who knows something about astronomy.
      • Nero tortures Captain Pike in order to obtain the codes that will permit him to bypass Earth’s planetary shields.
        • If his drill platform can vaporize 64 cubic kilometers of rock, a mere energy shield is no protection. He has already demonstrated that he can tear through Federation energy shields like they were made of wet tissue paper; torturing Pike is completely pointless. But it does give an excuse for sending an away team to try to rescue Pike.

Star Trek II – Into Darkness

    • Overall Impression
      • Enjoyable, yet problematic.  Not as many annoying plot holes and suspension of belief problems, but what holes I found were rather egregious. Benedict Cumberbatch was an excellent Khan, and the reversal of roles between Spock and Kirk with respect to the Original Series “The Wrath of Khan” was intriguing.
    • Plot Holes
      • Khan can activate a wearable transporter device that can instantly send him all the way from Earth to Chronos, the Klingon home world, but Kirk and crew have to ride the starship Enterprise all the way there?
      • Khan’s blood can even cure death, but knowing this, Bones still has a job in the new film Star Trek Beyond?
      • The Enterprise is under water on the primitive planet while Spock is setting up to activate the cold fusion device.  If they’re trying to avoid being seen (Prime Directive), why is there an away team where the primitive people can discover them?  If the away team wasn’t screwing around near the natives, they wouldn’t have been chased, and no native would have been able to see the rising of the Enterprise from the sea.
    • Suspension of Disbelief
      • Spock uses a “Cold Fusion” device to freeze a supervolcano’s eruption in order to save an intelligent species from extinction.
        • In the real world, cold fusion is a theoretical energy source, not a freezer capable of instantly turning several cubic kilometers of magma into cool, solid rock.
        • Even allowing that the writers just misnamed a technology able to suck trillions of kilocalories of heat out of a huge volume of molten rock and superheated gas, where did the heat go?
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