Issue #1
June 14, 2013

   This week in SHOWCASE
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   The Vending Machine by Sarah L. Byrne
   Smart Money by Samuel Marzioli
   Caught by A. G. Carpenter
   Seek Vista by Gary Cuba
Columns, Cruft, and Filler
   Badger & Vole Review:
   Star Trek Into Darkness
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Badger & Vole Review: Star Trek Into Darkness



B: Okay, let's start with a simple question. What exactly is the title of this movie? Star Trek Into Darkness? Star Trek: Into Darkness? Into Darkness, Which Happens to Be a Star Trek Movie? Star Trek Into The Grim Darkness of the Far Future, Where There Is Only War?

V: I think it's Star Trek Into Darkness, Very, Very Slowly.

B: Yeah, important safety tip. This is one long movie. When you're buying your soft drink and popcorn at the concession stand, don't get the 32-oz. bladder buster or you will be suffering through the last twenty minutes.

V: Did I say it was long? This was one movie that didn't know when, or even how, to end.

B: Return of the King long?

V: Longer. Kirk's salvation was telegraphed so heavily, there was no possibility of emotional impact to his "death."

B: It had a profound emotional impact on me. For a minute there I thought, "Oh no, they're setting us up for Star Trek XIII: The Search for Kirk." Then when I realized how Bones was going to save him before the end of this movie, I felt a tremendous sense of relief.

V: I did have a moment for that same concern, then I remembered the invincible tribble and that was that. On the other hand, now we know why tribbles are so hard to kill.

B: So, aside from all the fanboy shoutouts and callbacks and twisty reworks of bits lifted from The Wrath of Khan, what was your biggest complaint about this movie?

V: First, that it was plot-driven rather than character-driven. The basic idea of Kirk's gaining command without fully earning command could have made for a powerful story. Instead, they introduced that idea, and then shortly after introducing it they tossed it aside and went off into an action movie instead.

Next, as an action movie, the sets were designed for excitement rather than any kind of common sense. Driving home from the theater, much comparison was made to the scene in Galaxy Quest with the "chompers," leading to Sigourney Weaver's immortal line, "That episode was badly written!" The problems with the set designs led The Boy to spend the whole trip home speculating on better designs for spaceships. I was thoroughly tired of the discussion by the time we got home, but fortunately the friends who saw the movie with us came over for pizza afterwards, so The Boy had a new audience.

B: I dunno. The Kid and I both cheered when they had another chase scene through the brewery.

V: The brewery?

B: Yeah, the engine room set is actually a Budweiser brewery in Van Nuys. That's the kind of starship I want to serve on. One with its own built-in brewery, and engines that run on cheap and watery domestic lager.

V: Right. Next—

B: For high-speed they can switch to porter or stout, but in emergencies—

V: Right. Next—

B: "Scotty! I need every last drop of doppelbock you've got!"

V: Right. Next—

B: "..."

V: Are you done now?

B: I think so.

V: Right. Next—oh, there were a host of plot holes. Has Starfleet never heard of restricted airspace or no-fly zones? Since when does Starfleet go to warp inside the moon's orbit? Do they seriously not have a plan for dealing with a space battle inside of the moon's orbit? How did the Admiral manage to divert the funding to build that monster and still keep it a secret?

B: Somewhere in the Federation, no doubt there are stacks of invoices for the purchase of nine-hundred-dollar hammers and two-thousand-dollar toilet seats.

V: Why does gravity work only when it's time for the next crisis?

B: That's just the established Cartoon Laws of Physics at work; see Revenge of the Sith for more information. We're now watching movies made by people who grew up with the cable TV remote in one hand and their parents' Blockbuster rental card in the other, who went to film school to learn how to one-up the cool images they remember watching on TV when they were kids. As for actually understanding something like fluid dynamics—

Okay, here's a f'rinstance. When Scottie blew the airlock on the evil ship, if the rushing airstream from the decompression was so powerful it sucked the evil henchman out of the airlock, how in the nine billion names of God were Kirk and Khan able to fly in through that same rushing airstream without losing velocity or even experiencing a little buffeting? I mean, think of a salmon trying to swim upstream.

V: I missed that one. I'll have to hand in my Ultimate Geek Fu clearance.

B: Nah. You'll earn it back with your next point. Which is...?

V: Am I the only one who saw Khan bringing the big-ass ship down to Earth who thought, "Reavers!" when they zoomed to a close-up on the smoking ship? If you've ever watched the pilot for Firefly, the scene in this movie is almost an exact duplicate of the scene where the Reaver ship chases Serenity into the atmosphere of the planet. Am I the only one who noticed that?

B: Yes. You are the only one who noticed that. (Nice save, by the way. You managed to work in a Firefly reference. Truly, your geek fu is amazing.)

V: Why did Khan go down, at least briefly, when hit with a single stun shot in space, but he took five or six hits later with no apparent effect? Is Uhura really such a bad shot she can't even stun a guy at point-blank range?

B: I had that one figured out even before it happened. Khan would be expecting Kirk and Scottie to double-cross him, so he'd take a dive, fake being knocked-out, and wait for the right moment to bounce back up and take them by surprise. That was exactly the way I expected that scene to play out. That's the way I would have written it—if I was trying to be totally programmatic.

V: And finally, apparently having the Enterprise rising out of the clouds is always fresh and always looks cool. Did they really need to do it twice?

B: Of course. It's the second movie. Wait 'til the third one. You're being set-up for the old, "Strange, that usually works," gag.

V: BUT...

B: Ahah. And now we come to The Big But.

V: One woman who went to the movie with us overheard another woman, who was wearing an old-style Starfleet miniskirt uniform, say something like, "That was the best Star Trek movie ever—and I should know!" So some people were happy.

B: You must admit, this Abrams kid: he isn't doing so bad. He's managed to make Star Trek entertaining again. At least he had the good sense not to change the Klingon's makeup too much, which should make the fanboys happy, and to be honest, compared to the original cast or the Next Gen movies—especially Nemesis, which was such a massive load of excrement it should have killed the franchise forever...

V: Mercifully, I don't remember anything about Nemesis. I agree that Abrams is making entertaining movies. Despite all my kvetching, I found the latest movie enjoyable enough. It was worth the cost of admission. I just get tired of the Trekkies who keep insisting that The Wrath of Khan is the greatest movie of the bunch.

B: After we got home from the theater, The Mrs. wanted to watch The Wrath of Khan again, just for comparison's sake. Frankly, the listing for that one now should read something like:

Thawed-out after three centuries in suspended animation, an Eighties hair metal band seeks revenge against Admiral Kirk and his strangely androgynous son, Doctor Disco David Marcus, who if possible has a poodle perm even fluffier than that of the Shat himself and wears just one absolutely darling two-tone beige polyester pants suit throughout the entire movie, although sometimes offset with a white sweater tied fetchingly around his shoulders. Is that Qiana?

V: I haven't seen The Wrath of Khan in years, because I consider it to be vastly overrated and nowhere near the best Star Trek movie, or even the best one featuring the original cast.

B: Give it a break, though. It was made more than thirty years ago.

V: That's the thing, isn't it? This is a new Star Trek, for a new generation. Fans seem to get this strange idea that they own a franchise and the people who actually own the intellectual property can't make any changes without their permission.

B: That's unique to Star Trek fans, I think. I mean, look at how many incarnations Dr. Who has gone through, and somehow it survives. The Star Wars fans eventually, grudgingly, accepted the prequels, and all the animated spinoffs. No one ever complains that James Bond is being played by a new actor, or that the latest Dracula movie changes things from the way Bela Lugosi played the part eighty years ago, or that Sherlock Holmes—hey, have you seen the new BBC series?

V: Oh yeah, on Netflix. It's so good, I quit watching Elementary.

B: I'll second that.

So anyway, if there's room enough in this world for Robert Downey's Sherlock Holmes movies in the theaters, and Elementary on CBS, and Sherlock on BBC...

V: Star Trek fans should be able to suck it up and accept that this is a new Star Trek for a new generation, and there are going to have to be some changes?

B: A new show for a new century, even. Yeah.

V: Okay. So, final verdict: was this movie worth watching in the theater?

B: Oh yes. It was fun. I had a good time. It was worth the price of the ticket. While I'll probably buy it when it comes out on Blu-Ray, this one is definitely worth watching on the big screen. Buy a big bucket of popcorn, give your sense of disbelief the day off, and remember: small soft drinks.

And your final verdict?

V: I agree, this one was fun. As long as you don't go all Vulcan on it and try to view it logically, you'll have a good time. I'll probably get it on Blu-Ray, but I'll wait for a good sale.

B: And that wraps it up for this week's edition! Join us next week, when we review...

V: Man of Steel, unless it totally sucks.

B: Or unless we find a better feature to run in this slot.

V: Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.