Monday, 3 June 2013

Trek Nitpicking Nitpicking

This, I accept, is a pretty good distillation of all the problems with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Some I noticed at the time, some I realised during later rumination, and some I hadn't noticed until now.

All that said, can we knock this nonsense off, please?

(Minor spoilers from the first few minutes of the film follow)

The Enterprise is parked in the ocean.

That’s ridiculous. Even the ship designed to function in the vacuum of space could handle the pressures underwater — which I’m 99% sure it can’t — even if the thrusters could function underwater, which makes no sense — and even if the ship could survive flying out of the water without the insanely large surface area of the front part snapping off like a twig — why the fucking fuck did they park it underwater instead of just hanging out in space like they were supposed to?!
 I'll happily grant that I don't understand why the Enterprise was hidden underwater - why couldn't the shuttles just make runs from a ground base? - but suggestion that the Enterprise couldn't survive being underwater strikes me as obviously ridiculous.  It was a fun joke in Futurama, admittedly, but then so is a robot needing booze to function, and that doesn't strike me as sensible either.

Consider the roll of the Enterprise.  This is a ship designed to explore the galaxy and make contact with as many sentient life forms as possible.  Sometimes, this may involve entering a planet's atmosphere, which we already know a Federation starship can do.  Is it really so unimaginable that on occasion they'll come across a planet with a thicker atmosphere than Earth?  What if they need to go hang out with gas miners inside Jupiter's troposphere?  What if they run into the Slylandro and want to discuss their glowy bits?  You think the giant cloud of stellar matter the Enterprise-A tried to sneak through in Wrath of Khan didn't have its own centre of gravity pulling everything inwards?

Which is to say nothing of the fact that the Enterprise is expected to double as a warship.  The idea that a ship that can survive being hit with a photon torpedo would end up in trouble were it subjected to a small amount of additional atmospheric pressure is ludicrous, especially since by their very nature spacecraft have to be built so that sudden changes in pressure (such as happens during explosive decompression, for instance) don't shake the ship apart. Admittedly that last example is about expansion rather than compression, but I trust the point is made.

This all reminds me of the first time I watched Alien vs Predator at my uni's sci-fi and fantasy society, and as the ship carrying our doomed expedition approached its Antarctic destination the sky filled with shifting colours, leading someone to scoff "how fucking stupid do you have to be to think the Northern Lights are in Antarctica?"  How stupid indeed [1].  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing...

(All that said, though, I do wonder how easy it is to rest the Enterprise on the bottom of the sea.  Maybe the thrusters are on all the time to keep it stable?)

[1] Though it doesn't win the award for most comical lapse of understanding, which goes to the two people who loudly discussed how Ringu doesn't make sense because the tape promises to kill you in one week but, and I quote, "Monday to Monday is eight days". Ah, Durham University.  Truly your undergraduates are amongst the finest in the country.

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