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Special Effects Lessons From JJ Abrams' Star Trek 461

Posted by timothy
from the know-where-the-release-valves-are dept.
brumgrunt writes "JJ Abram's hugely successful — on many levels — reboot of Star Trek has, for Den Of Geek, brought to the fore a lesson about special effects that many movie makers have been missing. Surely it's time now that special effects were actually used properly?" (The new film is not without some goofs, though only a few of the ones listed by Movie Mistakes' nitpickers are sciency.)
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Special Effects Lessons From JJ Abrams' Star Trek

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  • by Yold (473518) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:47AM (#28010941)

    don't rely on special effects for content

    Some movies are made to entertain people between the ages of 4 and 70 (i.e. spiderman). The wider the age range, the less room there is for typical plot elements, because younger audiences get bored quickly. Some movies are pretty good just because of their CGI alone. I might be risking my geek-card here, but none of the new Star Wars were actually that boring due to all the big-budget CGI/effects.

    • by slim (1652) <john@h[ ]nup.net ['art' in gap]> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:03AM (#28011141) Homepage

      none of the new Star Wars were actually that boring due to all the big-budget CGI/effects.

      Yes, it was the script and the acting that made them ponderously boring.

    • by xouumalperxe (815707) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:10AM (#28011229)

      I might be risking my geek-card here, but none of the new Star Wars were actually that boring due to all the big-budget CGI/effects.

      Boring? No. But I haven't watched any of them a second time, whereas I still watch the original trilogy every once in a while.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:11AM (#28011237) Journal

      don't rely on special effects for content

      Why not? The special effects were the only thing that kept me going. The storyline pissed me off both as a Trekker (destruction of Vulcan, Kirk as a whiny bitch, Spock and Uhura as an item) and as a normal movie goer (3rd year cadet gets command of the flagship at the end of the movie? yeah, right....).

      The effects saved the movie for me. From the little touches (ships don't always share the same z-axis, the Arcologies [wikipedia.org] in Iowa) to the re-imagined ships, engineering with actual engineering components (save the stupid water pipe scene) and a bridge that looked every bit as crowded and chaotic as you'd expect for controlling a starship with a crew of a thousand.

      If it wasn't for the well done effects I would have walked out in disgust. The storyline wasn't as bad as some of the treknobabble particle-of-the-week plots that we've seen in the past but it was no Wrath of Khan or Pale Moonlight [wikipedia.org] either. If I had to rank it with the other movies I'd put it behind Khan, Voyage Home, Undiscovered County, Generations and First Contact.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:30AM (#28011499)

        The beauty of the movie was despite the changes the basic relationships of the group are intact. Remember this story is about the people before we originally met them in the Original Series. I think it was great because it make Star Trek available to a new and larger audience. I am a Trekkie and always have and will be. I was surprised at the destruction of Vulcan but if only the fact of how kirk got into StarFleet was changed by the Spock /Nero events the story would have seemed more crazy. In a way this will make Spock more interesting because he can go to the new Vulcan planet in future movies and deal with his race more in flux. Spock and Uhura (instead of Spock and Nurse Chapel sort of), make things more interesting. I appreciated all of the tributes to other Treks :the "Ceti" Eel and Captain Pike, the enterprise rising out of the gas giant ala Wrath of Khan. Bones was great. Gives people another reason as to why he is Bones McCoy, not just that he is a doctor. John Cho was great as Sulu.
        Simon Peggy as Scotty (Jimmy Doohan would be proud). Th effects were not the big thing for me because with Star Trek the effects were never the big thing. It was about stories and relationships and Space and the unknown. Space Battles were fun but it that is what you really want watch Star Wars and be happy.

      • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:27AM (#28012347) Journal

        (destruction of Vulcan, Kirk as a whiny bitch, Spock and Uhura as an item) and as a normal movie goer (3rd year cadet gets command of the flagship at the end of the movie? yeah, right....)

        Here's a few things to keep in mind when watching the movie:

        * the destruction of Vulcan was a bold move, and demonstrated more clearly than anything else they could've done (including killing off some of the bridge crew) that this is a different universe and no one is safe. I think it was the right thing to do in this movie and made sure people knew they couldn't depend on the old canon to keep things straight.
        * quite a few starships were destroyed by Nemo, so maybe as many as 10,000 Starfleet officers were lost. Suddenly, a third year cadet is a lot more senior than he would ordinarily be.
        * different military organizations have different rules for advancement. Just because the US Navy of the late 20th/early 21st century wouldn't make that kind of jump in grade doesn't mean others haven't, or wouldn't. During the American Civil War, Custer was promoted from Lieutenant to Brigadier General nearly overnight (and it could be argued that Custer and Kirk have a lot in common). So promoting Kirk to Captain isn't without precedent even in real history.
        * Uhuru and Spock as an item actually makes sense. They were supposed to kiss in one episode of TOS, but Shatner bitched about it so Kirk and Uhuru shared the first interracial kiss on network TV. But with emotions running bare after the destruction of Vulcan, I can see where things would go off in a different direction for them both.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Fallingcow (213461)

          * quite a few starships were destroyed by Nemo, so maybe as many as 10,000 Starfleet officers were lost. Suddenly, a third year cadet is a lot more senior than he would ordinarily be.

          That's something I wish DS9 had addressed: where the hell do they get new officers when half of them get wiped out in war?

          Does the Academy drop its standards through the floor and fast-track the best cadets? Do they have to spread out experienced and made-it-through-the-academy-with-normal-standards officers (even low-ranking

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nabsltd (1313397)

          the destruction of Vulcan was a bold move, and demonstrated more clearly than anything else they could've done (including killing off some of the bridge crew) that this is a different universe and no one is safe.

          You mean "no one except Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura are safe". If you believe otherwise, then you don't understand Hollywood, actors, agents, and sequels.

          As long as the actor is a "good boy" and doesn't piss off management, the character is safe. How, exactly, is this any different from any other incarnation of Star Trek?

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:07PM (#28012943) Homepage

        engineering with actual engineering components

        So long as you don't have any actual experience with engineering spaces. Real ones do tend to be cramped, but they aren't random - the ones in the movie look exactly like what they are, factories pressed into service as 'engineering spaces'.
         
         

        a bridge that looked every bit as crowded and chaotic as you'd expect for controlling a starship with a crew of a thousand

        Again, only so long as you don't have any actual experience. Warship bridges in real life are deadly serious places without a dozen extras milling about without a purpose just to fill space.
         
        One of my pet peeves is the tendency of SF to ignore how real-world combat vessels operate - ship control and combat control functions are separated. On a surface warship of any size, they are physically separated. Even on a submarine (lacking room for physical separation) they are functionally grouped. On US submarines, ship systems and control are traditionally on the port side and sensors and combat control on the starboard. Separating them is the periscope stand, the CO's battle station, where he can easily oversee both functions. (With the conning officer on the port supervising the ship, and the XO on the starboard managing combat control, leaving the CO to focus on the big picture.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blincoln (592401)

          Warship bridges in real life are deadly serious places without a dozen extras milling about without a purpose just to fill space.

          The Enterprise isn't a warship. Starfleet's primary mission is exploration, and they double as peacekeeping/defence. I believe the analogy that's been made before is "NASA combined with the Coast Guard".

          This is something that was *very* important to Gene Roddenberry. IIRC, he was very upset at some background voiceover chatter in the first film about a Starfleet dreadnought.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DerekLyons (302214)

            Warship bridges in real life are deadly serious places without a dozen extras milling about without a purpose just to fill space.

            The Enterprise isn't a warship. Starfleet's primary mission is exploration, and they double as peacekeeping/defence. I believe the analogy that's been made before is "NASA combined with the Coast Guard".

            Yet, Coast Guard bridges are deadly serious places too. As is NASA Mission Control.

            And even so, the Enterprise does function as a warship (as do Coast Guard vessels), and

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by seanthenerd (678349)

            This is something that was *very* important to Gene Roddenberry. IIRC, he was very upset at some background voiceover chatter in the first film about a Starfleet dreadnought.

            Mod parent up! :) To me, this has always been one of the coolest (and most unique) things about Star Trek. It's cheesy I know, but the conception of a (relatively) peaceful, hopeful future where the heroes were more so explorers and ambassadors and less so warriors - that's really cool. Especially keeping in mind that this was made in the thick of the cold war, where a lot of people thought there might not be any humans left in two decades. That whole concept has kind of been lost in more recent Star Trek (

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:06PM (#28013851)

        The storyline pissed me off both as a Trekker (destruction of Vulcan, Kirk as a whiny bitch, Spock and Uhura as an item)

        Even as a Trekkie, I can accept those things (except maybe the "whiny Kirk" one). Knowing that it's explicitly a "reboot," I could have even accepted all the changes even without the need to rationalize them with time travel!

        Now, what I couldn't accept (as a Trekkie) was the complete lack of science fiction depth. Where was the social commmentary? Where was the intellectualism? Where was the "What If?"

        As a Trekkie, I was hoping (but not expecting, since seeing the previews) for something comparable to the likes of "The City on the Edge of Forever" (TOS) or "The Undiscovered Country" or "Who Watches the Watchers?" (TNG) or "Captive Pursuit" (DS9), or, yes, "In the Pale Moonlight" (DS9) -- that's a good one. Something that makes you think. Instead, what we got was a generic action movie, with no real sci-fi in it at all. In terms of its "Star-Trekness," it was a travesty!

        On the other hand, it was a pretty great action movie -- I like it a lot, as long as I pretend it's not "Star Trek." It had plenty of both action and character-driven drama, and awesome special effects. I was also amused by some of the allusions to previous Trek instances, such as the wordplay between Kirk and the cadet he was fighting (recalling Sulu in Star Trek 3: "Don't call me Tiny"), although others were annoyingly cliched, such as Checkov saying "Wictor."

        But in the end, I'd have gladly traded all of allusions, along with the special effects and action -- heck, even the whole "Star Trek" setting itself -- in return for a decent sci-fi plot!

    • by odourpreventer (898853) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:13AM (#28011255)

      > Some movies are pretty good just because of their CGI alone

      I see your Star Wars ante and raise you Transformers, Lost in space, Speed racer. Lots of CGI, still a waste of time and money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hardburn (141468)

      I might be risking my geek-card here, but none of the new Star Wars were actually that boring due to all the big-budget CGI/effects.

      True enough. OTOH, it doesn't say anything good about the movie when it's more enjoyable by fast-forwarding through 2/3rds of it.

    • Enough Shakey Cam! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MCSEBear (907831) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:32AM (#28011529)
      The thing that annoyed me the most about the new Trek was the abundance of 'shaking the camera during filming' shots I was subjected to. Can we give that a rest?
      • Seconded. I had to leave the theater due to vertigo (I've got nasty seasonal allergies and some blockage in my ears, I think).

        Never mind the fact that even without vertigo, it completely destroys immersion for me, and thus lessens my enjoyment. The next time I read a review of a movie that refers to a shaky cam, I'm making a point of *not* watching that movie.
    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:39AM (#28011625)

      don't rely on special effects for content

      Or to put it another way: if your viewers realize that they are watching special effects, you're doing it wrong.

      One of the biggest successful CGI movies ever was Forrest Gump - because nobody was thinking "cool special effects", everyone was concentrating on the plot of the movie. And the plot, after all, is the main point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rivaldufus (634820)

        Point taken, but it's kind of hard to disguise planets exploding, or giant spaceships exploding as we have no historical footage of them.

        It's a bit of a stretch to compare Gump to Trek.

    • by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:23AM (#28012287)

      The wider the age range, the less room there is for typical plot elements, because younger audiences get bored quickly

      I have to disagree with you on that. My favorite movie is Rio Bravo [imdb.com], which I first saw when I was nine years old. By current standards, that movie is slooooowww. It goes for over two hours and it's only about five minutes after the titles that someone first speaks something. But it's a wonderful film.

      I loved it the first time I saw it because I became immersed in the action, I never realized time was passing. I remember it was only after the film ended and my father remarked on how long it was that I realized that nearly two and a half hours had passed.

      It's a simple plot, but it's so good that the director Howard Hawks did the same thing again, not once [imdb.com] but twice [imdb.com]. All three movies are great and all star John Wayne doing a similar plot. I still have to see a film that I liked on Fx alone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      Some movies are made to entertain people between the ages of 4 and 70 (i.e. spiderman). The wider the age range, the less room there is for typical plot elements, because younger audiences get bored quickly. Some movies are pretty good just because of their CGI alone. I might be risking my geek-card here, but none of the new Star Wars were actually that boring due to all the big-budget CGI/effects.

      "A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing." -- George Lucas, before the fall

      The most essential task of any story is drawing in the audience. The most essential task of any actor is to be interesting. When the audience is engaged, the story is successful.

      Special effects are just an example of the distracting fluff poor writers throw at a story to try and make it interesting. It could just have easily been sex or violence.

      The Marx Brothers had a very scientific approach to making their movies

  • by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:48AM (#28010955)
    FTA: "when was the last time we had a blockbuster summer movie of any genre as downright entertaining as this one?" Iron Man last year. IMHO, Iron Man spent a bit too much time focused on taking on and off the suit. Other than that, the special effects were great and fit in with the movie. I especially loved him getting out of captivity using the original suit.
    • FTA: "when was the last time we had a blockbuster summer movie of any genre as downright entertaining as this one?"

      Iron Man last year. IMHO, Iron Man spent a bit too much time focused on taking on and off the suit. Other than that, the special effects were great and fit in with the movie. I especially loved him getting out of captivity using the original suit.

      Ironman had nice special effects, but the lack of an interesting character hurt its overall appeal. Special effects alone can't make a boring movie interesting, at least not for those

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by lucifig (255388)

        I found Tony Stark to be one of (if not the most) developed and interesting characters in any comic movie yet.

        I think the main reason Iron Man was so successful was the interesting characters. I mean, if you think about it, the actual suit really wasn't in the movie that much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:48AM (#28010961)

    Even in a black hole there are too many lens flares.

    • Re:What I learned (Score:5, Insightful)

      by struppi (576767) <struppiNO@SPAMguglhupf.net> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:13AM (#28011259) Homepage
      Yes, exactly. And in the close-up fighting scenes (of which the film has way too much) the camera is shaking so much that you can't see anything. And that scene with the huge predators on the ice planet remided me of Star Wars Episode 1 ("There is always a bigger fish"). Otherwise a nice movie, but not a masterpiece IMHO.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mopatop (690958)

        Amen - the shaky camera ruined it for me, and makes it unwatchable on IMAX.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)

        Speaking of the fight scene on the space drill, it was very poorly choreographed. I understand John Cho spent months on fight training, and it showed. It takes years of training to make that kind of stuff look good. If they wanted to do that, they should have hired a Hong Kong fight choreographer, who knows how to make an actor with limited expertise look good. It's kind of a shame, because Cho starts the scene with that Chow Yun Fat "I'm going to kick your ass" look, but it fell flat after that.

    • Re:What I learned (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:51AM (#28011797)

      What I learned:

      • After an artificial black hole is created, things nearby fall into it very, very slowly.
      • A warp core will get you further faster if you detonate it outside the ship rather than run it inside the ship.
      • Vulcans are very bad at calculating the velocities caused by supernovae.
      • Physics problems (Score:5, Informative)

        by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:12PM (#28013009)

        Vulcans are very bad at calculating the velocities caused by supernovae.

        Oh so very true. The black hole Spock was going to make wouldn't have done very much for the wave of radiation and near light speed particles escaping that would have baked the Romulans home world like a potato in a microwave. If the microwave was the size of a 12 story building.

        How 'bout these?

        The planet Vulcan would not compress into a black hole the same size as Vulcan. It'd probably be about the size of a marble. See Schwarzschild radius. [wikipedia.org]

        You can't drill a hole to the core of a planet. They're molten inside. That would be like trying to drill a hole into the center of a gallon of milk. Thin crispy shell, big fluid inside.

        If you have something that sparks off a black hole, you could probably just drop it on the surface and it would do it's magic. The drill is unnecessary anyways.

        Things do not go back in time when they fall into a black hole. They pass the event horizon and remain locked there until they dissolve as Hawking radiation. Besides, if things did go back in time 25 years, the ruined remains of Vulcan would have also showed up 25 years ago giving them plenty of time to prepare.

    • Re:What I learned (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:28AM (#28012371)

      lens flare: (n) method of replicating a 20th century image recording error sometimes used to create an impression of authenticity in viewers not used to error-free techniques. See also camera shake.

    • Re:What I learned (Score:4, Insightful)

      by motherpusbucket (1487695) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:26PM (#28013207)
      It is now conceivable that 'Spock's Brain' never happened.
  • Connection? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:51AM (#28010993) Homepage

    Um... What exactly is TFA about, other than being a gushing fanboi ode?

    • Re:Connection? (Score:5, Informative)

      by henrypijames (669281) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:03AM (#28011135) Homepage

      BTW, the author of TFA is the submitter of this "story" (email address matches byline).

    • Re:Connection? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:19AM (#28011349) Homepage

      Granted, there were lots of special effects in the film, but each had a purpose in the greater scheme of things, and at no point did I get the impression that someone was playing a videogame before my eyes, or showing me what their computer could do.

      His point appears to be that good films use special effects to enhance good story etc not just provide eye-candy without relation to the rest of the film.

      * *SPOILERS * * Am I the only person who can't see 'the purpose' of the scene with Kirk getting chased by progressively larger beasts on the ice world other than to show off (and try and gloss over the fact the entire story relies on him bumping into future Spock). You could at least argue that the sequence with Scotty teleporting into the Enterprises water cooling system was character building (I don't see how) or that the sky-diving onto the drilling platform emphasised Kirk's willingness to take risks (when it wasn't his idea) but the beast scene was there entirely as special effects porn.

      • Re:Connection? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:51AM (#28011811)
        Am I the only person who can't see 'the purpose' of the scene with Kirk getting chased by progressively larger beasts on the ice world other than to show off

        I gotta agree 110% on this one. This scene didn't advance the plot, it didn't develop the characters. It introduced a new conflict (Kirk trying to not get eaten) which was supposed to be scary but it completely distracts from the existing conflicts between Kirk and Spock, and between the Enterprise and the other ship. This was more annoying than anything... it's like, 'aw, crap, I gotta sit through a bunch of special effects before I can get back to the story'. If you cut it out, you'd have a better movie.

        The one place where the special effects made me think 'aw, yeah!' was the scene where the Enterprise warps into the upper atmosphere of Titan and then slowly emerges out of the clouds. Not because it was visually appealing, but because it was *emotionally* satisfying... in the same way that it's emotionally satisfying when you see the Enterprise slowly rise up behing the Reliant in the Mutara Nebula, or when you see the Millennium Falcon pull that immelman turn and come barreling back towards Cloud City to rescue Luke.

        • Re:Connection? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:11PM (#28012997) Homepage

          If you cut it out, you'd have a better movie.

          Exactly. In a movie that was overall had pretty tight editing, that scene stood out as completely unnecessary. I mean, there are a hundred reasons why Kirk could have run into Spock... Hell, maybe Spock had already decided to head to the Starfleet outpost himself and Kirk runs into him at the door.

          The one place where the special effects made me think 'aw, yeah!' was the scene where the Enterprise warps into the upper atmosphere of Titan and then slowly emerges out of the clouds.

          That was pretty cool, true.

          The biggest "aw yeah!" moment for me was in the opening battle scene when the ship takes a hit, and they show inside a corridor where the hull is breached and an officer(I think she was a blue shirt) runs from the big fireball -- which then retracts as the air (and the officer) are sucked out. Cut to outside, where we see the poor woman flying off into space, against a background of phaser banks firing like mad, all in complete silence.

          Very potent imagery. Loved the dramatic use of the silence of space, which I think is a first for Trek? At the very least uncommon in pop sci-fi films in general. Sadly I didn't think they topped that moment in any of the other space battle scenes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RJFerret (1279530)

        Unlike the other replies to this comment, if he wasn't chased into the cave, how would you feel about him randomly stumbling across elder Spock??

        How would you set that up?

        That would have felt totally hackneyed in a more random setup than how it happened. The fact that you wonder about why he was chased by hungry predators rather than wondering at the totally improbable odds of coming across Spock is a testament to how well planned and executed that was imo!

        • You seem to be assuming that Delta Vega was a necessary setting and that Spock Prime was necessarily hanging out in an secluded ice cave. The script was fully malleable, and there were a hundred other more plausible potential ways to introduce Kirk to Spock Prime that did not involve an ice planet and a poorly done monster chase.

          To me, that entire sequence was incredibly jarring and pulled me out of enjoying of the movie because it was so gratuitous and poorly done. Rather than masking the improbability of

      • Re:Connection? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by flitty (981864) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#28013055)

        Am I the only person who can't see 'the purpose' of the scene with Kirk getting chased by progressively larger beasts on the ice world other than to show off

        1-Relationship building between Kirk and Spock by having Spock save Kirk.
        2-Dramatic Introduction of Nemoy
        3-The scene wasn't that long anyway
        4-The other alternative (and still keeping the "eject him from the ship" premise) would have been to have him stumble around and be found unconsious by Spock, slowing the movie down, or getting into the Base and finding spock already inside. However, finding Spock inside makes for tricky writing with the dialogue between kirk and spock with outsiders watching. It's a better scene if they are alone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thesandtiger (819476)

        The ice planet scene was an homage to Star Wars:

        Always a bigger fish (Episode 1)
        Ice Planet Hoth (Empire)
        Magical old dude saves young protagonist from certain death, reveals his destiny and lies to him (Star Wars)

        There were lots of little things like that in the movie. Heck, the choice of "Sabotage" as the soundtrack for the car scene was a poke at Shatner's not being able to say the word correctly, and I counted several other little in-joke-ish kind of things.

  • This movie is empty (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I went to the theater and the movie left me empty. I wasted time and money there and got nothing of value in return. This movie is so shallow you couldn't get your fingertips wet in it. If it were at least funnier or something. Instead you get scenes passing by with light speed while you sit there wondering: did I miss something? I must have, I haven't seen anything important yet. Half the movie in and it still feels like it hasn't started yet.

    If you haven't seen it yet, don't. Download a pirate version fir

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:35AM (#28011581)

      If you haven't seen it yet, don't. Download a pirate version first and if you like it, only then go to the cinema.

      Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Paying to see a movie that is still being exclusively shown in theaters is not an optional "tip" that you give to show that you liked the movie. You either pay for the movie and take the risk that you don't like it, or you wait until you can rent it or watch it for free on T.V.

      Your subjective response to a movie is not a factor in the price. If you don't like the movie, then the price you paid subsidies the price paid by others who did like the movie. If you did like the movie, then the price paid by others subsidies the price you paid. On average, it tends to balance itself out.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:57AM (#28011059)
    I specifically DIDN'T go see this movie because all the trailers made it look like a CGI-driven action-fest (a la Michael Bay). I hate those kind of movies. If this movie is NOT that, then its trailers did it a grave disservice.
    • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:05AM (#28011165)

      I have to agree with the author here, it was quite tasteful. I was turned off by several movies this last year due to liberal application of CG where it wasn't needed, but I never once had that feeling with this movie. I also have to comment on the fact this didn't suffer from the 'prequel' syndrome that Lucas's movies did. The art departments did an excellent job of recreating "period" technology that fit right into the setting.

    • by BlitzTech (1386589) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:10AM (#28011223)
      They had to be like that, to attract people who otherwise revile Star Trek for being a nerd's pastime. How else are you supposed to draw in the masses and make a killing?

      It was great, and definitely worth seeing. There's a lot of action that you seem to not be interested in, but the plot & acting are excellent.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nemo was told what year it was.

        He waited 20 years to capture old-spock.

        He had *plenty of time* to figure out that Romulus had not been destroyed yet, and *plenty of time* to realize that it would now be trivially easy for him to prevent the destruction of Romulus himself. Once he captured old-spock, he had the red matter. So he could have flown over to the star and sucked it up in a black hole a full century before it would go supernova and destroy Romulus.

        They tried to explain that in his brief conversat

  • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:03AM (#28011129)

    The article gushes about how the efffects were not overdone, and only put in to enhance the story. The problem is, the story itself is the screenwriting equivalent of the overzealous effects producers the article complains about.

    Don't get me wrong, the movie was awesome. It was a masterpiece, but it wasn't in any way morally superior to the Star Wars prequels - they just did the special effects right.

    It just didn't live up to the older Star Treks, where the focus was on the sheer joy of discovery and the strength of the human spirit. There was a bit of the latter, but it was mostly just standard action-movie fare.

  • Underwhelmed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:16AM (#28011305)

    After all the reviews I guess maybe my expectations were too high, but personally I thought this movie was actually pretty cheesy. The whole series of coincidences and bad acting starting with meeting Spock on the planet's surface was just ridiculous. Also, if you have this "red matter" that can create a black hole, why bother to drill to the center of the planet? Hell, you could drop off a black hole around Pluto and still easily destroy the Earth depending on it's size, but at the very least just putting it right next to the Earth would certainly do the job. This movie was more of a shoot-em-up and didn't show any of Kirk's ingenuity like we see in the Wrath of Khan, which I think will probably always stand as the best Star Trek movie ever made. I had always imagined Kirk was much more subtle with his "rigging" of the kobayashi maru test and I was really disappointed to see such a blatant and brainless resetting of the entire program as opposed to a small alteration that gave him just enough of an edge to win somehow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trip Ericson (864747)

      Remember that this was an "alternate timeline" (I rolled my eyes too) so while THIS Kirk might have been stupid and arrogant about it, the original timeline was probably like what you imagined, and I happen to agree with you on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Publikwerks (885730)
      After all the reviews I guess maybe my expectations were too high, but personally I thought this movie was actually pretty cheesy.

      Ummm, have you ever watched Star Trek before?

      The whole series of coincidences and bad acting starting with meeting Spock on the planet's surface was just ridiculous.

      Have you ever...

      Also, if you have this "red matter" that can create a black hole, why bother to drill to the center of the planet? Hell, you could drop off a black hole around Pluto and still easily dest
    • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:50AM (#28012699)

      I had always imagined Kirk was much more subtle

      Shatner? Subtle??

  • by lordsegan (637315) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:19AM (#28011339)
    This is a movie that was practically ruined by lens flare and/or screen whiteouts in almost every scene. The cinematographer also insisted on having camera shake in at least 50% of the scenes, even if the ship was moving relatively smoothly though space. If there wasn't camera shake, the camera angle was coming up from the actor's feet at a 35 degree tilt. In sum, the cinematography was distracting and truely, genuinely, terrible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by flyingsquid (813711)
      This is a movie that was practically ruined by lens flare and/or screen whiteouts in almost every scene.

      You guys criticize the lens flare without understanding why it's in the movie. It's not a visual effect so much as a subtle form of foreshadowing. **SPOILER ALERT!** You see, in the next movie all these Federation vessels start disappearing in the Neutral Zone. After investigating, Kirk and Spock discover that the thing that is causing this is a giant lens flare. They initially try to battle the lens fl

  • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:20AM (#28011371) Homepage

    The new film is not without some goofs, though only a few of the ones listed by Movie Mistakes' nitpickers are sciency.

    Uhh... What Star Trek movie were you watching?

    Because in the one *I* watched, they traveled through the event horizon of a black hole, and came back out again (although, this is actually an interesting question over in Trek-land; warp engines let you travel FTL, so could you escape a black hole? I mean, after the tidal forces ripped your puny ship into it's component atoms, of course...)

    Or, how about the "space dive", where they leaped out of a shuttlecraft and suddenly lost all their inertia? How about re-entering the atmosphere in a space-suit without any worries about friction or heat?

    Or how about that giant drill? Why did it fall when they cut it off the ship? If the ship was in geosynchronous orbit, then the drill must have been traveling slightly slower than geo-synchronous orbital speed; it should have very gently drifted eastwards.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or my favorite: Why drill to the middle of the planet if you're about to create a black hole? Just make the black hole and let it do the rest.

      (I suppose if all you have is a mining ship, every problem starts to seem like a drilling issue?)

    • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:49AM (#28011777) Homepage Journal

      Or, how about the "space dive", where they leaped out of a shuttlecraft and suddenly lost all their inertia? How about re-entering the atmosphere in a space-suit without any worries about friction or heat?

      Or how about that giant drill? Why did it fall when they cut it off the ship? If the ship was in geosynchronous orbit, then the drill must have been traveling slightly slower than geo-synchronous orbital speed; it should have very gently drifted eastwards.

      The Bad Astronomer covered this [discovermagazine.com].

      First off, something they got right once I thought about it some. The shuttle left Enterprise to go to the Romulan ship. At first I thought both ships were in orbit, but thatâ(TM)s not true! The Romulan ship had lowered the mining drill from above the atmosphere, but it had to be hovering above the ground to do that, not orbiting the planet, or else they wouldnâ(TM)t be stationary over one spot (true, there is a geosynchronous orbit that keeps you over one spot, but itâ(TM)s tens of thousands of kilometers over the surface, and the ships were clearly just above Vulcanâ(TM)s atmosphere).

      So when the trio jump from the shuttle, my first thought was that theyâ(TM)d still be in orbit; to deorbit means theyâ(TM)d need to change their velocity by several km/sec, which is clearly not possible. But they werenâ(TM)t in orbit, so they just fell. OK, +1 internets for the movie.

      They would fall fast. And they did! Their speed was a little less than a kilometer per second, which sounds about right. At their altitude there wouldnâ(TM)t be much if any air to slow them, so theyâ(TM)d free fall; as they plunged deeper air resistance would slow them down. At first I thought theyâ(TM)d actually burn like meteors, but in reality (ha! Reality!) they werenâ(TM)t going that fast.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by thogard (43403)

      Someone had to make the Highlander II for the Trek universe. Now we know who that man was.

    • by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:22AM (#28012263)

      science geek:* (n) person who is willing to suspend disbelief as to 'red matter', energy drills/ray guns, 'warp drive', 'transporters', artificial gravity, ubiquitous bipedal vertebrate aliens, and time travel, but who finds fault with a story that fails to account for reentry friction and orbital mechanics

      *And proud of it!

  • by bigmaddog (184845) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:30AM (#28011505)

    It seems to me that we're still experiencing special effects giddiness as many of the industry people that started in the 70s and 80s when things were hard and you had to build intricate models and crazy sets and sometimes colour things in with crayons are now the old coots in charge and leading some of these works of wonder out there, and literally can't control the power they have. It's not even that you couldn't do some things without CG but it was just too expensive and no one in their right mind would do it.

    Just look at the Gungan/droid battle at the end of SW Episode 1; it adds virtually nothing to the story but does show a total lack of imagination by those in charge. They took great pains to construct an encounter that, for all its lasers, aliens, droids and tanks, is essentially a medieval skirmish where large formations clash at close quarters. 20 years ago you'd have to dress up a few hundred guys, build faux tanks and giant beasts, and many of those things in miniature as well, and then use a lot of clever editing to pull all of it together. It would have likely never happened because of the sheer physical effort involved, or they'd do a different style of battle instead because it'd be easier to show a few people on the screen at one time. George is not the only one succumbing to this, though he certainly is our favourite example.

    The current state of CG in movies is almost what would happen if new Lamborghinis were suddenly being sold for $20k - many of the people who wanted one as a kid would probably get one, and then your roads would be packed with impractical but cool-looking two-seaters, and it would take some time before people came to their senses.

  • Another lesson... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:36AM (#28011595) Homepage

    Those antipiracy dots are really annoying. Especially when you try to sneak them into a half-second of a special effects burst. Saw a couple in Star Trek, and at least four in Angels & Demons. In each case, there was an explosion or other high-contrast light and they tried to sneak in a few frames of antipiracy dots.

    Although I think that technology is lame and unnecessary, there are a zillion less obvious places to put it...

  • by pohl (872) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:40AM (#28011639) Homepage

    One of the "goofs" doesn't make sense to me:

    The first shots of the Enterprise in space show it docked at the massive space station with the bridge facing the center of the station. When they show Spock entering the bridge for the first time (when the ship is still docked) you can see the view out of the front viewscreen/window. You should be able to see the huge space station, but all you see is empty space.
    Submitted by BocaDavie

    Isn't it possible that people in that century have figured out that you can have a camera facing backwards and put it on a video screen on a wall facing the other direction?

  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:43AM (#28011689) Journal

    Perhaps it's just me, but I think special effects have gotten worse, not more impressive, over time.

    A good example would be the scene where Wolverine is playing with his new adamantium claws in front of a mirror in the latest X-Men movie. You can't miss the fact that they have been added to the movie with a computer.

    What gives? In the first movie, I believe, they used props. They looked real enough.

    What about the first Hulk movie? I haven't seen the movie, I'll admit. But from the trailer it was obvious the CGI did not fit into the movie at all. Remember Jurassic Park? How fricking old is that movie? How can it be that it looked more realistic than newer movies?

    Is this just a matter of using the computer too much? Is it a lack of care or skill? I don't know. I just know that these things didn't jump at me, figuratively speaking, so much five to ten years ago...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by u38cg (607297)
      I think the one-word answer here is "budget". They went and pitched Wolverine, saying, "and we need to do all this bad-ass CGI stuff, too". Then they get a budget for a third of what is really required to make it truly seamless, and they end up making a movie where characters appear to have no inertia, or hair doesn't move properly, etc, etc.
  • I liked it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordKaT (619540) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:48AM (#28011763) Homepage Journal

    I can break the movie down into 10 words: I'm Captain Kirk and I'm going to kick your ass.

    Star Trek was not a thought provoking movie. It didn't raise many of the ethical and moral questions that TOS and TNG did - in fact, it went so far as to shit all over that idea (one of the last scenes with Nero, Kirk chooses violence over peace). It also wasn't a deep movie - beyond the story of the TOS crew meeting each other there really isn't much there.

    To me this wasn't a problem. It was an entertaining TOS-type movie (not to be confused with the TOS crew in a Roddenberry movie, ala ST1-4), with corny action movies, dead red shirts, the classic theme, the classic voiceover, and Kirk being a badass ("I've got your gun").

    Overall it was a fun movie. It's no Godfather II, but it's certainly not a pile of shit like Twilight. Artistically, it's bunk. Entertainment wise, it fits the bill, and gives the Star Trek series the new legs that, in my opinion, it so desperately needed.

    (And if you don't think Star Trek needed new legs, I'll say this: The later episodes of DS9 and Voyager sucked. Warp 10 being "everywhere at once"? The magical anti-borg shielding? Don't even get me started on the Enterprise episodes, or the three movies prior to this one)

    • Re:I liked it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reapy (688651) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:37AM (#28012521)

      Hey glad there is someone with a sane head out there. I 100% agree with you. The movie was great in that it was... FUN. It was also timely and perfect in what it did. Like you said, it breathed new life into star trek, it captured allll the nostalgia and star trek jokes and threw them in the movie (live long and propser, vulcan neck bench, damnit i'm a doctor not a, i'm giving it all shes got, red shirt destruction (my wife and i were the only ones to laugh out loud in the theater when he got waxed in .2 seconds), and on and on. So you felt like watching a 'star trek'. Loved the little detail with muffling sound in space.

      All in all it was just a well done movie, and cleverly set up a few 'torch passing' scenes for actors and will allow them to move on and create new star trek movies without having to worry about stepping on any toes with the previous established cannon.

      Fun movie, let go, enjoy the movie for what it is, and be glad enough people like it that star trek won't keep nosediving to oblivion like it has been.

    • The funny thing is that the only part of the ST canon which was NOT erased by the time jump thingy was mister Quantum Leap's contribution.

      I enjoyed the new film as well, but it wasn't Star Trek and Abrams is still a lame jackass who thinks and writes exclusively using mechanical base emotions rather than the higher thought patterns some members of our race still try to embrace. The man and his vision is a link or two backwards on the chain of cultural evolution. That's why his characters all seem like sho

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @10:55AM (#28011873)
    When crafting his movie, Abrahms had two choices: either make a fully faithful canonic trek movie that would disinterest the public at large and get an outcry from hardcore trekkies, or make a fun, action-packed blockvusters that would get the larger public excited and get an outcry from hardcore trekkies. Seems like he made the most financially sound choice, seeing how hardcore trekkies are never satisfied with the end result anyway.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#28012055) Homepage

    You want to see good F/X? See "Angels and Demons". That wasn't filmed at the Vatican. The Vatican scenes, inside and out, were filmed in LA. It was done with partial sets, CG sets, green screen work, miniatures, matchmoves, and computer generated crowds. Can you tell?

    Star Dreck was an easy F/X job. Anybody can do 3D spaceships. It's faking the commonplace that's tough.

  • by nuckfuts (690967) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:38PM (#28014261)

    is the incessant damn shaking of the camera by film makers these days whenever they want to evince a sense of action or urgency.

    There was a time when holding a camera steady was considered the most basic of requirements for producing a watchable film, along with an editing style guided by the belief that anything worth putting up on the screen is worth leaving for on the screen for more than one second. That time ended abruptly when a TV show called "Miami Vice [wikipedia.org]" came along. Suddenly it was "cool" to depict action by having a one-legged cameraman chase your actors down the street with a handheld camera.

    There are brief instances where jolting the image around on screen is effective, such as when the Enterprise is being struck by enemy fire, but for the most part all this shaky camera work and split-second editing is a needless assault on the senses. If, god forbid, these are combined with the necessity to sit rather close to the screen in a packed theatre, the effect can be physically nauseating.

    I wish today's film directors would embrace the simple rules that amateurs learned with the advent of "home movies" many years ago. Hold the f***ing camera still, and make each shot long enough that viewers can actually discern what the hell is on the screen.

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