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David Ryan
Thu, Aug 4, 2016, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

Funny. I would have swapped Jammer's rating for this and Into Darkness in a heartbeat. Beyond has its storytelling gaps (and pacing issues), but it was a solid attempt at an original script (rather than the Wrath of Khan knock-off that Into Darkness was) and for me a more cohesive film than Into Darkness. There was more character development than the first two reboot films combined (a number of characters actually started to resemble fully fleshed out people, for one thing, and the Spock-Bones sniping and teamwork was very welcome in particular. Plus it was nice to see the Enterprise era acknowledged, if only briefly. Krall was a letdown, no question (there was masses of backstory for the taking there, but all for naught), and the whole question of 'why is he doing this?' never really got a convincing answer - aside from, perhaps, alien tech and isolation-induced insanity. Then again, Into Darkness had some sizeable flaws as well - Khan changing height and ethnicity, "magic blood", Admiral Marcus generally being one-dimensional, the Carol Marcus underwear scene, the Kirk death scene with zero consequences, a pretty weak explanation for how Federation tech was now surpassing the 24th century to build something like the Vengeance...and so on. Out of the two, Beyond left me happier overall when I left the cinema. Perhaps Into Darkness suffers because of Wrath of Khan. But for me, Star Trek Into Darkness would get 2.5 stars and Star Trek Beyond 3 stars (with the 2009 Star Trek getting 3 to 3.5, depending on how generous I'm feeling on a given day).
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David Ryan
Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 8:00am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Pretty late to this debate (which I'm surprised has gone on so long, in fact), but here's my two cents:

First off, emotive value aside, what Archer and Phlox agreed to do (or not do) does not amount to genocide. The long-established definition from Raphael Lamkin of genocide is "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves". Whatever else it amounts to, the decision in this episode cannot rationally be described as "a coordinated plan of different actions" or having "the aim of annihilating" the species. They left them medicine to try and help, after all, which contradicts that. What it does amount to is omitting to act, and that invokes a different parallel.

The closest parallel, and perhaps the root for some justified criticism, is that it is akin to the international community response to Rwanda or other such atrocities. Even so, this is not strictly comparable. There isn't a direct campaign of violence against the Valakians; the source of their illness (and eventual presumed demise) is faulty genetics. There is no third party involvement. As such, the question becomes whether Enterprise could (and should) intervene - and I suspect the key point of the episode, which has gotten lost in all the bandying about of claims of "genocide", is that this became a much more complicated question once the crew realised what was actually at play. It wasn't a case of giving a vaccine or stopping an epidemic - it was potentially a case of deciding the outcome of two species, of which they had limited knowledge yet for whom they were proposing to make a judgement call without any idea as to the consequences. In short, they were in over their heads.

The obvious answer, for a number commenting on here, is to provide the cure regardless - but there are a number of what ifs. What if the peaceful state of coexistence between the Valakians and the Menk was purely a reflection of how the Valakians were being subdued by the illness, and their reliance upon the Menk in certain situations (the orderlies working in the hospital, for example)? What if, once back to full strength, the Valakians decided that co-existence wasn't so fun after all (particularly if the Menk begin to develop as suggested by Phlox) and moved to subjugate - or even destroy - the Menk? Would Enterprise then bear moral responsibility for triggering a potential genocide? What if, on being provided with warp technology (which they also asked for), the Valakians became a threat to other species in the galaxy? How plausible or not these are is a matter for conjecture - the Valakians did not appear particularly antagonistic or belligerent, but at the same time they're subjugating an entire species already - but ultimately they're questions which the crew cannot answer. So what is seemingly the obvious answer isn't necessarily so much. Ultimately, there's a knowledge gap which makes any decision by the crew a punt in the dark - and that, I believe, is why Archer eventually decides not to intervene. The status quo is not a particularly palatable option for him, but at least it's reasonably forseeable.

Where I think this episode did fall down, however, is (i) cures for genetic defects don't tend to come in easy-to-use, portable vials and (ii) this was crying for a kind of follow-up. Like, "We'll send help in a decade" or something along those lines. As a standalone incident, it does jar very strongly against the principles the Federation is due to adopt in the future. Phlox's cure, meanwhile, came across as a bit of a deus ex machina - it would have been more compelling, for my part, if he had maitained the difficulty contention and suggested instead that he had found some promising leads from the Menk DNA, but couldn't justify carrying on his research for the reasons he gave. That would perhaps be more justifiable than deliberately withholding a cure. Not necessarily justifiable full stop, but a less-worse option perhaps. Overall though, I think it's a fair reflection of the fact that there are no easy answers to a lot of situations, and that's something Trek was very strong on. Look at "Space Seed" in TOS followed by The Wrath of Khan for a (probably far better) illustration of this. So as difficult an episode as it may be to stomach, calling it a betrayal of Trek is a bit too strong for me.
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David Ryan
Sun, Jun 23, 2013, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@ Dom: Both fair points. However, as I said, comparing grosses from two films with completely different timescales is always going to be problematic. To demonstrate the point, STID's gross has increased by $2m in the time since I posted that. I agree that STID probably won't be ranked as one of 2013's most successful films, but given some of the films out this year that doesn't surprise me. The Iron Mans and Fast & Furiouses of this world are always going to be a bigger draw than Star Trek. Sad, but true. I guess I just don't feel this is such a travesty that it needs such a kicking.
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David Ryan
Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

On the inflation point made earlier: using the US Inflation Calculator website, Star Trek (2009)'s box office gross comes out as being the equivalent of $418,571,291.20 in today's money, with a run lasting through to October 2009 in the US. ST:ID is currently on $414,788,052 with a run lasting a month or so. Given the differences in timescale, I don't believe Paramount executives will be losing sleep on a difference of c. $4m gross.

Anyway, brief summary of the film: enjoyable enough. Some fairly sizeable plot holes, and the supporting cast yet again had too little to do, but I didn't feel as violently opposed to it as some on here appear to have been. Not the best Trek film by any stretch, but hardly the worst either.
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David Ryan
Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

I would just add, though, that the "Red Squad" chanting scene made me cringe as much as the Quark-Dax one...
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David Ryan
Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 11:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

A lot of comments on here are claiming this to be one of the worst episodes in the history of Trek. Personally, I don't buy into that at all, and further I'd add that if so it ranks some way behind any episode involving Lwaxana Troi, Ferenginar or some implausible "Wesley Crusher saves the day" moment. The only crime this episode seems to commit (aside from some really dislikeable characters and the absurd Quark-Dax moment which made me cringe) is in its premise of having a crew of cadets on a Defiant-class behind enemy lines for eight months, which seems to have REALLY gotten on people's nerves. I would make the following points:
1) Cadet cruises happen in real life, as do battlefield commissions and promotions.
2) The Valiant was one of many, many Defiant-class ships in commission by that point. Allocating one of the older ones to Red Squad would not cripple a fleet full of Galaxy-class starships and the like.
3) The Valiant was on a circumnavigation of the entire Federation. It's fair to say it would have been pretty stocked up with supplies, and in any event had a skeleton crew so could eke out what resources it had via the replicators.
4) As for why it stayed behind enemy lines, it's limited to Warp 3.2 at the start of the episode. The Jem'Hadar would have blown it apart before it got close to DS9. Staying below the radar is what a lot of soldiers did in the Second World War until an opportunity to reach neutral territory presented itself.

Also, the most recent point about Nog being outranked: battlefield commissions take full effect unless subsequently rescinded. See the Maquis in Voyager for example. It may bring about absurd results at times, but it's not "totally unbelievable". No more than Kirk being promoted such in ST '09, at any rate.

I wouldn't say this is one of Trek's finest hours by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think it's quite deserving of the vitriol directed towards it here. Especially considering the episode which came after it...
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