I was a fan of Star Trek back when it was running in syndication during the 70s. It was a bit of a wrench, for me, getting used to the new actors in the reboot, but every repeated viewing of the Star Trek movie (three times, so far) makes the update more congenial. Rotten Tomatoes records an impressive 95% freshness rating.
While I liked the movie most of the time, here are my beefs: if Vulcans can’t defend their planet any better than they did, which was not at all, then I don’t suppose they deserved to have a planet. A mere F-16 could have taken out the space drill.
Whatever the dangerous “red matter” that creates black holes may be, let’s assume it requires pressure to activate it, such as the pressure found at the center of a planet. (I was about to say “requires gravity to activate it” until I remembered that the gravity at the center of a planet is zero, seeing as how the mass of the surrounding planet, and it’s gravitational force, are distributed equally around a central point, thus counterbalancing and canceling out what we would call gravity.)
Let’s assume it isn’t enough to simply splash a scoosh of red matter on a planet’s surface; in order to go from red matter to black hole, you need tremendous pressure. Bring forth the drill and the tunnel to the center of the earth.
Have you ever tried digging a hole in beach-sand too close to the waterline? What happens? It caves in, right? Let’s say your big laser does drill a hole to the center of a planet: how do you stop the hole from caving in, especially when it is under fantastic pressure and the mantle and core are like hot plastic? You can’t.
But, wait. When Spock’s ship kamikazes into the mining ship, the red matter turns to a black hole without benefit of planetary forces. So, it looks like the whole drill to the center of the world schtick was bunk. The Romulans could have sprinkled a dram of red matter anywhere they wanted and achieved the same effect. So what was all that drilling malarkey about?
If it takes but a drop of red matter to produce a planet-consuming black hole, doesn’t it make you wonder what Spock was doing packing 97 gallons of the stuff?
Why didn’t the starship that George Kirk crashed into the mining ship wipe it out? Does all that dilithium fuel in the gas tank only explode when you tell it to? Why didn’t they tell it to?
When we see the ship crash, George Kirk is thrown out of his chair and into the viewing screen, as if the ship had come to a full stop and momentum just kept moving him along. My belief is that when the ship experienced impact, at a speed of what we can assume was several tens of thousands of miles per hour (it is, after all, a starship), the front of the ship would have hit Kirk so fast he never would have seen it coming anymore than he could have seen a high-velocity bullet headed his way. He wouldn’t have had time to go to it—from his point of view, it would have come to him. We wouldn’t have seen him thrown out of his chair and into the proverbial windshield.
Allow me to further geek-out on the ridiculous science. I’m not nitpicking—these are major absurdities.
Spock’s mission: vacuum up an exploding star that threatens to destroy the galaxy. Destroy the galaxy? Spock should never have said that because it is preposterous. Supernovae occur in our Milky Way galaxy about every 50 years. There’s no imaginable supernova that could remotely threaten a galaxy.
(Also, seeing as how Spock failed in his mission, was our galaxy destroyed? I don’t think so.)
It takes billions of years for stars to reach the point of going supernova (another 5 billion years or so for our sun), which is to say that the Romulans on Romulus had plenty of advanced warning—as if the original Vulcans who colonized Romulus would set down roots next door to an incipient supernova. If the closest star to us, Proxima Centauri (in the solar system Alpha Centauri) exploded, and we on earth knew about it at the time of explosion, we would have a full 4.2 years to crank up the air-conditioning and slather on the sunblock. No matter how big a star is when it blows up, the energy and debris doesn’t have mythical warp drive and so they have to obey the laws of physics, that is, no traveling faster than the speed of light.
That means the only possible scenario where the Romulans could get caught with their pants down would be if it were their own sun that went supernova.
Even if, unbelievably, their sun getting ready to blow up all came as a great surprise, Romulans still had enough warning that Spock heard the news, formulated a plan, collected much more red matter than he needed, obtained the galaxy’s fastest ship, and rode to the almost-rescue. Even the bad guy somewhere far from home heard about Spock’s plan. We’re supposed to believe that in the meantime Romulans simply waited at home for him to save the day?
Say that Spock had gotten there in time to save Romulus. Next day, instead of a sunrise, Romulans would have looked into the sky to (not) see a black hole where their sun used to be getting a little bit closer. They were going to have to relocate no matter what, so why not do it as soon as possible, just in case the rescue attempt didn’t work?
Exploding the Warp Core. Here on earth, cinematic explosion goes boom, we see our heroes tossed high and far, always miraculously unhurt, as if being caught in an explosion is a carnival ride. The reason our heroes get tossed is because of an expanding wave of compressed air.
In outer space, there is no atmosphere and no compression wave. When the warp core explodes and frees the Enterprise, what they really would have gotten was a tush-full of radiant energy, x-rays, gamma rays, maybe even cosmic rays. Rather than a bump in the right direction, it would have been like turning up the temperature 27 million degrees, or like stepping into the center of the sun, possibly hotter. Their little wagon wouldn’t have received a helpful push: they would have vaporized.
Polar bears are white because then they blend into their surroundings and can sneak up on prey more effectively. Why in the world is the bigger monster that chases after Kirk on the winter planet bright red? For that matter, it just tossed aside a piece of meat bigger than an elephant—why would it waste energy pursuing minuscule Kirk, and then be scared off by a torch-waving Spock? The torch must have looked as small as a matchstick to the creature, if, on its ice-bound planet, it had any experience of fire or reason to fear it.
Speaking of the winter planet, it was within viewing distance of Vulcan, which makes it either a moon of Vulcan, or a double planet, if that is even possible. Either way, now that Vulcan has been replaced by a black hole, the winter planet is in serious trouble. Good thing, in the end, old Spock and the rocky-faced dwarf made it out of there.
But Star Trek wouldn’t be genuinely Star Trek if we didn’t have stupid mistakes to complain about.