‘things that annoy me in film’
This post has been a long time coming. Mostly coming out at parties over a particularly intense bout of drunken geekery, it’s a point that has niggled with me about Star Trek ever since I first saw it that day back in May.
Thing is, I’m a bit of a film buff. I’ve loved film for as long as I can remember. My Dad taking me to see Superman IV at the cinema when I was kid. Holding hands, walking around in the dark. THAT theme tune. It was amazing. Better yet, it was believable.
Years passed. Burton’s Batman came and went. The older I the more adventurous my taste in film became; I remember one afternoon after college I bought Romper Stomper, Scum, Mean Streets and Taxi Driver (all on VHS – thank you very much Mr Light), in a rather awesome four for £20 bargain.
“You need to lighten up mate.” said the chap behind the counter. I laughed, said it was research for a new project (I was studying performing arts, specialising in directing for that particular term – I was soaking up everything I could get my hands on), he looked at me funny and it was only when walking away did I realise what I’d said.
The Matrix arrived. I remember thinking ‘THIS is the Star Wars of our generation.” Up to this point, in the history of film, no one had ever achieved anything like it. Neo and his acolytes were about to tear up the sci-fi genre and hand it back to Hollywood; “Thanks, we’re done.” But they didn’t. They went and released Matrix: Reloaded. While I’m a big fan of The Animatrix (the nine animated shorts released before the first sequel), the next two parts of the trilogy left me a bit empty. The effects are good, the story isn’t that bad. They just aren’t as good as the original. It happens.
However, Matrix Reloaded sticks out for me for one thing and one thing only. What am I talking about? The first 20 seconds of this…
See it? That bike stunt? Right. Stay with me on this one.
In a world that is governed by rules, how is it that this street bike is able to drive off the top of that truck, from a standing start, land and continue – at top speed – without the truck catching up and crumpling the rider(s) under its wheels?! It’s an impossibility defined by the laws of physics. Yes, the laws of the Matrix can be bent, even broken, but by people. NOT by machines. A bike is as much a bike in the Matrix as it is a bike out on the streets right now. When this happened on screen I snapped back into reality and was suddenly more concerned about my next helping of popcorn than I was about Trinity and her high-speed escape.
Which brings us back to Star Trek.
In the film (and if you’ve not seen it, you may as well stop reading right now), Spock jettisons Kirk off the Enterprise for insubordination and he finds himself wound up on an ice planet not too dissimilar from Hoth. The landing pod tells him to remain where he is (his escort will arrive shortly), but naturally, being James T. Kirk, he decides to get out and find his own way.
This being Star Trek, of course things don’t run smoothly. Within a few minutes Kirk’s being chased by a snowy-white sabretooth tiger-esque creature [UPDATE: turns out this is a ‘Drakoulias‘] who clearly fancies him for lunch. Kirk runs. The ground rumbles and said feline bear gets picked and hurled into a nearby mountain… by something much bigger.
This thing –
A bright red, prolapsed rectum-based ‘Hengrauggi‘. The design story behind this particular creature is pretty awesome; the way chief concept designer Neville Page finds inspiration from animals that already live and breathe in our world today is quite extraordinary. Everything from the way the jaws work, the positioning of its joints, all the way through to which way the cameras will be pointing when ‘Big Red’ finally erupts onto our screens.
The work of a truly talented artist.
But there’s just one issue I have with it – Evolution.
In what universe would evolution create such a creature? And I’m not talking about the size of the Hengrauggi or in fact the scarily fast oral appendages that it uses to capture its food (completely unlike anything I’ve ever seen before).
No. I’m talking about the colour of the damn thing.
This is an ICE planet. How would a huge creature such as the above get away with being BRIGHT RED on a planet that seems to spend the majority of its time covered in a blanket of white snow? You can’t be a hard-ass predator if your prey can see you coming from bloody miles away!
Case in point; sharks.
Dark on top, white underneath. Why? They’re predators. One of nature’s oldest and most perfect of killing machines. Swim above and look down, you’ll struggle to see it. Swim underneath and look up? The same. Not being seen (until it’s too late at least), is a defining feature of any decent-sized hunter. Yes the Hengrauggi starts off underground, perhaps burrowed under the surface awaiting its prey in the same vein as a trapdoor spider. Even so, surely then this would create a darker, more naturally-coloured creature. One that blends in with its surroundings, not stick out like a sore thumb.
Look, I know this isn’t a massive point and overall Star Trek was by far and away one of the best (and most successful) films of 2009, but still. If you’re intent on keeping the world and universe that your characters exist in believable, then being mindful of the rules that you’ve created (or those that already exist) will go a long way to keeping it real.
From the IMAX I was transported into the Star Trek universe and there I stayed. Until Delta Vega. From there I was thrown back to my seat with a bump. Damn you Hengrauggi. Damn you to hell.