Saturday, December 07, 2013

Time travel may change me, but I can't change time travel.

This has been a year where a lot of my online presence (which I typically really enjoy) has been oriented toward Star Trek.  (How's that different…shush.)  I have an ongoing fan fic on Tumblr for those days when I get five extra minutes to write.  I vociferously defended various aspects of the film "Star Trek Into Darkness."  I've chatted with friends about various series, films, and books set in the Trek universe(s).  

While doing this, I've realized that my view point on a few things has changed since I did my last generalized overview of my Trek fandom.  Age and perspective change things.  Primarily, I looked at the way a lot of Trek fans generally reacted to STID, or ST: Enterprise, or fill in the blank and realized I was contributing to the crowd saying negative things as if they were facts and not opinions.  I was criticizing fans of some Treks for even having the audacity to like those Treks like it was important that everyone saw the franchise the same way I did.  

Honestly, I realize now, that's bullshit.

I do think Trek, like a great literary work, goes beyond its original purpose of entertainment to provide food for thought and societal commentary.  That's a good thing.  Somewhere along the line I got more concerned with whether or not the Voyager could carry all those shuttlecraft, or how big the Defiant really was, or when the Romulans first developed cloaking devices than whether or not I was being entertained with good characters and stories.  Sure, I appreciate consistency in collected large scale narratives, but in the end the fact the Delta Flyer would not fit in the shuttle bay on Voyager wasn't really the problem I had with Voyager, it was the characters.  

But I also had friends, people whom I enjoyed talking Trek with that really liked Voyager, and those characters spoke to them.  Why the hell was I begrudging that? Why was I, of all people, telling people they shouldn't like Star Trek?

Maybe I only had this epiphany because I ended up on the other side of the argument a couple of times.  I, in the end, really enjoyed Enterprise, in spite of its continuity errors.  I liked those characters, I loved the look of the show, and though there are bummer episodes, I really liked the overall plotlines and when it was good it was very good.  It reminded me of another show that to be honest was occasionally really, really bad but in the end was more than the sum of its parts.

Star Trek.  Not the genre, the show, normally now referred to as "TOS" or "The Original Series."  This is going to sound harsh to some fellow Trekkies: It isn't perfect.  Also, a lot of what you remember about it wasn't actually in the show.  It is however fucking wonderful.  It deserves to be celebrated and receiving sequels fifty years later.  But it never let the need to have a moral get in the way of a kick ass SF yarn.  In fact, it usually erred toward the kick-ass.  As much as it showed societal progress in the next 300 years (or 200, or 700, or 500 depending on the episode) it didn't shy away from humanity's weaknesses either, and in the end its main goal, the reason d'ĂȘtre for the show was to entertain.  Even when that meant deciding a matriarchal society should figure out how equal rights for men work through "cuddling."

Here's what TOS did and did right, and perhaps some of the follow on series (and certainly fans) have forgotten.  Story diversity.  Some TOS episodes were just plain comedy.  Some were action adventure.  Some were tragedies.  Some where honestly trippy fantasy ignoring science altogether.  And that was OK, because the characters held it all together.  The tech was as capable, or incapable, or as magic-like as the writer wanted.  There's no scientific explanation for a transporter splitting Kirk into good Kirk and bad Kirk.  There's no attempt to reconcile the fact there's a time portal on Forever World.  Completely human-like robots?  Yep.  Living rocks.  No issues.

Spock's Brain.

Story diversity.  What that means is when DS9 wants to show a war, OK, let's see how that plays in the Trek universe.  When Voyager wants to come home instead of go further, well fine.  When JJ Abrams wants to do quick cuts and fast action to tell his story, OK.  Do it.  If I don't like it, I won't watch that one, but neither should I begrudge those who do, or differentiate between the titles "Trekker " or "Trekkie" to determine who are REAL fans.  Who the hell am I to tell you what you should or should not be a fan of?  I will be happy to tell you why I didn't like certain interpretations, or why I do like others; I have no reason to tell you are right or wrong in your opinions because in the end we both like Star Trek, and that's cool.  

Voyager's your favorite?  Let's discuss why.  Maybe you can't point out something I missed.

You only like the Abrams films?  Let's discuss why, and maybe I can find you some old stuff to enhance how much you like them.

You don't like Enterprise?  Let's discuss why the things you dislike work for me, and maybe you can look in a new light.

We're fans.  We should be helping that thing we love grow, and by the great bird, there's 800 hours of Trek out there, surely there's a little something for everyone.  There's some problems out there with any particular show.  Everyone should measure for themselves how those problems and the positive balance, and as I have seen online, promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

In the end anything that keeps Trek alive is a good thing, even if I don't like the size of their shuttle bay.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In which I reveal the deep Trekkie Truths behind Star Trek Into Darkness

I have come to realize that the JJ Abrams led Star Trek universe is actually quite a bit like "Lost."  Though there may be things that don't get their proper due, there are many things that are SO steeped in mythology that they seem non-sensical, and really just require the audience to connect the dots.  There are those who will argue that it shouldn't be necessary to have to think so hard about your entertainment, and that's a matter of taste.  I find I love "Lost" because of my philosophical, religious, and science fiction background.  It all makes sense to me, though I still want to know where they were going with Walt.  I find I love JJ Trek because of my deep knowledge of the existing Star Trek universe, though I still want to know why Nero's wife had tattoos. Inspired by this brilliant defense of Lost which made me say "YES, OBVIOUSLY" 108 times, I decided to do just one more essay on The Abrams-verse and its peculiarities.  

There are stylistic differences in new Trek regarding ships and transporters that I hear a lot of complaints about: How does the Kelvin, pre-Narada, have 800 people on board? Why does it only take the Enterprise a few moments to get to Vulcan or Kronos? (And Yes, I am going to spell it "Kronos" because I am not writing to a Klingon audience in Klingon.  I would also not reference "Munchen" in the place of "Munich" or "Moskva" in the place of Moscow unless I was writing to a German or Russian audience.)  Why do you need Starships if there is Transwarp Beaming?  Why does Marcus have a hate-on for the Klingons when the Romulans are the ones who attacked the previous year?  Why does so much of "Into Darkness" echo "The Wrath of Khan"?  There are in-universe answers to all of these inextricably linking New Trek to Original Recipe if you deeply, deeply know your Trek.  "Lost" requires a bit of understanding of non-temporal afterlife to put it all together.  Abrams Trek requires you know Prime Trek. Intimately.  It happens I do.

First, let me set the primary stage one has to understand to put all of it into perspective: A behemoth Romulan ship, enhanced beyond its simple mining mission, brought technology from the late 24th Century to the early 23rd.  With no regard for protecting any temporal Prime Directive, it allowed full scans on the part of the Kelvin (the telemetry of which went with the survivors back to Earth).  The Klingons also held it for 25 years.  We know there's full records from the Kelvin, because Pike did a dissertation about it (and was likely on the Kelvin since he seems to have known Kirk's dad).  Starfleet was so wrapped around the axle on this that they built a shipyard in George Kirk's hometown to honor him (the construction site of which was the canyon little Jimmy sends his ‘Vette plummeting into) as evidenced by the Kelvin saltshakers in the little Fleet bar.  Indeed, Section 31 even names their secret London facility after the Kelvin.  We know the Klingons have the Narada for a quarter century due to both the Kelvin's radio traffic regarding their location, and Uhura intercepting the breakout warning from the Klingon prison planet just before the Kelvin returns.  We even see that Nero had a hell of a time in prison because someone between his first appearance and second has chewed off his right ear.

So, though the destruction of the Kelvin certainly has a personal effect on Kirk, there are also larger ramifications for Starfleet and the Federation.  Not only do they suddenly have a big bunch of data to work with from the future, but they are also convinced the Romulans are out there with five mile long starships ready to Balance some Terror all over Earth and her allies.  In response we get a more military fleet less focused on exploration for exploration's sake.  This stays true until the last scene in STID where Kirk, as undisputed Captain of the Federation flagship, rededicates Starfleet to boldly going where no man has gone before.  Now, let's get into some specific questions.

Why does the Kelvin in 2233 have twice the crew of the TOS Enterprise?  First of all, we don't know from TOS exactly how big the fleet is.  We don't know what kind of ships besides the Constitution Class are out there.  Would I love to point to the Franz Joseph “Star Trek Technical Manual” to see more TOS ships.  Sure.  Or FASA’s ship guides?  I would, but I can’t.  We only have what’s on the show.  There could be some very specialized vessels with missions like, oh, say colonization.  What evidence do I have Kelvin was carrying a colony?  James Kirk's past.  Remember, ST:IV only says Kirk is "from Iowa."  I am "from" Arizona, grew up there, have no childhood memories of anything different, but I was born in California.  We know though that Kirk doesn't spend his whole childhood in Iowa; he is living in a colony when he is twelve, specifically Tarsus IV.  A colony that obviously isn't thriving, or else the governor would not be executing citizens to conserve food.  Maybe the supply lines are tough for that colony.  Maybe because they are near Klingon space.  Is it a stretch to think the Kelvin was on its way to drop the Tarsus colony when it meets the Narada?  Imagine a Starfleet vessel dropping a colony, and then exploring that region of space while being the protector for the colony as well.  This mission would go back and forth and some Starfleet crew might choose to have their families in the Colony to keep them from having to wait until the space between tours to see them.  The evidence is circumstantial, but there.  A fat, slow, overloaded colony ship might have hundreds more on board, but it wouldn't be more advanced than the Constitution in the Prime Universe.

Why does it only take the Enterprise a few moments to get to Vulcan or Kronos? This is a good one; remember we never see the Kelvin at warp.  We don't see Starfleet vessels at warp until the incident on Vulcan.  Then, damn are they quick.  Why?  They are using the tech they have developed from the Narada, and get ready:  It's transwarp drive.  That's right, what the Federation couldn't pull off in the 2280s in the Prime Universe, Nero has delivered.  Look at it visually; they are flying in a transwarp conduit.  Why don't THEY call it Transwarp?  Because, like the Europeans in "Pulp Fiction" they don't know what the f***a quarter pounder is.  All they know is they have adapted an advanced warp drive.  "Transwarp" only comes into the vernacular from Prime Spock when referring to Scotty's transwarp beaming equation.  That's a huge clue by the way as to how the Narada has transwarp.  Now, I could cite the "Countdown" comic which states the Narada has Borg tech from a secret Romulan/Borg retro-engineering project, but I want to stick with screen evidence regardless of "canon" claims.  The Narada is a Romulan ship from 2387.  Regardless of the excellent, but non-Canon Typhon Pact novels, it is reasonable to assume that if Spock is still living on Romulus and traveling freely to Vulcan there is some form of detente between the Romulans and the Federation.  This makes sense: not only where they allies in the Dominion War, Starfleet will likely help them pick up the pieces with Donatra after the events of "Nemesis" in 2379.  Sometime before 2387, Starfleet gets Transwarp drive, because it's SCOTTY who uses that drive to create transwarp beaming.  We don't see it in the Prime Universe before Nemesis, so it must be in the 2380s Scotty develops the equation.  So where does the Federation get Transwarp?  In 2378 the Voyager brings it back from the Delta Quadrant.  Admiral Janeway outfits the Voyager with Borg transwarp.  It would take a couple of years to get it ready for fleet deployment (hence we don't see it in Nemesis) but then its there and something to share with allies.  Including the Romulans, who include it on the Narada.  The Narada carries it back to 2233, and the improved 1701 can get to Kronos to Earth in minutes.  Again, it all lines up.

Why do you need Starships if there is Transwarp Beaming?   Aside from the fact that it looks like transwarp beaming can be imprecise and difficult (Scotty in the waterworks) there are two very important things for which it would be useless: exploration of new worlds and defense.  Those happen to be Starfleet's primary mission sets.  Beaming a guy from Earth to Vul…uh, Andoria (what, too soon?) is great and will revolutionize travel and logistics in the new 23rd Century.  It won’t allow you to make detailed scans of a planet’s ecosystem, or a culture’s advancement from orbit before putting someone on the surface.  Perhaps one day you could beam probes there, but there will still need to be starships out charting the systems.  Additionally, when a whole fleet of really pissed off Klingons drop out of warp in your solar system, you ability to beam a couple of dudes to another planet is again not particularly helpful.  STID showed there are certainly ramifications and consequences to transwarp beaming in the wrong hands; it has not negated the need for starships.

Why does Marcus have a hate-on for the Klingons when the Romulans are the ones who attacked the previous year?  This goes back to the discussion regarding the Narada’s changes.  The Federation and Klingons have both benefitted from future tech; ironically and perhaps tragically Nero’s interference has again doomed his planet.  The Romulans get no exposure to the Narada.  Perhaps their spies can glean some info from their enemies (unless Starfleet starts building ships on the surface instead of in orbit making it tough for cloaked starships to see) but the Narada revelation also makes the appearance of Romulans known at large to the Federation.  Remember, in TOS regardless of the war a century prior, no one knew what Romulans looked like.  Their ability to infiltrate as Vulcan spies was probably fantastic.  Now though, the Kelvin reads Romulan language and equates to these pointy-eared guys in the big ship.  We know the Federation knows more now than their Prime counterparts because Spock in 2258 knows the Romulans and Vulcans share a common heritage.  These guys have been outed, and though for a while Starfleet believes they might have a killer doomsday machine ship, there’s no further evidence of that. In fact all the observable Romulan ships are pretty quaint compared to the Federation Starfleet.  MEANWHILE, the Klingons are getting bolder and keeping pace.  They manage to clean up that whole augment blood virus that made TOS Klingons look like Genghis Khan well ahead of schedule. (First use of magic Augment blood serum, by the way, thank you very much.)  And, their accelerated tech development has already exhausted a key energy production facility: Praxis is already in ruins.  As I recall from ST:VI that alone was going to lead to war unless something could be negotiated. The Klingons are the immanent and imminent threat to the Federation.  Marcus would know this, and apply LOTS of Narada tech to the baby he’s apparently been working on for a while (which is why he has a model on his desk), but needs Khan to perfect: The Vengeance.  We are reminded of this by the simple fact that the Vengeance actually looks like the Narada: a black behemoth ready to kick everyone’s ass. (Yet, like with the Narada, the Enterprise survives the unbeatable foe!)  On a side note, would I sure love to see the new Romulans reach out in desperation to the Vulcans, who need a home and more genetic diversity THROUGH SPOCK PRIME who has always wanted to unify the two.  There’s a backstory for a third film.

Why does so much of "Into Darkness" echo/ripoff/mimic/steal from "The Wrath of Khan"?  Simple answer here: the JJ Verse wants to be like the Prime-verse.  Sounds silly? It's not, it's Trek Canon established over and over.   Look at every alternate universe we see across Star Trek.  They all share great similarities.  When Kirk and the crew in “Mirror, Mirror” go through to another dimension, they don’t end up on Babylon 5 or Lost in Space, then end up in a universe SO similar to theirs the ship and crew are virtually identical.  They are even on the same mission in the same relative part of space and using the transporter at the same moment.  When Worf goes universe hopping in “Parallels” he finds 144,000 universes so similar they all produced the NCC-1701-D.  Events in “nearby” universes seem to follow similar patterns.  Why would the JJ Verse be any different?  In the OS episode “City on the Edge of Forever” Spock mentions that time follows certain “currents and eddies” like a river.  Even when the universe had changed due to McCoy saving Edith Keeler, Kirk and Spock’s trip through the Guardian brought them to that location.  The situation is very similar to New Kirk just happening to run into Prime Spock in a cave on Delta Vega. (One more sidebar: as much as I defend the new movies, calling that planet Delta Vega was bullshit.  It should have been PSI 2000, and then when they beamed on the Enterprise, Scotty could mention showering with his clothes on.)  Now, I am going to go outside of my mission statement for just a moment on this one, because I think there are two very dramatic statements made by the writers here: 1) By putting the characters through the same set of similar circumstances we get to see how they are like and different from their Prime counterparts.  It’s important in defining where the series will go.  2) The deliberate insertion of Spock Prime drives home the fact that this is not a remake of either Space Seed or Wrath of Khan, but rather a sequel to both of them.  This is Superman facing Zod like this father did, or Luke having to make the same choice as Anakin while Palpatine looks on from in front of a big window, or Forrest Jr. getting on the bus like Forrest senior.  The juxtaposition of these scenes shows you how the follow on characters will act in their predecessors’ worlds, and it’s a big dramatic cue for this series.

There are other questions I could get into here that are more plot oriented: why is the Enterprise in Nabiru’s ocean?  Why does Khan hide his people in torpedoes?  Why does the Enterprise get caught in Earth’s gravity?  Why does Carol choose to change clothes in a shuttlecraft? The answers are in there, some better than others.  Those might be questions for another post, but my goal here is only to point out that JJs Trek universe is entirely embedded within the Prime Trek universe.  It is not a reboot, but an extension and utterly dependent on what went before, like all the Trek sequels.  Now, I may be connecting dots the writers never considered.  (I’d ask Bob Orci, but we chased him off Twitter.)  Fans have ALWAYS brought more to the viewing of Star Trek than what was intended.  That’s the whole reason our fandom was born in the first place.  Being a fan is not a “set to receive” relationship.  It’s interactive, and we all work within our favorite fictions.  It’s where half our expectations for TOS come from in the first place.  Spock the first Vulcan in Starfleet?  Fandom. In fact it contradicts “The Immunity Syndrome” where the Intrepid is entirely manned by Vulcans, at least one of which must outrank Spock (unless we think he’s not as exemplary as others).  But we see it as so, because fandom connected dots.  That’s what you do when you love something, you explore it, like any great fiction.  New Trek is flashier, faster, and at times freakier than any previous Trek.  Connect those dots though and you will see New Trek is still Trek.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The official Black Owl review of “Man of Steel.”

As with all reviews on my little blog, spoilers, spoilers, and more spoilers.

This one is going to be tough; do I review this as a movie?  Do I review it as a Superman movie?  It’s no secret that I hold an almost religious reverence for Superman, and that certainly affected how I perceived this film.  OK, here’s the quick “just plain movie review.”  An overall very cool science fiction story with a great cast gets bogged down in the last 30 minutes with so much destruction the audio in IMAX actually left my ears ringing for a couple of hours afterward, as if I had just spent a couple of hours on a C-130.  A satisfying overall experience though.  B-

Now let’s talk Superman.


Here’s what’s good about this movie—and there is quite a bit—as a fan:

The cast.  I didn’t find anyone out of place here  (but for one exception I will get to in a minute) and in some cases got the best versions of these characters we have ever seen.  Henry Cavill is very good in this role and a welcome addition to the rolls of Supermen.  His Clark is great and though I expected him to be all emo, it really does work and play out pretty well. 

The real high point here though is Amy Adams as Lois Lane.  She is simply wonderful.  Smart, quick thinking, not a damsel, resourceful, and I say again, SMART.  There’s a marvelous bypass of the whole “glasses disguise him” thing with her, and though it accelerates their relationship quite a bit, it works here and I didn’t mind a bit.  I also want to say how good Michael Shannon is as Zod.  He brings great, great gravitas and motivation to the role.  
Antje Traue as the Kryptonian villainess Faora steals nearly every scene she is in with utter ruthlessness.  Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent is wonderful (and part of what is in my opinion the best scene in the film).   Diane Lane give Ma Kent a real heart. Russell Crowe brings some Maximus to Jor-El, but that’s not a bad thing. 
I definitely want to mention Christopher Meloni though; his Colonel Hardy has a wonderful arc and gives us one of the great examples of human heroism we see in this film as well.  Some players are a little underused (Perry White), but they are great where you see them.

Krypton is more fleshed out here and gives Zod a wonderful motivation and backstory.  There’s enough borrowed from various comic incarnations here to be instantly recognizable, yet unique to this version, and I loved every minute of the tech and style. 

Jonathan Kent’s death.  Not unlike All-Star Superman, I cried here when Jonathan died, and the circumstances are so emotionally involving, you will too.  Jonathan, in full view of Clark and Martha is going to be swept away by a tornado.  Clark could easily save him, but Jonathan waves him off to protect Clark’s secret.  How marvelous that whole scene is, and how much does that bring to the origin?  Lots and lots.   Terrific.

The First Two Hours.  Honestly, though I have already pointed some things out, let me wrap it up like this: The first two hours of this movie are as perfect a film as Richard Donner’s “Superman: The Movie.”  Perhaps more so, as we get a Superman at once relatable and realistic without losing the ethics or grandeur of the character.  The oil rig rescue, the diner scene, Clark’s relationship with Pete Ross, all wonderful.  Lois is AMAZING as she does what no prior version of the character has done and TRACKS DOWN SUPERMAN.  Her decision to keep his secret is not only integral to the plot, it speaks volumes her character.  As I said, this is the best Lois has ever been, and I normally don’t even really like Amy Adams.  She’s just about perfect here.  The Science Fiction heavy plot plays out, and you start to get a hint of the capabilities of these beings and it’s just great.  For two hours. 

Then there are 30 more minutes, and here we get not-so-great.  Most of that time is spent killing several million people in the most exhausting ways possible.  Really, I walked out feeling shell-shocked there was so much destruction.  I am not even sure the next movie can be set in Metropolis as I don’t think there can be much left.  No really, where does the coda at the Daily Planet even happen; have they rebuilt EVERYTHING already?  The destruction was where the Nolan realism should have reigned in Zack Snyder some more.  And this is where we start to lose Superman as a character as well.  He is so involved in fighting the bad guys that he stops saving the good guys.  We lost characters who should by all rights have made it, and Superman should have saved them.  When we have the big Superman/Zod fight that we know is coming, they slam through and around buildings, and thousands must be at least endangered if not outright killed.  That’s not even my real complaint though: it’s just too much.  The scope gets so big as to become irrelevant.  In my theater’s viewing, people actually started laughing.  We got tired of it.  I would gladly trade ten of those minutes for ten more minutes of Krypton, or Jonathan, or Lois, Clark doing some more heroic stuff in the suit.  Indeed, Man of Steel could have used a bit more Man of Steel.

There’s another issue for me in the post action coda as well.  This movie paints a pretty honest picture of the military.  They detain Superman because they have to, but COL Hardy recognizes “this man is not our enemy.”  Soldiers walk into or fly into certain death to save their world.  We don’t see stupid soldiers, or cowardly soldiers, or evil soldiers; we see soldiers, doing their best with what they have…until.  We get this female Air Force Captain—and you probably saw her in the commercials—who when faced with Superman gets all giggly and states, “he’s kinda hot.”  It is completely out of the tone of the rest of the film and really paints her—the only speaking female Earth military service member—as a bimbo.  That was a shame considering how well they portrayed the Military up until then. 

So what’s possibly the worst this in this film, or maybe even in the modern history of Superman?  Superman kills Zod.  Snaps his neck.  Yes, in the scene Superman is forced to do it, or allow more civilians to die (how about the previous ten minutes, Clark?), and yes IN THE COMICS in 1988 Superman executed a version of Zod with Kryptonite.  I know.  But you can’t tell me a smart writer who got the first two hours SO right with SO much from various incarnations of the character couldn’t have found a better way to end this without Superman having to brutally snap Zod’s neck.  Yes, it works in the context of the movie, but this is a “new generation’s” Superman.  Reinvented for people now in the 21st Century.  This movie will be for eight to ten year olds now what Donner’s Superman was for my generation.  Henry Cavill will be THEIR Superman.

And he snaps bad guys’ necks.  He’s Superman, there has to be a better way.  Yes Goyer and Nolan, you did manage to maneuver your story to a “he had to do it” point.  Just because you could doesn’t mean you should.  What affect are you going to have on the mythological Superman?  You’ve made Superman a killer, not in some obscure 30 year old comic, but in what will be the cornerstone of the DC movie universe for the next decade.  And for decades hence.  My grandkids will see that as their Superman, unless I work really hard to get to them first.  This was a conscious choice on the part of the writers, and I really think it could have gone a better direction.* Does it ruin the movie for me?  No, overall I did enjoy the film; only time will tell though if they have ruined Superman.

I suppose Tim Burton making Batman a killer didn’t alter The Dark Knight forever; oddly the same writer as Man of Steel made Batman’s reluctance to kill a major plot point in Batman Begins.  But I feel sorry they did this.  They should have done better because Superman deserves it, and there is so much here as a Superman fan to love.

It took Nolan three films to show me Christian Bale was not THE Batman.  Instead he was a broken person who put on a suit for about 18 months and divorced himself entirely from his responsibility by faking his death.  Nolan may have saved me time here and only waited two hours to show me he wasn’t making a movie about THE Superman but rather a superman.  Perhaps, sequels to this film will do the opposite of the Batman series and get better with successive additions.  I need to see this dealt with, I need to see it become a lesson learned for Superman on why he needs to find the better path.  I need to see that because those eight year olds watching need to see it too.  This series can be salvaged; this Superman can be redeemed.  I hope sequels will do that. 

After all, Superman is about Hope.

*So, I hear you: “All right, smart guy; if they could have done it better, what would be better?”  Reprinted here, verbatim, is a message I sent to a good friend within about 30 minutes of seeing the film.  Pardon personal message typos:

1) "You've ripped out my soul El; you're no Kryptonian. With me, Krypton dies." Kills self.
2) *Zod, flying into Metropolis sees the Phantom Zone generator destroy his ship.* "No, El- with us dies Krypton!" *Crashes scout ship into Superman, he tries to stop the crash, Zod is killed by the Kryptonian tech/engine/metal and Supes barely escapes.*
3) Faora escapes being pulled into the zone, realizes that if Kal-El is dead there is no chance to raise Krypton, takes Zod away herself allowing that specter of return to hang over them.
4) Kal clamps his hand over Zod's face, and beats him into unconsciousness. Then:

a) Uses the hyperdrive that MUST still be on the leftover Kryptonian scoutship to reopen the Zone and cast him in (possibly saving the Colonel and Doctor Hamilton in the process).
b) Imprisons Zod using the material from the scout and asks the Gov to help him build a ship to take Zod to a planet with a red sun: they recruit Lexcorp to help. Sequel prepped.