Bold New Treks

Astrometrics Banner

So much has happened in the world of Star Trek these last few weeks, it’s difficult to decide where to start and what to report on!

But before that, I had an e-mail from a fan of this site asking me why I recapped news reports. He appreciated it, but was curious. It’s simple. When big news happens, we get disjointed drips of it from con reports, media releases and various interviews happening all over the place. Sometimes it’s put together afterwards by various sites, but that’s rare. It frustrates me, so I group it all together for other fans like me who enjoy and appreciate the reports we read, but would love to see them encapsulated in one article because it’s easy to lose track of them all thanks to the fact we all live busy lives. So, thanks for the question and hopefully this puts it all into perspective!

Now, back to this news update.

Thanks to the San Diego Comic Con and Star Trek Las Vegas, a lot of news has come to light: a new Klingon look for Disco season two, new Trek shows, a push to have Trek on CBS All Access all the time, casting announcements, the DS9 documentary, pay disputes for Kelvin-verse Trek IV and more.

I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on news related to the proposed new series’, and the upcoming Trek feature films.

So.  Proposed new shows?  Yes.  First up is a brand new set of mini-episodes called Short Treks, that have been created to give us some Trek content while we wait for season two of Star Trek: DiscoveryShort Treks is also a part of CBS‘s recently announced desire to have Star Trek content on CBS All Access 24 hours a day.

But that’s not it.  There has also been talk of a new animated series and, most incredibly, a new Star Trek project that brings Sir Patrick Stewart back as fan favourite Jean-Luc Picard.

Before we dive in to any of that, we need to look at couple of important casting announcements.  The first is the announcement we have a new Number One (the role originated by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in 1964).

Rebecca Romijn, best known for her role as Mystique alongside Patrick Stewart in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, has been cast as the new Number One.  She joins Anson Mount on the Enterprise for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.

She and Anson are joined by Ethan Peck, the grandson of Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, who will be playing Spock.

Spock?!

Though producers said they would not cast another Spock because it would be too hard to find another actor capable of following in the footsteps of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, it appears they have found a story and an actor that they believe will do justice to Spock and the two exceptional actors who have played him.  Spock is definitely in season two, and I admit I am excited about that.

Some have decried this as fan service, but I don’t have a problem with fan service if it’s done well, and if a wonderful story can be brought to life as a result.  Star Trek has a rich history full of exciting and compelling characters, why can’t we see them?  Why wouldn’t we?  If you were a writer or producer on a new Trek series, wouldn’t you want to use those characters if you could?

Some fan commentators have decried the implausibility of the Enterprise and Discovery being anywhere near each other, but that’s a rubbish observation.

Within the in-universe history of Star Trek, there were not that many ships out there in the earlier days of the Federation, and when you think about it, we actually don’t know the mission profile of the Enterprise in that time period.  Plus, there was a war that bled into Federation space and you can bet the Federation wanted its best ships nearby protecting people and assets.

What do we know about Pike’s mission in that time period?

Star Trek The Cage Poster

We know that he and his ship were returning from a battle, before intercepting the Talos distress signal that led to the events we have seen in “The Cage.”

The Enterprise was a heavy cruiser, and Constitution Class starships were the premier front line vessels of Starfleet.  The ships became known for their exploration missions, but Gene Roddenberry had a multipurpose role in mind for them when he conceived the series.  As every Trek fan knows, the concept for the show was based on a “wagon train to the stars” idea, with the Enterprise pushing the boundaries of known space, while also serving as a diplomatic vessel, a peace-keeping force and even, at times, a special escort for dignitaries.  As a premier front line vessel, there is every reason for it to be within warping distance of the Discovery, which, at the time the two ships come across each other, had only recently left Earth.

But, I digress.  Back to Ethan Peck, our new Spock.

Ethan Peck

The casting of Ethan has been given the seal of approval by the Nimoy family, with Leonard’s son, Adam, and daughter, Jule, along with their spouses Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and David Knight, that we learned about via a post on Instagram.

In that post, Ethan looks pretty damn stoked, and there appears to be genuine warmth shining off of Adam in particular.

The Nimoy Seal of Approval

Ethan started acting as a young man.  He’s 32, and has appeared in the ABC sitcom 10 Things I Hate About You, Madam Secretary, Gossip Girl and That ’70s Show.

His enthusiasm for the role is apparent, and according to his girlfriend both of them will always remember the moment he got the call that he was cast as Spock.  Ethan apparently sat down on a nearby roadside curb and cried.

All of this makes me think that the appearance of the Enterprise, Pike, Number One and Spock in Star Trek: Discovery is a way of launching a sort of soft-backdoor pilot for a new series that focuses on Christopher Pike and his crew.  CBS wants more Star Trek on TV and has put Alex Kurtzman and his production company, Secret Hideout, in charge of that on a multi-year deal, so why wouldn’t they explore one of the least seen but most beloved Captain’s in Trek history?

Fans have been interested in Pike and Number One for many many years, and it’s a period of Star Trek history that would be interesting to do a deep dive into.  Star Trek: Five Year Mission, or whatever they would call it, would be a beautiful companion to Star Trek: Discovery and it would honour Gene’s original vision by giving life to the first characters he created.

When you think about it, Anson Mount is doing a LOT of publicity work for Star Trek: Discovery, and with two other actors now cast in two incredibly important and historic roles, why wouldn’t CBS take advantage of that and create something amazing?

If they didn’t, it would be a real waste of talent and time.

But, enough of my suppositions.   You probably want to know about the news that really has fandom going crazy.

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

Patrick Stewart and Alex Kurtzman announced the news at Star Trek Las Vegas.  They didn’t tell us a lot, because it’s very early days, but what we do know is:

  • Kirsten Beyer, it seems, had the idea.
  • Akiva Goldsman will Executive Produce the show.
  • It takes place approximately 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • Pulitzer prize-winning author, Michael Chabon, is on staff.
  • James Duff will also Executive Produce.
  • Kirsten will be a writer on the show.
  • Patrick initially turned them down, but with some persistence from Alex and his team fell in love with the idea, remembering just how impactful Star Trek had been and still is in the lives of millions.
  • Patrick will be an Executive Producer on the series.
  • Picard might not be a Captain anymore.

This is what Patrick had to say, live on stage at STLV18:

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

He went on to talk a little about the older Picard we may meet.

He may not, and I stress may not, be a captain anymore.  He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognise and know so well.  It may be a very different individual.  Someone who has been changed by his experiences.  Twenty years will have passed, which is more or less exactly the time between the last movie – Nemesis – and today.

He followed this with a guarantee.

It will be, I promise you, I guarantee it, something very, very different.  It will come to you with the same passion, and determination and love of the material and love of our followers and our fans, exactly as we had it before.

We don’t know whether or not Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton or Michael Dorn will be in the new show, but it is almost certain one or two or maybe even all of them will appear at some point.

LeVar, Gates, Patrick, Marina, Brent and Michael

Will this new Star Trek be an ongoing series?  It’s unlikely.  Patrick is in his late ’70s and in a couple of years time will turn 80.  Committing to an ongoing series as complicated as Star Trek would probably not be something he’d do.

It’s more likely this will be a mini-series, or limited special series of maybe six to ten episodes.

More news is certain to come over the next few months, but for now we don’t know much else. One of the best things about this announcement is that maybe, finally, these incredible, beloved characters will get the send off they deserve. I’m okay with Nemesis, but it’s not a great film and Picard and crew deserved a better on screen farewell. This new show might do that.

The new animated series?  Nothing has been disclosed about this but it has garnered a lot of interest from fans, because it can happen, literally, at any time in Star Trek‘s expansive history.  We could continue the five-year mission of Kirk and his crew.  We could discover brand new adventures on the Enterprise D.  We could even fill in the blanks for the crew of the USS Equinox after they were trapped in the Delta Quadrant, before the Voyager found them.  The possibilities are endless, which is why fandom is super-excited.

For now, we’ll just have to wait for news on that project and hope that something can be produced that is at least as good as Star Wars‘s successful foray into animation.

Lastly, the next Star Trek feature film has hit a hurdle.

Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth are reportedly holding up the fourth feature outing for our Kelvin-verse crew.

Why?  There is a little contention over their salaries.  Both Chris’s are blockbuster stars now thanks to films like Wonder Woman and the Thor series.  Their salary expectations are, as a result, a little different to what they probably were.

Star Trek: Beyond, while well received by fans, only made $343 million world wide.  That’s a decent profit when compared to the cost of the film ($185 million to produce, though this doesn’t include the film’s marketing budget), but it’s not enough to warrant a massive investment in a sequel.  Tent pole summer blockbusters need to make at least double of what they cost to be considered profitable.

This means Paramount will be looking to produce the as yet untitled Trek film for less, and part of that will be offering less money to its stars.  Which should be interesting.  There is not one of the main cast whose careers have not taken off since the release of the first Kelvin-verse film.  Some of their careers have gone stratospheric – particularly Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg.

All three actors are in demand, with Zoe in particular lined up for movie after movie after movie.

Karl Urban (Doctor Leonard McCoy) is confident both Chris’s will sort out the pay dispute, and that the movie will go ahead.  Paramount, however, have a very narrow window available to them to get the movie into production because of actor availability.  If it doesn’t happen soon, the planned fourth film will be abandoned, and we’ll have to wait another couple of years for Tarantino Trek, which is currently slated to be the fifth outing for the crew of the Kelvin-verse USS Enterprise.

What do we know about the new movie?  A few things.

SJ Clarkson

  • The basic premise is unclear, but we do know it unites James and George Kirk in some way.  There is a script, but it’s details are under wraps.
  • The film will be the first to be directed by a woman, with S.J. Clarkson being given that honour.  Clarkson is a British film and television director, best know to the rest of the world for Life on Mars, Dexter, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Bates Motel, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black and The Defenders.
  • The film will be the first Star Trek movie to be shot in the United Kingdom.

That’s pretty much it, for what we know about the next film, and major events in Trek.

As news breaks we’ll keep you updated here.

If you’d like to check out more Star Trek news, we encourage you to visit our two “go to” sites, TrekMovie and TrekCore.

Until the next update, Live Long and Prosper.

LCARS Interface

A Brave New Adventure

Star Trek Discovery Premiere Eve Banner

We’ve been a little quiet here at Star Trek: Sentinel because there has been so much Star Trek: Discovery news coming out that we kind of just wanted to enjoy it and let it wash over us, and didn’t feel the need to comment on it.

Now we stand on the eve of the launch of a brand new series and a bold new experiment in Star Trek.

Since the new series was first announced and up until today, we’ve all seen people expressing hope and excitement for the show and people nit-picking everything and heaping disdain on this new series every Trek fan should be looking forward to.

Georgiou and Burnham

It’s probably no secret that I am incredibly excited about the show.  I love Sonequa Martin-Green as an actor, I’m a huge fan of Kirsten Beyer, Akiva Goldsman and many other behind the scenes creatives, and I admire the risks everyone has taken to make this version of Star Trek relevant.

I’ve been disappointed, even upset by some of the negative coverage coming from some sites.  The amount of it coming from one particular sci-fi site (not a Trek one) has caused me to delete it from my favourites and move on.

Now that we’re literally only hours away from the first brand new episode of Star Trek television in 12 years, I thought it might be a good idea to point you guys toward a handful of excellent articles out there right now on websites staffed by professionals who are genuinely excited to see Star Trek: Discovery.

There are two sites in particular that have had extensive and exceptional coverage over these last few weeks:

TrekMovie and TrekCore.

TrekMovie, in particular has suddenly become one of the best, if not the best, Trek site ever.  Their coverage of Star Trek: Discovery has been spectacular.

TrekCore have always been amazing, and though they may be following a close second behind TrekMovie, their coverage has still been excellent.

Inside the Discovery

Here are some great articles from both sites.

Let’s start with the coverage of the recent Premiere, held a couple of days ago in Los Angeles – attended by many of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery, and Star Trek royalty, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.

Nichelle, Sonequa and Bill

Sonequa and the cast get a blessing from one of the most significant women in modern science fiction, Nichelle Nichols.

TrekMovie gives us some photos from the Hollywood Premiere.

TrekCore‘s coverage of the Premiere.

For more on the “blue carpet” premiere event, visit both TrekMovie and TrekCore and look through their most recent articles.

Of particular interest to fans, the Season One Press Kit for Star Trek: Discovery has finally been released.

It’s beautiful.  The images above, and one a little earlier on in this article are from that kit.

TrekCore got the scoop on this one, so go check out their article focusing on the kit here.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the last few weeks are that the Klingon War with the Federation will play a major part in Season One of Star Trek: Discovery.

We’ve also learned that the war story will be wrapped up by the end of the 15 episode first season arc.

We don’t know what Season Two might hold, but it’s interesting that the Klingon conflict will fade out to be replaced by something else.

I think that’s a good idea.  Multiple years focusing on a war might get a bit a much – plus, there’s a lot more to Star Trek than Klingons and the war-arc has already been done and done well in Trek’s illustrious history.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 1

If you want to catch up with all of the Star Trek: Discovery news, visit those two wonderful sites.

Right now, I am eagerly counting down the hours to Star Trek: Discovery‘s release on Netflix.

If I could have one wish over these next few days, it would be for my fellow Trek fans to give this show a chance.

A great deal of incredible talent has been brought together to bring this show to us, and a lot of love and care has gone into it.  Yes, it looks different to Star Trek: The Original Series and probably shares more in common with Star Trek: Enterprise and the J.J. Abrams Trek movies, but that’s superficial and necessary if we want to attract new viewers and keep Stat Trek alive.  The show and it’s producers are doing everything they can to be faithful to canon and to make us something we will love.

The internet has become an horrifically nasty place where people seem to think it’s acceptable, even ‘cool’ and funny, to be negative and sometimes even abusive, but Star Trek fans are better than that, and the worst of us are nothing more than a vocal minority.

I hope other fans who love all things Trek for everything that the shows stand for, and respect and attempt to live the ideals of Star Trek, embrace this new show and love it and ensure it continues for many years to come.

We’ll be back in a couple of days with a review of the pilot episode, which is titled “The Vulcan Hello.”

Until then, may we all and may Star Trek: Discovery especially, live long and prosper.

In the United States, Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS on the 24th of September with all subsequent episodes airing on CBS All Access.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on the 24th of September also, on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel.  For the rest of us, Star Trek: Discovery will launch on Netflix on Monday the 25th of September.

LCARS Interface

Discovery News Hits Warp Speed

Star Trek Discovery News Roudup Banner 24072017

We’ve purposefully held off on posting any of the ‘new’ news about Star Trek: Discovery that’s been coming out, because we were pretty sure SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) would drop a lot of information.  And we were right.  And then EW did also, which means there is a fair bit to catch up on.

Where to start?

The first place would be with the new trailer that was released.  It is… fantastic.  Despite what some science fiction news sites have said.  They haven’t said it’s bad, but one or two have given it a less than warm reception.

I’ve been really disappointed with some of the comments made by these sites, but on the up side I have been really impressed with the cautious optimism and enthusiasm coming from Trek-specific news sites.

When it comes to the new Star Trek show a couple of these online genre news outlets have an overly negative attitude going on, and appear to feel that unnecessary nitpicking is the way to go.  One or two of their points have merit and some are downright ridiculous and poorly researched.  Example?  Gene’s vision of a future where Starfleet officers don’t argue or have conflict of any sort.  This is true for the TNG era, but not for what came before it.  In TOS and the first six films, there was plenty of conflict.  Anyone remember Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country?  Kirk was not happy with Spock for volunteering him and the Enterprise to escort the Klingon High Chancellor to Khitomer, and in TOS Spock and McCoy went at it almost every chance they got.  For that matter, Kirk and McCoy could get pretty testy with each other now and again.

Another example of the nitpicking?

There was an article a couple of days ago on io9, one of my favourite sites, by my favourite writer on that site, taking exception to Kirsten Beyer asking Jason Isaacs to avoid saying the word “God” (in an ad lib) because Gene had envisioned a world where religion didn’t have a great deal of influence on human beings.  Not a world/universe where there was no religion, but one where it’s impact wasn’t as wide felt.  The writer of that article was annoyed by this, and said (I’m paraphrasing) that it was just another ‘thing’ she didn’t get about the show.

She kind of has a point, ad libbing in a “God” is a small thing, but then she went and ruined her point by citing Star Trek: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, saying the correction was silly because the “g” word had been used before in Star Trek.

In the fifth feature, Kirk doesn’t ask the question “what does God need with a starship?” because he believes in God, he asks it because if there was a God, he or she or it would not need a ship to get anywhere, and the line isn’t an ad lib, but an integral part of the story.

And DS9?  For almost the whole seven years of that series, Benjamin Sisko fought against his appointment as The Emissary, and believed the Bajoran Gods were nothing more than wormhole aliens.

I might be wrong, it’s been a long time since I watched season seven of DS9, but I don’t think Sisko ever truly believed the wormhole occupants were Gods or a representative of God or a God.  They were extra-dimensional beings with a command and understanding of space-time far different to our own.

Lorca is a Starfleet officer and is part of an organisation dedicated to scientific research and exploration (alongside a joint mission to defend and protect the United Federation of Planets).  While many scientists are still people of faith in today’s world, and no doubt will be in the future, it’s not a big enough thing to nitpick about.  I don’t know why Kirsten’s correction of an ad libbed line has earned her that journalists ire?  My question is, do we know enough about the context of that conversation (between Kirsten and Jason) to be getting upset about this?  Probably not.

Also, I really don’t know why this particular situation is another ‘choice’, apparently amongst many, that is hard to understand?

Some of the decisions the writers have made have been contraversial, but they’re understandable.  The series needed to be updated if it was going to have a chance against the juggernauts of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  The creative team has made mostly cosmetic changes, and where things may upset canon have promised us an in-Universe explanation.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 5

A lot of the snipes coming from these sites are silly and they are getting really annoying.  Hundreds of thousands, if not more, Star Trek fans around the world have been waiting for a new series, and a lot of us are over-joyed and excited about this show and are holding out hope it will be brilliant.  If you don’t want anything to do with the show or aren’t coping with the changes that have been made, keep your opinions to yourself unless they have some balance and substance.

Instead, focus on THE most diverse cast in Trek history and how that lives up to Gene’s vision, a vision he wanted to show but couldn’t while he was alive because of the resistance he faced over the years.

Don’t forget, his son, the keeper of Trek now that Majel has left us, is intimately involved with this series.  Show some respect, and give this show a chance before ‘bagging’ it across the internet.

Sorry for that digression.  Those two examples above are only some of a number of articles that have really irked me.  But!  Back to the trailer!!

If you’d like to watch it, jump over to the official Star Trek site here.  The music is “I’d Love To Change The Workd”, by Jetta.

This show is, from the look of both trailers (the first one released and this newest trailer), aiming to be an intense and exciting, epic exploration of a time before Kirk and after Archer, and it’s trying to be a deep and thoughtful exploration of the ‘self’ and the journey we all go through on this roller-coaster ride we call life.

The over-arching story is starting to take shape thanks to the trailers and interviews we’ve seen, heard and read, but I have no doubt there will be more to the series and I also have no doubt that the creative team will throw us a few red-herrings!

What is that story?  A war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  It’s been hinted at, but never shown, so now we may get some context around why the Organians were so insistent on implementing that treaty way back in TOS’s first season (2267), and ending that war.

A few days after the trailer hit, EW released some beautiful photos from a behind-the-scenes interview and photoshoot they did.  Some of them are peppered throughout this article.

If you’d like to see all of these really gorgeous shots, visit Entertainment Weekly here.  Even better, buy their latest edition featuring the new crew, here.  I have, and I don’t regret it.

EW_Star_Trek25111-RGB.JPG

If, for whatever reason, you can’t view the trailer, below are some screenshots from it.  Because I’m in Australia, I have only seen the Netflix version, and I have no idea how different it is from any trailer that was released by CBS or Space (in Canada).

When you see the release date screen grab pop up at the end, don’t freak out.  In the United States and Canada Star Trek: Discovery will still air on the 24th of September, but in Australia and most other countries it will air on the 25th.

Here are the trailer shots, with a tiny bit of commentary.  The trailer I saw had subtitles.

Warning… there are a LOT of images.  Apologies for the quality, at times the internet was holding up beautifully, and at others it wasn’t.  Australia is a great country, but our internet service providers and internet speeds are a joke.

Just a quick aside first.  Some people have thought the Shenzhou leaves behind ‘graffiti’ on the desert world Georgiou and Burnham visit, in the form of a Starfleet Delta.  I really doubt that is something that happens ‘in-show’, and I’m pretty certain it’s a creative effect by CBS.  Time will tell if I’m wrong.

As I said above, it really feels like the creative team are setting up something thoughtful, and hopefully epic… “All life is born from chaos…”  Those are portentious words!

It’s clear there’s some sort of battle, and it looks like the USS Shenzhou doesn’t come out of it in one piece – and it looks like that’s thanks to our old friends, the Klingons.

Throughout the trailer it’s insinuated that our lead character, Michael Burnham, makes a decision or is involved in a decision that starts a war with a fractured Klingon Empire.

It also seems like Burnham is reporting back to Sarek.  It’s unclear if Sarek is an Ambassador at this time?  I looked him up on Memory Alpha but it doesn’t talk about his career in the 2250’s so who knows what this legendary individual is up to at this point in his life?!  Is it his handling of this affair which makes him an Ambassador?

Next we see a series of images that seem to depict the very beginnings of what becomes a war between the still relatively young United Federation of Planets (the UFP was founded in 2161) and the ancient Klingon Empire.

We don’t know who fires first, but from the first trailer where Georgiou says “Starfleet doesn’t fire first”, we can guess it’s the Klingons.

Then we get some random stuff.  Space mushrooms maybe?

I don’t know what these shots indicate, but my guess would be it’s Michael Burnham exploring the Discovery after being assigned there.

If it’s not space mushrooms she’s seeing, then perhaps the Discovery is the first starship to have it’s own large garden area and she’s amazed and impressed by the sight?

Those images are quickly followed by more combat images and what seems to be the Shenzhou under attack.

As you can see, things don’t look good for the Shenzhou.

A lot of fans have been predicting Captain Georgiou doesn’t make it out alive and that Michelle Yeoh only guests for the first two episodes.  I’m hoping against hope that isn’t true, because she’s an incredible actor and because it would be nice to see a competent female captain who doesn’t die in the first thirty-minutes of a Trek-show, other than Janeway of course, but I have to concede that those fans may be right in this case.

Following from the above, as you’ll see below, it looks like the Shenzhou doesn’t just get the crap shot out of it, it looks like she gets boarded too.

Rather than evacuating in escape pods, Burnham and some of the crew flee in a small shuttle craft of some kind.

Then we get random again, and the storyline hints at a mystery of some sort?

What the hell is going on on this ship?” Burnham asks.

For those of you who don’t know, the fifth image of a young woman in bed is Cadet Sylvia Tilly.  She bunks with Burnham and from interviews with the actor (Mary Wiseman) playing Tilly, she and Burnham become friends.

We get more images of people running, then Captain Lorca talking about the USS Discovery.

We finally get to see the first in-trailer image of the Discovery, though only very very briefly.  The ship has longer nacelles than the original earlier design, which I like.  She looks more graceful and powerful as a result.

We are shown how Sarek and Michael meet.  In later interviews we learn that Sarek rescues Michael Burnham from a world that has been attacked, and he and Amanda adopt her when it’s discovered her parents are dead.

Yes.  Michael is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister.

Cue outraged fans.

Don’t worry, the creative team have said they will address this hiccup in continuity.

Then everything shifts again and we get our first look at Harry Mudd.  He seems to be putting Burnham through some kind of obstacle course, and if she doesn’t complete it something goes “boom”!  Either that, or he is rescuing her.  Later on, there is an image that is either a jail cell or a section of a corridor on the Shenzhou that is protected from losing atmosphere by forcefields, and Burnham is trapped in that tiny space.

It’s unclear if these images are from the pilot, or the second, third, fourth or fifth episode filmed, but if Harry is rescuing her, he might be in the first two episodes.

The way the announcements dropped earlier in the year, it seemed like we wouldn’t see Harry Mudd until close to the middle of the 15 episode season… but this production has kept its secrets pretty well so Harry may be popping up early!

Then more images of destruction.  Is the Shenzhou being side swiped by a Klingon vessel?

We also get another interaction with Mudd, with a dialogue exchange that is a little cheesy, but is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of long-term fans.

We switch to Lorca talking to Burnham: “You chose to do the right thing…”

This is cut with images of Georgiou and Burnham beaming into what looks like a Klingon vessel.  The fifth image is of poor quality, but it’s someone leaping out and tackling Burnham.

We get random again for the next images, but in them Lorca has a voice over where he continues on from his previous comment, saying to Burnham “…even at a great cost, to yourself.”  The images end on Georgiou facing something bright on the viewscreen of her ship.

The “great cost” might be the death of this woman, who we have learned is very important to Burnham, or it could be the war Lorca mentions and the punishment Burnham received.

Here’s the image I was talking about earlier.  Does that look like a futuristic jail cell in the second image?  Or is it a sectioned off part of a ship that’s lost containment and she’s trapped in that area?

We see Georgiou standing in front of the viewscreen of the Shenzhou as something explodes.

In voice over, Lorca says: “You helped start a war.”  In the next scene he asks her, in an almost Lucious Malfoy kind of way: “Don’t you wanna help me end it?

The last image in this set is random.  Lorca is touching a forcefield of some kind.

The last live action images show us escape pods ejecting from the Shenzhou, and Burnham in an environmental suit that is pretty badly damaged, spinning off into space.

Looks like that Klingon she faces off with (from the first main trailer) gets the upper hand.

This is a better trailer than the first one.

The first one definitely got me excited, but this one gave me chills and continues to every time I watch it.

As I said up above, some science fiction news sites have been dismissive of this new footage because being negative is ‘cool’, but a number of Star Trek news sites have been very excited!

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think.  Depending on where you live in the world, you’ll see either the CBS version or the Netflix version.  I wish I could tell you if there are any differences, but I don’t know.  I’m sure a site will find a way to access both and do a comparison.  TrekCore, for example, has correspondents in various countries around the world.

So what have we learned since the last update?

So much.

Here are all the major bits as dot points:

  • As mentioned above, Michael Burnham is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister, and was raised by Sarek and Amanda after losing her parents;
  • The USS Discovery possesses a ‘new way’ to ‘fly’, so perhaps some prototype warp engine?  In Star Trek: Enterprise a lot of fuss was made about the warp 5 engine, perhaps this is the beginning of the warp 8 engine we see Kirk’s Enterprise using?
  • A couple of weeks ago, some news came out about Saru’s race – his species was one of the few things I had issues with from the first trailer, because they are apparently genetically designed to “sense the coming of death” and that didn’t make any sense to me.  While chatting with EW, Doug Jones revealed a little more about his species: “On Saru’s planet, there’s a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens.  As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts.”  To read more about Kelpiens, check out the TrekMovie article here.  We also learned that Kelpiens have hooves;
  • We’ve been told that Harry Mudd is more edgy than the more mature version we see in TOS, which makes sense – he’s a younger version in Star Trek: Discovery, and perhaps his interactions with the Discovery crew ‘mellow’ him;
  • We learned that Captain Lorca is not your run-of-the-mill Starfleet captain, and has “a lot of sharp edges.”  This fits with his reputation as a tactical genius, and someone like that, you would imagine, would not always feel it was necessary to obey the standard social niceties;
  • A new character was announced, and it’s a boyfriend for Lieutenant Stamets, the first openly gay character in Star Trek television.  The new character is Doctor Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz;
  • The creative team behind Star Trek: Discovery went to great lengths to assure fans at SDCC that they are always mindful of canon, and that despite the fact it feels like a lot has changed (the uniforms, the look of the Klingons and the ship designs), a lot more than we might think is the same and is very Star Trek.  A bit of a codicil was added to that, saying that one of the aims of Discovery is to excite existing fans while allowing the show to bring in brand new fans to ensure Star Trek‘s longevity;
  • This new Trek is designed to be as much an emotional journey for the characters and us as the audience, as it will be a physical journey of discovery and exploration for the ship and her crew;
  • The Klingons will speak Klingon when talking to each other, and those scenes will be subtitled for our benefit;
  • The show has been designed with diversity in mind, and the casting choices have been purposeful.  The best actor was always chosen for the role, but one of the aims of the show was to give as many people in the audience as was possible someone to relate to – and this has always been an important part of Trek.  One of the greatest compliments given to Nichelle Nichols and Uhura was that people of colour saw themselves ‘in’ her, and thanks to that, saw a future for themselves.  This diversity, of course, doesn’t just extend to people of different nationalities, it extends to people who are thoughtful, who are focused and driven, who are GLBTQI+, to people who are more action oriented in life, and to people who are experiencing difficult emotional journeys thanks to a mental illness – with one character suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Lieutenant Ash Tyler who is a former prisoner of war);
  • The Klingons are no longer a proxy for the Russians, as they were when Gene originally envisioned the race.  That’s not to disrespect Gene’s vision, it’s to do what Gene always did, try to reflect the times we live in – and the times we live in are full of isolationist rhetoric, an understandable and warranted fear of terrorism, and general paranoia.  The Klingons are now a proxy for us, and what fear has and is doing in this world;
  • One thing that has stuck out for me is the frequent mention of ‘being mindful of timelines’.  Bryan Fuller’s original pitch, we have recently learned, was to have the show jump timelines each season – starting in the 2250s, hitting Kirk’s era, and then going to the TNG era and beyond.  I don’t know if this is what is being referred to, or if another alternate timeline is being created?
  • Space mushrooms just might save the galaxy!
  • Not everyone is going to make it out of Season One alive.

So that’s most of the news that has dropped since the last time I did an update.

If you’d like to go into more detail on any of these items, visit the following sites to read every tiny bit of information that has been released to date on the new series:

TrekMovie, here, and TrekCore, here.  These two sites have had the best, and the most comprehensive, coverage.

That’s it for now!

We’re less than two months away from the debut of Star Trek: Discovery.  We can expect more information to be released very soon, and most likely at Star Trek: Las Vegas, which starts on the 2nd of August.

This new series is shaping up to be very exciting and something that modern Trek needs.  I hope you’re as excited to see it as I am.

Live long, and prosper.

LCARS Interface

CBS Delivers the Goods

Star Trek Discovery Banner May Update

CBS All Access has finally delivered a brand new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, giving the world it’s first significant glimpse at the highly anticipated new Star Trek series.

It’s beautiful… surprising… and a little jarring in places, and has me thinking CBS might be up to something completely unexpected.  More on that a little later.

First, an important question was answered by the trailer.  Swimming amongst all of the incredibly beautiful visuals was an announcement from CBS.  The series will air in Autumn (in the United States, which is some time in Spring here in Australia).  The latest word since the trailer went live is that the pilot will be on our screens in September.

Fan reaction to the trailer has been mixed.  Some love it, some don’t, and some were underwhelmed but intrigued.

Why is this trailer dividing fandom so?

I guess because it is unexpected.  We’re often told that it’s never wise to have expectations, but we’re human and whether we consciously realise it or not, we often have them.  I think a lot of us were expecting the new Trek series to look more familiar, and for things to resemble (in a modernised way) what we saw in “The Cage” and “The Menagerie”, which fall in the specified time period.  FYI, “The Cage” was set in 2254 and the year 2255 has often been bandied about when discussing when this new show takes place.

That’s not what we got.  There are slight similarities in the overall design of the sets, and there is an echo of Star Trek: EnterpriseStar Trek: The Original Series and even the first six films in the look of the ships, but everything (except for the uniforms) is a little more ‘Kelvinesque’ than I think any of us expected.  Looking at this trailer, you wouldn’t automatically place the new series between the first prequel and the original 1960s show.

As much as I hate to admit it, that’s probably a wise choice because modern audiences are more familiar with the Kelvin-universe Trek.  To survive, our beloved Star Trek needs to keep attracting new fans (and younger fans) and to do so it needs to appeal to a 21st Century aesthetic.  The uniforms and starship sets we saw in “The Cage” or even Kirk’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before” don’t cut it.

The good news is, the sets do look like they belong in the Star Trek universe.

The uniforms?  I don’t know.  They echo, slightly (very slightly), those from Star Trek: Enterprise, but in no way resemble Pike or Kirk’s era.  I have to admit, I love them.  I think they look incredible and are my favourite uniform design to date, but they are very different.  I think many of us were expecting an approach similar to the one taken by J.J. Abrams and his design team when they updated the original uniforms for the 2009 reboot, but… no.

All of these adjustments have me wondering “is CBS planning to reboot Star Trek entirely?”

Lieutenant Commander Burnham - Environment Suit in Deep Space

Those of us who have been fans of Star Trek for a long time love the original 1960s series, and we accept without issue that it’s dated.  We forgive, for example, the sexism, knowing Gene wasn’t a sexist, and we understand that the series was a product of its time.  New viewers not steeped in Star Trek history would find some episodes of TOS quaint at best and mildly offensive at worst, and they would find the ‘look’ of the series silly.  Even Star Trek: The Next Generation and it’s spin-offs are dated now.  Some of the episodes are a little on the sexist side and their desk top computers, for example, are bigger than our current iPads and tablets, and the graphics we see every day on our smartphones are better than the graphics presented in TNG, DS9 and VOY.

Sadly, sometimes science fiction just ages poorly.  One of the few exceptions to that rule is 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Kubrick went to extreme lengths to project forward into the future, and he and his design team did an incredible job.

What I’m about to suggest is pure speculation and I have no evidence or inside information to suggest my theory holds water, but what if they were thinking of rebooting everything?

What if they wanted to modernise Trek in its entirety to ensure it remained relevant well into the future?

Star Trek: Discovery could be the first step.  We’ve just heard that the show’s first season has been extended to 15 episodes (from 13), so if it gets seven seasons (which was once the average for a Star Trek series), that’s a total of 105 episodes if each season is granted 15 episodes.  The creative team could then jump forward to the TOS era, recast Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, Chapel and Rand (again), select 15 of the best episodes from each of the three seasons, update everything in alignment with this new design aesthetic, and make the original crew’s stories more relevant or at least more palatable to a 21st Century audience.

I know, heresy, but bear with me.  Next, they could do another 30 episodes (two seasons) so Kirk and Co. could finish their historic five-year mission.  That’s not seven seasons, but if the creative team wanted to, they could take a look at what happened to the crew in the years between the end of that mission and the crew confronting V’Ger.  There’s another 30 episodes equalling a unique two seasons of Trek, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Then the creative team could jump the series ahead to the USS Enterprise B and look at the adventures of Captain John Harriman, First Officer Janice Rand, and Demora Sulu.  I’d watch that and I’d love it.  Next up, we could finally spend some time with Captain Rachel Garrett and the USS Enterprise C, a captain and a ship that has captured the imaginations of Trek fans since they both first appeared in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

By then, we might be ready for a new look at TNG era Trek.  The creative team could select 15 of the best episodes from each season of TNG, DS9 and VOY with new actors playing our favourite characters, and give us something intense and mind-blowing.  Could you imagine DS9 starting out with the necessary world-building required of a series that is still unique when compared with its companion shows, and in those first 15 episodes introduce us to the station and the tragedy of the Bajoran occupation (which is still timely and relevant in today’s terrorism affected world) before shifting into the arrival of the Dominion and that eventual war?  Watching that war build over 90 episodes would be amazing.  Can you imagine correcting some of the mistakes of Star Trek: Voyager?  We could have more conflict with the Maquis as they try to unite the crews, we could redo the Kazon and make them a decent nemesis (with better hair), and we could even dedicate an entire 15 episode season to some of the stronger stories like the “The Year of Hell”.  Finally, just imagine for a moment what the writers could do with Picard, Beverly, Riker, Deanna, Worf, Data, Geordi, Wesley and Guinan in a more condensed and focused set of episodes season after season?  That’s exciting.  Such iconic characters, who often weren’t given the best treatment or the best stories.

Star Trek: Enterprise?  I don’t think they’d need to touch that.  I think it still stands the test of time and fits in with this new vision that is being presented to us.

After that?

As Jean-Luc Picard says in Star Trek: First Contact, “plenty of letters left in the alphabet.”

It’s an intriguing idea.  At the risk of having multiple Trekkies boycott Star Trek: Sentinel forever, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

However… I digress.

Back to Star Trek: Discovery.

First Impressions?
I seem to be one of the few fans who out and out loved the two trailers I saw.  Two?  Yep.  The first trailer I was able to watch was the CBS All Access version.  I went back to watch it a second time and grab some screencaps only to discover it had been region-blocked.

Just as an aside, region-blocking really pisses me off.  This is the 21st Century.  I should be able to access the content I want to access, regardless of where I am in the world.

In its place, international audiences could watch the Netflix version which came with subtitles.  At least the one I saw did.

That’s the trailer I’ll primarily be reflecting on, because it’s the one I’ve been able to watch multiple times (and grab screencaps from).

With both trailers I was blown away by the cinematic visuals.  They are beautiful and this show looks like a lot of money has been spent on it.  As grumpy as I got with CBS in my last post, I can now see that the extra time has been well spent.

The big thing that grabbed me with both trailers was Sonequa Martin-Green.  Holy %#*@!  She is incredible.  She can and will carry this series and make it something special.  I watched the second trailer multiple times because of her.  Yes, I loved a lot of what I saw, but every time she was on screen I was captivated.

So, having disclosed that I loved the trailer, I do need to say that it was… jarring.

STDSC Screenshot 1

We don’t see the Discovery, but we do get to see a few exterior shots of the Shenzhou and a corridor and the bridge of that ship.  There are, as I mention above, some design elements that place it in the prime timeline, but graphics wise it evokes the Kelvin timeline more than Pike’s era.

In what I think is a clever move, they’ve grounded these changes with a few old school Trek elements – the original communicators are back, we have a jazzed-up original series transporter effect, and desert robes reminiscent of those worn by Sisko and Dax in season seven of DS9.  That’s not original series, but it is Star Trek.

Some critics are saying the desert robes are a bit Star Wars, and they do have a point, but when I first saw the trailer and the below image, I immediately went to season seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in my head.

IMG_5539

The new Statfleet uniforms are beautiful, but instead of the familiar gold, red and blue/teal that we’ve seen in every incarnation of Star Trek, it appears a more metallic theme will delineate the various departments in Starfleet, with gold, silver and bronze shoulder stripes, shirt side panels and pant stripes all the rage ten years before Kirk.

That’s quite a change!

The uniforms and vessel design choices aren’t the most jarring thing though.  They didn’t ‘break’ me out of the trailer.  The Klingons did, and Lieutenant Saru did.

Discovery 27

Lieutenant Saru and Lieutenant Commander Burnham

The Klingons are familiar, but far more bestial than we’re used to.  They look mean and I loved this deepening of their look. Their outfits/uniforms/ceremonial wear(?) is far more elaborate than what we have ever seen before and I didn’t like them.  I hope that what they are wearing is ceremonial only, and that we get to see something appropriately vicious and lethal for their regular uniforms.

Lieutenant Saru?

He looks amazing.  My first thought was “poor Doug”, because that makeup looks like it would take hours.

My second thought, thanks to the dialogue spoken by Saru, was… WTF?!

The dialogue I remember was from the first trailer.  My memory may be a bit off, but Saru tells us that his race was genetically engineered for one purpose, to sense the coming of death.

Why?  Seriously, why??  There is no point to that.

It’s the only part of the trailer that really disappointed me.  Why would someone engineer a race to detect the coming of death?  How limiting is this going to be for the character?  I love Deanna Troi, but is this going to be another case of “Captain… I sense… (cue ominous music) the coming of death!” episode after episode?

I hope they reloop that dialogue to be “one of the things my species was designed to detect is the coming of death…” which still sucks, but sucks way less than the almost nonsensical “we were made to sense death, dude.”

How is that even possible?

Anyway.  I think you get that I don’t like that!  I actually can’t believe that slipped through, considering the quality of the creative team involved.

The Story?

Not a clue.

It seems like it will be epic.  There’s a big Klingon sarcophagus thing, Klingon ships attacking, Sarek training or mentoring our heroine, and the insinuation something big is happening out on the edge of known space.

The only thing we can guess at is that the Shenzhou awakens something that I assume Discovery will have to deal with.  I am worried that whatever the Shenzhou awakens will kill Captain Georgiou.  I hope not.  That would be a waste of such an incredible actor.  Watch the trailer, you’ll see why I’m concerned.  Think about what and who we don’t see.

It looks like it’s the Klingons that have been ‘awakened’ out on the fringe, so I’m wondering if this is a special type of Klingon… perhaps a genetic experiment gone wrong?  Or maybe it’s an exiled colony?  That might explain the different look and the unusual costumes.

The Effects?

Outstanding.  I don’t need to say anything else.  They are feature film quality.  Bravo CBS.  There’s nothing like that on TV right now.

The Characters?

We don’t get to see a lot of them.  We see Captain Philippa Georgiou, Saru, Connor, Burnham and Sarek, and a few of the Klingons, but that’s it.

The only character we get any insight into is Burnham, and then there are only insinuations.

I was left wondering is she Vulcan?  Is she a human adopted by Vulcans?  She seems to have a very close relationship with Sarek.

She also seems a lot more impulsive than your standard Starfleet officer.

Is it True to Star Trek?

I think it is.

There are design choices that are a little disorienting, but overall it ‘feels’ right.  From the tiny bit of dialogue we get, it seems like the writers and producers have tried very hard to honour Gene Roddenberry’s legacy.  You’d expect nothing less with Rod Roddenberry involved.

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, watch it.  You’re in for a treat.  Try to let go of your expectations, and once you do, you might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

One more little note, CBS All Access has announced an “aftershow” special that will air after every episode of the series.  It’s called “Talking Trek“.

Now… screencaps.

In the screencaps below, it’s implied that the child Sarek is talking to is Burnham.  The child has a Vulcan haircut, but I don’t know if she’s Vulcan.  We never really get a good look at her ears.

As you can see below, the bridge looks a little Star Trek: Enterprise and a little USS Kelvin too.  The graphics?  Very Kelvin timeline.

Check out how awesome Saru looks!  In the CBS All Access trailer Saru says the thing about his species being designed to sense the coming of death.  Then he pauses for a bit and says “I sense the coming of death.  I sense it coming now.”

The first image below is a Klingon hand.  Nice and savage looking.  Check out the Klingon uniforms… really ornate and unusual.  They look super uncomfortable and not something you’d wear into battle.

That’s it.

It ends with the logo we’ve come to know and love.

In addition to the trailer, CBS have released an official poster for the series.  If you look closely, you’ll see the Discovery.

IMG_5540

If you haven’t seen the trailer or want to watch it again, you can check it out on YouTube here.

It’s so exciting to be getting something concrete from this production.  We should be in for an interesting next few months.

One last thought.  If you look at the poster, it indicates the Vulcans are going to play a big part in this series.  I don’t think Burnham doing the Vulcan salute is without meaning.  Is it a clue to her heritage?  Is it an indication this new series will pick up on some elements from around Archer’s time?

There is still so much to learn about this show, and the trailer has definitely got me primed for more.

As news breaks, we’ll post about it.

Now do what I’m doing and heave a big sigh of relief.  Star Trek: Discovery is really happening.

LCARS Interface

Brand New Discovery Teaser

discovery-update-banner

On the 23rd of July last year, CBS released a teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery.  It was unfinished, and the ship design that appeared in the trailer was not finalised – but it gave those of us hungry for news on the new Star Trek series something concrete to get excited about.

Now, a little over six months later, CBS have released (?) a second teaser trailer which actually gives us tiny glimpses of what is to come.

The trailer appeared online early yesterday morning Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time which was probably some time in the evening in the United States… and then disappeared.  It wasn’t available anymore.

Thankfully, it can still be tracked down.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here at the Consequence of Sound YouTube channel.

Check it out before it disappears again!

Here are a few images to give you an idea.  There is a voiceover to accompany the images and it begins by saying that on the 11th of March 1964 Gene Roddenberry began writing Star Trek with the words “Star Trek is…”

The bottom image above, “Star Trek: Discovery will begin that sentence once again” ties into the voiceover.

The trailer starts with a retrospective look at the various series that went before Discovery, and then gives us some exciting sneak peaks at the design and construction of the new series, and some glimpses of what might be the first day of filming!

You’ll notice more of the ship design and what looks like the new Starfleet uniform.  Take a moment to examine the uniform – it’s blue with gold piping on the shoulder, but the blue (normally associated with medical and science) appears to be associated with engineering and ops if you look at the middle section of the Starfleet Delta.

Either the series is borrowing a little from Star Trek: Enterprise and giving the crew the one uniform colour rather than the colourful red, gold and blue of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Delta is being used to discern which department a crew member works in, or pre-Kirk things were a little different.

Those of you who are long-term fans of Star Trek will know that the Delta design was originally only used for the Enterprise, until her successful five-year mission had her honoured, and had her Delta design used for all ships.

Maybe the Delta was always originally Starfleet’s emblem before some in the Admiralty thought each ship and base should have it’s own emblem, which is what we see throughout the original series.  Every ship and every base had a different symbol on their chests.

Finally, you’ll notice a ship that doesn’t look like the designs shown for the USS Discovery, but may be a wireframe of the USS Shenzhou.

Also… the Captain’s chair.  Looks pretty ornate, hey?!

The final reveal is the logo, which has changed slightly but still remains split.

teaser-16

That’s a purposeful choice, so it likely means something?  What, I don’t know.

Perhaps the “event” the series is built around is a rift in Starfleet… perhaps it’s about Section 31?  With the Klingons around, perhaps it’s about an attempt to make peace with the Klingons and certain elements in the Federation are against that – a little like what happened in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Alternatively, rather than symbolising something breaking or splitting, it could symbolise something coming together and the series could focus on the solidification of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet.

We could guess forever.  Two things are certain: Star Trek: Discovery has started production, and it looks really promising.

I am crazy excited, and can’t wait to see this new series.

LCARS Interface

A Future To Believe In

50-years-launch-50-more-v2

Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

LCARS Interface

Star Trek Beyond Review

Star Trek Beyond Review Banner

“We will find hope in the impossible…”
Spock

I was pretty keen… okay, I was borderline desperate to see the new Star Trek movie on its day of release here in Australia, but life conspired against me – as it does for all of us now and again, and I had to put it off.  After some thought, I decided to torture myself and wait until Gene Roddenberry’s birthday to see it.  I liked the idea of watching this particular movie, released to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of my favourite television and movie series, on the birthday of the phenomena’s creator.

The wait was agonising.

Thankfully today (in Australia at least) is the Great Bird of the Galaxy’s birthday, and I watched the film, cheering on Gene’s creation throughout.

So first…  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENE!

If he were alive today, the Great Bird of the Galaxy would have turned 95.  I’m fairly certain, if he were still with us, that he would have been chuffed (maybe even quietly surprised) to see that his little show that could was still going strong 50 years on.  I think he would also be feeling proud of his son, and in particular Rob’s involvement in bringing a new Trek to another generation alongside some of the brightest lights in Star Trek and modern television production.

Star Trek Beyond?  If he had had the chance to watch the film I’m certain he would have enjoyed it.  He would have loved the character moments and the dynamics, and many of the choices Justin, Simon and Doug made.

So, again, happy birthday Gene.  You gave us such a wonderful gift, and in return many people are still doing their utmost to honour your incredible vision.

As much as the wait to see Beyond drove me a little crazy, I was right, watching the film on the 19th of August added extra layers to the experience, and it was worth the delay.

The movie?

I LOVED IT!

I know a few reviewers have not enjoyed the film, or only enjoyed bits and pieces of it, but I enjoyed at least 121 of the 122 minutes it was on screen.  From those first unique but beautiful shots of the Enterprise to the last credit as it rolled and the lights came on in the cinema, I felt like I was in the final frontier.

It’s nothing like 2009’s Star Trek, or 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.  It’s nothing like any Star Trek film that’s gone before it.  If I were forced to try and find a comparison, I’d say it’s most like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but only in it’s execution because it does split our characters up and give them all a slight chance to shine, just like that film did.  But the comparison ends there.

The film is funny, like The Voyage Home, but it’s also moving and poignant just like The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and parts of The Undiscovered Country.

There are shades of The Wrath of Khan in the conversations between McCoy and Kirk, and there’s a very slight echo of Star Trek: Insurrection in the way Krall callously disregards the lives of others to lengthen his own, but despite those familiar notes, Beyond is it’s own film.

It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s faults are minor.

One such fault is with the amount of time the big seven get on screen.  We didn’t see anywhere near enough of Uhura, Chekov or Sulu.  Despite that, thankfully, the movie wasn’t dominated by Kirk, Spock, Scotty or McCoy.  I believe it’s just about as balanced as it could be.

Another fault was with the build up to, and actual revelation of Krall’s story and motivation.

It seemed rushed to me.  It needed and deserved more focus.

None of that detracted from my enjoyment of the film.  Those criticisms are minor, and they don’t “throw you out” of the movie.

Star Trek Beyond is a journey that wraps you up in its narrative and doesn’t let you go.

The standout moments in the film are the simply beautiful, perfect performances of the entire cast and the really wonderful and meaningful interactions between the main seven characters.  Those are what make Beyond shine.  The best of those happen between Spock and McCoy (who actually steal the entire movie).  Why has it taken three films to discover the remarkable chemistry between Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban?

The remainder of this review is going to have a few spoilers in it, so if you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want to know anything about it, don’t keep reading!

Oh… and GO SEE IT!!

Spoiler Alert

“To the Enterprise… and to absent friends.”
James T. Kirk

The Direction and Vision

I didn’t know what to expect from Justin Lin.  Unlike a lot of other people I wasn’t expecting The Fast and The Furious with phasers.  I had researched Justin and knew he wasn’t a Michael Bay whose movies are all so similar regardless of their story or genre.  He has some impressive films under his belt, which to me just meant I couldn’t go in expecting any particular visual style.

And I was right.  What I got was something unexpected and new and very welcome.

Justin has crafted a film that is nothing like any other Star Trek.  His visual signature is unique for this series of movies, and it’s predecessors, and it works.

Justin’s direction was marred, just a tiny bit, by one or two editing choices, but his style is beautiful, expansive and dynamic.  It flows and makes sense, and doesn’t treat the audience like they’re idiots who need every bridging moment in a film spelled out for them.

Justin’s camera is almost always in motion, and this brings a fluidity to the movie that makes it feel majestic and epic.

On top of the visual style of the film, Justin’s overall vision for this instalment of Star Trek was BIG, and he delivered that in spades – and in some very subtle ways: our glimpses of the crew at day 966 in deep space, Kirk’s obvious exhaustion during a diplomatic meeting and his tired comment “I ripped my shirt again”, the progression of the crew’s relationships (in particular Spock and Uhura’s).  These simple scenes conveyed the passage of time, and by doing that the massive distances the crew would have travelled.  Justin also presented the ‘hugeness’ of space in some very obvious ways: the big and beautiful, panoramic shots of the Enterprise at the start of the film, the new warp effect, and just how small our favourite ship was against the vastness of space.

Apart from making space feel big and dangerous again, Justin, Simon and Doug wanted to challenge the very founding principles of the Federation in this film and asked some interesting questions, while presenting an age old argument.

The questions?  Does the Federation live up to its high ideals?  Was it founded on those ideals, or was it founded on (in Krall’s belief) a lie?

The age old argument?  “War, chaos and struggle breeds strength.”

These were good questions and a good premise to build the film on for this, the 50th year of Star Trek‘s life.  I don’t know if they pulled off what they wanted to pull off to the depth they would have liked, but the ideas were raised and as a long time fan, were appreciated.

Above the ideas though, was the way the movie made me feel.

Justin’s directing style made me smile so many times.  And maybe that’s the key?  I wasn’t just blown away by the visuals, I was carried away by the story and swept up in the lives of the characters in a way that made me feel good.  The emotion in the movie connected with me on a really deep level, more than any special effect ever could.

Justin brought so many different things to the table as the Director of this film, and he didn’t shy away from putting his own design stamp on the Kelvin timeline Trek.  One such stamp was the design of Starbase Yorktown… it is simply incredible.  Photos do not do it justice.   Everything about the Yorktown is stunning.  The design is astounding – a confusion of glass and steel that wends and winds its way through the interior of an enormous glass sphere in space, and every inch of her makes you believe this place is real.

We pretty much start the movie at the starbase (after an hilariously disastrous diplomatic mission), and the starbase plays a major part in the film’s tense climax.  We also get to see, at the very end of the film, that the Yorktown is more than just a deep space base of operations for the Federation, it’s also the birth place of the brand new USS Enterprise A.

There’s so much to love about this film.  I now know why so many reviewers have compared Beyond to an original series episode.  It doesn’t feel like an overblown Star Trek episode on steroids like so many Next Gen movies did, but it most definitely has an original series sensibility and energy that makes it more Star Trek than any of the Kelvin timeline films to date.

I swear I picked multiple music and visual homages from the original series and original series films, and even the new uniforms are more original series than those seen in the first two films.  I didn’t think I was going to like the new uniforms, because they looked a little bland in the production stills, but I loved them.  They’re quite smart, and they look good on our heroes.

Justin Lin did an incredible job.  Star Trek Beyond is a strong film and it’s set a new standard for Star Trek movies.  I hope he gets to do Star Trek IV.

img_1723

“Mr. Sulu… you can… fly this thing, right?”
James T. Kirk

The Editing

For most of the movie, it’s good to flawless… but there were times where it was jarring, and you were momentarily knocked out of the movie by an editing choice that didn’t match the flow of the film.

Like I indicated above, that might just be because Justin made a movie that was so fluid, when an obvious scene cut happens it’s so unexpected you do a double take.  I’ll have to see the movie again to better analyse my reaction.

I don’t have anything else to say about the editing, because for 98% of the time it’s excellent, but I would love to speak to the film’s editors to try and understand some of their choices… were they artistic decisions?  Were they meant to create an emotional reaction?  Were they to cut the film down because it was running too long?  Why were they made?  That was one of the bigger questions I came away with regarding this latest Trek.

img_1723

“It isn’t uncommon, you know?  It’s easy to get lost.  In the vastness of space,
there’s only yourself, your ship, your crew.”

Commodore Paris

The Special Effects

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the effects, but I was happy with them.  Some of them are extraordinary!

As mentioned above, the camera was almost always in motion, and at times that did make certain effects look a little blurred or unrealised, but there were enough outstanding set pieces that were perfect that you just went with it.  In some people’s minds that might have been a poor choice on the filmmakers’ behalf, but I personally enjoyed the way the movie flowed.

Those set pieces?

The Yorktown, and in particular the Enterprise‘s entry into and exit from it, were simply beautiful and actually surprising.  The heart-breaking but spectacular destruction of the Enterprise was another jaw-dropping moment that was gorgeous to watch as it tore your heart out and stomped on it.

The wave of swarm ships that the Franklin “disrupts” toward the end of the movie were also really well done, as were the running phaser fights on the Enterprise as she was boarded and the escape pod sequences looked great too.  I jumped almost every time a swarm ship captured one of the small pods.

There were some corny bits, like the holo-projected Jaylah’s and Kirks, but they were executed flawlessly – so by and large the effects were fun and they worked.  They did exactly what they needed to do and complemented the film and for once, for a blockbuster, did not drown out the story in favour of more flash and bang.

I love watching a movie that dazzles me with amazing effects but doesn’t overwhelm me.  I want to be sucked into a film and to feel like everything in that movie supports the story and its characters, and isn’t there just to provoke a reaction.  I’m personally pretty tired of special effects for the sake of special effects and it was such a relief to see Star Trek Beyond find that perfect balance.

Nothing in Beyond felt superfluous or over done and that’s a real testament to everyone involved.

img_1723

“You spent all this time trying to be your father, and now you’re
wondering just what it means to be you.”
Leonard McCoy

The Story and the Acting

For me, the small stories inside the big story were the most enjoyable:
– Kirk’s early mid-life crisis;
– Uhura and Spock’s relationship and Spock struggling between his love for Nyota and his obligation to his species;
– Shipboard life after more than 900 days in space and the ups and downs for the crew;
– Spock and McCoy and their friendship;
– McCoy and Kirk and their friendship, and;
– Spock dealing with the death of his older self.

The big story was good, but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been.  It felt like Star Trek Beyond needed another thirty minutes to get everything just right.

Krall was probably the best villain since Khan and the Borg Queen.  He was magnetic, ruthless, driven and impressive in every way.  His motivations were understandable – but at a stretch, because they weren’t given the due attention they needed to make his narrative sing, and as a result fell a bit flat.

As much as a good film needs a great ‘bad guy’, I think it was clear that this film was not about that conflict and so it’s a little easy to overlook the slight misstep that was taken with Krall’s story.  Beyond was about the family that is the crew of the USS Enterprise, and it was a love letter to us, the fans… and Simon Pegg, Doug Jung and Justin Lin pull those two things off brilliantly.

If I were forced to pick something that disappointed me about the film, there was only one thing that niggled.  The use of Chekov.  We don’t get to spend much time with him, and in a film that was such an ensemble piece that grated on me.

It is a big cast, and that will always mean someone will come off second best, but teaming Chekov with Kirk was a mistake because Kirk is always going to dominate every scene he is in.  That’s got nothing to do with acting talent, but it does have everything to do with character.  Kirk is bigger than life, and he’s the guy in charge so we’re always going to expect him to take charge.

Normally I’d be okay with one or two characters getting a little less, because there’s usually the promise of another film (or in TV Trek another episode) and another chance for that character to grow.  This time, that’s not the case because we lost Anton Yelchin a few short weeks ago.

Justin, Simon and Doug couldn’t have known that was going to happen, and Anton’s death was so close to the release of the film that there was no way a new edit could be done, and so we’re left hoping that a Directors Edition DVD and BluRay may shine a bit more of a light on everyone’s favourite Russian Navigator.

But, back to the positives!  While the story is relatively simple, it was executed in a less than traditional way.  That’s what makes this movie stand head and shoulders above every other previous Trek film.  The Kelvin timeline Star Trek has often been promoted as an ensemble series, but Kirk has always been the hero – he joins the away mission to disable Nero’s drilling platform in the first film and then takes over the Captain’s chair when Pike gets captured.  He works out Khan is about to attack Starfleet HQ in the second film, and flies through debris with Khan in that same movie to stop the Vengeance.

In Beyond, all of that was turned on its head a bit.  Yes, Kirk was heroic, but he wasn’t THE hero.

McCoy got to do a bit of that, so did Spock, but the most heroic act belonged to Uhura when she willingly sacrificed herself to save her friends.

Thankfully, we didn’t lose her, but the character could not have known she would survive that tense moment.

It was a totally unexpected move that had me on the edge of my seat!  Not too far along in the movie, the swarm attack on the Enterprise takes everyone by surprise.  They’re approaching a planet called Altamid on a rescue mission when everything goes to crap!  The ship is ripped apart, the saucer section is falling toward the planet and can’t engage it’s engines because the neck is still attached, so Kirk runs off to try and separate the broken neck from the saucer section so he can save his crew.

Kirk gets way-laid by the movie’s big bad, Krall, and Uhura rushes to help.  While Kirk battles Krall, Uhura fights her way through swarm warriors to discover there is no chance Kirk can perform the manual saucer separation procedure.  In that moment she makes the decision to sacrifice herself and releases the saucer saving Kirk and her friends.  As Kirk looks on, shocked, she and Krall plummet toward Altamid’s surface.

Star Trek Beyond has quite a few of those unexpected turns that give our heroes a chance to actually be heroic.

It’s such a nice change.  While Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home provided similar opportunities, the heroics were often overshadowed by the fish-out-of-water comedy.  Beyond doesn’t do that, it gives the actors some “meat” to chew on and they run with it with gusto and talent.

The Acting?  There’s no need to comment on it.  Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin are gifted.  When you add in Shoreh Aghdashloo, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba, you have one outstanding performance after another.

As mentioned above, Chekov is the only character who doesn’t really get much of an opportunity to shine.

Special mentions:
Sofia Boutella.  She is exquisite as Jaylah.  We all need to watch this young woman because she is going to take Hollywood by storm.
Idris Elba.  I know Idris has quite an acting resume, but he didn’t come to my attention until Thor.  He’s so impressive.  They stuck him under a mountain of latex and it didn’t stop him.  Idris brought Krall to life and he stole every scene he was in.
Chris Pine.  This is his best performance as Kirk to date.  He sells Kirk’s emotional journey beautifully.
Zoe Saldana.  She is fearless as Uhura.  She has a few moments that require some serious acting talent, and she pulls them off beautifully.  It’s not hard to see why Zoe is hot property and in so many films.  Her part in Beyond is smaller than it was in the two previous Treks, but that didn’t deter Zoe one bit.  If anything, she made the most of every second she was on screen.
Zachary Quinto.  I don’t even know where to begin.  His performance is the stand out of the entire movie.  Spock goes on a roller-coaster journey during this film and Zachary is astounding every step of the way.  I have always thought Zach was a fine actor, but he’s better than that.  If he doesn’t get an Academy Award one day, I will be deeply disappointed.  Spock has long been one of my favourite characters, but Zachary deepened my love for the character and I had not thought that was possible.  With Leonard’s death last year, it’s like Zach felt the weight of that one man’s legacy and decided that to honour him and to honour Spock he was going to go to an entirely new level.  His performance is such a beautiful homage and nod of absolute respect to Leonard Nimoy.  I want to watch the movie again, but I REALLY want to watch it again just to focus on his performance and let it carry me away.

An extra special mention needs to go to the duo of Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban.  Together, those men are pure magic.

The only disappointment in the acting department was how little we got to see of the always incredible Shoreh Aghdashloo.

Commodore Paris was a welcome addition and I wish we’d gotten to spend more time with her.

img_1723

“Let’s make some noise.”
James T. Kirk

The Music

This can be summed up in one simple sentence: Michael Giacchino has done it again.

Michael has, for all three reboot films, managed to weave in classic Trek compositions and original music to create something special.  This is his best Trek score to date, with some truly unique themes peppered throughout the soundtrack.

The music is atmospheric and memorable.

Enough said!

img_1723

“Space: the final frontier.”
James T. Kirk
“These are the voyages of the starship…”
Spock
“…Enterprise.  Its continuing mission…”
Montgomery Scott
“…to explore strange, new worlds…”
Leonard McCoy
“….to seek out new life…”
Hikaru Sulu
“…and new civilisations…”
Pavel Chekov
“…to boldy go where no-one has gone… before.”
Nyota Uhura

Extra Bits and Summing it Up

As most, if not all Star Trek fans know, we lost two shining lights in the Star Trek galaxy recently.  Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.

To recognise Leonard’s death, a Vulcan delegation approached Spock on the Yorktown to advise him (and us) of Prime Spock’s passing.  Later in the movie, Spock was given his older self’s possessions and in one beautiful scene the whole 50 years of Star Trek was honoured.

For long term fans that scene was full of emotion, both in the moment we saw it onscreen and afterwards as we reflected on it.  On the moment it was a beautiful homage.  In reflection, in that moment we had Spock’s love for his crew mates confirmed for us.  It was something we always suspected, and it was something Spock showed time and again in the series and movies, but it was bang in front of us in those closing moments of Star Trek Beyond.

What am I talking about?  If you haven’t seen the film yet, it appears Spock often travelled with a few possessions that meant a lot to him.  He had those possessions with him when he left on his mission to save the Romulan star in 2009’s Star Trek.  Of those possessions, one item in particular is of interest to fans – a photo of his oldest and dearest friends, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov.  The reveal of the photo (a promotional image from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) was a moment that brought tears to my eyes, and I’m sure I’m not the only fan who was moved.

One of the most beautiful things about that scene was the glimpse the younger Spock received of just how deep those relationships, which are still relatively new to him, were destined to go.

It was a perfect moment.

STV Enterprise A Crew Photo

For Anton, it was an equally small but perfect moment.

At the the very end of the film we celebrate Jim Kirk’s birthday.  During that, Kirk gives a toast and says the words “…to absent friends…”.  It’s an echo of a scene played out in another reality, after Kirk and crew lost their friend Spock and their ship.

Kirk toasts Spock and the Enterprise in Star Trek III The Search for Spock

As the Kelvin timeline Kirk says those words the camera is moving around the entire cast, but lingers on Anton for a noticeable moment as those words are spoken.  It was beautiful.  The lighting shifted slightly, and Chekov was bathed in a subtle golden aura.

If I had to sum the whole movie up, those two scenes are good examples to use because Star Trek Beyond is nostalgic, sensitive, self-aware without being ironic (and making fun of itself like so many of the Next Gen films seemed to do), and it’s inclusive.  It helped if you knew Star Trek, but if you weren’t familiar with it you could still enjoy the film and feel something special.

Throughout Beyond you feel like the characters you love have grown and changed and developed and become more than archetypes or two-dimensional creations on a screen.  Time has passed, it’s affected them, and it’s brought out the good as well as the not so good in them.  Like every human being (or human Vulcan hybrid), they’re struggling through that and trying to do and be their best.

I can’t wrap up this review without making a comment about the tumult surrounding the revelation that Sulu is gay.

It’s handled beautifully.  As the Enterprise approaches the Yorktown at the beginning of the movie, we see an image of Sulu’s daughter.  In that moment it’s clear he’s a father.  After the ship docks and the crew disembark for shore leave, we see Kirk watching Sulu approach a man and a young girl, and we see Kirk smile warmly and a little wistfully as Sulu’s arm goes around his husband’s waist and he nuzzles his daughter and they walk off together.

It’s a brief scene, but such a perfect one.  The revelation wasn’t treated as a “thing”, and Sulu wasn’t different as a result.  He’s the same Sulu we loved in the 2009 film, and the same Sulu who so effectively took command of the Enterprise in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.  The only thing that changed was that he deepened as a character and that is fantastic.

Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer”?  It sounds wonderful in a cinema.  I liked “Sledgehammer” when I first heard it, but did not go and download it right away.  Then I watched the movie, heard that song on those enormous surround sound speakers and truly appreciated that piece of music.  I also “got” how it helped Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto deal with the death of Anton.  It’s a beautiful song, made all the more so by the tragic passing of such a young and talented actor.

If you haven’t seen Star Trek Beyond yet, you need to.  You really need to.

There is so much to love about Star Trek Beyond.  Don’t listen to the critics who have panned it.  It’s obvious something has died inside those people somewhere over the years, because it’s not just a good film, it’s a great film, and it treats Star Trek and it’s fans with the respect we all deserve.

Star Trek Beyond gets five out of five Starfleet Deltas from me.
Five Starfleet Deltas

LCARS Interface

It Took 50 Years…

Sulu is Gay Announcement - STB

There is an issue that has been of great importance to a lot of Star Trek fans for a very long time, that has finally been addressed and it feels right that it’s been taken care of in the 50th Anniversary year.

At the Australian premier of Star Trek Beyond in Sydney last night (the 7th of July 2016), John Cho, in an interview with the Herald Sun, gave away a pretty huge spoiler.

If you don’t want to know… don’t read on.

Spoiler Alert

As some of you know by now, Sulu – like his Prime timeline character – has a daughter.  We see her in a photo during the course of the latest adventure.

What we didn’t know, until John told us last night, was that Sulu’s daughter (presumably Demora Sulu) has two dads.

That’s right.  Hikaru Sulu is gay (or bisexual).

To read more about this revelation, and reflections from John, Chris Pine, Justin Lin, Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto on the loss of their friend Anton Yelchin, click here to jump to the Herald Sun article (by Australian journalist James Wigney).

The move to make Sulu gay was to honour all of the Star Trek fans who have been asking for a gay character for way too many years, and it was done in an attempt to honour the legendary George Takei who first played Sulu in the original series and the following six films (and the odd fan production).

George, however, has said he asked the Beyond team to reconsider their decision.

Though George is probably the most famous face consistently advocating for the QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Asexual and/or Gay) community, he reportedly asked everyone to abandon the idea.

He didn’t make this request because he’d suddenly changed his mind about his sexuality, or his desire to see a gay character on Star Trek.  George made the request because he thought tinkering with Sulu would mess with the character Gene created.

As George explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted there’s a gay character… unfortunately, it’s (making Sulu gay) a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought.  I think it’s really unfortunate.

In his conversations with the Beyond team, George was adamant there should be a gay character in the third movie set in the Kelvin timeline, but suggested they create a new character and make him a big part of the film, and avoid using an established character that had 50 years’ worth of other people’s perceptions connected to him.

To read more, visit the article online at The Hollywood Reporter here.

A lot of discussion has happened online since the revelation, with most of it being in support of Sulu’s “coming out”.  The discussion, interestingly, has been around attempting to confirm whether or not Sulu ever mentioned having a wife or a girlfriend.

To the best of most fans’ memories, he never did (except for in the non-canonical novels and comics).

The fact that this revelation did not interfere with canon seems to have satisfied most people.

George has a point, but Simon Pegg, who also recently addressed this addition to Sulu’s character, also has a point when he says (via io9) here, that he doesn’t “…believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. Trek rightly gets a lot of love for featuring the first interracial kiss on US television, but ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ was the lowest rated episode ever.

What’s interesting is that last year in an article I posted here, George suggested that Gene didn’t have a gay character in the crew, and hadn’t put a spotlight on gay issues, because he knew ‘they’d’ take his show off the air.  ‘They’ being the censors.

I have a sneaking suspicion Gene would have been okay with what Simon, Doug and Justin have done, and I know he’d love George for asking this question, and taking a stand for the characters Gene created 50 years ago.

Sadly, we’ll never really know how Gene feels about this deepening of Sulu’s character, but one thing I do know for certain is that no one went and did this with the intention of purposefully dishonouring Gene’s creation.

On a side note, why Sulu?  Every other character in the original series was shown chasing or having feelings for a member of the opposite sex – all of them, Kirk, Uhura, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Chapel and Rand.  Everyone except Sulu (although evil Sulu in “Mirror, Mirror” was shown to have a less than polite interest in Uhura).

Star Trek Beyond was written by Simon Pegg and Greg Jung, and directed by Justin Lin.

The film stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and the late Anton Yelchin.

Star Trek Beyond is in the process of opening in various locations around the world.  Hopefully, everyone who sees it loves it and either likes, or at the very least respects, this revelation about Sulu. 

LCARS Interface

Whatever Happened to IDIC?

Rhianna - Star Trek Beyond

Since mega-star Rihanna started talking about her love for Star Trek, some very unpleasant things have been said about her online – by, of all people, Trekkers.  I won’t include the comments here, because some of them are, frankly, abhorrent, but if you want to read them feel free to visit any number of Trek sites that feature the video where she talks about how much she loves the show and scroll down to their comments sections.  Many fan sites have thankfully jumped on those comments and removed them because they constitute a form of bullying.

I feel it’s important to point out that there are only a few fans who are doing this, but sadly those few have been pretty vocal.

For those of you who are wondering why a tiny number Trekkers are attacking a young woman who just happens to be one of the most popular recording artists alive today, and is someone who, as well as making music, set up a foundation to help terminally ill children, it’s because she dared to say she loves Star Trek and has for most of her life.

It was that fan love that led to her recording the song ‘Sledgehammer‘ for Star Trek Beyond which will form part of the movies’ soundtrack when it’s released later this month.  Interestingly, Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto have both said Rihanna’s song has helped them deal with the recent loss of their dear friend and colleague, Anton Yelchin.

It would appear some Trekkers don’t feel Rihanna is the ‘right’ sort of fan while others have suggested she’s trying to latch onto the ‘geek vote’ to increase her popularity.

The really hilarious thing about her using Star Trek is… Rihanna doesn’t need Star Trek to boost her popularity.  If she wanted to get geek cred, she’d have better luck saying she’s a fan of A Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead – the two most popular genre shows around at the moment.  While I love Star Trek, I can say from first hand experience that it doesn’t add to my personal popularity.  Sometimes it’s kinda the opposite, as much as it saddens me to say that.  I don’t hide my Trek love, it’s on display at my desk at my day job, and my acting agent has strict orders to get me on the new show if a role comes up that will suit my look.  My agent knows full well I will happily pay my way from Australia to Canada and back to get on that series!   When people learn of my love for Star Trek, rather than tell me how cool that is, they screw their faces up in surprise and say “really?”  And not in a good way.

So those suggestions that maybe Rihanna is doing this to boost her popularity are absurd.

Those who feel she’s not ‘worthy’, are making that statement because they have taken an exception to some of the lyrics in her songs and the fact she has now and again appeared nude or next to nude in photos, on stage and in her videos.

Seriously…?

What.  Tha.  Fuck?!

A few Trek actors have gone topless on screen – Marina Sirtis is one who springs to mind!  And Gene Roddenberry, a personal hero of mine, was far from a saint and his views on sexuality were quite liberal.  He created an entire species dedicated to sexual expression (the Deltans), and can anyone forget the horny bastards is the (terrible) Next Gen episode “Justice”?  Not to mention the micro-mini skirts Uhura, Chapel and Rand were forced to wear which did not leave a lot to anyone’s imagination.

The Great Bird of the Galaxy would not disavow Rihanna or any other woman for taking control of her body and doing what she wanted with it, so long as her actions didn’t harm anyone.

Gene celebrated diversity, whether it was political, religious (though he was not a religious man), sexual, cultural and so on.  He had his own opinions, but he recognised the essential nature of an individual’s right to choose, which is summed up so beautifully in the philosophy he expounded in Star Trek.

Gene even created something, just for Star Trek, to celebrate and promote diversity – the IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), which is all about celebrating and appreciating the beauty present in that which is different.

As a fan of Star Trek, and as someone who works in an industry (in my day job) that has it’s own version of IDIC (called Unconditional Positive Regard) around which I try to live my life, I have to acknowledge these fans’ perceptions and even advocate for their right to have an opinion – even when it’s one I don’t agree with, but I also have to challenge their distasteful comments because they’re harmful – to Rihanna, to women and to my beloved Star Trek.

Star Trek is not an exclusive club.  Thank the Great Bird.  If it was, it might not admit heavily tattooed guys like me, because I might not fit some fanboy’s idea of the perfect Trekker.  Star Trek stands for the exact opposite of exclusivity – you know, those really great things the Civil Rights Movement was founded on, Women’s Liberation was founded on, and the current Marriage Equality campaigns are founded on: inclusion, acceptance, freedom.

Star Trek Created by Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek is, and ALWAYS should be for everyone.

I, for one, welcome Rhianna with open arms and thank her for making her fans and probably hundreds of thousands of other people who love her, a little more aware of this amazing thing that I personally cherish so deeply.

Welcome to the family, Rhianna.  You’ve been here for a while, but now it’s nice to know you’re one of us.  Please ignore the grumpy buggers over in the corner and please don’t judge us by their actions.  The rest of us are pretty damn awesome.

LCARS Interface

Two More Writers Join Series VI

Star Trek Series VI

The creative team behind Series VI has grown again, with two new writers joining the team – one a Trek veteran, the other a former colleague of Bryan Fuller.

According to Ain’t It Cool News, Joe Menosky and Aron Eli Coleite have joined the team that currently includes Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod Roddenberry, Heather Kadin, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Trevor Roth, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

Joe has real Star Trek credit, and has written for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  He has over 50 hours of Trek TV on his resume.

Aron rose to fame on the popular television series Crossing Jordan and worked with Bryan on Heroes.  He’s also worked on the the Uncanny X-Men comic series and has two feature films he’s written in development.

To learn more about Joe, visit Memory Alpha right here.

To learn more about Aaron, visit his Wikipedia page here.

The Ain’t It Cool News article is right here.

It’s a wonderfully eclectic group of writers that Alex and Bryan have brought together, covering pretty much every form of media there is.  Comic book writers, novelists, movie and TV writers!  It’s a very exciting team, and possibly one of the best writers rooms that has ever been put together for a Star Trek show.

This new series is going to be freaking fantastic!

LCARS Interface