A Future To Believe In

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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.

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Discovery Shifts from Warp to Impulse

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CBS All Access have just announced a slight delay in the release of the sixth live action Star Trek TV Series.

The USS Discovery won’t launch in January of 2017 as originally promoted, and will instead warp across our screens in May of that year.

The decision was made to slow down production on the new series at the request of the production team, headed by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

In a release from the studio, Bryan and Alex shared the following:

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood.

“We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality.

Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

Also chiming in on the delay, CBS Television Studios president David Stapf, added extra information that should excite most fans:

“The series template and episodic scripts that Alex and Bryan have delivered are incredibly vivid and compelling,” David said. “They are building a new, very ambitious Star Trek world for television, and everyone involved supports their vision for the best timing to bring to life what we all love on the page.”

So… why the delay?

As everyone involved in the production is saying, it’s to make sure this new ‘build’ of the universe is done right and done well.

Let’s face it, there is no more complicated series on television other than maybe Doctor Who.  50 years of history means that no matter where in the timeframe a new series is set, there’s 50 years of tradition, story-telling, characters, events and technology to keep track of.  It’s a huge task and you can understand why they would want to take some time to make sure everything is perfect.

The other possibility is that they are at the casting point, and perhaps one or more of the actors they want are unavailable until later in the year.

We could speculate more, but it’s doubtful we’ll hear anything concrete until closer to the release of the first episode.

It’s a little frustrating that we have to wait a few more months, but I’d rather them get it right than produce something they’re not happy with – because chances are, considering the calibre of the creative staff, if they’re not happy with it we won’t be either.

Hopefully, to keep us all completely engaged and enthusiastic, Bryan and Alex will release more news over the intervening months than they might have originally been planning to.

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Series VI Update

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It’s the week of the actual 50th Anniversary date of Star Trek (when the show first aired on television 50 years ago) which feels like a good time to write a post!  Thankfully, the 50th Anniversary celebration Mission: New York just wrapped, so we have a little news to share.

Did we get any new info on Star Trek: Discovery at the convention?  Yes… and no.

There were no casting announcements, or any new footage of the Discovery as she progresses through the design phase to her final version, but there was some exciting information that was shared by two members of the creative team – Nicholas Meyer and Kirsten Beyer.

As many a fan knows, Nick wrote and directed Treks II and VI and was one of the writers for Trek IV.  While I personally love each of the original six Star Trek films, each for different reasons, The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country are definitely the stand outs.  Most fans nominate The Wrath of Khan as their favourite, and the vast majority love The Voyage Home because out of any and every Trek movie to date, it’s the most fun, and until Star Trek Beyond it was the only Trek film that shared the focus amongst its cast.

Kirsten, however, may not be all that well known to fans – though she should be.  She is, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek authors to ever grace Pocket Books.  She’s made an impressive career out of writing for the Voyager relaunch novels, and has continued the adventures of that ship and crew in an engaging and pretty thrilling way.

When you read her novels you hear the characters, you see the visuals she describes as if you were watching an episode, and you feel the spirit of Star Trek.  It’s pretty amazing what that woman can do with words!

Among Kirsten’s many successes as a Star Trek author, she’s corrected some of the not so great decisions that were made by previous authors.  On top of that, Kirsten has made the Delta Quadrant come alive, and she’s crafted a list of compelling secondary characters who make you want a second series focused on the USS Voyager and the small fleet (the Full Circle fleet) of ships she now leads.

Kirsten and Nick both serve as part of Star Trek: Discovery‘s new creative team and they were present at Mission: New York to spread the love.

What did we learn?

Like I said above, not a lot.  But a few interesting pieces of information were passed on…

  • As their panel started, a video from Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman was shown.  In it, Bryan and Alex discussed Star Trek‘s legacy, why the show was given its name (the word ‘Discovery’ encompasses Star Trek‘s overall vision of exploration and self discovery), and how the new series will be about the best that humanity has to offer.
  • Of interest to a number of fans, Kirsten said that the very first person she ever pitched a Star Trek: Voyager idea to was Bryan Fuller when he was on staff writing for Janeway and her crew.
  • Kirsten assured those of us who are fans of her Voyager novels that she will continue to write them, despite her involvement with Star Trek: Discovery.
  • They spoke a little bit about the timeframe the series is set in, and how it gives them some room to manouever without having to focus on known characters.
  • Nick assured fans that the writers are talking to a number of scientists in an attempt to keep the science as accurate as possible.
  • Kirsten let us know that the new aliens and life forms will actually be part of the main cast!
  • Kirsten’s role was elaborated on.  As well as writing for the new series, it was revealed she will be working with Simon & Schuster and IDW Publishing to create tie-in comics with Mike Johnson and David Mack.  The tie-in’s will be created hand-in-hand with the television production, rather than after the fact which has been the traditional approach.
  • And… last but not least, Nick asked fans to not watch the series with too high an expectation, because if we do, then the creative team have already failed because there’s no way they can meet every single fan’s various wish lists.  Good point.  Just give me meaningful stories, modern day allegory, characters I love, and the odd space battle (at least one good dust up each season) and I’ll be over the moon.

While we didn’t get the announcements we were hoping for, we kind of knew we weren’t going to.   Bryan has hinted we’ll learn more in October, so we just have to wait a little bit longer.  Patience is a virtue, right?

It is exciting to learn about the comics but probably the most interesting bit of information that was shared was how the new aliens and life forms (androids has been mentioned) will be part of the main cast.  We might end up with a super-diverse group gracing our television screens in a little under five months!

Before signing off I should probably point out that there has been no real concrete confirmation that the Number One character brought to life by Majel Barrett Roddenberry in the original Trek pilot, will be the focus of this series.  When deciding what images to put together for the banner for this story, I couldn’t help myself.  It’s my favourite rumour, and my enthusiasm for that idea meant the original Number One had to go up there.

I’m silently hoping that if all of us keep pushing for that, Bryan will make it so.

So… January 2017… will you hurry up and get here?

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Star Trek: Discovery Update

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A surprising amount of information has dropped recently about Star Trek: Discovery, with more news due to hit in October – though there has been a suggestion we could learn a tiny bit more in early September.

For international viewers, like myself, we recently learned that Netflix has secured the international airing rights for the series – which has upset our American friends, and understandably so, but as someone who has spent his entire Star Trek loving life having to wait months for episodes, it’s nice to not be facing that particular barrier with this incarnation of my favourite series.

As well as word on how the rest of the world will be able to watch the new series, the following exciting teasers were delivered by the man himself, Bryan Fuller:

  • The new lead character won’t be the Captain, it will be the First Officer of the Discovery.  The First Officer, called simply “Number One” (in fine Star Trek tradition) for now, will get a name eventually;
  • Number One will be female and she will hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander;
  • The show is definitely in the Prime timeline, and will be set ten years before James T. Kirk takes command of the Enterprise;
  • The ship we saw in the preview shown a few weeks ago is still being tweaked and that design is not the final design;
  • The show will ‘bounce off’ of an event that was spoken about in the original series, but never explored.  That event isn’t the Kobyashi Maru, nor is is the Battle of Axanar or the Earth-Romulan War… guesses anyone?
  • There will be robots and more aliens that we’ve ever seen before… whether those aliens and robots are on the ship or just appearing throughout the series we don’t know right now;
  • The first season will have a 13 episode order, with Bryan’s preference for following seasons to be 10 episodes in length;
  • Section 31 might make an appearance;
  • Each episode will run about 48 minutes – slightly longer than the 44 minutes most modern versions of Star Trek have run;
  • There will be an openly gay character;
  • Traditional aliens from the original series will get a bit of a revamp;
  • The uniforms will be different to those seen in “The Cage”, but no word on how similar they will be to the uniforms worn by Kirk and crew in the Original Series;
  • The music is still being figured out with a good chance some of it will be reminiscent of the Original Series scores.

A really interesting theory from Joseph Baxter, a writer for SciFi news site Blastr, had me really excited recently – because I love it, and I so want it to be true!  Okay, I’m still excited about it!

He theorises we might already know the lead character.  He wonders, in a very well reasoned argument, if this mysterious Lieutenant Commander is none other than Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s character from “The Cage”, known only to us fans as Number One.

That would be AWESOME!

Despite only appearing in “The Cage” and the re-edited version of that episode called “The Menagerie” parts one and two, Number One has a huge fan following.  That character sparked something in fans that has not faded in 50 years.

Bryan has said that this Number One is an homage to the original character created by Gene and his wife, but he hasn’t confirmed whether or not it is that character.

I hope so.  That would be poetic.

Bryan has said that the next main “info dump” will come in October, but Nicholas Meyer and Kirsten Beyer are holding a discussion panel at the upcoming Mission: New York convention in a few days time and they might be authorised to drop a few more details.

Otherwise, we’re going to have to wait about a month for more news.

This is all pretty exciting stuff!  The pilot starts filming any day now (sometime in September) so there’s a chance we’ll get tantalising stills from the sets as January draws closer.

What information will come out next?  The best guess most of us who are monitoring Trek news can come up with, is that the next news items will be focused on casting.

We might get to learn who the new lead is, or if not, at the very least we might hear about some of her shipmates.  I think we’ll also get another look at the ship soon, probably not the final design, but another evolution.

As more news comes to light, I’ll be sure to post it here.

There are a couple of really good articles covering Bryan’s announcements over at the wonderful TrekCore.  To read them, click here and here.

Keep an eye out on Twitter.  Bryan sometimes drops teasers from his Twitter account, and if we see one we’ll repost it on our Twitter @SciFiSitesAus.  If it’s a big teaser, we’ll post it here on Star Trek: Sentinel.

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Star Trek Beyond Review

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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!

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“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

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Star Trek Series VI Has a Name

Star Trek Discovery Series Logo

Fans were promised new information on the sixth live action television series at this year’s San Diego Comic Con… and CBS did not disappoint.

Executive Producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller, with a little help from William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Scott Bakula gave attendees some much anticipated news – not as much as we could have hoped for, but some pretty amazing stuff, including the name of the starship the new crew will be boldly going in.  As you can probably tell from the above image, the new ship is the USS Discovery, and in fine Star Trek tradition the series has been named after the vessel.  The registration?  NCC-1031.

What else was revealed?  The series WILL take place in the prime timeline, alongside Star Trek: EnterpriseStar Trek: The Original SeriesStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

While the sharing of information pretty much stopped there, Bryan and CBS had one more surprise – some test footage of the new ship launching from inside an asteroid base somewhere in the galaxy.

As mentioned above, the footage is a test reel, so the graphics aren’t final and are a little less ‘smooth’ than we would usually see on screen, but they are still, never the less, beautiful.  It’s also highly unlikely that the visuals shown come from the pilot episode.

The ship design is, in my opinion at least, amazing… and has some interesting differences to the ships we’ve seen onscreen before.

You’ll notice in the first five images above, that the front of the warp nacelle’s are unique, with three globes containing energy, instead of the usual one.

You’ll also note that the design of the impulse engines in the second set of five images are very similar in appearance to those seen on the reboot Enterprise.

When in the prime timeline will the show take place?  It’s hard to tell.  The only real points of reference we can draw from are the ship’s registration (NCC-1031) and the images on the video.

The registration seems to hint at the original series time period or maybe even a little before.  The ship also looks like it could come from the original series or the original series’ movie era, but Starfleet has shown us that it likes to ‘change up’ it’s ship designs, which means there is a possibility the show could come after Star Trek: Voyager.  I don’t get that feeling, though.  The new style nacelle design seems too retro and along with the original series (albeit the reboot original series) style impulse engines everything seems to indicate we’ve gone back to that period in Trek’s history to explore it via another crew’s perspective.  Another design choice that screams pre-TNG can be found in image 12 (the second image in the third set of five photos) where part of the saucer bears a very interesting likeness to the USS Franklin‘s saucer section as seen in Star Trek Beyond.  What also needs to be pointed out is the almost bronze colour of the Discovery.  I don’t remember seeing a Starfleet vessel that colour before.

If you’re thinking the ship looks particularly familiar, you’re not imagining it, the ship is actually based on the original designs done by famed artist Ralph McQuarrie for Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, a movie that was under consideration in the mid-70’s prior to the development of Star Trek: Phase II, the 1970’s television series that eventually became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

You’ll note from these original concepts that Ralph created, that the Enterprise is exiting an asteroid and that the artists who created the film drew heavily from those paintings to show the first launch of the Discovery and our first look at it.  Being the 50th Anniversary year, I love that they did that.  It’s a beautiful homage.

Heather Kadin, another member of Star Trek: Discovery‘s creative team, has said that the design is not final, and Bryan has said they’re trying to work out how they can use them as they’re around 40 years old and the artist passed away in March of 2012.  It’s also possible the images are owned by Paramount.

I hope they find a way to use the designs, because I love them.  They’re still Star Trek but fantastically retro and unique when compared with all the other ships we’ve seen.  Plus, I miss the circular command module and was never the biggest fan of the spearhead shaped command modules of the Enterprise-E and the Voyager.

The very last piece of news we know right now is that the new series airs in January of next year and has a 13 episode order that will play out in an arc, rather than in the more episodic style of previous series’.

Star Trek Discovery 16

Star Trek: Discovery is being produced by a stellar creative team, including Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Vincenzo Natali and, it seems, the late great Ralph McQuarrie.

If you’d like to watch the footage shown at the San Diego Comic Con visit the official Star Trek website here or the wonderful TrekNews here.  You can also find the video on most Star Trek news sites on the web.

This is a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of the most hopeful and inspiring series to ever hit television.

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Hopefully more news will come soon.  We’ll most likely start to get some information about the casting process in a month, maybe two at the outside – but I imagine that will come incrementally as a build up to the premiere.  I feel like the next bit of big news we’ll get will be a confirmation of when in the prime timeline the series will be set.

Honestly, whatever news they drop next is going to make me happy.  I don’t care how apparently inconsequential!  If they just release an image of the new insignia I’ll probably be grinning with excitement.

I’m READY for this series.

Happy 50th everyone!

Thank you, CBS and Bryan Fuller for whetting our appetites.

So excited for January!

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Warp Speed Ahead…

Star Trek Beyond Reviews and Updates

Days before it is officially released, Star Trek Beyond has been declared a critical success… at least as far as most critics are concerned.

There are, of course, some who have expressed a little disappointment, but thankfully there are only a few of them.

To date (July 19), Beyond has a 91% “fresh” rating on trusted review site Rotten Tomatoes – which is pretty damn good!

HAPPY 50th, STAR TREK!

STB Rotten Tomotoes

If you’d like to read some of the reviews, see below.  Most are spoiler free, and those that aren’t contain minimal information.

TrekCore review

io9 review

TrekMovie review

TrekNews review

Blastr has a collection of comments/review snippets from various sources.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but will rectify that in… oh… two days.  It’s probably safe to say I cannot wait!

So… how good is the movie?  So good Paramount have already announced a sequel – that will, apparently, feature Chris Hemsworth (yes, that Chris Hemsworth).

For those of you who don’t remember, Chris starred as the father of James T. Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek.  He broke our hearts, valiantly sacrificing his life to save his wife, his son (who was being born literally as the USS Kelvin was ripped apart by Nero’s vessel), and many of his fellow crew.

That sacrifice would become a turning point for a young James Kirk, thanks in no small part to Christopher Pike, who uttered these now immortal words: “…your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes.  He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours.  I dare you to do better.

We don’t know how George Kirk will return in the as yet untitled Star Trek IV, and I doubt we’ll find out for quite some time, but there are many ways in which a deceased character can make an appearance… via flashback (which is unlikely), as a recorded message, through a little time travel, or maybe even a crossover between the Prime Reality and the Kelvin timeline… it’s Star Trek, so the possibilities are endless.

To me, the most exciting possibility would be a crossover… so much potential in that one!

Star Trek Beyond is premiering in various locations around the world, and officially hits cinemas in three or four days – depending on which part of the world you live in.

According to a number of the reviews, it’s a worthy film to celebrate Star Trek‘s 50th birthday, effectively combining nostalgia and an old school Trekness with epic summer movie spectacle.

The latest film has been directed by Justin Lin and has been produced by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, the late Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba.

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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. 

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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.

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Star Trek Update – Series VI, Beyond & New STB Trailer

STB and STSVI

A lot of news has popped up in recent days on both the new Star Trek television series and Star Trek Beyond, which is now less than a month away from its international release.

We’ve heard from Bryan Fuller, Justin Lin, Chris Pine, Idris Elba, the ‘Powers that Be’ at CBS, and… Rihanna!

But first, let’s dive into the new series – something most of us are chomping at the bit to hear more about.

Series VI Title Pure Gradient

We still don’t know what the full name of the new series is, what timeline it happens in or the name of the starship (or starships) it takes place on.  We don’t know the name of any crew, and while meetings have happened with a handful of actors, to the best of our knowledge no one has been cast yet.

We do know, however, that what some of us (myself included) were theorising, is flat out wrong.

Namely, the new Trek being an anthology series.

I’m a little sad about that, and a little relieved… I had really warmed to the idea of seeing Star Trek episodes from all over the timeline, but I was also wondering if that would allow me to develop a relationship with the new crew(s?) – which is something that’s important to me.  I enjoy the special effects and challenging story lines, but the thing that keeps bringing me back to Trek are the characters I love.

So what does “new crews” mean if it doesn’t mean a peek into the lives of various officers across Starfleet’s rich history?  It could mean anything.  A starbase crew and a starship crew, working together to protect the final frontier (a bit DS9 but you never know)?  An exploratory fleet led by a commodore?  The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are quite a few.  All I can say is… “let the speculation begin… again!

We also learned that the first arc of the season has been plotted, and the first six episodes of what will be a 13 episode season have been broken.  That means the major beats have been decided upon and they’re being written into script form.  Just as exciting, Bryan has suggested other canon Trek characters will appear in the series, eventually!  Though probably not in the first season.  That last bit might be the biggest timeline related clue we’ve been given to date, because to me that screams PRIME TIMELINE!

Shooting on the new series will start in September and run through to March, which means you won’t be able to stream the whole series in one big binge, but will have to wait to download it weekly.

Bryan also reminded us that because the new Trek wasn’t on a network, it wouldn’t be subject to network broadcast standards, something that was the bane of Gene Roddenberry’s existence when he created the first series 50 years ago.

To read more revelations about the new series, and to watch a video of Bryan telling us what he can, visit TrekCore here and here.

In news that bridges both the Prime and Alternate Trek universes, CBS has finally given an official name to the timeline created in 2009’s blockbuster hit Star Trek.

That period of Trek history has been called many things, among them NuTrek, the J.J.Verse and the AbramsVerse.

Not anymore.  It’s now called the “Kelvin Timeline” after the starship caught in the middle of the Nero incident that brought about the new film universe.

To read more about that development, visit io9 here.

Star Trek Beyond Title

In movie news, the beautiful Rihanna, the popular award-winning mega-star, has recorded a song for the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack!  It’s called “Sledgehammer.”

For those of you who didn’t know, Rihanna is a huge Trek fan.

She announced her contribution on Twitter.  To the best of my knowledge this has never happened in canon Trek before.  Popular (and not so popular) music has been featured in previous films and at least one series, but no artist has done a James Bond on us and recorded a brand new song for us to live long and prosper by.  The fanfilm Star Trek: Renegades starring Walter Koenig and Tim Russ went there with Automatik Eden, but that’s it.

To learn more, visit the wonderful TrekCore here.

Rihanna’s song features in the third and final Paramount promo for the film, which is a mix of previously seen footage and new footage.  Visit ScienceFiction.com here to see the new clip and hear a sample of Rhianna’s moody and atmospheric tune.

Justin Lin, Chris Pine, and Idris Elba have also shared some information on the new movie via SFX Magazine.

We’ve heard a lot of it before, but there are some new insights.

We’ve also heard from Michael Giacchino, who has released the set list for the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack.  In typical Michael fashion, almost every title has a humorous twist!  Some people might consider the below to be spoilers, so don’t read on!  Just scroll past the chunk of titles listed in italics below.

Logo And Prosper
Thank Your Lucky Star Date
Night On The Yorktown
The Dance Of The Nebula
A Swarm Reception
Hitting The Saucer A Little Hard
Jaylah Damage
In Artifacts As In Life
Frankin, My Dear
A Lesson In Vulcan Mineralogy
Motorcycles Of Relief
Mocking Jaylah
Crash Decisions
Krall-y Krall-y Oxen Free
Shutdown Happens
Cater-Krall In Zero G
Par-tay For The Course
Star Trek Main Theme

To read what Justin has to say about the film, visit TrekCore here.

To read what Chris and Idris have to say, once again, visit the amazing TrekCore here.

Lastly, to read about Michael and the soundtrack, go to TrekCore one more time here.

As more news on Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek Series VI is splashed over the internet, I’ll feature it here at Star Trek: Sentinel.

Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella and the late Anton Yelchin.

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