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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.

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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.

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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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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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Series VI Update – Star Trek Comes Home

Rod Roddenberry Joins Series Six

CBS and Bryan Fuller, the show runner of the new Star Trek series, continue to impress fans (and shower us with love) as bit by bit new information comes to light on the sixth live action series.

Hot on the heels of Bryan telling us that Nicholas Meyer had joined the new series, comes another important announcement…

Rod Roddenberry, the son of science fiction legends Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, has joined the creative team.

In the announcement, Bryan said “Gene Roddenberry, the Great Bird of the Galaxy, left a finely feathered nest for all who love Star Trek to enjoy, and it is only fitting that Rod Roddenberry and Roddenberry Entertainment join our new Trek adventure to ensure that his father’s legacy of hope for the future and infinite diversity in infinite combinations runs through our tales as Gene Roddenberry intended.”

With the inclusion of Rod to the production, it feels like Star Trek has come come full circle.  Even better, it feels like it’s come home.

The Roddenberry name will forever be linked with Star Trek, and though Gene, like any artist, was originally frustrated by that – not wanting to be known for just one thing – he eventually grew to love it and to embrace it.  It’s important to note that Gene never hated Star Trek, but he did burn out on it during the original series, and that was entirely because of the studio system of the day.  Any distance he wanted to put between himself and his creation was because of how he and his vision has been treated.

His son, Rod, grew up around Star Trek, but didn’t start out as a fan.  He was born almost five years after the original series went off the air and didn’t initially get into the show when it first went into syndication.  When something is so much a part of your life, you can sometimes overlook it and Rod did, as any child would, and no doubt he was protected from the phenomenon Star Trek was becoming by both Gene and Majel.

As a child, Rod didn’t ‘get’ the fuss over Star Trek, and didn’t understand the admiration fans had for his father.

When Gene passed away, Rod was only 17 and as a way of dealing with his grief, he set out to try and discover what others saw in his father and why some loathed him and many others revered him.  Rod also wanted to better understand Star Trek and its fans.

As many Trekkers may remember, after Gene went to that undiscovered country a number of people chose to air their grievances with Gene, which meant Rod was exposed to some beautiful stuff and some unpleasant stuff.

Rather than let that tarnish his opinion of his father, the fond memories and the not so fond memories people shared helped Rod love Gene more, and he’s quoted as saying “…that allowed me, as a son, not just to connect with him, but actually love him.”

Since beginning that journey, Rod has discovered his own deep love for Star Trek and in particular his father’s vision for the future – and he’s grown to very deeply love the people and the fans who have given it legendary status.

I don’t know if Gene or Majel ever expected, or even wanted their son to follow them into the entertainment business, but Rod followed in his parents’ footsteps and as he grew up moved into television and film production.  In 2001 he became the chief executive officer of Roddenberry Entertainment, a production company that engages in work that builds on Gene’s original vision for the future.

Roddenberry Entertainment develops multimedia science fiction properties, including television and film projects as well as comics, and in 2011 produced the documentary Trek Nation.

To visit Roddenberry Entertainment click here.

As well as being the CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, Rod founded the Roddenberry Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that donates to initiatives and causes that improve education for children, focus on protecting the environment, advance scientific research, and promote humanitarianism.  It’s a wonderful organisation, and perhaps the most fitting and moving tribute to the man who was his father, and who came to mean so much to all of us – despite his faults.

Roddenberry Foundation

To learn more about the Foundation, click here.

In response to his joining the new production, Rod said “Moral dilemmas, human issues, complex characters, and a genuine sense of optimism: These are the cornerstones of Star Trek and are what have made it such an influential and beloved franchise for the last 50 years.  While I will always be humbled by its legacy and the legions of fans who are its guardians, it’s a genuine honor to be joining a team of imaginative and incredibly capable individuals whose endeavor it is to uphold the tenets of Star Trek’s legacy while bringing it to audiences in a new era and on a contemporary platform.

To read the official announcement, head over to the official Star Trek website here.

To learn more about Rod, you can visit his Wikipedia page here.

The inclusion of Gene’s son in the production feels right.

Thank you to Bryan and the team for making sure that the Roddenberry name stays firmly linked, and intimately a part of, Star Trek.

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Rediscovered Roddenberry Files

Gene Roddenberry with USS Enterprise

It’s been reported that Gene Roddenberry was at times a contentious personality, but that appears to be typical of creative and visionary people – you either love them, or you don’t.

Despite what has been said about Gene, there was no denying the fact he had a fertile imagination and his drive to make humanity look at itself and question its decisions, as well as aspire to be better, was deeply ingrained in him.

Gene’s legacy continues in Star Trek, but after his death, it also continued in two properties based on his work – the television series Earth: Final Conflict which ran for five years from 1997 to 2002, and another series, Andromeda which also ran for five years from 2000 to 2005.

Many of us thought that Andromeda would be the last original work of Gene’s that we ever saw on television (or in any other format), but it looks like there’s a slight chance we might have been wrong… thanks to a little data recovery business called DriveSavers.

A number of news sites (both science fiction and mainstream) are reporting on this at the moment, and over on the DriveSavers Twitter feed they’re celebrating their discovery with the photo below.

DriveSavers have unpacked the contents of 200 discs of information owned by Gene, and for now, they’re remaining enigmatic about what they’ve found.  Judging by the looks on their faces, it’s something special!

DriveSavers rescue Gene Roddenberry files

Their work even received a big thank you from Rod Roddenberry, Gene and Majel Barrett’s son.

The wonderful TrekMovie website has the coverage on this story right here.  It’s a good read, and I bet I’m not the only Trek fan wondering what ideas might be floating around on those old discs.

Whether it was intended as a 50th Anniversary gift to fans or not, that’s exactly what it is.  The discs could have old script ideas or even completed scripts from Next Gen on them, and they might even contain a new series idea.

Gene Roddenberry with Rick Berman on the set of STTNG

Though Gene had taken a step back from writing and producing toward the end of his life, you don’t just stop being creative if you’re a creative person.

Hopefully we’ll get more information soon.  I would love to see a new show sporting Gene’s name on it in the near future.

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Happy Birthday Gene Roddenberry!

Gene Roddenberry

In Australia today, it’s the 19th of August, which means it’s the 18th everywhere else in the world, but you guys will catch up to us soon.

Why is the 19th of any interest to anyone?  Simple.  It’s Gene Roddenberry’s birthday.

So, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Star Trek fans in the great land ‘downunder’, I’d like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENE!  And THANK YOU.

Eugene Wesley Roddenberry was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1921 and lived anything but a boring life.  He grew up in California, flew eighty-nine combat missions in the Army Air Forces during World War II, worked as a commercial pilot, was a police officer, and, of course, a writer.

Before Star Trek, Gene worked on more than twenty television shows in the 1950’s and 60’s, including Highway Patrol, Have Gun – Will Travel and The Detectives.  After the Enterprise’s three year voyage, he went on to develop Star Trek: The Animated Series, Genesis II, Planet Earth, The Questor Tapes, Spectre and of course Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was the last television show he wrote and produced before he journeyed to “the undiscovered country”.

Gene Roddenberry and the Enterprise in Shadow

His creative spark, however, lived on.  Not only in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise and a host of movies, but in two new productions.

After Gene’s passing in 1991, two of his ideas were further developed by his wife and turned into successful television series – Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda.

In recent years, especially since the passing of Majel Barrett Roddenberry in 2008, a lot of criticism has been leveled at Gene, with the most recent coming via original series star, William Shatner and his documentary Chaos on the Bridge, which takes a look at the dysfunctional first two years of the hit series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

To The Shat’s credit, he does a good job of attempting to create balance within his documentary, but there are certainly elements that do not paint Gene in the best of lights.

Despite the criticism, and despite some missteps, there is no doubt that Gene Roddenberry was onto something, and that he had a passion for human evolution and forcing us to look – sometimes uncomfortably – at ourselves and society.

I could literally write pages on Gene and his impact, but won’t.  Plenty already have, and the only new perspective I can bring is to describe how Gene’s creation influenced my life.  Instead, I encourage you to take a little journey of your own to learn about this remarkable man.

If you’d like to learn more about Gene Roddenberry, whether it be Gene the visionary, Gene the contentious personality, Gene the complex creative person, or Gene the loving husband and father, the source material is almost endless.  A few good places to start can be found below:

Gene Roddenberry’s Wikipedia page.

Gene Roddenberry at Roddenberry.com.

Gene Roddenberry at Memory Alpha.

Regardless of how you feel about Gene, I hope you can join me in remembering the creative human being who gave us Star Trek, as we celebrate his birthday this year.

And, as a double bonus, it’s also the wonderful Jonathan Frakes’ birthday, the man who portrayed Commander William T. Riker (and Lieutenant Thomas Riker) for seven years on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in ‘Generations’, ‘First Contact’, ‘Insurrection’, ‘Nemesis’ and select episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.  If you’d like to read more about Jonathan, then check out his Wikipedia page right here.

As well as being a fine actor, Jonathan grew into an incredibly talented director while working on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Jonathan is responsible for the best two of the four TNG movies – Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Some fans don’t like Insurrection for one reason or another, but as a working actor I love it for the beautiful moments it creates between its lead characters, and as a working director I love it because it’s quite simply a beautiful, intimate and gorgeously structured piece of work.  Despite how fans feel about ‘Insurrection’, I feel safe in saying that it stands head and shoulders above Generations and Nemesis.

If you’d like to explore more of Jonathan’s work as an actor and director, then visit his IMDb page right here.

Jonathan Frakes

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