This will be a spoiler-free review.
With a new Star Trek television show, Star Trek (2017), airing January 2017, new feature film Star Trek: Beyond and several Star Trek film projects including Renegades, Continued, Voyages, Of Gods and Men. Campaigns like #WeWantWorf, #BringJadziaBack, and a new film Star Trek: Captain Pike, the Star Trek world is on the brink of some great stories for fans and new audiences.
ME, THE FAN
I became a fan of the Star Trek Universe (not so much the franchise, as I’ll explain later) after reading two Star Trek books in my early twenties. While in high school I saw Captain Picard, Riker, Geordi, Data, Worf, and Deanna numerous times on commercials clips while watching Sliders on the Sci-Fi network. I even tuned into TNG for a few minutes once in a while. I really enjoyed the two seasons of Nickelodeon’s short-lived kids show, Space Cases, starring Walter Emmanuel and Jewel Staite. To me, as a late 90s kid, the eighties aesthetic of Star Trek looked more like the 60s, so unfortunately it didn’t become appealing to me until I became an adult and watched it for the content and characters. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix and fell in love with the television version of Star Trek; which is really the heartbeat of the Star Trek universe, in my opinion and is also the largest fan base.
Even after I watched Star Wars, which my cousin really likes, Star Trek was always more appealing to me as it dealt with philosophy, relationships, humanity, human weakness and strength, diversity, and exploration, competition, and much more than just space battles alone. That fact that it was a futuristic show with space ships, and alien empires was icing on the cake. This was my first favorite nonfiction picture book:
Space, in my humble opinion, is vast and fascinating
THE TELEVISION SERIES & ORIGINAL MOVIES ERA
Although ST: Voyager has a great diverse cast, and ST:Enterprise has good CGI, ST: Deep Space Nine and ST:The Next Generation is by far the superior of all Star Trek television. As far as the films go, I haven’t seen them all, but out of what I have seen, I really liked First Contact, while The Search for Spock lagged behind it a little, and Insurrection was not too appealing overall, however I liked seeing TNG crew back on screen together again. The JJ Abrams, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and Star Trek: Beyond (coming out July 22, 2016 in theatres), are a sore disappointment. They are not bad movies, they are simply not Star Trek, in my opinion. Of course, I haven’t seen Star Trek: Beyond yet; for the CGI of space ships and outer space it will likely be worth watching. Yet, many fans have decried failure to live up to the best of what makes Star Trek, Star Trek.
Post-TNG/DS9, fans have also been ambivalent about anything new from the Star Trek universe. The last series ST:Enterprise ran only 4 seasons. It’s sad that Enterprise was short-lived because there’s nothing like Star Trek in any other television series or fictional world. The failure of producers to live up to the quality of Star Trek and the depth of its content, has slowly been met by fans over the past few years. And this is something new for me. Unfortunately, I’d always imagined superfans of Star Trek to be “fangirls” and “fanboys” who squee at new movies, and blindly praise most Star Trek products, and dress up as Captain Kirk and betazoids at conventions devotedly. After I saw Horizon, I was proven wrong. The Star Trek fans are not just admiring viewers, they are also very talented people. Slowly but surely, lots of what’s going on in the fandom, especially on YouTube and blogs, is worth looking into. They have much more quality and are faithful to the Star Trek universe than what Paramount has produced in the films or anything post TNG/DS9/Voyager.
MY HORIZON MOVIE REVIEW
I will meet you at the edge of the universe. One can hope.
Star Trek: Horizon is definitely worth a look. It was released February 28, 2016 on Youtube. I’m not associated with any of the filmmakers, I ran across this movie while looking for Star Trek (2009) reviews, but what I saw, was impressive. Not without its flaws, but quite nice. I haven’t seen any other fan films, so this is the first time I’ve experienced one.
The movie follows the story of Captain Harrison Hawke, who has a surgically altered Romulan female- a starfleet officer on his ship, named T’mar. Because of her surgeries she looks completely human. This movie is set in the pre-Federation era, where the Coalition of Planets is at war with The Romulan empire. Captain Hawke must set out on a mission to defend the Coalition against a destructive weapon the Romulans are said to be making.
The movie opens with a scene 250,000 years in the past where two Ionians are using a device made by their enemy, the Arioui. This device is called the Horizon. They kill themselves to protect their people. They end up destroying their entire population. The opening scene instantly hooked me for three reasons:
- the imminent destruction of an entire population peaked the danger and consequence of the situation I was watching unfold
- the romance between the husband and wife fighting for their lives, and the lives of their people forcing them to make a difficult decision made me emotionally attached to these characters and want them to succeed
- the visual effects of Horizon encapsulating their planet was spectacular
We then fast forward to March 31, 2160. Hawke’s starship, Discovery is being chased and bombarded by a Romulan vessel. An important member of his crew dies, while the majority survive. Admiral Gardener calls Hawke in to discuss T’mar, potentially a Romulan spy, and his next mission. On this mission, the Romulans attack; their weapon is not ready and fails. The Discovery arrives on a beautiful, yet abandoned planet. The camera zooms in on a tall monument with a large golden ring spinning at the top, and spans down to the surface where it stands amidst a mountain of gorgeous purple flowers/flowering trees. Hawke’s crew gets trapped in the future with no way out. That’s basically the jist of the plot. Now onto my commentary.
It’s clear to any Star Trek viewer that the starship bridge is filmed on a closed set. Unlike in TNG/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise the producers decided to blur out the background, and focused on the speakers while on the ship. This bothered me a little as I’m not used to this, but as a viewer it gave me the opportunity to focus on what each crew member was saying while they unlocked the secrets to return to their time. I felt like I was on the ship with the crew, helping them solve their problems. The blurring ended up being very positive for me. However for the future, if the moviemakers had an impeccable set to film their bridge scenes, updated to 2016, this would certainly improve the visual appeal of the film.
The uniforms are all blue, similar to ST: Enterprise era. I’m a fan of the TNG/DS9/Voyager uniforms, but the blue were appropriate because this film takes place pre-Federation.
The CGI is as good as what I expect from a 2016 film, better perhaps. There was only one incident where I saw a mistake, that was in the last 20 minutes of the film, as they were trying to escape the Horizon, there was a computer-generated explosion-cloud in the right bottom corner of the screen and the stone didn’t tear apart.
I have no complaints about the actors, they were very good. They were not endearing like Deanna Troi, Worf, Jadzia Dax, or Jake Sisko and Nog but the story line made me feel compassionate about these people.
I noticed the movie got a 6/10 on IMDB, but I think that’s for two reasons:
1. because there wasn’t any sex in the movie. Everybody loves sex and sex sells, but I think onscreen sex is not usually satisfying, but self-gratifying, and sometimes just nasty. It is more important for me to see romantic affection between two characters because love is the most powerful human emotion. The filmmakers successfully managed to convey romance without having the actors take off all their clothes, or share a scene with green-colored naked aliens. That brought more focus on the story, relationship challenges between the characters during and after the battle, which is part of the reason Star Trek has always been so successful, and I think this movie, as well.
2. there wasn’t any humor
The way I see it, when dealing with difficult issues like the death of many people, an endless battle, racial tensions, losing a child, or break-ups in long-term romantic relationships, it’s important to have a little appropriate humor to lighten the mood. I think Nog, Quark, Odo, Worf made great comic relief in DS9, while Data, and even Captain Picard, once in a while, made us laugh on TNG.
I give the movie a 9/10.
This movie has had over 1 million views on YouTube, so you shouldn’t be surprised at my rating. Keep in mind, my review is from someone who’s never seen a fan film. I had nothing but original films and TV shows to compare it to. I got lucky with clicking on Horizon. Based on the Star Trek material that’s been out since 2007, Horizon as a movie exceeded my expectations. It had an exciting plot. Also, it balanced beauty, science, and humanity. It was not perfect, but very near to it. It’s so unfortunate that CBS is not allowing them a sequel: Federation Rising. I think with movies like Horizon being produced, CBS has a lot to live up to satisfy the fans. There are dozens, even hundreds of amazing stories to be told in the Star Trek universe. The fan film verse is undeniably growing; with the right talent it will flourish beautifully. In turn, it will bring a bigger audience to the future Star Trek television shows.
*AUTHOR’S NOTE: Before making this review I learned that CBS was suing the creators of Axanar, another fan film. While writing it this morning, I learned that CBS dropped the lawsuit, paving the way for the continuation of Star Trek: Horizon and other fan films. With this news, I certainly hope Tommy Kraft will seriously consider completing the Federation Rising project. I will talk more on my thoughts about this on my YouTube channel here.