Saturday, 29 December 2012

Another Chance to Play "The Game"

Lefler: Your neutrinos are drifting... 
It's not the first on my list to watch for a second time but my full re-run through of Star Trek: The Next Generation has brought me to "The Game".
What becomes quickly apparent is that they must have been saving the budget for "Unification" which follows this episode. Most of the installment is ship-based with only the pre-titles and any shots of Etana Jol being off the Enterprise - and these are in close quarters head and shoulder viewscreen clips so budget for that set wouldn't have been a massive drain on the available funds. 

So, what are we here to look at?

It would be hard to discuss this episode without mentioning two points - addiction and the return of Wesley Crusher.  Both are at the forefront of "The Game" which has a single A Story but neither makes it any more impressive. I sat down to watch this when I was probably about 14-15 years old and it certainly doesn't seem to have improved with the passing of time.  It's great to see Wes back don't get me wrong - and as the lead character - but the concept of the episode seems fatally flawed almost from the onset as everyone seems to want to over-induldge in this fleeting return and forgot to add any real depth to it.  Starfleet Academy is sprinkled over with only a few coy references (including Boothby who we will see later in the season) and some "hilarious" antics involving that cheeky chappy Mr Crusher. If that's all the Academy is about was it really worth the Borg/Klingons/Romulans et al even bothering with Sector 001? They could've just beamed a load of banana peels or buckets of shaving foam to HQ and everyone would have fallen about laughing...apparently.

I digress...

So, while I can believe that Riker would get addicted to the game very easily especially when introduced to it by the duplicitous/playful Jol on Risa, it's the return to the Enterprise that leaves me cold.  Troi is his first target and I'm glad she's one of the first addicted purely to avoid any more cringe-worthy scenes such as  that which I will term as "The Chocolate Monologue" in Ten Forward: 

Riker: Doesn't it taste good?
Troi: Of course it does but it's not just a matter of taste. It's the whole experience.  First of all you have to spoon the fudge around the rim, leaving only the ice cream in the middle.  Then you gently spoon the ice cream around the sides like you're sculpting it. Relish every bite - make every one an event and then, with the last spoonful, close your eyes.

Urgh. Sadly this is one of my top three most cringe-worthy moments of TNG.  Equally upsetting for Troi fans is the fact that I also accredit spots two and three to the Betazoid counsellor. The first being her sensing of "great joy and happiness" from the alien lifeforms at the end of "Encounter at Farpoint" and the second as Troi's blubbing at the end of Star Trek Nemesis following Data's death. I would ease off a little if she wasn't involved in the travesty that is "These are the Voyages...". Apologies Ms Sirtis but that's just my opinion.

While Troi, Geordi and probably a good proportion of the crew would be susceptible to trying the game I just don't get why Picard or Worf, for example, would readily have a go. The "reality" factor that only Wes and Lefler would not play is pushing it to the limit and this is where the whole premise seems to break down.  Suddenly the entire crew is playing Jol's game and if this is the case who is actually controlling the ship?! Why would the captain or Worf even want a go?  Surely this is a child's plaything for the Klingons and brings no honour? If it's that easy to get addicted the Empire must surely be the next target?! 

OK, I understand that this is an episodic analysis of addiction (the game, Troi's chocolate thing) but it takes it to the very edge of plausibility which is then wrapped up with a flashing light in a matter of seconds with the reappearance of Data. Again Wesley is lucky to be on the ship as he finds the breaks in Data's circuitry that EVEN LA FORGE can't find?  Seriously?  So does this mean that actually the Academy is breeding super-humans who play practical jokes most of the time?  Very confusing and inconsistent in my opinion. There are much better examples of addiction and its results namely the actions and loyalty of the Jem'Hadar in Deep Space Nine and I would refer readers to the episode entitled "Hippocratic Oath" in particular. (Am I being too harsh here???) I'm sure by this point we can see that this episode is hanging by a thread.

Notably this is one of the few occasions where Trek steps a little close to the innuendo line and that's not just the aforementioned chocolate scene. There's the undertones of the Wes/Lefler relationship but the biggest offender here is the titular game itself.  So, what exactly is the prize when you complete a level?! Wes discovers it's affecting the reasoning sections and pleasure centres of the brain.  I will say no more.

I do get the way in which Etana Jol chooses to take control of the Enterprise and then use the crew and ship to conduct acts of warfare. It's a neat little trick and certainly a new spin on the take-over scenario we would potentially predict to see. Even after is all revealed and Data saves the day with some assistance from Wesley,  I still can't bring myself to feel any differently  how I did back in the 90's on its first viewing. "The Game" is average and it focuses too much on a character who left a year previously in a fairly decent segment of the pretty good fourth season. Given the option I would jump at a chance to rewatch "The First Duty" over this.  It's a far superior Wesley installment post-"Final Mission" and most definitely a preference to "Journey's End" (I intend to cover both but this may be as a single blog about Crusher Jr). This isn't to say that having Mr Crusher back on board for a jaunt and the chance to get the girl isn't a good thing and in all truth it probably helps to bring this story out of being quite dull - indeed, Jol's plan would actually have succeeded if he hadn't! So much for the best crew in the fleet - after what they've been through, this kind of "attack" should surely have been picked up within a matter of seconds!!!

Perhaps the question to round off this blog should be around whether or not this episode manages to tackle addiction effectively. I would argue no because of the way in which Wes and Lefler are the only two left when surely they would be more susceptible to giving the game a go. Another point to raise here is the fact that not only are we seeing a story revolve around one returnee in the form of Wesley but he's accompanied by a character who was previously a bit part in "Darmok" and is never seen again although Ashley Judd would go onto much greater things following her appearance here. Notably there was the hope to bring her back for "The First Duty" but that didn't work out which is a shame as she could have become something of a recurring character in the Barclay/O'Brien/Ro/Ogawa mould. Perhaps it is with a retrospective eye that we can be picky around this character because of her limited (although it wasn't known at the time) appearances.  Could she have been a possible Wesley replacement for the final two years?  We know that originally the character Wil Wheaton played was going to be a girl!

Sadly it's one of Trek's failures to grasp the concept of addiction here and really explore it effectively when this could have been a great opportunity to utilise Troi in a more prominent manner. This is surely the kind of plot that the counsellor would be perfect for but once again she is sidelined and this time for two kids.  Also there is the fact that the game device is clearly a call-centre headset doesn't help its argument. It does feel like a space filler of an episode and that can only be justified even further by the fact that "Unification" follows hereafter and they spent up on filming outdoors for "Darmok" but for light entertainment during what has been a heavy start to the season it helps break up the enveloping nature of the greater stories surrounding it.

I'm fully intending a piece on the seminal two-parter and will probably cover the lesser episodes following it as part of a Season Five review when I finish off the box set after Christmas.(Half-way through so another month should nail it). I simply don't want to bore a lot of people with ramblings about Trek episodes week in week out. 

If there are any specific episodes you'd like to debate/see a discussion on please drop a note here/subscribe etc and I'll take a look.  Anything pre-season five can be done pretty much straight away and I'll bookmark anything ahead in six and seven! Thanks also to everyone who has read this.  Feedback is appreciated!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Game On!

It's all happening at the moment isn't it? Posters, trailers, stills, rumours and now the announcement that Star Trek The Video Game will launch on April 23rd 2013. 

For those who can't wait that long to be a part of the experience, pre-ordering commenced on Friday 21st December 2012.

Produced by Namco Bandai Games it has been announced that customers pre-ordering will receive the "Elite Officer Pack" which includes a series of tasty extras:

  • Brawler Pack - Kirk's leather jacket costume and Spock in Starfleet Academy garb
  • Academy Pack - Kirk and Spock in Dress Uniform plus an Academy phaser
  • Kobayashi Maru Pack - Kirk and Spock in Kobayashi Maru simulator uniforms
  • Stealth Pack - Kirk and Spock in stealth uniforms with a Starfleet Type IV stealth sniper rifle and extra ammunition
  • Kelvin Pack - Kirk and Spock in USS Kelvin uniforms plus a USS Kelvin phaser

If you pre-order Star Trek at Amazon in the UK before April 26th 2013 you'll be eligible to receive the Elite Officer Pack. Currently the game is priced at £39.99 for XBox 360 and PS3 while PC owners can save a bit of cash and pre-order for £32.99.Ko

Pretty interesting huh?  Worth a pre-order?  Probably is if you're going to be buying it anyway. Thing is for me, I'm a bit of a film/TV tie-in skeptic.  History is not kind in these situations and I welcome you to check out Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, Harry Potter, Transformers...etc etc as evidence (I'm not including non-Michael Bay Transfomers as they were fairly decent). Apparently this game has already won awards at E3 however the official game website seems devoid of any mention of awards except in relation to JJ Abrams leading me to think this may be an error on the part of

So let's have a look at the official trailer for the game and see if there's much we can glean from 57 seconds of action:

What is it with the JJ Abrams universe and jumping off stuff?!  In the first film it's skydiving onto Nero's drill and in the second it's Spock jumping off a building PLUS someone zooming through a spacefield.  I do hope this isn't going to be a recurring theme of the alternate Trek universe.

OK, There's Kirk and Spock as the main playable characters but the graphics really don't instill me with ANY confidence that this is going to be top-quality in line with Call of Duty, Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V which will be out by the time it debuts. In fact it looks like a pretty standard third person shooter with possible attempts at Tomb Raider-style climbing pieces.  There's no shots aboard the Enterprise  and in fact there are only two shots of the ship within the trailer - right at the beginning and briefly at about 47 seconds in.  

There appear to be only a couple of distinctive sets here - an icy alien world, some form of space vessel (and maybe more than one). There's also a nice shot of some kind of fleet moving through a wrecked environment.

 It all looks a bit "samey" which is why I've had top rely more on the range of screen shots from the game's website.  They seem to show external space battles, scenes on the Enterprise and the characters moving through the alien worlds that are part of the game.  The only piece of dialogue within the trailer indicates that this is set after the first film at least with mention of "New Vulcan" which could also indicate that a certain Spock Prime could be included as we know this is where he ended up to live out his days. What we can confirm is that the 2009/2013 movie crew (Kirk, Spock etc) are all lending their voices to this new game.

Frankly this is even more cryptic a trailer than the one for Star Trek Into Darkness.  I would think that the ship goes to New Vulcan to sort out some kind of invasion/attack/mystery which leads to you playing as Kirk or Sock to save the Vulcans and the day from what has now (as of January 2013) been revealed as the Gorn - one of the best and most fondly remembered Trek enemies ever!

Tragically the gameplay looks pretty basic but it's a rare opportunity to actually play as the Trek characters in a modern style of game - while I won't talk about them here, my The Life of Trek series will touch on my previous experiences with Star Trek PC games over the years as I look at how the show and I have become entwined over the years.

In conclusion the trailer does give us Trek, explosions and indication of more by providing less and then forcing you take a look at the game site for some snippets of information.  At the moment it is lacking in content and the page on was significantly better even if it was just to let us know about the preordering situation.

I will more than likely be purchasing this title as long as the build-up continues to prove that a lot of work has been done to make it look more fluid and less blocky than this brief trailer suggests. Good luck to Bandai Namco and Paramount, I hope the hype and the "awards" indicate that this is going to break the mould of tie-ins and provide us with some excellent and lengthy game-playing.  Please don't make it JUST a shooter with a bit of ledge-hanging if you're listening.  Put some thought into it so we have something more to do than point, click, run and fire. Trek fans will want a game that makes them THINK.

Overall - the jury is definitely out.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Trekollections: The Formative Decade

It was on a black and white TV that I first encountered the crew of the USS Enterprise.

Which episode it was I'm not sure and there's no way I can remember what happened because I suspect I was about two years old and maybe even smaller than that. Moreover it was all my Dad's fault. He is indeed the architect for this facet of my life.  Since the days of the original airings of The Original Series back in t'day he had been a fan and his love of the show passed to me....and grew.  I wouldn't go as far as to say "avid" in relation to his relationship with the series but he has told me in the years since that it was one of his favourite TV shows and to this day we have many a Trek related conversation either about an episode one of us might have caught on TV or a book that I might have added to the Trek library.

However let's get this all properly into perspective.  Flashback a bit here. It's 1979 and two major defining events occurred.  One was my arrival (of course) and the second was the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While for me this was a speck on my viewscreen, for Dad it was quite a big thing as this was the first new Star Trek in a decade and the first big screen outing thanks in no small part to the arrival of the Star Wars juggernaut a few years earlier. Some years later Dad let slip that he'd got hold of some stills from the film and had them up at home following it's release.  Unfortunately for the growing Trek fan in me they had been filed under "B" for Bin a number of years before my obsession took control. What TMP did was ensure that his interest in the series didn't wain and he, in turn, passed that love of the original series to me.

The strange thing is that had it not been for George Lucas and his epic trilogy then we probably wouldn't have had the films, TNG, DS9, Voyager or Enterprise.  Would I have become such a big fan?  Probably not as I suspect we would have had Phase II and then that would have been it. So thanks Mr Lucas - my love of Trek may be partially your fault/responsibility!

Anyway; The Motion Picture happened; critically not that great, but it kicked off a whole sequence of events that have become intertwined with my life and continue to be as I enter my 33rd year. Oddly I had an idea to do something life this when I was 18 and it only managed to make three lines of text.  This is already a greater success five paragraphs in.

Right, so, where were we now....

I was born in Lancashire before we moved to Crewe and in a quirk of fate I now live quite close to the same place.  We were there for a couple of years before uprooting for Cornwall in 1984 and this is where my interest truly began.

For a few years it was something I would look forward to on a Wednesday night with dad. It even got to the point where my primary school teacher, Miss Nicholls would remind me it was on at 6pm - and the weeks it wasn't just didn't feel the same.  It now dawns on me that it was an essential part of my routine and my week would be planned around this TV event.  In 2012 I still have to have order and regiment to make sure I cope with life's little "tribble-ations" so to speak.  Back in 1985/6 knowing that a week had come round again and that I would get to see another adventure with Star Trek added more to the structure of my life.  To this day I get lost if part of my morning routine is out of sync let alone the rest of the day.

As I mentioned in my first Trek blog, Star Trek has the distinction of being the first programme I watched at home in colour on a Ferguson telly. We bought it from Dixons on Truro high street and as we were tuning it in at home I caught sight of those familiar titles and distinctive theme tune. It was the second season episode of "The Apple". I still remember Dad being amazed that the turbolift doors were orange! My clearest memory of an episode comes from "The Tholian Web". An installment from the third season it was an absolute stand out so much that today it is still one of my all time favourite Original Series episodes. Why? Well, when you're six or seven and there are some cool non-human aliens, spaceships building a web and Captain Kirk as a ghost it really can get no better. 

At this stage I probably hadn't seen many of the earlier episodes from 1966 or 1967 which is in a way good as the best was literally still to come for me. What other episodes I saw I couldn't tell you but I know that I enjoyed every single one for very different reasons to what I would take from them 30 years on. That's probably one of the major reasons my love affair with this show has been maintained for so long.  Whichever episode I watch I always seem to find something new that I've not experienced before and "The Tholian Web" is no exception. I loved it because of the action and that they went onto another ship that was slowly disappearing in the form of the USS Defiant. There was a genuine threat and the captain was nowhere to be seen (literally). Big shame it took until Star Trek Enterprise to revisit the Tholians, the superb Gorn and the Defiant in probably that series' finest hour(s), "In a Mirror, Darkly Parts I & II" from 2005.

Looking back at this episode now in a different and more middle-aged light I still appreciate the episode for its style, miniature work and especially the character development of the cast as they come to terms with the loss of their captain - good thing they never viewed his final orders, huh?! When it's compared to the rest of the third season it's a brilliant episode along with "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" and also I'm a bit of a sucker for "All Our Yesterdays" with its nifty time travel plot if we're going to be laying all the cards on the table here.  Now let's be clear, I'm not going to preach and moralise that Trek has turned my life around etc etc - this is about how Trek has functioned as part of my life and why I've loved it so much.

Now around the time I was watching the series for the first time, my Dad built the Enterprise. It was the original AMT kit that had remained unchanged since the 1960s' release and it was awesome. I don't recall the construction process or where it resided while we lived in Cornwall but what I still have is the decal sheet that came with it. You could pick to rename it as any of the original Constitution class vessels including the ones featured in "The Tholian Web", "The Ultimate Computer" and "The Doomsday Machine". We of course plumped for the good old Enterprise. Incredibly this kit has survived seven house moves, about 25 years of my life and while the decals are a little time-worn, its credit to AMT and my Dad that it's still in one piece and with the stand (pictured here, left)! Admittedly the deflector dish spike has cracked a few times but otherwise it seems to be bombproof unlike the movie Enterprise which we'll come to in a future piece. When I was younger it was the best thing ever - I had my own USS Enterprise. Cool.

In 1986 I first saw Star Trek II. I would have been about seven and I suspect it was a trimmed version as it was on in an afternoon. From what I can recall so there would have been minimal appearances from close-up shots such as the ceti eels entering Terrell and Chekov's ears. It was amazing and soon became a heavily viewed VHS tape (with adverts thanks to it being a recording from ITV).  With my heightened interest that also meant a trip to the cinema in Truro close to where we lived in Cornwall to see Star Trek IV with my parents and Mark Pascoe (where are you now?!) which was released that year.  This was the first Trek that I saw at the cinema and since 1986 I've seen every one at the flicks as undoubtedly every Trekker reading this also has. Even Nemesis

As you will have no doubt noticed that means I skipped a third of the Genesis trilogy (we'll get to that later) but at the tender age of seven as long as there was action, adventure and spaceships I really didn't mind and the little recap at the beginning meant I got to see the Enterprise blow up anyway. 

For a seven year old it was a really enjoyable film and it kept me wrapped for the best part of two hours. Plus we got to see the new Enterprise at the end of the film... even though it was identical to the one they'd blown up in The Search for Spock.The movie refit is the best version of the ship in my opinion so I was quite happy at that result as the model survived for another two encounters. What I now realise about this period is that my liking of Trek was purely at an action/adventure level.  Getting character motivation, plotlines and themes wasn't in my repertoire at this time. Trek was something that I enjoyed that my Dad also enjoyed and it was a common interest that I could talk to him about.

For Christmas 1985 I received one of my first pieces of what is now "memorabilia".  I retrieved it from the loft just the other day and can still remember spending many an afternoon playing the cassette and waiting for the communicator chirp so I could turn the page.  It was of course the Book and Tape The Wrath of Khan (I still have the tapes as well).  The pictures were brilliant.  Full colour and took you all the way through the film.  When we went to Plymouth for a day out in 1986 I had some pocket money saved up and bought The Search for Spock.  At least I got to see some bits of it even if it was just 24 stills!  It seemed for a few years I was jinxed when it came to seeing the third Trek film as you will see!

A year later and I caught my first glimpse of something new to the world of Star Trek.  They were making a new series.  Wow.  Big news.  The only way I found out was by watching Wogan one evening on BBC One and seeing some English guy called Patrick Stewart interviewed about becoming the new captain.  Dad wasn't impressed.  It was going to be rubbish and no-one could better Kirk, Spock and McCoy. " Hell," he said; "there was even a Klingon on the bridge and Kirk would never have allowed that!"  

The ship looked dreadful and the scene they showed from "The Last Outpost" didn't instill any sense that this would be a suitable sequel to the original series - and what was a Ferengi?!  How I remember this I do not know but what it tells me now is how much of an effect, even subliminally, Star Trek has had on me. After the interview I put thoughts of the new show on a back-burner and wouldn't encounter The Next Generation again until 1990 mainly because back in Them Days you had to wait YEARS instead of HOURS for anything to cross the Atlantic.

We moved to Derbyshire in 1989 and life changed a lot for me. It was during the two years that we lived there that I was almost continuously bullied at school.  What stood me out from the rest was that I had the full school uniform including tie. The remainder of the school wore what their families could afford.  I was most definitely Odd Man Out on a daily basis.  

Star Trek was my escape and having no-one liking the showt meant it was even more special and somewhere I could retreat. From the years in Cornwall to those in Derbyshire I was provided with numerous repeats of The Original Series which meant I got to see "The City on the Edge of Forever""Arena""Piece of the Action""Mirror, Mirror" and "Space Seed" among others.  While these are all the classics it was the more action orientated episodes that kept my attention. Phasers, photon torpedoes and lots of explosions always proved a winner. While not a classic, "The Galileo Seven" was a top slice of all these with a splash of a shuttle craft thrown in for good measure. Reading about the fate of the original full size mock up is an incredible story and I recommend you take a look on the web for it. Funny now that when I was younger I didn't appreciate that the were things called seasons and that the run wasn't endless. I just knew that Star Trek was always on on a Wednesday night before I had tea and usually before Dad was home from work.

Either for best or worst no-one in Ilkeston liked Star Trek and it was another sign that I was a real outsider because it wasn't real.  Star Trek was a "dead" series from the 1960s with "rubbish" monsters, spaceships on strings and wasn't a patch on the stuff that was being churned out on a Saturday by ITV.  To be honest even today Star Trek is still in a class of its own (personal opinion) and makes a lot of the programmes we have now look very unimaginative and cheap (Red or Black, X-Factor, The Only Way Is Essex).  It was escapism with some real issues; clearly way "too cerebral"!  I wasn't a supporter of either Nottingham Forest or Liverpool FC and didn't like to spend my lunchtimes beating other kids up which just added to a painful two years of physical and verbal abuse. My "peers" saw it as something that wasn't normal because I didn't conform in interests or appearance. I wasn't allowed to go roaming the streets in the evenings or weekends and spent my time writing, drawing and watching Star Trek

Leaving that school and the town was one of the highlights of my early years but before I did I would get my second trip to the cinema, the jinx of The Search for Spock would continue and I finally saw what all the fuss about the French starship captain was...

Monday, 17 December 2012

Two Minutes Into Darkness

Wow.  We're really being spoiled this December.  First we get the teaser trailer and now we get nearly two minutes more of hunger-inducing action from Star Trek Into Darkness. It's been an on and off/stop start event for this trailer but's back on line TODAY

Once more the The Dark Knight Rises/Prometheus/Gladiator musical strains bring us into hazy focus of a cityscape,  most likely San Francisco followed by a flying shot through the Enterprise's gleaming corridors and the empty Cif-white bridge set all overlaid with a haunting monologue from Admiral Pike:

"There is greatness in you but there is not an ounce of humility. You think that you can't make mistakes but there's going to come a moment when you realise you're wrong about that. Then you're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed."

As last time I'm not here to rate the trailer but to look at what it tells us particularly against the teaser we saw earlier this month.  I'm of two minds if the Admiral is warning Kirk or Harrison here.  It would make sense either way -  Kirk is putting his crew in mortal danger and could lose them all (cue TWOK-esque hand to hand on glass shot) or this is a speech from early in a prologue indicating what leads Harrison to his vengeance.  Overlaying a shot of Pine as Kirk just as the Admiral is talking looks like a classic distraction technique to move the audience into thinking it must be Kirk that he's talking about.

Nice to see that we're treated to a shot of all the cast including Chekov although did anyone else notice he's wearing Roadkill Red or was that just my feed playing up?! This would also hint that Pike is more likely to be talking about the Enterprise crew than Harrison and before we get to know the director's name (if we hadn't forgotten) we're shown the ceremony and fly-past again.  We can also add in there some extended scenes of Kirk and McCoy running through the red alien growth stuff. Not exactly giving up much in the way of plot Mr Abrams!!!

Big Question is; is this ceremony from the beginning and linked to Harrison's actions/treachery which motivates him for the movie or is that, the Federation flag-folding and the panning shot of rows of coffins (bit like Skyfall there) from the bitter end of the adventure and we may actually see one of the cast bite the proverbial dust?   (cue TWOK-esque hand to hand on glass shot - and yes that's its second mention in two paragraphs) Could they even be commemorating Harrison? Well, on closer freeze-frame (above) I think these could be stasis pods in a warehouse - are we seeing part of a prologue (Eugenics War) and this would suggest that it IS Khan??? Harrison IS just a codename (see previous blog on The Trailer Into Darkness)...or is this the end result of the film in a kind of Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse moment? 

Just to drop a spanner in the warp drive as well, anyone notice the colour of the shirt on the nearside of that glass in the TWOK homage (below)?  It's not yellow...nor is is dress uniform's black.  Who else wears black in this trailer.....? What a twist to have Spock on the other side of the glass - is Harrison ultimately the person that saves the Enterprise and the memorial IS for him?! I NEED TO KNOW!!!

This trailer also has two distinct sections defined by the monologues from Pike and Harrison, separated by the "From Director JJ Abrams" moniker.  The former sets the scene, warns us of the threat to come and then we see exactly what that is.

"You think you're safe....You are not"

Immediately Cumberbatch drops into shot and the photo from earlier in the week is expanded so we see Harrison brig-bound.  I'm thinking it might be the Enterprise returning him to Earth.  Is his crew dead and he's the cause?  This looks early on and would suggest an escape attempt which could lead to the Enterprise taking to the water -  also slightly extended as per the Japanese trailer. This is probably all wrong but the pieces are there and in my mind it works that Harrison ditches the ship and then goes on a wrecking spree.    Mind-on-Possibility-Overload so they'd better be sending us another less convoluted trailer between now and Summer 2014!!!

Dr Who/Kidulthood actor Noel Clarke finally gets a blink-and-miss confirmation that he's in the film but doesn't give anything away as to what his role is however I might hypothesize that he is some kind of accomplice to Harrison. More interestingly what is the item he drops into the glass?  I can make out a "K" symbol on the bottom of a white cylinder but that's it, Trek fans.

There's a lot of space bound suited action with some unusual looking ships and serious explosive work going on including more of the fire planet from previous teaser pics and the first trailer. What is this all about and maybe this indicates that it's just a Starfleet vessel crashing and not specifically the Enterprise if rumours that the fleet gets trashed by Harrison are to be believed. What is Spock jumping off? What is Kirk firing at - notably his third distinct costume change from Starfleet yellow, combat clothes and what appears to be the dress uniform (no black though) as he shatters glass with a rifle shot (looks nothing like that "Where No Man Has Gone Before" version though...actually a lot cooler). Oh and there's some flashes of fisticuffs from Kirk and Harrison for good action measure. Phew!!!

"Is there anything you would not do for your family?"

Superhuman family perhaps, Mr Harrison? Speculation, speculation, speculation....

So that's it.  IMAX viewers get nine minutes if you see The Hobbit but for us mere mortals we can only wait...tick tick tick tick.....

Cue credits and the wait for our next taster installment!!! 

NOTE - as of the evening of December 17th this trailer was removed at the request of Paramount from the internet.  What is it that they don't want us to see??? It was available for about four hours before being pulled.  

Join me on Twitter @Clivos79

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

So Who Is John Harrison?!

So yesterday we were treated to a new piccie from Star Trek Into Darkness featuring Kirk,  Spock and.... John Harrison?!

Now far be it from me to comment that JJ Abrams is the master of deception (see Lost) but are we convinced that this is Cumberbatch's character's real name?

I see terribly little point postulating here whether it's code, he's still actually Khan or Gary Mitchell or whatever.  To be fair the rumours of Carol Marcus and Klingons that have been circulating must surely be part of the JJ Rumour War Machine gearing everyone into a frenzy for summer next year.

No doubt between now and then there will be more snippets from the movie and one or two longer trailers, rumour overdrive -  and how lucky was Japan with longer clips AND that slobberworthy additional scene reminiscent of TWOK in their trailer? Nice work Mr Abrams.

However,  let's take this latest image in the context of the trailer and what we already know.  This firmly cements the point that Cumberbatch is in Starfleet black at some point.  I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest that this looks like it's from the earlier sections of the film.  Does this suggest an escape and then Cumberbatch is responsible for the crashing of the Enterprise? Of course that might actually be another Starfleet ship and not the Enterprise hitting the drink!  

If it is from earlier in the film then it would then make sense as to why everyone is out of uniform later (on Earth?) we see all those explosions on the bridge and puts Cumberbatch entrance scene in the trailer actually later on in the closing portion of STID.  Let's see if I'm right....

On a side note,  great to see the brig back in Trek.  In keeping with the IKEA bridge its much more TNG than TOS bit I think we've already become more than comfortable with the concept of the alternate time line.

As I've entitled this blog,  So Who Is John Harrison?  Starfleet? Another ship captain?  A long lost Kirk associate?  Carol Marcus' previous lover? (hence the conflict between Pine and Cumberbatch?) It's all good seeing the rumours but is there the brewing maelstrom that we are all going to be so disappointed when we find out the truth and full plot that the hype and speculation will be all we recall from this long,  long,  long awaited sequel? Moreover what roles do Peter Weller and Noel Clarke have in all this as we haven't seen either of them yet?! 

There's still a lot for us to find out and 

Your thoughts....?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Trailer Into Darkness

"You think your world is safe? It's an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace for I have returned to have my vengeance."

The narrative rolls and so the questions begin as Paramount Pictures and JJ Abrams Bad Robot unveil the brand new teaser trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness and my god does it whet the appetite for Summer 2013. It only seems like a couple of days since we were treated to the poster for STID (well actually it was only a couple of days) and while we're still reeling from that those cheeky monkeys have leaned in and slammed home a heavy right hook with 1 minute and 19 seconds worth of Trek ecstasy.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Keith Urban all feature within the trailer so the crew is back (although I had a hard job spotting Anton Yelchin) along with Mystery Guest Number One in the form of Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Mystery Guest Number Two - who exactly is the blonde Starfleet character we see twice during the trailer?  

Suspicions on the latter have suggested it be some long lost Kirk flame or could it be Dr Elizabeth Dehner from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which would mean - shock, horror, gasp - that Cumberbatch ISN'T playing Khan Noonien Singh after all but Gary Mitchell?! How about this - perhaps this is the one and only Carol Marcus?  How 'bout that one? Or if we are seriously still thinking about the Khan possibility is it therefore Lt Marla McGivers, the future Mrs KNS?

So what does this trailer really tell us about the sequel to the 2009 reboot?  Well if we're honest not a bloody lot.  There are lots of short snaps to action shots through the film and I doubt they are in any sort of order.  Here's what I managed to pick out from a few viewings:

Some sort of award or induction ceremony I'm guessing at Starfleet and therefore pretty early on in the film.  Could this actually be where Kirk and "Mitchell" first meet? and act as more of a prologue to the rest of the film?  That's my guess at this point.

Then there's Kirk and possibly Sulu/McCoy running through some sort of red alien-type plant life.  What this is about is anyone's to theorise at this point.  I'm thinking it's at the end of some kind of action sequence as they both end up jumping off a cliff into the sea but why???? Aside from that apparently offworld activity there's also some more shots of the "fire world" hinted at in previous images with Kirk in one of the revamped spacesuits.  How this fits is yet another mystery to solve - is this where they find Cumberbatch's character?  Can't wait to find out!!!

Then we get the arrival of the villain - who might not be as villainous as we first believed if we go by Cumberbatch's description of the character a few weeks ago? For starters that's a very big gun he's toting and how we get to this point is all still to be revealed and there won't be many Trekkers who will want to wait. Judging from the surroundings it looks like this could be from the layer stages of the feature in the buildup to the final and no doubt epic confrontation and fight scene. Now the big thing we all want to know is WHO the hell is he supposed to be?  

Khan was always the favourite but that would mean Star Trek 2 would be a rehash of Star Trek II which I find unlikely and would turn all of Trekdom against the reboot series forevermore.  Montalban was Khan, is Khan and will always be Khan.  Here endeth the lesson.  I firmly believe that this rumour was spread to take fans off the scent from Day One.  A good move and one that meant our fandom eye was taken off the ball.  Adding Mystery Guest Two into the trailer does open up a lot of possibilities - it might even mean that this is a totally new character although his few lines of speech over the trailer suggest it's someone we know.  The theatrical nature of the words might hint at a Khan-like villain but I now think this seems unlikely.  I'll be gutted if it is Khan because I have a bet with a colleague of mine for a £1 that it isn't. Game On.

Could the shot with Cumberbatch in black with the arrow head symbol visible more likely be from the aforementioned prologue section than from the main piece of the film OR does it indicate he infiltrates the Enterprise and have more than a little too do with the ship ending up in the drink that nicely caps off this epic teaser? The eagle-eyed will have spotted that in between all the nice bits there are one or two explosions and clear signs of Starfleet equipment and personnel flying about (on the ship?) so that would fit with the crash sequence at least.

Now - that really sent a chill down my spine, seeing the warp nacelles emerging from the swirl and even more when there's a brief clip of her heading the other way into the waters. Wow -a starship operating within a planet's atmosphere and not a blue alert in sight? That's surely a massive contravention of Roddenberry's reason for having the transporters!!! However, it does fit snugly with JJ's vision of the creation of the Enterprise as we saw in the first movie so a nice bit of (probably not 100% intentional) continuity that spits in the face of the Prime Trek universe.

Also spotted were some clear indications that most of the action will be Earth-centric with Spock in science blue sprinting through the streets.  The other shots of McCoy Scotty, Spock and Uhura oddly have them in alternative attire suggesting a lot of off-ship activity and not in the familiar Starfleet shades as we might have expected.  With Uhura in tears here comforted by Scotty do we get the prospect of a certain pointy-eared one in mortal peril?  Echoes of another Trek II???  Let's see....

What we can be absolutely concrete on is that Earth is going to Hell in a handbasket and the crew of the Enterprise are going with it as we witness the beginnings of the destruction of a city at the very least.  Most likely to my mind is that this is Starfleet HQ/the United Federation of Planets building crashing down.

Let's be honest these teaser trailers do exactly that - tease - and with music not dissimilar to that which you would find in promos for Prometheus (that horn/trumpet note repeat is very distinctive) or The Dark Knight Rises, this brings the hairs on the back of your neck straight to attention. The clever bit is just trying to work out what order these bits SHOULD be in and the relevance of the bits we see. Hopefully here I've opened your eyes to a few suggestions and it might just spark one or two conversations off!

Just to finish this off with a flourish it's also come to my attention that the Japanese have managed to get a slightly better and longer trailer. Stick around for the final scene...does it remind you of anything in particular? I'm not saying a THING ok, ok, maybe apart something to do with the radiation leak that Scotty can't get in to fix, the mains coming back on line and...I'll stop there....Good shot there JJ, that wasn't hammered in to make the fans all scream out for just a little more....

As Benedict Cumberbatch rumbles as the trailer draws to its conclusion and the months of speculation start to snowball....

"So shall we begin?"

Join me on Twitter @TheWarpCore