Monday, 20 January 2014

Russ, Renegades and a Review

This begins our dark introduction into the world of Star Trek: Renegades, the trailer descends on what appears to be a jail cell; a lone woman chalks her words onto a wall... 

As this trailer unfolds it becomes very clear that this will be more than your average Trek. Tim Russ definitely intends to take us to the outer edges of the Federation, and possibly beyond.

This is just the beginning of both the teaser trailers, click here to see them both in full length, plus some very fascinating interviews with cast members! 

Maybe it's the unexpected all star cast? It's quite one thing to have Tim Russ directing this, let alone reprising his role as Tuvok (Voyager). Then we look at the caliber of actors all along for the ride, the mix of talent available to this production is truly impressive. You'd be forgiven thinking that this is your run-of-the-mill fan fiction. Don't be fooled however, as we have truly seasoned Star Trek actors involved...

Tim Russ - That's right, he's not only the director, but he'll also be slapping those pointed ears back on (and likely slapping down some more ensigns too!). Logic has never been so dark.This will be Tuvok's first on screen appearance since 2001 and Voyager's finale, Endgame

No pressure then. In the intervening years it's good to see Mr Russ has been honing his skills on such wonderous TV programmes as I, Carly... Seriously, should be awesome to see him back in action as the joint lead with...

Walter Koenig - It's nice to see him beyond commander, but whatever you do, please don't ask him to say Nuclear Wessels or he vill haf to stun you.

Yes, the original Chekov will be back on screen for the first time since 1994 (Star Trek: Generations) because officially we don't class his appearance in Phase II ...although we probably should if we're talking about another fan-made production. Oh, hang on. We are.

Robert Picardo - Stop the press... He won't be playing our neighbourhood EMH so we won't get to know the nature of the medical emergency this time around.

Instead, he'll be reprising his brief role as Dr Lewis Zimmerman, a character not seen on our screens since 2000 in Lifeline from season six of Voyager. Actually Zimmerman wasn't around that much at all - fleetingly in the first few years - ProjectionsThe Swarm to name a few before he turned up in Deep Space Nine's Doctor Bashir, I Presume as an actual real person. How Zimmerman is going to fit into what looks like Star Trek mixed with Rambo is up for discussion.

Now I imagine at this point you're thinking "Great, but why am I going to bother with ANOTHER spin off?"

Well, as the full teaser suggests, the Federation is faced with yet another threat, however this new nemesis is beyond the reach of the Federation's typical 'good will politics'. 

Tuvok, now head of Section 31, is tasked with answering this unknown enemy head on. Not an easy job considering this adversary has the ability of cutting the Federation off from dilithium, and also appears to be annexing planets from space and time. Nice.

As you peruse through the library of information on the Renegades website, the trailers, masses of interview footage, promo videos, even the new comedy segments. You definitely get an idea of the work that has gone into making this a reality. 

Although I was a little disappointed with the second trailer if I can be honest. How can I put this... it was a Transformers take on Star Trek. The deep soundtrack behind it, the transforming title at the end, the mash of apparently random scenes. I was intrigued, but not satisfied. It felt, incomplete. 

Now, as you can tell, I watched both trailers in completely the wrong order, something in fact I recommend as an introduction to Renegades. The first trailer, whilst it lacks the 'epic' text segments, does trump the second. There is better introduction and explanation, they haven't tried to mash it together and hope for the best. The structure is very well done for this, a short briefing, melding into an invigorating and progressive background sound piece, with the scenes building up into... *enter transforming title sequence.*

So what's exactly in the trailers? What can we take from the limited glimpse? Well, you have some curious segments from Chekov and Tuvok, setting the story, it leads us to believe that this new threat could provide a tipping point in the Federation's affairs. The fact they have resorted to bringing Section 31 in to deal with the crisis I believe is meant to portray the seriousness of the situation. 
So what of moving forward? 

At present, we know of this new enemy the Syphons, we don't know anything of them other than one Syphon in particular, Borrada, has a serious grudge with the Federation for an incident with portals? This is the full detail at present, other than this new species appears to be particularly aggressive. I guess we'll have to wait and see as more information feeds through.

When +Clive Burrell and I were discussing Renegades (amongst many other upcoming titles), it became clear from the outset that this was something special. It immediately gave you a 'Where No Man has Gone Before' thrill. Sure, you can throw many examples of promising fan fiction at us, but there is something quite different about Renegades - something I'm yet to put my finger on.

To say that these are just the tip of the iceberg would be quite an understatement, having looked at the accompanying cast, we can see echoes of other popular shows.. Stargate SG-1, Charmed, ER, That 70's Show, CSI: Miami, this list is endless and well worth a click here for the full cast listing, we think you'll be surprised and excited (Edward Furlong?!).

It's a unique situation, which requires a unique crew. Cue the Renegades (would have screwed the title if this wasn't the case...). A rag-tag crew whose abilities - and lack of restriction to Starfleet regulations - are just the right kind of crazy to possibly get the job done. Even the audio wasn't up to scratch, with imbalances between the background and the scene audio. Not to say it wasn't good, I was thoroughly hooked on the first scene. It certainly teased my curiosity. If this is their worst, then it would appear promising.

But I can't shake the feeling that Tim and Walter's involvement in this story will actually be quite limited, the Hors d'oeuvre to the Renegades crew. I can certainly understand though, given how much time Tim must be putting in to direct this as well as acting in it. 

Captain Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson pictured left) on the other hand... she appears to have quite a major role and back-story in this. Even from the first trailer it is clear she will be a lead role as (the sexy) captain of the renegade starship, her appearances in this trailer alone are quite a few. 

It's curious to find from the website and trailers, this character delves once again into the Eugenics Wars sub-story that has been present throughout canon Trek. However, this time there's an interesting twist - her character is apparently a direct decendant of one Khan Noonien Singh. I certainly hope moving forward, there is good explanation for this, as at present there is no evidence that Khan had any siblings or indeed lineage (being genetically engineered). For the moment, I'll stick to saying Kirk would be crushed to hear this...

Hang on a moment, surely if Admiral Chekov knew of this, he'd never let her out of that cell in the first place? Wow, the explanation had better be award winning to explain away this curve-ball! One other thing I have noticed even though principle photography finished in October 2013 is the lack of CGI - ships, planets...or anything aside from a glowy globe (trailer one) and the title effect...I suspect that's being kept under wraps and will need to be pretty impressive to beat Axanar's CGI tests and the work of Phase II among others.

All of this leaves me (I'm almost ashamed to admit), priapic with anticipation. You can blame the influences of one Jeremy Clarkson for that...

But where does this leave us? I'm sure by now you've watched both the trailers, and have come to your own conclusions. But it would be very remiss of me not too provide my own thoughts, in true SKoST tradition. We aren't however, above reproach. If you feel there's even more than meets the eye, why not get involved? Drop us a comment below!

All images taken from the Star Trek: Renegades trailers available on YouTube. No infringement of copyright is intended.
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