Wednesday, 14 October 2015

30 Days of Trek - Day Fourteen


Is this the biggest no-brainer question so far?

Potentially but I didn't want to remove it just to see if there is one stand-out example.

Star Trek in the 1960's wasn't renowned for it's ship effects and space engagements. It would have the occasional encounter but they were limited and sometimes relied on the USS Enterprise taking on a distance blip of light. With the arrival of Star Trek on the big screen in The Motion Picture a lot changed and the stunning work of Industrial Light and Magic had a huge impact on the way in which stories could be told.

Even The Next Generation suffered from the TV series budget and the limitations of model-work. There were space-based conflicts ship-to-ship which saw Picard's crew face off against the Borg, Romulans and other assorted vessels including that wonderful sequence in All Good Things... with a vertically climbing future Enterprise taking on two Klingon craft.

Deep Space Nine was the first show to really grab and run with the idea of space battles starting out in The Jem'Hadar with the Dominion ships taking on the Galaxy Class USS Odyssey and then with the arrival of the USS Defiant there was a whole new potential available. The battle sequence from The Die is Cast reportedly took six months to film and was reliant on models to complete. Things would change as both the big screen Enterprise-E, Voyager and the later years of Deep Space Nine plus Enterprise embraced the CG universe. While you might think the movie Sovereign Class Enterprise was the most detailed of the franchise's starships it was actually the NX-01.

So, after that short potted history, what was my favourite? The Mutara Nebula from Star Trek II

For the first time we were seeing a space battle in three dimensions, emphasised by the fact that Khan displays "two-dimensional thinking" leading to some sublime shots of the Enterprise swinging around behind the Reliant as the two ships hunt each other in maneuvers not dissimilar to submarines. Earlier in the film we'd already seen some explosive special effects when the two ships met before Kirk reaches Regula One but for me this is the most impressive sequence to date even given the CG technology of later shows and even the hugely expensive and visually impressive reboots.

Not every space battle has to be about multiple explosions and destruction (Scimitar versus Enterprise take note) and in The Wrath of Khan we saw true tactics play out in a sequence that highlighted model photography techniques, effects accompanied by a perfect score from James Horner. Pure Star Trek perfection if ever there was.

Am I right that this is THE best battle sequence or was there something that topped even this?

Follow 30 Days of Trek and join in with the daily challenge across the SKoST social media platforms! I'll be back at 1pm TOMORROW with the fifteenth question!

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