Monday, 30 December 2019

Picard: Countdown Issue 2 AND Trailer Spots


Picard is captured, the Romulans are in danger of extinction...

Sounds like an average day in Starfleet and probably a quiet one for Admiral Jean-Luc in this second issue of the Countdown series coming ahead of the January series premiere.

Picking up where issue one left off (shocker), the story continues on the three fronts; briefly the Romulans arriving at Chateau Picard and then on the surface of Yuyat Beta and, before you forget it's there, aboard the USS Verity in orbit.

Now, I'm going to say this pretty straight, I'm not sure I'm seeing much of the point to these three prequel comic issues ahead of January 23rd. The artwork is fantastic, the story itself is well plotted but we know what Picard was involved with that "leads" into the series and I can't decide whether these are clever spoilers, winks or just a general tease. These events have already "happened" if you will by the time we are reacquainted with the former Enterprise captain and this tale appears to be a story within the overall evacuation story.

So we can see that the Romulans are unwilling to aid the native population of Yuyat Beta from being destroyed when the Hobus star goes supernova and we can understand the moral dilemma facing Admiral Picard but will this be an incident that is closely linked into the events of the series? Will this be mentioned or is it going to be a never-mentioned sub-paragraph of one day in the life...?

Picard proposes to step out into new territory and with Countdown we are at least getting a hint of what that future and Starfleet itself is looking like from a physical perspective. It has linked in at least one of Jean-Luc's new crew into his backstory and I believe that the Romulans we are seeing in the "present" rather than the evacuation timeline may be the more prevalent element of the narrative yet to this stage are being incredibly well under-played as a footnote.

Over in trailerville though, we've had some new material on the show. Not a great deal of new info thrown out in the latest teaser but we do get more footage of Picard and Riker  plus a little more of Seven and Picard's conversation at (what I expect) is the Picard vineyard. 


Most interesting has to be the new shots of the updated-for-2019 Borg drone quite literally flashed into the opening seconds of the trailer as well as the Entertainment Weekly shot of Hugh's drastic new look which does have some lineage back to his heavily prosthetic-covered look last seen in the conclusion of Descent from 1993.

The makeup is definitely in line with the First Contact/Voyager Borg we were used to after 1996 but might this be a freed drone?

We also have Federation ships of a new and unknown design flashing by some form of starbase structure as well as what might be a good, clear crisp shot of the rear of the hero ship from the show. Unusually they're firing red energy weapons which we would expect from a Klingon craft.

I've included some of the new shots below for perusal - not a lot to discuss from these I feel but well worth a look over. Perhaps the best shot in there we haven't seen before is early on with Picard seated in front of what looks like the curved windows from Ten Forward. Could this be part of a flashback or dream sequence including Data? Are we going to be dipping onboard the D and E more than we have been let into?


New ship on approach?



Jean-Luc in Ten Forward perhaps? Or is this on another starship...?




At home with Seven - who also got her very own mini-trailer (shot below)






New Borg makeup in close. Still retaining the veined facial appearance with familiar looking eyewear and hoses. I don't think there's been a lot of changes from the '96 update.




New character we've not seen in the trailers before




Close look at the apparently damaged Borg Cube. We've been thinking the Romulans are in control of this but what if it's Starfleet?

Then there was a little second trailer that gave us a few more new looks at Troi, Riker plus the latest variation of the Starfleet uniform as below...


At home with the Rikers - Picard drops by for advice?





Location unknown - what might they be looking for?


New uniforms - take note of the All Good Things... combadge and the medal/badge on the opposite side. Plus - first Vulcan of the new series?


Backing up the curved windows shot near the top of this selection, those wall tiles look awfully familiar...


Not as welcome as we thought? More to Picard's visit to the Romulan village?

What have you spotted in the trailer or Countdown that will be a key part of Picard?

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Saturday, 28 December 2019

A Bold Frontier to Explore: The Animated Short Treks


I wasn’t expecting much from the last of this batch of Short Treks but my under-expectation has been trounced with over delivery. 

Launching on the same day, Ephriam and Dot and The Girl Who Made the Stars represent a daring and brave move from the Star Trek Universe, offering up the first animated instalments since the revered series of the mid-1970’s and its first CG stories EVER. 

Tonally the two are chalk and cheese with one airing towards an element of slapstick comedy with an emotional end kick directed by Star Trek composer Michael Giacchino while the other boasts a tale of legend and adventure wrapped within a bedtime story from writer Brandon Schultz and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.

I want to tackle Ephriam and Dot first. I was absolutely blown away by this one. It tells the story of a female Tardigrade and how her life is entwined with the USS Enterprise from the first season of The Original Series through to her fiery demise above the Genesis Planet.

Containing barely any dialogue (and any there is, it’s taken from classic episodes), the seven minute story takes us chasing through future history to catch the starship at various points in its famous lifespan.  The animation is crisp and colourful, matching the smattering of slapstick comedy sprinkled into the story in almost a cat and mouse game between the tardigrade and a Dot-9 repair unit. 

While the story has a happy ending which might even draw a speck of a tear, the pace of this short is incredible as we are bounced from one event to another there are a few "issues" we have to address.

Firstly, the events from Star Trek history play out in the incorrect order - Khan, Tribbles, The Naked Time - didn't happen like that and shows a worrying level of disregard and lack of basic knowledge of the source materal. This is "corrected" as we spin past Apollo's green hand, the Doomsday Machine, the Tholians and Abraham Lincoln. No sign of V'Ger as we skip to the Mutara Nebula and then onto Genesis - where the Enterprise is inexplicably labelled as NCC-1701-A and sent fandom into an animated meltdown. 

Now normally errors wouldn't bother me but this is inexcusable and downright lazy. In fact I'd go as far as saying it's on the verge of ruining the fine work put into making this such a damn enjoyable piece of Star Trek. It proves the format still works but the inconsistency is almost a raised mid-digit to the fans and for some might just add fuel to the fire that the current administration don't give a damn about canon and 50 years of universe building.

I love the concept and the humour here; it really works and is Star Trek that might appeal to a far younger audience than ever before and if it does then it has absolutely succeeded as a test bed for future projects (which I fully believe that the shorts should be to gauge audience engagement) but for older and more established fans it may have missed the mark because of the lack of attention to detail.

Over with The Girl Who Made the Stars we have a very different style of animation. It's darker in tone, following a more recognisable narrative structure with Michael Burnham's father telling her a bedtime story of a brave young girl.

An inspiring and empowering tale, the visual quality of this one is stunning. The CG is gorgeous with the young Burnham all wide-eyed in awe and fascination as she "plays" the lead character in the tale (eagle-eyed will notice she's in bed with a cuddly tardigrade...nudge nudge...!). This is a journey, again a direct contrast to the previous Short Trek, providing a spotlight on a key character in the franchise at an unexpected moment in her life. 

There is a nice twist to the story (which I won't ruin) but where this one wins against the more colourful, lighter Ephriam and Dot is that it offers something a little more mature, more shadowy and a little bit more what I would term as traditionally Star Trek in the way it is presented. It's a coming of age piece that also offers positivity and inspiration (perhaps) to a younger audience once again and also demonstrates that Star Trek can do a broad range of material using this medium rather than relying on live action alone again and again.

The Girl Who Made the Stars looks great, narrates perfectly and feels incredibly solid. There is an alien aspect to it, there is a space link but for me it's more about an overall experience with this short, there's almost a sense of something quite personal. Maybe its only shortcoming is that it isn't something I would usually class as a Star Trek story BUT that's the quirk of the shorts - they can go a little off track and do something we wouldn't expect thus expanding the Universe that extra few inches to help round out the overall vision. 

Did you enjoy this time's shorts? What has been the highlight of these latest six?

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Friday, 20 December 2019

Green Lit: The Official Starships Collection Issues 162 and 163


Coming to the collection 25 years after its appearance in the franchise, the Lakul adds an oft discussed starship to the collection.



Seen for only a few moments while held within the Nexus, the Whorfin Class ship would be destroyed with significant loss of life in the seventh Star Trek movie however it's striking design has remained a strong image for myself ever since.




Eaglemoss' latest production brings that very craft to life. I do find that there are certain "facial" similarities between this and the Event Horizon from the film of the same name. There's a distinct industrial/1950's feel to the shape of the Lakul too with its curved grey panelling and odd outslung engines giving it a very unique silhouette. 




Let's take a deeper look into this one. As with a few recent releases, the Lakul was a blink-and-miss but that's not deterred from seeing that the final model was good enough to stand up to the rigours of cinematic scrutiny. 




The metal/plastic mix is a bit more intricate than usual on this one as well with both materials wrapping together at some points, most notably at the back where plastic hull parts are glued on top and underneath of the metal structure.




The shape of the Lakul is very unusual with a half-cylindrical "head" to the front with painted on rather than recessed windows. As noted there's more of this plastic wrap with that forward unit locked into the central metal body. It's a seamless visual transition into the metal body mainly due to the way it is slotted together and the colour match between the sections. In that respect, the Lakul has two distinct grey shades right across the model with the lighter colour highlighting some of the panels top and bottom.




One thing to note is how the plastic sections to the rear have more distinctive panel lines than the metal. Looking at the two column structures to either side of the "head", the detail itself is a tad washed out, more due to the shape rather than the amount of paint used to cover them.




The back end is as interesting as the front, perhaps more so with a plastic housing slipped over the top of the thinned metal body and then a second plastic section slotted in underneath. The wrap effect of the materials really works here and the joins between then are very well camouflaged through the paint scheme. To either side and reaching out from the plastic underside are the two warp pylons. 




These are very sturdy even considering their width and thickness. Attached to either end and continuing the paint theme to their tips are the two stubby warp engines. Panel detail is nice and clean on all these elements with the plastics overall having the better lining impressions. This is backed up with the point that the detail on the very back of the Lakul where there are very clear docking ports and gimbles around the twin hatches.




Given its unconventional appearance and cumbersome frame, Eaglemoss have worked a lovely bit of constructive magic with the Lakul. Pristine paint scheme coupled with a clean build make this a lovely ship for display although you're probably going to have to explain to a lot of people exactly what it is and where it appeared!




The magazine for issue 162 takes us back into the 23rd Century section of Generations, recounting the incident that led to the apparent death of James T Kirk and the loss of the Lakul herself. There are a few additional notes around the ship herself including the fascinating point that the other ship that was destroyed was the Robert Fox named after the ambassador from A Taste of Armageddon in The Original Series.

It's a good issue this time because not only do we get the usual narrative but there are six pages handed over to discussing how the odd design of this ship evolved and what ended up being used on screen. Lots of sketches, pics and more in this bit which made for a very good read. Even more impressive for me, who loves Generations was the final article talking about how they created the Stellar Cartography set for one of the movie's most important scenes. For me this is up there as one of Star Trek's most exciting sets and to have some more background on its conception is fantastic to read.



Back in time now to Enterprise and the Orions. You can tell it's an Orion ship because it's green.




Distinctly resembling a bird/70's sci-fi fighter plane, the Orion Interceptor could easily be a majestic bird of prey with its sewpt and arched wings and that striking beak thrusting out at the front.

In comparison to the Lakul this thing is extremely light with a metal top piece and then a plastic insert for the ventral area as we've seen on numerous occasions.

It's another that I struggle to place within the Enterprise series so I've been a lot more reliant on the magazine to keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to reviewing her. However, this is another interesting footnote in the franchise. Eaglemoss have definitely captured the aggressive nature of the ship especially through the forming of the beak on the nose and the red blending back into the solid green of the main hull.

For its size too the Interceptor packs a lot in; there are the ship markings on the nose (unusual outside of Starfleet) plus Orion script and decals applied to the wings. These do lift this model out of the average since they are quite small details that we will have all missed on the show and are now being introduced to properly through the collection.

Along the centre line on the sides and just behind the painted windows of the bridge we have some very small technical detailing which I was surprised to see given the sleek nature and scale of the craft. Within the pieces on the top you can make out shapes of equipment around the smoother hull plating.

That plating itself also seems to have some slight tonal differences across the surface. Not so much a two-tone as a mottled effect which gives off different tones in patches when it catches the light. This works really well to give a used and worn feel to the Interceptor which manages to have some panels in different colours indicating some form of repair work and/or battle damage.

The wings themselves are an extension of the hull, sweeping out into their crescent forms and also curving slightly down to the tips. The thickness of the wings - which includes exhaust openings to the rear definitely help the structure as they are very firm and there's virtually no give in them.

There is a very striking propulsion unit with the Interceptor with a single unit on the topside and then three engines slung underneath. The detail on the panelling and the depth to the exhausts on all four is fairly impressive and gives a sense that these are fed from deep inside the hull. In fact on the underside of the Interceptor it's the engine assembly that's the real draw for me. It looks like it means business and it's rare to see such "antiquated" engine tech in Star Trek that reminds us so clearly of proper rocket boosters.

It's a nice, if forgettable model from Eaglemoss in this case and even with the fancy vents and "cutout" hull sections showing sensor equipment and the like, it doesn't really help this one get a lot of attention. The colour is great, the decals are great and the look is great. As a model it works perfectly but I don't see it being one that we'll be clamouring to see back in stock quickly. It's possibly one of those that we'll suggest could have been dropped for other items that should have been included. 

The Interceptor's magazine follows the standard tried and tested specs and discussion of its appearances in Enterprise followed up by the design process. Lots of good background material to get your teeth into but nothing mind-blowing that you'll be bookmarking for future use I suspect!

Thoughts on the Lakul? Remember the Interceptor? Comment below!


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Saturday, 14 December 2019

Picard and Romulan Conundrums


Picard will be here in a matter of weeks.

While the Borg and the return of some of our most beloved The Next Generation and one Voyager crew member have taken a substantial amount of the limelight, we have to remember that the Romulans will be playing a key role in the next chapter of Jean-Luc's life.
From what we know there are sure to be references back to I Borg, Descent, Lore, B4, potentially clues as to what happened to Voyager when she got back from the Delta Quadrant but what about the Romulans?

We know that a cataclysmic event, more than likely the destruction of Romulus as seen in the 2009 reboot, has caused major ripples through the Empire and that Picard was a key player but past that we are ever so slightly in the dark. The initial edition of the three comic series, Countdown has shown that the Romulans were still very secretive about their society even up to the point where they were being hurriedly evacuated from the explosive range of the supernova.

But what events from the past might we also want to see or hear referenced in the new show; what moments from The Next Generation could influence plot points or characters' attitudes in the series?

For one there have to be a couple of mentions if not appearances to answer the 20 - plus year mystery of what happened to Commander Sela, last seen leading a failed attempt to invade Vulcan during The Next Generation's fifth season. Aside from a good reason to get Denise Crosby back on screen, it's one of those elements of the show which never really received closure...did she survive the supernova and if so where did she end up. What other career paths did she travel since the failure of her invasion?

Maybe a second element worth reminding viewers is that Picard won't be the first time that Jean-Luc has been involved with rescuing Romulans. If we flash back into the vault, Picard helped repatriate the crew of a Warbird after their warp core was used as an incubator by an unidentified alien race in Timescape. This was the episode that actually prompted my thoughts around how much we will get to revisit from the annals of the franchise and whether or not the production wants to acknowledge its hefty back catalogue beyond including familiar faces and try to mix in Star Trek history.

With the sixth season episode from The Next Generation Picard didn't initiate the rescue but he was there to clean up the mess so to speak and we know Riker is back in the new show which would spin all that together for the script. Timescape is a fine example of the Romulans and Federation working together for a positive outcome unlike the majority of their encounters across the franchise although we'll come to another partnership in a moment.


Thinking a little laterally off that remark, what's the stance on cloaking devices at the end of the 24th Century going to be? Again Picard was involved in the re-acquirement of a prototype Federation device previously tested on the USS Pegasus and against the fabled Treaty of Algeron. We can guess from the inclusion of the Odyssey Class in the recent first issue of Countdown that ship tech has moved on but where is the land lying around this game changer? One possibility to think about is that Starfleet will have a significant upper hand in the space race with all the advances that will have come back with Voyager especially the slipstream technology. Recall as well that Picard was open to informing the Romulans about the hidden technology which must give a few more points in their good books.

Thinking of Enterprise-D involvement with Romulans, there could be a part of the crumbled Empire that recalls that Worf declined to provide a blood transfusion to save the life of a Romulan in The Enemy and are still tetchy about the matter. Picard allowed him to make the choice in the episode and now we have him helping what was a dangerous opponent.

The big elephant in the room however has to be the Dominion War. In the Pale Mooonlight has a lot to answer for and not least for the addition of the Romulans to the fight alongside the Klingons and the Federation. You have to ask if there were any repercussions from the rather underhand way in which they were brought into the war by Ben Sisko although my further question off that is how come that unity doesn't seem to have blossomed? If we recall Nemesis it looked as though there were going to be inroads made between the Federation and Romulus yet even the Countdown comic suggests very little has changed in the relationship between the two powers.

In a lot of ways, Picard has been intrinsically linked with the Romulans since the end of the first season of The Next Generation. He was there when they ended their second period of isolation (The Neutral Zone) and even there when the Empire fell - well he was technically there twice. Is this perhaps another element that has played havoc with his conscience over the years? Shinzon was a clone of the Enterprise captain and Picard could be wrestling with guilt that he was part of the reason their great Empire entered a darker time.

Picard has a lot of possible backstory and emotion to mine although there have been some clear signals that this will be very much a series standing out on its own. Now we know that was also true of Discovery and that lasted less than a season before elements of previous incarnations were being dipped into the show (Harry Mudd for one). Picard has made it clear that returning characters from The Next Generation and Voyager will be essential elements to the series but not whether their pasts will be woven into the plot.

What Romulan elements would you want to see included in Picard?

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Rene Auberjonois: In Memoriam


With news earlier last week of the passing of Charlie X actor Robert Walker it was perhaps an even more shocking blow to the Star Trek community to hear of the loss of Deep Space Nine’s Rene Auberjonois.

Already an acclaimed actor with credits such as M*A*S*H and a huge catalogue of voice work, he would first be exposed to the franchise not in 1993 but in 1991 and The Undiscovered Country which celebrated 28 years since release on December 6th. 

His part, that of the conspiratorial Colonel West would be clipped from the theatrical release but be reinstated for the video release the following year. 

Over the course of seven seasons we would become better acquainted with the actor through his role as shapeshifter and station security chief Odo in a role that would be pivotal to the whole series and offer an incredible character development arc that ‘stretched’ from the first episode to the last - but we shall come to that shortly.

Nor would the role of Odo be his last role in the Star Trek universe with Auberjonois returning one more time for the Enterprise episode Oasis as well as appearing in the recent Deep Space Nine retrospective What We Left Behind.

Behind the camera Auberjonois would direct a further eight episodes of the Star Trek spin-off including Hippocratic Oath, The Quickening and Waltz.

In memory of Rene we at Some Kind of Star Trek would like to offer up some of our favourite Odo moments from the series to celebrate his work on Deep Space Nine...

1. Odo becomes a solid; 

Broken Link

While it would be season three’s finale The Adversary that saw a Changeling harm another for the first time in their history, it would take a season for the punishment to be dished out. Guilty of the crime, Odo is stripped of his ability to shape shift and Auberjonois has a whole new aspect of his character to deal with. Great work from Rene here as Odo becomes increasingly ill and realises what he must do...The resulting change in "form" lasted for the following half a season, allowing Auberjonois a chance to spread his wings under Klingon makeup as well as an occasional romance.

2. Finally kissing Kira; 

His Way

Only taken like six seasons?! Years of tension, suggestion and sideways looks all came together on the Promenade. One of the few occasions Rene got to play a softer and more intimate side to his character more openly than ever before - plus he got the girl! I'd also couple this episode with Auberjonois' more relaxed Odo from the future featured in Children of Time which saw him confess all to Kira and lead to this a season later.





3. Unable to break form; 

The Die is Cast

Broken Link may have seen Odo weakened but this was Odo at his most vulnerable, being tortured at the hands of Garak aboard the Cardassian/Romulan assault fleet. Truly a mesmerising performance between Auberjonois and Andrew Robinson that has to be beheld and is one of the pinnacles of the show overall especially when we discover that Odo wants desperately to return home - perhaps the only time we ever really see him crack...




4. "I’m...home"; 

The Search

Single biggest character development EVER just ahead of Bashir turning out to be either a)Changeling or b)genetic superman. Auberjonois wasn’t a fan initially but this gave Odo such a new lease of life and spun the character into a whole new realm that would be instrumental in the structure of Deep Space Nine up to its very conclusion.




5. Quark and Odo; 

(multiple inc) The Ascent

The relationship between these two was immense and putting the two of them together for a full episode was definitely the way to explore it even more. I could've listed a whole ton of moments here from the last conversation they have in What You Leave Behind, maybe Quark showing he does care when Odo is escorted to the Defiant in Broken Link, Odo's masked concerns in Necessary Evil...name an episode and you can see the brilliance of this partnership all the way through the show.


6. Curzon Odo; 

Facets

When is Odo not Odo? When he's taking part in a Trill ritual and gets to host Curzon Dax. Maybe not strictly an Odo moment but one that allowed Auberjonois' the chance to step outside the usual restrictions of the character and play out a little more humour and emotion. 


7. Could it be...?; 

Vortex

Auberjonois first foray into the background - or potential background - of Odo which revealed a more caring and human side than we had seen in the first half of season one. While Vortex isn't going to win any awards, it does allow Odo and Rene to shine and demonstrate that there were a lot of dimensions to the shapeshifter although we'd have to wait a little longer to find out just where he came from... (thanks to James Smith from the Stoke on Trent Star Trek Club for this suggestion).






What are your favourite Odo moments from the series? Comment below!


RIP Rene Auberjonois 
1 June 1940 - 8 December 2019

Sunday, 8 December 2019

The Odd One Out: The Motion Picture at 40


For 40 years I've shared the Earth with The Motion Picture and even now I’m not 100% sure what to make of it.  

Of all the Star Treks of all the eras of all the times, The Motion Picture is an oddment, a sore thumb some might say which stands out when everything else around it has managed to blend in. I could equate it to the quiet kid in the class who gets picked on because he’s different, unique and doesn’t have to be part of the ‘in’ crowd.

I can personally vouch for that situation as my school life had moments where I felt the odd one out for one reason or another - several times because Star Trek wasn't the cool thing to be liking during the '90's Britpop era. In that sense it does speak to me. It's the only Star Trek movie that Gene Roddenberry really had any serious involvement with before The Next Generation (the theme tune's a bit of a giveaway!) and therefore may well be the closest single cinematic Trek to the creator's vision for the franchise with a plot that steers clear of phaser fights and starship battles to seek out a much deeper meaning. Whether it gets there or not is debatable.

Now, The Motion Picture wasn't the first Star Trek movie I watched, that credit went to The Wrath of Khan but after I was hooked on the spectacle of that it was only a matter of time before I got to watch the earlier entry and that would occur over a Christmas in the mid-80's on a recorded version that had the last ten minutes chopped off...I had to wait another year or so to see what the twist was!

Frankly the first two movies couldn't be more different and while the drafting of McCoy, return of Spock and promotion of Kirk are important elements of the timeline, you might be forgiven for skipping "One" and heading straight for "Two" and the Mutara Nebula. However, I would heed you to avoid such a bold step and take the time to appreciate just what The Motion Picture was trying to do and what it succeeded in doing.

Legendary Sound of Music and Run Silent Run Deep director Robert Wise's space epic is indeed unique among its 12 other feature-length relations. First, it's the only one produced in the 1970's and has the benefit/disadvantage of using the sets and even script from the aborted Phase II series which meant that it could utilise existing materials - which didn't stop a ridiculously high $35 million on a projected $15 million budget.

In my article for HeroCollector I talked about how the arrival of The Motion Picture ushered in the future of Star Trek - series, movies, merchandise and the like but if we take it at face value it is possibly Star Trek's single greatest event.

It's unique not just because of the incredibly bland uniforms or the one off appearances for Decker and Ilia (losing out on being main cast for Phase II and this being their payoff if you will) but because it's meant to be seen on that cinematic monster screen. The film is a visual spectacle which turns away from the pew-pew fighter battles of Star Wars instead attempting to build a universe in the movie theatre right from the introduction of the refit USS Enterprise, the warp speed wormhole through to Spock's spacewalk and onto the final reveal. 

The beige and grey interior of the Enterprise contrasts to the swirling and sparkling colours of the universe created here and on a smaller home TV it loses something in its majestic translation. At the time this would have been totally different, aiming more for the jaw-dropping modelwork of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a more "realistic" display of ships in space (let's just ignore the warp speed but though huh...).

Star Trek: The Motion Picture isn't just about the visual opulence invested in it but also the reintroduction of favourite characters. Forty years ago it had been ten years since the crew had been together in a live-action setting. Syndication as we all know had boosted the show into realms and markets otherwise untapped and unthinkable even influencing the naming of the USA's first space shuttle, unveiled in September 1976. 

These characters had become household names and their first big screen appearance needed to be impressive and have time donated to it. Spock's return from the failed Kolinar ritual is a significant event in the life of the Vulcan (not really addressed thereafter, mind), McCoy's reactivation is a clever touch and Kirk's discomfort at being a deskjockey is evident from the start.

While they are certainly more three-dimensional than Discovery's crew from the off, the dynamics of the series don't quite work most notably between Kirk, Spock and McCoy while the secondary bridge crew feel a bit relegated to the sidelines particularly in favour of the Decker/Ilia thread. In fact if you look at it even more closely this is the only Star Trek movie where one-off characters take such a massive lead unless they're the antagonist of the piece. 

Why's that? Well, for financial reasons they were already invested in the actors for Phase II but moreso it allows for Roddenberry to fully explore the human condition and the poster tag of the "Human Adventure" - these are characters that can be sacrificed for the plot in a not dissimilar way to Bowman evolving into the Starchild of Kubrick's 1969 masterpiece.

But let's keep that speculation at bay because Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a statement piece. Cleverly reusing and updating its Phase II origins for the cinema, making a decent amount of money and paving the way for a run of sequels, series and more that have kept the franchise running for a further 40 years.

You might not be over impressed with the dialogue, the unflattering onesies or the lengthy panning visuals but there's always Jerry Goldsmith's stirring soundtrack to raise goosebumps to usher in the new era. There's even Klingons for god sake and... what....they changed the Klingons?!

Yep, sounds really silly now doesn't it when you bring into consideration the revisions made for the Kelvin Timeline and more recently Discovery and that's one more thing going for The Motion Picture that we kind of take for granted now - it UPDATED the franchise. Just as we now have tweaks for Discovery, more than likely for Picard and certainly technological upgrades for the rebooted movie trilogy, The Motion Picture did exactly the same - new minds, new ideas, new visions of where it needed to go. Higher detail in just about everything to translate to the big screen including scrapping the Phase II Enterprise because it wouldn't cut it under cinematic scrutiny.

It was still Star Trek but it had taken an all important step forward, a move in the right direction to take it from wobbly TV sets  and while new Klingons and Scotty with a 'tache might have rocked fandom to its core and spurred a furious letter writing campaign, it had all settled by the time we get to The Wrath of Khan. OK, that was generally in different creative hands tillered by Harve Bennett. 

The Motion Picture quintessentially captures the exploration of the human condition so vehemently championed by Roddenberry with The Original Series and captured here in V'Ger's desire to link with and understand its creator through the interactions of the Ilia probe and finally physically linking with Decker. Even as close as The Wrath of Khan was to the first film in the production timeline it veers more to action and revenge rather than a more intimate and personal story that we find with the first Star Trek movie.

Pace-wise it's a million miles off anything that came after and even a mite slower than a few of the original episodes but that is a direct contrast again to the adventure serial style portrayed in Star Wars. It marketed itself as the more intelligent option if purely from the perception of The Original Series and Roddenberry's much publicised vision of the show. 

Later films would continue to focus their attention on the "Big Three" of Kirk, Spock, McCoy with a higher swing to action/adventure and "space opera" but here it feels more like an extension of the TV series. The Motion Picture, for all its faults, flaws and missteps feels like a spiritual sequel to the classic series. For me the challenge comes of how to reconcile it with the vastly different movies succeeding it that were virtually devoid of Roddenberry's involvement - and that certainly rings more true with the 2009 reboot and its (currently) two sequels of varied quality.

The Motion Picture wants valiantly to be about character in which the interactions of the crew and the perceptions we encounter within the confines of V'Ger lead us to seek further exploration, that there are further evolutionary possibilities and perhaps, more interestingly, that we are fallible as a species. Thing is that the trip there is so drawn out its almost a relief when Decker decides to join with V'Ger and we can sense the end credits aren't far away.  For me now, The Motion Picture represents a turn in fortune for Star Trek, a moment that was captured - nay saved - from the jaws of TV and maybe a true end for Star Trek. Instead it presents a feeler into the unknown - was there a thirst for Star Trek and was it on the cinema screen which seemed to be the way forward? Of course the franchise would return to its roots and the flickering box in the corner of the living room some eight years later but for now there was a new start, a new channel to explore...Indeed, that Human Adventure WAS Just Beginning...

What are your memories of The Motion Picture? When did you first see it and have your attitudes towards it changed?


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