Posts tagged #Star Trek

Star Trek: Into Darkness - Nic's Impressions

Nic here. So of course I have to share my feelings about the new Star Trek film ("Into Darkness") with all of you on the Internet. I'm writing this article assuming that anyone reading it has seen the film as well. So, just to be clear...

Warning: Serious Spoilers Ahead!!! Don't read on if you don't want me giving away major aspects of the film.

OK, so, here's the deal Internet, my feelings about Into Darkness are conflicted. I saw it opening Friday night in IMAX 3D with Liz (my wife), Josh, and Todd, and in our mandatory still-in-the-theater first conversation about the film when they asked me what I thought, that's what came out. "I'm conflicted." In some ways and on some levels I really liked it. And in others I am very disappointed. I'm essentially a life long Star Trek fan, which no doubt accounts for the many subtle and conflicting layers of emotion the movie brought out in me. When Liz, Josh, and Todd first asked me my opinion, those emotions were all intertwined with one another, along with the reasons for them. I kept saying seemingly contradictory things, like, "it doesn't rely enough on previous Trek," and yet also, "it relies too much on previous Trek," or, "this relationship had too much emphasis," and, "the film doesn't deal with characters and relationships enough." So I've been spending the last couple of days trying to sort through them and figure out 1) why I feel them, and 2) how to articulate them.

So let's start with this.

If I evaluate it just as as a summer action movie:
No doubt it's a well done action movie. There are plenty of actions-packed scenes, a good amount of heroics and villainy, some smile-inducing lightheartedness, and lots of stuff that goes boom. The shaky-cam and "close-ups shot from three inches off the nose" approach to cinematography may not be my favorite, but such things are pretty common in Hollywood these days and I've learned to live with them. However, even as a big-budget action movie, I must admit I find it on the low end of my personal "substance" spectrum.

If I evaluate it as science-fiction:
I don't know, I tend to want a bit more science (even of the fictional variety) in my science fiction. Warp drive that can get you from Earth to Qo'Nos (not Kronos...wait Nic, not yet) in a few minutes, handheld communicators that can allow instantaneous communication between said planets, humans genetically engineered such that they can raise tribbles and brash captains from the dead, etc. are things that, for me, seem more at home in science-fantasy. And, I'll say it, I tend to like a bit more technobabble in my science-fiction. There, I said it. But then again, why should I be ashamed of that? Isn't technobabble a natural outgrowth of a story having in-universe fictional scientific technologies, laws of physics, etc.? And isn't such fictional science a fairly central aspect of science fiction? Star Wars (I'm talking film/tv canon here) doesn't go into much explanation about how hyperdrives, lightsabers, and repulsorlifts work because Star Wars is closer to science-fantasy, whereas Trek has a long history of going into such details, because it's science fiction. Or, at least, historically that's what it's been.

If I evaluate it as science-fantasy:
I personally tend to want a bit more classic fantasy trappings (certain story themes, types of characters, etc.) in my science-fantasy. If you're not going to tell me how your starship works, or bother to name its computer's operating system, give me something else in its place, like knights or monsters or magic.

If I evaluate it as Star Trek:
Here's where it gets all intertwined and in need of unraveling. As I said earlier, I'm a life-long Star Trek fan (in the spirit of full disclosure, I have more of an affinity for what one might call the "Berman-Era" of Star Trek that TOS, though I was a TOS fan first). And as such, I bring certain baggage that is both Trek-specific and Nic-specific with me to any Trek viewing experience. I'm planning on writing more about that in it's own article, but here's the short version, as it will let you know where I'm coming from. In a nutshell, I still have problems with the facts that: 1) Bad Robot has been given essentially exclusive control of Trek (Abrams didn't even like Trek, he was more of a Star Wars fan and has expressly stated that his intention was to make the former more like the latter), 2) they chose to 'not-technically-but-basically reboot' Star Trek with this new timeline and focus on alternate versions of Kirk, Spock, et. al. (instead of staying in the main timeline and focusing on original characters maybe in a different era, something that would be, at the same time, both new and also able to acknowledge/honor previous Trek in more than just a 'wink-wink, did you catch that reference' kind of way), and 3) that's the only Trek they seem to have any desire to see exist these days (so we currently have no chance of a Titan show, a Worf show, or for that matter any glimpse back at the original timeline, i.e., all previous Trek barring Enterprise).

So when I come to these new movies, that's what I feel right off the bat. A disappointment for the basic story direction they've chosen. But I'm trying to filter that part, the Nic-specific part, out and just look at this in terms of Star Trek.

Elements that felt 'right' to me:
There were many things.

For example, characters who appeared in Trek before, and the actors who played them...

Kirk - With the caveat that this Kirk grew up without his father and consequently is a bit more rebellious than original Kirk, I have to say that Christopher Pine is going a great job as James Tiberius Perfect Hair. He doesn't do a Shatner impression, and he doesn't really look like him either, but nevertheless he really does carry over the essence of Starfleet's most storied captain.

Spock - While he does a better job here than he did in Star Trek 2009 (he's not butt-hole Spock), I still can't help but feel like there is probably someone on the planet who could do a better job with Spock than Zachary Quinto. Just like I can't put into words what Pine gets right, I can't put into words what Quinto gets wrong. (I'll keep working on it though.) But I will say that Quinto is definitely getting better.

McCoy - I don't think there is anyone on the planet who could do a better job with McCoy than Karl Urban. He just nails the character. The DeForest Kelly inflections, the 'always at the edge of being shocked by the behavior of every single being in the universe,' the whole thing. Urban is, for my money, the perfect McCoy. I really wish he had more time to shine in this one.

Scotty - There's a certain 'old-school' quality to James Doohan's performance (a combination of warmth, gravity, and life-experience) that I don't think he quite has yet. But beyond that, Simon Pegg is great as Scotty.

Uhura - No offense to Nichelle Nichols who did just fine, but original Uhura wasn't overly well defined as a character. Thus, Zoe Saldana has more room to do her own thing. She does well enough. But, I must say, for whatever reason, new Uhura is the one classic character that, to me, seems the most removed from the original counterpart.

Sulu - John Cho doesn't have the voice ("oh my"), but I like him as Sulu. Seeing him get a little time in the captain's chair was a nice nod to the now-abandoned history of the character.

Chekov - Anton Yelchin is still great as Chekov. Although....I don't know...for some reason I was expecting the character to seem a bit less spastic and a touch more seasoned (horrible thing to call a man) by the time of this film.

Pike - A character from the original that was even less defined than Uhura, the for my money always excellent Bruce Greenwood was by in large able to do his thing in creating the character. He did great in Star Trek 2009, and his performance (now with gray mutton chops) is just as enjoyable here.

Carol Marcus - Alice Eve's take on perhaps Kirk's future baby-momma isn't that close to original actresses. But, maybe it's just me, for my money that's not a big deal. It's not like Dr. Marcus was that well defined to begin with.

Kahn - Here's where some inner conflict really kicks up for me. On the one hand, Benedict Cumberbatch's performance (save at least one notable exception) was excellent. He brought a violent raging quality and a disconnected calmness that worked really well together in a creepy kind of fashion. He was even able to play the character in such a way that the viewer really could wonder if this guy isn't so bad after all (spoiler: he is). All in all it made for a great action movie villain (although from a writing standpoint his history could have been fleshed out a bit more). But on the other hand, he didn't feel like Kahn to me. Yes, the difference in look and accent is probably a large part of it. But I don't think it's just that. I don't know, it's one of those things I'm still trying to sort out.

Aside from characters, I thought another area where they got many things right was in visual design. The design of the Enterprise itself, carried over from the first film, I still rather enjoy. But, let me be clear, I'm talking about how the starship looks on the outside. I'm still not a fan of the interiors (too much a combination of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 2001, and an Apple store). But at least main engineering wasn't clearly a brewery. And kudos on changing the design of going to warp from the obviously Star Wars inspired look of the first film to a (novel idea here) Star Trek inspired look, what with the trails and all. Other notable designs worth mentioning included Klingons (the glitter notwithstanding), Klingon ships (ish), and the Vengeance (large machine guns notwithstanding).

I also should say that the sound design (including nice use of original series sound effects) and mixing was excellent. But, with Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood, and Dave Acord on your sound team, that's to be expected.

Elements that didn't feel 'right' for me:
Before I move on to talk about where most of my disappointments in the film can be found, that is, the plot, and while I'm talking about sound, I have to mention the score. I don't really remember much of it distinctly. But what I do remember is that the film starts out with the main theme from 2009's Star Trek. I wasn't overly impressed with it back 4 years ago. It wasn't horrible. But even as the "theme of the particular movie" I thought it didn't quite cut the mustard. Given that Into Darkness reprises it, I'm guessing the Bad Robot people want this to be the new main theme for Star Trek. I just don't think it's good enough for that. It isn't iconic enough, and it isn't emotionally representative of the franchise enough (even the new franchise taken by itself). I'm not digging it.

But even in a motion picture all of those elements are merely trappings. The core of the film is the story as expressed through the script. And it's here where, as a Trek fan, things really get wonky for me and I get all conflicted.

(Incidentally, here's an article that goes into more detail in critiquing the plot. I think he makes some valid points. But I also think he's a little too hard on the movie at times.)

Again, there is good to be found. Some examples: The jokes and humor are very Trekish. The references to past Trek are enjoyable (but also bittersweet, in that that's all they may ever be again, references). And the explanation as to why someone else came upon Kahn's ship and not the Enterprise (something I've thought would need to be addressed since rumors this film would involve Kahn started swirling years ago) was welcome and worked for those of us who care about canon consistency.

But three things in particular about the story and script felt off to me.

First, there's the extent to which this was a straight-up and non-stop action movie. As Michael Pillar said Gene Roddenberry taught him, Star Trek stories are always about something. Yes, there are characters and they do things, which causes other things to happen, etc. But, beyond that, they are always about something. They deal with themes. They explore concepts. And they do so with a strong emphasis on characters.

Now, I'm not saying Into Darkness isn't about anything. But, not trying to be rude, but it doesn't seem to be about much. Being too aggressive or militaristic is bad. So is revenge. And people in power can't always be trusted. That's about it. Those are important ideas to be sure. But they are also a bit generic, and, more importantly, although they are present in Into Darkness they're certainly not at the forefront.

I think another consequence it being so close to a straight up action film is that it contributed to its feeling less of like science-fiction in general and Star Trek in particular. Even the most action packed of the first 10 movies (Wrath of Kahn and First Contact) had heaping doses of science-fiction in them. Indeed, I think in many ways 2009's Star Trek felt more like Trek than this one. This speaks to Josh's concern with Into Darkness: The Abrams' films are headed in the wrong direction.

Second, there's the handling of the Kirk and Spock relationship. After the movie Josh said that he was disappointed that the movie made an issue of their friendship. He wasn't complaining that they were friends, but rather that the movie, like the one before it, made it a major plot thread. It's like the movie pulled out a spotlight and said, "Look! Hey, these guys are friends and that's important because of who they are and who heir alternate versions are. But they're so different from each other, huh? Wow, yeah, it's not an easy friendship. Look at that." He wondered if they were going to do this (along with Kirk getting in trouble for being a maverick and then getting the Enterprise back) in every movie. And I think he has a point. I personally have no problem with the movie showing their friendship. But why make a big dramatic deal about it? (Of course, part of the answer may be so that the Wrath of Kahn ending can have weight to it. But I'll get to that in a minute.)

But they did make a deal about it, and in doing so I think that, although it works at times, at others it suffers from two opposing problems which make the whole thing feel a bit forced. It's almost paradoxical, but it seems to me that, compared to what it really would be, the film presents their relationship as both too new and too old.

I looked it up, and this film takes place the year after the previous film. Not a ton of time, certainly. But enough for Kirk to have learned that Spock is a by the book kind of guy and Spock to have learned that Kirk isn't. So the hubbub over their actions on Nibiru and the reports they filed about it seems out of place. This isn't their first day together. I'd have expected them to be a bit beyond this.

(It should be pointed out that in the original timeline Kirk and Spock, though having different ideas about when to follow the rules, didn't have a bickering phase in their relationship. At least not one that we saw. By the time of the first episode of the original series this was not an apparent source of tension in their relationship. It was more an issue for Spock and McCoy. But on the other hand, as Liz pointed out, this Kirk grew up without a dad and is thus more rebellious, and this Spock lost his home world which might make him crave order more than he otherwise would have.)

But then the Kirk death scene feels out of place for the exact opposite reason. These guys have only known each other for four years tops, and have only been working together for around one. I get Spock being sad, but not at the level he does. The mirroring scene in Wrath of Kahn meant so much because these characters had been friends and colleagues for over a decade. It's as though this film was relying on material from outside itself, from its own disavowed and disconnected (since it happened in a different timeline) back story, for its emotional weight.

This, I think, is a symptom of my third and largest issue with Into Darkness. And it's so important I'm giving it its own heading.

Bringing Back Kahn
I understand that Wrath of Kahn is probably the best liked of the first 10 Star Trek films. It's at the top of all sorts of lists, both professional and non-professional. Historically, it was extremely important to Trek as a franchise. So on some level I understand J.J. Abrams' motivation for having this film bring Kahn into the mix. the end I don't think it was the best call to make.

1. Why go to the trouble creatively to alter the timeline and essentially reboot Star Trek, just to then "riff" on what has already been done? This isn't Batman or Superman or Spiderman or Iron Man or [insert comic book property here] or even Transformers where the source material already includes multiple continuities and incarnations of characters, and putting it on film almost necessitates taking the best of those existing ideas and doing your own take on them. Before you came around there was one Trek continuity. You decided to quasi-reboot it, to create a new continuity. Did you really do so just to give Trek the comic book treatment? You have a chance to do something new. To come up with original ideas, or at least original characters. Why not take it? (This goes back to my feelings on their decision to do the reboot in the first place. Same thing. Why not do something new?)

2. Similar to the Kirk and Spock relationship, the weight of Kahn as the villain here, aside from the fact that he killed Pike and a few dozen others (which I'm not trying to minimize), isn't developed independently within the film itself. Rather it seems to rely to a large extent on "Space Seed" (the original series episode involving Kahn) and Wrath of Kahn. When he reveals who he is he yells it in a raspy voice in a very dramatic moment, the point of which is that this is a big stinking deal. This is Kahn! But, within the film and new timeline itself, this doesn't mean much. And the remainder of the film does little, aside from the referencing Wrath of Kahn (and thus a different Kahn, Kirk, Spock, etc.) to change that. Ok, your name is Kahn. And? Oh, you were some sort of genetically engineered superman who was incarcerated for being bad at some undefined point in the past. I get that Trek audiences know the significance. But for this Kahn and Enterprise crew it isn't significant. They have no history together. And, it seems to me, what they develop here doesn't appear likely to prove to be as iconic.

3. To me, most of the direct echoes to Wrath of Kahn seemed forced. Poor Zachary Quinto, through presumably no fault of his own, ends up being the bearer of a couple of notable ones. First there's the quoting of the classic "The needs of the many..." line (which here doesn't have the idea of "don't cry for my Jim" but of "you're an idiot Captain so let me explain this to you"). Then, after Kirk's death (which, perhaps surprisingly, I didn't at the time feel as forced, but rather an interesting look at events echoing in different ways through changed timelines and all that science-fictiony stuff), we have Spock looking up to the sky and yelling "KAHN!!!" Oy! Again, not really Quinto's fault. He delivers it pretty well. It's just the fact that it exists here that's the problem.

In the end, the bringing Kahn in makes the whole affair seem a little like people trying to ride the coattails of greatness in order to be popular, as opposed to doing their own thing.

So there it is. Some of my thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness. A film that I both liked and didn't like. If I had to sum it up I'd say that my disappointments with it aren't primarily with the execution. Rather, they are the direct result of two creative decisions made years ago: Create an alternate timeline, and do a riff on Wrath of Kahn. The result is a film that both doesn't rely on the Star Trek that's come before it, and does. But many of the ways it doesn't I wish it did. And many of the ways it does I think it would be a stronger film if it didn't.

Until next time, I remain

 - Nic

p.s. - I enjoyed the references to DS9 (Section 31), Enterprise (the model of the NX-01 in Adm. Marcus' room), and First Contact (the model of the Phoenix in Adm. Marcus' room). But what was up with that science officer with the robot voice (officially known as Science Officer 0718). Anyone else have a "what the crap" spit out your coffee moment when he first spoke?

Posted on May 20, 2013 .

Star Trek: Into Darkness - Josh's Impressions (!!SPOILERS!!)

!!WARNING!! !Large SPOILERS for Star Trek: Into Darkness ahead!!

In the years leading up to the 2009 Star Trek film, Nic and I had our concerns about the proposed reboot. “What would this change for the franchise?” we thought. We went into the film expecting to absolutely hate it, but to our surprise, it wasn’t all that bad. Sure, there were way too many lens flares, some minor canon issues, and a much missed sense of heart that the series is known for, but overall, it was a decent film.

In the years leading up to the newly released, Into Darkness, our concerns were even greater. Our main concern was the rumor that the new film would have Khan Noonien Singh as its main villain. This was something that made both mine and Nic’s eyes nearly roll completely out of our heads.

Khan is considered one of the all-time best villains in the history of Trek. I can see where folks are coming from, and I could probably agree with them. He was cold, calculated, and willing to accomplish his goals at any cost. Good fictional villains tend to have those kinds of qualities.

As I’ve mentioned in my recent articles, I believe that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a highly overrated film. It’s a great movie; don’t get me wrong. I just believe that there are better movies in the franchise. But in all fairness, that’s subjective and overwhelming majorities disagree with me. That being said, why repeat something like that?

When it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing an unnamed villain in the new movie, I was actually kind of relieved. I thought, “Well, at least it’s not Khan. I mean, the dude looks absolutely nothing like Ricardo Montalban, so it couldn’t possibly be Khan… Right?”

Oh how wrong I was.

When the first trailers were released for Into Darkness, I was unimpressed. I was still under the impression that this would be a “Khan-less” movie, but the overall look of the film was too… well… Star Wars-ish. From everything shown in the trailers, it looked like the majority of the flick took place on Coruscant, the Republic capitol in the prequel trilogy (and later home of the Empire). Mostly though, it was the trailers’ over-emphasis on action, whereas I was kind of hoping for a little lighter, more thought provoking Star Trek film. I thought that since there was a ton of action in the first one, maybe it might be a good idea to get back to the heart of the franchise by taking it down a few notches. Apparently, the folks over at Paramount disagreed.

That brings us to the week of the new film’s release. I said to myself, “Well, the movie looks kind of bland and I don’t mind seeing spoilers for a movie I’m skeptical of, so I’ll check out the Wikipedia article real quick for a synopsis.” When the page loaded, the first word I saw under the plot heading was… “Khan.”

I’ve gotta admit… I had quite a bit of nerd rage at that moment. I didn’t even read the entire synopsis. Once I saw that Khan was the main villain, I couldn’t bring myself to read the rest. Did the revelation that he was the main baddie curb my opinion of the film once I watched it? Not really. In fact, it’s my personal opinion that Khan was actually the best thing about Into Darkness (along with Karl Urban’s continuously spot-on portrayal of Bones). He doesn’t really look like Khan… he doesn’t really act like Khan… but hey, Cumberbatch plays a really good bad guy. And honestly, once he shows up in the movie, it kind of… VERY slightly starts feeling like Star Trek. But I think that’s mainly because a good portion of it at that point starts taking place on the Enterprise itself.

So what about the rest of the film? I can honestly say that I did not like it. Again, my opinion is not based solely on the fact that Khan was in it. I didn’t like the movie because 90% of it didn’t feel like Star Trek. I felt as though if the characters weren’t wearing Starfleet uniforms and the main ship didn’t look like the Enterprise, it literally could have been ANY sci-fi action film. Before the movie started, there was a trailer for the upcoming, Ender’s Game. That movie, Into Darkness, After Earth, and Oblivion look like they could all be sequels to each other and all part of the same franchise. Apparently, Damon Lindeloff, one of the movie’s 3 writers suggested the title of the film should have been Star Trek: Transformers 4. I know that he was only joking, but I think that statement pretty much sums up what Into Darkness is: An overblown action movie that completely apes the most well-liked Star Trek movie of all time.

And boy does it ape it.

I understand that the writers were trying to be clever with their twist on The Wrath of Khan, but to take a bunch of iconic scenes from that film and jamming them all together in order to replicate the same emotional effect? Get outta here. If you’ve seen both movies, you know that I’m referring to the end of TWOK where Spock sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise and her crew. Spock is dying, leaning against the glass in the engine room, and he and Kirk share a touching moment which sums up their friendship. Into Darkness tries to do the exact same thing (recreating the scene almost verbatim), only this time, it’s Kirk who sacrifices himself.

As dumb as trying to ape an iconic scene is, I don’t think the writers understood why the scene works better in TWOK and IS so iconic. I mean, for all intents and purposes, fans thought that Spock was dead after that movie. That’s why his death resonates so well. They had taken a beloved Star Trek character and killed him off (very heroically), and then shot him out of the Enterprise in a photon torpedo. He was gone. Fans didn’t know there was going to be a Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In Into Darkness, we’ve only gotten to know the new, younger Kirk and Spock over the course of ONE movie. General audiences aren’t going to care about that. Plus, since it’s pretty standard that movies are done in 3’s nowadays, everybody knows that Kirk was in no real danger. Also, as Nic pointed out, fans of the original series got 3 seasons of a television show to build the friendship between Kirk and Spock. You KNEW they were friends, thus it was easy to understand Kirk’s sadness that Spock had died. Since fans of the 2009 movie only had the (again) ONE movie to go on (a movie where Spock is pretty much a ding-dong head to Kirk 99% of the time), why would Spock be so outraged over Kirk’s death?

So was Into Darkness a terrible film? No. Well… not if you don’t really care for Star Trek. If you’re a long-time Trek fan like us here at The Inner Dorkdom, then yeah, you’re probably going to have your share of problems with it. If you’re a person who just likes to see the latest summer popcorn movie, you’ll probably like it. I like popcorn movies too, just not when the words “Star” and “Trek” are in the title. I expect a certain “something” when I go to see Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other established franchise film. I expect a certain mood, atmosphere, and characterization, but I just didn’t feel that with Into Darkness. And I didn’t feel it because I honestly believe it wasn’t there at all.
I came out of the movie theater pretty depressed. My only thought was, “This is the future of Star Trek.” There was a hope that as the movies continued, the writers would get us closer to what the franchise is all about, but instead we’ve been pushed further away. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the day that someone who was previously involved in Star Trek before the reboot takes over the franchise.

I’m probably going to have my fingers crossed for a LONG time.


Was J. J. Right for Star Trek?

I just finished reading something extremely interesting: An unpublished book by the late Michael Piller (1948-2005) which recounts his experience writing the screenplay for Star Trek: Insurrection. The book is titled Fade In and goes through nearly every detail of writing a screenplay, from conception, all the way to the reviews once the film is completed.

Piller, head of the writing staff for most of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s run, tells of how he got the job writing the third of The Next Generation cast’s feature films and all of the hardships that went along with it. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this process is what the film ultimately became: A disappointment in a lot of people’s eyes. Personally, I don’t share these feelings (I quite like Insurrection), but I’ve always been able to see where people have problems with it.

The biggest issue most folks have with the film is the fact that it feels like an extended episode of the television show. I’ll readily admit that it does to a certain extent. However, it’s still a good movie. Most people feel that, since it’s a more character driven work, it doesn’t come close to living up to the previous movie, First Contact, or even older Star Trek films such as Wrath of Khan. Both of those movies were pretty heavy on the action, something that, as Piller describes in his book, he never intended in the first place. He states that he wanted to have the film focus primarily on two things: Family and a hero’s journey for the Enterprise’s commanding officer, Jean-Luc Picard. Does the final film accomplish these things? Well… Sort of. The question is: Was that the writer’s fault?

Based on the evidence provided in the book, Piller started with one idea and ended up changing nearly everything he wrote on multiple occasions due to the suggestions of both Star Trek producer, Rick Berman and Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart. Originally, the film was about Picard having to rescue a malfunctioning Data (the android 2 nd officer of the Enterprise), which would entail Picard resigning his commission to Starfleet, while fighting Starfleet itself because of their disobedience of their own Prime Directive. The film would end on a cliffhanger, Picard being carted off by Starfleet Command because he stood by his personal convictions and those that the Federation was founded upon, leaving the audience wondering as to what would be his ultimate fate.

According to the script notes and discussions that these three guys had, their suggestions weren’t really all that bad. Berman felt as though there were things in the script which seemed a little too underwhelming, while Stewart thought that the family aspect had already been established multiple times throughout the TV show’s original run.

Understanding their concerns, Piller went through several rewrites and revisions until we got somewhere pretty close to the film we’ve all seen. But that’s the thing: Even then, it kind of wasn’t.
Piller reveals that, after a (what the studio executives deemed) bad test screening of the film, major cuts would have to be made which amped up the action. And here’s the point of the article…
Hollywood doesn’t understand Star Trek anymore.

I understand that a feature film has to be amped up to a certain degree, or at least be made on a more epic scale than an episode of a TV show. It’s when you start to lose the essence of what made the property great in the first place, you’re going to lose your audience. In my opinion, Piller’s original ideas that he conceived before the studio got heavily involved would have made a much better and more enjoyable experience for movie-goers. Particularly the hardcore fans of the franchise.
Take the 2009 reboot for example: Did Paramount make a lot of money off of that film? Absolutely. Did Star Trek fans enjoy it? There were some, but the overwhelming majority were those that went to see the newest, flashy action flick. A.K.A. non-Star Trek fans, or casual fans.

When I say things like this, I’m not trying to sound like some pompous film snob, or say that movies without substance are crap. That would be the furthest thing from the truth. What I’m trying to say is that Star Trek, as a franchise, was built on substance and deeper meaning. That’s why people like it in the first place. Another thing I’m trying to say is that (SHOCKER!!!) maybe it wasn’t J.J. Abrams’ fault for Star Trek not being very Star Trek-y. It may very well have been Paramount’s. All signs point to that very thing, especially given what’s in Michael Piller’s book.

Let’s think about it for a second. Rick Berman, the long-time producer of all things Star Trek had stepped down from his spot shortly before the new film was conceived. Paramount, not having to deal with his wanting to preserve the Star Trek legacy, were free to hire anybody they wanted to take the reins of the franchise.

“Hey, J.J. Abrams is a ‘hot’ name right now. He made Lost and that did really good on TV. He knows how to run a TV show, so he’ll probably know Star Trek!”

I imagine that Paramount’s thought process was something along these lines. However, they were wrong. I’ll admit, lens flares aside, Abrams does know how to make a good action movie. But was he right for Star Trek? I say no. I think it shows in the movie he and his writers made and the fact that he himself said, “I’m more of a Star Wars guy.”

Michael Piller, Rick Berman, and Patrick Stewart. They knew Star Trek. They understood what the fans wanted to see and how to formulate a story in that universe. Again, as I said in my article yesterday, the Abrams movie is good. There are some problems with it, in my opinion, but for the most part, it’s a good movie. There are things that are Star Trek, it just lacks the psychological subtext that the franchise is known for and comes off more as a straight-up, sci-fi action flick. So is that J.J.’s fault? I still say no. He was just doing a job he was hired to do. Paramount is the one to blame here since they probably shouldn’t have offered the job to him and his team in the first place.
All that being said, and back to one of the original points: I believe that had the Abrams movie contained more of the underlying themes that made the franchise great, its audience could have been even bigger.

While, yes, a lot of people loved the new Star Trek film, it lost a lot of long-time fans in the process. All things Trek up until that point have had a lasting impression with fans since 1966. That’s almost 50 years of longevity for millions of fans all over the world. I feel that the new movie franchise will continue to gain a completely new set of fans that dig the new “action-Trek,” but wouldn’t it have been great if those two sets of fans, both old and new, all liked Star Trek for the same reasons? It’s disappointing that fans will be separated now by pre-2009 and post-2009. Sure, you had that when The Next Generation premiered, but to my knowledge, no fans of the 1966 series hated the new one. They just “preferred” the old show, yet still loved The Next Generation.

But who knows? Maybe Into Darkness will somehow turn everybody around, myself included. Maybe there’ll be more substance added to this new version of Trek. I sincerely hope so. We’ll find out this Friday when Star Trek: Into Darkness opens in the States!

By the way, Michael Piller’s book, Fade In, was (as stated above) unpublished, so you won’t be able to buy it in stores. Unfortunately, due to Piller’s death in 2005, it probably never will be. So if you want to read it, just do a quick Google search, as it’s pretty easy to find.

See you… out there! (That’s number 1)
Posted on May 15, 2013 .

Response To IGN's List of Star Trek Films

Recently, IGN ran an article that listed the Star Trek films from least to greatest in terms of quality. In this article, they list Star Trek: Insurrection as the “worst,” and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as the “best.” In addition, they list the 2009 “reboot” as the 3 rd best film in the franchise. Unfortunately, this ordering of the Star Trek films seems to be an opinion held by most casual fans.

The newest film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, will be released in theaters this Friday. Am I excited? Well, I want to see it, but just like the first film in the series “reboot,” I’m just a tad bit skeptical. I think that Hollywood and most of the movie-going public have lost the point (or never understood it) of Star Trek. The focus of the Star Trek franchise has always been that the more we learn about all these new species and worlds, we learn even more about ourselves as a race. Honestly, the new films are about high-octane action and little else. Visually, they look like Star Trek, but thematically they don’t feel like Star Trek.

Before I go any further: Anyone who has ever listened to any of our podcasts knows that I’m a huge fan of the 24 th century era of Star Trek. Meaning, I’m more of a fan of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine than I am of The Original Series featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. Do I hate TOS? Absolutely not. I will admit that I enjoy the feature films dealing with the original cast more than I do the series, but I can watch TOS and not have an urge to switch the channel. It’s by no means unbearable or anything of the sort. I never liked the idea of rebooting the franchise, because here was yet another situation that didn’t warrant it. A time-traveling sequel is something that I’d be down for, but using time travel as a way to make drastic changes to a beloved franchise with a rich mythology was, in my opinion, not the way to go. The only way that I’ll ever be comfortable with that is if the characters, by the end of this series of films, eventually change the past back to the way it originally was… Honestly, that would change my opinion of the new films greatly.

Also, another quick note: I believe that Star Trek works best predominantly on television as opposed to film. The films are great and allow for more “epic” stories, but the heart of Star Trek lies on the TV screen, as probably any Trek fan would tell you. The fact that a new franchise has started on film makes it less likely that Trek will return to the small screen anytime soon. And that is one of the most disappointing things overall. People who think they like Star Trek because of the 2009 J.J. Abrams movie will probably never check out the older shows because it “feels too dated,” or because they aren’t as “cool” as the Abrams film. This is a shame because these folks are missing out on what makes/made Star Trek a really good franchise. There’s more to Star Trek than flashy action and lens flares, I just don’t think Abrams has tapped into that stuff yet, and more than likely never will. Abrams had the perfect opportunity to freshly reintroduce Trek to a whole new audience, but that audience is getting what I (and many other long-time fans) consider to be a very “dumbed down” version of Star Trek.

With all that having been said, let’s go down IGN’s list (from 1-11) and make some comments, shall we? Afterwards, I’ll give my own personal list.

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
This is perhaps the most overhyped film in the franchise. I like it, but I believe that it is far from the best. I personally think that most people, at the time of the film’s original release, were just ecstatic to finally have a “good” Star Trek film, as opposed to the first, which was quite a boring experience. Star Trek II actually had action, good character development and seemed like an embodiment of what the franchise stood for. It felt more like its own film rather than trying to be an extension of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Now this is one I can actually understand being in the number 2 spot. This is just a straight up great film. Part of its charm is the fact that it takes already established characters and puts them in a fish-out-of-water situation. Also, I’m always a sucker for a good time travel story.

3. Star Trek (2009)
And this is what I mean when I say that the general movie-going public doesn’t understand Star Trek anymore. There is absolutely no reason that this film should be this high on the list since there are far better, more “Trek-like” films rated worse. Yes, I enjoyed the film, but it was more so because it was good to see something that “kind of” looked like Star Trek on the big screen again. There were several problems I had with it, but it was a decent Trek movie. My biggest problem was that it was too “action/sci-fi” rather than just straight up sci-fi, which is what Trek always had been up until that point. Action in a Trek movie is fine, but when you lose the human element that the franchise is known for, it tends to become what feels like an imitation of something great.

4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The last film to feature the entire original cast. Not much to say other than this one can also be seen as deserving its high spot on an ordered list. Tis a great film. Also, it had Worf in it!

5. Star Trek: First Contact
The number 5 spot is much too low for this one, in my opinion. Everything that people loved about Star Trek was there: humanity, time-travel, emotion, etc. The only thing that it perhaps lacked was the exploration element. Although you could consider Picard and Data’s self-discovery as the exploration aspect of the film. Since it was a sequel to one of the most well-received episodes in all of Trek, however, I can see this lack of true exploration as forgivable.

6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
On my own list, I’d have to put this one on the spot right below The Wrath of Khan, as the two are directly related and one is impossible to have without the other. Personally, as far as my enjoyment goes and as a whole, I like this movie better than The Wrath of Khan.

7. Star Trek: Generations
I can definitely see this one being where it is on IGN’s list. The first film featuring the TNG crew, Generations is kind of a difficult movie to watch. For one: It looks weird. The filmmakers were definitely going for a more cinematic look to the film, but what resulted was a mess in cinematography. From a story standpoint, it was ok. It’s confusing at times and hard to keep up with, but would have made for, and probably been better suited as, an excellent 2-part episode of the TV series.

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Waaaaaaaaaaay too high on the list. I know we’re only a few from the bottom, but there’s no way on God’s green earth that this should be above the movies that it is. It’s certainly not better than Insurrection. Best thing about it? It featured Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme which was a radical and much appreciated departure from the Desi-lu studios-style music of TOS. Other than that, the film is boooooooooring. I love Star Trek, but not enough to sit through this beast more than a few times ever.

9. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Why this movie gets hated on, I’ll never understand. I find it severely underrated. It’s one of the more comedic films in the series and is only rivaled by The Voyage Home.

10. Star Trek: Nemesis
I can understand why IGN would put Nemesis this low on the list. I personally don’t feel it should be this low, but I understand the hate it gets at times. It was made with a lower budget and one of the most endearing Star Trek characters of all time is killed off. I hated that as much as anyone else did, but you can’t tell me that the final scene when B4 starts whistling the tune signifying that pieces of Data’s memories remain inside him, and Picard walks away while his smile gets bigger and bigger as Goldsmith’s music swells, doesn’t make up for those two things. Plus, Tom Hardy as Picard’s “evil” twin/alternate version was absolutely brilliant. The theme of the movie, “the choices you make /environment in which you’re born can alter who you are” is, in my opinion, one of the best in the series and is executed perfectly.

11. Star Trek: Insurrection
Ok. People have officially lost their minds. I don’t think that Insurrection is the worst Trek movie, but it’s by far not the worst. The thing that really disappoints me is the fact that Insurrection truly does have everything that Star Trek is about. Exploration, humanity, emotion, action… It’s all present in Insurrection, yet most people don’t see it. Just more proof that people either don’t, or never understood Star Trek to begin with. The folks at IGN are apparently some of those people.

My personal list from greatest to “worst”:
1. Star Trek: First Contact
2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
4. Star Trek: Insurrection
5. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
6. Star Trek: Nemesis
7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
8. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
9. Star Trek: Generations
10. Star Trek (2009)
11. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

So where will the new Trek film fall on this list? I’m guessing right after the 2009 “reboot.” I’ve read some spoilers about film and I think that what they’ve done is an attempt to rehash the number 1 movie on IGN’s list (which is probably why IGN will give it a glowing review). I’m going to do my best to go into the movie with an open mind, but because of my (in a lot of ways) disappointment in J.J. Abrams and his writers’ grasp on the franchise, I can’t help but remain skeptical. My opinions of the new film will continue next week in part II!


Source: IGN

Alternate Scotty on Star Wars, Lucas, and Abrams

Simon Pegg, who I enjoyed as Scotty in 2009's "Star Trek," has made some comments about JJ Abram's involvement in Star Wars Episode VII. They strike me as a bit gushy. Essentially, JJ will make all right with the world.

Here's the IGN article.

Just a few comments I'd like to make:

1.  Switching Star Trek from science-fiction to science-fantasy was not, in the opinion of many people, actually that great of a thing. Afterall, we already had a major science-fantasy franchise with "Star" in the title. It's not like we were lacking in that area. Why take the sci-fi out of Trek?

2. One man's "mire" is another man's favorite trilogy of films.

3. Just because Lucas made the prequels the way he did, that doesn't mean he misread anything. It might be that with the prequels his aim was to tell the story he wanted to tell, not to read the public and give them exactly what they expected/wanted.

4. I cared about the things the Prequels focused on.

5. Pegg's criticism of the Prequels seem to be primarily story-based. Thus it confuses me when he says Abrams will embrace the things Lucas didn't focus on, will bring back the fun, etc. I'm confused because, well, JJ Abrams isn't writing the script to Episode VII. He's just the director. The story won't be his and his writing cadre's the way the new Trek films have been.

 - Nic

Posted on May 9, 2013 .

The Inner Dorkdom Podcast - Episode 9

Sorry for the lack of content this week. In order to make it up to you, we present you with this new episode of The Inner Dorkdom podcast! Listen in as Nic and Josh talk about the big news in Star Wars, the announcement of J.J. Abrams as the director of Episode VII. They also talk about Star Trek (big surprise).

Runtime: 2 hours, 24 minutes, 57 seconds
Posted on January 31, 2013 .

So, If There Is Ever a TNG Reboot Or Something...

So my wife and I were watching Good Luck Charlie last night. One episode (we have several on the DVR) featured a relatively new recurring character: Victor. Victor is president of the A.V. club, a master at Mock U.N., and in general a likeable nerd/dork.

He's played by an actor named Kevin Covais. Some people remember him as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol. I am not one of those people. I had no idea he was on American Idol until I looked at his Wikipedia article about 5 minutes ago. As far as I can recall, him showing up on Good Luck Charlie was the first time I saw him. But now I know. In addition to being on the Fox juggernaut, he's also had a few acting roles outside of GLC.

Ok, so here's a picture of him:

And here's a video clip of him:

Alright, folks. Tell me if you think I'm crazy. But if in 5-10 years the powers that be at Paramount and CBS decide to revisit Star Trek: The Next Generation with a reboot, or maybe let them make an appearance in the Abrams-timeline, I think we've found who should play Data.

I mean:

What do you say?

 - Nic

p.s. - While getting out my Wacom to do the rush photoshop job there, I thought to myself, "Yeah, I guess I need the Wacom for this. I mean, not that it really matters that I do a flawless job with it. But, then again, how impossible and yet cool would it be if this image caught on, and eventually it got the attention of Paramount and CBS, and the image and the fan enthusiasm got the momentum going, and eventually a return to TNG did happen? And it all got started here, with me going through this box, getting my Wacom, and photshopping a picture. And then The Inner Dorkdom would come to be known as the site that gets stuff done." And then that last sentence amused me, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Posted on January 21, 2013 .

I'm Telling You, It's Kahn

IGN has an interview up today with Bryan Burk, a producer on the new Star Trek film.

There are at least two moments in the interview that further make me think the villain in this second alternate-timeline Trek film is in fact Kahn.

Check out the interview and tell us what you think:

 - Nic

Posted on January 8, 2013 .

Nic's Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Premier of Deep Space Nine

Twenty years ago tonight Deep Space Nine premiered, and I was there in my parents' living room watching, and recording on VHS, the whole thing. It's hard to believe that that was twenty years ago, since, being the first 'spin-off' of TNG, I somehow have this perpetual feeling of it being a recent show.

I don't recall when I first heard about this new Star Trek show, set concurrently with The Next Generation, but set on a space station. But I know that I was looking forward to it. TNG was easily my favorite show on TV at the time (Quantum Leap was a close second), and the prospect of two Star Trek shows per week (airing every Saturday at 5 and 6) was very exciting. And yet, it was also an unknown. A show set on a station? Even at 15 years of age I knew that DS9 would have to approach things a bit differently than TNG. The stories would have to come to the crew, rather than the crew going to the stories. And while we're talking about the station, I don't recall whether or not I knew before the premier that the station was built by the Cardassians, but I did know it wasn't built by Starfleet. That meant the station would show a different design sensibility from what was established in TNG (and even the, at the time, recent Original Series movies). What that really meant for me was that the station's computers wouldn't be running LCARS. Don't judge. I loved (still do) the look of LCARS (kudos to Mike Okuda). Plus I've always been fascinated with computers, whether fictional or real. Their appearance and actions could be a strong selling point for me. And, with LCARS in particular, it just felt like Trek. So having this new show set on a station that didn't look like Trek, with computers that didn't feel like Trek, was a bit of a bummer. But concerns about fictional operating systems weren't enough to keep me away.

And so it began, with some opening text explaining the significance of the Battle of Wolf 359. Ah, hearkening back to Best of Both Worlds 1 and 2. Given that those episodes marked one of TNG's undisputed high points, incorporating them was seldom a bad idea. Soon we were introduced to the new show's Captain, who wasn't a Captain at all. In the Wolf 359 opening Benjamin Sisko is the first officer of the Saratoga, which is in a desperate battle along with dozens of other Starfleet ships against the Borg invasion, itself led by Jean Luc Picard. Or was it Locutus of Borg? That's a question Sisko would have to wrestle with in a very personal way, since in the opening few minutes we see Sisko's wife Jennifer killed in the attack. Ben is heartbroken, shook up (other officers have to remove him from their quarters and get him to an escape pod), and, judging by his blank expression in said escape pod as he holds his young son Jake and witnesses the destruction of the Saratoga, broken.

We fast forward three years, to find Jake fishing by a lake. Ben comes up and speaks with him, and we soon learn that Ben is to be the new Commander of Deep Space Nine, a station in orbit of the planet Bajor.

I won't bother recapping the entire premier. Memory Alpha does a fine job of that. Suffice it to say, the pilot does all the things a pilot should do, and does them well.

First, we're introduced to the setting: Deep Space Nine. Originally it was known as Terak Nor, a mining station employing Bajoran slaves. But now that the Cardassians are moving out (thanks to the Bajoran resistance), the Bajorans have invited the Federation in to help manage the station. And so, unlike TNG, the main location of this show will not be populated exclusively by Starfleet personnel and their families. Starfleet and Bajoran officers will be working together, which won't always be easy. This was a departure for Trek. Although members the Enterprise crews sometimes disagreed with each other on the best course of action in a dangerous situation, on the whole they tended to get along like peas and carrots. All very kumbaya, part of Roddenberry's vision of the future of humanity. But now, if the pilot is any indication, DS9 will chuck that out the airlock, at least to some extent.

As for the station itself, yup, it doesn't look nearly as cool to 15 year-old Nic as the Enterprise-D does. Cardassian architectural and computer design just isn't as cool. Oval screens, oval and round doors, lots of brown, red and green computer displays that look unintelligible. But, at least they have some Federation runabouts, and those look all Starfleet-y.

The pilot also introduces us to the main characters:

Ben Sisko - The new commander of DS9. He started out well enough in my eyes. I felt bad for him with his losing Jennifer and becoming a single father. His conversations with Jake showed he was a loving dad. He was initially unimpressed with the station itself, and so was I. But then he had a meeting with Captain Picard, and acted like a jerk. My jaw dropped. Picard is a good man, and Wolf 359 was not his fault. You don't need to despise him, and you certainly don't need to talk to him like that. Not good Sisko, not good. Copping an attitude with Jean Luc is a bad move. After that drama, he goes back to being likable. He shows he can be a bit more laid back that Picard, that he is willing to think outside the box to make a difficult situation better (like encouraging Quark to stay), and that he's the Emissary of the Prophets.

Kira Nerys - A Bajoran, former member of the resistance, now second in command of DS9. She's none too happy with the Federation being there, thinking them just another occupying force no better than the Cardassians. Consequently she has an attitude with the Starfleet personnel, but even by the end of the first episode she begins to soften a little. Going through their first ordeal together might help explain that. Except for that attitude towards the Starfleet folks, I liked her pretty well.

Miles O'Brien - Now that's what I'm talking about. Here's a great way to build continuity between this new show and TNG, take a well liked side-character from the latter (O'Brien had been around since the very first episode of TNG, and was indeed well liked) and make him a regular. He brought a sense of familiarity with him. But it was more than that. I had no doubt that O'Brien could work as a main character. What I didn't know was 1) how every year the writers would make something absolutely horrible happen to him, 2) that he eventually wouldn't be the only crew member of the Enterprise to wind up serving on DS9, and 3) just how much his eventual friendship with Julian Bashir would impact me.

Julian Bashir - The station's chief medical officer. He was an interesting combination. On the one hand he was pretty self-confident in his abilities, and came across as a bit condescending (he was excited to come out and practice frontier medicine). On the other, his condescension seemed completely unintentional, the result of over-enthusiasm and maybe even a touch of naivety. I'm not a big fan of hospitals and other things medical in the real world, so I don't naturally gravitate towards doctor characters. But he seemed like he'd be alright. Little did I know what secrets would be revealed through him and about him over the course of the show.

Odo - The Spock or Data of the new show. That is, the character who differs the most from the others, and is thus in some sense an outsider. Spock was the logical Vulcan. Data was the emotionless and yet somehow tender-hearted android. And Odo, Odo was a changeling, a shapeshifter. I had a hobby back in the day. I enjoyed watching special effect shots in slow motion (oh the wonders of VHS). I distinctly remember watching in slo-mo Odo's transformations in the pilot many times over. But my interest in Odo wasn't just for technical reasons. Those outsider characters tend to be my favorite, or one of my favorites, of their respective shows (years later The Doctor would be my favorite character on Voyager for the same reason). Odo would prove to not buck the trend. Some things I didn't know about him at the time: that he'd soon develop unrequited feelings for Kira, the full nature of his origins, and that I'd pick up and incorporate into my mannerisms the quick little bow he gives to Sisko after stopping Morn and Nog and still be using it twenty years later.

Jadzia Dax - Trill chief science officer. She was a man, baby. Now she's a woman. I'm typically drawn to the science officers. And yet although I had no problems with her or anything, she didn't immediately jump out at me. To this day I'm not sure why. As the show went on, it continued. I liked her well enough, but even when she m[spoiler]ies W[spoiler]f, it didn't change. You want to hear something many might consider heresy? I actually like Ezri Dax better. There, I said it.

Quark - I'd like to apologize to Quark for mentioning him last. As I watched the pilot, he was not at all the sort of character I expected to ever like. He was morally questionable, jerkish, and greedy. What I didn't know was that as the first season went along, the writers would continue trying to decide on exactly who Quark was, and between flashes of responsibility and teamwork, and a relationship with Odo that ceased being purely adversarial and started to include a strange sort of begrudging friendship, the course would be set for making Quark a very different and far more likable character than he was in the pilot.

So as to make Quark not the last one, I'll give an honorable, or dishonorable mention to Gul Dukat. He's the former prefect of Bajor, and the pilot's token Cardassian baddie. Little did I know that he would be a recurring character (one of many, a great strength of DS9), a very well fleshed out one at that, and that his questionable moral status (good guy or bad guy) would be a major source of interest for me.

And last, the pilot set-up an overarching question, really at least three questions, which the series would be concerned with:

Would the Bajorans and the Federation types get along? This was a question that would play out both on the individual level (Kira and Sisko, for example) and the planetary level (would the Bajorans view the Federation as allies).

What would be the result of having a stable wormhole to the Gamma Quandrant? The existence of the wormhole is the major discovery of the pilot. And it drastically changes the importance of DS9. Instead of being a little known station in an unimportant part of the galaxy, it would be a hub of scientific, economic, and as we later find out, military activity. It also looks really cool, and there are aliens in it.

What will become of this whole Sisko as the emissary of the prophets thing? Clearly at first he's skeptical and uncomfortable with the whole deal. But there was no denying the existence of the Prophets (or "wormhole aliens"), and with them being non-linear and all, when it comes to the future it was clear that they may know what they're talking about. Oh, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say the following: "Baseball!"

And so, when the two hours were over, and the credits rolled accompanied by the DS9 theme (which I wasn't ecstatic over at first, but really grew on me), a new chapter in Star Trek had been introduced. I knew that it had potential, but at the time I knew there was no way it would ever be as enjoyable for me as TNG. Now looking back, TNG will always hold a special place for me. And it will always be my favorite, because it's TNG. But DS9...might actually be the superior show in my eyes (if for no other reason that its first and second seasons weren't littered with...struggling...yes, I'll use that word...struggling episodes like those of TNG were).

Until next time, don't drink the water from the Denorios Belt. And I remain,

 - Nic

p.s. - Sisko was much nicer to Picard during their second meeting.

Posted on January 3, 2013 .

!!! You Look Marvelous (News And Rumors) !!!

"Remember, it is better to look good than to feel good, and you look Marvelous." -Fernando Lamas (Billy Crystal) !!!

"No Todd, It can't be; I just sent you back to the future!
"No, I know; you *did* send me back to the future. But I'm back - I'm back *from* the future."
"Great Scott!" (Faints)
"Doc! Doc! Doc! Oh, fantastic."

I have finally parked the Delorean in the garage and I'm back from the future of the great San Diego Comic-Con. Oh, the things I have seen. Some good, some great, some bad, and some down right ugly. I can't actually tell you all the crazy stuff I saw because if I did I would be destroying the Space/Time Continuum. And as we all know, that's as bad as crossing the streams. But I can tell you a few things that have popped up the past few days and get you in the mood to "Party like it's Comic-Con 1999"!!! Thank You, voice of Prince that lives in my head. I always really liked that album where you were just a symbol and all. "Thank you, and let's forget about the whole symbol thing. OK!" Gotcha, moving on.

Sorry, folks. The Parks Closed. The moose out front should'a told ya.

It has been a strange past weekend and first of this week. The Fourth was a blast (pun intended) and it was good to share it with good friends and family. After that things just started to snowball. Sometime, you know how life will come along and punch you in the gut and say, "Get Up, I ain't through with ya!!!" Well this is what happened to me. Life beat the ever loving crap out of me and expected me to get back up. Well, I'm up but I need to catch my breath a little before I can start swinging my Right Hand of Doom. It will happen and justice and punishment will be swift and severe. (cricket, cricket, cricket..........)
Anywho, I have been away to long, but I am back. Let's touch on a few things and then I'll relay some cool information to you that hopefully will make you want to come and join us during the next few days (Comic-Con and all).

Marvel is "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong". They seem to be riding this wave all the way to the bank. I not talking just "The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-man". I'm talking about the absolute blitz that they have set in motion that, more than likely, will secure their dominance in the superhero world. We have news that the unnamed Marvel Movie Project. (See: Guardians of the Galaxy) will open in theaters on August 1, 2014. This at least confirms that we are getting another new Marvel movie that doesn't have Iron, Captain, or Norse God of Chippendale dancers in the title. Wait, I think that last one my have been about Mike and his magic wand. I can't be sure. If any of you women out there know what that's all about, can you please give us a "Whooooooo". I knew that you could. Now, moving on, Iron Man 3 will have a large presence at this years Comic-con and we will let you know if anything big breaks (like the flap Stark had installed in the suit that allows him to visit the little boys room, that thing breaks all the time). The new Wolverine movie entitled, huh?....."The Wolverine" (well, go figure) has started to cast for the roles that will be featured in the The Ol' Canucklehead vs. the ninjas retelling of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original mini series. This is being billed as a stand alone story, which is fine but maybe they can expand the brand in the future. It also looks like "The Amazing Spider-man" is cleaning up at the box office. Maybe not to the extent that "The Avengers" did, but I would say it ain't to shabby. This means we will get sequels and as far as I'm concerned that's fine. I have see the movie and in a couple of days I'll post my review. The short version is that it's really good (dare I say better than the first Sam Rami Spidey movie and on par with the second Rami Spideypaloosa for my favorite web head movie yet). I'll give you the full spoiler filled review as soon as I get it typed up. Oh, and DC, the warning shots are over. Just having one great movie franchise based on your characters (which will be ending with a definite clank according to Chris Nolan who said this week that "he's done" and "no more", so take that fanboys..... Sorry, I added that last part) ain't gonna cut it. You are dangerously close to letting Marvel sink your Battleship (arcane reference to outdated board game, check, realizing that is probably the reason your movie based on said board game tanked at the box office, priceless). Come on DC, pull it together. The Time is now!!! As alway, check the links below for more information from our favorite sources.

A few odds and ends from this past week for you to peruse. Comic-Con will be huge, from Man of Steel and Iron Man 3, to The Hobbit and Pacific Rim, I can't wait to see what will go on. Meanwhile, the crazy back and forth continues from the New Star Trek movie camp with Karl Urban (Dredd) saying today that Benedict Cumberbatch plays a great Gary Mitchell. Wait, What????? Gary Mitchell is the crazy guy that got the God like powers in the first episode of the original series titled "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This statement by Urban could be a ruse to lead us astray or it could be true. This is J.J. Abrams we're talking about. This news appears to have already been refuted when Roberto Orsi posted a list of characters from Star Trek lore that would not be appearing in the film. Interestingly, Gary Mitchell's name is on the list while Khan's is not. Come on guys, just quit playing and give us some real info. "It's like playing cards with my brother's kids!"

In Ghostbusters news, a new writer has been hired to make Bill Murray funny again (because apparently there is too much effort involved for Bill to actually try to improvise funny, ya know like he use to). Etan Cohen has been given the rewriting duties (See: make Murray happy role). He was one of three writers on Tropic Thunder (very funny) and the sole credited writer for Men In Black III. I guess we'll wait and see (for another 35 years).

Alright, that's it for me right now. I will be back tomorrow with some cool posters of upcoming films, some thoughts on the cool exclusive stuff you can get at Comic-Con, Preview Night, and much more. My Amazing Spidey review will arrive soon. Stay Tuned. Oh, and posters (yea).

Todd "Yep, Marvelous" B.


One more thing, check out what the Make-A-Wish Foundation did for this little boy (here). Ron Perlman gets my vote for most awesome man alive. That is truly a wonderful thing and goes a ways (no matter how small) to restoring some of my faith in some of humanity. Nice Job, Guys!!! This just makes all the bad go away. Thank You, Ron, Thank You.

[Comics Alliance]

Quick Hits from Nic

Greetings from sunny Florida. We're on vacation celebrating my wife's 25th birthday. But I wanted to pop in with some quick news bits:

1. She and I saw Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection the other day. Funny movie, that as with all Tyler Perry films (the ones I've seen anyway) has a good message (without being preachy). This is the most overt comedy film of his that I've seen, with he and Eugene Levy both bringing the funny.

2. While we're talking Tyler Perry, did you all know he's going to be the new Alex Cross, taking over for the iconic Morgan Freeman, in the 'reboot' being helmed by Rob Cohen (who directed some favorites of mine, such as DragonHeart and the third Mummy film...and is also known for films like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and The Fast amd the Furious)? Check out the trailer on Youtube. Liz and I are excited about it.

3. While we're talking Rob Cohen, I just learned he was a producer on the this-is-in-no-way-connected-to-the-plot-of-the-franchise-and-even-conceptually-it's-only-barely-connected-but-let's-give-it-the-franchise-name-anyway TV movie Knight Rider 2010 (which aired in 1996).

4. Voltron Force season 1 is now on Netflix. Despite the word of the haters, I found it to be a great continuation (yes, continuation) of the original show. All the original lion pilots are back, along with some new cadets. Gone is the robeast-of-the-week format of the original (although robeasts do show up often), and in it's place is a show that nicely balances on-going story with weekly stand-alone adventuring. Oh, and it's got the original theme song. (The original American theme that is, not the oh-so-catchy Japanese theme.) I recommend it.

5. Transformers Animated, which Josh and I believe to be the best Transformers show ever made, at least at the time it was produced (since then we've been given Transformers Prime which is quite good, but only time will tell how good), is now showing on The Hub. This is a big deal since the show inexplicably is not completely available on DVD. The first two seasons were released (although now they're out of print and hard to find), but the third and final season wasn't. This way one can see the whole thing (including the Die Hard episode...yes...that's what I said).

6. On the official Star Trek website, Hasbro has shown a teaser of their KRE-O (similar to LEGO) Star Trek line. Not suprisingly it focuses on the new JJ Abrams timeline. Very few details have been given, but they have released an image of the KRE-O Enterprise. I shall preface my opinion with the following: I didn't think the Abrams redesign of the original Constitution-class Enterprise was horrible (I'm talking exteriors only...the interiors are another story entirely, what with all the Apple Store and beer factory everywhere). It's not my favorite design, but it still feels like something Federation ship designers would cook up. Ok, preface over. This KRE-O version is...ok. It's not horrible, but it's not mindblowingly child-Nic's-dream-fulfilling awesome either. Quite frankly, I'm suprised how boxy it is. That might sound weird, given we're talking about building blocks. But take a look at some LEGO Star Wars ship sets and compare that with KRE-O Enterprise and I think you'll see what I mean. ... But I'm still going to want to get it when it comes out.

7. I watched the extended Clone Wars season 5 trailer. They go to Alderaan, and I saw what appeared to me to be some Falleen criminals...perhaps Black Sun?

8. TRON Uprising has premiered on Disney XD. I've seen the first three episodes (the second two on the Disney XD website). If you like TRON and/or TRON Legacy, I highly recommend it. The art style is quite striking, the story has great potential, there are references to both films (including...well...I don't know if I should spoil it...yes?, the music is similar to that in Legacy, and Bruce Boxleitner himself does a voice on the show (I'll give you a hint as to what program he plays: his name rhymes with Ron).

And that's all I've got to say about that.

 - Nic

Posted on July 8, 2012 .

!!! Beam Me Up, Scotty... Uh, Geordi... Uh, Chief O'Brien... Somebody,Beam Me The "Frak" Up... Oh, Wrong Show (Star Trek TNG News) !!!

I'll see your Battlestar and raise you a Q!?!

Where does the time go (sometimes they still perform)? Seriously, I turn around and it's "Twenty Five Years" later!! Twenty five years since 1987, twenty five years since "Robocop", twenty five years since Michael Jackson's "Bad" was released and twenty five years since "Star Trek: The Next Generation" premiered on the "Telly" (I'm not British, I just like to use British slang). I remember already being a huge Star Trek fan because of my Mom, who loved the original series, and I was extremely excited to have new Trek for my viewing pleasure. I drank in that first season like a man in the desert who just found an oasis, and you know what I found out? Wait for it...

It wasn't that great.

Don't get me wrong I liked it but I don't know if I was in love with it. Then came the second season and I found myself thinking the same thing, "good episode here and there but not a consistent hit. Apparently, I was not the only person to feel this way. The ratings those first two seasons were nothing to write home about. But something happened during the third season that transcends popular culture and rockets a mediocre series into another dimension. Can I put my finger on exactly when it happened? Well, most people will tell you that it was a two part episode (Best of Both Worlds) that changed all the rules, but I don't know. Season three was just better and we finally had a Star Trek we could call our own. It left the shadow of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and it became it's own animal. It became the Star Trek that I will show my son when he's ready. It became the Trek of my generation (see what I did there?). I love the old guys (original) and I love that series, but I came in after the fact and I couldn't call it mine. I couldn't own it, not that I would be pretentious enough to dictate what any Star Trek creator can do, but TNG was something I could say that I was apart of. I was there from the beginning and I stuck with it all the way through.

I can honestly say I miss that series and the 24th century as a whole. I want more if that. I want more men with bald heads and British accents (that didn't sound right). I want more TNG . It is with that statement that I can say that, for a brief moment this past April, I got my wish.

For the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, all of the principle cast united (in a federation, if you will) onstage at the Calgary Expo for one evening. They told stories, they shared laughs, and they reminded everyone why they should still be doing Star Trek after all these years. Even Wesley Crusher was there (we all love Will Wheaton)!! From everything I've read or heard about that night, it makes me envious of all those who were in attendance. These people like each other and they aren't petty like some ensemble casts can be (I'm looking at you "Saved by the Bell"). There were also special guests in attendance (Q) and other stars of Sci Fi television who took the mike to ask questions (after all they are fans too). I had almost forgotten that this was taking place until I came across this "article" at High-Def Digest. If you are a fan go check this out, though remember that it does carry a PG-13 rating (those TNGers are saucy).

Also remember that you can pick up TNG in all of it's Hi-Def glory on July 24th (ha ha, that Paramount sure is funny) when the first season gets released on Blu-Ray. Go, spend, and tell "the powers that be" that you want more TNG. It's sad that we don't have a Star Trek television show to enjoy week in week out, so go and let your voice be heard anyway you can. WE WANT TREK ON TV!!! Just Do It. Why do I hear Arnold Schwarzenegger voice when I read that last sentence? Yeah, I'm weird. And check out the picture of the entire crew in this article, Picard looks ticked off and there is a goofy guy in a Starfleet uniform, classic!!

Todd "Set Phasers To Kill" B.

[High-Def Digest]

Mr. Worf fighting the forces of evil in our living rooms?

We all know Michael Dorn has no reservations about playing everyone's favorite Klingon/non-merry-man, given that he has been in all 7 seasons of TNG, all 4 TNG films, several seasons of DS9, and...mild spoiler alert...Star Trek On-line (his likeness is used, at any rate).

Well, Blastr is reporting that Mr. Dorn is working on a script for a direct-to-disc Star Trek film featuring Mr. Worf, "in the front lines basically chasing terrorists." He's going to meet with Rick Berman, then his manager, then some people at SyFy, and then CBS.

He's so excited about the script that he couldn't help but curse (in English, not Klingon, you pahtks).

Although the buzzwords 'darker and edgier' are used, I'm still very interested in what comes of this. I'm missing the 25th century something fierce.

Feel free to talk about this on our Forums!

 - Nic


Thanks to Mr. X for bringing this one to us as well!

Posted on June 2, 2012 .

Who wants to see Picard, Riker, Data, Geordi, Troi, Worf, Beverly, Wesley, and even Tasha on the big screen again?

Just the other day on the podcast I was talking about how on May 19, 2005 I thought, "This will be the last time I'll get to go to a theater and ask for tickets to Star Wars" (barring repeat viewings of Ep3 of course), and then lo and behold three years later, in August 2008 I got to do it again with The Clone Wars. And then again this year with Episode 1 in 3D.

Well, now it's Star Trek's turn. Now you might be thinking, "Well...duh Nic. They're filming J.J. Abrams' second Trek film now. You and a few others are talking about it on the ID Forums." True. But this is something different. Something very different. is reporting today about a special one-night-only event in movie theaters across the country on Monday, July 23rd. Two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be shown in theaters ("“Where No One Has Gone Before” and “Datalore,”), along with a sneak peek at some of the special features on the TNG Season One Blu-ray (which will be releasing the following day). Also, there will be an extended preview of the Season One Blu-Ray, and an extended preview of Season Two, which they are announcing will be released later this year.

Here's the link:

It's probably not too far out of line for me to go ahead and say it here and now: Josh, Todd, and I will be there!

Peace and Long Life,

 - Nic

Posted on June 1, 2012 .

No Khannnnnnnnn, For You!

No Khan in Star Trek 2!!!

Word came today that the chief engineer, Scotty himself, has shot down rumors that Khan will appear in the new Star Trek movie by J.J. Abrams. Simon Pegg (Scotty) has confirmed in an interview with The Telegraph that Khan will not be the villain in the upcoming film.

“It’s not Khan,” said the actor. “That’s a myth. Everyone’s saying it is, but it’s not.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series "Sherlock", is said to be playing the role of an adversary to Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. It was rumored last month that his character would be that of Khan Noonien Singh, previously portrayed by Ricardo Montalban in the television series and the movie "Star Trek: Wrath of Khan".

So the Star Trek community can breath a collective sigh of relief and thank the ghost of Gene Roddenberry that Simon Pegg has a big mouth.

This is Todd
Boldly Going!!

[ via The Telegraph]
Posted on May 29, 2012 .