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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Forge (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Kir’Shara trilogy is the strongest three-parter of Star Trek: Enterprise‘s fourth season. It could legitimately be argued that the Kir’Shara trilogy is the strongest story of the entire season and one of the strongest stories of the show’s four-season run.

There are a lot of reasons why this is the case. The Kir’Shara trilogy makes great use of the franchise’s continuity and history, without getting too tied down into references for the sake of references. Indeed, there is a valid argument to be made that the trilogy represents the most overt rewriting of continuity across the fourth season, an ironic touch for a season so committed to continuity. The story does excellent work the show’s under-utilised supporting cast. The adventure actually merits three episodes, the story never dragging or wandering off on tangents.

Under a not quite blood red sky...

Under a not quite blood red sky…

However, a large part of why this trilogy of episodes works better than the Borderland trilogy or the United trilogy is a simple piece of structuring. The Kir’Shara trilogy has a very clear and linear three-act structure, with each of the three episodes fitting comfortably together while doing their bit to advance and escalate the plot. There are no strange structural detours like the siege in Cold Station 12 or the visit to Andoria in The Aenar. Each of these three episodes is recognisable part of a singular larger story that builds to a crescendo.

The Forge does an excellent job setting up the arc, Awakening does an excellent job raising the stakes, and Kir’Shara does an excellent job tying it all together. The result is a satisfying two-hour television movie broadcast in three forty-minute chunks.

Mapping out an adventure...

Mapping out an adventure…

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country by J.M. Dillard (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Reading her novelisation of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it’s hard to shake the feeling that author J.M. Dillard really does not like this film.

It’s a very peculiar sensation, to read an adaptation clearly written by somebody who could not care less for the source material. It is not unique, of course. Diane Carey’s adaptation of Broken Bow is downright scathing in its attitude towards Star Trek: Enterprise. It just seems rather strange that J.M. Dillard’s early adaptation of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier seems a lot fonder of its source material.

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Star Trek: Khan – Ruling in Hell (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Khan is a massively important figure in the grand mythology of Star Trek.

One need only look to Star Trek Into Darkness as proof of that assertion – a film that trades on how iconic the name “Khan” is, even to the most casual of fans. However, despite the fact that Khan has only appeared in a single episode and two feature films, each spaced apart by more than a decade, the character continues to exert a strong pull over the rest of the franchise. He is arguably more iconic and well-known than any lead character from a show produced after Star Trek: The Next Generation.

War of the supermen...

War of the supermen…

After all, Khan’s influence can be felt on just about every iteration of the franchise. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he haunted the character of Julian Bashir. When the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise began its high-profile journey into the franchise’s continuity, Khan became something of a touchstone. The season’s first three-part episode (Borderland, Cold Station 12 and The Augments) was devoted to exploring the legacy of Khan Noonien Singh. Indeed, the show even tied Khan into the origin of the flat-foreheaded Klingons in Affliction and Divergence.

And yet, despite all this, there really is only so much material the character can support. Khan Noonien Singh is an iconic bad guy, but there’s a point where he ends up over-saturated.

The sands of time...

The sands of time…

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (IDW, 2009) #1-3 (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Due to bad timing, the Star Trek comic book license was between publishers when Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released into cinemas in 1982. As the license transitioned between Marvel and DC, the movie adaptation got lost in the shuffle. As a result, the film was the only classic Star Trek film without a contemporary comic book adaptation. It remained that way for over a quarter of a century.

However, on the release of JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek, current license holder IDW decided to release an omnibus of the classic movie adaptations as a tie-in. In doing so, they discovered a Wrath-of-Khan-sized hole in the collection, and so set about filling it with a three-issue miniseries that could be included in the omnibus for completeness’ sake.

Stationary orbit...

Stationary orbit…

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N. McIntyre (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Gene Roddenberry novelised Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While there’s some lingering discussion about whether Roddenberry actually wrote the novelisation, the book reads like the work of a screenwriter turning his hand to prose. It’s more of a manifesto than a novel – an excuse for Roddenberry to expand on his utopian vision for the franchise.

In contrast, Vonda N. McIntyre was hired to write the novelisation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Unlike Roddenberry, McIntyre was an experienced and professional novelist. She had been writing since the mid-seventies, and had a wealth of experience in both media tie-ins and her own original work. In fact, McIntyre wrote The Entropy Effect, the book published directly after the publication of The Motion Picture, and only the second Star Trek book published by Pocket Books.

All of this is a very round-about way of explaining that The Wrath of Khan is very much an adaptation in a way that The Motion Picture simply was not.

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My 12 for ’13: Star Trek Into Darkness & Fighting for the Future…

This is my annual countdown of the 12 movies that really stuck with me this year. It only counts the movies released in Ireland in 2013, so quite a few of this year’s Oscar contenders aren’t eligible, though some of last year’s are.

This is number 6…

Star Trek Into Darkness won’t win any awards for scripting or plotting. It’s very hard to succinctly explain the various overlapping evil plans directed by the movie’s two competing villains – who knows what at which point, and how that makes sense in the context of their objectives. Star Trek Into Darkness is a bit of a hot mess when it comes to storytelling – an overly convoluted plot that spends far too much time homaging what come before, when it should be boldly going somewhere new.

And yet, despite that, there is an ambition to Star Trek Into Darkness, a willingness to embrace big ideas and questions about cynicism and optimism, about hope and fear, about the attitude that people adopt towards the future. At the most basic level, that’s what Star Trek is. Into Darkness doesn’t have the same space as a television show to delve into those questions, nor to offer the same degree of nuance.

However, it’s a willingness to ask them that is quite endearing.

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek III – The Search for Spock

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

I have a soft spot for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. It’s a weird thing to admit, but it was really my first encounter with the crew of the original Star Trek television show. I was only eight or nine at the time, and I’d grown up watching and loving Star Trek: The Next Generation. Of course, this was in an era before DVD and blu ray made it feasible (and affordable) to collect the whole thing. So I branched out by trying the movies.

Being a young child in the era before the internet, I didn’t know that the second through fourth films formed a loose thematic trilogy. I just picked the film with the title that jumped out at me. Since “Spock” was an iconic part of Star Trek, and I knew him from his guest appearance on The Next Generation, The Search for Spock seemed the logical choice.

And it retains a special place in my heart.

"I have been, and always shall be, your friend..."

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend…”

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