Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Star Trek: The Lost Era – The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Encounter at Farpoint.

“I’m offering the chance to find something entirely new,” Picard teases at one point in The Buried Age. “To begin filling in a tremendous gap in our understanding of galactic history.” In a way, Picard might as well be addressing the reader, explaining one of the many joys of Christopher L. Bennett’s The Buried Age. It is a chance to delve into the world of Star Trek, exploring the lacuna that exists leading directly into Encounter at Farpoint.

tng-theburiedage

Continue reading

Advertisements

My 12 for ’13: Gravity & Good Old-Fashioned Simplicity

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 4…

One of the more interesting aspects of blockbuster cinema over the past decade or so has been the way that bigger movies tend to have become more complicated and ambitious in their storytelling. This isn’t a bad thing, by any measure. The Dark Knight is a plot-driven blockbuster with no shortage of plot complications, reversals and reveals. However, not every blockbuster is as deftly constructed.

There’s been a surge in overly complicated and excessively convoluted blockbusters over the past few years. It’s not enough to have good guys and bad guys and spectacle. There’s a sense that there needs to be more crammed on in there. Double-crosses and triple-crosses, betrayal and redemption, shock reveals and game-changing twists. Bad guys no longer plan to simply destroy the world or kill the good guy, everybody has competing agendas, and big epic blockbusters often struggle to smooth those into a cohesive narrative.

gravity3

From this year, for example, Star Trek Into Darkness – while still an exceptionally enjoyable film – suffered from an over-complicated plot and a surplus of villainous motivation. The Wolverine featured a fiercely convoluted middle act where it seemed like half-a-dozen bad guys were all trying to kill our hero for different reasons. G.I. Joe: Retaliation featured an evil plot that was not only brilliantly stupid, it was also unnecessarily convoluted.

Gravity serves to buck the trend, offering something of a sharp contrast to this convoluted storytelling. Gravity is a celebration of old-school visual spectacle, guided through a decidedly old-fashioned plot.

gravity4

Continue reading

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.

startrekintodarkness21

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 1 (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Well, that was actually pretty satisfying. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has probably the most satisfying debut season of any of the Star Trek spin-offs. While the show’s first year can’t quite measure up to the very first season of Star Trek ever produced, it can hold its head high among the spin-offs. Although I will concede that the bar isn’t exactly high when it comes to measuring the first year of the tie-in television shows.

When I began a recent re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was glad to finish the show’s rocky first season. It was a slog, like the work one has to put in before delving into “the good stuff.” I recently picked up the blu ray of the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise. While there are a couple of nice episodes, there are quite  a few I’d forgotten entirely because they were so bland. There are more I would like to forget. Star Trek: Voyager‘s first season is the single largest missed opportunity in the history of the franchise.

So Deep Space Nine‘s first year doesn’t have to do that much beyond “not sucking” in order to earn the coveted title of “best pilot season of a Star Trek spin-off.” However, as I watched the season, I was continually impressed with the quality of work done. There are a few duds (and a few classics), but the first year demonstrates remarkable insight into what is unique about the show’s premise. It doesn’t always have the courage to follow through on that promise, but it at least acknowledges it.

ds9-season1a

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – In the Hands of the Prophets (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation allowed their first seasons to run an episode too long. The City on the Edge of Forever, the penultimate episode of the first ever season of Star Trek, is a genuine classic. I don’t envy any story that has to follow it, especially not something as mediocre as Operation — Annihilate! While Conspiracy, the second-to-last episode of the first season of The Next Generation, is hardly a classic in the same league, it does up the stakes on the show’s first year, and tie up a dangling plot thread. The Neutral Zone, on the other hand, is a bland return to form, with a particularly insufferable b-plot.

So the excellence of Duet might offer the viewer cause to worry. A penultimate first-season episode which is significantly above average? One would be forgiven for wondering if the first season might have been best served to wrap itself up at that point, going out in a high, safe in the knowledge that it had contributed one classic episode to the Star Trek mythos and with the potential to offer quite a few more. Quit while you’re winning, and don’t tempt fate with another superfluous episode.

In the Hands of the Prophets, however, puts those fears to rest. Serving as a companion piece to Duet, it’s another one of those “only on Deep Space Nine stories, closing out the first season with a reminder of what makes the show unique. In the Hands of the Prophets is another classic piece of Deep Space Nine. It might not pack quite the punch that Duet did, but it’s a compelling piece of drama which demonstrates just how much Deep Space Nine has to offer the Star Trek mythos.

Beyond belief...

Beyond belief…

Continue reading

Star Trek: Mirror Universe – Shards & Shadows: The Greater Good by Margaret Wander Bonanno

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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

If Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness proved one thing, it’s that it sucks to be Christopher Pike, in any universe. The first captain of the USS Enterprise not only had to wait until 1988 to see his pilot (The Cage) finally broadcast on television, he also got shuffled off-screen unceremoniously in the franchise’s first two-parter (The Menagerie) and was never really mentioned again. When JJ Abrams’ Star Trek introduced us to a rebooted Christopher Pike played wonderfully by Bruce Greenwood, he observed of George Kirk was captain of a starship for eight minutes. It seemed like Pike ended up in command of the Enterprise for only slightly longer than that.

It seems that even mirror!Pike can’t catch a break, as Margaret Wander Bonanno demonstrates in her short little glimpse into how exactly mirror!James Tiberius Kirk took control of the ISS Enterprise.

st-shardsandshadows

Continue reading

Star Trek – Shadows on the Sun by Michael Jan Friedman (Review)

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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

It almost feels like sacrilege to fill in the gap left at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The film was such a perfect send-off that picking up a novel directly after the end credits role feels like it might undermine the perfect farewell story for the veteran crew. After all, director Nicholas Meyer suggested that the film was an attempt to capture the spirit of Fukuyama’s “end of history”, representing the “end of history” for the original crew.

Except, of course, it wasn’t the end. In terms of internal Star Trek chronology, episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation had picked up on the later adventures of Scotty and Spock. Star Trek: Voyager would flashback to a Sulu story unfolding concurrently with The Undiscovered Country. Scotty and Chekov would appear in Star Trek: Generations, which would also serve as a disappointing farewell to one James Tiberius Kirk. It seems bitterly appropriate (if far from fair) that Uhura should remain the only major player whose story actually ends with The
Undiscovered Country
.

Still, despite his passing of the torch appearance in Encounter at Farpoint, you could make an argument that The Undiscovered Country was the end of the line for Leonard McCoy more than Kirk or Spock. And, as such, Michael Jan Friedman’s Shadows on the Sun serves as an effective (if flawed) reflection on the way that McCoy’s presence sort of faded from the 24th century spin-offs. startrek-shadowsonthesun

Continue reading