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Star Trek – Unspoken Truth by Margaret Wander Bonanno (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.

Saavik is an interesting character, for several reasons. Most obviously, there’s the behind the scenes manoeuvrings involving the new character. Everything from her origin to the recasting of the role between Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There’s the inclusion of a short scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the fact that the last time we see Saavik, she’s watching the reunited cast of the original Star Trek continue their galactic adventures.

There’s her complete absence from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and then the weird pseudo-return of the character in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where the role that would become Valeris was originally considered for Saavik, before being cast with Kim Cattrall, an actress who had originally been considered to play Saavik. It’s interesting to consider the conceptual history of the character, given what she was supposed to represent upon her introduction in The Wrath of Khan.

Margaret Wander Bonanno does an excellent job exploring Saavik’s life in the wake of her decision to remain on Vulcan in The Voyage Home, with Unspoken Truth doing an excellent job playing with the character in the grand scheme of the shared Star Trek universe.

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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #28 – The Last Word (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.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home form a trilogy that tells a single story, covering Spock’s death and resurrection, the loss of the Enterprise and the construction of its replacement and Kirk’s journey from washed-up old commander to saviour of the planet Earth. Although the three films weren’t planned as a single story, they worked out surprisingly well as a Star Trek epic told across three films and four years.

Four years is a remarkable turn-around for three franchise films, let alone three well-received franchise films. However, it’s worth conceding that the storyline had a fairly significant impact on the tie-in media. Books could be published set in the existing gaps in chronology, but DC’s plan for their first volume of Star Trek comics was to feature stories set in the contemporary film universe. Since that universe was in the middle of its own story, and the comic publishers had no idea how it would play out, the results are interesting.

Lighten up...

Lighten up…

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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Echoes and Refractions: The Chimes at Midnight by Geoff Trowbridge (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.

The death of Spock at the climax of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of the definitive Star Trek moments. Pop culture has assimilated the moment, to the point where any half-decent nerd will identify “the needs of the many…” or “I have been and always shall be…” or maybe even “of all the souls I encountered…” It’s an absolutely massive moment for the franchise, where the film series dared to kill off the show’s most iconic and best-loved character.

It’s no wonder that the moment is such a strong focal point for those seeking to explore Star Trek. Star Trek: Into Darkness riffs mercilessly on that iconic scene, inverting it and counting on the iconography to generate enough emotional resonance for the film to get away with a fairly half-hearted homage. (The effects of The Wrath of Khan last until Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, while the consequences of the climax of Into Darkness don’t even last until the closing credits.)

So that famous sequence serves as an effective focal point of Geoff Trowbridge’s The Chimes at Midnight, which offers a parallel continuity of the Star Trek films in a universe where Spock died after the events of Yesteryear.

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan

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.

In many respects, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan represents the franchise’s first true “reboot.”

There have been various points in the history of the franchise when the show has undergone a reinvention of some description, a radical shift from what it was into what it would be. The third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation represented such a dramatic update, a shift turn-around from the show’s first troubled two seasons. The third and fifth seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did something similar. Star Trek: Enterprise tried to affect some radical shift, but only managed to accomplish it in the third season. JJ Abrams’ recent summer blockbuster represented its own dramatic alteration to what Star Trek was or could be.

However, The Wrath of Khan represents the show’s first massive shift, the first point at which the franchise effectively evolved into something markedly different from what it had been before.

You Khan do it!

You Khan do it!

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Star Trek: To Reign in Hell – The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox

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.

I feel like I’m in the minority because I didn’t much care for Greg Cox’s The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Vol. 1 & 2. The books had an absolutely great premise, and Cox had a very clever way of explaining how the Star Trek universe could have had a major conflict between genetically-engineered supermen in the 1990s, despite the fact that their version of the 1990s looked a lot like ours. However, Cox became bogged down in shout-outs and continuity references and character cameos. Despite the seemingly epic scope of the story, it seemed like 20th century Earth was inhabited by twenty people who all knew one another.

In contrast, To Reign in Hell has a much less ambitious and exciting premise, but the novel also reigns in some of Cox’s excesses. While the author’s taste for continuity sometimes overwhelms the narrative, he is somewhat restrained in how heavily he cane lean on what came before. While Cox’s prose is still a little prosiac, and his narration a little ham-fisted, he at least has a bit more room here to develop Khan as a character. Without the crutch of feeling the need to reference every 20th century character ever to appear in Star Trek, Cox can focus on his leading man.

Well, mostly.

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Star Trek – Ex Machina by Christopher L. Bennett (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.

Ex Machina is really an astoundingly clever piece of work. On the surface, a lot of reads like a fan’s wishlist, a collection of “snags” made while watching the classic Star Trek films and making a conscious effort to fix them up a bit. There’s a lot of effort into explaining the changes between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with character-centric subplots focusing on Kirk’s ego or Chekov’s growing disenfranchisement.

Indeed, Bennett even provides an entirely unnecessary but quite-enjoyable-nonetheless set of annotations for Ex Machina, explaining where and how he’s tying his story into a rake of continuity. He describes Ex Machina as probing “an unexplored gap” in the franchise’s chronology. Ex Machina exists as both a sequel to a rather bland third-season episode of the show (For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky) and The Motion Picture. Neither is especially loved among fans.

However, what’s fascinating about Ex Machina is the way that none of this prevents Bennett from crafting a compelling and intriguing narrative. It’s clear that he’s enjoying attempts to fill in various gaps, but Ex Machina works incredibly well as a piece of Star Trek which stands on its own two feet.

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