Monday, August 31, 2015

Star Trek: Renegades

I’m no stranger to the world of fan films. Way back in 2002 I wrote and directed the first part of a trilogy of Star Wars fan films – Star Wars: Pathways. This was when everyone and their mother were making these types of shorts to declare their love of the source material. There were so many to choose from in the early-mid 2000s, but aside from Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, Star Trek: Intrepid and Star Trek Continues-Phase II-New Voyages there was a distinct lack of Gene Roddenberry’s thoughtful science fiction available in this form. 

That’s not really the case anymore. After the prequel hype train died down in the late 2000s the boom of the Star Trek fan film came to the forefront due to the reboot film series. In the late 2000s and early 2010s some even began to feature cast members of the actual shows/films they were based on such as Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, which starred Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney, Chase Masterson, Cirroq Lofton, Garrett Wang, Ethan Phillips, J.G. Herzler, Alan Ruck, Gary Graham and was directed by Star Trek: Voyager alum Tim Russ. Pretty impressive for a fan made production! Unfortunately it was a slow and meandering affair that was more about the fact that the producers were able to assemble this cast than making a whole movie. But it held the promise that if there were to be another project made by these people that they would create the fan production to end all fan productions. 
Star Trek: Renegades is the newest project from Tim Russ and his crew, funded completely through Kickstarter and Indiegogo a couple of years back and starring a virtual who’s who of Star Trek alumni and has beens from outside the franchise and promised to be a stunnng meld of classic Trek and Firefly. It is also one of the worst excuses for a Trek film since The Final Frontier.

When the revenge driven alien Borrada (Bruce A. Young) begins destroying worlds that produce dilithium crystals, Admiral Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Tuvok (Tim Russ) enlist a crew of pirates, led by the enigmatic Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson), to take him out before he can target the Earth.
Over the past year or so I had seen the hype building for this film on Facebook and YouTube. The snippets of footage shown were kind of cool; filled with some rad CGI effects and cool new ship designs. With Tim Russ back at the helm (pun fully intended) he managed to convince Walter Koenig (TOS), Manu Intiraymi (Voyager), Gary Graham (Enterprise), Robert Picardo (Voyager) and Richard Herd (Voyager) to participate, as well as Sean Young (Blade Runner), Edward Furlong (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Corin Nemec (Stargate SG-1), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) and Vic Mignogna (Star Trek Continues) to participate as well. Everything about it looked like it would be an epic win for Trek fans across the globe.

Nope. Nooope. Nope². All the nope. Nope ∞.
For starters the script is absolutely terrible. Ethan H. Calk, Sky Douglas Conway and Jack Treviño are more concerned with spectacle and moving the limp story forward as fast as possible rather than developing the characters in any manner as their relationships to one another are unclear and their motivations are vague. It’s as if the writers had all this backstory they wanted to get across, but it was either cut out for time or was not a concern. I was missing key info and that is a crime. The plot is nonsensical in the extreme with events and Deus ex machina bullshit popping up whenever they have written themselves into a corner. The doomsday device that Borrada uses is never really explained and serves as nothing more than a cool special effect when utilized. They also throw in useless subplots that add nothing to the story except to give certain legacy cast members more to do, such as the inclusion of Chekov’s great great granddaughter (oh, that bomb scene… so freaking awful). Plus they left the ending open with the hopes that this will somehow become a television series. After watching this abomination I don’t ever want to see these flat, one-dimensional characters again.

The acting is even worse. Lead actress Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Lexxa Singh is embarrassing to watch. She overdoes the whole “tough chick” attitude from scene one and since not one iota of her character is developed I found it extremely hard to give a shit about her or her plight. I assume that her last name is a reference to Khan, as if she’s a descendant of his, but since no info is provided I have to make assumptions so I cannot confirm nor deny this (like I said, backstory would have been nice). Since most of the film rests on her character’s shoulders it’s no surprise that it falls flat on its face. Walter Koenig looks to be trying his hardest to make sense of everything going on in this mess, but he fails and gets lost amidst the myriad of plot holes and convenient happenings. Sean Young looks bored and disinterested, Gary Graham looks confused, Edward Furlong looks high and mumbles all his insipid lines of dialogue, Corin Nemec should have his SAG card revoked and Grant Imahara, while doing a decent job of playing Sulu on Star Trek Continues, is so fucking bad here his performance borders on comedy. Bruce A. Young is in scenery chewing mode as the hokey villain with no motivation to want to kill everyone on Earth (at least not in any way that makes sense), and his shitty make-up does nothing to help sell his role. The only bright spots are Vic Mignogna, who plays Kirk on Star Trek Continues, as he seems to be giving his all as the put upon Cardassian Garis. Manu Intiraymi, reprising his role as the ex-Borg Icheb, is a fun character with a couple of cool new developments that needed to be explored a lot more to be considered truly rad. And Robert Picardo is his usual charming self reprising his role of Dr. Zimmerman from Star Trek: Voyager.
And then there’s Tim Russ who serves as director and co-starring as Tuvok. He has no idea what the hell it takes to tell a story properly as his narrative is broken up so much that it makes zero sense. Either he went completely crazy in the editing room or he just was completely out of his element while shooting this drivel. He cannot get decent performances out of his cast, cannot stage or film action scenes (everything is shot in such extreme close-up that I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on most of the time) and lacks the very basic fundamentals of visual storytelling. Uwe Boll’s films make more sense than this crap. While he does manage to show off some cool outer space dogfight action, I give the props to the effects artists wholeheartedly. They at least seemed to want people to be able to make sense of what they were seeing whenever a starship went to warp or fired a volley of photon torpedoes. And even though he wants this production to look like a million bucks, his lighting, sets and shot selections serve to do the exact opposite. Renegades is the very definition of a "fan film" in that it looks cheap, feels unfinished and reeks of amateur hour.

Star Trek: Renegades was a frustrating movie to watch. I really did want to enjoy it, but when a project is as misguided and haphazardly thrown together as this was I find it hard to find anything positive to say about it. And being a huge Trek fan, knowing that a lot of these people worked within the original franchise and managed to fuck it up so completely, felt like having my heart ripped out through my ass. I am not a happy Trek fan after viewing this abortion. I don’t foresee the planned television series coming to fruition, and for good reason. This is trash and a disgrace to Star Trek.
And people have issues with the reboot film series... Go fuck yourselves.

0.5 out of 5

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