[REVIEW] ‘Star Trek: Horizon’ True To The Trek Universe

Star Trek: Horizon is the latest in a recent series of fan films. Produced and directed by Tommy Craft (who also takes on many other production roles), and with a solid production team and cast, Star Trek: Horizon should be satisfying to most fans.

Released in February, the project was successfully backed on Kickstarter in May of 2014 and raised $22,600, more than twice its inital goal.

Star Trek: Horizon

Horizon is set in the same era as Star Trek: Enterprise, picking up where that series ended. The film centers on the Discovery, an NX class ship like Archer’s Enterprise, and its crew. Captain Harrison Hawke leads a mostly human crew. The one exception is Lieutenant T’mar, a Romulan defector bringing important tactical information to Starfleet. Horizon covers the Romulan war mentioned in Enterprise, and also takes elements of the Temporal Cold War, bringing that to a conclusion.

'Star Trek: Horizon' Review

The film opens with a prelude featuring the last surviving members of a race legendary in the Star Trek galaxy, the Iconians. They have been defeated by another race that created a super weapon called Horizon. The two Iconians take and hide the weapon so it cannot be used again.

Captain Hawke on the bridge
Captain Hawke on the bridge

The first scene in the present time begins with Discovery racing back to earth to get T’mar and her secrets to Starfleet Command with several Romulan ships in pursuit. They take heavy damage and suffer casualties. The Enterprise makes a cameo here, swooping in to save them at the last moment. Captain Archer’s ship makes several appearances throughout the movie, which Enterprise fans will love. Discovery limps back to space dock to undergo repairs and debrief.

T'mar and Vulcan
T’mar and Vulcan

They learn from T’mar that the Romulans are building a super weapon just two light-years from earth. A fleet of Vulcan and earth ships, including the newly repaired Discovery, head out to find and destroy the weapon, called Horizon. The fleet comes under attack by Romulans, and it’s left to the Discovery to destroy the weapon with their new prototype torpedoes. The torpedoes cause an unexpected spacial rift to form, and Discovery is pulled through.

Romulan
Romulan

The crew find themselves at the planet Horizon was brought to by the Iconians. While investigating a structure on the surface they are found by Daekon, a Romulan defector from the future and a combatant in the Temporal Cold War. We learn that he is the mysterious man from the future in the Enterprise series. The crew of Discovery works to defeat him and finally completely destroy the weapon, bringing the Temporal Cold War to a close at long last.

Daekon
Daekon

Overall, the plot and writing of this film are absolutely solid. It strikes the right tone and fits nicely into the Star Trek universe. The story is logical for the time period, the characters fit and make sense being where they are, and nothing seems too fantastical for the setting. Good writing and characters can go a long way toward making up for a lower production value.

Crew on Iconian planet
Crew on Iconian planet

There are some minor issues with the film, but some of my issues could be personal opinion. I found myself getting a bit annoyed with the soft focus and lens flare, and squinting at the screen a lot. That could either be a stylistic choice or a practical one given that the film was shot almost entirely on green screen. The only other real issue I had was that occasionally the acting could be a bit stiff, but overall the cast is good.

Discovery
Discovery

The CGI/effects generally look good, the costumes fit the time period, and the makeup for the aliens is believable. The writing strikes the right emotional tones, and the characters are as fully realized as they can be within the time limitations of the movie.

Fans of Star Trek: Enterprise will love this film and should definitely give it a try. Those who haven’t seen it or don’t remember it well may get a bit lost and not understand all of the references, but the plot will still mostly make sense. It’s a nice continuation of a series that was cancelled too soon, wraps up some of those storylines, and lets us see more of that time in Starfleet and Federation history.

Trailer #1:

Full “Star Trek: Horizon” film:

Michelle Toven lives in northern Minnesota, where she does normal things by day and nerdy things by weekend and night. Her interests range from Star Trek, to history, archaeology, languages, fantasy and sci-fi, politics, and cats.

You can follow Michelle on Twitter @mtoven.

11 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • StarFuryG7

    Why give so much of the plot away? Your first few paragraphs may leave a reader thinking, ‘Well, now that I know what happens in the movie, I don’t actually need to see it.’

  • Dasjerm

    These fan films always impress me with their effects but the bottom line is their weak point will always be the acting. At best it’s average, at worst (like some scenes in this trailer) it’s down right excruciating to watch. I guess they’re all trying to emulate Shatners horrible acting and they’re doing a great job. I’ve seen better acting at a Grade 3 Christmas play.

    • StarFuryG7

      I don’t agree with you. I’ve seen acting in Trek fan films that was downright cringeworthy, but this isn’t one of those films. For most part the actors in this one did okay, if not better. That’s not to say all scenes were perfect, but it was definitely watchable and enjoyable.

      I think you’re letting your own preconceived bias about fan films cloud your judgement concerning this one frankly.

      • OphidianJaguar

        They did ok, but not better. The acting is flat. The only two actors that impacted me with any quality had brief roles…the Vulcan and The Admiral. The acting is poor. And yea there are some cringeworthy ones out there…Of Gods and Men…that was just bad. I watched it for shits…Ill never watch it again lol. Same with Renegades..didnt like the story, did like the random rag tag group of characters they put together, the uniforms were laughable and the sets were terribly designed.

    • Steve Donahue

      Watching this now, and the one take-away is someone seemed to think using shakey cam is a substitute for good writing. I’m less inclined to blame the actors because I don’t think anyone can could deliver these lines well. It’s an interesting mix of people not acting the way people do, unnatural dialog, long clunky exposition, and the entire cast ranging from meh to downright unlikeable, especially the captain. I don’t think anyone is channeling Shatner here, frankly because there is no charm involved in their performance. They all remind me of T’Pol from Season 1 Enterprise.

      • Steve Donahue

        I feel bad re-reading that, because I really didn’t say anything good about it. The effects weren’t bad. It did make feel nostalgic for the NX class of ships.

    • I know this comment thread is a year old, but I just saw this film for the first time so I figured I’d chime in. Yes, the acting seems poor. But there is a couple reasons for that which you can see in most low budget attempts at film.

      The first reason is a minimum use of takes. A multi-million dollar film, or even a television show can afford to pay everyone involved to spend 10-16 hrs a day, sometimes 7 days a week for weeks on end to do even just a minute or two of each scene over and over until they get it just right.

      It used to be that the cost of film was a major factor in that too, but with digital filming, that is no longer an issue, so even a small time group of fans can afford takes as long as they can keep everyone there.

      Which likely means what they can accomplish on a Saturday or a few evenings during the week. The actors and crew likely all have day jobs, so they cannot commit the time required to give a perfect, polished performance in every scene of a movie like this.

      The second major reason is because most of the actors you see in these types of fan films are experienced in stage acting, not acting in front of a camera. It’s a very different style of acting where you have to be more subtle in front of a camera and more melodramatic on a stage.

      Stage actors sometimes seem stiff on camera because they are trying to reign in their normal dramatic style, which would look utterly ridiculous on film. Again, with enough takes, they can nail it down just fine (as many stage actors do in big films), but without all of those takes, they have a hard time finding that right balance.

      Film is a very unforgiving medium, and so any flaws will really jump out at you. Even the average TV sitcom episode is a mish-mash of hundreds of takes and tries and retries until they get something presentable. A full length film is even more so. And in both cases, the actors are “used to” a specific style of delivery at a certain point.

      Finally, I’ve seen some complain about all of the lens flare and blurring. Well, that is to make up for a lack of having full sets and a high-paid well-equipped team of post production editors and the like. Without all of that stuff, it would have looked like it was filmed in your living room.

      As it is, yes it’s a bit annoying and odd looking in some parts, but at no point do you get the idea you are anywhere else but on a starship or in some weird alien relic, or wherever it is the director intends you to be at the time. So the effects accomplish their goal.

      I think what people need to take from a fan film like this is that there are people who have the ability to make something to this level of excellence for peanuts, and if given a bit more of a budget, could probably make a very good quality film for far less than what studios currently spend on big movies.

      We’re at a point now where it is safe to say that most big budget films are just not that good. They are heavy on the effects but are really lacking in a good story. I liked this and many stories I have seen in fan films. Stories that I would love to see done with a big budget.

      We’ve finally arrived to the point where technology can make up for a lot of budget deficiencies and there may be a day soon where something like “medium budget” films could start to challenge the old film studios.

  • OphidianJaguar

    The acting is rather flat, there is that “something” that is missing. I found it difficult to watch, watched it once for kick like Of Gods and Men, but I doubt I will go back and watch either again. Same goes for Renegades. Im not a fan of Horizons effects either. To bright and fuzzy. Too much glow coming off the ships, I didn’t like the warp effect and far too much green screen everything is fuzz and out of focus behind the actors. I would lump Horizon in with Star Trek Renegades and what I’ve seen of the upcoming Star Trek Captain Pike in the same category, B fan movies. Whatever people might say about the Axanar gang, Prelude to Axanar is a grade A fan flick. Great story, great acting, and the effects…NO ONE outside of Hollywood studio production quality beats Tobias Richter and his ‘The Light Works’ company, amazing work. Aside from Axanar the only other fan film I have my eye on is Pacific 201, it looks to be very a promising and unique Star Trek fan films. I also love the style of Pacific vessel. I get the impression it will be better than Renegades and Horizon. If you have not heard of Pacific 201 yet they have some trailers and production videos on their youtube channel and website. Regardless, kudos to all fan films, they all put a lot of love and passion into them and copious amounts of hard work. Fantastic or meh, peoples opinions will differ, keep em coming!

  • Dasjerm

    ALL fan films suffer unfortunately, it’s not just a Star Trek phenomenon. They are made by amateur fans. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just have a hard time getting past bad acting. And in this case it’s not that it’s terrible, just very wooden by many in the film

  • Disappointing. Boring; dozed off a few times and only watched about half. (Much) less than stellar acting and directing, especially camera work on close-ups.

  • maskddingo

    I applaud the accomplishment, but the visual style is a non-starter for me. I couldn’t get through 15 minutes. My eyes are bleeding. Impressive effort that I’m sure I would have no hope of accomplishing myself… but all that said, I’d be a lot more impressed if it was watchable.