Browsing Category

Review

A Look At The Star Trek Starships Collection [PHOTOS]

A Look At The Star Trek Starships Collection

Launched in the U.S. at last year’s Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection is a subscription-based series of die-cast models and accompanying magazines. The series is slated to span the entire Star Trek universe. Produced by Eaglemoss Collections and designed by Adam Lebowitz, each model is based on the original studio models and claim to be “faithful in every detail”. The collection is currently available in the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, and Japan.

Each twenty-page magazine features articles about the design, filming, and on-screen appearances of the original studio model. It will also include detailed information about the ship’s crew, weapons, and technology. Eaglemoss offers a free digital version of each magazine to subscribers. Each model and magazine is fully licensed and approved by CBS Studios.

Following an introductory offer of the Enterprise D for $4.95, the subscription will cost you $39.90 per month — which includes two models and two magazines ($19.95 each).

To entice subscribers, Eaglemoss offers five gifts, each of which becomes available as your subscription continues. The gifts include digital editions of each magazine, a magazine binder, an Enterprise dedication plaque, the alternate universe Enterprise D from “All Good Things”, and an oversized Borg Cube.

Thus far, ten ships have been made available to subscribers and individually through local comic shops. Those include:

1. USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D
2. USS Enterprise NCC 1701
3. Klingon Bird of Prey
4. Enterprise NX-01
5. Romulan Warbird
6. USS Voyager NCC-74656
7. Klingon K’Tinga-Class Battlecruiser
8. USS Excelsior NCC-2000
9. USS Defiant NX-74205
10. Borg Sphere

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Scroll down for a closer look at the USS Enterprise D, Klingon Bird of Prey, and USS Voyager.

Star Trek Starships Collection Magazine

Star Trek Starships Collection Magazine

From Eaglemoss Collections:

The collection features ships from all five STAR TREK television series. Every major Federation vessel will be reproduced from Kirk’s Enterprise to the U.S.S. Defiant and fan favourites such as the Akira class. All the most exciting alien vessels will be featured too, including Klingon, Romulan and Borg ships.

USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Klingon Bird of Prey

Star Trek Starships Collection - Klingon Bird of Prey

Star Trek Starships Collection - Klingon Bird of Prey

Star Trek Starships Collection - Klingon Bird of Prey

USS Voyager NCC-74656

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Voyager

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Voyager

Star Trek Starships Collection - USS Voyager

To subscribe in the US, visit Star Trek Starships Collection.

photos: TrekNews.net

REVIEW: Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 3 on Blu-ray

REVIEW: Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 on Blu-ray

The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise on Blu-ray hits store shelves today. Largely because of the overarching Xindi story-arc, the third season is arguabley the best of the entire series. Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, and Linda Park all return for the season, which originally aired in 2003 and 2004.

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

Along with a transition from primarily self-contained episodes, to a more episodic format and darker theme, season three sees the name of the show changed from simply “Enterprise” to “Star Trek: Enterprise”. To compliment the updated title, fans will notice a change in the show’s main title theme, “Faith of the Heart”.

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

Season three introduces the Xindi, an alliance of six alien species determined to annihilate humanity. Throughout the season, we see Captain Archer and the crew of the NX-01 travel through the Delphic Expanse to the Xindi home world in hopes of preventing another attack against planet Earth.

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

The six-disc set comes in slip cover packaging, contains all 24 season three episodes and is presented with 1080p high-definition picture in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Much like the previous two seasons, the episodes have never looked better.

In addition to the episodes, the set also includes two never-before-seen special features that are exclusive to the release; a new three-part 90-minute retrospective documentary “In A Time of War” and a new featurette “Temporal Cold War: Declassified.” Both feature the show’s creators, cast and production team in newly recorded interviews as they detail and discuss the development, design, and reception of the show’s third season.

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 Blu-ray Review

The Blu-ray includes additional standard-definition bonus material, seen previously on the 2005 DVD release, entitled “Archival Mission Logs”. Those features include a profile piece on Connor Trinneer, a collection of season 3 moments, “A Day in the Life of a Director” with Roxann Dawson, “Behind the Camera” with Marvin Rush, plus deleted scenes, outtakes, and a photo gallery.

While every episode of Enterprise is available in HD as part of both Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming subscriptions, fans of the series will want to add the third season Blu-ray set to their collection, for the very best audio and video experience along with the collection bonus features.

star-trek-enterprise-blu-ray-review-006

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3 on Blu-ray packaging

star-trek-enterprise-blu-ray-review-008

Disc-by-disc breakdown:

Disc One:

Episodes

  • The Xindi
  • Anomaly
  • Extinction
  • Rajiin

Special Features

Text Commentary by Mike & Denise Okuda on “The Xindi” (2005)
Archival Mission Logs:
The Xindi Saga Begins (SD)
Enterprise Moments: Season Three (SD)

Disc Two:

Episodes

  • Impulse
  • Exile
  • The Shipment
  • Twilight

Special Features

Episode Commentary by David Livingston and David A. Goodman on “Impulse” – NEW!
Text Commentary by Mike & Denise Okuda on “Impulse” (2005)
Episode Commentary by Mike Sussman and Tim Gaskill on “Twilight” (2008)

Disc Three:

Episodes

  • North Star
  • Similitude
  • Carpenter Street
  • Chosen Realm
  • Special Features

Episode Commentary by David A. Goodman and Chris Black on “North Star” – NEW!
Episode Commentary by Mike DeMeritt on “North Star” (2005)
Episode Commentary by Manny Coto and Connor Trinneer on “Similitude” – NEW!
Episode Commentary by Manny Coto on “Similitude” (2005)
Deleted Scenes from “Similitude” (SD)
Deleted Scene from “Chosen Realm” (SD)

Disc Four:

Episodes

  • Proving Ground
  • Stratagem
  • Harbinger
  • Doctor’s Orders

Disc Five:

Episodes

  • Hatchery
  • Azati Prime
  • Damage
  • The Forgotten
  • E2

Special Features

Episode Commentary by David A. Goodman, Chris Black and Connor Trinneer on “The Forgotten” – NEW!
Deleted Scenes from “E2” (SD)

Disc Six:

Episodes

  • The Council
  • Countdown
  • Zero Hour

Special Features

Episode Commentary by Chris Black and André Bormanis on “Countdown” – NEW!
Text Commentary by Mike & Denise Okuda on “Countdown” (2005)
In A Time Of War: (HD) – NEW!
Part One: Call To Arms
Part Two: Front Lines
Part Three: Final Conflict
Temporal Cold War: Declassified (HD) – NEW!
Archival Mission Logs:
Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (SD)
A Day In The Life Of A Director: Roxann Dawson (SD)
Behind The Camera: Marvin Rush (SD)
Enterprise Secrets (SD)
Outtakes (SD)
Photo Gallery (SD)
NX-01 File 07 (SD)
NX-01 File 08 (SD)
NX-01 File 09 (SD)

Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray is now available on Amazon and other retailers.

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray

Today, Star Trek Into Darkness officially hits store shelves. Following an early digital release through iTunes, the film will be available as a Blu-ray 3D combo pack, a Blu-ray combo pack, and standard DVD.

This review is specific to the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download combo pack version that we were provided for review purposes. Additional versions, with varying bonus features, will be available at specific retailers, including Target, Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Walmart.

A little confusing, right?

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

First, let’s take a peek at the official movie description to wet our pallete:

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew

Sounds intriguing, let’s get to the review.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Movie

The movie itself has been discussed at length ad nauseam and picked apart piece-by-piece in multiple online reviews. So, I’ll keep the review of the film itself to a minimum.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Was Star Trek Into Darkness the perfect sci-fi epic, I had hoped for? No. Not even close. However, as a cerebral action movie, it was a fun two-hour thrill ride and far better than it may have been with a different creative team at the helm.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Video

I watched the movie on a 50″ Samsung 1080p high-definition plasma TV. I was completely blown away at how beautiful the transfer of this film was. From the rich red of the leaves on the Niburu trees to the deep blacks of space, the movie was visually stunning and an absolute pleasure to watch.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Audio

In-line with the superb visual presentation, the audio track that was delivered to my 5.1 Onkyo receiver was top notch. Michael Giacchino’s score pounded in my chest as I prepared to be taken on a ride to the 23rd century with some familiar friends — Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura and Scotty. The audio quality alone makes this film a great addition to your collection — if for nothing else than to show off your audio equipment to friends and family.

star-trek-into-darkness-blu-ray-review-05

Special Features

Now we get to the real bummer for this release. While the 2-disc set includes a few interesting bonus features — including in-depth looks at the filming and creation of some of the film’s most memorable scenes, I was left hoping for so much more. The most glaring omission is the lack of director commentary. With most Blu-ray releases, it’s almost expected. However, on this version, there’s none to be found. Varying content will be provided on the exclusive Target and Best Buy versions of the film.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Ultimately, this release forces the most hardcore Star Trek fans to purchase multiple versions of this film, if they want to see the full gamut of special features. Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me. Although, for those who are looking to pick it up solely for the film itself, Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray is a solid buy.

“Trek Yourself” With A Custom 3D Printed Figure From Cubify

"Star Trek Yourself" With A Custom 3D Printed Figure From Cubify

3D printing company, Cubify has announced a new Star Trek 3DMe figure creation service. Using a web app, Cubify allows users create a full-color, personalized 3D figure of themselves wearing a TOS uniform.

Priced at $70, Cubify allows customers to choose the uniform, rank, height, weight and one of four different poses for their 5.5″ 3D printed figure.

The folks at Cubify provided TrekNews.net with a custom figure for review.

For my figure, I chose the male body with a phaser in-hand and the rank of Commander in a science uniform, medium height and weight, and uploaded two headshots. One facing the camera along with a side profile.

The entire selection and upload process took less than 5-minutes. They ask that you use well lit photos taken with a digital camera (not a mobile phone) and a neutral expression (no teeth). Also, no glasses!

Following the upload, you’ll be asked to provide payment and shipping information. The turnaround for my figure was less than a week. It came in a box stuffed with bubble wrap for the item’s protection.

The likeness, in my opinion, is almost dead on. The artists over at Cubify even accented my figure face with the five o’clock shadow scruff I had in my photos.

While the $70 price tag may seem a little steep for a single figure, one of these would be a very unique and memorable gift for yourself or the special Trekkie in your life.

Check out a few photos of my custom figure and a time-lapes video of the creation process below.

Custom 3D printed Star Trek figures from Cubify

Custom 3D printed Star Trek figures from Cubify

Custom 3D printed Star Trek figures from Cubify

Custom 3D printed Star Trek figures from Cubify

For more details, visit Cubify.

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on Blu-ray

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on Blu-ray

This month, the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation became available on Blu-ray, with restored original special effects in HD. Please join TrekNews.net as John Tenuto offers his review of the discs and bonus features.

The Episodes:

Season 2 contains at least two milestone episodes for the series, given special attention here on the Blu-ray collection: “Measure of a Man” and “Q Who?”. Both are good examples of how the process of transferring and reconstructing the discs from the original prints helps showcase the original effects. In fact, these episodes, while both expressing Star Trek ideals and philosophies, show the brilliance of how the TNG writers were able to use differing genre styles effectively. “Q Who?” has a great deal of action and adventure, with effects that again look very good in the new format, yet the episode also says something about humility and our relationship with the technology we invent. Using a completely different type of episode, one that is more of a quiet character piece, “Measure of a Man” shares ideas about friendship, what it means to be human, respect for others, and also our relationship with emerging technologies.

Star Trek: TNG Season 2 on Blu-ray cover art

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on Blu-ray Review

“Measure of a Man” is made more special by the inclusion of almost 15 minutes more footage, salvaged from the original edit of the episode given to writer Melinda Snodgrass on VHS tape. The story of how the episode got to be so (too?) long is intriguing in itself, but the additional footage is remarkable, providing genuine and new insights into favorite characters. Especially good is a conversation between Data and Picard that is not only expertly acted, but also provides an exchange between these personalities which shows why Picard would become a father figure to Data as the show progressed. At the recent theater event where fans could watch the episode on the big screen, it was difficult not to have a nostalgic cry in the last scene between Data and Riker. Most astounding, the visual transfer from Snodgrass’ almost 25 year old video tape is so much better than I expected.

Bonus Features:

Among the new bonus features, two stand out as exceptional from a historical perspective. First, the “Gag Reel” on Disc 3 has all the fun of the 1960s Star Trek bloopers that continue to be shown at conventions to this day. While hilarious, the reel also helps demonstrate the camaraderie and affection Patrick Stewart and company have for each other, which is also a major theme of the “Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast interview on Disc 5 (to be discussed later).

Star Trek: TNG Season 2 on Blu-ray

Second, the inclusion of the 1988 Reading Rainbow TNG special is a welcomed surprise. It not only reminds viewers why Reading Rainbow was (and has recently returned as an iPad app) such a great “edutainment” program, but the vignette provides a genuinely fascinating look at how television episodes were made in the 1980s. Its inclusion reinforces how talented and creative the artists who made TNG really were, despite the budgetary, time, and special effects limitations of the era.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on Blu-ray Review

Of course, the centerpiece of the bonus features is arguably the “Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast interview conducted by Robert Meyer Burnett. This is an intriguing interview of the entire regular cast (minus Denise Crosby) in which the actors discuss how they got their roles, their interactions on set with each other and various directors, the connection they have with each now, and the function of Star Trek in society. There are some genuinely emotional moments, especially revelations of how Data’s character helped those with Asperger’s Syndrome and how Star Trek affects the audience in general. Surprisingly, Burnett asks a question that could be interpreted as a criticism of Star Trek fans (odd because Burnett is usually a champion of Star Trek and a fan himself), classifying some fans as having a problem separating the actors from the characters, or in essence, the stereotype of the fans who are unable to differentiate reality from fiction. While this was likely not meant in the way some may interpret, the cast excellently deflects the question by talking about how intelligent fans are and how the show has inspired fans to do good things. Burnett does a good job asking questions that keep the conversation going and eliciting stories. “Reunification” feels like the audience is sitting in the room, having a conversation with their favorite actors.

Star Trek: TNG Season 2 on Blu-ray

Less successful is “Make it So: Continuing Star Trek: The Next Generation”. While there are nuggets of information here, including a rare interview with the gracious and talent Diana Muldaur, the two part documentary is generally muddled. The editing is distracting, with good ideas of interviewees being broken up with cutaways to moments from episodes. When used properly, this editing technique has value, but it is used too frequently and usually with questionable purpose or connectivity to the topic being discussed. This editing style means that ideas are disjointed and interviews are diminished. Also, some stories are started and not finished or does not connect to other ideas, although how much of that is a question of the answer provided is a fair consideration. For example, Brian Thompson talks about how he earned his role as Klingon Lt. Klag, yet the story doesn’t really have a conclusion that I could discern. Then there is the problem that interesting material, such as the cool Borg transporter effect tests footage, are shown but not discussed in detail — if at all. Burnett does a good job as editor and storyteller, and the first season version of this documentary was outstanding. We are hoping that season three reflects more of that talent and gives better information.

In addition to these new documentaries, the bonus features also include episode promos, a 1988 season two promotional video, deleted scenes from “Up the Long Ladder,” “Measure of a Man,” and “The Icarus Factor,” the original features from the previous DVD edition, and commentaries on “Measure of a Man” and “Q Who?”. There could really be no better companions while watching these episodes than special effects master Dan Curry, director Rob Bowman, Mike and Denise Okuda, and writer Melinda Snodgrass, and important voice in Star Trek’s history that finally gets some attention thanks to the commentaries.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on Blu-ray Review

While the first two seasons of TNG have some great episodes, they show the growing pains the show experienced. Yet, the Blu-ray releases have given fans reason to watch these episodes again. The improved picture is such that I find myself watching these episodes again more now than ever before. I’m excited about Season 3, and hope for continued rare images and interviews, in addition to a theater event to celebrate.

Could you imagine “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” at theaters?

Boldly go, indeed!

You can follow John Tenuto on Twitter at @JTenuto.

RELATED: WATCH: Star Trek: TNG Season 3 Blu-ray Trailer

Photos: Brian Wilkins

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1 on Blu-ray

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1 on Blu-ray

Star Trek has always been a show (and films) of choice when introducing new home entertainment products and media types. In fact, some television historians believe that Star Trek’s brilliantly colorful costumes and sets were in the 1960s were one of the many reasons that the show remained on NBC, despite its low ratings. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Star Trek episodes and films were among the first released on LaserDisc for home viewing.

When 1982’s “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” was introduced on VHS, Paramount decided to experiment with a lower price point for the release. Back then, VHS tapes were usually priced at more than $100 per cassette — meant primarily for purchase by rental stores and not necessarily the average consumer. Would people buy movies at $30-40 per tape? Would they want to own films they had already seen in theaters? They would if it was Star Trek! “The Wrath of Khan” VHS sales were almost double the anticipated amount, and Star Trek helped usher in the age of building a VHS library. When the HD era began, it was Star Trek again being paired with technology companies to entice people to buy innovative formats and players.

Opening sequence

Opening sequence

The new release of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season on Blu-ray is another milestone in Star Trek’s continued popularity, and another achievement for Michael and Denise Okuda, and the producers and artists helping bring the show to (wait for it…) a “new generation” of Star Trek fans.

Star Trek: TNG Season 1 Blu-Ray Review

The Crystalline Entity

The Crystalline Entity

Whenever possible, as is learned on the bonus features, the team transferring the blu-rays utilized the original special effects. The team went back to the original film, kept in a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” warehouse, painstakingly reassembled the episode take by take, transferring it to High-definition. If a special effect was done “in camera,” meaning it is visible on the film, then the original effect is included. This is the majority of special effects. Some effects, however, such as the Crystalline Entity of “Datalore” or transporter beams must be added anew. In those instances, they team of artists is trying to match exactly the original version, or if improvements are made, such as the aforementioned Crystalline Entity, it is done so as not call attention to itself. What are the results?

Star Trek: TNG Season 1 Blu-Ray Review

VIDEO

Truly astonishing and beautiful images. It must have been frustrating for the visual effects to know how incredibly detailed their models and special effects was, but that it would not been seen in that detail because of the limitations of the video tape era. Now, fans get to see the episodes as they would have looked had TNG been shown in HD. There is so much to admire: the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701 D looks so detailed, with many more lights (they were there, we couldn’t see them before); the sets are fantastic, with a richness not available in previous versions; the costumes are vibrant, and of course, the special effects are marvelously enriched. Good episodes to watch so as to enjoy these newly visible details are “Encounter at Farpoint,” “The Big Goodbye,” “11001001,” “Where No One Has Gone Before,” and “The Neutral Zone” (Romulan fans may really enjoy seeing the warbird in such detail!).

Star Trek: TNG Season 1 Blu-Ray Review

AUDIO

The sound was also improved, giving TNG the 7.1 treatment. While there are episodes that have serious sound problems (which Paramount is fixing through a replacement disc process), when the 7.1 sound is working properly, it is a genuine enhancement. The ship passes are the most enjoyable, as you could hear the ships pass from speaker to speaker as it moves.

BONUS FEATURES

The bonus features are excellent, especially the almost feature length, three part “Stardate Revisited” documentary. The documentary traces the history of the making and premiere of TNG. There are very rare images and video, including costume tests and the most ardent fans of TNG should learn many new trivia facts and behind the scenes information.

Star Trek: TNG Season 1 Blu-Ray Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 on Blu-ray Review

Star Trek is like pizza. Even when it isn’t awesome, it’s still great because its Star Trek (or pizza). The first season of TNG is not a personal favorite, especially in comparison to later seasons. However, because of the ardent restoration by the team producing the Blu-rays, it is an enjoyable experience rewatching and revisiting these episodes. My wife and I get to watch them with our son, who is experiencing TNG’s first season in a style that I could have only dreamed about the first time I watched it a quarter century ago. The HD conversion makes the show more vibrant and exciting, and I cannot wait to see what the following seasons have in store for us.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1 on Blu-ray is available on Amazon.

If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, check out the season 1 trailer below.

Review: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – The Complete Score

Star Trek VI - Expanded Soundtrack

Fans of the music from the Star Trek films yet again have a lot to be grateful for, as Intrada Records, a company that specializes in the production of film soundtracks, has released the complete score to Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

This superb release comes packed with every cue from the film, plus alternates, the original trailer music, in addition to a re-mastered reproduction of the original soundtrack album.

Star Trek VI - Expanded Soundtrack

Until now, Star Trek fans were treated to the talents of film scoring legends as Jerry Goldsmith, Alexander Courage, and James Horner. Now in what was to be the final voyage of the original Enterprise crew, Nicholas Meyer chose Cliff Eidelman to compose a score that would soon take its own place in in the Star Trek mythos.

While dark, powerful, bombastic, and heavy in percussion at times (see track 12 Alien Fight on Disc 1 for an example), the score mirrored the events and the emotions of the Enterprise crew.This score also features many light, warm and colorful moments, and even Alexander Courage’s familiar Star Trek theme is included. While it may be considered as too dark for some, I thoroughly enjoyed this different approach to Star Trek film scoring.

Star Trek VI - Expanded Soundtrack

Star Trek VI - Expanded Soundtrack

With a remastered score produced by Lukas Kendall, editing by Neil S. Bulk and album mixing by Mike Matessino, the score sounds better then ever!

This 2-CD set is not to be missed, as Intrada has done it again with a fantastic presentation! This set comes with a wonderful booklet by the famous Jeff Bond, and album artwork which matches the previous releases of expanded Star Trek scores by record labels Film Score Monthly, and La-La-Land Records.

This is truly the scoring treatment this film deserves.

The battle for peace has begun. So grab these CDs before regret sets in, and sit back and let Cliff Eidelman take you on a different, yet familiar musical journey into our beloved Star Trek Universe.

Available now at Intrada for $24.99.

Trek Nation: A Star Trek Documentary Like No Other [Review]

Trek Nation

The documentary Trek Nation premiered on the Science Channel on November 30th, after more than 7 years of production, detailing the universal journey of a son searching to understand his roots. The film follows Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who passed away when Rod was just 17, as he attempts to better understand his father and Star Trek’s influence on society.

Now in his thirties, Rod documents a desire that is at once common to many who lose a parent while young, and also familiar to the themes of Star Trek itself: understanding, through contact.

In essence, Trek Nation is a history lesson about creator and creation.

Rod Roddenberry
Rod Roddenberry

The film walks a line with both grace and balance devoting enough time to each. Although after watching, it’s difficult not to wish for a little less of the history of Star Trek, which has been mined before by countless documentaries, and more about Gene Roddenberry.

More could have been presented about Gene Roddenberry’s life prior to becoming a writer, and the documentary rather quickly passes through his heroic military service and his extraordinary life before Star Trek. That being said, it is rare that after 45 years, any Star Trek documentary could present surprising information or genuine emotional content considering all that has precede it. Trek Nation achieves both results.

Because it is the personal journey of Gene Roddenberry’s son, there has never really been any documentary like Trek Nation before. The honesty and emotion of it doesn’t stray from revealing unpleasant details about a complicated man. Much of that emotion is represented, for example, in human moments: in how Trek Nation shows Gene Roddenberry’s failing health and the result of his strokes through unedited raw interview footage, or in the son’s spoken desire to be able to ask the questions he asks in the documentary not of his father’s associates, but of his father himself.

For those uninitiated, Trek Nation is a good introduction to the world of Star Trek. While little new ground is covered there in terms of the history of the show’s production, there are genuine and moving discussions by fans of the influence the show has had on them. For those familiar, Trek Nation gives many new nuggets of information.

George Lucas
George Lucas

The home movie footage of Gene Roddenberry provides a refreshing view of the man. The interview with George Lucas reveals that he attended Star Trek conventions in the 1970s and his admiration for Gene Roddenberry as an artist. There is much the Maker has in common with the “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” even if one created a space mythology film franchise and the other a science fiction television enterprise. Both dealt with limited resources, and the simpatico Lucas feels with Roddenberry on that matter is an intriguing revelation.

Gene Roddenberry meets George Lucas
The only known photo of Gene Roddenberry meeting George Lucas at the Creation Entertainment/Starlog 10th Anniversary Star Wars Convention. Photo by Dan Madsen

Also interesting is how the themes of Trek Nation are the themes of Star Wars, of a son who wishes to redeem his father and restore his memory. In that way, Rod Roddenberry has some Luke Skywalker in him.

The documentary also gives fans some new ways to think about classic characters. The discussion of how Wesley Crusher, William Riker, and Jean Luc Picard were created to represented the three phases of Gene Roddenberry (his youth in the military, his vigorous years in his 30s, and as an older philosopher/leader of a young crew) is powerful enough an idea to encourage fans to rewatch the entirety of Next Generation again with this new appreciation.

Star Trek fan, Eric Allan Hall
Star Trek fan, Eric Allan Hall

And what else could be said about the moment when J.J. Abrams watches what is a prophetic message from Gene Roddenberry made in the 1980s about others taking up his work when he is gone?

In summary, Trek Nation is part home movie, part Campbellian monomyth journey. Its strength is that its really a documentary about a son and a father. Personally, my wife Maria Jose and I found ourselves chatting about our parents after watching Trek Nation. Like Rod, my wife lost her father when she was very young and has many of the same feelings. Unlike them both, my parents are alive and I have gotten to know them as an adult and as a parent myself. Yet despite these differences, we both appreciated Rod’s dilemma and desire to know his father better. Trek Nation made us feel and think. It taught us something new about Star Trek, about Gene Roddenberry, about George Lucas, and about ourselves.

If you missed it, Trek Nation will be replayed on the Science Channel Friday, December 2nd at 12am, Saturday, December 3rd at 6 PM, Sunday, December 4th at 9 PM and Monday, December 5th at 1 AM. All times PT.

For more information, visit Trek Nation.

Review: William Shatner’s “Seeking Major Tom”

seeking-major-tom

William Shatner’s new two-disc album, Seeking Major Tom blends the best elements of Shatner’s previous albums, Transformed Man and Has Been. Similar to Transformed Man, Seeking Major Tom is a concept album. The concept has to do with uncertainty about the future and without trying to analyze Shatner’s psychological dispositions, it is evident from his books and interviews that he has a trepidation about death and his worry about the loss and emptiness that possibly accompanies that experience. This forms the basis for Seeking Major Tom, with Tom lost in space and not knowing his fate, and with the people of Earth presuming he is gone when he really isn’t. In that way, Major Tom symbolizes our possible status after death. William Shatner’s 2004 album Has Been surprised many with its excellent collaborations. Like Has Been, Shatner wisely surrounds himself with some of music’s most talented performers on his newest album.

I thought the best tracks include “Major Tom (Coming Home)” and I actually prefer Shatner’s spoken word version, with its use of actual NASA sound effects, to the original by Peter Schilling as Shatner’s presentation is more energetic. Also excellent is “Space Cowboy” that conjures images of both Major Tom and Captain Kirk. The guitar work of Brad Paisley and Steve Miller are instantaneously recognizable and incredibly strong. “She Blinded Me With Science” is another winner, both because of the excellent lyrics originally written by Thomas Dolby and Jo Kerr, and the inclusion of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, funkist Bootsy Collins.

William Shatner with Zakk Wylde
William Shatner with Zakk Wylde while recording “Iron Man”

Two songs, however, deserve special mention. One is the new version of “Rocket Man” where Shatner gives us a serious and maudlin interpretation of the song, surprising those expecting a repeat of his wild infamous 1970s version. The song works with the story of Major Tom, but also says something about where Shatner as a person may be today. Also worth the listen is Shatner’s original song “Struggle.” Whether it is about a horse or a person is for you to decide. It is an excellent and contemplative song about life cycles, about how we struggle when we are young, how we struggle when we succeed to keep that success, and how we struggle against inevitabilities as we age. It is, possibly, the best song on the album.

Not every song works. As a Duran Duran fan from the 1970s and 1980s, I was looking forward to Shatner’s interpretation of “Planet Earth.” The music is good, but Shatner’s decision to speak/sing the song almost robotically is perplexing and doesn’t really work.

Seeking Major Tom is worth the listen. It is meant to be listened to, like all good concept albums, from start to finish, so be prepared for almost an hour and half musical narrative. If you could commit that amount of time, there will be laughs and tears, and certainly much to think about as we all ponder our uncertain futures.

Watch Shatner discuss recording the album in the video embedded below.

Seeking Major Tom is now available at Amazon.com and on iTunes.

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Music Collection Vol. 1

star-trek-tng-music-collection

It has been said that film music is like a story book. It is full of moods and color, it can make you laugh, cry, feel happy, sorrow, and myriad of other human emotions. Part of what made Star Trek: The Next Generation so successful was the music that carried the episodes spanning the seven years the show was on the air.

Over the years, several composers have contributed to the Star Trek saga, and only a selected few have had any press in terms of a soundtrack album. The 1980s and 90′s were not kind times to fans of film music, and fans of Star Trek music weren’t any exception. In 2011 however, that is not the case. Enter La-La-Land Records, and their spectacular release of their limited edition 3-CD set, Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection, Volume 1. Even Data would approve!

First and foremost, I noticed the packaging. I think it’s safe to say that I am a sucker for presentation. Going by the presentation alone, I had a feeling this set would be good. The set comes in a 3-CD jewel case, with artwork featuring the famous LCARS graphics seen in nearly every episode of the Next Generation. This was a labor of love made for Trekkies (and everyone else). The 32-page booklet included is written by Star Trek movie historians Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall, who give an excellent insight into the history, the composers, and music of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It makes a great guide to read along with a listen.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Music Collection interior
Interior packaging

Speaking of listening…

Enter the music. Each of the 3 CDs are broken down by composers:

Disk 1 by Dennis McCarthy
Disc 2 by Jay Chattaway
Disc 3 by Fred Steiner, Don Davis and John Debney

All three composers are represented well, with highlights from several episodes from all seven seasons. I found the music to be quite enjoyable and refreshing, and in some cases new as there are episodes featured on this set that I have not seen. It was truly a trip down memory lane.

The set features many “holy grails” for Trek and film fans alike, such as the famous Lullaby from “The Inner Light”, Scotty’s Bridge from “Relics” the Main Titles (with Patrick Stewart narration) a polka version of the Alexander Courage theme, and several of the many “bumpers” heard before the commercial breaks. For myself, the latter, this was a real treat! For years I wondered if the bumpers were simply studio edits, or actual pieces of music performed. Just imagine a full orchestra performing a full 10 seconds of a theme!

Star Trek: The Next Generation Music Collection CDs
Three discs

La-La-Land truly went all out in making this set. Clocking in with over 3 hours of music, this set is guaranteed to keep any Trekkie happy for years to come.

This set is truly worth getting, and a worthy memento for any Star Trek fan. So sit back, relax, and let your ears be taken where no ears have gone before!

Box Presentation: 4 out of 5 stars
Liner Notes (Booklet): 4 out of 5 stars
Music: 5 out of 5 stars

The 3-CD set is now available at La-La Land’s website for $34.98 and is limited to 3,000 units.

Review: William Shatner’s “The Captains”

the-captains-review

We have a fascination with those who lead. From heads of state and royal families to sports coaches and film directors. We love to follow the lives and careers of those who shape history and guide others to greatness. As a reader of this website, chances are some of your favorite leaders are the captains of great starships — Names like Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer.

Now, thanks to William Shatner’s documentary, The Captains, we can learn a bit more about the real-life people who brought these great commanding officers to the screen. This entertaining offering from EPIX debuted in July and is currently available on the EPIX channel and through their EpixHD.com.


The Kirks: William Shatner & Chris Pine

My fiancée and I signed up for the free two-week trial EPIX currently offers to check out Mr. Shatner’s latest work, and we were still talking about it long after the final credits.

The Captains is an interesting, engaging glimpse into the personalities of these actors, but don’t go in expecting a documentary-style look at Star Trek‘s leading men and woman: Shatner has recorded an hour and a half of conversations and reflections and released it for Trek and film buffs to listen in on. This is not a history of the franchise, but a look at how it (and so much more) has affected each of these talented artists. The film briefly introduces each, as Bill flies out to meet them; then it shifts from one to the other and back again as Shatner asks questions about their careers, their relationships, and what they’ve all taken away from the captain’s chair.


Sir Patrick Stewart & William Shatner

While William Shatner is certainly the center of the film, the true stars of the piece are Patrick Stewart (Picard), Kate Mulgrew (Janeway), and Scott Bakula (Archer). Stewart displays great emotion and insight, and plays off Shatner well. Mulgrew is a class-act, tough and no-nonsense; she opens up and discusses some clearly painful memories, but also takes Bill to task when he seems unwilling to reciprocate. In contrast, Scott Bakula is relaxed and easy-going. He talks casually about his family life and his career; he sings; and he laughs at life’s misfortunes. All three are a joy to watch. The remaining interviewees do not fare as well. Chris Pine gets short shrift here, with very little screen time. The most recent big-screen captain struck me as earnest and honest, but intimidated. He appears uneasy around his predecessor, and Shatner does little onscreen to change that. Bill seems to have far less to ask the younger actor. They do arm-wrestle, though, so there is that. As for Avery Brooks… here, the commanding presence that kept DS9 from falling apart is nowhere to be seen. Brooks comes across as an eccentric intellectual who would rather play his piano than discuss acting and Star Trek with Captain Kirk. My fiancée suggested that perhaps he’d spent a bit too much time in the celestial temple, “hangin’ with the prophets.”

William Shatner & Avery Brooks
William Shatner & Avery Brooks

Guest appearances by other Trek actors and footage from last year’s Las Vegas Star Trek Convention add even more to the conversations between captains. I highly recommend it to fans of the franchise, but (as the Borg might say) it falls short of perfection. The pace is quite slow and some strange editing can be distracting at times. It’s clear throughout that as William Shatner interviews his fellow captains, he’s also focused on interviewing himself. Although I get the impression that William Shatner was hoping it would be a bit more, The Captains is a fun, light look at these talented thespians and their thoughts on life, love, and Trek. Should it become available to own, I’d happily add it to my Star Trek video library. Be sure to check it out yourself on EpixHD.com (which is still running a free two-week trial, for a limited time!) and post your thoughts in the comments below.

Engage!

Get your free two-week trial of EPIX today at EpixHD.com.

Review: Star Trek: Infestation Issues 1 and 2

star-trek-infestation

There’s such a resurgence of just about everything from the 80′s and 90′s making its way back into pop culture. In all of this me lieu, I’d find it hard for any sci-fi fan to say that they can’t find anything to appease their appetite to escape from today’s hum drum and depressing news on the economy, ongoing wars and international turnover in the middle east. I for one found myself making a visit to my local comic store to find that diversion. I heard about a recently released storyline called Infestation created by IDW Publishing. Mind you I haven’t picked up a comic book since the mid 90’s.

Star Trek Infestation #1 and #2 were on my list and this comic storyline focused on two genres I’ve followed since I was a wee child in awe at the vastness of the the Enterprise. Star Trek and Zombies are placed together in this exploration of multiverses colliding.

Star Trek Infestation #1
Star Trek: Infestation Issue #1

Star Trek Infestation #2
Star Trek: Infestation Issue #2 Cover A

I found the premise to be intriguing who doesn’t want to see Kirk and crew fend off the undead. There was something intriguing about seeing Kirk, Spock, McCoy and security team fighting their way through an army of relentless zombies. The science was there with Mccoy discussing a viral infection and the gore was there with an unfortunate crew member getting the bite of death but I was conflicted because the storyline felt quite tame. I find it hard to believe that a band of 8 men can fend off more than 50 zombies without using deadly force. I would have thought that there would be carnage if I had a 23rd century phaser but because of the prime directive there is resistance in setting phasers to stun? OMG they’re dead Jim. Am I wrong to want Dawn of the Dead, Trek style maybe if the colonist met with a Klingon party things would be much different. But let me give the project props where they are due, it was a fun exploration of the 2 genres but don’t expect the terror of The Walking Dead in this one.