by Gene Turnbow, station manager
The long awaited independent science fiction movie Star Trek: Renegades is nearly done, with just a few tweaks to the sound mixing standing between it and final release – but it was in plenty good enough condition to make its theatrical debut at the Crest Theater in Hollywood last Saturday evening, to a wildly positive audience. Renegades stars Adrienne Wilkinson as Captain Alexxa Singh of the Icarus, with others reprising their roles from various Star Trek television series such as Tim Russ as Tuvok, Manu Intiraymi as Icheb, and Walter Koenig as Admiral Checkov, Sean Young as Dr. Lucien, Robert Picardo as Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, and many other familiar faces.
Renegades is the result of the cooperative effort of something over 250 people, many of whom simply donated their time to help get this project to the finish line. Working with a budget of just under a quarter million dollars, director Tim Russ and a bevy of producers led by Sky Conway have brought something to the screen that looks – and feels – like Star Trek.
The story revolves around Captain Singh and her crew of misfits and outcasts. While Singh’s character is well set up and developed, having a large ensemble cast meant that each of the subordinate characters aboard the Icarus had only a few moments to establish themselves. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Manu Intiraymi’s reprisal of Icheb from Star Trek: Voyager gives him some new back story, and it sounds fascinating. Icheb could be a really deep, interesting character, but there’s too much of that back story to try to introduce to the audience in the few seconds he has on screen to talk about it. The scene seems forced and his emotional motivation for the scene is murky at best. Many of the other characters suffer the same fate as their stories unfold.
The story itself is actually quite good, and it’s very much in keeping with the spirit of Star Trek. The soul of it is there, providing that solid foundation, though it struggles to be heard and felt through a number of scenes that suffer from a certain claustrophobia. Too many characters on screen all at the same time forces the viewer to work too hard too much of the time to sort out what’s going on and who’s doing what to whom. It feels like they had much more story than they had budget for, so they had to resort to talking heads a little too much of the time, and that hobbled the pacing somewhat in turn. We know they had to cut some important scenes from the film just to make it fit within the tiny budget they had to work with, and the consequences to the finished result were evident.
Where the script seemed hurried, though, there was compensation: the actors’ renditions of their characters ranged from acceptable to remarkable. The principals all turned in very very solid to riveting performances, with Wilkinson, Russ and Koenig bringing real power to their roles. Edward Furlong as Fixer created a new character from whole cloth, and he was fresh, charismatic and engaging in all the right ways. Every good hero story needs a strong villain, and Renegades had two of them. Father and son of a new species called the Siphon were Borrada, played by Bruce A. Young, and son Boras, played by Rico E. Anderson. They had the unenviable task of defining an entire alien culture in just two speaking characters, and they pulled off the magic trick seemingly without effort.
The entire project is meant as a series pilot to try to get CBS to agree to put Star Trek back on television. Unfortunately, since the project was begun, information has come to light that indicates that CBS is cooperating with Paramount in keeping the Star Trek franchise tightly focused on motion pictures rather than television, so there won’t be Trek on TV in any future anyone can envision now. Consequently Renegades won’t be making its way to the small screen – unless they work to move the project into other media, like a web series or some other format. During the question and answer session after the screening of the film, we asked producer Sky Conway if there were plans to explore Renegades as a transmedia project (“transmedia” means working an intellectual property across various types of media simultaneously, tying them all together into a cohesive media production and presence). Conway indicated that this was an idea they were only just now starting to consider, so it may be a while before we see any sort of cross-development into other media besides digital video distribution on the Internet.
The story is meant to set up Alexxa Singh and her crew as a secret Federation mission team, and the pieces all fall into place. All in all, Star Trek: Renegades is quite watchable, and despite the rocky bits the audience was completely absorbed. The gambit, begun in 2011 when the project was first conceived, had worked.
Star Trek: Renegades may be uneven in places, but it’s still Star Trek in body and spirit. As an audience, we all experienced that nearly unattainable nirvana of watching new Star Trek; together, we could boldy go, at least for a time, where no one had gone before.
Star Trek: Renegades will next be screening in Las Vegas on Friday, August 7 9:00pm at the AMC Town Square 18, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd South. This screening is free to all their donors, but seating is very limited, as only 135 seats available. To reserve your seats, simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate how many will be attending.
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