A kick-starter campaign to bring Star Trek back, ‘Renegades’ straddles the line between fan film and a professional production. The cast manage to straddle the line between professional and am-dram. Set aboard the Icarus it straddles the line between Starfleet, Section 31 and space cowboys. At an hour and some twenty odd minutes it straddles the line between pilot and film. So the most important question is where does it sit on the line between good and bad. This is…………
We open with a woman writing on the walls of her cell. Unfortunately while Sisko got an irregular, badly paced space epic, all she manages to get is some “deep” and “meaningful” song lyrics. Truely a Star Trek for the Facebook generation ladies and gentlemen.
We then cut to a mining planet made up of digital matte painting and after effects where some rather ugly aliens have invaded. They have slaughtered their way through the planet and are left with a man who is so alien his nose looks like a dong.
Here we find out a few things;
number one that the aliens in question are built on honour and hunting, so kind of like the Hirogen,
number two they are the only species I have encountered to boast about how well evolved they are,
C) they have baby Wolverine claws,
and four they have really bad make up. It seems that fans have only worked out how to do orcs it seems.
This established, they make the planet vanish with a wave of their hand and move on to the next one. For it seems that this is at least the second such planet to be wiped from the universe, however Starfleet is not currently convinced that anything suspicious is going on.
But never fear loyal viewers because a crack team is on the case; a crack team of Tuvok, who will spend as much time in front of the camera as possible leaving the directing duties in the hand of a drunk monkey who has just found the zoom function. Checkov, a geriatric both on and off camera, and Grant Imahara who still can’t act but has to find something to do since leaving Mythbusters and apparently one Trek web series isn’t enough.
Still these three have used their extensive scientific knowledge to work out that while one planet spontaneously vanishing might be understandable, two is classed as a mystery. However for some reason Starfleet don’t seem willing to help them. Maybe their a little more concerned with who let the idiot design their new uniforms. Thus they will have to go off the books to get help, to recruit some; miscreants, trouble makers, some renegades you might say.
The Renegades in question are aboard the Icarus a decent enough looking ship though I have the horrible feeling at some point it is going to split into at least two pieces because the Prometheus did and that was so “kewl”. Anyway they’re not doing that at the moment but are instead trying to trick some poor unsuspecting Starfleet captain out of his cargo by pretending to be some Klingons. This seems to be going well until the Klingons show up.
Clearly Tuvok is going to need someone more competent at the helm and so goes to get their ex-captain from the local ‘Fight Club’ with the promise that he knows where her Mummy is. This is enough to get her to come back to space and accept the mission of hunting down the leader of the ‘Siphon’ and murdering him.
Now the cast is split between veterans and new comers both in terms of characters and actors. Some are playing old fan favourites like Chekov and Tuvok and even Icheb shows up. You remember him, the whiny Borg kid from when Voyager had realised they didn’t have much in the way of original ideas to flesh out the furthest point from home and just said screw it, Borg! Anyway apparently when Voyager got back to Earth they had him run the Borg rehabilitation programme, unfortunately seen as how Starfleet only has two other ex-Borg; one of which is his mentor and the other is completely over the experience there wasn’t much call for him.
Ambassador Soval even shows up though this time playing the fan loved character of Ragnar from ‘Of Gods and Men‘ yeah I didn’t remember him in that either. Even Robert Picardo shows up at one point, though his seal of approval doesn’t mean too much these days.
Not that it is only Star Trek actors in this thing. They managed to get Sean Young too. The rest are a hit and miss collection of bit players and extras which really shows when ever the two sides meet. It might not have been quite so bad if they were given anything decent to read.
The entire script is a collection of exposition with the odd one liner bizarrely thrown in for good measure. Now you would think with so much exposition that the plot would be nicely explained but that sadly is not the case, partly because we have to set up our planned for series and believe me this is clearly meant to part one of many and partly because even the exposition isn’t very good. Especially towards the end.
Remember how I said that some low budget movies tend to waver towards the end when they realise they have overspent and what not. Well this has the same problem though it manages to extend to their script too. Maybe it’s me but half the stuff they accomplish toward the end makes no sense and they aren’t competent enough with the techno-babble to explain it. Even so this does feel much like one of my typical low budget fantasy movies more than anything else. It even has it’s own soft rock, fem-vocal music video to play over the credits.
If this were a true fan-film then perhaps some of the complaints could be forgiven but every time you are settled in for something shot in someone’s basement where they had managed to drag one of the actual crew in, admittedly hung over but present none the less, they just keep showing a little too much talent. Though defiantly not enough for you to mistake this as Paramount’s latest offering.
The worst part of it though, is perhaps as I said at the beginning where they were trying to wear too many hats at once. Had this been a by the numbers Trek story, or a dark section 31 tale or even just a group of space cowboys in the alpha quadrant I might have enjoyed it more.
Had they tried to tell a story and just left us with the possibility of a sequel rather than the narrative need for one I might have enjoyed it more.
Had they crafted the script to their budget and not ran with the fanfic they had I might have enjoyed it more.
For a low budget fantasy/sci-fi movie it’s decent enough. For a pilot for a new series it has some potential, though I think I’d rather see a decent movie length follow up before I eagerly sit down to a weekly twenty-six episode series. For a new Star Trek, well some might lap it up with little better on offer for a long long time but hold fast Trekkies for soon we shall have ‘Axanar‘ which managed to be more interesting in its twenty minute prelude than this managed in an hour an twenty, we’ve got ‘Star Trek Beyond‘ which has managed to remove all the behind the scenes “talent” and so might actually be decent.
Anyway ‘Renegades’ is currently free on youtube and is the way you will probably be watching it as the only way to get a hold of the DVD is by pledging fifty bucks.