Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I finally caught the part I’d missed of the humorous and affectionate “Roddenberry On Patrol,” the first collaboration of producer/writer Sky Douglas Conway (also the impresario of Planet Xpo) and director Tim Russ. It’s clever and skillfully done, but didn’t really prepare me for what I was to see on Friday evening in two trailers for “Of Gods and Men.”

But before that, we saw the premiere of the Star Trek: New Voyages production called “To Serve All My Days,” written by D.C.Fontana and starring Walter Koenig as Chekov. It’s been available on the Internet since then, and I’ve seen it again. ( Frankly, I couldn’t hear the dialogue clearly at the convention.) But even without following the nuances of the story, on first viewing it was clear that this was Walter’s time to shine. It's a quality piece, and while this was probably his most complete performance as Chekov, it may not turn out to be his most praised performance in a new Star Trek story.

That might be in “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.” After the New Voyages webisodes, we got two tantalizing glimpses of this film. A standard-length trailer came first. Here were familiar faces in unfamiliar roles. The trailer was fast-paced, but all trailers are. The visual style was striking, but could that be just the trailer edit? Then we saw a longer piece, about six minutes, and even though these scenes were probably selected for their action as well, I got a better impression of what the overall film might be like. If the rest of it is anything like what I saw, this is not just a quantum leap forward for non-studio Trek films, it could command the notice of a lot of people in Hollywood as well as Trekdom.

If what we saw is an accurate indication of the whole film, no Star Trek has ever looked like this. It is a new visual style for this saga. It may turn out to be unique because of this particular story, but I’m willing to bet that J.J. Abrams and Paramount are going to take a good long look at it, and they may be among those who sit up and take notice of Tim Russ as a director. (Jonathan Frakes was reportedly impressed by the short trailer shown again Saturday. I heard a rumor that he was interested in seeing the longer piece before he left Seattle.)

The premise of “Of Gods and Men” is an alternate (and definitely not Mirror) universe where Captain Kirk has never been born. Some actors seem to be playing versions of their Star Trek roles, and others aren’t. Sky calls it the Trek version of "It's A Wonderful Life," but the alternate universe seems to suggest the rebels of Star Wars fighting a Star Trek universe empire, but it has a harder edge. And if Walter Koenig in the New Voyages webisodes was impressive, his performance in this film may well be extraordinary.

I’m not a fan of the Mirror universe episodes after the first one, and I don’t believe Star Trek has to be “gritty” and more like the ugly past to be relevant. But Conway, Russ and company may have found a way to produce a real Star Trek story with a harder edge than we’ve seen before. I got that impression not only from a few scenes I saw but from talking to Sky Conway about it later. He feels strongly this is a movie that Gene Roddenberry would have liked. (He told me that during production, Nichelle remarked that “Gene is here.”)

At the convention, Conway was no longer sure the film would be ready to be released on the Internet during the Christmas holidays, because some final scenes yet to be shot in Hollywood featuring a “mystery” guest star had been delayed. But according to an account of that final shoot at , the release date is back to the original--and the filmmakers are reportedly hopeful that CBS will find a way to partner up with them for other sorts of releases. There will be more information at the web movie’s website.

The timing of these screenings at the Celebration was perfect: forty years after the original series began, two new Star Trek stories emerge—made by many of the very same people, often in partnership with several new generations, and done with full knowledge of what they mean, both in terms of legacy, and for the most fervent fans. And after all the precedents that Star Trek has shattered in the past, there is this one now—perhaps the most amazing of all. These were Star Trek stories created and accomplished only for love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New EXTENDED Gods and Men trailer is now up at the official site!