Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Spoilerific Star Trek Beyond review

Star Trek Beyond

A review of Star Trek Beyond. Warning, there be spoilers ahead!

You have been warned...

The film begins with Captain Kirk attempting to establish a peace treaty between two species. As you might expect the negotiations degrade and Kirk rips his shirt again. This incident also introduces the movies super duper doomsday weapon. Why the filmmakers can't make a modern Star Trek movie without a terrible weapon is known only to them. But it'd sure be nice to have one without a megalomaniac and a doomsday device. We find out the alternate Enterprise has a bar, which is situated in the saucer rim and that it is entirely empty. McCoy and Kirk have a little fun at Checkov's expense. (We'll miss 'ya Anton) We also find out that Kirk still has Daddy issues and is not fond of celebrating his birthday, you see Kirk is now one year older than his father was when he was killed aboard the Kelvin. This sets up Kirks character 'arc' for the film, It also mirrors Spocks arc. The Enterprise is headed out to Yorktown, a shimmering new starbase on the edge of the known Universe. In a voice over of his Captain's log, Kirk tells us that his life aboard the Enterprise is becoming a little "episodic"... har, har. Basically, this is the audiences first inkling that Kirk isn't entirely pleased with the Captaincy. This is probably the most character development that alternate Kirk has ever had. These threads continue throughout the film. This scene also introduces the new Warp speed effect, which, in my opinion, is superior to that of it's immediate predecessors from "Star Trek (2009)" and "Star Trek into darkness" and is the best warp effect since "Star Trek The motion picture".

The Enterprise arrives at starbase Yorktown in a sequence that is one of many extremely beautiful visual effects sequence in the film. I would go so far as to call them "Breathtaking". I generally roll my eyes at such parlance, but in this case I believe it apt. We get a few glimpses of life aboard the massive station which is a rather large orb with airlocks connecting the outer rim with the interior, we get to see the Enterprise entering the station from several vantage points, the most impressive of which is seeing the massive vessel gliding under a large pool of water which is suspended over the large Starship dock. The crew disembarks and we see a little of the inside of the massive starbase and then we get to Spock's character development for the film when he gets stopped by Uhura, who gives back to him a necklace that had once belonged to Spock's mother. Uhura breaks up with Spock, nice of her to do it in public(!). Spock of course objects, but to no avail. Much to Spock's chagrin McCoy was present to see the whole thing and can't help but razz Spock about the breakup, once we get McCoy's joke out of the way, we see Spock get stopped by two Vulcans; in the next scene we see that they were informing him of the death of his alternate universe counterpart, "Prime" Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This of course hits long time fans a little harder than the general audience due to the death of Leonard Nimoy in 2015. I'll be writing of my thoughts on Leonard Nimoy in a separate blog post.

The primary plot goes into motion when an alien pod knocks on Starbase Yorktown's door. In the pod is a woman, who appears to be alien, clearly in distress. In a nice little bit of business, we see the alien woman fitted with a Universal translator and see it calibrated. What's cool is that the UT is on a delay and that she actually must speak before we hear the translation, they stick with this set up until the end. Which is a refreshing change of pace, rather than the UT just making her sound as though she's speaking English. Well done filmmakers. She informs the Starfleet crew that her crew are stranded on an alien planet and asks Starfleet to rescue them. The only kick is that her ship crashed on a planet on the other side of a nebula/asteroid field and that the Enterprise is the only starship advanced enough to navigate it. Naturally, Starfleet agrees to attempt a rescue and, once again, our intrepid crew puts on the yellow, reds and blues to save the downtrodden. We also learn that Kirk had put in for a transfer to Starbase Yorktown to be it's new fleet Admiral (Or some rank, I can't remember). The commander of Yorktown tells Kirk that his transfer request has been received and that they'll be making their decision soon. With that, the crew disembarks and heads into the asteroid field.

In short order the Enterprise makes it through the asteroids which give way to a planet, the alien woman states that it is called "Altamid". Not long after arriving at the planet, the Enterprise encounters a rather large object in orbit. The object appears solid and then breaks up into thousands of fighters and begins attacking the Enterprise by literally ripping through her hull. Kirk immediately orders shields up and to open fire upon the swarm, but their Photon torpedoes can't lock on to the tiny swarm vessels and their phasers aren't having much affect. Kirk orders an immediate withdrawal and Sulu tries to get the ship into warp, but she won't engage her engines. It's never explained why the ship can't enter warp, we just have to believe that it can't for some reason. We get our first look at the main aliens of the film, pretty standard Star Trek aliens, bipedal, two eyes a mouth, etc. (Although there's a reason for that as we'll find out later.) The head bad guy orders the swarm to take out the ships engines and in a somewhat painful scene for anyone who loves the Enterprise(s), the swarm tears through the warp nacelle pylons, severing the warp engines from the ship. I have to say that element was somewhat shocking to see; whenever we see the Enterprise take damage, it's nacelle pylons always remain largely intact. When those are gone the audience really understands that this truly is the end for the starship Enterprise. That was definitely a Star Trek first. Scotty says that he can shunt warp power to the impulse engines and Kirk orders it done. The main cast splits up at this point and each then has their own little adventure as the ship is further destroyed. The head bad guy (Krall) makes his big entrance onto the ship and one wonders at this point what his reasons are for attacking the Enterprise. Well, it turns out that he was after a device that was part of a super weapon, the same device from the start of the film and the peace negotiation. Kirk and Krall spend a bit of time going after one another, there's a fight, etc. Krall orders the the Enterprises "Throat" cut. In other words, the neck connecting the saucer and secondary hull. The swarm then rips through the ships neck and severs it, sending the saucer into the planets atmosphere. Then begins a sub-sequence where Kirk must separate the remnants of the neck from the saucer because the impulse drive won't function as long as the neck is still attached because the ships stupid computer is still trying to draw power from it's now missing warp core. This is where everybody now must evacuate the ship. Scotty, in the secondary hull, uses a torpedo to escape. Spock and McCoy are trapped in a turbolift which was in the neck when it was destroyed and they are ejected out into space and somehow manage to make it into an enemy swarm ship without suffering from exposure to space. Which is one of the problems with modern movies, anyone over 25 can't tell what the hell is going on half the time as shit is just bombarding your senses. I'm sure I'll be able to figure it out once the movie is out on DVD. Uhura, after helping Kirk separate the saucer, winds up in what's left of the ships neck with Krall. Sulu, Checkov and the alien woman all evacuate the saucer in what are called "Kelvin pods", although in the theater it sounded like Kirk said "Kevin Pods" and I thought "Who the hell is Kevin and why does he have pods!". We then are treated to a shot of the Enterprises saucer crashing on the planets surface. So much for poor Enterprise. 

Then begins act two of the film. Pretty standard. You could almost read the act break on screen. Everyone winds up in different places, Uhura and Sulu have the least to do as they're captured by the bad guys and imprisoned. Kirk, Checkov and the alien woman wind up together as they were the last to leave the ships saucer. Spock and McCoy are together and provide the comic relief. And Scotty introduces us to this films "cliff hanger" moment and to the character of Jaylah, who saves Scotty from intergalactic hoodlums. Jaylah recognizes the arrowhead badge on Scotty's uniform and asks for his help in fixing something. Scotty, somewhat surprised that she recognizes starfleet symbology agrees to help her if she'll help him find his friends. One thing these films do is make everything informal. In the original movies the characters wouldn't have used the term "friends", they would have used "crew", "colleagues", etc. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I'm just pointing out the differences. I don't know if it could mean anything culturally, but perhaps it does. Spock is injured and McCoy helps him using his usual brand of bedside manner. The duo also give us our required swearing for the film, these new films gotta come with that PG-13 rating! Kirk and Checkov reason that they can find more of the crew with the sensors on the crashed Enterprise then they can with a tricorder, so their mission is to find the downed saucer. Uhura and Sulu (And that dumb character "Keenser" (Terrible, childish fucking name by the way. I'm looking at you Abrams.) are held captive and try to escape, find some old Starfleet gear and find out that Krall has been using it to spy on the Federation, including Yorktown and the Enterprise. Krall has even accessed the Enterprises logs. Pretty industrious dude this Krall, I guess he deserves to be the bad guy. Uhura and Sulu are then recaptured. Scotty follows Jaylah to what she calls her "house", which turns out to be an old starfleet ship! The long forgotten U.S.S. Franklin, Captained by the awesomely named Balthazar Edison. This is probably my favorite element of the film as the ancient starfleet ship offers us the most references to past Trek. In this case, it is references to many of the technical aspects of "Star Trek: Enterprise". Meanwhile, Kirk and Checkov have located the crashed saucer, they enter it and Checkov begins routing power to a bridge station. Kirk takes the alien woman and heads below to find the lost artifact/super-weapon that Kirk hid before the ship crashed. Once below, the alien woman believing Kirk has led her to the super-weapon, turns on him and takes his weapon, she uncovers the panel where Kirk supposedly hid the weapon and realizes that nothing is there. Kirk was lying and Checkov sneaks up on her from behind and orders her to drop the gun. Kirk laid the trap. Then the two get ambushed by alien drones who begin firing on them. Queue the next action sequence. Kirk surmises that they could move the saucer by shooting one of the thruster exhaust thingies. This works and the saucer begins lifting off. Kirk and Checkov go back up to the bridge, blow out the bridge picture window and slide down the saucer as it's flipping over. The saucer then flips over and lands on the evil alien woman. Kirk and Chekov then make their way to find the crew.

Back at the wreck of the old Franklin, Scotty hears this 'old' shitty music coming from the engine room and asks "Is that music". I don't know Scotty, given how shitty it is I would say not. But Jaylah says "Yes" and implies that it was NWA that taught her how to speak the English language. Okay, that little mystery solved. Jaylah then hears something and her and Scotty make their way outside where they find Kirk and Checkov suspended in some kind of crystalline structure, apparently it's one of Jaylah's traps. The three are introduced and Scotty shows Kirk that the old starship Franklin is intact and on the planet. They go through a little bit of the history of the Franklin including: That it was the first ship to reach Warp 4, it's registry is NX-326, it's a "Starship" class vessel and was captained by Balthazar Edison and Kirk calls Balthazar and his crew "The first heroes of the Federation". I love that line. So TOS. Okay, now to deconstruct some of the info on the Franklin. If the ship was the first to reach Warp 4, then why is it's registry number higher than that of the NX-01 from "Star Trek: Enterprise" that was capable of going faster than warp 5! The original starship Enterprise was a ship of the "Starship" class. How could the Franklin be of the Starship class if it was built 80 years or so before the original Enterprise from TOS? According to the movie the ship was lost in 2164. Three years after the founding of the United Federation of Planets. Scotty then asks Kirk's permission to do something, Kirk is confused as to why Scotty needs his permission, Scotty says "Because I didn't want to take the blame alone." Cut to Spock and McCoy, they've found themselves surrounded by three enemy drone vessels with their weapons trained on them. Bones says "Well, at least I won't die alone" Spock then gets beamed out. McCoy says: "Typical" just before he too is beamed out. McCoy finds himself in the transporter room of the Franklin. Apparently Scotty wanted Kirks permission to beam up Spock and McCoy, because as Scotty tells McCoy "These old Transporters were only used to transport cargo." Which is another reference to "Enterprise", or rather the pilot episode of "Enterprise" where Lt. Reed and Ensign Mayweather discuss how the new transporter (As of 2151) was just approved to transport bio matter. And during the first season of "Enterprise' the transporter was used sparingly and was generally viewed as being hazardous and not very reliable. You can understand then McCoys trepidation at being transported by the transporter aboard the derelict U.S.S. Franklin! This is yet another possible inconsistency. I.E. Why hadn't the Franklin's transporter been upgraded to that of Archer's Enterprise? Now it could be suggested that, despite it's higher registry, that the Franklin was really a ship that was much older than Archer's Enterprise and Starfleet gave Edison an older ship, and that something as sophisticated as the transporter on a ship as old as the Franklin was not easily upgraded and could have been entirely integrated into the Franklin's systems.

Once aboard the Franklin, Bones says that he must tend to Spock's wounds. Scotty pulls out a bunch of ancient surgical implements, McCoy laments their relatively primitive state but manages to use them to mend Spock. Once that's done, the team figures out where Krall is keeping the Enterprise crew. They hatch a plan to rescue the crew with the Franklins transporter and with the help of a rather convenient motorcycle (That is hundreds of years old) being stored aboard the Franklin. Kirk and crew enlist the help of Jaylah who states that she's been to Krall's hideout, but she refuses as the last time she was there her whole family was killed. Scotty talks her into it, naturally. And the team goes and rescues the Enterprises crew. Queue another action sequence. With the remaining Enterprise crew safely aboard the Franklin; Sulu and Uhura inform Kirk of Krall's dastardly plan to attack the Federation and destroy Starbase Yorktown. Kirk then turns to Scott to get the ancient derelict Franklin in fighting shape so they can go after Krall. Scotty tells Kirk that the ship isn't in the shape necessary to make the trip and in a conversation that I love, Scotty tells Kirk that the Franklin was built in space and meant to operate exclusively in space! Unlike the former U.S.S. Enterprise. But Kirk insists and the miracle worker, with Jaylah's help, get the ship ready for take off. Sulu says that to reach take off speed, the ship must achieve 'terminal velocity', which requires them to free-fall from the peak that the ship is perched on to the valley below and hope that they can reach the necessary speed before plummeting to their death. Now, since this is a movie, the plan succeeds and the ship takes off. But, I think this is possibly the best 'action' sequence of the film. The visuals, music and Foley all work together to make this a very effective sequence. Thank you film makers. 

The ship leaves the planet and goes after Krall. One wonders though how the ancient Franklin was able to navigate the nebula/asteroid field when the former Enterprise was the only ship sophisticated enough to make it through the other way to Altimid?! This plot hole is never addressed. Pretty typical storytelling for these newer Trek movies. Kirk asks Scotty what kind of weapons they have and in another nod to ST: Enterprise, Scotty informs him that they only have "Pulsed phase cannons and spacial torpedoes". Which was the original armament of Archer's old Enterprise. Krall pierces through Yorktown's defenses and just as he is about to attack the station, the Franklin shows up.  Since the enemy swarm is comprised largely of drones, Spock surmises that they must be controlled with a signal making a type of hive and that it would be possible to disrupt that signal thereby neutralizing the swarm. To do it, they need to have access to the swarms computer systems, so the crew hatch a plan to commandeer one of the enemy vessels. Spock volunteers, but Uhura notes his injury and Kirk agrees that he may not be in the best shape for such a mission. Spock then suggests that McCoy accompany him. McCoy of course loves this and the two are transported aboard a swarm ship. They again manage to eject the ships occupant into space without suffering exposure. Spock gets the frequency and relays it to the Franklin. Someone says they need a loud noise to disrupt the swarm and Scotty suggests Jaylah's shitty music. Jaylah unfortunately picks "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. So we are treated to a rather cheesy sequence of the Franklin skimming over a sea of swarm ships blowing them up by blaring Beastie Boys. Fuck you film makers. Pick better fucking music, assholes. And in the most insulting moment of the film, McCoy asks Spock "Is this classical music" and in a moment of unparalleled idiocy, alternate Spock says "I believe it is". Yeah. Fucking. Right. I doubt there will be any time in history where Sabotage by the Beastie Boys is considered "classical". If there is then we truly have reached Idiocracy. So with the swarm destroyed, the crew focus their attention on Krall, who punches his way through Yorktown's airlock with three of his ships. McCoy and Spock follow him and the damaged Franklin pushes it's way through the remains of the airlock door and chase after Krall. In what is actually a pretty cool looking sequence, we see the Franklin flying in pursuit of Krall right under a clear river of water that was set up earlier when the Enterprise arrived at the station. Krall has punched through and is flying inside the stations habitable areas, the crew surmise he's heading for atmospheric control so that he can release the super-weapon into the stations life support systems. With Spock and McCoy unable to stop Krall, Kirk orders Sulu to punch through the river; Sulu obeys and crashes the Franklin right through the river and in a maneuver that would make the crew of the Seaview proud, the Franklin flies almost vertically up through the water, Kralls ships become embedded in the bottom of the Franklin's saucer and the ship comes slamming back down into the water.

The Franklin's sensors register the areas where Krall's ships have punctured the hull and Kirk orders those areas searched. Kirk and Uhura make their way below into the Bowls of the Franklin and Uhura notices something on a screen in the Franklin's mess - it's a video of the Franklin's original crew celebrating. Uhura rewinds the video several times and realizes that Krall and the former commander of the Franklin share the same voice and accent. Cut to Scotty, Uhura, Kirk and Jaylah watching Balthazar Edison's last captains log where he expresses his anger at the Federation for leaving he and his crew stranded on Altamid. He then explains that the planet's former inhabitants had left behind a drone workforce and technology capable of prolonging life. Apparently, the technology makes the user take on the physical attributes of the people whose life it sucks away. Which explains why Edison and what was left of his crew had appeared to be aliens. In yet another reference to "Enterprise", Scotty explains how Edison was a former MACO - a soldier - who fought in the Xindi and Romulan wars and when the MACO's were disbanded, Edison was given command of the Franklin in thanks to his service to Humanity. This is basically the scene where the expository scene where the plot is revealed. Just then, Kirk and Uhura notice the bodies of two dead Enterprise crewman who appear to have been prematurely aged with one missing it's uniform; clearly Edison has been there and taken the crewman's "life force" or whatever you might call it. Cut to: Edison in a starfleet command uniform making his way from the crashed Franklin to the life support control system. Kirk chases after Edison/Krall and Scotty, Uhura and Jaylah go up to the Starbases control room and tell Kirk exactly what he needs to do to prevent Krall from killing everyone aboard the station. Kirk catches up with Krall, who appears to be somewhat Human at this point. Krall goes on to explain the source of his anger and why he's chosen to become a murderer. There's a little back and forth, Krall/Edison says people of Kirks time have become too soft and that when he was a kid he had to trudge 90 miles to school and back through boiling hot lava everyday. Pretty typical exposition for your average tyrannical murderous overlord whose just north of a hundred. Kirk tells Krall he's full of shit and Krall makes the mistake of trying to kill the hero and winds up dying via the very weapon he chose to use. Case closed.

Oh and Kirk gets saved from certain death by Spock and McCoy. Naturally at the last minute. It wouldn't be a summer blockbuster without a last second save, would it?! One wonders though WHAT Spock and McCoy were doing all that time and why they didn't help sooner, but oh well.

Spock takes a moment to inventory his dead counterparts possessions, among which is a picture of the original Star Trek cast from "Star Trek V: The final frontier". I could have almost cried, if I weren't a robot. Kirk then debriefs the stations commander mirroring a conversation they had at the beginning of the film; Kirk tells her that Edison "got lost out there". The commander then tells Kirk that the job he applied for is his if he want's it and Kirk asks if "Vice Admirals (or whatever he said, I can't recall.) don't get to fly, do they?" The commander says no and Kirk turns down the promotion. We then catch up with the crew who are having a birthday party for Kirk. The scene is actually somewhat reminiscent of the final scene of "Star Trek V: The final frontier". Everyone gets a little moment. Scotty surprises Jaylah with an offer to join Starfleet. Jaylah laments having to wear the starfleet jammies. McCoy accosts Kirk and Spock asking them "So you really wanna go back out there, huh?". We then pull back to a time-lapse sequence of the construction of the new U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A and the film ends.

Overall, I found "Star Trek Beyond" to be a very positive viewing experience. Besides the minor quibbles mentioned above, I thought it was wholly superior to anything J.J. Abrams has done and is, I think, a move in the right direction for this modern Star Trek. I felt a very strong TOS movie and a TNG vibe from this film, both of which were welcomed to this long time fan. I left the theater feeling like I've seen a decent Star Trek film and that was something I haven't felt in a LONG time, I have recommended it to my friends and family.

As a Trek fan... I loved all the little easter eggs, although I thought the 'giant green space hand' was more of a dig at TOS than a nod. But perhaps that's an incorrect presumption. I loved the Franklin, as a design and as a story/plot device; it's something we've never seen in a Trek film and I liked how the ships former crew were integrated into the plot. There were some issues, as mentioned above, regarding the technology of the Franklin. Including the design of the viewscreen and control panels, which look to be the same as those used aboard the much newer Enterprise; one wonders how technology had stagnated for a century. The designer of the Franklin had stated in an interview, that the ship was originally designed with the warp engines UNDER the saucer and that once the script was changed, they had to be moved above as the ship had to be able to 'land' on the planet and take off. It's kind of funny, the bottom of the Franklin is completely flat, another instance of an objects design being dictated by what it must do, which makes perfect sense in this cases. I'm a fan of the Franklin, I like the design and it is very evocative of the NX-01, but the designer of the ship states unequivocally that the NX-01 was not on his mind as he was designing the Franklin. Oh well, it would've been a nice homage. Despite my dislike of the music used, I did like the fact that music was the means of defeating the bad guy. Far more creative than simply using guns or fists. And it was a first for a Star Trek movie and certainly a first that actual music was used in such a fashion. One thing I do lament is having yet another "Bad guy gets super weapon and goes after the Federation" plot. It's almost as though none of the people writing these movies have seen the various Star Trek shows. That particular plot was not common within Star Trek. Oh sure it was used, but it seems as though it's been OVER used since "Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan". Ending the film with a time-lapse of the building of the Enterprise-A was awesome and strangely emotional. It really put a positive spin on the whole film and made you feel like they were moving forward... to the future. In many ways I love the newest Enterprise-A, it's a little like coming home for me. But I think the nacelles are way off and not at all evocative of the original, which I think they should be shooting for. I think they should have gone for rectangular nacelles instead of the round-ish ones. That would have really made me feel like they were trying to get back to the old movie Enterprise while creating something new. The nacelles are mounted too far forward on the pylons (Like it's predecessor.) and the weird details on the top of the engines seem out of place and make the nacelle design look goofy. The ship seems to have an almost Gothic feel to it, which I like. 


I guess I'd recommend this film. I can't say it's a perfect movie, or a perfect Star Trek movie, but it was good and, in some ways, celebrated the originals. Have fun.

If you've read this and still have not seen the film, what the fuck are you doing?! Don't spoil the movie for yourself, go watch it!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Beloved films from childhood and the Internet

    I grew up watching Star Wars and Star Trek. I loved them both for what the were/are. But at a certain point, I'd say in about 2004 or so, I started to really loathe Star Wars, and not just because of the prequels, but it was feeling deep within. And I finally realized, it's because of Star Wars fans! Their adversarial nature turned me off completely. I found that they'd constantly bash Star Trek! And that pissed me off! Really, it was - and is - their feelings of inadequacy and thier general stupidity which makes them bash Trek.

I just had to get that out. Fuck Star Wars fan boy douche-bag assholes for making me hate Star Wars. You motherfuckers can all rot in hell. 

Your moment of Zen for the day.

-Spaced out blogger

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Chewie... we're home" (Force Friday and Revell Star Wars model kits)

                                     Revell skill level 1 Millennium Falcon

   Today was "Force Friday"; another marketing gimmick from Disney and it's marketing glubs. But, beyond the political commentary, it was the official release date of merchandise from the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". As a red-blooded model kit building American I naturally jumped at the opportunity to own at least something from the new film and so availed myself of the Revell skill level 1 Millennium Falcon.

Now, one might think "really? Skill level 1?". I know, but, it was the only version of the ship available in the form of a model kit, it was decently priced and included lights and sound and it is actually a decent representation of the ship! This is the first wave of model kits from Revell for "The force awakens", wave two ships next month and features skill level 2 models, increasing the accuracy (In most cases), the scale (and size) and detail. They will also be devoid of the lights and sound gimmick. Given the size, details and playability options of this first wave, it is clear that these kits are intended for kids.

One thing that Revell kits of this particular subject, the Millennium Falcon, often get wrong is the height of the so called "side walls" running the perimeter of the ship; indeed, this very inaccuracy is what has kept me from purchasing any iteration of the Revell Falcons until now. This new version, while not perfect, is actually acceptable to this particular accuracy freak. Not too tall, nicely detailed, works well. One area of dissapointment for many is that the skill level 2 arriving next month is a simple re-release of the original freakishly innacurate Revell Falcon with a new dish. A must-pass for me.

 This kit is so good, in fact, that I am considering purchasing another as a means of creating the quasi-canon "Stellar Envoy" which was featured in one of the comics and whose appearance was later copied for the film "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith". Seen in the picture above.  

Now when I got back into scale modeling back in the 90's, skill level 1 or, snap-tite, (snapfast if you're the other guys), was a simple no-frills affair. No lights, no sound, just a small representation of the vehicle. Here then in 2015, Revell has taken snap-tite to a whole new level! Providing not just a nice looking model but also a higher degree of playability options for the kids amongst us (Of which I consider myself a member), with their "electronics block", which is actually a self-contained unit housing all of the electronics, nicely hidden away inside the kit. They even included molded detail on the block itself! Despite the fact that, once assembled, such details would be invisible. After perusing Revell of Germany's site I've decided to hold off on buying the skill level 1 X-wing out now in favor of the more dimensionally accurate skill level 2 out next month.

All across the Internet people are decrying these kits as simple toys, not worthy of their money or time and that Revell is remiss in their duty by alienating older modelers. I find this notion that segments of people should be pandered to amusing. Better kits of these subject will be available soon, this alone should reduce the amount of grousing by at least 500%, but sadly it does not.

As a very experienced modeler it is my opinion that these kits are not just for children, they can be enjoyed by all! So, go enjoy! 

-Spaced out blogger

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thoughts, musings and observations of the Sovereign class and her predecessor(s)

                                        Sovereign class U.S.S. Enterprise

      What does one first think of when thinking of the Galaxy class U.S.S. Enterprise? That of course varies depending upon the person, but I think of families and her massive size. A large community in Space. Were I to imagine a Starship traveling past the furthest star and exploring the Galaxy, I think of the original Starship Enterprise and the Galaxy class Enterprise; they just exude purpose and an understanding of what one might need to explore the outer reaches. However, that is not what I think of when I imagine their Sovereign class counterpart. What I see when I look at the Enterprise-E is speed. There is a point where streamlining reaches a point of absolute literalism and that is where the Enterprise-E begins and ends.

     The Sovereign class co-exists(ed) with the Galaxy class. The Galaxy class is clearly supposed to be an Explorer; the ship that gets sent out into the Universe on her own, without support and comes back a decade later to relay her findings; it's size and accouterments makes it the most obvious type of ship to do so; so with that in mind, what then is the mission parameter/ purpose of the Sovereign class? Is it supposed to be a successor? The Galaxy class was still fairly new having only been introduced less than a decade earlier. Per conversations with Ronald D. Moore back in the late-90's, the Enterprise-E had no families on board (Thankfully since she was partially assimilated). So no families, slightly faster than her predecessor, heavily armed per Star Trek: Nemesis and with less mass. How many Explorer-type vessels does Starfleet need? Does the Sovereign have to be an explorer? Could it instead be a cruiser? A patrol ship?

   Given all 'facts' of the class stated above, I assert that the class is rather a light-to-heavy cruiser, fulfilling a more generalize role; allowing the Galaxy and other-larger classes to fill the role of Explorer.  So in reality, I can see the Sovereign being a successor to the Excelsior class. Which would stand to reason since they were ancient yet still in service at the time of the Sovereigns introduction.

So there it is, some random ramblings about fictional ships and their place in a fictional future; naval-gazing I be.

-Spaced out blogger 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The current mindset of the scale modeling community

    Upon recent visit to one of my favorite modeling forums; I came upon a conversation about a certain Star Trek producing model kit company. The conversation roughly revolved around said companies propensity to produce the same subject (The original Enterprise), in multiple scales and how frustrated the poster was about the dearth of new subjects.

The counter argument stated that anything beyond that subject did not sell well enough to justify the continued expenditure on subjects that do not turn a profit; and while this is a correct assessment of the situation from a buisness perspective; it hardly seems like the perspective of a simple hobbyist! When did the consumer become so enamoured with the inner workings of the companies from whom they purchase that they would spout their talking points in casual conversation? Has the mentality of corporate America so seeped into the minds of the people that people justify the stagnation and the stunting of their own hobby?

I can understand the benefits of being aware of what causes such a lack of subjects, but I just get a kind of "Stepford wives" vibe from people that spout corporate lingo. That sounds more like corporate programming to me.

Perhaps I'm being too critical; too judgmental.

I support any comment that pushes the expansion of the scale modeling hobby.

-Space out blogger 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thoughts on the recent deluge of Star Trek TOS fan films

    Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II; Star Trek: Continues; Starship Farragut; Starship Exeter, etc. 

    Those are just the names of a few of the 1960's Star Trek based fan series. For whatever reasons people seem intent upon reliving the same characters and designs ethos' over and over again; I'd love to see a Star Trek based series with it's own unique look and style. Now Star Trek: Renegades seems to have done so, but it is post-TNG which would account for the differences in appearance. Don't misunderstand, I love the look and feel of the original (And I think the best) Star Trek series. But enough is enough, I'm starting to tire with seeing the same ship layouts and the same tired old characters being played by people interpreting what had been perfected fifty years ago.

I know I have the option to not watch them but I look at all the money, time, effort and love that has gone into recreating the original sets and wonder - could they have made more of all of that if they'd stretched their creative legs? Create something! Not recreate. Now, I wouldn't mind seeing a minor redesign; keep the essential elements and change the rest. Does every fan series have to be set on a Constitution class starship? Does every Captain have to be Kirk?! I've seen Kirk, I've seen the original Starship Enterprise. Show me something that predated TOS with new characters with their own styles and idiosyncrasies!

I guess I'm just burned out. I'm starved for Star Trek and the only outlets are a shitty film series and an overabundance of TOS-centric fan series. 

Why not go out and put my money where my mouth is?!

I can't afford to do so. I would love to create my own Star Trek, I simply don't have the capability. No money and most importantly; no space.

Please, if you're reading this and considering making your own Star Trek series? Consider setting it in the familiar; branch out; be different!

- Spaced out blogger

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughts on Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek into darkness

    Way back when, in 2007; I had heard the unthinkable; Star Trek was being remade. I was worried, I've seen other reboots and with one exception, none were palatable. J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies have been no exception, from the childish humor of the first movie to the homage (*cough* rip-off) of The Wrath of Khan in the second one, they've proven to be less than stellar outings for the venerable Star Trek franchise.

With that said, I have found some minor reasons to appreciate some of the ideas presented in both films.

Black-hole escape: The ending of the first film features the Enterprise escaping from a black-hole. I found this sequence to be very reminicent of something one might see in the original series, specifically the Enterprise's 'slingshot' through time; everyone being physically thrown around and from side to side, Scotty's line "I'm givin' 'er all she's got Captain!" was a nice moment that hit me square in the chest.

The breaking of the "Prime directive" from "Into Darkness". This was a great plot-line in the film and one I think they explored well; they didn't build the plot around it but it none-the-less has an impact. It also allows the audience to ponder what they would have done in the crews' position. I've actually thought about this more than I've thought about the first film in it's entirely. Were I in a position to save an entire civilization, I would have made the decision to save them, just as our protagonists do. But - I do see the wisdom of the Prime directive; it was never explored better than it was in The Next Generation; that series asked the same question and offered a humanitarian answer. Protect and save life if at all possible, which is how I see the organization of Starfleet and the Federation; as humanitarians.

So Kirk breaks the prime directive and refreshingly, we see him pay the price. He faces judgment and loses his command. I thought that was a beautiful way to set up the film; I just wish they'd done more with it - to have it's affects ripple throughout the story; instead, Kirk immediately gets his command back with nary a slap of the wrist, so it is not terribly well paid-off (We should see our heroes have to earn their gifts.); but the plot needed Kirk on the Enterprise and in command for the later drama of his decision to trust Khan. 

One odd thing...

Why in God's name was McCoy testing Khan's blood on a dead Tribble? What the hell kind of Frankenstein-esque Doctor is McCoy in this new Universe? Not only is he testing on a dead Tribble he just happens to have lying around, but he's doing so in the middle of a crisis! I don't even think they were out of Klingon space yet. It just struck me as odd and was clearly a clumsy foreshadowing device. Childish writing. 

"A five year mission, Spock!"

  Yes, in this film the five year mission of the original series is a new concept! This is something I would have never even considered as an idea; one just takes for granted that everyone goes out on five year missions into the unknown. This film makes it special, something to strive toward, something one must earnAnd it makes sense and I hope becomes a part of the Star Trek canon. It also perfectly sets up the forthcoming Star Trek beyond, whose title I find quite inspiring and I hope that the writers are similarly inspired and take the title to heart while crafting the script.

The Enterprise refit:

The end of Into Darkness sees the Enterprise refitted, albeit mildly. The Impulse engine has been widened making the detail fit better with the established design than it's predecessor. The ship, thanks to the closeness of the Nacelles, appears wider and the new engine only reinforces that. If anyone reading this has any influence over the model kit company Revell, please have them make a model of this refitted version of the Enterprise; I have the previous version and love it. 

That sums up my positive thoughts of these two new rebooted Trek movies. I haven't the time nor the energy to discuss the negatives, I'd be here the rest of my life.

Enjoy life, take it by the hand full and love every moment of it!

- Spaced out blogger