Crowdfunding the Final Frontier with Star Trek: Renegades (Review)
While I will admit I’m not the biggest ‘Trekkie’ around, I am a big fan of the franchise. So when offered the chance to watch another addition to something that played such a huge part of my geek upbringing, I didn’t need my arm twisted too much. I’ll briefly say that my introduction to Star Trek came from watching reruns of the original series and then the movies starring William Shatner and the late Leonard Nimoy, then moving through TNG with Patrick Stewart (my personal favourite Captain) plus the films that followed, then finally onto DS9 & Voyager. So I hope that when I give you my take on Renegades, my perspectives can be trusted.
What’s it about?
The timeline for Renegades is set 10 years after the crew of USS Voyager return from the Delta quadrant; 2388 to be precise! The storyline is simple. Led by an alien named Borrada, there’s an army that is cutting off the supply of dilithium crystals that the Federation needs to power the warp drives on their ships. But how they do it is quite unique… the planets that are being mined just vanish. They cease to exist. Yet amazingly Starfleet refuses to do anything about it. The only thing left to do is work outside the boundaries of Starfleet rules, a decision that is made by the head of Starfleet Intelligence, Admiral Pavel Chekov (yes that’s right, the same Chekov that served under James T Kirk on the Enterprise, that’s NCC-1701 for the true fans) and Commander Tuvok (Voyager) who is the head of Section 31, covert operations. So whom do they entrust with this task you may say, well enter the crew of the Icarus, a group of rebels and rogues, lead by Captain Lexxa Singh, who are tasked with stopping this enemy and saving the planet, so no big deal!
We are reintroduced to a few familiar species too. Bajorans, Cardassians, Borg, Vulcans, Andorians, Betazoids and of course humans, so there is plenty of links to give you the feel of familiarity which helps to make it an easy transition.
By the fans, for the fans.
Star Trek: Renegades was brought about by independent fan funding, so obviously this means no massive Hollywood style budget to work with (around $370,000 has been quoted as the total raised) so based on that how does it hold up?
Well the casting is quite impressive if you know your stuff, with my highlight being Walter Koenig returning to play Chekov (as if it could be anyone else). Tim Russ reprises his role as Commander Tuvok, while Robert Picardo plays Dr Lewis Zimmerman, both providing a link to Voyager. Also recognizable is the likes of Sean Young, Edward Furlong, Corin Nemec and Gary Graham, each of whom have strong history within the Sci-Fi genre, including Dune, Alien Nation, Stargate SG-1 and T2: Judgement day. Added to this are a few less familiar faces, like Adrienne Wilkinson as Lexxa, which provided an injection of youth to an experienced cast.
The make-up and costume design is another part that holds its own, be it the face of Borrada or the Cardassian Garis, to the arm piece that is attached to the Borg or Starfleet uniforms, it is easy to see that effort has been made to keep things as true to past as possible, which helps in believing this isn’t just a cheap spin-off of what Gene Roddenberry created.
Now with my critic hat on it’s a little different I’m afraid, and I’m not normally someone who has anything bad to say! Read anything I’ve wrote previously and negative thoughts are rare, but I’m afraid it’s not all plain sailing in space.
For the most part, the effects are quite impressive, including the space battles between the federation ship and the Icarus which are almost at a high enough quality to believe it’s a network series, but for me the CGI for the rest wasn’t on par with that. The use of phasers and weapons in the close combat scenes for example was poor, reminding me more of a early 1990’s effort than a 2015 production and one part where a rock fell from the roof of the cave was like early PlayStation graphics. Now that may seem harsh considering the size of the budget, but unfortunately it showed because of the effort that was put into the space scenes, maybe a little more balance would have helped. Also some of the supporting cast looked like they were performing in a college production rather than a studio effort, struggling to make their words flow and seem natural, which if not for the more experienced cast may have hampered the film.
Now with all that being said I have to say that Renegades gave a good account of itself, especially being a low budget independent production. I really enjoyed seeing some of the previous cast members reprising their roles, even if they do have a few more light years under the hood. The story had direction, even if took a few minor detours along the way. With a little work it could almost be like Star Trek crossed with Firefly, but then again you may think “In that case I could just go rewatch Firefly!”
It showed promise that will make people think that this is a possible route that could be taken with a crew acting out of the normal constraints of Starfleet, which would lead to only one thing. Boldly going where Star Trek hasn’t gone before.
Star Trek: Renegades is a decent effort to continue the franchise. With a larger backing it could get into high warp speed, rather than stuck at full impulse.
If you’d like to check this movie out yourself, it’s free via YouTube!