Renegades Takes Star Trek Truly Into Darkness
It has been a decade since “Star Trek: Enterprise” went off the air, ending an 18-year run with at least one Trek series on the small screen. We’ve had nothing since. But you can’t fault the effort of numerous fan-powered and crowdfunded efforts to convince CBS to give the franchise another go. However, a small band of outlaws have come together in order to help fill the void.
Brought to you by the same folks from the critically-acclaimed film “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men,” “Star Trek: Renegades” is the latest and, to this point, one of the most credible attempts featuring multiple alumni from previous Star Trek casts, several of them in their old roles, most notably Walter Koening as now-Admiral Pavel Chekov, Head of Starfleet Intelligence and Tim Russ (who also directed) as Commander Tuvok, the new head of Section 31, the black ops section of Starfleet introduced in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
The story takes place fourteen years after the end of the Dominion War and ten years after the return of the U.S.S. Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant. A new enemy threatens the very existence of Earth, but when Starfleet refuses to act, Admiral Chekov turns to Commander Tuvok to recruit a team who can work in favor of Federation interests but outside Federation constraints.
Two other Voyager crewmen pitch in as Manu Intiraymi returns as Icheb, the former Borg teen rescued by Voyager’s crew, albeit a much darker version, and Robert Picardo, reprises his minor role as Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, creator of Picardo’s more famous role, the Emergency Medical Hologram. Gary Graham, who appeared in both “Voyager” as an Ocampa named Tanis and a recurring role in “Enterprise” as Ambassador Soval, transplants his “Of Gods and Men” role as Ragnar to “Renegades.” Richard Herd returns to play Admiral Owen Paris, the father of Voyager’s Lieutenant Tom Paris.
New to the Trek universe include Adrienne Wilkinson as Captain Lexxa Singh, a direct descendant of Khan Noonien Singh, the captain of the Icarus and leader of our band out outlaws; Sean Young as Dr. Lucien, the wife of Dr. Zimmerman; Edward Furlong, known to many as John Connor in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” as Fixer, the handyman of the Icarus; Courtney Peldon as Shree, an Andorian thief and hacker; Larissa Gomes as T’Leah, an assassin under the discreet employ of Admiral Chekov; Grant Imahara of “Mythbusters” fame as Lt. Masaru, an aide to Chekov and Corin Nemec and Tarah Paige as Captain Alvarez and Commander Petrona, respectively, of the U.S.S. Archer.
Rounding out the crew of the Icarus are Chasty Ballesteros as Ronara, a non-telepathic Betazoid; Kevin Fry as a former Bajoran soldier who worships the Pah-wraiths rather than the Prophets; Vic Mignogna as Garis, a vicious Cardassian and Lucky McQueede as Prak, a Breen. Yes, a Breen. Bruce A. Young plays the villainous Borrada, a role originally assigned to J.G. Hertzler, best known as “Deep Space Nine”‘s General Martok, who had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.
The release of “Renegades” on August 24 is the completion of a nine-year journey beginning when the idea was conceived in 2006 on the final day of shooting of “Of Gods and Men,” in which Koenig starred and Russ directed. Principal filming took place over two weeks in October 2012. Three campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2012, 2013 and 2014 financed the project with a budget for the first film of $375,038, a fraction of the $190 million spent on “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
The film was made with one of three possible outcomes. Plan A was obviously that it would be picked up by CBS as the new official “Star Trek” television series, or it would be produced as a stand-alone film or the first episode of an ongoing unofficial web series.
The bad news is that on August 19, for undisclosed reasons, it was announced that CBS cannot move forward with “Renegades” or any “Star Trek” series at this time. The good news is that CBS is continuing to allow independently-produced, non-profit fan films such as “Renegades” to exist without threat of copyright infringement. As a result, the film will be regarded as the first episode in an ongoing series, with the writing of two more episodes already underway.
For what it’s worth, “Renegades” gets an A+ for effort and desire, as does nearly every “Trek” fan film produced thus far. With the budget and time available, I challenge any production team to do better. This was clearly a love letter from the fans and alumni who refused to let the story of the original “Star Trek” universe die and be erased by JJ Abrams.
In terms of execution however, Renegades warrants a solid B. There were some home run aspects, most notably the brilliant story which is not afraid to explore the idea that Starfleet may not always be the hero of the story, the gorgeous musical score by Justin R. Durban, and the ship design and other space effects. There were, however, the some wild swing-and-misses. The script could have used some polishing and included a little too much backstory dialogue between characters who supposedly already know each other. The new Starfleet uniforms and set design look horribly retro and dated, a concept which, although brilliant in the period setting of “Of Gods and Men,” fails to impress in what is supposed to be the latest point to date in the in-universe timeline.
Overall, the film is thoroughly enjoyable if the viewer can forgive the few slip-ups, which any Trekkie should purely out of love for the franchise. “Star Trek: Renegades” is a bold new direction that easily fills the void until a more official tale can be told.
More information can be found at www.startrekrenegades.com.