ByLd Kristoffer J Chelidoni, writer at
Ld Kristoffer J Chelidoni

About two years ago I read about an indie Star Trek movement headed by Tim Russ (Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager). I wanted so badly to actually travel to California and help them shoot the film. Sadly, however, I wasn't able to do that despite every attempt.

Now the long awaited indie film supported by fans from all over the world is finally available. For what it is, I give them high praises, but with some caveats.

It is clear that this is a low budget film, but low budget doesn't mean bad quality. The CGI used for the ships rivals that of Voyager which still used the classic modeling technique rather than computer generated graphics. Much of the prop work was an homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation and some of the even earlier work in Star Trek: The Original Series.

Bringing back classic characters and introducing some not so classic races like the Breen brings an updated sense to the story-line and the general plot (which I will not spoil in this review until later) leaves you wanting more. The mystery and intrigue that envelopes the plot is the biggest driving point for the film.

Unfortunately, like many low budget films, there are huge flaws that stand out in sometimes glaring fashion. The acting seems forced and rushed. Much of the naturalness we've come to know Star Trek actors to embody just wasn't there. Watching this felt more like watching the first episode of Star Trek the Next Generation or the first episode of Star Trek Voyager. The acting is almost cringe worthy. Even actors who played their parts well in the past, like Manu Intiraymi who reprized his role as Icheb the liberated Brunali Borg from Voyager, just seemed to forget how to be their characters.

Don't get me wrong here, Manu, Tim, and our veteran Walter Koenig, are great actors in their own right and we can't ask too much of them when doing a pet project, but as a fan I feel a bit disappointed.

Other flaws are just simply in the writing of the plot, which I shan't delve into yet There is also, of course, the issue of props. As much as the sets and props are a throwback to the early days of Star Trek, mixing new and old concepts, the shabby use of office furniture and cardboard to make up the bridge of the Icarus breaks the immersion and makes it hard to suspend reality. The contrast of digital effects to the quality of the bridge's physical stage pieces just make it feel as though the bridge was a last minute after thought. The Icarus is supposed to be the center piece of the film and future films yet it's construction is haphazard at best.

On the flip side high praises must be given for their makeup work which captures the essence of Star Trek.

From here on out there will be spoilers on plot and writing. If you're into Star Trek and haven't seen this yet, don't read past this point. If you have well here you go.

I've warned you.

The general plot of Renegades can be easily summed up as, unknown alien race attempting to use another alien race to invade Earth secretly and only a few people in Starfleet can do anything about it. It reads more like a two part TNG or Voyager episode than it does an actual film.

There are many subpar plot points that have really no value and only vaguely illustrate the past of each character. Character development was slow and at times simply non-existent. Some of it could have been left implied, but much of it was told to the audience as exposition rather than shown. Instead of showing us the accident with Dr. Lucien's experiment we're just told about it. Instead of showing us Icheb's involvement with section 31, we're just told about it. Rather than building the plot and the characters we're subjected to filler in the form of backstory. Not to mention that the more interesting characters that could have been great parts of the rest of the series were killed off like RedShirt fodder.

Much of the story hinges on the interaction of Grant Imahara's Lt. Masaru who turns out to be inhabited by one of the yet to be named aliens that forced the plot of the film. Unfortunately the authors of the episode: Ethan H. Calk, Jack Treviño, and Sky Conway violated a cardinal rule of writing a mystery drama, which this most certainly was intended to be, they used a gotcha moment the surprise twist to answer who was behind the mystery. They left no real clues and left the audience in the dark. Not only that, but very little in the way of introducing the main plot or even our actual enemy behind the enemy happened. This is one of the reasons why the film leaves the audience wanting more, because this film is incomplete. What should have ended as a cliffhanger was ended as though it were a happy ending of sorts with a quick salute and setup for the next mission for the still wanted renegades.

The haphazard writing leaves much to be desired and played a crucial part behind why the characters seemed so dull. The plot to save earth was resolved too easily and took away the pressure and driving force that could have played a huge part for the characters to save Earth. We're given this huge time frame in the film for how long life could survive and we're told that these portals can bend time. These two rather interesting plot points are side stepped for a quick boring ending.

What is a very interesting concept, that has a lot of potential, just wasn't done right. It was rushed and it's clear they need much more help and better funding if this is go anywhere.


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