Hey guys, Samurai here! While I was cleaning out my old inbox, I found a link to the Risembool Rangers message boards which I subscribed to years ago and forgot all about. If you recall, the Risembool Rangers are the members of the Vic Mignogna fanclub, named after the fictional town of Risembool in the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series. The link was for a video regarding the “Star Trek: Continues” project that I talked about last year. Well, it seems as though there are a few clips available for viewing, and…well…I thought I would offer my thoughts on the project, since it is anime-related. More after the break.
Okay. Before I get started, lemme give you guys a brief history of my experience with “Star Trek”. I’ve been a fan of the series for the last couple years now. My late sister started me off on it, giving me a VHS copy of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“. Since then, I’ve watched just about every episode, from TOS [The Original Series], TNG [Star Trek: The Next Generation], DS9 [Star Trek: Deep Space 9] and VOY [Star Trek: Voyager]. And of course, I’ve seen all the movies, even the bad ones. I consider myself, for all intents and purposes, a pretty well-versed Trekkie. When I heard about the “Star Trek: Continues” project, I admittedly was concerned. As I said last year:
…after all, this isn’t just another big anime project we’re talking about here; this is STAR TREK; a show with a long and distinguished history. You can’t just get any old person off the street and expect them to live up to said history. Granted, they LOOK the part, but so do some really good cosplayers. If it’s not treated with the respect and attention to detail that is due, then it will be a catastrophe; thankfully limited to the annals of “Failed Internet Ideas” and never to be spoken of again.
However, after having both OtakuAndrain and actor Todd Habberkorn ease my worries, I decided to give it the ol’ college try to watch the few videos that were posted. As of this writing, there are three clips up on Vimeo. One based off a scene from TOS, the other two completely original material. As a reminder, here is the cast list:
- Vic Mignogna as Captain Kirk
- Todd Habberkorn as Mr. Spock
- Chuck Huber as Dr. McCoy
- Chris Doohan as Mr Scott “Scotty”
- Grant Imahara as Hikeru Sulu
- Kim Stinger as Lt. Uhura
- Wyatt Lenhart as Ensign Checkov
1. “Turnabout Intruder” Vignette – This little clip, a little less than 5 minutes in length, recreates the last 5 minutes of TOS episode “Turnabout Intruder”, the last aired episode of classic “Trek” while adding a few scenes in the Turbolift. The story pretty much involves Captain Kirk and his former fling, Janice Lester, switching bodies, as she desperately wants to be the captain of a starship, but as this series is written in the 1960’s, the idea of a woman commanding a starship is unthinkable. Of course, the switch doesn’t last long, and Kirk and Lester return to their appropriate bodies. Not a BAD episode, mind. After all, William Shatner puts on a great performance as power hungry Lester in Kirk’s body. However, it’s not a particularly GOOD episode. Which makes me wonder why in the world Faragut Films [The company in charge of “Star Trek: Continues”] would pick THAT episode when they had many others to chose from. In addition, they pick the last five minutes of that scene which has no consequence or requires the actors to really show what they’re made of. In my opinion, if you’re going to try and impress the viewers and show them that you have the chops to play these characters on screen, then give them something that allows them to act. There’s NO excuse for us not to see Mignogna play Kirk as inhabited by Lester: we KNOW he has the acting chops, we KNOW he knows the original source material. But all we get is him stumbling forward after having his mind reintroduced to his body staring blankly at…well…something. Some of the stuff in the extra scenes in the turbolift and on the bridge is good, but it’s not impressive. I didn’t come away thinking “Wow, this IS Kirk!” I just came away thinking “Wow, that’s a fairly decent IMITATION of Kirk.” The actress who plays Lester does a decent job, as does her companion; in fact, I would go so far as to say they do a much better acting job than any of the stars. Chuck Huber as Leonard “Bones” McCoy is okay…but he’s missing that “Country Doctor” feel that makes McCoy who he is. I did, however, like the little Spock/McCoy banter before the end credits. Chris Doohan as Scotty is spot-on. I was very impressed with his accent; not over the top, but not subtile either. Todd Habberkorn as Spock is actually really good. I was impressed with how he played the half-human/half-vulcan first officer, though I really wanted MORE during the banter with McCoy. Even an arched eyebrow would’ve made my day. Grant Imahara as Sulu is very well done. He does a good impersonation of George Takei without taking it too far. As for Kim Stinger as Uhura…well…It’s okay, but I guess I can’t form a full opinion of her just yet because she only said one line. To her credit though, she looks the role and sounds PERFECT. Overall, while I can say that sets and the costumes were done flawlessly, and that some of the actors tried to give their best, I can’t say that I was floored or excited over the material given.
2. “You’ve Got the Conn” Vignette – This is a completely original production, which features Sulu, Checkov, and Uhura taking turns sitting in the Command Chair pretending to be in command. This was a very cute vignette and for the first time, I really believed that the actors were who they said they were playing. Grant Imahara is excellent as Sulu and I honestly found myself enjoying it. Kim Stinger as Uhura this time around is FLAWLESS. ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESS! She embodies the role perfectly. Checkov gave me…some pause, however. Honestly I wanted a bit more of a Russian accent in his voice, as Checkov in TOS has a thick accent. Granted the original actor, Walter Koenig was indeed Russian, I can’t excuse the fact that they didn’t get the accent down pat. Vic this time around was very convincing as Kirk…still rusty, mind you, but you can tell he’s honestly trying this time around. And it’s good.
3. “Happy Birthday Scotty” Vignette – Another completely original production, featuring McCoy, Scotty and Kirk beaming aboard several containers of phasers, much to Scotty’s delight. This one I enjoyed…it was short, but very well acted and written. My earlier complaints about McCoy still linger a little, but Chuck Huber really improved since the first video, finding the “Country Doctor” tone that all legitimate Trek fans love and appreciate. He even does the whole “I’m a doctor not a…” line very well. Chris Doohan, once again, stole the show as Scotty; he is his father’s son through and through. Vic this time around was…well…acting wise it was okay, but…he has GOT to learn to control his voice a bit more. There were times when his voice slips into Edward Elric mode and that takes me out of the scene all together. He didn’t have this problem at all in the first two videos, but only in this third one does our red-jacketed pip-squeak make an appearance, voice wise. Other than that, this little clip was very well done.
So where does that leave me? Well…as an anime fan, I’m amazed to see the actors I frequently mention and review on this blog do something other than voice acting. It proves that these individuals are indeed talented and serious about their craft. As a Trekkie on the other hand, I was not impressed. While yes, the sets and costumes were done perfectly, and some of the actors gave very good performances, when it comes to “Star Trek”, an institution that’s been around for decades with a die-hard fanbase, you have to be PERFECT if you’re going to slap the “Star Trek” name on it; ESPECIALLY if you’re going to play such the iconic Captain Kirk. In addition, while I am aware of the issues that went on behind the scenes, thanks to an anonymous reader last year, I was determined not to let those reports influence my opinion of this project. After all, the original “Trek” had it’s share of issues far greater than those of this little web-based production–heck, Gene Roddenberry was “fooling around” with Nichelle Nichols. Don’t believe me? Read the book “Star Trek Memories”. There’s stuff in there that will make your hair stand on end! In any case, I’m going back to the Bebop. “Live Long and Prosper!”