Saturday 19 March 2016

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek: Horizon

The majority of Star Trek fan films are intended to recreate the classic series, either as new adventures of Kirk and Spock  on the USS Enterprise or with newly conceived crews on her sister ships. A few look to recreate other series, though (or even "missing" eras, such as the now aborted Star Trek: Axanar).  Star Trek: Horizon is a new feature length fan production, that, while creating a new ship and crew, works very much as a lost episode of the series Enterprise.

Set in 2160, five years after the conclusion of Enterprise and at the height of the war with the Romulan Empire, Horizon introduces the starship Discovery NX-04 (NX starships traditionally being named after space shuttle orbiters). Commanded by Captain Harrison Hawke (Paul Lang), the Discovery has taken a beating on a mission to collect a Romulan defector (Tamar, played by Callie Bussell), but is soon repaired and rearmed to go on a new mission into disputed space, as part of a fleet of Starfleet and Vulcan ships. Things do not go as expected, with the Discovery pulled through time and space to a distant galaxy, arriving at a planet that is central to a deadly Romulan plot.

Horizon pulls together various elements of Trek lore to create a fan-pleasing but quite inventive storyline. As well as the fabled Romulan War that was never seen on screen, it brings in the Temporal Cold War that ran through Enterprise, with characters originating from various centuries. The Horizon of the title is a superweapon, created by aliens who fought the Iconians tens of thousands of years ago. Relics of the Iconians appeared in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and we get to see a little more of the ancient civilisation here, depicting them rather differently and certainly more benevolently than we'd been led to believe. Events from the new Abrams movie franchise are even alluded to; the film also takes a few stylistic cues from the blockbusters.

The plot is enjoyable and well-paced, with some finely directed action sequences as well as quieter, more emotional moments. I particularly liked that we get to see the senior crew in their off hours, acting like normal people away from the front line and their stations. Horizon was made on a tight budget, and that shows, with a small cast and limited sets, but the effects work is excellent and there are some fine visuals. On the other hand, the film has a low-res, soft focus quality throughout. This may be a stylistic choice, or intended to mask production shortcomings, but it detracts from the end product.

The acting, to be perfectly fair, isn't great. It's not terrible, it's never unwatchable, but it's quite mediocre. The dialogue is quite cliched and stilted, although there is the occasional fun line. It's significantly better in these regards than Star Trek: Renegades, which was made with the involvement of several professionals. Considering the tiny budget and the amateur nature of the production, this is quite the success, and worth your time if you're an Enterprise fan with 100 minutes to spare.

Watch Star Trek Horizon here.

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