Movie Review: Trek Nation / Cert: TBC / Director: Scott Colthorpe / Screenplay: Jessica Brunetto / Starring: J. J. Abrams, Indira Addington, Sallie Baliunas, Grey Beyer, Chris Buice, Ernesto Cortes / Release Date: TBC
Gene Roddenberry, The Great Bird of the Galaxy, passed away just over ten years ago in 1991, and his ashes now float in space. It is easy for fans to forget that outside of Star Trek, Roddenberry was just a man with family, other interests and passions and that each of these fed into the series that we love.
His son, Eugene, does not love Star Trek. Indeed, he spent most of his life ignoring and avoiding it. After realising just how much of his father was in the show, Eugene decided to watch it, speak to the fans, the writers and creators of Star Trek in order to get to know his own father better, and this idea became the documentary Trek Nation. Originally made for television, it has been edited together into a feature film (although the titles for the advert breaks remain, which is truly annoying). This is a wonderful gem of an idea, and promises new insight into an old show.
Eugene speaks to quite an array of very interesting people. Notably, D.C. Fontana, who wrote for the original show, as well as the early shows of TNG, Rick Berman who inherited Roddenberry’s seat as the Captain of Star Trek for the following television shows, Jonathan Frakes, Seth McFarlane, Ronald Moore and J.J. Abrams, who is currently working on the newest film. Intriguingly, he also has the opportunity to speak to George Lucas, the king of Star Wars. Impressive. Most impressive.
The documentary is put together from clips of Star Trek, home videos of the Roddenberry family, interviews conducted with Eugene and some wonderful footage of early conventions and behind the scenes shots. The balance is about right. The problem is that Trek Nation is trying to do two things at once. It is trying to be a documentary about Star Trek and it is trying to be the touching story of a son learning about his father, and the outcome is that neither of these two aims is achieved in a satisfactory way.
The interviews are wasted, bouncing between the two subjects. Most frustrating, to my mind, are the squandered opportunities with Fontana and George Lucas, which could have brought some real depth into the core values and creation of Star Trek, and how it inspired Star Wars. None of the interviews provide new depth or insight. The most touching is a brief one with his mother - Majel Barrett, but Eugene declares his disappointment in this particular interview.
Trek Nation is not essential viewing, and holds little new information for fans of the show. It is entertaining enough, and would suit a Sunday afternoon perhaps, but be warned that, much like Spock’s Brain, it feels like most of the real substance is missing and it just isn’t Star Trek at its best.
Expected: 7 out of 10