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“About the Only Thing We Were Doing to Impress the Klingons was Dying Well” — Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar

August 6th, 2014
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Forget J.J. Abrams’ nuTrek.  Want to see the coolest bit of new Star Trek I have seen in a long time?  Click here to watch the twenty-minute short film, Prelude to Axanar — or just watch the video below!  (Make sure your video settings are on HD.)

How cool was that??

I have written a lot on this site about the fan film projects Star Trek: Phase II and Star Trek: Continues, each of which have created polished, episode-length adventures of Captain Kirk and company.  Now comes Axanar, an off-shoot of Phase II.  Writer/producer Alec Peters and an incredible team of talents have set out to create a feature-length adventure set prior to the events of the Original Series.  The proposed Axanar film will tell the story of Garth of Izar and his heroic actions that ended the devastating Four Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  Garth was introduced in the Original Series episode “Whom Gods Destroy.”  In that episode he had fallen from grace and turned into a terrible villain.  But Garth’s back-story was that he was once one of the greatest Starfleet captains who ever was, and Axanar aims to tell his story.

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As a “proof of concept” for this planned feature-length film, the Axanar team have a created a twenty-minute prologue to their film, titled Prelude to Axanar.  This film has been created to be in the style of a Federation historical film, looking back to tell the story of the war between the Federation and the Klingons and the events that led up to the pivotal Battle of Axanar.

Prelude to Axanar is incredible.  It totally knocked me on my butt and has me salivating for the feature-length Axanar film.  This is an incredible achievement for an unofficial fan-made project.

It feels weird referring to Prelude to Axanar as a fan-film, because of the extraordinary level of professional Hollywood talent in front of and behind the camera.  (The Axanar web-site refers to the project as an “independent” film.)  Just look at this incredible array of actors who appear in this film:

Richard Hatch (Apollo from the original Battlestar Galactica and Tom Zarek from the reimagined BSG) plays the Klingon warlord Kharn.

Gary Graham reprises his frequent guest-starring role from Star Trek: Enterprise as the Vulcan Ambassador Soval.

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Tony Todd (who played Worf’s brother Kurn on many Next Gen episodes) plays Federation Admiral Ramirez.

JG Hertzler (who played General Martok on many episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays Captain Samuel Travis.

And Kate Vernon (so incredible as Ellen Tigh on the modern Battlestar Galactica) plays Captain Sonya Alexander.

Prelude to Axanar is structured as a faux documentary, with the above characters each reminiscing on the events of the Four Years War.  With such an impressive array of professional actors, I was immediately sucked into the story being told.  I love the way this piece of unexplored Star Trek back-story has been carefully and seriously fleshed out.  This “future history” feels like real history!

The look of the project is impeccably professional.  The sets, the costumes, all are perfect.  There is extensive CG used to create the backgrounds and environments, and it all works very nicely.  In particular, there are some gorgeous star-scapes and beautiful imagery of Federation and Klingon starships.  I love the attention to detail given to the design of these just-prior-to-the-Original Series starships.  There are also some incredible action sequences as we see Starfleet and the Klingons go at it.  Super-cool stuff.

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Other things I enjoyed:

The way the starship design incorporates a few design elements from the Kelvin (from 2009’s Star Trek) and blends them with classic Original Series elements.  (These starships look far more like predecessors to the Constitution Class U.S.S. Enterprise than the NX Enterprise ever did.)

Soval’s reference to “an Andorian acquaintance of mine.”

The animated maps of Federation space.

The back-story given here for the creation of the Klingon D-7 ship (the style of Klingon ship seen in the Original Series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.)

Archer Arena!

This is an incredible achievement.  The twenty minutes of Prelude to Axanar flew by and left me hungry for the main course to (hopefully!) come soon.  This short film looks and sounds exactly like Star Trek.  More importantly, it hits the tone of Star Trek just right.  (In marked contrast to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, which missed the tone of Trek by a mile.)  This is just perfect Star Trek, I loved every minute.  Can’t wait for more.

Click here to watch Prelude to Axanar and to donate to the kickstarter for the Axanar feature film.

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