Star Trek The Beginning

Or “Star Trek Beginnings” is the 11th Star Trek film released by Paramount.

Or at least it was going to be……
Back in 2005 after the cancellation of “Star Trek Enterprise” the franchise seemed to be going nowhere fast. But a glimmer of hope arrived with talks of a new movie. A movie that would introduce a new cast of characters, that would take place after Enterprise’s second last episode and be epic with the story of the Earth – Romulan War being finally shown.

The script was written by “Band of Brothers” writer Erik Jendresen. He only wrote a complete first draft and this is it. This is my first script review on this Blog and it’s quite a catch as it’s a script not widely available. It was intended to be a Trilogy of Movies that would bridge the gap between “Star Trek Enterprise” and “Star Trek”. Jendresen mentioned that the script was championed by producers Kerry McCluggage and Jordan Kerner but the project never got off the ground after a change of Powers at the Paramount studio.

Jendresen’s idea was that this was the start of what would become Star Trek. It all started out there in space with a small group of people.  We could take this to mean that he’s talking about the Federation, something upon which represents Star Trek’s founding principals and philosophies. The Federation encompasses these ideas. I think it’s a good way to start. Star Trek has never had a full on War Movie. The Romulan – Earth War was probably the War to end all Wars in the Star Trek universe, from the ashes of this war the Federation would rise out of it with the uniting of it’s founding members, Vulcan, Andorian, Tellarite and Human.

For the First mention of the Romulan – Earth War we have to go way back to 1966 to the most excellent Star Trek episode “Balance of Terror”

“...As you recall from your histories, this conflict was fought, by our standards today, with primitive atomic weapons and in primitive space vessels which allowed no quarter, no captives. Nor was there even ship-to-ship, visual communication; therefore, no human, Romulan, or ally has ever seen the other. Earth believes the Romulans to be warlike, cruel, treacherous… and only the Romulans know what they think of Earth.” Spock

The film starts as we pull back from the Paramount logo and pan down to the sea where there is a Boat race between Cadets, battling it out. All are screaming their hearts out as waves thrash them. All except for one, who stands calm as the wind blows around him.

Tiberius Chase.

Kirk’s Great Grandfather.

But at this stage he is a man with a bad name. His Father being a member of the Xenophobic group that follows the teachings of Colonel Green.

Tiberius Chase is a cool guy with a bad boy type attitude. Perhaps the most skilled among his fellow cadets in the UESN he is blacklisted from any top promotion because of his family History. He was due to test Earth’s first Warp 8 Vessel but due to his bad name, Admiral Gardener’s Son is chosen instead.

On the day of the Warp test the Romulan’s sneak close to Earth, passing in a long line behind the Earth’s moon. I don’t get how they aren’t detected or why hiding behind the moon in a large line would somehow hide them. The lead Ship is the control ship which commands a massive fleet of Romulan Drone ships they can use to attack Earth. When Cities across Earth are attacked by Romulan Drone ships. The attack is stopped short due to the Admiral’s son whose warp test ship is about to have a Warp core breach, he sacrifices his life by flying into the Control ship. The Romulan Drone fleet stop but another control ship will come again soon at which point the drones will be reactivated and attack Earth again. With a countdown to the second wave of Romulan attacks Tiberius goes rogue, meets his father, borrows a Nuke from him and steals a Daedalus type/Comet Class (spherical shape) Starship with a Engine capable of reaching Warp 8 and heads to Romulan space with a small crew to make a strike at the heart of the enemy.

The interesting thing here is that the Romulans don’t fear a coalition of Alien Races against them. They don’t fear Humans. The reason they attack Earth is because they desire revenge on Vulcans and they’ll attack every planet that had Vulcans on them until they are all gone.

The script is full of mentions of Enterprise, we have secondary characters seen from Enterprise, we get Admiral Gardener, Shran, the NX Enterprise and her crew are away on Risa unfortunately so they won’t be in this movie. Columbia, Starfleet’s other NX-Class ship gets the snot kicked out of her in Drydock. The biggest concept they take from “Enterprise” was Manny Coto’s genius idea on how Humans wouldn’t be able to see what the Romulans look like. Drone Ships.

Some little nit picks I have with this. During the Battles Cloaking vessels are used. I heard Jendresen had a great consultant in Star Trek history to help make sure that the story followed as close to established canon as possible, however he seemed unaware of the fact of the Romulans not having cloaks when he came up with the battle scenes.
Although I think there is something in the script that might explain it with use of the word Phase emitters. Still, any kind of cloak is seen as an unknown surprise in TOS. The drone ships can maneuver so fast they don’t really need cloaks, also the constant cloaking and decloaking of the Romulan Bird of Preys during Battle are very much to their disadvantage since their shields and weapons are down for a few seconds when the cloak is disengaged. I am guessing that since this was the first Draft of the script that they would change that along with the Drone Ships looking like Fleas since that model design was a reuse from Voyager.Another is that the Romulans are not seen in the script until the end, we hear their voices but we don’t see their appearance. This would make sense as a surprise reveal if not for the fact that the Vulcans secretly explain that Romulans are an off shoot of Vulcans.

The film is a mix of Pearl Harbor and Armageddon with the initial unexpected attack and the count down to the second wave of a Romulan attack. The action has epic space battles with ships fighting all over the Solar system and with Starships crashing into the Earth as they are shot out of Space.

There are moments which really shine in this, when the Daedalus class ship commanded by Chase and his crew collides purposely with a Romulan ship and after latching onto it they board through the breach. This is a great scene that avoids the typical transporter tech in place of something more action packed. Another scene is how Chase gets a Vulcan to lie in a clever way.
The main characters are a unique bunch, more of a Firefly type crew. A lot of unique and varied personalities. There’s some bad language and funny moments sprinkled throughout. The dialogue is the strength of this movie.

Chase himself is a harder man than Kirk, colder and unwilling to be a follower but not asking to be a leader.
Since the movie ends with a temporary halt to the war. The second part was rumored to get more into the exploratory aspect of Star Trek but with a storyline that included a new enemy or continued the plot with the Romulans.

This isn’t exactly how I had envisioned the war. When I listen to Spock’s lines from Balance of Terror I always have the impression that the 22nd Century   is a very primitive time, ships that would be very small, almost submarine like having only lasers and nukes to fight a war against an unknown species that would detonate their own ships rather than be caught. Space would still have a very large sense and these two space powers would be going it alone one on one. Technology would be advanced to us but unadvanced as a prequel, for example brick sized communicators used for communicating through Space. The joining of the Vulcan, Andorians and Tellarite would be the tide that turned the war.In some ways I would have hoped that a Romulan and Earth War may have looked like this, a very different style and feel to Star Trek if they had taken BOT as a launch pad for the 22nd Century.

Although it looks unlikely for us to see this War onscreen for a long time (if ever) the story of the Earth – Romulan War is been finally told in Books. The Books involve the crew of the Enterprise NX-01 and the story started in “The Good that Men Do” followed by “kobayashi maru” and the lid been blown off it with “The Romulan War”to be released this year. These books deal with the Romulans fearing a coalition and them trying to turn these races against each other.

Would the Beginning have made a good movie? Certainly the best since First Contact but I felt it played too close to what was already established in Enterprise. Still, it would have been interesting to see.

Favorite Quote: “Penelope, I am going where so many have gone before – to the place where all paths lead, and all journeys end. Please know, my love, that if I do nothing else…that at least…I go there boldly.”Tiberius Chase

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