FanFilm Review: Star Trek: Phase II "Blood and Fire, Part 1"

sysadmin 2.0
sysadmin 2.0's picture

I saw 'Blood and Fire' the day after it hit the 'nets. If the goal was to inspire thought... well, it succeeded. In fact, I'm going to hold a bit of my reactions back, because when looking at a two-part story, it's only fair to review it as a whole. So consider this a mostly spoiler-free mini review of what we have so far.

First: I have been a fan of David Gerrold's for thirty years. I look forward to (and usually buy) whatever project he publishes/airs at any given time. So, I have known about the 'Blood and Fire' script for some time, and was very curious when the ST:Phase II folks decided to produce it. I became even more curious when it was announced that Gerrold would direct it. To the best of my knowledge (and it's pretty encyclopedic), he has never directed before.... but who else would he trust to guide his original vision to the screen?

Well, no one. But I kind of wish he'd had training wheels.

A lot has been said about the 'Gay Love Scene' in this ep. First- it is a 'love scene' not a 'sex scene'. I think I'm going to surprise some people by saying that I don't have a problem with the content of the scene, per se. The problem that I do have is one that plagues 'Phase II' as a series- the tone is uneven and inconsistent. This scene AS FILMED would fit in any of the later Star Trek series (i.e. Voyager or Enterprise). The issue I have with it is that stylistically and content-wise, it does not match the tone of the Original Series....

I stated earlier that it's a problem that's plagued the 'Phase II' people since it was 'New Voyages'. They want to be topical, yet they also try to match the tone, style and pacing of Star Trek:The Original Series. I enjoy what this crew does very much BUT- the lack of tonal consistency breaks me out of the stories that they are trying to tell. In this case: I get it. Peter Kirk loves Lt. Freeman. There are shorter and more tonally consistent ways of telling this story- but the scene drags on, carrying with it the unintentional message that 'Star Trek: Phase II' wants to rub our noses in some sort of gay agitprop.

Knowing Gerrold's body of work as I do, I do not believe this is the case... but honestly, it's the structural equivalent of a snake that has swallowed a basketball: You can't ignore it, even though it wants to be unnoticed.

On other fronts: Phase II's production values are improving with every episode- and that's really impressive as they started as the best looking (and ironically) tonally 'true' Star Trek fan production. The special effects are great, the lighting and camera work is pro level and even the acting has improved. I'm saving a overall series critique of 'Star Trek:Phase II' for later- suffice it to say that in some ways, the production values exceed the original series' and in other ways, it falls heartbreakingly short.

[NOTE: As a matter of policy on Republibot, we showcase fan films, but do not review them. Subjecting them to the same criteria as professional productions is unfair, and generally neglects to consider all the labor of love aspects and personal eddification the makers of these films get from them. In this case, however, we made an exception. I don't really recall why.---Republibot 3.0, 2/11/11]