Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cliches so hoary it hurts to type them

"Star Trek: Renegades," the 90-minute first installment of a planned Internet series, was released on YouTube Monday (Aug. 24). The film is not a part of the official "Star Trek" universe — it was financed primarily by three crowdfunding campaigns over the last several years — but it does feature characters and actors familiar to Trekkies.


"Together, they assemble a new elite strike force, consisting of rogues, outcasts and criminals, led by the fearless yet haunted Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson). ... The Renegades’ mission is simple: take on an army and stop their leader, Borrada (Bruce Young), from destroying the Earth," the website adds. "Outnumbered and outgunned, the ragtag crew is in an adrenaline-pumping race against time and space. But they soon find their foes are the least of their concerns: the real trouble may be coming from within!"

I watched about a half hour and...

I really dislike punching down. It's seldom funny and never pretty and, even when it's well done, it raises the question "Can't you find anything better to make fun of?" Criticizing a fan film, even a fan film with professional aspirations, would seem to be the essence of punching down. The weaknesses of this particular film, however, are a very good fit with another of our ongoing threads. So...

I watched about a half-hour and, other than some well done prosthetics, it was every bit as bad as you might expect, from the clumsy exposition to the uneven acting to the endless stream of cliches.

It's that last one I want to focus on. The producers raised nearly $400,000 on Kickstarter and Indiegogo not only to make yet another film in the over-explored Star Trek universe, but to make one with perhaps the most overused premise imaginable, a pitch that wasn't all that fresh when Robert Aldrich made it fifty years ago. Even if the final film had been well executed (and it wasn't), there was little chance of it being anything more than competent hack work.

My concern here isn't that Renegades is a bad film, but that it's bad in a way that suggests bigger problems in the way we fund projects these days. By some accounts, this is supposed to be something of a golden age for new ideas. Between venture capital and crowd funding, you might assume that it has never been easier for creative and innovative people to get money, but the assumption behind that assumption is that there's a strong positive correlation between how creative and innovative a proposal is and how likely it is to get funded. What if the correlation is weak? Hell, what if it's negative? That may seem like a strong statement, but between this and Soylent and numerous other examples, you have to wonder.

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