Review: Star Trek: Discovery Series 1

Star Trek Discovery, the most under-appreciated show on Netflix… in one nerd’s opinion anyway.

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When it comes to “Netflix Originals” I tend to find that they go one of two ways, either they are extremely good televsion or film productions (Usually the former), or they exist somewhere between poor and downright awful. Fortunately I can say with sincere confidence that Star Trek: Discovery’s first season is one of the better shows that Netflix has to offer.

First airing on CBS over in the US, before being made available the day after on Netflix, the latest take on the Star Trek franchise is an incredibly fun, compelling and emotional adventure that is worthy of the name.

What stands out about Discovery, is that it doesn’t feel like any other sci-fi show, it actually feels like a Star Trek series of old, except with a larger budget and better writers. Kicking the series off with an extremely tense and gripping opening episode, the show does a great job of having you hooked from kickoff. But what serves the series the best is perhaps the content which it adopts throughout the course of the series.

With there being 3 recent blockbuster sized Star Trek films in recent memory, the writers of Discovery did a good job in establishing this separate universe and timeline. By making the overarching story of Discovery being about a war against the Klingon’s (A key species in Star Trek lore, but one which was largely left out of the recent films), the show takes advantage of having an exciting core story which leads to various action set-pieces, whilst also being smart enough to write in various sub-arcs which all hit home.

The acting ranges from serviceable to pretty damn good in places. Doug Jones (Saru) and Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly) are particular stand outs throughout the season and offer up some of the more compelling characters. Fortunately, due to the scale of the season and not being limited to a 2 hour long film, most members of the USS Discovery do receive solid to substantial character development. However, there are a couple of recurring non-crew members who do lack the development of others.

All in all the first series of Star Trek: Discovery was a joy to watch, particularly the final handful of episodes which keep you clinging to your seat and make it very difficult to turn off the TV. There are twists and turns which keep the enjoyment and surprise high at all times, but more importantly they don’t feel like twists for the sake of them, everything seems to make sense for the Universe that has been established.

While there is no set date for the confirmed second series, Star Trek Discovery executive producer Alex Kurtzman told The Hollywood Reporter that “ideally” he wanted the show to be back on “the early side of 2019”.

Final Score:

8/10 Porgs.

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Star Wars Goes Fantasy

Winter is coming, and it brings David and Dan with it…

In one of the more surprising news stories to come out of LucasFilm over the past few months, it has today been announced that Dan Weiss and David Benioff, creators of the HBO phenomena Game of Thrones, have been hired to write and produce a new series of Star Wars films which are separate from both the Skywalker saga and Rian Johnson’s announced trilogy.

This news certainly makes it an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan (As if it wasn’t already). With Episode 9 on the horizon, a live action TV series, Rian Johnson’s new trilogy, a new animated series by Dave Filoni and now an entirely new series of films, there is certainly a lot of Star Wars content to consume.

If I was a betting man I would have to wager that the newly announced films will act as the stepping stones between Rian Johnson’s trilogy films. Meaning it’s likely we’ll get the first D&D written Star Wars film in 2022, if all rumoured line ups are to be believed.

However, with all the positives out of the way, I do have some reservations about this announcement. Firstly, I’m concerned about the lack of an announcement in regards to an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff. And secondly, I’m far from D&D’s biggest fan. For me their biggest weakness if writing a compelling script that isn’t based off already established source material. This is pretty evident given the nosedive in the quality of scripts in the later seasons of Game of Thrones. So hopefully the folks over at LucasFilm have done enough research before making this decision.

You would imagine that the creators of Game of Thrones would be brought in to pen an Old Republic era series of films, and if that’s the case then there is already pre-existing material for them to work with, so it’s not the worst case scenario. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that this all works out for the best. For now I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

UK Investment Into Film Industry Breaks Records

Investment into the UK hub of film and TV production has accelerated to £1.9 billion in 2017.

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Following the production of films such as Solo: A Star Wars StoryJurassic World: Fallen KingdomDumboFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldTomb Raider and Ready Player One the UK inward investment on feature films has risen 12% from the previous year.

The latest figures were released by the British Film Institute on Wednesday and also show a rise in cinema admissions, reaching 171 million (A 3.7% increase on 2016).

Offering comment on the figures Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said:

“From Star Wars to The Crown, the UK is a creative powerhouse for developing many award-winning films and shows enjoyed by millions globally. We have world-class studios, a talented workforce and highly competitive tax reliefs, and these fantastic stats show investment in our screen industries is booming.”

Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI, comments:

“Once again, film and high-end TV surpass expectation, and records are broken, with a staggering almost £3bn spent on film and high-end TV production in the UK. Film and TV is a consistently growing industry, and doing so at speed – collectively up 11% from last year – outstripping most other sectors. Productions such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Paddington 2 and Game of Thrones deliver new employment opportunities for everyone, with every conceivable skill required, from special effects designers to costumiers, accountants and drivers. What’s more it creates the most potent export to showcase the UK and our innate creativity and is a powerful and timely reminder of the UK as a major global player.”

The figures depict a very positive trend for the UK’s film and TV industry, and one that is likely to continue throughout the coming years as the Government looks to solidify the sector which is proving both profitable and world-leading.

Women in Hollywood

What has been wonderful about the films that have come out in 2016 has been the women of Hollywood. We have seen a rise of female protagonists in cinema and people love it. This trend of female leads has continued to 2017. With the gender gap for pay being more acknowledged in Hollywood, could this be a sign of a change for more female protagonists instead of a damsel in distress?

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After The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones’ career took off with Oscar-nominated performance as Jane Hawking. We now see her in the latest Star Wars story Rogue One where she plays Jyn Erso and plans to steal the Death Star. Even though the film has had mixed reviews, Jones has been praised as A.O. Scott says in The New York Times “Jones is a fine addition to the “Star Wars” tradition of tough-minded quick-thinking heroines”. Having the hero as a female shows a dramatic change to the typical sci-fi film with an intelligent female lead.

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Like most people, I fell immediately in love with Octavia Spencer in The Help with her charming but sassy character. The film moved me to tears, I knew I was not alone in thinking this, even my most unemotional friends have admitted they were truly touched by the film. Now Spencer has gone to star in Hidden Figures, a wonderful film telling the tale of three female mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA in the early years of the space programme. The film has been nominated for three Oscars this year with Spencer included for her performance. The film is finally being made about these amazing women and critics are loving it Aaron B. Peterson said in ‘The Hollywood Outsider’ “Hidden Figures tells a story of genuine heroes that have been shelved for far too long”. It has been called an inspiration for girls everywhere to follow their dreams, could this be a hit at the Oscars? Time will tell.

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Personally, I cannot wait to see Ocean’s Eight come out in 2018, the trend of female protagonists will continue with this twist on a classic trilogy. The fantastic line-up of Hollywood’s finest actresses consisting of Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter what’s not to love? We know very little about the plot, but George Clooney has been thought to reprise his role as Danny Ocean playing Sandra Bullock’s brother in the film. Let’s hope it brings as much humour and witty remarks as the original films.

What are your thoughts on women in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter @WeAreNiche