Star Trek Beyond

For F*** Magazine

STAR TREK BEYOND 

Director : Justin Lin
Cast : Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Genre : Action/Sci-Fi
Run Time : 123 mins
Opens : 21 July 2016
Rating : PG13 (Some Violence)

Star Trek Beyond poster          The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are marooned in the third instalment of the rebooted Star Trek movie series. It is three years into the Enterprise’s five-year deep space exploration mission, and Captain James T. Kirk (Pine) is beginning to feel fatigued. Kirk, Commander Spock (Quinto), Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Saldana), medical officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Urban), chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Pegg), helmsman Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (Cho), navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov (Yelchin) and the rest of the ship’s crew arrive at the Federation’s new Yorktown space station for a well-deserved break. However, they are abruptly called into action again on a rescue mission, and are suddenly besieged by an unknown enemy. The ruthless alien Krall (Elba) is after an artefact held aboard the Enterprise, and stranded on the planet Altimid with no means of escape, the crew must fend for themselves. Luckily, they have the help of a warrior named Jaylah, who has a long-standing vendetta against Krall.

Star Trek Beyond Simon Pegg, Sofia Boutella and Chris Pine

The rebooted Star Trek films, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness in particular, have proven divisive amongst audiences. Stalwart fans of the originals 60s TV show decry the reboots as being too action-oriented and straying from the spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi creation, while general audiences and the majority of critics have lauded the films for revitalising the franchise. Owing to his duties helming the seventh instalment of that other sci-fi juggernaut, J. J. Abrams passes the directorial baton on to Justin Lin of Fast and Furious fame. Screenwriting duo Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who have not exactly been popular amongst fans, are replaced by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. Star Trek Beyond is very much a straightforward adventure, close enough to the spirit of the original series, while also showcasing the wham-bam action spectacle Lin has become known for.

Star Trek Beyond Zachary Quinto, Sofia Boutella and Karl Urban

Star Trek Beyond does feel a little scaled down from Into Darkness, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s still an epic sweep here: we’re treated to a jaw-dropping establishing shot of the gleaming, futuristic bauble that is the Yorktown space station, accompanied by a stirring, uplifting score from composer Michael Giacchino. The scene in which Kirk pulls off some rad motorcycle stunts did induce its share of eye-rolling when it was glimpsed in the trailer, but it doesn’t feel out of place in the movie itself. The climactic zero-g melee is reasonably inventive too. The destruction of the Enterprise is suitably intense and dramatic, but is marred by an overuse of shaky-cam, which affects most of the close quarters fights in the movie.

Star Trek Beyond Krall vs. Enterprise crew member

The biggest shortcoming here is the central villain Krall. One can’t help but feel that the layers of prosthetic makeup somewhat diminish Elba’s innately towering presence, and as a brutish baddie chasing a MacGuffin that our heroes have in their possession, he’s a somewhat generic action movie villain. Say what you will about the big twist in Into Darkness, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performances was that film’s centre and was nothing short of electrifying. Yes, there is an element of mystery to Krall, but when his back-story is revealed, it can’t help but come off as underwhelming.

Star Trek Beyond Enterprise crew on the bridge

Fortunately, Star Trek Beyond makes excellent use of its returning characters. The cast for Star Trek ’09 remains one of the finest remake/reboot casts ever assembled, with each actor grasping the essence of those iconic figures without doing a mere impression. The camaraderie and banter amongst the crew continues to feel earnest. Urban’s cantankerous Bones has always been this reviewer’s favourite character in the rebooted films, and here, he gets to steal the show on multiple occasions, with Urban delivering several side-splitting lines. Pine is allotted multiple moments to be the dashing action hero, while Quinto masterfully parses the humour inherent in Spock’s obtuseness and the character’s dedication to the crew.

Star Trek Beyond Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine and John Cho

There has been considerable furore surrounding the decision to establish Sulu as gay in this continuity, with original Sulu actor George Takei himself being one of the biggest opposing voices. In the film, we see Sulu greeted by his husband and their young daughter as he arrives at Yorktown spaceport. It’s a sweet scene and is really no big deal. The passing of Leonard Nimoy, who originally played Spock and appeared in the first two reboot movies as Spock Prime, is handled with admirable sensitivity within the film. The ending credits include dedications to both Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, who recently died in a freak accident. We missed Spock Prime, and will definitely miss Chekov when the fourth film arrives.

Star Trek Beyond Sofia Boutella and Simon Pegg

Jaylah was apparently inspired by Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Winter’s Bone (say the name ‘Jaylah’ out loud). The character’s design is striking and Boutella, best known as Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service, possesses the requisite physicality to play the badass warrior. Unfortunately, the character can’t help but come off as a standard-issue tough, resourceful woman at times – a studio-mandated ‘strong female character’. That said, Jaylah feels like a natural addition to the Star Trek universe and allows Boutella to further exhibit the star quality which served her so well in Kingsman.

Left to right: Zoe Saldana plays Uhura and John Cho plays Sulu in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

Star Trek Beyond is generally entertaining and thrives on the excellent chemistry this particular cast has fostered, but it does tend towards the generic. There aren’t too many surprises in store, but Lin’s valuing of the emotional beats in addition to the action does benefit the tone. It’s also reasonably self-contained, and newcomers unfamiliar with volumes of Trek lore won’t feel left out.

Star Trek Beyond Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine escaping explosion

Summary: Star Trek Beyond strives to reach a compromise between the feel of the original series and the rebooted films, generally succeeding in this regard. A lack of surprises and an uninteresting villain are made up for with entertaining character dynamics and well-executed action.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Jedi Jedi Abrams

For Issue #71/72 of F*** Magazine

 

 

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J(EDI) J(EDI) ABRAMS
F*** tracks the career of the man chosen to reawaken the Force
By Jedd Jong
 
Getting the gig to direct the first Star Wars film in ten years is at once an incredible honour and a daunting, Herculean task. After all, we’re talking about one of the most beloved, iconic film franchises in history, and one with a massive, passionate fanbase. Said fans have been burned before – once bitten, twice shy and all that. The man taking the Starfighter controls behind the scenes of Episode VII just so happens to be a huge self-confessed Star Warsfan himself. This is the voyage that the writer/director/producer embarked on which led him to that fabled galaxy far, far away.
 
Jeffrey Jacob “J.J.” Abrams was born in 1966 to TV producers Gerald W. Abrams and Carol Ann Abrams. This would make him 11 when the original Star Wars film was released. “11 is a great age to have your mind blown,” Abrams said at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim earlier this year. “I will never forget that feeling of seeing ‘Long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away’ fade out. It was the first time a movie made me believe in another world that way.” He recalled that the title ‘Star Wars’ struck him as an odd one when he first came across it in the classic sci-fi culture magazine Starlog. He saw the movie on opening day, and left the theatre “never being the same again”.
 
 
 
At age 13, Abrams’ grandfather gave him a Super 8 camera which he used to create his own homemade movies. “I would take anyone who was available — my sister, my mother, any friends — and I would kill them in crazy ways,” he told NPR’s Fresh Air program. As a teenager, Abrams entered a short film of his into a festival showcasing Super 8mm movies made by kids. Other contestants included Matt Reeves, who would go on to direct Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as well as Larry Fong, who would become the cinematographer for 300and Watchmen. Steven Spielberg read an article titled The Beardless Wonders of Film Making in the Los Angeles Times and hired Abrams and Reeves to restore and edit his own childhood 8 mm films. A couple of years later, a 16-year-old Abrams composed the music for Don Dohler’s low-budget sci-fi horror movie Nightbeast. This was the beginning of a very promising career.
 
Abrams had planned to enrol in a film school, but attended Sarah Lawrence college instead. The advice given to him by his father was that “it’s more important you learn what to make movies about, than how to make movies.” In his senior year, Abrams co-wrote a feature film treatment with Jill Mazursky that became the 1990 movie Taking Care of Business, starring Charles Grodin and Jim Belushi. Abrams and Mazursky also wrote the comedy Gone Fishin’, starring Danny Glover and Joe Pesci. In between those two films, Abrams wrote the amnesia drama Regarding Henry, starring none other than Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, and the sci-fi romance Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. Abrams was one of four credited writers on Michael Bay’s sci-fi action film Armageddon.
 
In 1998, Abrams and Reeves created the TV series Felicity, starring Keri Russell and set at a fictional New York university. “I miss writing for a show that doesn’t have any sort of odd, almost sci-fi bend to it,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012, noting the difficulty inherent in devising stories for a show without a villain or high-stakes intrigue. Abrams co-founded the production company Bad Robot with Bryan Burk, and created the spy action show Alias in 2001. Now, here was a show that was wall-to-wall high-stakes intrigue. On Sydney Bristow, portrayed by Jennifer Garner, Abrams said “She was a character with a secret, and that is always a fun place to start. But she wasn’t a superhero; she was terrified at almost every step. But still, she would do the right thing. I think we would all like to believe we would behave like that when the going gets rough.”
 
In 2002, Abrams wrote the screenplay for Superman: Flyby, a project that eventually failed to materialise. Abrams’ script contained many deviations from established Superman lore, including a Kryptonian civil war between Jor-El and his evil brother Katar-Zor, Krypton remaining intact and Lex Luthor as a UFO-obsessed CIA operative who is revealed to be have been a Kryptonian sleeper agent all along. The leaking of this script played a large part in Abrams’ desire to keep as tight a lid as possible on later projects. “To have a script that is nowhere near the latest draft, let alone the final draft, being reviewed online, it frankly made me a little bit paranoid,” Abrams told NPR. “There are certain things that are, I think, important to keep quiet.” He further explained that “it’s not a Machiavellian sort of thing”, but that the secrecy stems from a desire for “people to have a good time and to have a little bit of a surprising time.”
 
2004 saw the premiere of Lost, which Abrams co-created with Jeffrey Lieber and Damon Lindelof for ABC. The network thought that Alias was too serialised in its storytelling, and Lindelof and Abrams promised the network that the show would be self-contained, with no ‘ultimate mystery’ to be solved. This might well be one of the great ruses in TV development history, as Lost was all about ‘ultimate mystery’, the show and its complex mythology soon becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Busy with other projects, Abrams left the show in the hands of Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, though it is a common misconception that he was involved throughout Lost’s six season run.
 
To return to the topic of secrecy, Abrams explained the appeal he finds in this practice in a TED Talk in 2007. During the presentation, he brought out a “magic mystery box” that he bought 35 years ago from a magic shop and which he refused to open. “It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential,” he declared. “What I love about this box — and what I realized I sort of do, in whatever it is that I do — is I find myself drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential. And I realise that mystery is the catalyst for imagination…What are stories besides mystery boxes?”
 
Abrams’ first feature film directing job was 2006’s Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. In an interview with IGN, Abrams said he was able to create elaborate set-pieces, the likes of which he would love to have done on Alias but “we could never in a million years afford.” Mission: Impossible III proved that Abrams could handle explosive spectacle with sequences like an ambush on a bridge, a helicopter chase, the IMF team breaking into the Vatican and a heart-stopping leap off a Shanghai skyscraper. Abrams also set out to “see who these characters were as people not just as spies,” showing Ethan Hunt’s home life and his relationship with his wife. Abrams would take a stab at the spy genre again with the 2010 show Undercovers, which was cancelled after a season.
 
In 2008, Cloverfield, which was produced by Abrams and directed by Reeves, was released. The found-footage monster movie was promoted using a viral marketing campaign that captured the curiosity of many moviegoers. Abrams said the seeds of the project were sown when he was in Japan to promote Mission: Impossible III and was visiting toy stores there with his son. “We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own American monster, and not like King Kong,” Abrams said at Comic-Con in 2007. “I love King Kong. King Kong is adorable. And Godzilla is a charming monster. We love Godzilla. But I wanted something that was just insane and intense.”
 
Later in 2008, the sci-fi procedural television series Fringe premiered. Abrams co-created Fringe with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, citing The X-Files and The Twilight Zone as inspirations. Abram’s favourite TV series is The Twilight Zone, and there is a large collection of memorabilia from the show on display at his Bad Robot offices. The show’s overarching mythology involves the presence of a parallel universe, similar in some respects to the “mirror universe” of Star Trek.
 
 
 
Speaking of which, Abrams directed the 2009 Star Trek reboot in what is likely his most high-profile feature film directing gig prior to The Force Awakens. Co-writer Kurtzman said “I always think of it as, Star Trek is beautiful classical music and Star Wars is rock ‘n’ roll, and it felt like Star Trekneeded a little more rock ‘n’ roll to connect to a modern audience.” Abrams certainly brought the rock ‘n’ roll with a kinetic, exciting and action-packed take on Star Trek, which alienated some stalwarts of the original series but which opened what had become a slightly stodgy franchise to audiences at large.
 
Abrams has been upfront about being far more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek one. “I was never really a fan of Star Trek to begin with but the idea of working on something that is not necessarily your favourite thing can actually help, because it forces you to engage with it in a way an outsider can appreciate,” Abrams told The Sunday Times. “My love of Star Wars, the energy of it and sort of the comedy and rhythm of it I think affected Star Trek,” he said in a separate interview with PBS. Naturally, there were many ardent Trekkers who weren’t on board with this new take on the material and they felt further maligned with the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, but both films received an overall positive critical reception. While Justin Lin is taking over the director’s seat for Star Trek Beyond, Abrams is remaining as a producer.
 
Beyond his early screenplays, Abrams has dabbled in comedy, directing an episode of The Office and starring in the musical sketch Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions alongside Will Ferrell and Andy Samberg. Abrams also got to perform a rockin’ keyboard solo in the video which spoofed the “unflinching walk” cliché seen in many an action movie.
 
Abrams was contemplating two ideas for an original movie: a coming-of-age movie about a group of kids making their own movie, drawing on his childhood love of film, and a thriller about the Air Force transporting an alien creature to a secret facility, with said creature naturally escaping. He combined both these ideas into Super 8, which was an unabashed love letter to his childhood idol Spielberg. Things came full circle in a way, from Abrams editing Spielberg’s Super 8 home movies to having Spielberg produce a film about the Super 8 movement in the late 70s-early 80s. Abrams told The Guardian that he loved how Spielberg’s films carried “a sense of unlimited possibility,” but that way lay around the corner “could be terrifying, it could be confusing, it could be disturbing, or it could be wonderful and funny and transportive.”
 
Interestingly enough, it was super-producer Kathleen Kennedy, now the head of Lucasfilm, who suggested to Spielberg that he should hire the then-teenaged Abrams and Reeves to restore and edit his home movies. “We followed J.J.’s career, so when he committed to Star Wars, it was this kind of fantastic coincidence of fate, I guess—preordained destiny or something,” she said. Abrams was handpicked by Star Wars creator George Lucas over directors including David Fincher, Brad Bird and Guillermo del Toro.
 
In 2008, Lucas told Total Film that he’s “left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VIIIX.” In 2012, after the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, Lucas said “I always said I wasn’t going to do any more, and that’s true, because I’m not going to do any more. But that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to turn it over to Kathy [Kennedy] to do more.”
 
As a mega-fan taking the reins of a storied, long-lived franchise, there is the danger of being self-indulgent. Abrams addressed this in a Vanity Fair interview, saying he resisted the temptation to make The Force Awakens “meta-Star Wars” as that would be “an ironic approach, which feels anti–Star Wars,” saying he was focused instead on “inheriting and embracing the elements of Star Wars that are the tenets of what is so powerful.”
 
Like all Star Wars fans, Abrams was enamoured of the iconic John Williams score. In the era before home video was readily available, the biggest piece of the movie Abrams could take home was the soundtrack, which he would often buy before the movie was even released. “I would lie on the floor in my room with my headphones on listening to the soundtracks which would essentially tell me the story of the movie that I didn’t know,” he said. For Abrams, the most surreal moment in the making of the film was getting to meet the legendary composer. “I can’t describe the feeling. All I will say is, just to state the facts of it: I am about to show John Williams 30 minutes of a Star Wars movie that he has not seen that I directed.”
 
While Abrams won’t be sticking around to direct Episodes VIII and IX, which are being helmed by Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow respectively, there is no doubt that The Force Awakens will shape the franchise in a monumental way. “I do feel like there’s a little bit more of a burden on [co-writer] Larry [Kasdan] and me to come up with a story that could at least be the beginning of what transpires over three films,” Abrams told Wired. The framework has already been planned, the foundation for the new trilogy been laid, and, according to Abrams, Episode VIII has already been written.
 
As Yoda said in Empire Strikes Back, “always in motion is the future.” Abrams has set a course for the future of the Star Wars franchise and there’s no stopping the jump to hyperspace now. 

 

We Ship This: Top 10 Movie Spaceships

As published in Issue #54 F*** Magazine
Shoutout to F***’s art director M.KWAN for the gorgeous layout. Disclaimer: The ships are arranged in order, but the layout changes the top four places. It should be the Close Encounters mothership, then the Serenity, then the Enterprise, then the Falcon in top place. Anyway, enjoy! 

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WE SHIP THIS

Top 10 Movie Spaceships

By Jedd Jong

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord’s ride is a spiffy spacecraft named The Milano, which in addition to sporting a yellow and blue paint job has somehow given us a craving for Pepperidge Farm cookies. Anyway, there has long been a sci-fi movie tradition of cool, cool spacecraft, ranging from the spectacularly outlandish to the intriguingly plausible. Raise your shields and join F*** for a look at 10 of the most awesome ships to blaze through the cosmos!

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO from SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

Nothing quite says “national pride” like dredging up a sunken battleship, retro-fitting it with a Wave Motion Engine and a Wave Motion Gun created with alien technology and sending it into battle with alien invaders. Such was the premise of the 1974 anime Space Battleship Yamato, which was re-packaged into the English-language Star Blazers. In 2010, fans of the anime finally got to see their beloved space battleship in full live-action glory, in the feature film directed by Takashi Yamazaki. Star Takuya Kimura voluntarily took a pay cut so that the CGI space battle sequences in the film could be improved. Though many fans were somewhat disappointed, the end result was visually impressive given the film’s $23.9 million budget, small in comparison to that of most Hollywood sci-fi extravaganzas. Sing it with us, in your best Steven Tyler wail, “loves lives” – and so does the resurrected Yamato.

GUNSTAR ONE from THE LAST STARFIGHTER

1984’s The Last Starfighter, directed by Nick Castle, is a fondly-remembered nostalgic classic yet one that’s not often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Ghostbusters or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Regardless, the film tapped into the dreams of many a gamer with its premise of the Rylan Star League recruiting a teenager named Alex to fight the Ko Dan Empire on the basis of his arcade game high score. Alex co-pilots the Gunstar One, an untested experimental prototype equipped with the wonderfully-named Death Blossom laser volley weapons system. The Last Starfighter was revolutionary for being one of the first major films (alongside Tron from two years earlier) to heavily utilise computer-generated imagery. The Gunstar and the other vehicles in the film were designed by Ron Cobb, who has also worked on the likes of Star Wars, Alien and Conan the Barbarian.

TRIMAXION DRONE SHIP from FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR

At first glance, most of the ships featured on this list do look kinda similar and, well, spaceship-y. The Trimaxion Drone Ship came from another beloved 80s kids’ film, The 1986 Disney flick Flight of the Navigator. In the movie, 12 year old David accidentally comes into contact with a crashed alien ship and enters into an eight-year-long coma. Scientists performing tests on him discover that schematics and instructions on how to fly a spaceship have been uploaded into his brain. The ship itself contacts David, who has taken on the role of “navigator”, needing his help to return home. The on-board artificial intelligence, nicknamed “Max”, was voiced by Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman. Creating the chrome outer surface of the Trimaxion Drone Ship was a challenge back in the day and the filmmakers employed ground-breaking reflection mapping software. And hey, because of its shell-like appearance, it seems appropriate that the ship could also travel underwater.

DISCOVERY ONE from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Stanley Kubrick’s dazzling vision of a future 13 years ago was still 33 years away when 2001: A Space Odyssey was released. The third of four sections in the epic was “The Jupiter Mission”. On board the Discovery One spacecraft bound for the fifth planet from the sun were astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole with three others in hibernation – as well as the ship’s somewhat untrustworthy artificial intelligence system HAL 9000. The Discovery One was powered by Cavradyne Plasma Propulsion Engines and featured a centrifuge to generate artificial gravity, hence the famous scene of David jogging around the circular interior of the crew’s quarters. The ship also held three extra-vehicular activity (EVA) pods, akin to mini-submersibles. Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist and hired spacecraft consultants Frederick Ordway and Harry Lange to work alongside production designer Anthony Masters and art director Ernest Archer to devise the designs in the movie. Legend has it that NASA administrator George Mueller and astronaut Deke Slayton nicknamed the studio “NASA East” because of the filmmakers’ level of technical accuracy.

CITY DESTROYERS from INDEPENDENCE DAY

Quite possibly above any other director working today, Roland Emmerich personifies the maxim “go big or go home”. After all, this is the man who basically wiped the surface of the earth clean in 2012 and made a movie with the tagline “size does matter”. In 1996, Emmerich unleashed Independence Day, a movie about aliens unleashing their forces on the world, on the world. Independence Dayhomages classic sci-fi flicks like Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and the 1953 take on War of the Worlds – except this time, the ships were truly colossal, their shadows hanging ominously over whole cities. “The size of the craft relates to the amount of aliens coming (to Earth) and basically, all their world is moving together, that’s why it had to be so big,” explained production designer Patrick Tatopoulos. 36 of these craft were deployed by the alien mother ship, each one with a diameter of 25 km. The Destroyers would in turn release hundreds of small, agile fighter craft called Attackers. The Mothership floating in space was a whopping 800 km long along its longest axis. These dimensions are truly impressive, the ships’ weakness to computer viruses notwithstanding.

U.S.S. SULACOfrom ALIENS

Just look at the thing: doesn’t it seem like an assault rifle poised and ready to fire? The tagline for James Cameron’s sequel Aliens was “this time, it’s war” and the design of the U.S.S. Sulaco certainly reflected that. While the Nostromofrom the first Alien film was essentially an interplanetary big rig truck, the Sulaco was more akin to a naval destroyer. According to designer and “visual futurist” Syd Mead, the Sulaco was not intentionally designed to look like the pulse rifles in the film. “I envisioned the Sulaco as a heavily armed, interplanetary/intergalactic freighter with loading doors along the side, a crane track and generally, an overlay of military hardware look onto a functional configuration for the drive element and the main body,” he said. “The massive ‘guns’ on each side may have generated that theory.” Mead’s initial designs were more spherical, but Cameron’s script called for “’forest of antennae coming into frame from the left,” something which would not require variable focus. What we ended up with was a ship as badass as its cargo of hardened Colonial Marines – and one Ellen Ripley.

THE MOTHERSHIP from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

Not all aliens want to destroy us, some just want to play us a neat five-note tune. In Steven Spielberg’s modern classic, probably the “benevolent alien” movie other than that other Spielberg benevolent alien movie, a suburban electrical lineman develops a peculiar obsession with UFOs. This culminates in scientists and the military gathering at the Devils Tower structure in Wyoming; the Mothership hovering just above. Designed by Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie and constructed by model maker Greg Jein, the look of the Mothership was inspired by an oil refinery rig Spielberg had come across in India. The ship’s interior was never meant to be shown, but the studio pressured Spielberg into filming a sequence showing it for a re-release. This scene was removed in Spielberg’s final cut years later. Tiny random bits stuck onto Mothership by model builders as inside jokes include a Volkswagen bus, a submarine, R2-D2, a U.S. mailbox, and a small cemetery plot. Should you ever be in Washington, D.C., you can check out the model of the Mothership on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum.

SERENITY from SERENITY

Ask any geek worth their salt to name an excellent TV show that got cancelled after one season and they’ll all forlornly answer “Firefly”. Joss Whedon’s sci-fi Western series that got unceremoniously canned by Fox received a second lease of life in the 2005 feature film Serenity, which Whedon directed. The film opened with a tour through the titular ship by way of a tracking shot, cleverly re-establishing the characters and the different areas of the vessel itself. A rinky-dink Firefly-class freighter that always seemed in danger of falling apart, the Serenity was nevertheless a trusty ship for Captain Mal Reynolds and his ragtag crew. The Serenity was equipped with decoy buoys called “crybabies” that could be jettisoned to distract pursuing enemies. The Serenity was designed by director Joss Whedon, production designer Carey Meyer and visual effects supervisor Loni Peristere. Whedon was keen to establish the limited amount of space inside the ship. ”One of the first things I thought was, I’m gonna have a ship with a toilet,” he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. ”I wanted a ship that felt lived-in.”
USSENTERPRISE from STAR TREK

Throughout the various Star Trek series and films, there have been many incarnations of the ship that’s central to the franchise, the USS Enterprise. The classic Enterprisefrom the Original Series era captained by James T. Kirk was a Constitution-class starship with the designation NCC-1701. A re-fitted version of this ship appears in the films Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, being destroyed in that last one. Following that, the rebuilt NCC-1701-A served as the setting for the remaining movies featuring the Original Series crew. For the Next Generation-era movies, Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat at the helm of the Sovereign-class NCC-1701-E. The art director on the Original Series, Matt Jeffries, was the primary designer of the original Enterprise, taking inspiration from the look of electric stove coils. With its warp drive, deflector shields, photon torpedoes and phasers, the Enterprise quickly became one of the most iconic spaceships in all of sci-fi, and with the re-imagined movie series, continues to fly across the silver screen (and be worshipped by primitive alien species).

MILLENNIUM FALCON from STAR WARS

Like Star Trek, several ships from Star Wars have become ingrained in popular culture but when push came to shove, we picked the loveable hunk of junk herself, the Millennium Falcon. The modified YT-1300 light freighter was the vessel of choice of smuggler Han Solo; the rogue having won the ship in a game of sabaac from his friend Lando Calrissian. Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca made multiple modifications to the ship, including quad laser cannons and sensor jammers. The Falcon embodied the “used future” aesthetic seen in the original Star Wars trilogy; at a time when most sci-fi films featured sleek, clean environments dominated by white and chrome, it was novel to see a ship that had trouble starting up. Like its pilot, the ship is imperfect but has plenty of personality. The original design for the ship was too similar to that of the Eagle transporter in Space: 1999, so the Falconwas revised, its new look leading the staff at visual effects house ILM to nickname it the “Porkburger”. While it was George Lucas who had the burger brainwave, various designers including Ralph McQuarrie, Colin Cantwell, Joe Johnston, effects technician John Dykstra and production designer John Barry contributed to the design. The afore-mentioned Serenity can be seen as a direct descendant concept-wise of the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon will once again make its hyperspace jump in J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII. Abrams jokingly posted a photo of a note claiming the Falcon would not be in the film – the note itself was resting on the famous Dejarik holochess board seen in the Falcon’s lounge.