Star Trek: The Cage Review

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It’s time to take a look at the pilot that began the whole Star Trek craze. It will feel very familiar even if you haven’t watched the pilot before since the original TV show re-adapted this story. It’s definitely not the best one and I don’t imagine that it would have went over very well with the fans, but it’s not terrible either. The main cast just isn’t all that likable and I can see why many of them got the axe.

Captain Pike received a distress call when his ship was in proximity to a nearby planet. He wasn’t thrilled about checking it out since he prefers not to risk his life for perfect strangers, but the others prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is down there and now Pike must help or risk looking antagonistic. He reluctantly beams down and is kidnapped by a group of aliens. They used illusions to trick the heroes and their telepathic abilities are formidable. They let Pike know that he has to live a fairy tail illusion life with a woman they rescued a while back or he will be destroyed. Pike half heartedly resists the whole time so he continues to get zapped along with the girl. The rest of the Enterprise tries to help, but it’s no good. Can Pike talk his way out of this one?

I feel like the special intentionally tried to make Pike unlikable. I’m just not sure what the rationale behind such a decision was. One of his lines would be pretty infamous nowadays as one of the lieutenants shows up to give him something to sign and Pike says “I don’t like seeing women on the bridge” That may not be word for word, but that’s essentially what he said. Only men may walk in the main offices and even if they have tasks for him to do, they are to wait downstairs. He even reminds the same lieutenant of that at the end of the film to ensure that they know nothing has changed. It’s not the kind of thing that you would expect from the main character and this was a trait that you wouldn’t soon forget.

Pike also made things hard on the other captive. She lets him know that she’ll be punished if he continues to ask her questions and defy the captors, but Pike continues on. I’m fine with him resisting since he should in this situation, but he should try to keep her out of it. He always brings her into danger by asking all sorts of questions. She tried to switch the topic at least 10 times at one point, but Pike kept bringing it back. Pike’s will power did start to fade by the end, but that’s when two of his crew mates showed up. We learn plot twists about them that we didn’t really need to know and it certainly made the problem a little trickier.

I do have to say that the aliens were lucky that the crew was so docile though. The heroes had actually broken through to the villain base a while back, but didn’t know it because of the illusions. This would have been found out had any of the heroes actually tried to touch the mountain though. I feel like they usually would at some point right? Apparently nobody did and that was that. It was still clever of Pike to figure out this weakness and while the aliens could have still won by using a lot of other illusions and making the heroes walk in circles all day, they had clearly had enough by the end. At least they claim that they won’t try to do the same to any more people. Their goals and motives still seemed to come out of the blue and based on how they actually helped the other captive back in the day..it doesn’t make much sense. Even if she was disfigured, she should have gone back with Pike and the others. I wouldn’t have stayed with the aliens for anything in the world.

It’s just a sad special though and that ends up hurting it in the long run. Lets ignore Captain Pike. Even without him, it would be hard for the special to be too good because the villains are just too powerful. It gets annoying to keep seeing them zap the heroes whenever they try to make a move. They didn’t have many options and you’ll especially feel bad for the old captive since she was apparently treated well at the start of things. I guess the aliens just got corrupted and Pike’s presence was too much for them to resist.

Overall, This special didn’t have a whole lot of Trekking in it, but it still feels like a Star Trek kind of plot. At least we didn’t have a lot of forced romance, but seeing as how the whole episode revolved around the premise of the captive trying to seduce Pike, it was felt anyway. There wasn’t any easy way out of the situation, but I’m sure that a better main character would have made it all more interesting. I’d recommend just watching the actual Star Trek TV show if you’re looking for some interesting plots and you can just skip the pilot. It is just a pilot for a reason after all and I’m sure that they used the critiques from the early viewers to improve upon their original ideas and to make the show solid. I’m sure that one complaint was just that the special wasn’t all that enjoyable. It’s pretty grim the whole time and if that’s what viewers thought they could expect from the show, they probably were not all that interested. It was fun to see the retro special effects though. They’ve actually aged pretty well so that’s impressive. This is just a pilot episode so it is pretty short in case you do decide to watch it. It’s not as if it’s a big investment of your time.

Overall 4/10

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Star Trek Golden Key Archives Volume 1 Review

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The Golden Key Archives bring together some of the first ever comics for the Star Trek franchise. It’s fun to see the original cast from the TV show get back together and they look even better than in the show. It’s no secret that I wasn’t a huge fan of the show and I definitely do not like Captain Kirk, but he actually looks like a pretty good character here. I mainly blame it on the comic format since it tends to make the main characters look good no matter who they are.

There are 6 comics in this collection and each issue deals with a situation of unprecedented adventure. Star Trek is about going to various planets to meet aliens and discover other ways of life so the issues are pretty faithful to that. One story sees the crew land on a planet where large robots are threatening to destroy the world due to the fact that they keep on creating more and more cities. Soon, there will be nowhere for the inhabitants to live so it’s a pretty sticky situation. The issue was pretty interesting, but one of the original characters was pretty annoying. He didn’t want the heroes to help since he thought that it would make him look bad. He hogs the glory and then he allows the heroes to help. The problem is that the comic still portrays this guy as a hero even though his motives were completely selfish.

In another story, Spock was possessed by 5 ghosts who wanted him to help their land go free. He had to blow some things up because the world was very dangerous due to its constant shifts in climate and land. Kirk and friends almost decided to stop Spock, but they allowed him to continue and it was certainly good for the alien race that he did. Of course, one of the stowaways did happen to be evil so that certainly threw a wrinkle in the situation.

The best story was probably the one where Kirk and friends land on a planet filled with inhabitants who crashed from their spaceship, but we quickly learn that the situation is more sinister than they let on. It’s like a classic Klingon episode since the heroes have to escape back to the ship within 24 hours (Since the planet will explode) but they dare not allow the villains to go with them. Kirk will have to outsmart these guys somehow and that’s definitely going to prove to be very difficult.

One story that did not involve a lot of fighting was the final issue. Two planets are on a collision course so the Star Ship Enterprise is tasked with stopping this from happening since it could wipe out the solar system. They want to blow up one of the planets, but then they find out that they are both inhabited. How can they possibly move the planets out of the way before impact? It’s a pretty good story and you may be able to guess the outcome, but that doesn’t take away from the drama of the moment. It’s simply a fun issue without too much stakes.

The other two stories aren’t quite as remarkable. One of them deals with a dangerous planet where the plant growth has gotten a little too extreme. The heroes simply have to deal with this as they attempt to survive. In another comic, the heroes wander onto a deserted planet and wonder why it is so quiet. Let’s just say that it has something to do with a Civil War. It’s not a very original plot, but at the time it may have been so I’ll give it a pass there. It’s still a good issue.

The main reason why the collection’s enjoyable is because the writing is sound. A good writer is can make any situation exciting and that’s just what happens here. Some of the stories certainly had the potential to not be very good, but this came out during the golden age of comics where most of them were very interesting. I have my doubts on whether a current Star Trek series could be of comparable quality to this one, but I suppose that there is always a chance. The right writer coupled with a good artist can bring hope to any franchise.

The art is decently good. It’s in the style of the old Marvel and DC comics. Back in the days of hand drawn issues, which are always fun to read. The one reason why I didn’t say that the art is very good is due to the fact that a lot of the characters are interchangeable. Kirk looks about the same as Henry Mc Coy or the random red shirt of the day. If not for the uniforms, you would probably mix up just about everyone in the series. The artist just doesn’t do a great job of making the designs unique for the characters. Beyond that, the art is pretty solid and definitely easy to read.

Captain Kirk is your average leader from this era of comics. He makes all of the tough calls without letting any casualties become a part of the equation. He’s pretty confident and he’s also a capable fighter when he needs to take part in a battle. There’s really nothing wrong with him here and he’s certainly a lot different than the other versions of Kirk that we have seen over the years. I could get used to this incarnation!

Spock is pretty true to character and aside from Kirk, he’s the only member of the TV show cast to really get a big role. He has two comics devoted to himself and he’s a main supporting character in the others. He’s the voice of reason and he’s definitely a good character although he’s not as likable as Kirk. He tends to leave Kirk and the others lost as he only lets them know of his plans at the very end. It’s a risky gamble, but it tends to pay off.

The other characters are technically around, but they’ll only get a line or two and it’s easy to forget that they are there. That’s all right though since Star Trek is more about exploration than character development. All that we need are two good characters to hold the plot together and the rest will go along smoothly. I definitely look forward to reading more Star Trek comics in the future. So far, Star Wars definitely has the best comics and Dr Who would be second in the Sci-Fi race, but Star Trek is chasing them down at number 3.

Overall, Star Trek Golden Key Archives Volume 1 is a great way to get introduced to Star Trek. It may set the bar a little high for the franchise, but watching Star Trek Into Darkness after this is a great way to keep enjoying the series on a high note. Captain Kirk is actually a capable leader here and Spock certainly looks intelligent as he should be. The art is solid and it’s just a fun collection. I can see why Star Trek was a fun franchise for everyone if they read the comics. It’s not quite The Avengers or Justice League, but it’s certainly a fun read from start to finish. I recommend this title for your reading pleasure.

Overall 7/10