Star Trek: Strange New Worlds arrives on May 5. Here’s our review:
Let’s be honest: None of the recent entries in the Star Trek universe have been good. With lackluster development, and poor writing and effects, it’s a surprise these series weren’t scrubbed entirely. So, when a series is announced as a prequel to the original, it gets you intrigued. However, this could also make you sigh, when you look at how poor recent series in the Star Trek universe have been. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is based on the years in which Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
The series will feature fan favorites from Star Trek: Discovery. Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One, and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock. The series will follow Pike, Spock, and Number One in the years before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise as they explore new worlds around the galaxy.
I am happy to report that Strange New Worlds is a triumph for Star Trek fans, and is surely one of the best Star Trek series to date. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds revisits the classical era of Gene Roddenberry with a new coat of paint, with Anson Mount portraying Captain Christopher Pike commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, as he and his crew venture to strange new planets and go beyond where no man has ever gone before.
The first episodes start off extremely strong, depicting the crews’ missions that can be summarized with a few words: daring, bold, climatic, and a bit of rule-breaking for the greater good — an important part of Pike as a character. We also get a glimpse of a younger Uhura and Spock. The whole dynamic of the first episode is great. It takes you on adventures and introduces you to each of the characters and their personalitie, to the point that even to new fans it may all seem comfortable and natural to watch.
For lifelong Star Trek fans, it’s a massive treat to be back with the original characters. Following their journey through various missions also allows the series to effectively introduce the main antagonizing force. Therefore, it feels natural. As mentioned, the series starts off very strongly but does make a few stumbles moving forward with a few creative decisions that don’t feel natural to the characters and some below-par VFX at times. None of these stumbles, however, are too grand and did not distract too much from the overall great first five episodes.
Each episode in Season 1 has an extremely creative palate, whether it’s the character development in focus, the missions which the crew undertake, or the overall antagonist of each episode. It all seems to reflect back on the creativeness and influence of the original Star Trek series. Many veteran fans or sci-fi viewers can expect a huge dose of nostalgia, as well as being able to enjoy Star Trek at its core.
Another major decision by the writers of the show is giving each episode its own plot. This series returns back to the old narrative style of the original Star Trek series. That means that, every week, viewers can sit down and enjoy watching an engaging story, one in which they feel satisfied but also anticipated the next episode. It’s kind of like a new, standalone adventure every week.
For many Trekkies, the return of a younger Spock brings a tear to the eye. We get to see Leonard Nimoy’s legacy continue as well as his iconic story completed. Ethan Peck performs brilliantly as Spock; he is not only being able to replicate Nimoy’s character, but also his sophisticated personality and charming intelligence. Overall, the story feels complete with him being part of the crew, hopefully further developing his character and legacy.
I absolutely loved this entry into the Star Trek universe. However, there is one negative that needs to pointed out: Pike’s visions. I personally find it unnecessary to introduce such a huge moment at the start of the season, especially considering the visions are his demise. Despite being briefly seen throughout the episodes, it doesn’t flow well with story around it as it doesn’t impact the main story for each episode. Another minor stumble I felt was that the VFX, at times, with the alien creatures was spotty.
VFX and Cinematography
The series is well shot, making the universe feel real and allowing the stars to really inspire wonder. Many of the sequences are very stylistically shot, capturing sunlight and space quite effectively. The score is also a strong point of the series, and includes numerous references to the golden age of Star Trek; the score also borrows notes from the original series, making every voyage feel much grander. It could, however, be better in reflecting more emotion -specific moments and it lacks variety. The VFX in space with the ships is great, but when the characters are in space the green screen is very obvious. Fortunately, the VFX on location and in ship sets is still good.
To sum up the season, the excitement this show brings makes this perfect for Trekkies and for occasional viewers. You can always count on there being danger and adventure always around the corner. The future of this show, with the potential for additional seasons, is very exciting for people such as myself who are huge Trekkies and who wish to see this show be the best it can be and to live up to the expectations.
Let us know what you think of the series by mentioning @ReviewedCinema on Twitter. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds arrives on Paramount+ on May 5, and releases subsequent episodes weekly.
Overall Grade: A