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About the Author
Founder and Executive Producer of the Heroes Podcast Network. Host of Screen Heroes and Redshirts & Runabouts podcast series. Known Trekkie, gamer, and all around nerd.

Pacific 201 – A New Star Trek Kickstarter

Pacific 201 is a brand new Star Trek universe fan-made production. We’ve had several major hitters over the last couple of years including Star Trek: Renegades and, of course, Star Trek: AxanarPacific 201 takes place in the 2200s, forty years after the end of the Romulan War, the war we would have seen in season five of Star Trek: Enterprise. On August 21st, they launched their Kickstarter. To learn more about it, I was lucky enough to be able to interview Eric Henry, the man behind the Pacific 201 project.

Pacific 201 Recruitment Poster

Me: Hello, Eric. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today. First, let’s talk about you. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with Star Trek, and film.

Star Trek has always been a big part of my life. My father, who had the privilege of growing up with the original series, did a great job of introducing my siblings and I to Star Trek with episodes and movies on tape. I don’t think we had all that many episodes, to be honest, but we watched them to death. There was a pretty healthy mix of TOS, TNG, and I think we had The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, as well. Voyager was on the air by the time I was old enough to remember watching television, and we watched that every week too.

As far as my involvement with film goes, a lot of that is thanks to my father as well, who worked as a video photographer during most of my formative years. This meant that I was in near-constant contact with filmmaking equipment, and naturally, making movies became a staple of my childhood. It’s probably pretty safe to say that I made a movie a year from the time I was 6 to the time I was 18. By the time I entered college, I wanted to “up my game,” as it were. Finding myself with a film-savvy roommate, we set out to make something a little more professional, and we ended up producing a Kickstarter-funded short film called “Lily” two years later. Pacific 201 will be my biggest project to date, but it’s a natural step for me.

Pacific 201 Torpedo Fire

Me: Obviously, the big topic of discussion is your new project, Pacific 201, which is a new fan-film set in the Star Trek universe. Can you tell us a bit, for those that don’t know, about the film, when it takes place, and maybe the overall premise?

Pacific 201 is a story about how humanity copes with the aftermath of its first interstellar war – a war that shattered dreams for a lot of people. Even the founding of the Federation wasn’t quite enough to keep humanity from questioning its role in the quadrant. “Is exploring the stars really worth it if death and destruction are all we get from it?” We have to remember that since the launching of the NX-01, Earth suffered two major interstellar crises with the Xindi and the Romulans. It hasn’t all been peace and hope. The mission of the Pacific is a new generation of humanity proving to itself that the dream of peace and prosperity in the final frontier CAN be realized. It took humanity 40 years to regain it’s footing, but the launch of the Pacific is the true dawn of the kind of Starfleet and the kind of Federation we see in TOS.

Me: So, in short, your film, Pacific 201, takes place about forty years after the end of the Romulan War and the ship, Pacific 201, is the first real deep space exploration ship since the end of the war?

We imagine that Starfleet was doing SOME exploration between the Romulan War and the launch of the Pacific, but it’s definitely one of the last things on their mind. Border security, reestablishing trade routes, and other tasks associated with rebuilding after a costly war consumes much of Starfleet’s time and resources. Not to mention that probing into deep space is a sore subject for humanity after the war. Poking our nose into the unknown hasn’t done humanity much good, after all. Or – that’s the way it seems. But as a new generation comes of age, that attitude is diminishing.

Pacific 201 Shuttle

Me: Why did you pick this particular time period for your film?

When the story first dawned on me, it was actually something more concurrent with Kirk’s time. Perhaps slightly before the beginning of TOS – like the year 2260. But as I thought more about the story, I wanted there to be a really big deal about a new deep-space exploration vessel, and that didn’t really make sense coexisting with a ship like the NCC-1701. So I then considered a pre-ENT story, and while exploring that time interested me, I thought the speeds were too slow to get the ship anywhere really meaningful and new. There’s too much hand-holding in that era. I then realized that the period after the Romulan War would be jam-packed with all sorts of really tangible attitudes and situations that an audience could relate to. It’s not just a point on a timeline, but it’s a period of time that would have characters with real opinions and histories. People who had lost parents in the war, people distrustful of the unknown, people yearning for a new era of peace. It offers a whole spectrum of rich storytelling opportunities.

Pacific 201 Romulan Stealth Ship

Me: Did other fan-film projects like Star Trek: Continues or Axanar play a part in why you chose this time period or story?

The story I chose has much more to do with movies like Apollo 13 and submarine movies than anything. Star Trek owes a lot to submarine combat, and that series developed in the Apollo-era of space travel, so I always thought it would be awesome to see a Star Trek movie that had the same nuts-and-bolts, practical, and realistic feeling of a real-world historical film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6EbTY9KBhM&feature=youtu.be

Me: So, I’ve seen a lot of the art and images posted online of the ship and uniforms. As is the case with previous Star Trek, the ship is basically its own character and something that gets a lot of screen time, especially in the Original Series-era films. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for the ship design? Why did you place the nacelles above the saucer section and not attached directly to the secondary haul as is typical in Trek ship designs? Can you tell us anything about the ship’s specifications (i.e. crew size, warp speed capability, weapons, science stations, etc.)? Can it land?

The ship is definitely a character in this film. After all, the movie is named after the ship itself. The design for the ship stems directly out of a naval vessel. Star Trek is so deeply-rooted in maritime tradition, and I wanted to respect that. Furthermore, to go with the storytelling style, it was important that the ship looked like something we might actually build in the future. The original Enterprise always struck me as a design that looks like it HAS to look that way. Sure, it’s an awesome design, but when you really think about it, it’s so weird and unconventional that it actually lends to its credibility. Starships won’t be designed to look “cool”. Instead, they’ll look like they’re designed with a function in mind, and the Pacific meets that requirement, I think.

The nacelle placement is actually pretty inspired by the Constellation-class starship that we see in TNG. That design always looked to me to make the most practical sense of any ship in Starfleet, and since a practical design was foremost in my mind, I definitely lifted inspiration from that. The secondary hull on the Pacific is pretty much everything BUT the warp core – torpedoes, navigational deflector, shuttle bay, etc. I call it the “mission pod,” because I imagine it can be swapped out for different pods depending on the ship’s mission. The engineering section is actually located in the primary hull, and has a horizontal warp core like Archer’s NX-01.

The Pacific is actually a pretty small ship in terms of volume, and has a crew of only about 120 people. Considering her size, she’s only moderately armed. The Pacific isn’t a battleship, but between four phaser cannons and four photon torpedo tubes, she does still have teeth. The Pacific also has 20 small bays that feasibly hold weapons, such as atomic missiles (which we assume were used during the Romulan War when there wasn’t enough antimatter to go around for torpedoes).

Pacific 201 Close-up with Escape Pod

Me: Alright, well, I’m very excited to see this ship in action. I, personally, think it’s a very beautiful design. Let’s talk about the uniforms. They seem to be a nice evolution from the Star Trek: Enterprise era naval style but include the basic color scheme used in the Original Series. How did you end up with this uniform design?

The uniforms take a very blatant page from British “No. 3” navy uniforms. One particular variant of that uniform includes a pullover sweater as part of the uniform, and we thought “ah, this actually kind of links to TOS,” because in the pilot episodes especially, the uniforms are, for all intents and purposes, pullovers. They even have the ribbed collar that the British No. 3 sweaters have. So we thought that was a fun way to link the real world to the Star Trek world.

Pacific 201 Crew Uniform

Me: As the Kickstarter, which we’ll talk about shortly, notes, you have stainless steel badges on the uniforms. Did you see these as an earlier version of the insignia badges in later Trek or were you trying for something completely different?

The badges on our uniforms are honestly closer to “something completely different” than anything else. There was no specific Starfleet badge in ENT, and in TOS, the badges on the uniform are something more akin to assignment patches. Since the uniforms in Pacific 201 already will include an assignment patch, the badge is actually something kind of new. In the context of the Pacific 201 world, it doubles as a personal data card (something that actually has precedent in TOS). You can read all about that in an article on the Pacific 201 website.

Pacific 201 - Crew Badge

 

Me: I mentioned the Kickstarter, so we should probably dive into that. Your campaign was launched on August 21st with a goal of $20,000. Why did you decide to go with crowd funding and why did you choose Kickstarter over other options like Indiegogo?

Kickstarter was a really natural choice for this movie. I had already used Kickstarter once before for Lily, and I really like that site’s model. I didn’t want to switch platforms between projects since Kickstarter already worked really well in the past, and we had something of a track record there.

Pacific 201 Interceptor

Me: Now, whenever a Kickstarter is talked about, someone always manages to claim that the money asked for is never necessary. Why did you choose to provide such a detailed breakdown right out of the gate? Your campaign specifically breaks things down into three categories and then those get broken down even deeper. Was this something you wanted to do from the get-go?

This is something that Axanar really impressed me with. They released a very, very detailed breakdown of costs that inspired a lot of confidence, and I felt that was something we should emulate with the Pacific 201 Kickstarter. Our breakdown isn’t super-specific, since we haven’t made every last decision as to what models of camera and lenses we’ll need to buy, but we thought that getting as specific as possible was something we really wanted to do.

Pacific 201 Top-down

Me: Let’s talk about the perks. You’ve got a lot of digital perks plus a few physical ones. How did you determine what perks would be available?

Something we wanted to do with the perks was to offer things that were really relevant to the actual project – things we’ll actually see in the movie. So the patches, the badges, and the pins were really obvious choices, since we’ll actually see those on-screen, and it’s always fun to hold something like that in your hands. The technical manual, too, was something that we thought would be really cool, since it will go into a lot of detail about things we’ve thought up for the story and the universe, but won’t have time to show on-screen. It’ll be really cool supplemental material that should enrich the experience overall.

Pacific 201 Ship

Me: One thing I noticed is that the film is only available in digital form. Have you thought about or do you have plans to release a physical DVD or Blu-Ray down the road? If not, why not?

Producing a DVD or a Blu-Ray is a huge amount of work that is actually somewhat disproportionate to the interest for it. Lots of fans are content with just streaming the movie on Youtube, after all. Given the work involved, it seemed like something that we didn’t want to offer as a perk on the Kickstarter – at least as anything but a standalone perk, which can confuse users, and that’s something we didn’t really want to do. However, we’re really not ignoring those who have asked questions about a DVD or a Blu-Ray. Our viewers who also want a DVD or a Blu-Ray can look forward to future plans, where we might end up offering a physical copy of the film as a standalone perk through Paypal donations after the Kickstarter. It depends on the interest.

Me: One perk, that I’m very excited about personally, is the limited $500 level which actually gets the person a speaking role in a scene of the film. That’s very cool. Are you excited about this perk? Was it something you thought would be fun or more necessary?

That particular perk is something that’s not really necessary, but definitely a fun way to involve our fans. We have a lot of roles in our script that are just one, two, or three lines, and since a Kickstarter is all about co-creation, it seemed natural to get fans in on a piece of the action.

Me: Can you give us any details about that role?

We have a few different roles that we have in mind for the $500 level, and the specific roles that donors at that level will get will probably vary on schedule availability, and who fits the costumes we have. We can’t really reveal the specific roles at the moment… but it’s safe to say that somebody might get to play a Romulan!

Pacific 201 Headon

Me: Another interesting perk is the Technical Manual. What kinds of things do you expect to end up in this book? Are you basing off of the previous official Technical Manuals say from The Next Generation?

The technical manual is definitely inspired by the Next Generation technical manual, and it’s going to include a wide variety of details that aren’t just limited to details about the ship. We’re going to include sections on the relevant in-universe history surrounding Pacific 201, as well as details on specific technologies and maybe even some character bios.

Me: The Kickstarter ends on September 20th, at 11:59PM EST. Is there anything else you’d like to say about the campaign before we move on?

Just that sharing and spreading the word is as important as actual contributions. Getting the word out will help this project succeed!

Me: Okay, let’s talk special effects. The ship renderings look great, as do the props shown in your Kickstarter video. How are you handling the special effects? Are you trying for practical effects with models or do you have some visual effects people working on it?

Currently, I’m handling a large portion of the special effects myself, but we are looking to expand the team, since not only is there a very high standard for the visuals in this movie, but there are some effects-heavy scenes in our script that will need talented contributing artists.

Pacific 201 Overhead

Me: Are you looking to have the bridge and other interior sets physically built or will some of that be CGI?

Our interior sets will be physically built. We have a really cool and intuitive plan to build our set in an almost entirely modular way, which will let us build dozens of sets at a greatly reduced cost by mixing and matching elements to create new spaces. I think people will really like our sets, which we’ll start building in force after a successful Kickstarter.

Me: Finally, let’s talk about future plans. If the Kickstarter is funded successfully and you’re able to make the Pacific 201 film, do you have hopes or plans for future films or a web series or are you anticipating this as a one-shot film?

Pacific 201 is a self-contained story, and there are no plans to create sequels or a web series. But who knows? I do have a really cool story in mind for a Romulan War miniseries… but if that ever happened, it’d be far off on the horizon.

Pacific 201 - Crew Member

 

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to add or mention about the project, yourself, your team or anything at all?

Just that we hope you all love what we’re doing as much as we do, and we can’t wait to show you a really excellent final product.

This has really been great. Thanks again for joining us, Eric. We’re very excited to see the final project and boldly go with you and your crew. To find out more about Pacific 201 check them out at the locations below and don’t forget to stop by and contribute to their Kickstarter before September 20th.

So there you have it, Pacific 201 aims to be a story about exploration, about moving beyond the Romulan War while fitting into the overall timeline of the Star Trek franchise. To learn more about the project, please check out the links below:

Pacific 201 Website

Facebook

Kickstarter

What do you think of the latest Star Trek Kickstarter? Are you going to back the campaign? What do you like about what they’ve shown so far? Comment below!

Pacific 201 – A New Star Trek Kickstarter

CBS Says ‘No’ to Star Trek: Renegades

Space might be the finale frontier but Star Trek is still trying to return to the small screen after the 2005 cancellation of Enterprise. Many have pitched show concepts and ideas but only a few have really made anything concrete. One of the biggest is Star Trek: Renegades, a crowd-funded fan film starring many Trek alum including Walter Koenig, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, Robert Picardo, and Tim Russ who also directed the film\pilot. What is Star Trek: Renegades?

According to writer Ethan H. Calk:

It is nearly ten years after Voyager’s return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis. The Federation’s main suppliers of dilithium crystals are disappearing. Space and time have folded around several planets, effectively isolating them from any contact with outside worlds. And this phenomenon is not natural – someone or something is causing this to happen. This necessitates drastic measures; some of which are outside the Federation’s normal jurisdiction. For this, Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, turns to Commander Tuvok, Voyager’s former security officer and current head of the newly reorganized Section 31. Tuvok must put together a new covert, renegade crew – mostly outcasts and rogues – even criminals. This new crew is tasked with finding out what is causing the folding of time and space, and stopping it – at all costs. But will they be able to put aside their differences and stop trying to kill one another in time to accomplish their mission?

So, the film takes place after the close of Star Trek: Voyager, leaving many of our Delta quadrant friends in the mix. The film disregards the semi-canon Star Trek Online video game and doesn’t really mess with the future prime timeline used in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film. Instead, Star Trek: Renegades takes a darker, smaller look at Trek with a focus on a small group of outcasts who are the Federation’s only hope. It’s an attempt to bend and maybe even break the rules set by Gene Roddenberry. The Federation of Renegades is surely no utopia.

Star Trek: Renegades Props

How did the Kickstarter fare? Decently well, in fact. It managed to get funded with $242,483 with an initial goal of $200,000. It was definitely no major hit like LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow campaign which brought in over five times their original million dollar goal. But, reaching a goal is reaching a goal and the film\pilot for Renegades was funded and has been produced. Backers of the Kickstarter have even received their digital versions of the film over the last week with physical copies of DVDs and Blu-Rays going into production in the next couple of weeks.

Star Trek: Renegades DVD and Blu-Ray

Everything sounds like it’s been going well for the fan-made film. Well, everything is not holodeck credits and shore-leave for Renegades. The primary goal of the campaign was to produce a pilot strong enough to pitch to CBS, the owner of the Star Trek television rights. We now know how that went. CBS has decided to pass on Renegades for reasons we were not told by the production team. Trek rights are complicated due to Paramount and CBS sharing them along with the new JJ-verse and the love for the original Prime timeline. If I were to speculate, I’d say that CBS either can’t make a show in the Prime timeline due to Paramount’s newer movies (don’t forget that Star Trek Beyond is supposedly coming out in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the franchise), or CBS already has plans to bring Star Trek back to TV in the near future and Renegades didn’t fit with those plans. Either way, we won’t be seeing Renegades on CBS or any official network.

Star Trek: Renegades Icarus

This is not the end though. The Renegades team announced to their Kickstarter Backers that all is not lost. Since CBS has passed on the pilot, they are going to turn the film into the pilot of a fan-made web series, or as they put it “an independently produced fan-supported Internet TV Series!” Their plan is to leverage the pilot\film as the first episode and produce a total of 12 episodes a year using a fairly normal TV series production schedule with episodes being produced in the span of a week or so. Walter Koenig has agreed to stay on through Episode 3 which will be the conclusion to the Episode 2 cliffhanger but after that, he plans to retire his Chekov character. According to the report, the Renegades team is actively writing the second and third episodes and a new crowd-funding effort is to be announced soon.

If you’re not familiar with the production, check out the trailers here.

Are you disappointed that Star Trek: Renegades will not be picked up by CBS? Are you glad it’s staying a fan-made production? Let us know in the comments and look for our review of the pilot in the coming weeks. Oh, and live long and prosper.

CBS Says ‘No’ to Star Trek: Renegades

Box Office Numbers: Aug 14-16, 2015

This weekend’s box office saw some major shifts in the Top 10 with the release of Straight Outta Compton and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. As you can see below, Straight Outta Compton dominated the box office with over $56 million and $20,000 per theater. While the first-week films did well, the previous contenders took major hits including Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which saw an over 40% drop from last week and Fantastic Four, which saw an incredible 68.9% drop after just one week on the big screen. Meanwhile, Pixels dropped from the Top 10 after four weeks. While, Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck has nearly tripled its $35 million budget, Adam Sandler’s Pixels is still short of their $88 million. Take a look at the rest of the Top 10 below and let us know what you saw over the weekend.

Straight Outta Compton Crew

Box Office Top 10 – August 14-16, 2015

  1. Straight Outta Compton ($56.1 million in opening weekend across 2,757 theaters, averaging $20,348 per theater)
  2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($17 million in third week, totaling $138.137 million)
  3. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ($13.535 million in opening weekend across 3,638 theaters, averaging $3,720 per theater)
  4. Fantastic Four ($8 million in second weekend, totaling $41.96 million)
  5. The Gift (2015) ($6.5 million in second weekend, totaling $23.577 million)
  6. Ant-Man ($5.517 million in fifth weekend, totaling $157.568 million)
  7. Vacation ($5.33 million in third weekend, totaling $46.852 million)
  8. Minions ($5.2 million in sixth weekend, totaling $312.97 million)
  9. Ricki and the Flash ($4.57 million in second weekend, totaling $14.656 million)
  10. Trainwreck ($3.8 million in fifth weekend, totaling $97.92 million)

Coming Soon to the Box Office

  • Hitman: Agent 47 – 8/21
  • Sinister 2 – 8/21
  • No Escape – 8/26 (Wednesday)
  • We Are Your Friends – 8/28

Box Office Numbers: Aug 14-16, 2015

Schwarzenegger Supercut

This week, Arnold Schwarzenegger released a supercut of EVERY explosion in EVERY one of his films. That’s right, you’ll see explosions from the original Terminator up through Total Recall, Last Action Hero, Batman & Robin, The Last Stand, and the newest one on the list, Sabotage. Sorry, no Terminator: Genisys explosions in this video… but I’m sure he’ll be back. See… see what I did there?

So why did Schwarzenegger release this supercut? Well, he’s been promoting his new Omaze for “Blow Sh*t Up With Arnold”, which is literally a series of him blowing stuff up in amazing, spectacular ways. The Omaze campaign was a way for you to support the effort and even become a part of it with perks including throwing grenades, firing a rocket launcher, or even working out with Mr. Universe himself! For more information, check out Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page. He’s quite active on it and definitely worth a follow.

 

OVERKILL – The Schwarzenegger Explosion Supercut Film List

  • Hercules in New York
  • The Villain
  • Conan the Destroyer
  • The Terminator
  • Commando
  • Raw Deal
  • Predator
  • The Running Man
  • Twins
  • Total Recall
  • Terminator 2
  • Last Action Hero
  • True Lies
  • Eraser
  • Jingle All The Way
  • Batman and Robin
  • End of Days
  • The 6th Day
  • Collateral Damage
  • Terminator 3
  • The Last Stand
  • Escape Plan
  • Sabotage

Alright, are you pumped? I know I am! Check out “OVERKILL – The Schwarzenegger Explosion Supercut” below and then let us know what your favorite Arnold explosion is in the comments.

Schwarzenegger Supercut

Fallout Shelter Hits Android

Fallout fans, Fallout Shelter, the relatively new simulation mobile game from Bethesda is now available on Android devices from Google Play in addition to iOS.

Fallout Logo

 

Bethesda describes Fallout Shelter as:

BUILD THE PERFECT VAULT
Create a brighter future…underground! Select from a variety of modern-day rooms to turn an excavation beneath 2,000 feet of bedrock into the very picture of Vault Life.
OVERSEE A THRIVING COMMUNITY
Get to know your Dwellers and lead them to happiness. Find their ideal jobs and watch them flourish. Provide them with outfits, weapons, and training to improve their abilities.

PROSPER
A well-run Vault requires a variety of Dwellers with a mix of skills. Build a Radio Room to attract new Dwellers. Or, take an active role in their personal lives; play matchmaker and watch the sparks fly!

EXPLORE THE WASTELAND
Send Dwellers above ground to explore the blasted surface left behind and seek adventure, handy survival loot, or unspeakable death. Find new armor and weapons, gain experience, and earn Caps. But don’t let them die!

PROTECT YOUR VAULT
From time to time, idyllic Vault life may be disrupted by the dangers of post-nuclear life. Prepare your Dwellers to protect against threats from the outside…and within.

Vault-Tec has provided the tools, but the rest is up to you. What are you waiting for? Get started building your Vault today for FREE.

So yes, it is a free game but there are in-app purchases, so beware.

Fallout Shelter Example

For a brand new Android game, it already has over 100.000 downloads and is sitting pretty at a nearly 5-star score. As someone who pre-ordered the Pipboy Edition of the game, I’m very excited to finally get my hands on Fallout Shelter.

Have you played the game yet? What do you think? Are you excited for Fallout 4? Comment below!

Fallout Shelter Hits Android

Box Office Numbers: Aug 7-9, 2015

The latest box office numbers are in and surprise! Fantastic Four did not do well. Have you heard that enough? Well, it’s true, sad or not. The latest Fox Marvel superhero flick pulled in just over $26 million, falling short of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation which was in its second weekend. Pixar’s Inside Out and Universal’s Jurassic World finally dropped from the top 10 after eight and nine weeks at the box office, respectively. Meanwhile, the limited release film, The Gift (2015) averaged more than Fantastic Four and almost as much as MIssion: Impossible – Rogue Nation on a per theater basis and more than doubled its small $5 million budget. Shaun the Sheep Movie, which came out this weekend, didn’t even crack the top ten, bringing in just $4 million and averaging less per theater than Inside Out and just slightly more than Jurassic World. Check out this week’s top 10 box office films below and let us know if you were one of the few to go see Fantastic Four. 

Fantastic-Four-Banner

 

Box Office Top 10 – August 7-9, 2015

  1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($29.4 million in its second weekend, totaling $108.654 million)
  2. Fantastic Four ($26.2 million in opening weekend across 3,995 theaters)
  3. The Gift (2015) ($12.007 million in opening weekend across 1,648 theaters)
  4. Vacation ($9.145 million in second weekend, totaling $37.325 million)
  5. Ant-Man ($7.826 million in fourth weekend, totaling $147.436 million)
  6. Minions ($7.4 million in fifth weekend, totaling $302.754 million)
  7. Ricki and the Flash ($7 million in opening weekend across 1,603 theaters)
  8. Trainwreck ($6.3 million in fourth weekend, totaling $91.102 million)
  9. Pixels ($5.43 million in third weekend, totaling $57.645 million)
  10. Southpaw ($4.764 million in third weekend, totaling $40.726 million)

What did you see this weekend? Comment below!

Box Office numbers provided by Box Office Mojo.

Box Office Numbers: Aug 7-9, 2015

Box Office Numbers: July 31- Aug 2, 2015

Two films hit the box office this weekend, Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and reboot VacationRogue Nation is the fifth film in the spy franchise and comes to us from Paramount and Bad Robot starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ving Rhames. Vacation is a reboot\sequel of the 1983 Chevy Chase film of the same name. The new version stars Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, and Steele Stebbins with Chris Hemsworth. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo both return, though I would expect those roles to be primarily cameos.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Domestic Box Office Numbers for July 31st – August 2nd Weekend

  1. Vacation (2015)Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($56 million in opening weekend across 3,956 theaters)
  2. Vacation (2015) ($14.85 million in opening weekend across 4,311 theaters, totaling $21.17 million in 5-day opening)
  3. Ant-Man ($12.62 million in third weekend, totaling $132.15 million)
  4. Minions ($12.2 million in fourth weekend, totaling $287.39 million)
  5. Pixels ($10.4 million in second weekend, totaling $45.61 million)
  6. Trainwreck ($9.7 million in third weekend, totaling $79.71 million)
  7. Southpaw ($7.52 million in second weekend, totaling $31.578 million)
  8. Paper Towns ($4.6 million in second weekend, totaling $23.82 million)
  9. Inside Out ($4.52 million in seventh weekend, totaling $329.6 million)
  10. Jurassic World ($3.8 million in eighth weekend, totaling $631.5 million)

As the numbers show, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation won the box office by more than double even with Vacation getting an extra day with their Wednesday opening. Ant-Man continues to fall about 50% per week but based on domestic numbers alone, it has finally passed its $130 million budget, making it profitable. Pixels is having a rough time falling to just $10 million in its second week and still just about 50% of the way to its budget of $88 million. Meanwhile, Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck is nearing $80 million on its $35 million budget and Southpaw just passed its $30 million budget. The big summer hitters, Inside Out and Jurassic World hold on to the last two top ten spots with Terminator: Genisys falling to 13th after five weeks in theaters, bringing its domestic total to just $87.65 million with a budget of $155 million.

Coming Soon to the Box Office

Fantastic Four (2015)

  • Fantastic Four (2015)
  • The Gift (2015)
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Underdogs (2014)

What movies are you most excited to see in theaters? Did you find anything on this week’s box office list surprising? Comment below!

Box Office numbers provided by Box Office Mojo.

Box Office Numbers: July 31- Aug 2, 2015

Ranking All 12 Star Trek Movies

The Star Trek franchise turns 50 next year and we are hoping for a thirteenth Star Trek movie along with the announcement of its return to television. While Simon Pegg pens the script and production begins, I attempt to rank the existing 12 Star Trek movies from the original 1979 space opera Star Trek: The Motion Picture, through The Next Generation’s first film, Generations, and up through J.J. Abrams’ pseudo Wrath of Khan remake, Into Darkness. I’ll break down why I rank each Star Trek film the way I did and their placement will include things like character growth, special effects, musical scores, plot, and overall consistency. The Star Trek franchise is one of the biggest and oldest science fiction franchises out there, so I’m sure many will disagree with my ranking. Please comment with your own and let me know what you think of my list. Engage!

12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Is The Final Frontier really as bad as people say it is? Yes. Across the board. The basic plot is a beat up with a falling apart Enterprise-A staffed by an ever aging crew of our classic Original Series cast. The ship is taken over by Spock’s half-brother who is on a search for God at the center of the galaxy. Now, let’s forget how ridiculous it is that the Enterprise could get to the center of the galaxy in a short time (I’m more inclined to let these things go in the original TV show episodes, not the fifth film on the big screen) and instead focus on the corny dialogue, poor special effects, and all-around lame attempts at emotional moments. The budget for this film was slashed and we’ve been told that a lot of the movie was cut out. So perhaps the original version would have been better but instead what we’re left with is some cute camping scenes with our trio singing, Kirk making love to the mountain, Uhura’s weird fan dance, Scotty knocking himself out because he apparently doesn’t know the ship well anymore, and weird telepathic scenes where our crew sees their worst fears brought to life… though somehow everyone else can see what’s happening. At the end, we meet “God,” who is really just an alien that Kirk tries to outsmart with the famous, “What does God need with a starship?” line. Eventually, the day is saved by a random, could have been anyone, Klingon who wants to kill Kirk because it sounds like fun. The movie did so poorly that the original box set covers thought this was the end of the series and franchise so when Star Trek VI came out, it didn’t really fit in with the box set art.

I give it 2 marsh melons roasting on a corny fire.

11. Star Trek: Generations

Star Trek: Generations

Is this film an Original Series film or a Next Generation film? Neither. It’s actually a Kirk and Picard film that happens to have other people in it. We do get some very nice moments like seeing Sulu’s daughter, Guinan providing her always interesting wisdom (why wasn’t she credited in this film?), and Malcolm McDowell making a good villain. All reasons why this film outdoes our last place contender. So what’s so bad about it? Well, The Next Generation had just ended with one of my favorite finales ever, “All Good Things…” and gave us a fantastic story, adventure, and some closure for our beloved 24th century crew. The Original Series had their beautiful sendoff at the end of The Undiscovered Country. So I was hoping to see our Next Gen crew steal the show. Instead, we got an awkward sendoff on the Enterprise-B with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov. No Spock, no Uhura, no Sulu. Kirk is killed-ish and everyone is sad. The Enterprise-D crew, on the other hand, seems to just be on a normal mission, nothing too exciting. In fact, NOTHING could have really happened in the rest of the film if it wasn’t for one simple thing…. CHECK GEORDI’S VISOR! The guy had just been held as a prisoner on a Klingon ship and no one checks to see if he is bugged? Between Data, Worf, and Dr. Crusher… no one thought about this? Okay, so an old, small Bird of Prey (which the original Enterprise could have taken out easily according to Christopher Lloyd) destroys the Federation’s flagship with a couple of torpedoes. Meanwhile, Kirk and Picard are in the “do whatever we want to do” Nexus and somehow forget how to fight. I mean, I assume they have to be disoriented by the Nexus or something. Otherwise, why can’t they take down Soran in a 2-on-1 confrontation? Then, Kirk has his real death which echoes The Finale Frontier. You see, he always knew he’d die alone and here he is, alone on a planet… except for Picard and Soran, but I suppose he could have meant alone as in not with friends he loved like Spock and Bones. In the end, we got a movie that was not as good as the series finale, that didn’t know how to focus on the old and new at the same time and brought us a story filled with plot holes and vagueness with a relatively boring score and stale action sequences. But hey, it did give us yet another excuse to destroy the Enterprise.

I give it 4 trips through the Nexus to save the Enterprise crew.

10. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The space opera that started it all. The Motion Picture was the franchise’s epic return and they did so following the steps of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. Let’s talk about the good first. The film is beautiful. We have wonderful models and practical effects, as well as a gorgeous model of the Enterprise. The score is fantastic. Seriously. So much so that it was reused over and over including in The Next Generation as their main theme. So for those two factors, the movie is very successful. Unfortunately, the story, length, and costume design ruin it for everyone. The story was originally intended to be a 50ish minute episode for Star Trek: Phase II but since that didn’t happen, the story was extended to be a full motion picture (and then extended again for the Collector’s Edition) and additional scenes were added so Spock could have a more prominent role. Leonard Nimoy was originally not interested in returning to the franchise after the end of The Animated Series. Remember the scene in Spaceballs when they make fun of how long the ship is? Well, V’ger is definitely longer. The movie goes on forever with long, spanning shots, quiet pondering moments, suspense, any excuse to take up more screen time. Then we have the costumes. We went from the now classic look of the TV series to pajamas in space, all bland colors and tones…. except for Kirk, of course. And for most of the movie, Ilia, one of the only new characters, is essentially in a bathrobe. Of course, there is the cool non-canon book theory that this is what start the Borg. Make that canon and this movie becomes significantly more important. Check out the “Origins” section for more details and definitely read William Shatner’s “The Return”.

I give it 4 ten minute sweeping shots of the big budget ship models.

9. Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Ah yes, the second film in the JJ-verse. I don’t like this movie. In fact, I wanted to rate it dead last but I’m trying to be fair. The film is definitely more watchable than The Finale Frontier or The Motion Picture and more interesting than Generations, but it fails across the board. First, you take the alternate timeline concept from the 2009 film and instead of using that freedom, you just remake The Wrath of Khan BUT some of it is flipped! What a twist! You take a wonderful actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, give him a unique story, name, and motivation. Then you “surprise” us with him actually being Khan with a big reveal that means nothing to the characters (since THEY HAVEN’T ACTUALLY MET BEFORE) and mainly annoys fans who would actually know who he is. You give him motivations that actually kind of justify what he is doing, have him invent something that makes starships a waste of time, and turn the only two female characters into sex symbols that argue with their boyfriends in front of their captain. In all, the movie insults The Wrath of Khan, the audience, and the only two female characters all while trying to make Shatner’s old, campy KHAN yell into something that’s supposed to be intense, sad, and emotional. I laughed. Most of the theater laughed. I’m sorry. I love the cast. I love the uniforms. I even love the Enterprise design. This story bombed.

I give it 4 relatives trapped inside long range torpedoes but I’ll just transport to my destination and place a bomb because warp drive is slow now.

8. Star Trek: Nemesis

Star Trek: Nemesis

Personally, I think this film is very underrated and people are too quick to judge it. The bad? Well, we don’t need a car chase scene in Star Trek unless it’s with space ships and even then… only maybe… I’m looking at you, Justin Lin. Also, bringing back Data with B-4 was both cool and disappointing at the same time. Data’s death was very important and I will defend it to the end. He completed his journey in becoming human by sacrificing himself for Picard, his friend, mentor, and leader. I loved it. Bringing him back is both cool for us, people who love the character, and also disappointing because it takes a little something away from his original sacrifice. I thought Tom Hardy was a great casting choice. I loved the story, the cast, the special effects. It would have been nice to see Riker’s ship at the end but hey, I can dream. Overall, it was a darker tone that tried to end a generation’s journey in a way that we could respect, in a way that was somewhat final and I believe it did that, though not perfectly. Unfortunately, its tone and the state of the franchise at the time makes this feel more forgettable than it deserves.

I give it 5 Dr. Soong androids searching for purpose.

7. Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

 

The biggest complaint I hear about this movie is that it’s just one long episode. Why is that bad? Most Trekkies and Trekkers agree that Star Trek belongs on TV. So a long episode sounds great and I think it was. The story is Trek at its best with the crew standing up against incredible odds to protect those who are in need. The script was solid, with some great dialogue for the main cast members, jokes, and singing. In fact, the scene aboard the Captain’s Yacht when the crew catches Picard is one of my favorite Trek scenes period. We had a classic villain in the form of F. Murray Abraham’s Ru’afo and a solid contrast to the normal Federation with Admiral Dougherty. I felt that the chemistry between the cast was at its height and that showed through to the story. But yes, I could have done without the lame joystick console in the middle of the bridge. Either way, great action sequence with Riker and Geordi having some fun. Everyone gets a chance to shine but Geordi gets one of the best moments when he gets to see a sunrise for the first time with functional eyes and later when he says he can’t hurt these people to keep that gift. They are the crew I want and the crew we need. “Saddle up, lock and load.”

I give it 7 extra warp cores in case of isolytic bursts.

6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

There are some fun and exciting moments in this film. Seeing everyone in various forms of dress helped support the cowboy diplomacy methods they use throughout the film. Scotty’s last second attempt at opening the spacedock doors is always an enjoyable scene. Christoper Lloyd makes for a fantastic Klingon and villain. His sarcastic attitude and lack of fear fits the character well. I’m not sure the damage done to the Enterprise after a single hit makes any sense regardless of how wired up Scotty had to make things. The ship did make it to spacedock on its own, remember? Overall, this is a good Trek movie. They kill off Kirk’s son, which was a fairly annoying character anyway and replace him with Kirk’s personal hatred for Klingons that would resurface in the sixth film. Robin Curtis did a decent job replacing Kirstie Alley but she didn’t give off the same, authentic Vulcan vibe. In general, I’m happy with this film but it does have some awkward moments and the ending sums things up a little too easily. Blow up the Enterprise, trick last remaining officer on Klingon ship, kick bad guy off a cliff. Very easy. I’m also a little confused by the planet’s changes. First off, where did the star it’s orbiting come from? But that aside, things like snow, desert lands, etc. come from the planet’s orbit and axis orientation to its star. It doesn’t have much to do with it’s actual stability, but hey, I’m not a geologist or scientist. I truly love the reversal of the Vulcan proverb, the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many. Also… everyone realizes that Saavik and young Spock fooled around, right?

I give it 7 year Pon farr cycles.

5. Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek (2009)

J.J. Abrams’ first film makes it into the top five. Congrats to him and Bad Robot. I enjoyed the 2009 Trek film a lot. Honestly. It’s bright, fun, exciting, and I felt it truly honored what came before and what they were trying to echo. I also loved the little time travel loop hole they used to create an alternate timeline. It gave them complete and legitimate right to change events (to a degree) without people crying “canon!” I really enjoyed the updated looks, whether it was the all-new Enterprise, the new uniforms, or even the Apple Store bridge. I thought the style worked well and gave the franchise a sense of coolness that the wasn’t there before. While some of the decisions, like the destruction of Vulcan, seemed a bit outlandish, even for Trek. And yes, the Red Matter was just an overly simple plot device that was way too convenient for its own good. With that said, I loved seeing Nimoy reprise his role of Spock and I enjoyed the double-Spock moments. The casting was also spot on. Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin were all fantastic choices for our rebooted crew. Eric Bana played a fantastic villain and it was nice to see the Romulans finally get some big screen action. Think about it. In twelve films, the Klingons show up in half of them, seven if you count the Bird of Prey in The Voyage Home. Romulans only show up twice and one time they were led by Picard’s human clone. Finally, Bruce Greenwood was a solid choice for Captain\Admiral Pike and they were able to throw a lot of little Easter Eggs throughout the film for long-time fans. One last thing, the poster pictured above is definitely one of my favorite movie posters, hands down.

I give it 7 time travel paradoxes wrapped up in a bow.

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

“Captain, there be whales here!” That pretty much sums up the movie. This “period piece” Trek film is great. It’s fun, lighthearted, enjoyable, and exciting. We see our crew break out of the more strict rules of the Federation and be themselves a bit. Kirk tries to curse, they visit a pawn shop, we get some great Cold War-era jokes with Chekov, we see a different Enterprise, and Spock swims with some whales, all while we using a fairly convenient and little lame time travel technique used once before. What I love about this film is its human and humorous moments. We left the darker, grittier tone from the first three films and just had some fun. For the most part, each crew member gets their moments but a particular focus is put on Bones, Scotty, and Chekov, which is nice. I love the scenes when Bones and Scotty are looking for tank enclosures and they give up the formula for transparent aluminum (which is actually a thing now!). I truly feel like this movie provides everyone the opportunity to shine as their true Trek-selves while providing a fun and enjoyable story set in a unique place for Trek, 1980’s San Francisco. The addition of Catherine Hicks was also great. I was a little sad they never returned to her character. The end of the film is exciting and uplifting with the terrible storms and the whales singing their songs. It’s a feel-good Trek film and there’s nothing wrong with that. The sequel book, “Probe”, leaves much to be desired, however.

I give it 8 slingshots around the sun for some whales.

3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Alright, the rankings here are getting tough. I want to say that I truly love everything in the top four. Any day of the week I could watch all of them and be very happy. With that said, Wrath of Khan hits at number three. It’s a fantastic film and great sequel to The Original Series episode “Space Seed.” Richardo Montalban is phenomenal. Hands down. He’s epic. He’s crazy. He’s vengeful. He’s perfect. The movie is shot very well with some fantastic music. Plus, it introduces my favorite Trek uniform, the classic red naval style uniforms used in half of the Trek films to date. The space battles between the Enterprise and Reliant were also great, and the level of camp that does exist works because of the time and cast. Kirk’s “KHAN” scream works so well here because it’s Shatner in 1982. Khan’s epic monologues are a bit cheesy but also brilliant and Shakespearean. But let’s not forget the end. The famous end where we lose Spock. His sacrifice in the face of certain death, the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few… or the one. The scene with Kirk and Spock separated is emotional, just incredibly so. Everyone feels it, the cast, the crew, the audience… everyone. I don’t think there are enough positive things I can say about this movie. Spock’s death, the balance of Kirk and Khan, the misleading repair timetables on open channels, the hide and seek in the Mutara Nebula, “the odds will be even.” I love an underdog, especially when it’s my Enterprise crew.

I give it 9 stab at thees from hell’s heart.

2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The end of an era. After the failure of The Final Frontier, I will be forever grateful that we were given a sixth film because it’s one of the best. Even if you don’t agree with all of my rankings here, you have to admit that this film has to be one of the top two of the franchise. The concept alone is fantastic. A Klingon Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked during a time when the Federation and the Klingon Empire are attempting to find peace, the parallels to Shakespeare, the addition of Christopher Plummer. There are so many fantastic moments. The special effects were great, the score was fantastic, and the cast and crew did a perfect job in their true finale. Even though Shatner and Takei were not on good terms, they were able to find a resolution that actually added to the film. The opening sequence with the Excelsior and Praxis blowing up was so cool. Bringing in Kim Cattrall as a spy was a great plot point too. The conspiracy, the diplomacy, the action, the respect between Chang and Kirk, I loved every moment of it. If I have any complaints, it’s due to the production of the Blu-Rays because the boxset does NOT include the Director’s Cut of the film which changes the end quite drastically. In the Director’s Cut, Rene Auberjonois’ Colonel West (he went on to play Odo) is responsible for working with the Klingons to kill the president of the Federation and stop the peace talks. This is all cut and we are led to think it was just another Klingon in the theatrical cut. At the end of the day, there are some fantastic action sequences, solid speeches, and a little theatrical drama. What better way to end the original generation’s journey?

I give it 9 heat seeking modified torpedoes looking for a tailpipe.

1. Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

This is where our journey comes to an end today. First Contact is by far the best Next Generation film and for me, it’s the best overall Trek movie. Why? Well, it wins across the board. It’s dark, serious, well-written, well-acted and directed (thank you, Jonathan Frakes), and focuses on the scariest and more challenging of the Star Trek villains, the Borg. Patrick Stewart is at the top of his game. The continuation of Picard’s assimilation story is stressful, emotional, and scary for the character. He must overcome the stigma everyone else has placed on him and help save the Federation and all of mankind. The special effects, especially of the brand new Enterprise-E and the updated Borg are phenomenal. Alice Krige as the Borg Queen is the definition of what they embody. She is deceitful, strong-willed, powerful, but also alluring to some. The story arc with Data is very engaging and there were moments when I thought maybe we had lost our android friend. James Cromwell, who had been in Trek as different characters before, was the perfect Cochrane, someone who just wanted to do his own thing, get away from it all but had history thrust upon him. This movie brought the best of Trek on the big screen with a big screen budget and updated special effects. It put together a movie that could be enjoyed by longtime Trekkies and Trekkers but also the mainstream audiences who wanted something a little more action packed from their sci-fi. The score is beautiful as well. It provided a sense of wonder and anxiety all at the same time. They even threw in some Klingon themed music for Worf’s bigger moments. And just tell me that the confrontation between Picard and Worf was not awesome. It showed the drive and willpower of Picard with the respect and honor Worf had for their relationship. This was incredibly powerful. Trek is best when it tackles complex social issues. The comparisons to “Moby Dick” were spot on. Picard had been hurt by the Borg, by the Queen and he was seeking revenge. While The Wrath of Khan saw the villain out for revenge, First Contact saw our hero, our diplomatic Captain Picard, set out for his own. The rest of the cast did a great job but the focus of the film is really on Picard, turning him into a significantly more emotionally complex character that, I believe, was carried on in Insurrection.

I give it 10 quantum torpedoes in the hull of a Borg sphere.

Summary

There you have it, folks. My Star Trek movie rankings. This was not an easy list to compile. I’ve thought it through several times and a couple movies move a spot or two but all-in-all, I am confident that this list took as much into consideration as possible. I was brought up on Trek. I own four copies of the original six films and three of the next four (different formats, releases, etc.). I own all but Deep Space Nine on DVD or Blu-Ray, and that’s just due to the cost. I’ve seen every episode except for the last two of The Animated Series, and that’s because I want to know that there is still Trek out there I haven’t seen. I own several soundtracks from the shows and films, countless action figures, and ships. Star Trek is incredibly important to who I am, and it helped shape me into the person I grew up to be.

I hope you enjoyed this ranking and please comment below with your own thoughts and your own ranking. Everyone has a different perspective, as Trek tried to teach us, and I’d love to read yours.

May you live long and prosper. \\\///

Make it so.

Ranking All 12 Star Trek Movies

Box Office Numbers: July 17-19, 2015

Not surprisingly, Ant-Man, Marvel Studios’ newest MCU film, won the box office its opening weekend, beating out Minions which saw a nearly 57% drop from it’s first week. Check out the list of the Top 10 highest grossing films from this weekend’s box office below.

Before we dive into the specific numbers, let’s take a deeper dive into Ant-Man. While it did win its opening weekend with an estimated $58.04 million, those numbers pale in comparison to Marvel Studios’ previous hitters. In fact, the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Iron Man, brought in $98.62 million in it’s opening weekend way back in May of 2008. The first Thor made $65.72 million in May of 2011 while Captain America: The First Avenger made $65.06 million in July of the same year. In fact, only one film brought in less during its opening weekend, The Incredible Hulk with $55.41 back in June 2008 and to be fair, we had just seen a Hulk-centric film in 2003. Now, we are only talking about official MCU movies here. Ant-Man did beat out other Marvel films including X-Men, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, Fantastic Four (2005), and Big Hero 6, just to name a few of the more popular movies. What does this mean for the newest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Probably not much. Many expected Ant-Man to fall short of previous Marvel Studios films simply because people don’t know the character as well and we haven’t had an origin story in this universe for a while. We do expect to see Scott Lang join up with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. To see what we thought of the film, check out our review of Ant-Man.

Also breaking into the list with their opening weekend, Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer. She also wrote the film. It’s directed by Judd Apatow. Our limited release film is Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellen.

  1. Ant-Man ($58.04 million in opening weekend across 3,856 theaters)
  2. Minions ($50.2 million in second weekend, totaling $216.69 million)
  3. Trainwreck ($30.2 million in opening weekend across 3,158 theaters)
  4. Inside Out ($11.66 million in fifth weekend, totaling $306.36 million)
  5. Jurassic World ($11.4 million in sixth weekend, totaling $611.17 million)
  6. Terminator: Genisys ($5.4 million in third weekend, totaling $80.64 million)
  7. Magic Mike XXL ($4.5 million in third weekend, totaling $58.64 million)
  8. The Gallows ($4 million in second weekend, totaling $18 million)
  9. Ted 2 ($2.7 million in fourth weekend, totaling $77.457 million)
  10. Mr. Holmes ($2.489 million in opening weekend, limited release across 363 theaters)

Did you catch a movie over the weekend? What are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen? Comment below!

Box Office Numbers: July 17-19, 2015

Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt – Review

Today’s review check outs a fantastic Indie game from Image & Form studios out of Sweden. Image & Form has been around since 1997, consists of 14 people, and have put together a great game here. Now, I’ll be covering Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt from the Nintendo 3DS XL perspective, though the title is also available via Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, 2DS, and Wii U consoles, PlatStation 4 and Vita. Yeah, that’s a lot of platforms. In fact, you can purchase a cross-platform, DRM free version on their website for $9.99.

Steam World Dig - RustySo what is Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt? Well, to use the developers’ own words, it “is a hardcore platform mining adventure game”. That really is the best way to describe it in a single sentence. In this game, you play as Rusty, a steambot. You’ve inherited an old mine from your uncle who’s been missing for some time. The plot of the game follows you as you mine deeper into the depths of the dirt. Along the way, you uncover minerals that can be sold on the surface for equipment upgrades. This quite literally, steampunk style game brings a ton of uniqueness to the equipment you can use. While upgrading your pickax is an option, you’ll have access to teleporters, explosives, shielding and drills. As the digging level gets deeper, you’ll uncover special areas where strange, fantastical items can be obtained. These items provide new, intense ways to smash the harder rocks deep in the dirt, like a drilling arm or steam powered fists. It’s not all smash and grab down below. As you dig deeper, dangerous and powerful enemies await, ready to attack and protect the secrets of the underground.

Steam World Dig - TumbletonWhat I love about this game is that it is not a money grab in any sense. As I noted earlier, it can purchased for $9.99. All in-game item purchases are done by selling the minerals collected during digging and no real money is ever used. That’s right, you buy the game and everything is in the game, no outside purchases. In the world of free-to-play and micro-transactions, this is a relaxing relief.

Let’s meet some of the characters of Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt. First, there’s Rusty, the player you control. In the town above you can sell your minerals to a lovely female steambot named Dorothy. Her father, Cranky, is nearby ready to sell you basic items, health, and upgrades throughout the game. Later, you’ll be introduced to Biff. He’s a competing equipment dealer with some more advanced (and expensive) items. There’s a few other characters you’ll meet along the way, but I want to save a few surprises.

Steam World Dig - Oldworld

Steam World Dig - DorothyThe mechanics of the game are complex but surprisingly user friendly and easy to pick up. There are a few metrics that are very important. First and most obvious is health. Rusty has a health bar and it can be increased as the game progresses. Healing can be done on the surface with Cranky or by getting health from killing enemies. Later, a water meter will be added. Some of the more advanced abilities require steam power and therefore, water. Things like the steam jump, drill, and steam punch all require water for power. Water can be found underground in patches. Enemies will sometimes provide some when killing as well. Then there’s the light. Since the vast majority of the game is played underground, the sun doesn’t help out much. There are some lights planted in the depths of the planet but additional lights can be placed by you and purchased from Cranky. On top of that, Rusty has some light of his own. This light diminishes while underground and is replenished immediately after returning to the surface. How long the light lasts can also be increased throughout the game. With that said, don’t forget about the teleporters. Early on in the game, these will be discovered. One sits on the surface near the mine entrance. Additional units can be purchased from Cranky and they can be placed underground. This allows Rusty to jump back and forth from the mine to the surface instantly. Trust me, this will become very important. You’re going to end up very deep. In the two times I’ve played through the game, I hit 400 meters after just 3 hours of play. You do not want to hike all the way back up on foot every time you need to sell minerals or regain light and health.

Steam World Dig - Laser DodgingSelling minerals is a cornerstone for this game. Certain rock blocks contain minerals that can be easily seen. In fact, you can see a few of them in the “Old World” screenshot above. Some minerals are worth more than others and the deeper Rusty gets, the more the minerals found are worth. Rusty has a pouch that he uses to carry minerals. This pouch is limited in size, though larger ones can be purchased from Cranky during the game. Once the pouch is full, it’s in your best interest to return to the surface and sell them to Dorothy for the in-game currency.

Steam World Dig - CrankyAs I noted at the beginning of this review, I am playing Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt on the Nintendo 3DS XL. The two screen experience is perfect for this game. The top screen, which is 3D enabled provides a brilliant universe to play in with depth, color and incredible detail for a handheld game. I’ve played with the 3D on and off and honestly, either way is great. If you’re a big fan of the 3D experience then you’ll gain a slick sense of depth but if you aren’t a fan, you won’t be missing out on much. The second screen, which is touch enabled, provides access to in-store items, and, most importantly, your digging map when underground. I can’t imagine playing this game with just a single screen. It truly feels like it was made for the 3DS/3DS XL/2DS market.

Overall, this game is just a ton of fun. Its unique steampunk style is exciting, new, and just plain interesting to watch. The characters are fun and entertaining, while the story continues to expand. At the beginning of the game, Rusty is a simple miner looking for his uncle but just a couple hours in, a new world is being uncovered. This world isn’t exactly new. In fact, you might find it surprisingly familiar. I’m not going to give any more away here, but what I began to find deep in the dirt is not what I was expecting.

If you like platform games, steampunk, and the 3DS two-screen experience, Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt is the game for you. But don’t forget it is available on Steam and PS4\Vita. The game is even available via Gog.com and Humble Bundle.

Fans of this game will be happy to know that another SteamWorld universe title is set to come out this year, SteamWorld Heist. The new title takes place in the same universe but it’s a space adventure set to release for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Vita, Xbox One, and Steam Fall 2015.

For more information on this title and their developers check them out here:

Steam World Dig Games

Image & Form Games

*Please note that the game play screenshots are based on the Steam version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Have you played this game before? Are you looking forward to the new one? What are you excited about? Let us know in the comments.

Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt – Review

Axanar – The Future of Trek

“Space… the final frontier…”

I’ve been watching Star Trek in one form or another since I was six months old. Seriously, I’m not kidding. It all began with The Next Generation, it coming out six months after my birth. My father and I watched as much as possible, TV and film. As I got older I read countless non-canon books and played every PC game I could get my hands on. I love the franchise. I love the future Roddenberry saw for the human species, the hope, the possibilities. In 2005, hope started to diminish with the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. For the first time since August of 1987, there was no new Star Trek on TV. After almost 20 years, then there was nothing. It wasn’t until 2009 that J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot attempted to salvage the historic franchise with their reboot\sequel\prequel\alternate timeline film… but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Instead, I’m here to talk to you about Axanar.

The term “fan film” has some negative connotation. People see it as some friends in their basement with a camcorder and some store bought costumes. Axanar is far from this. Instead, Axanar brings us not just professionals in acting, special effects, and more… but Star Trek veterans. The film, set before the time of Kirk but after Archer, stars Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Enterprise, Zorro), Gary Graham (Star Trek: Enterprise, Alien Nation, Robot Jox), Kate Vernon (Star Trek: Voyager, Malcom X, Pretty in Pink), Tony Todd (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Rock, Platoon), and Alec Peters (Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II). The director, Robert Meyer Burnett has helmed several Star Trek documentaries including Free Enterprise and Reunification: 25 Years After Star Trek – The Next Generation.

Last year, they put together Prelude to Axanar, a short film that leads up to the feature film. It is simply fantastic Trek. It’s done in a documentary style format with limited cast but it gets the job done very well.

Axanar_AresD7

So what is Axanar? Well, the film is set to cover the turning point of the Four Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The Klingons were more focused on war, battle, weapons. Their ships were bigger, faster, and better armed. The Federation was beaten badly for a long time until they made a change, the creation of a new vessel designed specifically for battle, the Ares. This film takes place before the legendary Constitution class ships existed and the Klingon Empire was about to launch their iconic D7 heavy cruisers.

Would you like to know more?

Still not sure if Axanar is worth the hype? Check out the Prelude to Axanar in full below.

Still here? Good. Now, Axanar is a “fan film” in the sense that it is not officially licensed by CBS. Instead, they rely on outside funding and they have done this through crowd funding. The Prelude was their first effort. Then they moved to Kickstarter for the initial funds for the feature film. Now, they are back to push forward. Check out their Indiegogo here. Contributing not only gets you cool swag like patches, soundtracks, blu-rays, scripts, etc. but it also helps keep Star Trek at its roots and bring us all an era of Trek we’ve never seen, one that shaped the Original Series and was born out of the wake of Enterprise.

I’ve contributed to all three campaigns because these people are fighting to bring every fan what we love and what we deserve, classic Trek.

What are your thoughts on Prelude to Axanar? How do you feel about crowdfunding Trek? Comment below!

Axanar – The Future of Trek

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata Dies

I am going to keep this brief. Nintendo has announced that their CEO and employee since the 1980’s, Satoru Iwata has died at the age of 55. He had health issues recently but many, myself included, hoped he had recovered.

I am a Nintendo fan boy. Always have been. I love what they do and what their style stands for. Iwata saw the company through some amazingly good and bad times, everything from the GameBoy, DS, and GameCube through the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. He also brought us the Nintendo Direct videos, which I used to write about in my old weekly column “Nintendo World”.

Whether you are a fan boy like me or not, Nintendo helped shape the video game revolution and Iwata was there. The industry will surely miss him as will the fans of Nintendo’s legendary franchises.

Rest in peace, Satoru.

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata Dies