I want to talk about this for one simple reason. I am curious if everyone has heard of and/or seen this. If so, what did you think?  I am talking about:
 
What is this exactly? So glad you asked! Of Gods and Men is a three-part fan mini-series which is not officially part of canon. It was produced in 2006 but did not see release until 2007-2008 online. It was intended as a 40th anniversary gift from Star Trek actors to their fans. It contains many cast members for the various series and movies, and was directed by Tim Russ of Star Trek-Voyager fame.

 

Cast
Before I discuss the story, let me tell you was in this from the previous series :

 

Classic Star Trek : Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney

 

Next Generation : Alan Ruck (as John Harriman from Generations, it sucks no one from Next Gen is in this!)

 

Deep Space Nine : J.G. Hertzler, Chase Masterson, Cirroc Lofton

 

Voyager : Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, Ethan Phillips

 

Enterprise : Gary Graham (Ambassador Soval) and CrystalAllen (who appeared in one episode)

 

Also two cast members from the Star Trek-New Voyages web series (which, yes, I have seen) which is also where the sets came from.  There were a couple other cameos but I will get to them. The scenes set at the planet were shot at Vasquez Rocks in California, where many episodes of the series had been shot.

The Premise

 

So let’s discuss the story (and problems therein). It was presented in three parts, so I will break it down the same way. Oh, and yes there will be spoilers!!!

 

Part 1

The story takes place 12 years after Kirk died in Star Trek Generations and Scotty disappeared (as we are told in the TNG episode Relics).The story opens on a lonely outpost where a data clerk is suddenly attacked by a mysterious man with peculiar psychic powers. He is asking about Captain Kirk,who has died much to the man’s chagrin. Cut to The Enterprise-M. The M stands for museum, which is what this ship is. It resembles Kirk’s old ship and along for the dedication is Uhura, Chekov, and Captain Harriman. Suddenly a distress call (isn’t that always the way?) brings the three to the planet of the Guardian of Forever, where the man from the start reveals himself to be Charlie Evans (from the classic Charlie X episode). By the way, is the Enterprise-M amuseum or a working starship?  Charlie then jumps into the gateway, and history is altered! Suddenly the universe is governed by the evil Galactic Order, a militaristic organization similar to theTerran Empire from the mirror universe, but also including Klingons, Romulans and Orions in their ranks. The pleasant Harriman is now a brutal murderer and the Enterprise (actually the Conqueror) has become a ship of war.  Wait, I thought if you were on the Guardian’s planet you were spared any alterations in the tine line? The vessel captures several renegades including Chekov and a man named Ragnar. Here Chekov is not the happy go lucky character we know, but a rebel fighting for his freedom. On the planet Vulcan, Uhura is married to Stonn (from Amok Time) and has children and a whole family. She is discussing things with her young friend Tuvok when suddenly the Conqueror appears. As the planet is evacuated, Uhura and Tuvok are taken prisoner. Harriman then proceeds to unleash the Galactic Order’s new ultimate weapon and destroy Vulcan! And you thought JJ Abrams did it first.

 

 

Part 2

Through a mind med with Tuvok, Uhura recovers some of her memories from the previous time line. How? Yeah, this is never really explained. Uhura convinces Chekov (or Kittrick as he is called here) to help them escape and hijack the ship so they can restore the proper time line.Chekov wants to kill Harriman but Uhura insists they need him alive since he was part of the original landing party when time was altered (yeah, this makes no sense and becomes unimportant later on). The three do arrive at the planet of the Guardian where on the surface they encounter Charlie, now saddened by his actions. How come Charlie is unaffected by the altered time line, if Kirk never lived his destiny would have changed? Anyway, Charlie has realized his mistake in removing Kirk from the time line,and restores the memories for Uhura, Chekov, and Harriman while they also retain the memories of the new time line (what? How? He didn’t change their personalities or use mind control, he ALTERED HISTORY!).  The three try to convince Charlie to restore the proper time line. Before they can act, they are beamed back to the vessel and readied for execution as traitors.

 

 
Part 3

 

Uhura recognizes the real villain in this time line when he appears on a viewscreen, Gary Mitchell (from the second pilot of TOS). In this time line since there was no Kirk. Mitchell  was not killed, instead his powers grew until he became a tyrant who took over the Federation. The three are saved from the execution by Ragnar, who is a shape shifter. After a long, and I mean long, space battle between Chekov’s men and Mitchell’s, Harriman and Chekov get to the Bridge and take it over. Uhura goes back to the planet, where Mitchell follows and then tortures her. Charlie appears to defend her, and Mitchell uses Janice Rand to distract Charlie before striking him.  How didGary Mitchell have any idea Janice would be a distraction for Charlie? Mitchell then returns to his ship to unleash the ultimate weapon that will destroy the planet and the attacking vessels. How does this weapon work? How was it built? Never explained!  So basically a group of rebels attack the leader of the evil Galactic Order, Mitchell, who has god like powers before he can use a super weapon able to annihilate entire planets…….funny, I swear I have seen something like this before??????

 

Harriman and Chekov set their damaged ship on a collision course with Mitchell’s. As Mitchell is destroyed Charlie passes through the Guardian again, to set things right. Charlie goes back to the very beginning of the film, and stops himself at the outpost where the whole thing started. We then flash back to the planet of the Guardian where Uhura, Chekov, and Harriman are back to normal (hold it, if Charlie stopped himself from doing anything how did they get there? Did this happen or not??) but Uhura still remembers the other time line (how? No idea). Then we end a year later on the planet Vulcan where Uhura is getting married to…Stonn? Um, why?  I get that she remembers being married to him in the other time line so she realizes she wants a family, but this still doesn’t make a lot of sense. This may have worked if they had established how and why she fell in love with him, in fact he looks utterly baffled (and yes if you are wondering it is the original actor who played Stonn in Amok Time as well as the actress who played T’Pring, so part of this is plain old fan service). But the real question is how does she remember that other timeline???? Nevertheless it’s a sweet ending as Uhura, Chekov, and Harriman toast 40 years of excitement and action-obviously a reference to the legacy of the series. Then Janice gives Chekov a neutered tribble as a promotion gift…..Uh, yeah. I think I’m done.
 
The Characters

 

Hate to say it but many of the characters in this are so one dimensional. You forget Rangor is even in it until he pops up, and the Klingon serves no purpose other than to be the angry Klingon; he’s even killed off so easily. Some of the characters stand out, like Chase Masterson’s Orion slave girl, Garret Wang’s Commander Garan, and of course the three of Uhura, Chekov, and Harriman.

 

What about the villains? Charlie is really good; it makesperfect sense for him to want revenge if you ever saw the original episode. Too bad it’s not the same actor but I can live with that. On the other hand, what happened while he was held for 40 years? Why does he regret changing the timeline? Why does he blame Kirk for something which was all his own fault? Yeah, a little more character development would have been nice.
As for Gary Mitchell, this was so badly done. He just comes off as a stock over the top bad guy. I mean, if Uhura never told us it was Gary Mitchell would anyone have known?, and we just don’t care what happens to him because we know that once time is restored it won’t matter. It feels like they were desperate for a twist, but this one sucked. Why wasn’t Charlie the main bad guy who took over the Federation? This would have worked! Then just have Chekov and Harriman fighting Charlie in the present while Uhura goes into the gatewayand stops him from changing history in the past-that would have been freaking cool, and wouldn’t have changed much at all!  Maybe they were going for something more original, but they were already basically doing “Mirror Mirror” so why stop there? It would have been cooler than the Gary Mitchel vs Charlie Evans comflict no on ever wanted to see.
Ethan Phillips was the data clerk and he did ok, but why give Cirroc Lofton such a nothing role as Uhura’s son? Tim Russ’s Tuvok is sort of the deux ex machina of the story, only here to get the plot going by making Uhua and Chekov realize the problem and how to solve it, and I didn’t mind him.They also really wasted Grace Lee Whitney, considering how much Charlie cared for Janice I would have expected her role to consist of more than staring at Charlie for five seconds. HOW ABOUT SOME DIALOGUIE!!! It’s like they knew a little about the classic episode but not enough to really reference it.
Opinion

 

So, plot holes aside, what did I think? As a fan made movie it isn’t so bad. But one huge problem is with the special effects. I realize that this wasn’t a major motion picture, but the effects on this are still really lackluster.  The space battle is so boring because the special effects make it feel like a video game, and we don’t have any faces to go with the destroyed ships so it’s all meaningless. In fact through most of it I wasn’t even sure who I was supposed to be routing for.
Once you get past that it does have some really good ideas, just not fleshed out enough. I wish they had explored the stuff about a Kirk-less universe more rather than have an endless space battle with a stock villain. So much potential wasted. The story is really good but gets dragged down by scenes that run to long and forced dialogue. There is a moral in there and it does do what Star Trek always did best, explore the human condition. I glossed over some other stuff like the story arc involving Chekov wanting revenge on Harriman after Harriman slaughtered his whole family. I wish this had been developed more because this is where the meat of the story is.Harriman realizes through the movie that just blindly following orders can have consequences and he has to deal with the horrible things he has done, he even states that it’s so easy to just fire photon torpedoes because you don’t see the victims. So not a bad story but a very underdeveloped one. It is weak, built on strange coincidence after strange coincidence.The fact that Uhura, Chekov, and Harriman were together in the two time lines is a bit of a stretch.
I did love the many references to the classic series episodes Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, Amok Time, City on the Edge of Forever, and even Trouble with Tribbles. Also the captain of the Enterprise-M is Kirk’s nephew from the episode “Operation Annihalate”. I just wish there had been a little more Next Generationin here aside from Harriman.
 
Recommendation

 

Despite my griping, if you’re a Star Trek fan this is a MUST SEE. Now you may be asking, why? If it borders on amateurish, has a story that is full of holes and the special effects look like they were made on a Commodore 64, what’s the appeal? I noted that it was said this was made as a gift fromthe Star Trek actors to the fans. And man, does that show!  You can tell the actors worked their tails offon this. That is what makes this so good, and absolutely worth a watch. Nothing was phoned in here. Even Chase Masterson who has a minor role as an Orion slavegirl manages to become a memorable character I really enjoyed.Yeah the characters are all not strong but the performances are.
But my favorite thing about this film is that in many ways, this is Uhura’s story. No wonder Nichelle Nichols chose to do it, at long last Uhura gets the center of focus and is in on the action! I LOVED Uhura in the classic series so this is a fan dream come true. We find out in the opening that she is captain, and head of Starfleet Linguistics.  It is nice to see her character get a nice send off in what will undoubtedly be the last time we will see her.  In the new tine line Uhura is on Vulcan, we are told she and Spock got some refugees there, and she ended up with a family. She opens the film saying that she was missing something in her life, and apparently this was it. But again, why Stonn?  It’s just not well developed!
And I mean no offense to Walter Keonig who also acted his tail off in this. He really does a great job playing a totally different Chekov then we are used to, but still staying within the character.  Finally, I gave Alan Ruck some grief in my last article but his Hillerman is stronger here and redeems himself. Too bad this film is not in canon…it should be!
The directing wasn’t bad; Tim Russ did a decent job. Though he did tend to let scenes and shot drag on a bit to long.  I would have expected better writing from a guy who worked on DS9 but maybe it wasn’this entire fault. This project did suffer from budget and time constraints. The people who worked on this are now working on Star Trek Renegades, another online film which looks like it could be different and the creators are hoping it will launch into a new TV series. One can dream.
So, not terrible but there’s no question this film could have benefited from a little more polish. Even as a fan made movie Of Gods and Men has problems and I will say that To Boldly Flee is better in almost everyway. But if you’ve never seen it and you are a Star Trek fan then I say check it out!

 

If you have seen it, what did you think?

By richb

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