Short Animated Film Find: Burn Out

Burn Out

  • Director, writer, animator: Cécile Carre
  • Published: 2017 online and at multiple short film festivals

Synopsis: S​tella,​ ​a​ ​space​ ​mechanician,​ ​has​ ​broken​ ​down​ ​and​ ​ended​ ​on​ ​a​ ​desert​ ​planet.​ ​While​ ​she​ ​is​ ​in​ ​despair,​ ​a​ ​little​ ​girl appears​ ​out​ ​of​ ​nowhere.​ ​Following​ ​the​ ​child​ ​into​ ​a​ ​tunnel,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​depths​ ​of​ ​the​ ​planet,​ ​she​ ​discovers​ ​a​ ​big​ ​cave​ ​full​ ​of objects​ ​that​ ​belonged​ ​to​ ​her,​ ​reminding​ ​her​ ​the​ ​dreams​ ​she​ ​has​ ​left​ ​behind.

Personal Thoughts:

This full film is short, but says much on the current human condition, how many of us feel deep inside yearning for more. We feel trapped, bound to duty, ever-dreaming, never-quite reaching. There is a struggle that I feel in our protagonists dilemma. But, then a child’s voice brings us forward.

We figure it out, an imagination in the story and from the storyteller, clueing us on the real dilemma. Not the need to fix a spaceship but to fix the pilot and get back on real course. The one she dreamed of as a child, and eventually gave up on. The curiosity, imagination, and drive to return to that childlike wonder and push to something better, is what brings our pilot back to the stars. But not so much to work, but to something new and daring.

“I am afraid to give up my dreams when I grow up”.

That’s a great line, for those who indulge in their desire to explore, travel, see new sights should push that priority above simple mundane duties of getting by. I love the message here.

I also love the animation. Very fluid character movement with an awesome use of space, colors, shapes, taking us viewers away for about 4 minutes, and then beyond for what our memory captures. I love every second. The music also fits.

Director, animator Cécile Carre’s artistic style inspires and amazes. She has art prints you can buy at www.inprnt.com/gallery/carrececile. Check them out!

Fan Film Find: Neon Genesis Evangelion in Five Minutes, from Mega64

Neon Genesis Evangelion In 5 Minutes

Published: December 21, 2020 by Mega64 on Youtube

Synopsis: The complete anime of Neon Genesis Evangelion done in more than 5 minutes (about 10), in live action but very low budget, abridged comedic fashion by the wonderful Mega54 crew!

Personal Thoughts (from Captain Orion):

I’m a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion since its VHS release. Though there are many deep philosophical insights and discussions on the original anime and manga out there, it’s still something that gives plenty of room to not be taken too seriously. Neon Genesis Evangelion is may things – a visual masterpiece, a game changer for mech and giant robot genre of its time, an emotional roller coaster with complex characters and development. It’s also silly and absurd at times. The gang at Mega64, who I am also a huge fan has brought about the more fun side of Evangelion perfectly in this brilliantly done love letter to its fandom. Tons of in-jokes poking fun at its strange plot devices, weird foreshadowing, and melodrama. I also love the low budget, yet inventive and practical practical effects, costumes, sets. Just awesome, and perfect entertainment for at least 5 (10 minutes) of my time.

Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo set for a new animated Netflix adventure

Legendary cartoonist Stan Sakai’s longtime comic books epic adventure , Usagi Yojimbo, is coming to Netflix as an adapted new animated series. French TV company Gaumont has already begun production on what will be a CG-animated kid series titled: Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles.

This series will be very different from the Edo Japanese era, setting forth a fresh foundation for our samurai rabbit. Described “is a series takes place in the far future, set in a world that mixes modern high-tech images with classic Japanese references. It follows the teenage Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, descendent of the great warrior Miyamoto Usagi, on his epic quest to become a true samurai. But he isn’t alone! He leads a ragtag team of misfit heroes – including a roguish bounty hunter, a cunning ninja, an acrobatic pickpocket and a faithful pet lizard – as he battles depth-charging moles, metal-tipped winged bats, and monsters from another dimension, all in the pursuit to become the best samurai Usagi!”

The will have the original Usagi creator, writer, artist, Stan Sakai on board as the Executive Producer, along with Gaumont (Executive Producers Nicolas Atlan, Terry Kalagian, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee), Dark Horse Entertainment (Executive Producers Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg and Chris Tongue), and Atomic Monster (Executive Producers, James Wan, Michael Clear and Rob Hackett). Candie and Doug Langdale (Maya and the Three, The Book of Life, Puss in Boots, Niko and the Sword of Life, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness) are attached as executive producers and showrunners. Ben Jones (Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans, Iron Giant) is Supervising Producer while Khang Le (Big Hero 6, Little Big Awesome) will serve as Art Director on the series. Mumbai-based 88 Pictures (Trollhunters, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Fast & Furious Spy Racers) has been appointed as the CGI animation studio.

The comic series meanwhile is well-known to the comics industry for nearly four decades with many awards including including a Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Award. It’s still has an enormous fandom, with creator-owned roots that began alongside the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the mid-1980s, for which Usagi has also crossed over with in both the TMNT comics and animated series episodes.

Stan Sakai, legendary creator, writer and illustrator of the comic-book series speaks optimically of the new series in a recent press release, “It is a pleasure working with Gaumont and Netflix. I am involved in each step of the production and am enthusiastic with the direction we are going into. It is wonderful to expand the Usagi universe by collaborating with so many talented people. I am working with an awesome team and I’m looking forward to finally seeing an Usagi series on the screen! I thank my wonderful fans, friends and family for their support and encouragement over the last 35+ years.”

No release date has been set for the new Netflix series.

Editor Captain’s note: Personally, I am excited for this, though I would rather a more classic hand-drawn style than a CGI look. We shall wait for some visual previews, and hope it’s creative style matches the storytelling and direction that takes Usagi as something with more heart and care, than just being a sword-wielding cartoon rabbit.

Short Film Find: Laws of the Universe

Laws of the Universe

  • Director: Chris Mangano
  • Writer: Adam Aresty
  • Published: June 25, 2020 as a short film exclusive from DUST

Synopsis: An inmate is trapped in his prison cell after an extraordinary circumstance happens beyond his prison walls. With outside forces threatening the ones he loves, he will do anything it takes to escape.

Personal Thoughts:

A most interesting story about a young man serving his time, but looking to make a change, biding his time for the future, excepting his isolation in the meantime. But, he doesn’t seem to be a cold-blooded killer, and has a kind heart with humane prospects, as we see though aspects of his room decor and phone conversations. He killed someone, but for reasons that suggest his own sense of justice, but he lives with the guilt in a system that judged him.

But a much bigger story in the outside world changes the conditions of his small room within, by too much. I love the contrast of those outside his micro prison, seemed to be affected less. He is forgotten, and you see his agony through a low deprivation of food, electricity, contact.

But he sees on chance for a way out, though someone who seems to care less for his plight, but with the means for an escape. He goes for his one chance through alien tech, and its gratifying when he takes advantage. The tech at the same time, is a tool of a different system, granting him that much needed extra chance. But to get that, he uses the one thing he does have to his advantage, and that’s the fear he conveys as an imprisoned Black male. That works very well.

What happens is the important resolution of this story, just be his freedom, and that’s enough. But, I also like how he holds on to the alien tech, as a sense of newfound responsibility, likely will put it better use than the former user, who I think probably stole it. Still, there’s much potential for more story with this odd new tech. Many problems can be solves, and created with this.

I love the acting, done very well by the star, Sidney Lawrence Brown, Jr. The use of light, angles, spacing with much of the film being restricted to a very small. And, then the refreshing contrast at the end, to a beautiful, very open world where the alien ship places little less.

A look back to the prequel past of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I love my Star Wars, especially in the hands and hearts of creative storytellers.

That’s why I am psyched for the new Star Wars: Clone Wars episodes, with Season 7 coming through on the Disney+ streaming service soon. Also, Dave Filoni, the original show-runner, is taking lead again. Finally, a proper send-off (I hope) to the original Cartoon Network series I felt never got its full respect of the Star Wars overall community, as the best representation and mood of the prequel era. The movies only set the stage, while the Clone Wars TV show was truly the grand epic space opera that George Lucas originally set fort in 1977.

The reasons I believe are obvious after going through the entirety of the TV series, though the art style took some getting used to for the visual part of the appreciation. The stories were a beautiful mix of character development of new and established characters, new legends built, old ones resurfaced, and an overall world-building that made the best sense of the vague references spoken by Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in Episode IV. Multiple award nominations including won Daytime Emmys, top ratings for its time slots, and heavy merchandise sales were further testament to its greatness.

The Clone Wars series focused on the destined paths of unique soldiers, space wizards, mercenaries, political figures; all with a mix of humor, drama, action, and sometimes unexpected philosophy and expansive thinking not often associated with the Star Wars brand.

In my excitement, I would like to share my favorite stories (usually multi-part episode arcs), through its overall progression.

Season 1 – Episode 5

“Rookies

An all around great episode that humanizes the clone warriors, where we see some individual human qualities to Cody, Rex, Fives, and others we get to know not just as soldiers, but as brothers. There is more humanization to these clones, as we can tell them apart from here and beyond. This episode truly brings out what makes this series great and standing well beyond its story progression onto Star Wars: Rebels.

Season 2 – Episode 20-22

Death Trap, R2 Come Home, Lethal Trackdown

A great story where we really get to know the bounty hunter Boba Fett as a great standalone character, as still young but fresh with dedication for revenge against the Jedi master who killed his father, Mace Windu. There’s a great mix of great action, many rogues, and pretty much everything that is fun about Clone Wars. I grew up thinking Boba Fett, was a cool space ninja dude. But, never could figure exactly why from just looking at the movies. He was just there with just enough of a presence to feel there was more to him. Episode II gave gave a little more background, but not enough.

This arc, delivered plenty on the cult character. We learn he was a young character coming to terms with the loss of his father, seeking vengeance, then eventually a meaningful path to himself, perhaps making his father proud eventually, but still selfish to those around him. This story arc sets his path well.

Season 3 – Episode 15-17

Overlords, Altar of Mortis, Ghosts of Mortis

Now this, is a powerful story that delves deep into the mystical side of Star Wars, and the nature of the force. What balance means, and the complexity of the Dark and Light side. This story deals with the Anakin, Ashoka, Obi-Wan drawn to a mysterious place where we meet a family trio of powerful force entities. The Daughter represents the Light, The Son represents the Dark, and the Father represents balance between the two. Anakin is given a difficult choice, and an unsettling vision of the future of what he will become, leaving a dilemma for the Family of Mortis to deal with.

The progression centers to Anakin as the central character in the movies, conflicted and doomed. His relationship to his apprentice becomes more important for the Clone Wars, leading the audience to care and share in his eventual fate, foretold here.

Season 4 – Episodes 7-10

Darkness on Umbara, The General, Plan of Dissent, Carnage of Krell

Wow, this story arch really blows me away. It’s a mix of Apocalypse Now (with the original Walter Murch as the story director) in a galaxy far, far away with twist and turns leading to an epic conclusion.

Even before we get to the main story, there is an amazing CG sequence of war and grit, mixed with classic and modern science fiction organic and mechanical imagery.

Then, we meet the general for the protagonist side, General Krell. He’s a tough Jedi, but then a psychotic murderer. His soldiers eventually must deal with him, an deadly nail-biting showdown. Everything about this arc is epic and truly badass, with an ending that leaves much for the audience to think about.

Season 4 – Episodes 19-22, Season 5 – episode 1

Massacre, Bounty, Brothers. Revenge, Revival

A huge story line revolving around Jedi Padawan turned bounty hunter Asajj Ventress, whose tragedy upon her people sends her on a quest for revenge. There is great development, but the story switches focus to a new character, Savage Opress who ends up on a journey of his own as he finds the remains of his brother Darth Maul, long thought dead in Episode I. He lives, as his brother gives him new life and purpose, making the galaxy a more interesting, and deadlier place. also, the new voice for Darth Maul by Sam Witwer brings a new emotional depth and dark tragic melody to the known Sith.

Season 5 – Episodes 2-5

A War on Two Fronts, Front Runners, The Soft Wars

A great story about intervention in a planet’s dispute and involvement with the Separatists, that is given restraint by the Republic and Jedi Order. Here we meet Saw Guerra, a revolutionary rebel later taking part in the Star Wars: Rogue One movie. His background and this story arc challenges both the viewers and our protagonists that not everything is simply good and evil, as there are moral dilemmas to ponder and sides to take for the Jedi and The Republic, in a conflict that becomes personal for Ahsoka. A tragic twist at the end, builds much towards Saw Guerra’s character, that made his later appearances more meaningful and interesting.

Season 5 – Episodes 6-9

The Gathering, A Test of Strength. Bound for Rescue, A Necessary Bond

A very different perspective to the Jedi Order than the usual conflict melodrama. Here’s its more about what makes a Jedi as a new generation of younglings take center-stage, where Ahsoka takes on a more teacher role. Her maturity feels like it reached full circle here, in a mentor role we will see more of in Rebels. Lots of bonding, but also a building melancholy when thinking about the tragic fates of this next generation.

Season 5, Episodes 14-16

Eminence, Shades of Reason, Shades of Reason, The Lawless

A great continuation of the journey of Darth Maul, as a great complex character with feelings and motivations of his own, reaching beyond the Sith agenda now. This crosses over into the world of Mandalore, with gives more background on the designs of Boba Fett’s armor, and the culture it represents. We also peek more into a potential love interest for Obi-Wan, Duchess Satine. There’s also the Darksaber weapon passed around, which just looks crazy awesome whenever used. The story moves toward more tragedy for both Obi-Wan and Darth Maul, as they both suffer personal losses, leaving them more intertwined than ever.

Season 5 – Episodes 17-20

Sabotage, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Jedi. The Wrong Jedi

The story arc for Clone Wars as a whole to end on, before season 6 brings us to more self-contained side stories. This arc starts off as a murder mystery, but delves deeper into conspiracy and false accusations. In the heart of this, is Ahsoka Tano, who must prove her innocence. The story progression is an awesome mix of twists, action, drama, and revelations that lead for a shocking turning point for Anakin’s apprentice. This will need the most follow-up for Season 7, which I hope connects well to her later appearance in Rebels.

Season 6 – Episodes 1-4

The Unknown, Conspiracy, Fugitive, Orders

Hands down, my favorite Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series story. It’s also very standalone, with enough basis and knowledge of what happens when soldier Fives finds out that he is programmed as a murderous tool for a vast conspiracy well-hidden from him. A concern and paranoia sends him on a revealing journey, to the heart and beginning of his clone production. He, and the audience learn more about Order 66, and to what ends is its purpose. Of course, we know the answer…but seeing it through Fives view and determination is gut-wrenching, exciting, then tragic. Clone Wars has a lot of well-written tragedy.

Season 6: Episode 11-13

Voices, Destiny, Sacrifice

A story that takes the Force to greater mystery with its complexity and mysticism…which sets at ease that it’s all more than midiclorians. The setting for all this is incredible, with a mix of beautiful and haunting visuals. Liam Neeson returns as the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn, whose character journey reaches a far more proper and dignified end. We also have a more humbled Yoda on a quest to learn more, with still much to understand about the Force, This is where the Clone Wars ends, for then but not now.

That’s overall my impressions of Clone Wars, summarized on what and where I found it best. I would like to revisit its series and impact as a while, as I look forward to its completion as the best of what makes Star Wars great.

Short Film Find: Contact: An Animation About Connection in Space

Contact – An Animation About Connection in Space

  • Director, Designer, Animator: Katy Wang (www.katywang.co.uk)
  • Writer: Gabriel de Bruin (Gabriel Greenough) and Katy Wang
  • Sound and music producer: Ambrose Yu
  • Published: Kingston University/Kingston School of Art 2017
  • NOTE: Originally a graduation project by Katy Wang, now featured in on a few video streaming pages

Synopsis: Stranded on a distant planet, a lonely astronaut sends out a signal in search of human contact.

Personal Thoughts:

Beautiful presentation, especially with the visuals and sound design. Also, I think there is a deeper meaning about loneliness, feeling lost, trying to connect in space where we many of us might as well be on Mars. We use our computers and online connections to reach out, hopefully eventually a stranger from some other world, and then connect. Then, even in the vastness of space, we feel that connection of finding each other. And that’s the best kind of contact!

Short Film Find: Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

  • Director: Jason Satterlund (JasonSatterlund.com
  • Writer: Rob Harmon
  • Producer: James McLean & Jamie Costa
  • Published: Dec 24, 2019
  • NOTE: This is a fan film with no official affiliation to Lucasfilm/Disney.

Synopsis: Set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV, a New Hope, an old Jedi Knight resides on the desert planet of Tatooine. His final duty, watch over, protect a special young boy, from a distance in secret. Agents of the sinister Galactic Empire arrive, to impose their presence and scout the area. What follows, is a danger for the New Hope, perhaps forcing the Knight to reveal himself.

Personal Thoughts:

Hello there!”

I’m a sucker for anything with the Star Wars label on it. All of it stems from my love of the original movies, and then the immense amount of world-building done via the expanded universe entertainments, then the Prequel trilogy movies…which I have a love/hate relationship too. I would have almost grown tired of it since the overhyped newer movies, if not for the wonderful books, games, TV series spinoffs (huge shout out to the Clone Wars, and Rebels animated series).

But the fan films, and dedication by fans to tell Star Wars stories in their own special way, has kept the spirit of the Rebellion alive. It’s the homegrown nature of it all, that I love and feel open to surprises. Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan Film fits with that tradition, making another memorable piece of many since the days of Troops and Dark Redemption.

Actor Jamie Costa as Kenobi, surprises with a performance that have Sire Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor nod in appreciation. There shows his stoic character with gained wisdom, resorting to non-violence until the tense last minute, where he carefully weighs the stakes. The Empire, as represented here continues to show the true villainy of a fascist, oppressive regime (though a little of it feels cartoonish). There also shows the relationship between Obi-Wan and the Lars…strained and conflicted on the life of Luke, and also well-acted. All resulting in action, and tension, and that when added to the relationship of characters, is what Star Wars is half about.

The other half is cool mechanical and creature/alien designs, and related details not quote shown in Kenobi. For the elements in Kenobi, and the totalness that is the Star Wars universe is shown well with the Disney+ hit, The Mandalorian (which to me comes off as another great fan film with each episode, if I didn’t know any better).

I enjoyed this Kenobi film, especially for its pacing and build. The film directors and writers of the recent films could learn by watching this film and others, where dedication and love for the franchise could inspire better overall construction. This is a pleasant reminder, that the Force of the galaxy is strongest, with its fans.

Short Film Find: Untogethered by Ryan Chatfield

Untogethered

  • Director, Writer: Ryan Chatfield
  • Producer: Amy Rockman
  • Published: Jan 17, 2019 via the DUST Youtube channel

Synopsis: “A hacker named Quinn infiltrates a cult, who are slowly killing off its members, in order to save her estranged sister, Harper. Untogethered is a sci-fi/action/drama about a hacker named Quinn who seeks to rescue her terminally ill sister, Harper, who is deeply involved cult named Sacred Paradise, who claim to grant their who claim to grant their members access to the mythical paradise called Evila. Quinn infiltrates the cult and ventures into a virtual reality world to find her sister. With difficulty, Quinn convinces Harper to follow her as they traverse the fantasy world while being chased down by virtual security and the cult leader, Mother, in order to find their way back to reality.”

Personal Thoughts:

I love little stories of the extent of total immersion technology could take us, which are usually never good. So, they become weird cautionary tales, but sometimes saved by a hero like Kevin Flynn, James Murdoch, or Neo.

Which brings to mind this short, which could have taken an entire movie length, but shortened to some decent action and key plot points towards a somewhat satisfiable end for the protagonists. I like the production for its use of VFX, colors, and music. But, I felt it could use a little more story. But that would take more time, and away from the “short.” Perhaps, I was thinking more than I should here…

While watching, I ponder on how far will technology giants in the future go in promoting immersive tech, towards the control of consumers into these special “cults.” Some video games are starting on this now but not quite VR. Take the game Fortnite, for example. It’s initially a free game that takes users into this paradise of fun, expansive usability, leading them to want more and sacrifice piles of earned money in the real world for “V-Bucks”, into more involvement of the artificial life. Fortnite has made for than 2.4 billion US dollars in 2018. The collected hours of its many users, from both the time earned into purchasing the V-Bucks and the game itself, can be put into many lifetimes now.

Or maybe, this is just a short and cheesy sci-fi film warning us of nothing.

SW Movie Recommends: PROSPECT, a recent indie sci-fi film gem

PROSPECT

Directors and Writers: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Producers: Depth of Field, Ground Control, BRON Studios, Shep Films
Theatrical Release: November 2nd, 2018
Star actors: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal
Time: 98 min Rated: R
Official site: http://www.prospectthefilm.com

Synopsis:

A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.

Personal Findings:

(No big spoilers, promise)

I recently saw Prospect at my local movie theatre through a very limited release. I dived in knowing nothing about it, other good feedback and some guy from Game of Thrones is in it. I was craving fresh science fiction not based on any franchise, game, book, or whatever.  I saw the poster, a little bit of the trailer, admired the environment suits, and that’s it (after convincing a dear friend of mine to come along).

After watching, this entire work felt very different for reasons I couldn’t initially put my finger on. It can’t be the story, for it’s not very original with a mix of elements of Enemy Mine, True Grit, The Road…all movies I like. But, there are new world-building elements that feel fresh or at least underutilized in other modern science fiction movies. A main new take is on a gold-rush style mining business for weird sponge things on other planets. The details are not spoon-fed for exposition, so the viewer needs to work out the groundwork along the way, which can be natural yet leaves room for a little mystery. Such is not a requirement to enjoy the film, because the center-story is what really matters.

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That narrows down to the relationship a young teenage girl in relation to her father and his business partner, which leads to some deadly high-tension developments. I don’t want to spoil what happens. After all, this is a recommendation.  But the focus is on a survival predicament leading a dangerous quest, and more danger till the very end. Some of it might feel predictable, but the drama throughout is well-played, with heavy tension and development throughout.

The big surprise is how excellent the production, editing, and presentation feels. The technology and elements of the sci-fi feel old school reminiscent of the late 70s, early 80s; with much care to the handmade designs of the props, costumes, and equipment. There’s no holograms, touchscreens, CGI, or other modern gimmicks placed in. All are mostly homegrown practical design and effects. The detail on such is awesome, with much care and thought put forth by the director and production staff.

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Also, the cinematography is well-done. Lots of shots and transitions taking care in the framing and positioning of people, actions, settings. Some practical effects are simple, working well to establish toxic landscapes, atmosphere spacecraft transitions, moments of weapon dueling that fits well for this gritty sci-fi tale. The setting (Olympia National Forest in the US state of Washington) is also well-utilized, feeling lush and almost otherworldly; untouched and quiet as barely habitable alien planets should be.

The sound is kept subtle but raised only at the most necessary tense moment. The breathing, stepping, creaking, all add to its tension.

2018-12-11

Overall, Prospect is a great movie that is both acclaimed yet underappreciated for 2018. If you have a chance to see it in theaters, go for it. If not, it will eventually be available for home release and in-demand/steaming sometime in 2019. Then see it!

Reflecting on Star Trek: The Next Generation, 30th Anniversary…

Enterprise-D

30 years ago on this day, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered with its two-part pilot episode, “Encounter At Farpoint.” And ever since, the show has had a profound effect on my journey through life.

I was lucky enough to catch it on its premiere night, not quite as eager in the beginning. But something drew me, being a mixed cast of characters on a big starship, seeking out new life, new civilizations, and boldly going…. On this new starship, the NCC-1701 Enterprise D, held an android seeking humanity in itself, a mighty alien warrior eager for new challenges, a blind engineer expanding his self in science and technological advancement, a ship doctor balancing her work with the challenges of single motherhood, a ship counselor with empathic abilities often not very helpful, a charming first officer, and a captain who seeks the peaceful, diplomatic, humanitarian solutions to every problem.

This would go on for seven years, and four movies. Star Trek: The Next Generation became a show I grew up with, identifying with much of the crew on their journeys and moral dilemmas. To me, the show was about finding self in seeing what’s out there. For the crew and the journey, establishing humanity’s place in the Alpha Quadrant as a member of the Federation; ever-exploring and spreading peace along the way while interacting with new alien species. Each crew member had an ongoing quest to reaffirm their place on the bridge as an individual and team. Through them as inspiration and admiration, I often dealt better with relatable challenges in school, social explorations, and direction in life.

So, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here are my top five favorite episodes in no particular order:

  • Darmok – Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien with a very complex language system. The challenge puts Picard’s communication skills to a great test, with the solution being finding common ground and learning about each other.
  • Q Who – The omnipotent Q throws the Enterprise into a distant uncharted space, where they meet the Borg. The experience is a lesson in humility for humanity, with new and iconic challenges to come.
  • Yesterday’s Enterprise – An awesome episode with much of everything packed in; time travel, an alternate reality, epic ship on ship battles, revealing history connecting the classic series with the new, crew members put in new roles, moral dilemmas, high stakes.
  • Chain of Command Part II – a gut-wrenching episode where Picard is held prisoner and tortured, physically and mentally. The acting between Picard and his Cardassian captor is intense, with an unforgettable ending. How many lights are there?
  • “The Offspring” – Data creates an android daughter for him, in a continual effort to be “human.” This raises dilemmas and challenges on multiple levels, in a new role he must take on as a father and protector. A mix of emotions results with twists and turns, leaving me as a viewer feeling sad in the end for a fictional character whose existence didn’t last.

Overall, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation for what it was to myself, and what it gave to its growing audience – a vision of the future for a possible destiny in the stars, where the exploring and bonding with the universe and ourselves will never stop. With that, I best recall that epic last line of Captain Picard from its very first episode, that still remains a most important marker for us all…