Movie Review: The Paradise Makers (2017)

The Enterprise is at an unspecified starbase for a little R&R, and to pick up a few new crewmembers. The character development and backstory comes to a halt when new orders come in. The USS Bowfin, a scout ship, was sent off to do an anthropological survey, and they are well past their reporting deadline. Kirk and crew are dispatched to find out what happened.

The briefing en route fills in the details of the Bowfin’s mission. The planet they went to was pretty much uninhabited, except for a large tropical archipelago. Rather uninteresting, except for some oddities that warranted a closer look.

Looks like it’s pretty much a case of Mutiny on the Bowfin. But if that’s all there is, we wouldn’t have much of a story, would we.

Star Trek has given rise to a veritable plethora of fan films. A well-established universe to work with, readily available costumes and props, relatively inexpensive video equipment, and a passionate fan base have all contributed. The results range in quality from “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” to properly written and screenplayed for TV episodes with production values high enough to attract real actors, including some that actually appeared in the original series!

The Paradise Makers is another Trek fan film, but this one is animated. Probably saves money on production costs. The animation is satisfactory; the only bad scene is one where Kirk is running. It looks silly. The voice acting is good; most of the cast does a fine job of impersonation. The only flaw, and it’s a minor one, is that Nancy Lamb (the voice of Dr. Xiang Li) seems to have trouble keeping her accent straight. Music and sound effects are, er, “borrowed” from the original series.

As far as the story goes, it’s a basic case of fixing a violation of the Prime Directive. That Directive is supposed to prevent the Federation from interfering in the normal development of a society. It’s become something of a joke, given how often Kirk et al. violate it at whim. It likely applies to more than just Starfleet, though. As we see here, it would be far too easy for someone to play “The Man Who Would be King” with a primitive alien society without some ethical framework to help stop that.

With regards to Starfleet’s attitude, I suppose that it’s a matter of the society’s level of development. With primitive societies, you can pass yourself off as gods, or their messengers. Or, as Kirk does here, travelers from a very distant land. As long as you can fit yourself into their world view, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. For advanced societies, those with knowledge of at least interplanetary travel, you’re probably not going to cause too much of a fuss when you tell them you’re from another world. They ought to be at least familiar with the possibility of other inhabited worlds.

It’s the ones in the middle that are the problem. Societies just starting to accept that the lights in the sky are other suns, or taking their first tentative steps into space. It’s a matter of culture shock. What would it do to that society to suddenly be told that their world is really insignificant, or that all their dreams have already been achieved by others, and here they are? “These pills will take care of all your diseases. Put one of these devices in each town and village, and you’ll never have to worry about power again. Oh, and by the way, don’t waste any more time and money on your space program….”

You have to be very careful with those societies….

One other thing that this movie brought to mind, and since I am still on my soapbox….

Ever notice how in all these supposedly ancient and forgotten temples that everything is in perfect working order? The “Indiana Jones” movies are a prime example. Lost temples, covered by the jungle, and every single trap and snare is in perfect working order! Who resets them? Who keeps them from rotting away? Who keeps the rats and roaches out? In a science fiction setting, you could have tiny maintenance robots scuttling around, sure. How about showing them once in a while?

Anyway, The Paradise Makers is a decent fan film, and a nice contribution to the Star Trek universe.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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