I love Star Trek.
I have been watching it for over 45 years (yeah, I am THAT old!)
I have been there through the good times, the bad times, and now, the current, mediocre times.
While I still watch all current incarnations of Trek, I often ask myself, am I watching out of loyalty or because I actually like it?
I am not certain, it is probably a bit of both, as the resurrection of the Paramount Plus era of Trek has been a frustrating affair thus far.
The original 10 episode run of PICARD's first season certainly falls into this category. It is a show that seems to distain Roddenberry's vision of humanity. It takes pleasure in making every character broken. It seems to wants to be "other" sci-fi franchises rather than be true to what made Star Trek unique and special for nearly 50 years. But perhaps the greatest sin, it is just sloppily written and paced.
While it is a series with many good "moments", it's best parts do not make a good whole.
Which brings us to Wraith's two part movie epic -- ECHOES OF LAMENT and MEANS OF REDEMPTION.
I say immediately and upfront, this two movie fan edit is BETTER than the series.
While I own the series on Blu Ray, the truth is, I will probably never sit down to rewatch EVERY episode again as I find the entire series problematic. Thankfully, Wraith's fan edit offers a nice alternative solution if I ever want to revisit Picard's freshman season.
Gone are most of the more non-Trek moments and awful plotlines. I am most grateful for the excising of the whole Raffie as a drug addict and how Picard and crew treated/enabled her. It is so horrible, it actually makes to despise Jean-Luc. Which is probably not a good ideas since he is supposed to be the hero of the show.
Also, the removal of Seven being a cold blooded murderer -- THANK YOU!!! I mean as a parent, I totally get it. And I think there were other ways a similar resolution could have been reached. But the writer's purposely have a PURE Trek moment where Picard and Seven discuss their humanity, and then in the very next scene they flush it down the toilet.
Unfortunately, due to locked plot points, not all of the illogical elements could be removed in this new version, such as Androids can apparently do Mind Melds (who knew you program Telepathy?) and Noonien Soong had a human son (which NO ONE QUESTIONS).
There are many, many similar and welcomed cuts like this that try to keep the narrative on course and closer to the Trek universe and it's characters that we are familiar with. Also, aiding in the narrative, is the rearranging of many scenes, so the plot unfolds in a more linear style.
There is some AMAZING audio work done throughout both edits, which aid's Wraith in hiding many cuts and with scene transitions. Though there are many moments where one have tell a line of dialogue has been removed by a slight unnatural change in vocal cadence or a cut away reaction shot that does not quite fit the moment. Also, there are some moments where slo-mo is used for transitions, and it does not always work, as it looks a bit stuttery rather than smooth and natural.
While I liked the dark cliffhanger ending of Part One, I thought the sudden cut to Goldsmith's theme for the end credits was too loud and uplifting, completely breaking the tone and mood of that powerful final scene... a mood that should have ominously lingered longer. I think the end titles would have benefited from a darker, more somber closing piece... perhaps the theme from Nemesis or Undiscovered Country?
Also, I felt the entire Artifact storyline (episodes 6-8) was perhaps too truncated and frenetically cut, particularly the action sequences. One of the jarring aspects of the new cut, Seven seems to appear instantaneously when Elnor activates the Fernis transpoder.
Each movie plays over 2.5 hours, and even with all the positive cuts and changes made by Wraith, it still felt like a bit of slog for me, particularly Part One, since it is all set up and the action really does not kick in until Part Two. It makes me think this may have worked better as a trilogy rather than a duology, with three movies of about 100 minutes in length? As one of the issues with the series condensed into this format, it really hammers home some of the very weaker writing and plot elements. This is no fault of the editor, as you can only do so much with this source material.
Again, I do want to stress, I found this better than the original series and I was entertained.
An enjoyable fan edit!
Great edit! I enjoyed the Picard series, kinda. It was long and slow and seemed to have moments that went nowhere, but in between all of that was some good stuff. This edit got rid of all of the bad and kept the good. It was paced well and a good length.
If I had one complaint (this is minor and my preference, so no points were taken off), why not instead of two long-ish movies, how about 4 or 5 episodes?
I very much enjoyed this edit! I watched both parts through entirely today (with a few hours break between the parts).
I will first start with the (few) things to nitpick that came to my mind while watching, and I will end with more positive things :)
In the opening credits "Star Trek the next generation created by Gene Roddenberry" could be changed to "Start Trek created by Gene Roddenberry", since he invented the whole franchise, and not just TNG tv show, but I also get that this is/was a TNG inspired TV show and this would put emphasis on it.
I would have preferred cutting the Romulan woman (of the couple that he lives with) saying to the male Romulan "idiot".
A cut could have been made easily (I hope) after her slapping him and it could have been cut right to "he cannot go at all, he is only safe here" (I don't think this fits here, also it reminds me of women are supposed to make men small nowadays in Hollywood, which I find unnecessary).
I clearly could hear a very small audio glitch at 1:24:09 in part 2 right after they jump into lightspeed on my Bohse noise-canceling headset (which was turned on very loud!). There was another one a bit later, but the second one was not that obvious, so I did not put it in my notes.
I have to say the casting at first seemed a bit off to me, but they all grew on me.
Almost at the end, when Riker was saying that he is the Captain of the USS Shanghai which is the fastest and most powerful ship starship has ever put into service. This line immediately made me think that this was put in to emphasize China as an important market for US entertainment, Maybe this was a coincidence in this specific case, but to me, it was a bit too much on the nose.
I would rather let him say USS enterprise (would be fantastic for nostalgia purposes) or some other ship name (taken from the TV show or one of the old movies) or cut him saying the name of any ship entirely, leaving the audience imagining that this could be hinting towards the Enterprise.
One last thing, I also have to cringe a bit every time in modern movies or TV shows, when the protagonists kiss or are in love in the end or whenever there is a gay/lesbian scene out of nowhere. In this case, I am talking about Rios and Agnes (Dr. Jurati) kissing and Raffi and Seven holding hands. It takes me out of the story because it has literally nothing to do with the story. I was just waiting for Picard to kiss Elnor haha. I do not know how this edit could have been done (probably pretty hard to cut out or trim) but if a romance is not established well in the story, then I do not want a surprise glimpse of a potential romance in the end in a 5-second scene. This goes out to modern movies that shoehorn these things into otherwise good TV shows/movies.
Now to more of the good things, which were more plentiful and weighed way more!
Very good editing (audio and video) and nothing ever showed that changes have been made to the original material, besides the opening and closing, which uses the original Star Trek theme, which would have probably not been used by the original creators.
BUT, I must admit using it made me feel nostalgic, I felt like watching one of the old Star Trek movies with the original cast (Kirk and company), only this time with the TNG cast, which was amazing.
I was lying, it did feel the show was altered in the best possible way. I could almost smell that something bad would come up after the story unfolds better and better and after the story that is being told is making me care for all the characters involved more and more. But it never arrives. So there must have been some heavy (and well) editing done, in order to achieve this!
Also, the music used plays into the entire feeling of the two movies, which was carefully chosen and masterfully inserted.
I definitely enjoyed this edit a lot and recommend it to every Star Trek fan (especially TNG) but also to everyone who enjoys a good science fiction movie (in 2 parts) where the story builds and quite a lot is happening.
As much as fan edits have proven capable of salvaging some projects, sometimes there's only so much you can do with a deeply flawed product. This is unfortunately the case here. Because I did not care about the new cast, which this edit gives us even less time to care about, the 3rd act falls completely flat. To be fair, it also fell flat in the original version, but this makes the problem even more pronounced because the show's undercooked characters feel even more undercooked.
There are also a few minor technical hiccups like a couple burst of static and the audio during a part of the Riker/Troi section was ever-so-slightly out of sync. Nothing too distracting though and this might have been a problem that only I had. Overall, the edit was extremely well put together, It failed for me mostly because the narrative of the show doesn't work. Chipping away, remixing, and rearranging a broken story can only do so much. Sometimes, it just makes it even more broken. Season 2, I imagine, will prove to be completely impossible to re-edit into anything resembling a competent narrative.
However, this was certainly a noble failure and I would recommend it to anyone, like myself, who wanted to give the first season of Picard a rewatch without having to invest quite as much time ;)