A Review of
Star Trek: Aurora

by Fred Dixon

Star Trek: Aurora is an animated movie set just after the original Star Trek series in "a lawless sector of space." The eponymous Aurora itself is a small merchanter cargo ship. The crew consists entirely of two people: her shapely captain, Kara Carpenter, and her taut Vulcan first mate, T'Ling. Tim Vining, the show’s producer/director/writer, was fascinated with the civilians that Captain Kirk and crew came across. He wondered where they came from and how they came to get there. That’s the inspiration for Aurora, and as a result, we have a fresh approach to Star Trek.

I found the animation of Kara Carpenter to be intriguing. It appears most of the work is concentrated on her. Vining has made this character quite physically attractive (like if Russ Meyer or the guys who did Heavy Metal made Star Trek). T’Ling recalls T’Pol from Enterprise complete with a form-fitting cat suit. T'Ling is not quite as successfully realized as Kara, but is well done. The movement of some of the animated figures echoes Jar-Jar Binks; they sort of shuffle along. The design of the Aurora is consistent with standard Federation starships with two warp nacelles, a saucer section and a lower hull. Voiceover work is good, especially Jeannette Vining’s. She does both Kara and T’Ling.

Spoilers Below

The first two parts consisted of exposition. Part I sets up Kara’s origin. Her family was in the merchant marine as she is now. They were killed when she was a child by an attack from a Romulan Bird of Prey. Part II reveals that Kara survived alone on the crippled freighter by cannibalism. If darkness is what you want, then darkness is what you get here. I’m afraid to ask what may have brought T’Ling to the Aurora. We are bound to find out in the later parts.

Part III is a rather impressive display of animation. The characters are life-like. Kara is especially comely (in her pj’s no less). I still think the voiceover work is great. The Aurora has taken a job. Kara beat out a former flame on the work because she figured out how to navigate through a nebula and beat out the competition. Ill advisedly, a ship follows her into the nebula. The Aurora is an older ship with radiation shielding. The newer ship’s shields fail in the nebula, and they are forced to dump their warp core because of a breach. The resulting explosion overtakes the Aurora, and Kara winds up on a starship --- looking at herself on a transporter pad.

The first section of Part IV finds Kara aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown, but not in her universe and there is an alternate Kara Carpenter. She is surprised that her counterpart’s life has diverged from her own. David Ault has a nice turn as science officer Trang. Tim Vining’s technique has improved yet again. The alternate universe storyline is a bit tried and true, but the new set of characters and situations are keeping it fresh.

The second half of Part IV maintains the enhanced qualities of the previous parts. It sets up nicely the concluding Part V. Kara decides to take advantage of her doppelganger status in the alternate universe and is attempting to visit her long deceased family. One wonders at this point if Thomas Wolfe was right: "You can't go home again." (Note: Tim changed the Yorktown uniform insignia from the familiar Enterprise swoop to a three corner design. It stylizes the three cornered hat from colonial times. This shows thoughtfulness to concept and responsiveness to viewer feedback.)

In the last part, Kara knocks out the alternate Kara and goes AWOL from the Yorktown to see her family. She is shocked to learn that her counterpart is estranged from her family as well as the rest of her relationships, Starfleet included. She learns from it. Kara has been afforded what she may have become save for the tragedy that hit her family in her universe. The Yorktown eventually catches up to her, and they help send her back home.

As I was viewing the fifth and final part, I started to feel that I had seen this all before – An Alternate Universe – the original show, TNG, Enterprise and especially DS9. Then I considered the storyline again. The alternate universe Kara had fallen out with her family and just about everyone else. The Kara of our universe was left to guess what may have come; however, she loved and missed her family and was in desperate need of closure. Could it be that the two Kara’s wound up in the same spot? They were both without their families, one by choice and one by fate. Our Kara got her second chance and could finally move on with her life. How many of us wish for the same thing?

I give high marks to this production. Different characters, engaging voice talent, a good story to tell, and top notch animation.

This project has been underway since 2006 when the first installment was released. Now here it is November of 2011 and the show is complete. Now that is dedication. Tim, do you have another show in you?

You find it all at www.auroratrek.com. (Tim is also kind enough to include helpful hints on how to do animated work.)

Again, the efforts of fanfilm producers are appreciated. The hard work and the love of Trek are evident. The different points of view are, well, fascinating…

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