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Tag Archive: The Final Frontier


Few actors have had the opportunity to explore as many diverse characters as David Warner.  As genre actor, Warner is frequently the choice for leading man villain roles, for his long face and ominous stature, but it is his powerful voice and slithery and sneering yet refined inflections that cause his words to echo years after you hear them.  He’s played classic roles like Henry VI and Hamlet and King Lear and even Bob Cratchit, he played a villain in the big budget movie Titanic and yet also narrated a Winnie the Pooh movie.  He’s performed opposite Vanessa Redgrave, Gregory Peck, Jason Robards, and Anthony Quinn, and also opposite Steve Martin and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And since his debut in 1963 he has guest-starred in a variety of series ranging from Remington Steele and Hart to Hart to the Father Dowling Mysteries and Tales from the Crypt, to Murder She Wrote and The Outer Limits.  In 50 years he has portrayed upwards of 200+ characters in as many productions.

But we love him best for his sci-fi, fantasy, superhero and costume adventure roles.  Take a look at the various major franchises where Warner has left his mark:

TOM JONES (1963).  In David Warner’s screen debut he played the conniving Blifil, out to destroy the wily an dashing Tom, played by Albert Finney, and win over Tom’s love interest, played by Susannah York.  From the very beginning we can see the kinds of roles Warner would be cast in.  As an 18th century squire’s son, Warner performed according to period style and manner, yet subtley dastardly and ungentlemanly.

THE OMEN (1976).  Warner played Keith Jennings, an unfortunate photo-journalist who becomes one of Damien’s victims, one of many roles for Warner as part of the horror genre.

TIME AFTER TIME (1979).  In director Nicholas Meyer’s critically acclaimed re-imagining of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, Warner plays gentleman John Leslie Stevenson opposite Malcolm McDowell’s author and inventor H.G. Wells.  Or is he such a gentleman?  As the most loathsome and recounted villain in history, Warner’s take on Jack the Ripper as 19th century murderer-turned-time traveller let loose in modern times is picture perfect.

TIME BANDITS (1981).  As the all powerful epitome of evil genius, the Evil Genius, in the silly Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, Warner plays it completely straight, giving gravity to his performance and legitimacy to the entire film.

TRON (1982).  For a subset of kids who were 10 to 12 years old in 1982, David Warner’s Sark was every bit as cool a bad guy as Darth Vader.  Warner played three roles in Tron, Ed Dillinger, executive of ENCOM, Sark, the red master of the soldiers in the computer world of The Grid, and the voice of Sark’s own master, the frightening and lifeless Master Control Program.  Sark’s viciousness and lack of concern for anyone but himself was Warner at his best.

STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989).  In Warner’s first foray into the Star Trek universe Warner proved he could play not only high class evil but also a character who was outright smarmy.  Hypnotized by Laurence Luckinbill’s mystic Vulcan Sybok, Warner’s St. John Talbot represents Starfleet stuck at the arse-end of the universe.

TWIN PEAKS (1991 ).  As the conniving Thomas Eckhardt, Warner managed to carve out a memorable role in the middle of the strangest band of characters ever to hit the TV screen.  Although a lot of his character’s cunning occurred off-screen and in back story, onscreen Warner revealed a sinister affair with his former protegé, Josie Packard, including the assassination of his former business partner, Mister Packard.

STAR TREK VI:  THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991).  In another Nicholas Meyer film and Warner’s second Star Trek work, Warner is stunning as the Abraham Lincoln of the Klingon Empire.  With a new Klingon regal look and flanked by fellow Shakespearean thespian Christopher Plummer as Chang, Warner’s Chancellor Gorkon by all appearances was a typical Klingon warrior, but at a dinner with the crew of the Enterprise we learned that a Klingon could upstage the would-be heroes of the Star Trek universe, making them look like a group of backwoods hicks.  Acting against type, Warner’s martyred leader died trying to bring the Federation and Klingons together, and Warner’s sincerity made us care, and his characterization in turn flipped our view of the Federation upside down.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1992).  Returning to the drippingly sinister, pure evil of Warner’s performances as Jack the Ripper and Sark, Warner’s Cardassian interrogator Gul Madred was the only villain except The Borg to have bested Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in the two-part Next Generation episode “Chain of Command.”  Gul Madred pulls no punches torturing Picard, even after his own people require Picard to be returned to Starfleet.  I see three lights!

LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1994).  Proving that TV audiences would accept David Warner in the same league as Marlon Brando, Warner was able to play Jor-El, Superman’s noble father who was savvy and smart enough to save his son from his planet’s oblivion despite violating the rule of law of Krypton.

BATMAN (Animated) (1992-1995).  In the DC Comics animated universe, Warner voiced the smooth talking terrorist Ra’s Al Ghul for several episodes of the series, locking in his continual casting for genre voice roles.

BABYLON 5 (1995). In Babylon 5, Warner portrayed Aldous Gajic, the brain wiping seeker of the Holy Grail who dies saving a younger character that he sees as a version of his former self.

SPIDER-MAN (Animated) (1995-1997).  Not one of his biggest roles for sure, Warner here was able to add the Marvel Comics franchise and one of Marvel’s greatest foes, Red Skull, to his list of accomplishments.

MEN IN BLACK (Animated) (1997-1999).  Here Warner played Alpha, a rogue Men in Black chief who had previously been Agent K’s friend and mentor.

TOTAL RECALL (TV) (1999).  As leading neurosurgeon Dr. Felix Latham, Latham works for Rekall and again Warner plays an assassinated character.  Or was he a clone?

STAR TREK: KLINGON ACADEMY (Video Game) (2000).  The video game includes some surprisingly good new footage of Warner and Christopher Plummer reprising their roles as Gorkon and Chang.

STAR WARS: FORCE COMMANDER (Video Game) (2000).  It is easy to picture Warner as Grand General Brashin, a viperous Grand Moff Tarkin type in this video game from the Star Wars universe.

HORATIO HORNBLOWER – MUTINY and RETRIBUTION (2001).  Returning to the costume adventure genre where Warner first got started, Warner played Captain James Sawyer in two installments of the brilliant and exciting Horatio Hornblower series from A&E.  Sawyer was the vile and cruel taskmaster of the HMS Renown.

PLANET OF THE APES (2001).  As Helena Bonham Carter’s ape’s white-haired father Senator Sandar, Warner showed that he is nowhere near finished amassing sci-fi film franchises.

DOCTOR WHO: UNBOUND (Audio) (2003 and 2008). Warner played the famous Doctor (an alternate Third Doctor, that is) opposite David Tennant, before Tennant was to play the 10th TV version of The Doctor, in the installment Sympathy for the Devil.  Warner reprised the role five years later in Masters of War.

DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND (Animated) (2009).  Warner played in the world of Doctor Who yet again as Lord Azlok, Lord Knight of the Imperial Viperox War Horde in this animated production.

And to wrap it up, at this link you will find a 10-minute feature involving Dillinger’s character from the original Tron, first appearing on the Tron: Legacy DVD release special features.  It has been suggested that this is a bridge for Warner to reprise his role as Dillinger and Sark in the sequel to Tron: Legacy.

We can only hope!

END OF LINE

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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Whether you are a Star Trek cosplayer or a collector of the real thing, the more information you have the smarter buyer of replica or real props and costumes you can be, and the more accurately you can create replicas from the Star Trek universe.  Yesterday we ran down the best resources for Star Trek information focusing on the various Star Trek TV series.  Today we will cover books that include reference material for the Star Trek feature films.  Some of the information in the general categories overlaps so we will repeat those that apply to movies here.

The eleven Star Trek movies are available on DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, and streaming video, by series and in compilations.

Here are the key websites you need to know about:

  • Memory Alpha – A detailed, currently maintained encyclopedia of all things Star Trek.
  • Trek Core – A great source for screen caps of all series episodes, including some HD versions.

As to reference books, several licensed Star Trek books are available, many still in print, and the following are what I consider the best resources publicly available. I have also provided links to the books at Amazon.com, but your local library can also get these for you.  (Book cover thumbnails are a bit fuzzy since I used direct links to Amazon listings).

Running through the general books from yesterday again that also include information on the Star Trek feature films:

Star Trek – General

Star Trek: The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1997.  If you only have one book about Star Trek behind the scenes, it should be this book.  Full of original paintings, behind the scenes photos, and close-ups of costumes and props, this is the best book available on the Star Trek television shows and feature films.  If you have it you will read it over and over again.  It is only lacking in the fact it was made before Star Trek Generations, so for everything after that you should seek out some of the other suggested books.  Also, you’ll notice on this list the Reeves-Stevens are a great source of all sorts of Trek material.  Highest recommendation.

The Star Trek Encyclopedia, by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 1999.  With two Star Trek insiders like the Okudas writing this reference guide, it’s no wonder this is such a popular book.  Literally the A to Z guide to the Star Trek universe, make sure you get this most recent version that includes all updates.  Unfortunately it has not yet been updated to include the latest films and the Enterprise TV series.  Still, a single source for the obscure and the general in the franchise.  Highly recommended.

Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future, by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 1996.  Another reference by the Okudas, this time aligned in chronological order of the events of the Trek universe, as opposed to the order of production of the series, which is the format of all other Trek reference books.  Handy to see overlap between series and whether the Battle of Wolf 359 comes before or after the destruction of Praxis (in case you get confused on that).

Star Trek The Next Generation: Technical Manual, by Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda, 1991.  An unprecedented look at the science and technology of Star Trek.  The masters of the Trek art production team include here detailed drawings and explanation to support the science behind the stories portrayed in the television series and films.  A must for all Star Trek fans.

Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, by Michael Westmore, Alan Sims et al, 2000. This book provides key views from the main make-up artist and the propmaster for the later Trek series. Lots of close-up photos of alien races and make-up, but a lesser focus on props. Good behind the scenes stories. Highly recommended.

   

Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages and Captains’ Logs Supplemental: The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages-Entire Deep Space Nine & Voyager History, by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, 1996.  Although this episode-by-episode guide has has been replaced for the most part by the TrekCore free website, it’s still worth flipping through to find episodes you may have forgotten about. The first contains the original series, the supplement expands into later episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Star Trek Generations.

And the books that focus on the feature films:

Star Trek Movies

The Making of the Trek Films, 1995, edited by Edward Gross, 1995.  Chock full of detailed insight into the creation of every Star Trek movie from The Motion Picture through Star Trek Generations.  Extensive scuttlebutt on what actors and crew thought of each production, including trials faced, marketing successes and perceived failures.  Surprisingly good resource for being more of an assemblage of data than a cohesive narrative.  Recommended.

Star Trek:  The Motion Picture

The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, by Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, 1980.  Invaluable sourcebook for the decisions behind the creation of the first Star Trek film.  Low on photographs, but good insight into the movemaking process.  Recommended.

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan

The Making of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, by Allan Asherman, 1982.  This book includes several interviews with the actors and creators of the best of the Trek films.  Includes contemporary stories and behind the scenes accounts.  The only book focused on this movie in this detail.  Includes some good behind the scenes photos in black and white.  Recommended.

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek V:  The Final Frontier

Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, by Lisabeth Shatner, 1989.  What you would expect in a book by a daughter about her father.  Manages to document the uphill battle to make what is generally thought of as the least successful of the Star Trek movies.  Gives insight into Shatner’s inexperience with directing and how that translated to film.  For STV fans.

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country

Charting the Undiscovered Country: The Making of Trek VI, by Mark A. Altman, Ron Magid and Edward Gross, 1992.  The smallest of the “making of” books yet it provides good detail of Nimoy’s direction and story influences for one of the best films the franchise has to offer.  Also includes black and white photos of props, each cast photo from prior films, and information about costumes.  Recommended.

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek Generations

Star Trek, the Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, Generations & First Contact, by John Eaves, 1998. Great illustrations and text from the artist behind several Star Trek properties.

See The Making of the Trek Films, 1995 referenced above.

Star Trek:  First Contact

The Making of Star Trek: First Contact, by Lou Anders, 1996. A great resource–lots of photographs of the borg, weapons, sets and cast interviews. Recommended.

See Star Trek, the Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, Generations & First Contact referenced above.

Star Trek:  Insurrection

The Secrets of Star Trek: Insurrection, by Terry J. Erdmann, 1998.  One of the best looks at a Star Trek production, including great tidbits like photos of stunt cast members, art production, close-up of background characters, and costume and prop design.  Nice behind the scenes text and photos.  Highly recommended.

Star Trek:  Nemesis

See The Star Trek The Next Generation Companion: Revised Edition referred to in yesterday’s post.

Star Trek 2009

Star Trek: The Art of the Film, by Mark Cotta Vaz, 2009. Great photos of the art behind the new film, some used and some that didn’t make it to the screen. Good sketches of costumes and details of alien masks and make-up. Nice explanations of the different locations from the movie.

Also, invaluable costume and prop information can be found in the following catalogs:

  • Christie’s December 2006 Auction Catalog
  • Profiles in History 12, 14 , 41, and 44 Auction Catalogs
  • Julien’s 2010 Star Trek Catalog

Happy reading!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com