Fan Film, Fan Films

Review: Batman Vs. Star Trek

Batman/StarTrekThe most memorable scene in Stand By Me, at least for me, is the one where the kids argue as to who would win in a fight: Superman or Mighty Mouse? We’ve all had that kind of conversation at some point or another. Once you get a bit older, the questions change to “Ginger or Mary Ann” (Mary Ann) or “Wilma or Betty” (Betty) or “Bass Vs. Guinness” (Bass). Probably there’s some geezers out there arguing about “Matlock or Ironsides” (Rockford Files) and I’m sure that my 2-year-old daughter would be very into “Little People or Jack’s Big Music Show“…if she could speak in full sentences, that is.

In Logansport, IN, I can only presume that Christopher Allen and Michael Yheulon got into a similar conversation about 1960s TV shows—specifically Batman or Star Trek—and it was enough to make Allen take the story they developed and turn it into the sprawling, 51-minute, three-part fan film…er, episode appropriately titled Star Trek Vs. Batman.

On the surface, before you even see a second of the show, it just seems like a bad idea. People take Trek very seriously, and others take The Dark Knight pretty seriously, too, but folks take the old ’60s Batman series about as seriously as the show’s producers did—which is to say, not at all. Mixing the two together, then, would seem to be a recipe for disaster—a guarantee that the flick would annoy or even offend most fans while satisfying virtually no one.

Director/Producer/Writer Allen and his crew, to their credit, went ahead with the idea anyway and the results, if not consistently good, are never bad or boring and are always interesting—all of which still puts it ahead of most fan productions. The most curious thing the show does is that it inverts the unwritten rule of fan films—that is, ‘All fan films must pretend as much as possible to be a “real” film.’ By that way of thinking, the higher quality the props or special effects, the “better” the production, even if the acting or story isn’t up to snuff. Allen’s production, however, has good costumes, great props (the Batmobile!), respectable Trek sets, varied acting and a surprisingly decent script—and yet, it gleefully rolls around in its own absurdity. It knows it’s a fan film, and it has no other agenda than to be a goofy “what if?”

STVB2Part One is simple enough: After the Enterprise accidentally winds up in the 20th Century, Kirk and Spock beam down to Gotham City for no particular reason at all. They’re immediately captured by the Joker and Catwoman, and soon after, have their brains stolen, reducing them to zombies with but one thought: Kill Batman and Robin. Part Two finds everyone involved back aboard the Enterprise, saving the day but not before some serious damage gets done to the infamous time/space continuum. In Part Three, the heroes…nah, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Would this make for a so-so episode of Trek? Sure. A great episode of Batman? Double sure. The odd thing is that while it’s done in the Batman style, complete with narrator, the spinning Bat Logo interstitials, and the requisite Bams, Pows and Ooofs during fights, the main characters are definitely the Trek crew. Batman and Robin are practically guest stars on their own show.

The acting tends to sell the flick. Joshua Ramsey as Kirk nails Shatner’s inflections without lapsing into a cheap stand-up comedian parody, Victoria Florio’s Catwoman is on target, and Gavin Rulon is a scene-stealer with his wildly over-the-top Joker; whether his take on the character is a send-up of Caesar Romero’s portrayal in the original series, or just a sincere attempt to be nuts, it just works. As proof, in a scene from Part Two, Sulu (Apollo Bacala) desperately tries not to crack up laughing while the Joker cackles away in the Captain’s Chair; his expression is priceless. Truthfully, even the actors whose abilities leave something to be desired have at least a few moments where they hit the mark. Likewise, the camerawork never fails to at least capture the scene and frequently achieves more. The characters’ lines, too, usually sound like something they’d say, barring a few clinkers from Spock while trapped in Part One.

All in all, Star Trek Vs. Batman is as good as one could hope for, given the outlandish concept. So long as you’re not going to get all purist on it, BVST is a fairly amusing way to see the Caped Crusader go where no (Bat)man has gone before.

Star Trek Vs. Batman

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