Directed by Stuart Baird
Screenplay by John Logan
Story by John Logan & Rick Berman & Brent Spiner
Yet again, the makers of Star Trek have pretended to offer us a movie when instead we’ve been presented with another two-hour episode. They have obviously given up on trying to appeal to an audience outside of the Sci-fi convention attendees (referred to hereafter as “Conners”). And this is too bad because Star Trek’s strengths were in its storytelling. It used to reflect society and give us morality plays that all could identify with, but now they no longer can, no longer try or no longer care to go outside of what they think the Conners want to see when they finally crawl out of their parents’ garages, so we are left with this mess.
The movie starts at a Romulan High Council meeting where everyone not in league with our villain is killed, allowing a new force to move in and take over. For some reason the Romulan populace either never notices the coup, does nothing about it or else they’ve all been placed in some sort of Phantom Zone because we don’t see or hear from them, which is odd for a warrior race such as this to allow a coup to go unchallenged, but it starts off as a nice hook for the movie, so it doesn’t have to make sense. The coup is a result of beings from the planet Remus, Romulus’ twin. These creatures live on the dark side of the planet, which is supposed to explain why they all look like Nosefartu. It also helps to remind us that they are bad. And their leader is Shinzon whose big secret will be revealed soon…
Then the movie comes to a screeching halt as we attend the wedding of Riker and Troi. I used the watch ST: Next Generation in the middle years, but fell off towards the end. Anyway, maybe I’m completely out of the loop, which I’m sure I am, but I thought Worf and Troi were an item, so I’m confused about how Riker got back in the picture. Anyway, we get little cameos of Wesley Crusher and Guinan that all the true Conners already knew about from their subscription to Star Trek Communicator magazine. This would be a great time for the average viewer to run to the bathroom or get some refreshments.
At the wedding we get one of the many examples of what’s wrong with having a cast this large. Data’s gift to the happy couple is his rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” Now, I get that writers are lazy so everyone in the future has an interest in 20th Century Earth, but can someone explain how Worf, whose other big scene was about having a hangover from Romulan ale, knows who Irving Berlin is? I am baffled by the need to always have the entire cast do glorified cameos. The producers should feel free to cut some of the dead weight. I know the actors like the paychecks, but is the Dr. Crusher fan club really so overwhelming of a force that she needs screen time to appease the masses storming the Paramount gates? And not to be rude, but Crusher and Troi are no longer the hotties they used be; they look like mothers. Shouldn’t some new women have transferred to the ship by now to be the sex symbols? Please.
The plot gets moving again when the Enterprise discovers a planet that has something on it with energy signatures similar to Data. The ship races out there so Picard (don’t worry we get the Riker “You can’t lead an away team” speech), Data and Worf can race around on a dune buggy finding pieces of an earlier model Data named “B4,” which some producer’s daughter must have thought was cute, but it seems odd because it suggests that the builder knew there would be later models of this robot. Maybe he had gone forward in time and discovered that a future version of himself built later models of Data. Then there is a ridiculous Road Warrior chase scene that ends with the dune buggy making a leap off a cliff into a waiting shuttle that Data maneuvers from the buggy. More than one person in my theatre groaned, “Yeah, right.”
The Enterprise is then called to Romulus to meet the new leader of the Romulans because that’s what the Romulans requested and Starfleet has yet to smell a trap, so off our crew go. When the crew beams down, Shinzon goes out of his way to frequently hint but never says that he’s (get ready) a clone of Picard. It turns out some earlier Romulan Government was going to use the clone to take down the Federation or something. I’m not clear how because it’s never explained. However, a new government came into power, squashed the plans, and sent the clone to die on the Planet Remus. Why he wasn’t killed immediately is never explained, but obviously those government officials hadn’t heard about Oedipus Rex, Snow White or Krzilak Entropus of Rigel VIII. I waited to hear how the Romulans got Picard’s DNA in the first place, but this plot point like many others was never explained.
The movie then becomes like ST II: The Wrath of Khan and Shinzon hunts down Picard because Shinzon’s molecular structure is accelerated and breaking down and he needs Picard to replenish himself somehow. B4 is a plant and actually under the control of Shinzon, so he assists in the security breaches, which lead to the usual ship-to-ship captures and escapes that we’ve grown accustomed to.
There is one positive note: the battle scenes are very well done and are the best parts of the movie. It’s just a shame that you don’t care what happens by the time they occur. My favorite part is seeing the Enterprise crash into Shinzon’s ship and you see Remans running through the hangar trying to get away.
For the climax Picard goes over to Shinzon’s ship with a phaser rifle in his effort to be more Kirkesque. He shoots things up pretty good, kills Shinzon and just when he’s about to sacrifice himself to save the universe again, Data appears. He leapt from ship to ship in another of the good action sequences and one of the few smart ideas any of the characters has. Data sends Picard back to the Enterprise with a little transporter device and sacrifices himself by destroying the weapon. I guess this would seem heroic under normal circumstances, but Brent Spiner can still play B4 so what did we lose. Data will now go back to the way he appeared in the show’s first season, asking questions like a three-year-old when someone uses a metaphor. I felt cheated and again it echoed of ST II.
My recommendation would be to stumble upon this movie about an hour in to it because all the things you felt you missed you wouldn’t know the film missed as well, so you can enjoy it more. They say it’s the crew’s final mission, but I can’t imagine a ST: Deep Space Nine movie so when they sell enough toys and gadgets, hopefully they can try it again. I’m glad they brought in some fresh talent behind the scenes, but maybe they can get an accomplished screenwriter or storyteller. I know Josh Logan won an Oscar, but all he did was rip off Braveheart to make Gladiator, although that would explain why this movie felt like a retread. The true nemesis of Star Trek is Producer Rick Berman and the executives at Paramount.