A Film Review By Michael Haley
|Rating:PG-13 for light language, space violence, and a scene of sexuality (finally after all these years!!).
Starring: Patrick Stewert, Brent Spiner, Jonathon Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Tom Hardy
Directed By:Stuart Baird
For any of you who read the review of The Hot Chick and wondered what weed I was smoking, I guarantee you that I’m back on beam (transporter beam! Get it? I don’t) for this one. I’ve always had a soft spot for Star Trek: The Next Generation, every since I first saw the “Imaginary Friend” episode when I was ten and got hooked. I’ve since retired the show from regular viewing out of fear of becoming a Trekkie, but a part of me still gets excited to see a Romulan Warbird, Excelsior Class Starship, or seeing Data musing on what it means to be human. If Toons reviewer Trevor was reading this he’d probably say I was a geek and he’d be right, but I can’t help it. Actually I can, but that’s beside the point. Endless rambling aside, is the tenth Star Trek film any good? Yeah, I liked it a lot, although the series is beginning to run out of steam.
This time around, the crew is sent to Romulous, when Starfleet learns that they are interested in discussing peace. They meet an insanely beefed up warship commanded by Shinzon, Picard’s clone. He grew up on Remus and was subjected to a hard knock’s life, and is bent on destroying Earth as a weird way of making up for it (I didn’t quite get the connection, but I guess I must be stupid). Meanwhile, the crew runs across pieces of an android named B-4, which is believed to have been an earlier prototype for Dr. Soone. I’ve already probably angered too many fans with too many spoilers, so I’ll end the review there before I piss any of those guys off, as hell hath no fury like a Trekkie scorned.
The film is basically a prolonged action piece, but works surprisingly well considering how much I hate action movies. There are some stand out sequences involving the saucer of the Enterprise-E, the ship Shinzon commands that also has a perfect cloak, and the opening scene is great in it own macabre way. Although something very serous happens, I couldn’t help but grin at it…almost in the same sense that Tyrell vaporizes himself in Star Trek II. I just can’t help grinning, it’s so macabre. Also, the humor was thankfully kept to a minimum this time around (I’m all for comedy, but Star Trek humor can be downright atrocious) but what little bit was there was kind of amusing. Wesley Crusher’s role was also thankfully cut because come on, no one cares about him. To those who demand on seeing teen heartthrob wantabe Wil Wheaton, he can still be seen in three shots in the opening five minutes. Data’s cat Spot comes back for a moment, and I almost cheered. The climax of the film is a pretty major twist, and I have to admit that I didn’t see it coming. Without giving anything away, I’ll just comment that I stared at the screen for a few moments afterwards thinking, “They just didn’t do that. Please tell me they just didn’t do that.”
The Trek effects have received an upgrade this time around as well. The space fights are shown in three dimensions that allows for some good spaceship fights, and of course fans get Geordi screaming, “Shields down to 50%!!! 10%!!!!” and “Divert all power to impulse!! Even life support!!” You know something’s wrong with me when I’m sitting there and thinking, “EVEN LIFE SUPPORT??? JEAN LUC, YOU’RE INSANE!!”
When I wasn’t thinking about those wonderful elements, though, I kept thinking, “Yeah, it’s entertaining action, but couldn’t they have come up with something a little more thought provoking?” Star Trek has proven in the past that it can produce such material, such as the episode any fan will tell you is the reason to watch the show…the fifth season episode “The Inner Light.” We’ve had a bunch of action movies, so if there is a next Star Trek movie wouldn’t it be nice to take a breather and have a plot with real substance behind it? Also, I didn’t quite understand Shinzon’s character…if he wanted to know more about his humanity, than why set out to blow everything up? Why not take out your anger on the Romulans, who threw you on Remus to being with? Why does he pretend to be interested in learning about his heritage, only to turn around three minutes later and tell Picard that he must die? The fact is no matter how big of a fan of the show you are or how much you liked the movie, there still are quite a few holes in the plot and some ‘splaining that needs to be done.
Also, we are rarely given much on the more interesting elements of the movie…the planets Romulous and Remus (was I the only one as excited with a science nerd with a new Periodic Table of Elements when its revealed that one side of Remus is always facing the sun, and therefore the Remans have to live on the dark side?), the Reman race, what the Romulans are doing at this point in the game and so forth. After the first hour the movie becomes a long show down and none of those questions get answered, which left me a little jaded, although the action was good enough to divert my attention.
This movie isn’t quite as good overall as First Contact, my favorite of the Trek films (the tight story + amazing action scenes balanced equally did it for me there), as the action scenes are great but the story is lacking. Still, there is enough of the Star Trek charm for me to recommend it, although the series needs to set off for a new planet when the next movie starts shooting. Because after all, space is the final frontier where no one has gone before, and it’d be nice to see that spirit return to Star Trek again. In the meantime, go ahead and check this one out. Number one, make it so.