It's dead, Jim. The tenth Star Trek film, along with the execrable Enterprise, the fifth TV series, sadly gives power to the premise that this beloved science-fiction franchise once a showcase for heartfelt allegorical drama that captured the spirit of its times has collapsed into the black hole of its own mythology. After the Romulan Imperial...read more
It's dead, Jim. The tenth Star Trek film, along with the execrable Enterprise, the fifth TV series, sadly gives power to the premise that this beloved science-fiction franchise once a showcase for heartfelt allegorical drama that captured the spirit of its times has collapsed into the black hole of its own mythology. After the Romulan Imperial Senate falls victim to an act of sabotage so obvious it's comical, the action shifts to the wedding reception of Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). The happy couple and the rest of TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation crew depart for Troi's home planet, but make an unexpected stop on a barren planet near the Romulan border, when they pick up a signal from what they later learn is a previously unknown prototype of the android Data (Brent Spiner). When they arrive, however, they find the prototype's body parts scattered and buried across the planet's surface. In an example of the movie's less-than-stellar dialogue, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) notes the dismembered pieces and muses, "This doesn't feel right." Ya think? Back aboard the Enterprise, Picard gets a call from Admiral Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager's Kate Mulgrew, in a cameo) that sends the ship on a diplomatic mission to Romulus, where Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a military leader from Romulus's warlike sister planet, Remus, has staged a coup. As the new praetor, Shinzon assures Picard he wants peace with the Federation and drops the bombshell that he's been cloned from Picard himself. By way of explanation, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) informs the famously bald Picard that the DNA used for cloning could have come from one of his skin cells or "a hair follicle." The observation is as laughable as Shinzon himself, who is Dr. Evil: The sneers, the exaggerated politeness, the flowery language, the nefarious attitude, the leaving a prisoner unattended after disclosing the dastardly plan he's everything AUSTIN POWERS mocks. Plot points such as the threat of a Romulan countercoup and some unexplained telepathic nonsense involving Shinzon's viceroy (Ron Perlman) are raised and dropped, while the heavy-close-up hackwork of director Stuart Baird reveals that the intended primary market for the film is actually home video. Spectacle and special effects have saved equally bad movies in the past, but never one so hackneyed there's virtually no surprise or suspense. And when even the makeup department and the digital post-production crew can't be bothered to erase the rings under Data's theoretically ageless android eyes, there's a tiredness that goes way beyond the mere physical.
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