Boldly Going Pt 10 (Star Trek: Nemesis, 2002)

ST_Nemesis_PosterSo, after the disappointing returns the studio brought in the director of Executive Decision, Stuart Baird, and John Logan, the screen writer of the Time Machine.

The Romulans are in turmoil and during a high level meeting of their government, there is an assassination of the council.  Shinzon is installed as their leader.

Picard and the Enterprise are lured to a remote planet by a unique signal that is emitted by androids like Data.  They discover the pieces of an Android named B-4. Once assembled they try and determine how he got to the planet and his purpose.  It turns out that he has a connection to Shinzon.

When he meets with Picard, it is revealed that he is actually a clone of Picard from an abandoned secret  Romulan project. Shinzon is deteriorating and needs the genetics of Picard to stop it.

To be honest?  This is the film that nearly killed the franchise.  It is a dreary and dark mess.  The characters do not feel like themselves and the attempts at epic game changers just do not feel like they were at all committed. Data’s self sacrifice would probably feel more heavy hearted if there was not already an onscreen replacement. When Troi is literally mind raped, she requests to step down and Picard refuses to allow it, asking her to endure more.

Even scenes that feel like they should be exciting adventures are just lifeless.

Nemesis is a disappointing slog.  True story, I tried to watch this film five different times in the years since it came out and fell asleep until the fifth time.  I recently watched it again. I did manage to stay awake, but boy was it not a good time.

Boldly Going Pt 9 (Star Trek: Insurrection, 1998)

ST_Insurrection_PosterAfter a rousing success with First Contact, Jonathan Frakes returned to the directors chair with Insurrection.

When Data goes haywire as part of an undercover science team observing a small community on a remote planet, the Enterprise is called to investigate.

When they arrive, the peaceful Ba’ku are discovered to be aging very slowly. As they dig deeper, they realize there is a dark conspiracy at play to remove the Ba’Ku so the planet’s unique radiation can be harvested.

Picard and his crew, of course, side with the Ba’ku and work to stop the attempt to forcefully re-home them.

This film seems to be a less popular entry…but honestly? I do not think this is the film is “bad”.

Largely, Star Trek films lean towards a larger and more “epic” adventure. Stories bigger than the TV series would have allowed.  But Insurrection is a pretty small scale story.  And it feels like it easily could have been at home as another episode of the Next Generation.  But this is not a bad thing.

Insurrection is an action film with small level ethical questions.  And it is a lot of fun.  They lean into jokes where the crew all start to feel re-invigorated by the planet…and even find sone ways to make it a bit meaningful (as Geordie’s eyes heal and he is able to watch a sunrise in a way he never has been able to in his life).

There is some nice twists with the villains and F. Murray Abraham rages like a master.

Is this up there with the best of film Trek? No, but it is a solid Star Trek tale that is a lot of fun.

Boldly Going Pt 8 (Star Trek: First Contact, 1996)

ST_First_Contact_PosterFor the Sophomore voyage of the Next Generation crew, they pulled a Wrath of Khan and a Voyage Home.  They reached back to a central villain from the the series, the Borg, and added time travel.

Picard is still haunted by a voice from his time in the Borg Collective. When he senses the Borg are mounting an attack on the Earth, he is surprised to learn that the Federation feels there is too much risk for him to be there and command that the Enterprise patrol the neutral zone.

Picard and the crew decide they cannot sit things out. They arrive to find that the Borg are on the verge of victory, but Picard gives the fleet the orders to hit the right coordinates to destroy the Borg ship.  A small escape ship trails out and the Enterprise follows it, only for it to open a rift in tine and space, they realize as they follow, time is changing around them, the Borg have gone to the past to assimilate a defenseless pre-Federation Earth.

The Borg manage to damage a small community that happens to be the base of operations of the first man to achieve Warp Speed just days before his flight. After the Borg ship is destroyed, the Enterprise crew sets about making sure the flight happens.

But while Riker and his team work to correct history, the Borg managed to get to the Enterprise before their ship was destroyed and Picard must lead the charge against the attempts by the Borg to take over the Enterprise and its crew.

First Contact is highly regarded, and not unjustly.  It is easily one of the best of the entire film series.  The Borg provide a new perspective on Picard and pairing him with Alfre Woodard’s 21st Century Lily (who ends up trapped on the Enterprise) is a perfect choice as she is able to see past his authority and is not afraid to call Picard out in a moment of machismo.

The film mines a lot of humor from Zefram Cochran’s unwillingness to embrace the hero Geordi and Riker expect him to be.

There is a lot going on with themes of heroism, revenge, blinded by one’s perceived righteous anger and fear of the demands others place on you.

The performances, from the regular cast to Alice Krige as the Borg Queen, James Cromwell as Zefram Cochran and the previously mentioned Alfre Woodard are some of the best of the franchise.

The film holds up as a true high water mark for what the Star trek Franchise can be and is easily rewarding for multiple visits.

 

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