Latest Star Trek installment abandons all hope of interesting writing
There was a time when the Star Trek phenomenon teased the potential of being more than starships and Klingon theatrics. There was a time that hinted it could use space opera to take the edge off Big Ideas and carve out in popular culture an arena for challenging techno-parables.
Unfortunately, that time has passed. What was once vital is now stone-cold dead.
Now it’s the Star Trek franchise, as the suits at Paramount Studios have privately called it for years. Finally, with Star Trek: Nemesis, the creative team seems to have thrown in with that cynical corporate mentality.
On with the autopsy. While many have eaten crow on pronouncements of Star Trek‘s death over the years, it seems “death” was a slight mislabel. Nemesis is a vampire: It moves, it talks, but it’s inert and lifeless inside.
The film starts out with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and company at the wedding of two longtime Enterprise crewmates, then shifts into grim territory (for the characters and audience) when the ship is ordered to the center of the evil Romulan Empire to conduct peace negotiations. Along the way, they find a long-lost brother (uh, yes) of the fan favorite android Data (Brent Spiner). It’s the series’ second long-lost brother of Data. Also, they get in a car chase—and thereby slide into one of the few clichés of filmmaking Trek‘s been able to dodge until now.
Once in the heart of evil, the crew discovers its adversary is a clone of Picard and has become a cruel warrior to mirror the federation’s peaceful favorite son. While this has the potential of sparking an old-fashioned Trek examination of societal dilemmas (nature vs. nurture, cloning), it’s dropped for tired laser fights.
With almost 700 hours of Trek in existence now, any new entry echoes not one or two previous episodes, but 10 or 20. No matter how many new movies come, the days of seeing “new” Trek are gone. And this estimation is from one who might be called a lapsed Trekker.