Now that the new movie is out, it's clear: The Star Trek franchise is dead. At least Patrick Stewart has a career doing one-man Christmas Carols and so forth; the likes of Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis are up a creek. Some fans may disagree, but they're clinging to a marriage long after the romance is gone.
Star Trek: Insurrection
directed by Jonathan Frakes
starring Patrick Stewart
now playing at Meridian, others
Star Trek: Insurrection isn't so much a movie as a collection of campy bits aimed at the most cultish of Trekkies. Data befriends a child and learns to play! Troi gives Riker a shave as they take a bath together! Worf gets a pimple! And on the dramatic side, Picard disobeys the chain of command! He wants to go it alone, but his loyal crew won't let him! Naturally, there's a mature yet beautiful woman for Picard to experience erotic tension with. They literally stop time together, but I can't recall them actually kissing—I guess in the future, lovers stare into each other's eyes for a really, really long time.
These enshrined moments are like stale popcorn strung on a thread of a plot about ugly bad aliens trying to oust sexy good aliens from their home planet. The good aliens live in a quasi-Athenian villa—the type that Gene Roddenberry seemed to think represented the best of humanity. Everyone wears soft earth tones and low-cut bodices. Their clothes are so clean you wait for one shapely earth mother to ask another, "How do you keep little Aftim's tunic so fresh?" as they frolic in the mountains like the family von Trapp.
The village is a big commune, a lot like the one in the "classic" episode where evil flowers sprayed spores in Spock's face, turning him into a damn hippie. Spock eventually snapped out of it, but the Next Generation audience is expected to take this fuzzy anti-technology rhetoric at face value. "When a machine does the work of a man, it takes something away from the man," intones a guy who looks like David Hasselhoff wearing William Shatner's toupee.
Wait, there's more: Not only does everyone work in the fields like grinning idiots, they're also immortal. A radioactive ring around the planet keeps everyone eternally young, except for the children. "The radiation won't affect them until they reach full maturity," a villager conveniently explains. Ah, the mysteries of science.
If the movie weren't so inept, it would be offensive that Picard evokes "our dark past—presumably referring to Nazi concentration camps, the genocide of Native Americans, and the sequestering of Japanese Americans—when defending the right of these white-bread colonists to live in their chosen world. This righteousness rings hollow: No one believes this nonsense, which merely allows Stewart to show his stern handsomeness to its best effect.
Everything about this franchise is getting old—the ideas, the images, the cast. Deep Space Nine has been cancelled, and Voyager is faltering; one can only hope the movies will be put out to pasture as well.