Star Trek movie series


"To boldly go where no one has gone before" isn't said in this movie, and I think that's the the only major thing it is lacking in. From the bottle floating into space crashing onto the Enterprise to the destruction of the saucer section of the Enterprise itself after a major crash landing, the Star Trek: Generations movie is almost perfectly planned and executed.

Brent Spiner is probably one of the most-loved characters in the whole Star Trek TV series and he managed to the steal the show in a subplot that resulted in him gaining emotions. An emotion chip designed to make Data experience human emotions goes a bit out of control and fuses with his positronic brain, resulting in the funniest and charismatic version of Data I've seen to date. I guess you could say he has a magnetic personality. He almost makes up for the absence of the grumpy doctor and the lovable Vulcan.

The movie doesn't do much in terms of closing the gaps between the 23rd and the 24th century generations, however. In The Next Generation episodes, there's hardly any mention of Kirk. The reason for this, as far as I know, is not given in the TV series. There is little clarification in this film except to indicate that Kirk was killed in the line of duty 7 decades before the TNG crew set out. The story is set in the present (i.e., where the TNG crew is at)---the crew have to stop the villain, Soren, who also did a great job of acting, from committing mass genocide, in order to gain eternal bliss. The bliss can be obtained in the fabric of energy that is the Nexus where time is meaningless and where reality can be fabricated to your every whim. The Nexus is also the entity from where the crew of the Enterprise NCC 1701B (which Kirk died on, while saving the ship), pull out a bunch of refugees fleeing from the attacks of the Borg, 78 years ago. One of the refugees happen to be Soren himself, and the other, you guessed it, is Guinan.

Guinan, who experiences the contentment of the Nexus, is satisfied with her present life and desires to not go back, even though she seems to lead a dichotomised existence, living partly in the 24th century and partly in the Nexus. Soren, on the other hand, having lost his family, seeks only to go back to be lost into the endless void. In order to accomplish his task, he uses his intelligence to create an invention that causes the collapse of a star, and he uses this to guide the energy fabric into his path, since attempts to fly directly into the Nexus leads to ships being destroyed.

In the meantime, Kirk, whom history records as dying 78 years ago, has been spending his time chopping wood and jumping ditches in the Nexus. Picard also ends up in the Nexus during his unsuccessful attempt to stop Soren, but with the help of Guinan he gets in touch with Kirk and convinces the latter that it is only a false reality. Together they go back and save the day, but not without casualties.

There is another subplot involving the rebellious Klingon sisters leads to the destruction of both sections of the Enterprise. This probably has one of the best lines in the movie, when Data goes "yes!" Does anyone remember thing that Data sang about the itty-bitty lifeforms? I didn't like the emphasis on the whole "family is important" bit, especially given the collapse of the nuclear family. I also thought Picard crying was funny.

Star Trek is one of the greatest things to come out of this country (the US) and this movie epitomises why. Go see it. You won't regret it.

First Contact

As a trekker, I view the release of a new Star Trek movie with excitement and apprehension. Excitement because I will be seeing one of my favourite sci-fi shows and characters once again on the screen, and apprehension because the movies have always been watered-down versions of the series done to satisfy a greater number of the general populace.

First Contact is one of the best Star Trek movies made, and in terms of effects and detail, it surpasses anything that's seen previously on The Next Generation (TNG). However, in terms of plot, it doesn't compare to some of the better TNG episodes.

The plot is simply a mix of an old sci-fi scenario (the villain travels back in time to alter the course of the future) and the Best of the Both Worlds episodes (instead of Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner) is the one who is assimilated). In this case, the villain is the Borg, a race of cybernetic beings who exist in the form of collectives, and assimilate other races into their own in order to acquire their knowledge and experience, with the ultimate goal of becoming "perfect".

After a short battle at the beginning of the film, where the new ship commanded by Picard and company (Enterprise E) easily defeats the Borg (thanks to the experience Picard gained while he was assimilated), the Borg travel back to the year 2063 where warp travel was invented by Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell). The testing of the warp drive, leaving a signature, was the catalyst for the Vulcans making "first contact" with Earth which led to the United Federation of Planets, and all the other stuff we're so familiar with in the Star Trek series. The Borg plan to stop the test flight so they can, in the future, easily assimilate the inhabitants of Earth without any interference from the Enterprise crew. Needless to stay, the Enterprise crew must stop the Borg before the entire planet is Borgified.

One of the nice things about the episodes is that they usually focused on one character at a time. I personally felt none of the characters in the movie were given enough time to become really dominant. However, some of the characters did manage to shine. Highlights of the movie include some amazing shots of Enterprise E, the exterior and interiors of the Borg ship, some brilliant acting by Stewart, Spiner, and Cromwell, and some great space fights. The humour in the movie maintains the similar high standard seen in previous Star Trek movies and episodes.

I watched the Best of Both Worlds episodes just before I went to see this movie and at the end, I couldn't help but think that the episodes were handled far better than the movie. While it's certainly true that First Contact has a plot line that's followable even by uninitiated, the Borg have many episodes of history to them, and I thought the Borg as a threat was highly diminished. But even at its worst, The Next Generation has been the best Star Trek spinoff from the original series, and it is great to see the characters back on the big screen again.


I have seen every episode of the original Star Trek series and the various spin-offs (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager). I even own a couple of Star Trek pins. When I was eight or so, I snipped the ends of my eyebrows and extended them in an arched shape with a black marker and pretended to be Spock, which freaked my mom. That is about the extent of my obsession with Trek, which I don't think is excessive, but indicates I do enjoy the concept and the series. So going into the ninth film, Star Trek: Insurrection, I knew I'd enjoy it quite a bit.

The reason I like Star Trek has little to do with the anthropomorphising that commonly occurs, but rather for the really cool sci-fi ideas. Though every so often, Star Trek manages to make a bit of insightful social commentary; most of this occurred in the The Next Generation series. I think the original series struck the right combination between humanising a story and bravely going where no one has gone before, and the spin-off series that come closest to achieving this balance is Voyager. From this perspective, Insurrection isn't one of my favourite Star Trek episodes: it involves concepts such as colonisation and how human history is replete with horrific incidents where the needs of the many have outweighed the needs of a few to serve "a greater good". Fortunately, however, these concepts are ones I take an active interest in and that made the movie enjoyable for me.

The other problem with most of the Star Trek movies is that they're not long enough. In the TV series, an hour could be devoted to showcase each of the characters. In the The Next Generation, there are at least six prominent characters, and each of them are given some time here but their time on the screen is spread way too thin.

It doesn't help that Insurrection's basic plot is lacking and appears to have gone through meat grinder to make it work: While on a First Contact mission, the Enterprise is alerted that Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) has gone wild while passively observing a idyllic and unrealistic race of people known as the Ba'ku. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) manage to disable and capture him before he faces termination at the hands of Federation Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) allied with another race of people known as the Son'a. Unknown to Picard and the Enterprise crew however, Data's actions were protecting the Ba'ku from the Son'a, who have other ulterior motives, including mining the planet for its "fountain of youth" properties. The Federation High Council is eager to please the Son'a because they produce large quantities of Tetracel White (which is the drug the Dominion use to control the Jem'Hadar soldiers), even if it means throwing aside the Prime Directive (which really is only a convenient plot device). As you may have guessed, Picard must live by his conscience and go against the Federation High Council, the Admiral and the Son'a in order to save the Ba'ku.

There are some nice shots of the new Enterprise and of the region in space known as the "Briar patch" where the space action takes place. The movie has a campy feel to it, which distracts from the weakness in the plot. The dialogue is forced at times. The age of the crew is starting to show, with the exception of Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Picard. The music by Jerry Goldstein is of the standard high calibre. The direction by Frakes is decent, but even he can't do much given the weak plot.

But as I say above, I enjoyed the movie; primarily for the visuals and cinematography, but also for invoking certain ethical dilemmas (best applied to events in our real world instead of a concocted one where they don't make sense), and for the chance to hear Picard, Data and Worf sing A British Tar.


I've always wondered why Star Trek films were made. The best episodes in the TV series are much superior to any of the films, and there are a lot more of these. In other words, everything that could be done in a movie can be done on TV. Star Trek: Nemesis, the 10th such made-for-big-screen endeavour, is no exception. It would rank as a fairly decent two-part episode, but would be quite a ways from the top.

In this film, some lines of continuity are closed: Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) finally marries Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Worf (Michael Dorn) pretends he has a hangover. More importantly, Riker assumes his own command as the Enterprise is called into action once again to address a coup in the Romulan empire where the distant cousins of the Romulans, the Remans, have taken power. The head of the Remans happens to be Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a human who is a clone of Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The Enterprise must thwart his vile ambitions of destroying all of humanity since he bears great hatred towards the Romulans for his mistreatment as a child.

There is a sub-plot that intertwines with the main storyline and results in another kind of closure: Commander Data (Brent Spiner) comes across an immature replica of himself, but soon discovers that this was planted by Shinzon so he could gain access to the captain.

It's clear that this group of actors have worked together for a long time and are very comfortable with each other. The performances are as can be expected. The sound track and action sequences are well-done, but again, nothing depicted here is that much superior to what you'd see in a good Star Trek episode.

I've always argued that our complex behavioural traits are completely determined by the environment (or that the genetic (hereditary) influence on complex behaviour is null). The plot in this film holds true to this viewpoint, and even though there are moments of hesitation by Shinzon when he is about to carry out his vile acts, it comes off as being more due to some guilt complex rather than any innate genetically-determined conscience.

The ideas depicted in Star Trek are what has attracted me to it. These ideas were never far from our present, and in fact, the futuristic scenarios generally showcased that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Besides the debate about the deterministic aspects of nature vs. nurture, there's also a stronger message about the issue of how much control we have over our destinies in this film. The inability of the writers to think out of their anthropocentric box might however be a more proper reflection of reality.

Star Trek: Nemesis is a satisfactory outing for the Enterprise, and worth the matinee fare.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||