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May 2009 Archives

May 11, 2009

Trek 3.0

(No Spoilers) They got the Romulans wrong. Again. The last Star Trek film, Nemesis, which killed the franchise, made the Romulans stupid. Made them stupid Roman Centurions who get hoodwinked by a piece of bad casting Tom Hardy as Shinzon, a supposed clone of The Next Generation’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Regrettably Hardy, the actor playing Shinzon, couldn’t credibly stand in the same room with Patrick Stewart, the wonderful Shakespearean actor who played Picard for two decades, so the whole “clone” notion never worked, not from frame one. Had they cast Stewart to play his own clone, we’d have just watched the fifth or sixth Next Gen movie, but astonishingly poor choices were made all around and here we are with this energetic and fun reboot. Make no mistake about it: Star Trek is a fun movie and well worth seeing. But is it really Trek?

As with Nemesis, this new Star Trek places a rogue Romulan at the center and then gets the Romulans completely wrong. The entire point of Romulans are that they are liars. That they say one thing then do another. Duplicity is their stock and trade. It is, ultimately, what makes them interesting. TV Show Romulans rarely, if ever, raised their voice. They spoke with an even, calculated tone while never taking their eyes off you. They polarized whatever room they might have been in. They were thinkers moreso than warriors, and they used their intellect to nefarious purposes.

Here, as in the awful Nemesis, the producers made the Romulans simply stooges. Every Romulan in this film is a stooge who screams and snarls and beats people up. Wrong. Romulans don’t beat people up. They outsmart people, manipulating them into beating themselves up. So, right away, I realize this is yet another Star Trek film produced by people whose understanding of Star Trek never makes it far below the Trek epidermis: the bare basics of what the phenomena is about. And, what’s the big deal? many will ask. The big deal is this: the difference between a film and a franchise is how deep the rabbit hole goes. In Star Trek, a fun but ultimately empty-calorie fetish film, that rabbit hole is fairly shallow.

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