There are depths of laughable awfulness that can be appreciated, for their veritable badness as well as their campiness, only by True Fans. You need to be a real Trekkie, for instance, one who understands James T. Kirk’s delusions of grandeur, to cherish his hubris in daring to challenge a being who claims to be the Almighty in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, an act of testosterone-fueled arrogance that culminates in one of the Funniest. Lines. Ever.: “What does God need with a starship?”
There are moments to rival that one in Star Trek: Nemesis. Not to spoil anything for you, but the best candidate to give Kirk’s deity-baiting a run for the latinum involves Data, the vacuum of space, and a bold confrontation with Newtonian physics. Funnier still is that the same stunt was pulled off better in an old episode of Doctor Who. Funniest of all is that the entirety of Nemesis feels like an old episode of Doctor Who, what with all the evil clones and latex aliens involved.
See, but if you’re a True Fan, this will not deter you one bit from reveling in the suckitude that is the latest Trek movie and, historically, the one to break the even-numbers-good, odd-numbers-bad rhythm. Though #9, Insurrection wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it should have been, according to the prophecy. The curse is well and truly broken, I guess, and this probably means we’re in for lukewarm Trek from now until Captain Trip Tucker takes command of the Enterprise -3 in Star Trek 18: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Prime Directive.
The usual cast of Next Generation suspects is here, doing the same old schtick: Data (Brent Spiner: The Master of Disguise) is still cocking his head to one side, adorably mystified at everything “human”; Geordi (LeVar Burton), Beverly (Gates McFadden) and Worf (Michael Dorn: Santa Clause 2) provide plot exposition; Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) flirt; and Picard (Patrick Stewart: King of Texas) is all inner, soul-crushing anguish. Just another day on the flagship of the Federation, whence springs all that is good and decent in the Alpha Quadrant.
No. 2 on the Almighty Kirk-o-Meter: The game of Starship Chicken.
Oh, but danger’s a’ brewin’. The Romulan Empire has been taken over by Dr. Evil (Tom Hardy) and his gang of Nosferatu, and of course they’ve got a hard-on for destroying Earth, because the humans are so wonderful and perfect and without them the Federation would be as nothing. Apparently there was a sale on at the Fantasy Death Metal Supply Shop, because Dr. Evil is decked out in pointy leather things, which may be why he’s so angry all the time — he doesn’t look very comfortable. Oh, and because of the aforementioned evil cloning stuff, he’s very interested in meeting Picard, for reasons which also contribute to his wrath.
Hey: wrath. That’s a cool word. I bet they could come up with a great Trek built around someone who’s wrathful.
No. 3 on the Almighty Kirk-o-Meter: Data’s “special” brother, who presumably rode the short shuttle into the movie.
None of it really matters much. You get to cheer when yet another version of the Enterprise makes its first appearance, oooo when it gets demolished, and wonder whether there isn’t some accountant at Starfleet HQ in San Francisco who dreads getting expense reports from Picard. (“Shuttle travel to diplomatic conference: 500 credits. Synthale for 10 Forward: 3400 credits. Damage to starship: 18 quintillion credits.”)
No. 4 on the Almighty Kirk-o-Meter: The starship ‘Blooming Onion of Death,’ now with the new One Ring feature.
There is also much exploration about what It Means To Be Human, and by “human” I include Vulcans and Romulans and Klingons and Betazoids and androids and everyone else, because who wouldn’t want to be included in the big human family. Maybe Star Trek 11 will be about the revolution brewing among all the races of the galaxy who are tired of the humans’ speciesist attitudes and decide to take out Earth once and for all. (Never fear: Kirk will come out of retirement and deal with all 1500 races and the evil, bent-on-revenge megalomaniac each of them spawns.)
No. 5 on the Almighty Kirk-o-Meter: The dilithium mines of Remus, in which the only luxury the slave laborers enjoy is silicone injections for full, sexy lips.
Honestly, you can’t expect much more from a Trek movie these days than Troi sensing something, Data misunderstanding something, Riker smirking at something, and Picard ruling benignly over them all with great dignity and regal bearing. Except we are led to believe, at the beginning of Nemesis, that we will get a nude Betazed wedding at the end of the film, and we do not get it. This is unacceptable, and I shall be boycotting all Trek movies until the next one.