The journeys with the U.S.S. Enterprise continue in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book as Picard (Patrick Stewart), Riker (Frakes), Data (Brent Spiner) and the rest render their version, more or less, of The Magnificent Seven.
The story behind this film, covered on the blog previously here, shows that it could have been something different than what we saw, falling victim to the same problems with suits that Trek V did.
Data is on assignment on a very unique planet, and something goes wrong with him; he takes the Federation science team there hostage. Picard asks for permission to go after the android himself, and Starfleet Command’s representative in the area, Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) gives Picard and his crew twelve hours.
What they find is a cover-up by the Federation and the forced relocation of the planet’s inhabitants by Starfleet and their strange new allies, the Son’a, led by Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham). It seems the planet has some regenerative abilities, and the current residents, the Ba’ku, are practically immortal.
There are revelations about what is really going on, and it causes Picard and his crew to rebel against Starfleet directives and defend the pacifist people of the planet.
There is a hint of romance for Picard, in the form of Anij (Donna Murphy) and a few comedic moments. Unfortunately, some of the humor falls flat, trying to hard to be funny.
This one is definitely a lighter ride than the previous film, but also has some missteps, most of them can be pointed at silly executive ideas, like a joystick to control the Enterprise (an idea suggested to get the Gamers on board with the film. Seriously.)
There are some nice effects, and the Enterprise E is sleek and gorgeous, but I miss the days of practical models. Sigh.
Jerry Goldsmith turns in another serviceable Trek score, but I do wish they would have let another compose try their hand at a Next Gen film. He did two of the original series, but then James Horner, Leonard Rosenman and Cliff Eidelman all got in on the act as well. I often wonder what a different composer would have done, what themes they’d create for this crew and their ship.
So, the story may not be the strongest, but at least the actors know their characters and the guest cast are all strong performers. And no matter the shortcomings of the script, the story does make sure that all of our characters get a moment or two to shine.
The film does boast some gorgeous locations, which makes the film look different than most of the other films to date, brighter and more vibrant. There are also a couple of political messages here, Trek is never afraid to ask big questions, but the messages get a little lost in the story.
It is nice to see Picard and the others have some quiet character moments. The action beats, on the other hand, could stand to be a little bigger. The starship battle, barring the joystick debacle, is pretty solid, but the planet-side fights aren’t as tight as they could be, I think.
It’s always great to see friends again, and since 1987, that’s what the Next Generation crew has been, and so, even if the stories aren’t always the best, it’s always great to catch up.