omulus and Remus are set to be aligned, hoping to form a coalition powerful enough to combat even the United Federation of Planets. But since this pact is a military instigation and insistence, the more peaceful politicians in charge of voting upon such decisions refuse to accept the proposal. As a result, they all meet an untimely demise (in a gruesome opening scene, like something from an Indiana Jones movie).
Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) toasts Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) at their wedding, where Data (Brent Spiner) sings a song and Worf (Michael Dorn) gets sick from alien ale. Once the festivities are over, the crew heads back to the Enterprise to investigate a pre-warp civilization near the Romulan Neutral Zone, where they hope to locate a cybernetic lifeform. On the desert planet, using the new all-terrain vehicle “Argo,” Picard and his away team discover the remains of an android that looks exactly like Data, scattered about a wide radius. After coming under fire from the local inhabitants (in an action scene reminiscent of events in “The Road Warrior”) and making a hasty getaway, they piece together B-4, a prototype from Data’s inventor.
As with the first three theatrical films starring the “Next Generation” cast, Data’s character is reduced to little more than comic relief, while the rest of the group falls into their more serious routines. Mirroring “Star Trek: Insurrection,” a brand new species of antagonist is created, with a particularly evil look to them – here, a bit like a vampire bat (and Ron Perlman lends his perfectly deep voice to the main henchman). The makeup effects and costuming are once again impressive, even though the majority of the other characters are mere Romulans – one of the most prominent alien species from the series, but also one of the less inventive. Here, it’s a young Tom Hardy as Praetor Shinzon who proves to be most amusing, particularly in a part predating his turns in “Bronson” and “Inception.” And it’s all part of another standalone storyline that doesn’t have to concern itself with an ongoing television series, since “Star Trek: Voyager” ended and the concurrent “Enterprise” is set in a former timeline.
But, while care is taken to develop the villains, the adventure suffers, giving way to an unlikely cloning ploy (a theme frequently appearing in the “Star Trek” universe), a mind-rape diversion, and a chain of mini-missions that are very much like separate episodes (especially with the periodic narration from Picard). There’s also a lengthy bout with identity and redemption as Shinzon takes center stage to mentally duel Picard in a game of paralleling maneuvers. The space battles, however, are quite thrilling, even if the threat of killing off a main cast member is utterly nonexistent and the ultimate enemy goal of destroying Earth is laughably impossible. Additionally, a seven-minute wait time for the radiation super-weapon to prime is awfully convenient for a drawn-out final showdown. Still, there’s a sense of finality and completion with the third act, bringing the string of theatrical endeavors to a satisfying close.