Not all the Star Trek movies are gems, to be sure, and, putting aside the odd-numbered film curse, there’s general — though far from universal — consensus about which films are the worst. For the TOS films, it’s the tone-deaf Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. For The Next Generation crew, it’s a toss-up between Star Trek: Insurrection or Star Trek: Nemesis.
No one sets out to make a lame-arse movie, but the road to Gre’thor is paved with good intentions. Trek scribe Michael Piller certainly did his best to craft a script actually about something. But his starting point of Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella "Heart of Darkness" quickly ran afoul of both head honcho Rick Berman, the studio, and leading men Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner. In the end that was too many tails wagging one dog, and Insurrection was the end result.
It's a middling film, sure. But it's also chock full of dumb, with story contrivances galore. My initial list was over 20. Here are the 14 dumbest of the dumb.
14. Pinot Grigio People
Filmmaking is a game of compromises where writers' ambitions are reliably run over by producers, marketing, budget, and studio bigwigs. The result is often LCD: Lowest Common Denominator. Such was the case of the people at the center of this story. Originally conceived as a race of ageless alien children that you'd root for Picard and company to protect, they ended up “gentle, serene people living a simple life” that Michael Piller worried they’d done a dozen times before.
Worse, when no simple, budget-friendly makeup was devised to make the Ba’ku even slightly alien in appearance, the LCD was to portray them as indistinguishable from humans. And, as per lazy default Hollywood central casting: Caucasians. Piller wrote, “Most of the extras cast were blond and I was afraid they might appear like Wisconsin milk farmers.”
Close. They ended up a bunch of smug technophobes less interesting and alien than tourists in wine country. No wonder landed gentry Picard felt such a connection to them.
Speaking of the Ba'ku...