Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Villains of Star Trek, Part I: The Bottom 4

With Star Trek Into Darkness, J.J. Abrams' second foray into the Star Trek universe, coming out later next week, a lot of buzz has been surrounding the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's villain. Reviews have slowly begun trickling out since the film's release overseas and the reaction has been mostly positive to kind of mixed. Into Darkness currently sits at 83% on rottentomatoes.com (24 positive reviews, 5 not-so-good) but one thing they all agree upon is Cumberbatch is excellent.

With that being said, I thought I would take the time over the next few days to reflect on the villains of the Star Trek film franchise. Over the course of the franchise's 11 films, there have been 10 villains and some of been excellent and some not-so-much. We'll begin with a look at the villains who just didn't measure up.

10. Ru'afo / F. Murray Abraham / Star Trek: Insurrection
Severely underwritten and badly overacted, Ru'afo is one of Star Trek's most one-dimensional villains. Provided with no real backstory, no other motive than vengeance and a thirst for eternal youth, F. Murray Abraham's talents are badly wasted in a very un-engaging and not very interesting character.

9. Sybok / Laurence Luckinbill / Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Though the premise of a Vulcan uninhibited by the confines of logic is an intriguing concept for a villain, any potential is squandered in Laurence Luckinbill's portrayal of Sybok the Jolly Vulcan. Granted, he's not given a lot to work with besides walking around for most of the movie with a large grin from pointed ear to pointed ear, but that robs him of any real sense of villainy or menace. Not that that's the intention of the character, but if he's really not such a bad guy, you can't help but wonder why Kirk doesn't just sit down the guy and sing a couple of campfire songs in the first place?

8. V'Ger / Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Momentum builds (sort of) throughout The Motion Picture towards the big revelation of V'Ger's identity at the heart of the cloud spaceship. Is it an alien? What are their intentions? One can't help but be disappointed to discover that V'Ger is nothing more than a self-aware probe from 20th century Earth that's trying to return home to deliver its research to its creator, mankind. The premise isn't actually all that bad and fairly original and very much in the mold of Star Trek's exploring strange, new worlds. Unfortunately, the payoff isn't executed well enough after two-and-a-half hours to really benefit the concept. If the movie itself had been better, V'Ger could possibly have ranked higher on this list.

7. Dr. Soran / Malcolm McDowell / Star Trek: Generations
Tolian Soran will forever be remembered as the man who killed James T. Kirk. Unfortunately, that's about all he'll be remembered for. Though Malcolm McDowell gives a solid performance, the part is underwritten and, for the most part, pretty forgettable.

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