STARRING Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Donna Murphy, F. Murray Abraham
DIRECTED BY Jonathan Frakes
After 32 years, four prime-time series, and eight features, the Trek franchise lands on an appropriate metaphor: a planet with a fountain of youth-type secret. In the ninth installment, Captain Picard (Stewart) goes in search of Data (Spiner) and ”gives up everything he’s worked for to stand up for a principle,” says producer Rick Berman. (Stewart is no less cryptic: ”Picard makes a decision which will be quite shocking to a lot of people.”) Frakes, helming his second Trek, filmed in the Sierra Nevada to get that epic feel (”There’s a lot of John Ford in this,” he says) and gave Stewart a romantic interest in Tony winner Murphy (The King and I). Berman, for his part, promises allusions to The Magnificent Seven, Heart of Darkness, and Gilbert and Sullivan, and issues the following warning to longtime fans: ”Make no assumptions.” (Dec. 11)
THE LOWDOWN We assume it’ll be a hit — just like the other eight.