Boy do people hate this movie, but I really don't know why. Sure, there's not a whole lot to love about it, since the plot is fairly uninspired and derivative, and the whole thing feels like a less than spectacular episode of the television show, but it's hardly the worst film in the series, and it definitely isn't worth hating. At the end of the day, it's a fun, entertaining film that just isn't all that great or memorable.
The story is about... you know what? Who cares. Let's just say it has a story that is actually pretty good, though maybe not good enough to base a movie around. Some of the ideas are ripped from earlier Next Gen episodes, like the booth in the mountains overlooking the primitive aliens or the holodeck ship used to transport those aliens without their knowledge, but all in all it's a satisfying yarn about which I can't say all that much good or ill. It works.
Most of the complaints I've heard about this movie is that it tries to hard to be funny, and just ends up being annoying and embarrassing. This is a valid concern, but not really one with which I can agree. I actually think this movie is hilarious. Picard and Data singing Gilbert and Sullivan? That's comedy gold. Troi and Crusher talking about their breasts? It was a clever and real moment, in my opinion, and in stark contrast to the kind of humor from Final Frontier jokes about how old people are stupid. To all the people who didn't think this movie was funny, I just have one thing to say: lighten up. This movie always makes me laugh.
Sure, I wish the film had a better villain. I honestly have no idea what F Murray Abraham was up to as the heavy in this film, and he was neither scary, intimidating, or the least bit entertaining. Who could possibly be scared of that guy? And don't get me started on the idea of the Federation forcibly removing a group of people against their will. Then again, if you get rid of that idea, you have no movie. But it's a pretty big flaw, in my opinion.
What saves the film is the fact John Frakes came back as director. Without his sure touch behind the camera, the film may have turned into the train wreck a lot of Trekkies will try to claim it actually was. Frakes gets great performances out of the Enterprise crew again, though the supporting cast were all pretty boring. But the action set pieces are great, with the space battle near the end one of the best of the series. It's pretty awesome.
But, at the end of the day, this movie is like Star Trek Lite, or like a Star Trek salad when what you really want is a full meal, like Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, or First Contact. But what it isn't is a bad film, in my opinion. It just isn't a great one, which is kind of a let down in my opinion.