Star Trek: Nemesis

Star Trek: NemesisSynopsis: A Generation’s Final Journey Begins…

Set a course for a galaxy of unparalleled action and adventure as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his Starship crew battle a chilling new adversary…that just happens to hold a shocking link to Picard!

In the wake of a joyful wedding between Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis), Picard receives another reason to celebrate: the Romulans want peace and the captain will be the Federation’s emissary. But as the Enterprise heads toward the Romulan Empire, a brilliant villain awaits-harboring a diabolical plan of destruction and an unimaginable secret that will give Picard his most fearsome challenge.

Costarring Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and introducing Tom Hardy as Picard’s deadly foe.

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Star Trek: Nemesis 7.5

eyelights: Patrick Stewart.
eyesores: the casting of Tom Hardy.

“My life is meaningless as long as you’re still alive. What am I while you exist? A shadow? An echo?”

After the disappointing box office of ‘Insurrection‘, it took four years for ‘Star Trek’ to return to the big screen. To re-energize it, the producers decided to bring an outsider to helm the picture: Stuart Baird, who had impressed with ‘Executive Decision’ and also directed ‘U.S. Marshalls’, the belated sequel to ‘The Fugitive‘.

It would prove to be a poor decision: not only was Baird utterly unfamiliar with the ‘Star Trek’ characters and universe, he despised working with pre-conceived material and drew the ire of some cast members. 2002’s ‘Nemesis’ became the final nail in a faltering franchise: it flopped massively with fans or critics alike.

(Case-in-point, it’s the least favourite film of a die-hard Trekkie friend of mine – more so than ‘The Final Frontier‘, even!)

I’m not of the same mind.

“Nemesis’ finds us taken to the Romulus, where its Senators are slaughtered in a coup d’état organized by Shinzon, an outsider who has lived amongst the Reman, a race that has been subjugated by the Romulan. This mysterious Shinzon plans to negotiate peace between the Romulan Empire and the Federation.

But he has a secret.

And it involves the Enterprise – particularly Captain Picard.

As with all the ‘Star Trek’ pictures starring the ‘TNG’ crew, this one is a mixed bag, filled with potential but ultimately not fulfilling its promise on a grand scale.

  • The opening credits: The opening credits are basically the main title appearing slowly on screen, one letter at a time. For some reason, it looks really hoaky – like cheap, straight-to-video CGI. It’s a bad omen.
  • The ‘Star Trek’ Theme: For reasons that escape me, Jerry Goldsmith opened with the classic ‘Star Trek’ theme instead of the ‘TNG’ theme – which he created for ‘The Motion Picture‘ back in 1979. It seems out of place here and one wonders why he’d make such an unusual choice.
  • Jerry Goldsmith’s score: Overall, however, Goldsmith produced an excellent score with some appealingly atmospheric and ominous themes for the Reman and Shinzon. I found it quite excellent, in fact; I might just buy the CD.
  • The Romulan Imperial Senate: Our introduction to Romulus immediately made me think of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels – from the artificial, ornate CGI architecture down to the sounds of ships flying by. It didn’t feel like ‘Trek’ to me.
  • The Senate is wiped out: The Romulan Senate is exposed to a weapon that mummifies them all. It’s a pretty scary moment, though the CGI mummification effect is total crap.
  • The wedding reception: Cut to a wedding reception for Riker and Troy. While it’s intended to be light and to further develop the characters, but it’s a strange change in tone after the Romulan Senate massacre. And though it’s supposed to look like they’re outside, the set looks really fake. Ugh.
  • Data sings: Of course Data sings for the newlyweds. Does he have to sing in every goddamn movie? !@#$
  • The Betazoid ceremony: For some reason, the newlyweds are also planning a ceremony on Betazed. And since it’s traditionally done in the nude, Worf is upset about having to partake in it. But why can’t he just say no? And why would Captain Picard order everyone to attend? First off, it seems extraneous to their Starfleet duties, and, secondly, it seems rather insensitive of him.
  • The positronic energy reading: The Enterprise picks up a signal which usually only pertains to androids like Data, so instead of going to Betazed they change course. Firstly, it’s a bit random that they’d pick up such a signal (can androids broadcast such signals at such long range?), but secondly it seems out of place to change course instead of going to Betazed – and then follow the signal upon their return. Um… priorities?
  • The Argo: Picard decides to lead the away team because he’s eager to try out the Argo, their new “dune buggy”, on the planet’s surface. Um, really? So we get to watch him rushing at high speeds with Data and Worf in tow. It’s so juvenile! And why do they even need wheels in the future? Oh, right: for the same reason that there are motorbikes in ‘Star Trek Beyond’. !@#$
  • Worf = wimpy, whiny b!tch: As they scour the barren landscape, Worf gets scared by a robot arm that reaches out for him through the sand. Seriously? Um… it’s bad enough that he was whining about the migraine he got from the Romulan Ale during the wedding ceremony, but now he’s scared of a simple arm? When the !@#$ did he become such a wimp? I thought he was supposed to be a frickin’ bad-@$$ Klingon!
  • The “mysterious” android: Look, it’s bad enough that there’s no real mystery as to what the landing team will discover once they start finding pieces of an android littered around, but it’s all just there, undamaged. So why are no questions asked? Why is it there? Who put it there? How long has it been there? Why hasn’t it been found before? “This doesn’t feel right”, Picard mumbles to himself. Yeah, no guff, genius! And yet, even though this is pretty suspicious, they take it aboard. Doh!
  • The chase: Sigh… the Argo was bad enough, but they made it worse by having the landing team get chased by roadsters with machine guns who are even worse aims than Stormtroopers. Seriously. They couldn’t hit the side of a barn at point blank.
  • The jump: Naturally Picard sends the Argo off a cliff… right into the hangar of the shuttlecraft. It’s a stupid plan, it’s unbelievable that his aim was as good as the bad guys’ was bad, and it’s unreal that they didn’t crash the shuttle in the process. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • Assembling the android: Despite knowing nothing about it or the risks involved, they decide to reassemble the android. That seems pretty reckless coming from a Captain responsible for over a thousand people.
  • The android’s name: Not only does it look like Data and it’s a precursor to Data, but it’s called B4. It’s such a silly name because Dr. Soong, its creator, wouldn’t have known that it was the the one before Data when he built it. Doh.
  • Upgrading B4: Again, not only do they know nothing about B4, but they decide to download all of Data’s knowledge into the android. Clearly, that makes this mysterious machine privy to Starfleet secrets and other classified information. That’s extremely risky. It’s such a dumb-@$$ move – both from the über-intelligent Data and Picard, who should very well know better.
  • Janeway cameo: Now a Vice Admiral, Janeway briefs Picard on the the situation on Romulus, and the Romulans’ new leader. Nice, but contrived.
  • Meeting Shinzon: The mysterious Shinzon offers peace so Picard takes Riker, Worf, Data and Deanna with him to meet with the new Romulan leader. Except that it doesn’t make sense to bring all of your top officers on a first encounter with a rebel leader, leaving your ship woefully unprepared in case of attack. Plus which they could all be captured and/or slaughtered. Very, very foolish.
  • Shinzon vs Picard: Though he’s supposed to be a young version of Picard, Shinzon’s features are all wrong – especially his lips. Sure, he got beaten to a pulp while in captivity, but even this wouldn’t alter his ears and lips that much. I mean, this is basically a casting issue: Tom Hardy, though he’s a good actor, doesn’t look the part. Hmmm… but who would?
  • The Romulans: For some reason, the Romulans all looked like they had cheap make-up on – as though the producers of ‘Nemesis’ hired the make-up crew of ‘Galaxy Quest’ for their picture.
  • The Reman: The Reman look like decayed Nosferatus, which is an interesting choice. It makes them sinister-looking, though they never really act dangerous.
  • B4 accesses the Enterprise computer: Duh. I told you so.
  • Shinzon and Picard dine together: While it gives us a chance to explore Shinzon’s backstory, as he recounts it to Picard, and tries to convince Picard of his peaceful intentions, it’s also a very talky scene. I liked it, but it must have lost quite a few people in the audience. Plus putting them face-to-face amplified their physical differences. Oops.
  • Shinzon is ill: As a clone of Picard, which is an interesting idea, he’s also imperfectly designed – so he’s not well at all. A nice touch. And only Picard’s blood can heal him. Hmmm.. this might affect the plot later?
  • Deanna is violated by Shinzon: Shinzon had crudely expressed interest in Deanna upon their first meeting, so he uses his viceroy’s mental abilities to get into her mind – just as she and Riker make love, taking the latter’s place. Um… she’s essentially psychically violated by him. Brrr… it’s a very creepy idea.
  • Picard is captured: Shinzon needs a blood transfusion. Told you so.
  • B4 is transported: Shinzon has B4 (who he had planted as bait for the Enterprise) transported on board his ship, the Scimitar. Really, they can do that? I thought that if the Enterprise’s shields were up that this was not possible…
  • B4 is swapped: Ah hah! Data had taken B4’s place to rescue Picard. Though it’s obvious and you’d think that the Reman would have checked, it’s still fun that he did that.
  • Data takes Picard prisoner: Why don’t any of the Reman question the notion that “B4” is taking the prisoner to Shinzon? It doesn’t feel right on any level. But they just let it happen. At first.
  • Phaser battle: Naturally a phaser battle ensues. You can’t have an action film with a gunfight, right? Anyway, dozens of Reman miss Data and Picard. Are all the bad guys in this movie just like Stormtroopers? Maybe it’s from their ranks that the Stormtroopers are hired….
  • Data and Picard escape: Our fearless duo steal a small ship and fly it through the Scimitar’s hallways because there’s a force field preventing them from getting out the hangar bay. While it seems to me that there’d be a force field all around the ship, not just there, it was an amusing sequence.
  • Data interrogates B4: Data tries to get information from B4, but he’s too much of a simpleton to be able to answer Data’s questions. You’d think that Data would be able to tap into his memory banks in some fashion, but he doesn’t. At least he shuts him down, deeming him too dangerous. Noitch. It’s about frickin’ time!
  • Battlestations: Discovering that Shinzon wants to destroy Earth, Picard calls everyone to battlestations. Um… which means, that the crew go and get rifles. Really? Rifles, again? The enemy is out in space, but they get rifles? Which is already a stupid weapon because they’re in close quarters and because weapons should be super small by the 24th century.
  • Picard and Data discuss identity: This is an interesting exchange between Picard and Data because they both have doppelgängers of themselves out there. They wonder what makes a person; could Shinzon and B4 be just like them?
  • The Scimitar attacks the Enterprise: Thank goodness for the rifles. Ahem.
  • Romulus sends help: It seems a bit out of character, but I guess the the Romulans are destabilized by Shinzon’s uprising so they don’t have to be their usual selves.
  • Picard’s speech: Picard pleads for Shinzon to be a better man. It’s a nice speech, though not Picard’s best. But Stewart delivers better than anyone could. Stewart rules.
  • The Reman attack: Really? The Reman can transport on board the Enterprise, past their shields? Again? How is this possible?
  • The Scimitar breaks through bridge: I always thought that the bridge would be deeper inside the ship, to prevent exposure to the outside, but Shinzon blew a hole right into the bridge. Thankfully the Enterprise’s shields prevents the crew from being sucked out into space. Either way, it’s a stunning sight.
  • Riker vs Viceroy: Well, I guess Riker had to have a duel, too. Meh… it’s okay.
  • The Enterprise rams the Scimitar: Low on weapons and shields, Picard crashes Enterprise into the Scimitar. WTF. What about his crew? Why doesn’t he warn them to brace themselves for impact? People could get seriously hurt – especially those in the front part of the saucer.
  • The self-destruct is offline: Once the Scimitar pulls away from the Enterprise, Picard realizes that his only tool left is to self-destruct the ship. But it’s offline! Offline?!!! Wouldn’t they build in that function against all potential damage, with maybe a manual function? I mean, it’s supposed to be a last resort! It’s pointless to have it around if it can go offline! Geez!
  • Countdown to destruction: It takes seven minutes for the Scimitar to deploy its weaponry. SEVEN MINUTES. WTF. What kind of weapon takes so damn long? Design flaw: they might want to go back to the drawing board here. Must have been designed by the same team that build the Enterprise’s self-destruct mechanism.
  • Picard attacks: Using the last of the transporter’s power, Picard transports on board the Scimitar with rifles. Is he really the best that the Enterprise can offer? Surely there’s a better warrior than an aging Captain? Like, um, Worf, maybe? Of course, in this iteration, the wussy ragdoll is probably crying under a chair somewhere…
  • Data joins Picard: Being an android, and being impervious to space, Data propels himself outside the Enterprise towards the Scimitar and goes to help his Captain. Cool.
  • Data transports Picard out: The Scimitar is about to destroy all life on Earth, and they can’t reverse the countdown, so Data transports Picard out and destroys the Scimitar from inside. Thankfully, they didn’t milk this one. He blows it up. He dies. It wasn’t like Spock’s death in ‘The Wrath of Khan‘ – which was perfect, but you don’t want a complete repeat of that scene.
  • Data’s death: The crew is sad for a split second. And then life goes on (“Oh, look something shiny!”). Riker, for instance, beams broadly as he goes off to his new captainship on the Titan. Hey, maybe they secretly didn’t really like the pesky ‘droid; his singing might have been more grating than he’d imagined.
  • B4 becomes Data: Obviously, B4 was implanted in the film to replace Data. It’s both a cool idea but also such an obvious ploy that it feels cheap. When they downloaded Data’s knowledge it was so obvious that this would happen. At least Stewart sells the last few moments of the picture, making B4’s awakening a moment of hope. Cool.

At best, one could say that ‘Nemesis’ is a decent science fiction film with fairly good characters, interesting ideas, decent dialogues, and a modicum of excitement. But it’s not a great film. And it’s an unfortunate way to end the series of ‘TNG’ films – as opposed to the august way in which they ended the original crew ones.

Apparently, a fifth and final film was in the planning stages when Paramount made ‘Nemesis”, but its disastrous showing at the box office (it didn’t even open at number one, and failed to recoup its production budget) completely stalled these plans. It’s too bad that they didn’t just suck it up and give the crew a dignified send-off.

And give fans a chance for a proper farewell.

Date of viewing: September 22, 2016

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