Trekking With Tim, Day Ten: Star Trek: Nemesis

Editor Tim Ryan is disappointed by the turn the franchise has taken.



Day Ten: Star Trek: Nemesis

Talk about a franchise in need of a reboot. Star Trek: Nemesis is hardly laughable; it's just not very compelling. This is certainly the dullest entry in the series, lacking even the camp value of The Final Frontier. It's not a complete waste of time; the visuals are occasionally striking, the actors are game, and there are periodic flashes of wit. However, this is the only Trek movie I've seen that felt redundant -- Nemesis never justifies its existence, and it finds this series taking a sad slide toward irrelevancy.

Which is a shame, not only because I've come to like the Next Generation crew, but also because it's unlikely we'll see their likes again -- on the big screen, at least. There's something refreshing about the fact that most of the Enterprise's inhabitants don't look like classic movie stars, and that a whole sci-fi franchise was based around the cerebral rather than the visceral. However, Nemesis ditches the Big Thoughts in favor of more straightforward action fare -- and stumbles badly as a result.

The movie opens with a meeting of the Romulan senate, the members of which are debating the merits of opening relations with their lower-caste neighbors, the Remans. However, a deadly chemical is unleashed , killing everyone in the chamber. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew is celebrating the wedding of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, who will be heading up their own ship once they get to Deanna's home planet of Betazed. It's a nice scene, as Picard gives a heartfelt toast to his old colleagues and Data sings a convincing rendition of "Blue Skies" (which sets up the film's best line, in which a drunken Worf grumbles disdainfully, "Ugh... Irving Berlin!")



Naturally, the good vibes can't last. Once the crew begins its journey, it's waylaid by a mysterious reading from a desert. Picard, Data, and Worf head down to investigate, and find the scattered pieces of an android that appears to be a prototype of Data. However, our heroes are immediately attacked by a group of sand people, which sets up a dull humvee chase that bodes poorly for the film; what's this standalone action scene doing here? (It doesn't help that the washed-out cinematography looks self-consciously arty; Steven Soderberg used a similar look in Traffic's south-of-the-border scenes to greater effect.)

Subsequently, the Federation tells Picard to go to Romulus, where Shinzon (Tom Hardy) has taken over power after eliminating the senate. Though he bares a remarkable resemblance to Nosferatu, Shinzon is actually a clone of Picard, though an imperfect one. He suffers from a variety of ailments, and though he speaks diplomatically to the Enterprise crew about intergalactic peace, his motives seem sinister. It turns out he was enslaved by the Romulans, and his plan is to establish a new galactic power order, using a potent weapon to destroy Earth, and with it, the Federation.



OK, so with two Datas and two Picards running around, we've got a nice little meditation about the yin and yang of human (and android) personality and singularity, right? Nope. The Data clone subplot is never fully explored, and the tension between Picard and Shinzon feels secondhand; we're never fully convinced that these two share the same DNA, and it doesn't help that their physical resemblance is hardly striking.

In the annals of Star Trek villains, Shinzon is relatively nondescript. He glowers well enough, but he's unconvincing as a would-be master of the universe; he barely seems to preside over an empire, as his crew is strangely under-populated, save for a couple loyal Remans. In addition, it's revealed that Shinzon is a defective clone, and that his body is rapidly breaking down (a comment on the plight of Dolly the sheep, perhaps? Maybe). In other words, why not just wait him out? Things get even sillier as the Enterprise goes to war with Shinzon's ship. Is it really possible that the Enterprise could simply ram into another craft and survive? And how poignant is the death of a beloved character (in this case, Data) if he has a clone that contains all his memories?



Look, don't get me wrong. Nemesis looks just fine; after the hit-and-miss aesthetics of Insurrection, this at least doesn't have the feel of a TV show. But the script is dull, and the conflict is barely existent; this movie just seems to be going through the motions. It's too bad, because I don't believe the Next Generation ever got to prove its cinematic mettle; The Next Generation had a longer run on TV than its predecessor, but the movies it inspired (one excellent, one decent, and two thoroughly mediocre), don't measure up to the Kirk-Spock incarnation.

Tomorrow, we conclude our series with the brand new Star Trek. Does it boldly go where no Trek film has gone before? Will it live up to its impressive Tomatometer ranking?

Stardates:

Comments

RamALamADingDong

That Guy

"Nemesis never justifies its existence"

Thank you.

I saw this in theaters and I haven't been able to watch it since. I've tried all I can to forget about it. It doesn't seem like the filmmakers know one thing about TNG when making this. The characterizations are terrible. The story is just Undiscovered Country with Romulans.

Data's death is pathetic and weak. I kept wanting it to have been B-4 and then Data walks in when they toast to say "B-4 must have thought he was me." That would have put this film a few notches up.

For the big good-bye movie there's almost no emotion to the characters. It seems as though all the actors are just there because of a contract, like they don't really care how terrible the film is they just want it to be over.

TNG is my favorite series of all time and a must see for any Sci-Fi fan. But this is the one ST movie I don't own, don't want, and change the channel whenever it's on.

May 6 - 06:29 PM

niall1

Niall Cavanagh

k i never understood the hate towards this film..yeah for the last movie featuring the TNG crew its a big disappointment, but if you look at it as just another entry into the series, i think its fun..

i've always felt like the last film featuring the TNG crew should be a huge epic and this doesn't match what the actors and the fictional crew deserved, but i still think its good..

May 6 - 06:32 PM

ck100

Chris Kubat

1. A problem with this movie is it tries to hard to be like "Wrath of Khan". You can tell the producers were trying to duplicate the success of that movie. However, this effort fell flat on their faces.

2. A lot of people lay the blame for this movie on director Stuart Baird. Stuart had never seen anything Star Trek related before directing this movie and it shows. If Frakes had directed I'm sure this movie would have been better.

3. This movie had a lot of scenes cut out that flesh out the characters and show how they're moving on from each other. If anyone has seen the DVD they'll know about the deleted scenes that would have improved the film overall.

4. Glad someone pointed out the washed-out cinematography in the desert planet. If any of you have ever seen any of the behind-the-scenes featurettes for this movie you'll see the desert looks noticably different than in the movie. Not sure why the look of the planet was changed for the movie. Maybe to make it look cool.

5. I liked Tom Hardy as Shinzon. I mean his villian wasn't great, but I enjoyed the actor in the role. I'll take his villian over V'Ger and Star Trek V's "God" any day.

6. Data's death isn't as effective as Spock's death. His whole "memory implant" thing in B4 feels like it's trying to copy the whole katra thing from Star Trek II and III.



May 6 - 06:33 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Ya. A pretty lackluster final film. After Insurrection I gave up on Trek films though, so I wasn't to disappointed, just justified in my lack of care for the series anymore. Its a shame that this was TNG crews last film. They were my favorite cast and show.

The new one looks good. I hope it brings some lifeblood back to the Star Trek universe. But if they decide to ride this popularity and make a new series on T.V., I'll poop my shorts then throw it at Paramount. Trek just needs good movies now, not a boring azz show!

May 6 - 06:34 PM

Zaraki

Rick V

Great film? No. Bad? NO. It's just ok. And Data's death did make me very sad, since he was my favorite of the TNG crew. The duplicate Data at least started to show signs of trying to understand, but they really needed to explore that a bit more.

Really my only complaint was a so-so script, and not exploring the duplicate Data further. I still get sad when Data dies in it, even though I've seen it 3 times.

May 6 - 06:41 PM

scifimark

scifi mark

its hard to pinpoint the faults with this. I just remember how i wanted to like it but i couldnt. You felt no emotion at all for the movie and with previous comments im like wasnt this wrath of kahn. Every idea they had just didnt work. Its like they slapped a bunch of action scenes together. The ramming part was cool but thats about it. I dont think the movie was terrible but i mean it was devoid of emotion or a good script. Killing data was really dumb in my opinion.In my opinion of the new movie, they really need to go into a new direction and it appears they have. I always felt the movies were too slow paced for the most part. When you do sci fi space movies it has to move faster, not necessarily explosions every minute but just the pace. As long as they pay attention to the characters i think it will be a huge hit going forward.

May 6 - 06:53 PM

damvbat

damv bat

This movie was not that bad yes it was a bad rehash of Khan but when you watch it thank of it as a summer movie.

May 6 - 06:55 PM

ck100

Chris Kubat

The top and bottom 10 movie moments from the Star Trek movies (Motion Picture - Nemesis) from IGN.com:

Ten best Star Trek movie moments (Motion Picture - Nemesis):

10. Picard and Kirk meet - Generations
09. Kirk and crew say goodbye and fly off into the sunset - Undiscovered Country
08. The borg invade the big screen - First Contact
07. Kirk screaming out "KHAN!" - Wrath of Khan
06. Kirk's first death on the Enterprise B - Generations
05. Kirk, Spock and McCoy confront their pain - Final Frontier
04. Kirk's prejudice and hatred of the Klingons ("Let them die!") - Undiscovered Country
03. The mutara nebula battle - Wrath of Khan
02. Kirk and crew culture-shocked by 1980's San Fransisco - Voyage Home
01. Spock's death - Wrath of Khan

Ten worst Star Trek movie moments (Motion Picture - Nemesis:

10. Picard, Worf and Data singing that HMS Pinafore song - Insurrection
09. The long, boring, endless journey to the heart of the V'Ger cloud - Motion Picture
08. Data's emotion chip - Generations
07. Admiral Dougherty gets a facelift - Insurrection
06. Spock's flying boots - Final Frontier
05. The romance of Picard and Anij - Insurrection
04. Riker and Troi's wedding - Nemesis
03. Uhura's fan dance - Final Frontier
02. Robin Curtis replaces Kirstie Alley as Saavik - Search for Spock
01. Kirk literally dies on the bridge - Generations


May 6 - 07:09 PM

JojoTR

John Phillips

ck100, LOL Kristie Alley. Classic.

May 7 - 04:14 AM

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May 7 - 11:38 AM

Shaun822

Shaun Hevey

I think Tim's succinct statement best describes the movie when he says it never justifies its existence. It's really too bad because this wasn't supposed to be the absolutely final swan song but Paramount wouldn't and couldn't justify funding for anymore TNG movies after 1 good and 3 bad ones. I would have liked to have seen the end of the generations final journey because it would have had some redeeming qualities if it had closure.

May 6 - 07:18 PM

ck100

Chris Kubat

I don't know if the TNG crew could have done another movie. I mean the actors had been at it for 15 years. And let's face it, they weren't getting any younger. But then again, neither had Kirk's crew when they did "Undiscovered Country" and look how that turned out. And consider they had played their characters for over 25 years and five films along a tv series and an animated series.

May 6 - 07:23 PM

isotonic

Isotonic ****off

When Picard ignored the Prime Directive, which he spent his entire career upholding, to have fun freaking out the natives in dune buggies I knew we were in trouble.

Someone does a great job summing it up here - brilliant:
http://www.stardestroyer.net/Nemesis/Pictorial-1.html

May 6 - 07:27 PM

ck100

Chris Kubat

Yeah it seemed a little out of character having him go out and have fun on a dune buggy. But then again, he did get his own yacht in "Insurrection". What happened to that yacht anwyay in that movie?

May 6 - 07:35 PM

ck100

Chris Kubat

Yeah it seemed a little out of character having him go out and have fun on a dune buggy. But then again, he did get his own yacht in "Insurrection". What happened to that yacht anwyay in that movie?

May 6 - 07:35 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

Interesting, I thought you'd enjoy this one more than you did, Tim. I always figured this would be one of the more accessible and likable Star Trek movies for non-trekkies. I can't say I really disagree with anything in your review though, except maybe the middle part of this sentence: "But the script is dull, and the conflict is barely existent; this movie just seems to be going through the motions." Personally, I thought this movie had a great central conflict; like First Contact, this one is about a serious threat to Earth, much better than the relatively meaningless conflict in Insurrection. Throughout the TNG series, the Romulans were an omnipresent potential threat to the Federation. There was an uneasy truce, but war was always just an incident away, and the Romulans could really bring it if they had to. When I first heard about Nemesis, I was expecting it to be about war finally breaking out. As it turns out, it wasn't quite what I was hoping for in terms of huge space battles, but the threat was still there: Shinzon wanted nothing less than to wipe out Earth with his super-ship, and he probably could have done it.

Overall I really liked Nemesis, but I definitely think it would have been much better if handled differently. It really did need a bigger budget; as it is I think the Enterprise's battle with the Scimitar was awesome, but it would have been nice to see a larger-scale fleet vs fleet battle. The low budget was also evident in a lot of the set design and costumes; many of the locales on Romulus just looked cheap. I think Tim's comment about the Scimitar feeling underpopulated relates to the low budget too; it seems almost as if the production couldn't afford to have enough extras in make-up around to fill up space. I think the movie was overly cut as well for streamlining; as some other posters mentioned, there's supposedly a lot of character-strong scenes that were dropped, and as a result the supporting cast doesn't do much, and though there was potential in the B4/Data and Picard/Shinzon dynamics, it all felt rushed and gimmicky for me, a real missed opportunity.

So, I definitely see where people are coming from when they say they don't like it, but I think I enjoy it because, for whatever reason, I can look past the poor execution and appreciate it for what it's trying to do, and this concept could have been really great if it had a little more money and care put into it.

May 6 - 07:46 PM

zaphod67

Dan Waldman

The biggest problem with all of the Next Generation movies was that they were all like TV episodes. Picard is always Captain, Riker is always 1st in command, etc, etc. But in the Original Cast Star Trek movies, Kirk spends 3 movies with the rank of Admiral (4, if you count the beginning of the Motion Picture) at the start of Khan, Chekhov is serving on a different vessel & in Undiscovered Country Sulu is captain of the Excelsior. Nemesis ended where an Original Cast Star Trek movie would begin. They could make more with the Next Generation cast if they really wanted to.

May 6 - 07:52 PM

Matthew W.

Matthew White

It saddens me to think how many two part episodes of the actual series, if watched back to back and commercial free, would have made better movies than 3 of the TNG movies. At the same time it really says a lot about the actual quality of the television series, so in a way that thought could be viewed as a positive.

I still think of All Good Things... the series finale as the actual goodbye to the Enterprise crew and not Nemesis. It really was a good ending to the TNG legacy, and it had Q =D.

May 6 - 07:53 PM

Shaun822

Shaun Hevey

I just think about how awsome "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been if it had been given a full motion picture treatment and been a 2 movie arch story like Khan and Search for Spock.

May 6 - 07:56 PM

willywonkanobi

Evan Godbold

Guys, let's just face it. We all know why this killed Star Trek: It broke the "even - odd" rule! And when that happened, Star Trek failed as a franchise.

:-)

May 6 - 07:56 PM

Shaun822

Shaun Hevey

I just think about how awsome "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been if it had been given a full motion picture treatment and been a 2 movie arch story like Khan and Search for Spock.

May 6 - 07:56 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

The TNG crew deserved a better send-off. That's all I'm going to say about Nemesis.

While this one broke the trend of "good even-numbered" Trek films, let's hope that the new one does the same for the "bad odd-numbered" trend.

May 6 - 08:18 PM

the train

Vinnie Oliveri

by your logic, willywonkanobi, if the new movie is awesome, what happens?

May 6 - 08:37 PM

Looselycult

Dean Peteet

Watched this again recently to A. see if it was a bad as everybody around here seems to think, and B. to see whether or not there was a connection with the Romulans in this film and the new Star Trek movie. A. Yes B. No. In fact the Romulans were barely in this movie. That was one of my many flaws with this movie. 1. Where the heck are the Romulans? 2. Why does there happen to be a Data prototype just lying around for the Remans to find? 3. A dune buggy chase by the precursors to the Reavers (These werecreatures from another lame, badly acted, cheesy scifi TV show, that fortunately didn't last six years) 4. The very uneffective shuttle chase on the Reman ship.5. "The Wrath Of Khan" rip off. 6. The totally un-sympathetic death of Data. 7. That after six years on TV and four movies, these people (Baring Stewart of course) still can't act their way out of a paper bag. And finally 8. For crying out loud this is an even numbered movie and you just put the to last nail in the coffin of the film franchise. Anyway with that said I still don't think this is the worst film in the franchise.
Here's my ranking of the five worst ST Films: 5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
4. Star Trek: Nemesis
3. Star Trek: Generations
2. Star Trek: Insurrection
1. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Notice that three out of the four Next Gen movies were on this list. Kind of tells you what I think of it.

May 6 - 08:39 PM

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