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Star Trek Nemesis
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2002

Format: Movie
By:   Director: Stuart Baird; writers: John Logan, Rick Berman, Brent Spiner
Genre:   Star Trek
Released:   2002
Review Date:   December 17, 2002
Audience Rating:   PG-13
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

In June of 1999, the very first batch of sci-fi news I reported in my somewhat professional sci-fi journalism career was about Star Trek and how there wasn't going to be another movie for awhile. So with Nemesis, I feel closure. Bitter, incomplete closure.

The "Even-Numbered Treks Are The Good Ones" rule holds true here, if by the word "good," you mean "better than the odd-numbered ones."

RevolutionSF uses the Trek movies to illustrate our rating system now. So, thanks, Nemesis for helping us out with that.

The controversial news going in was a new director and writer were hired, neither of whom ever worked on anything Trek before.

At that point, fandom divided into two militant factions: The ones who felt new blood would inject energy into a staid franchise; and the ones who felt new people wouldn't have a filking clue what Trek was about, and the movie would poop in the nest of the past 30-plus years of history, characters, and style.

If big creative shakeup was the goal, it didn't work. Director, Stuart Baird, and the new writer John Logan were too tentative and pulled back, or were pulled back by the corporate big-cheeses.

The movie got second place to a Jennifer Lopez movie in its first week. That spells apathy with a capital "Whatever."

Trek should take a lesson from X-Files and absolutely enrage fans, but that would get them talking about it again. With the ending of Nemesis, maybe they did such a thing.

This movie, and Trek in general, is so very much Trek-like and always will be. If you're into it, you don't need to be convinced. If you're not, no convincing will ever be good enough. They should focus on making good space sci-fi with great characters and storylines, like they already did. But that would be crazy.

The Next Generation movies are now a nostalgia-fest. It only took them four movies to get there, while it took the original cast six.

The only way they'll get the kids nowadays is if Eminem is on the soundtrack. Did that make me sound like an old fart?

Star Trek: Attack of the Clones

Here's the story. I'll put a spoiler warning here, if you don't want to know a single thing about anything. But I won't blab many of the exact details, so don't freak out.

The movie starts with Romulans, and moves to the wedding of Riker and Troi. The whole cast is there, with two cameos. One is Wesley Crusher, sitting at the wedding party's table, back from roaming the universe with the Traveller, smiling and laughing. He has no lines.

An away team finds an android who's an exact duplicate of Data. Then they meet bad guy Shinzon. He's a clone of Picard, created by the Romulans to screw over Starfleet, but abandoned and darn ticked off about it.

The story progresses very, very slowly, along the theme of nature vs. nurture with Shinzon being nurtured into evil despite his Picardian nature.

When I saw that Riker and Troi were getting married, my first thought was "One of them is going to die." Relationships on Trek never, ever, ever work out. To my surprise, I was incorrect, but I winced throughout the whole movie, expecting each predicament to be the brutal end of one of them.

Old, Tired Friends

It's really good to see the Next Gen cast again. After Enterprise took Trek away from the Next Gen era, I was anxious to see this timeline again.

The best thing about this movie is the cast, with their old familiar relationships. Worf is stern but flappable, Riker hollers "Red Alert!" and lurches around in his good old style. But they all just look tired.

It's the movie's look that is tired, too. To its credit, the movie is not one huge CGI experiment like Star Wars.. The CGI is good when they use it, (in a tiny Romulan fighter, for example) because it's not overdone. But the movie is claustrophobic. There are no wide vistas of space, and there are no busy, redshirt-filled multi-level sets.

But that's, literally, window dressing. If the plot was more compelling, I might not have noticed. As it is, Shinzon is a bad guy, and he wants to do something mean. The good guys have to stop him. And that's all there is.

The Enterprise did not blow up again. The trailer made it look like it would. The crashing Enterprise is a main-event effects bonanza. But it's been done.

But Picard tries to blow it up! He goes for the Auto Destruct as his final sanction in the climactic battle. But the computer announces quite briskly that Auto Destruct is offline. I cheered.

Watch for a special guest villain cameo by a collapsing catwalk, obviously a cousin of that bastard that killed Kirk.

Deanna Troi finally has a meaningful role in a "Trek" film. She uses her mental powers for something besides "I sense . . . PAIN." I don't buy into the criticism about how some cast members don't do anything in the movies. They usually didn't have anything to do in the series, either. But in the series they had 22-plus hours a year. The movies have two. Troi's only contributions in the movies so far have been getting drunk in one, and talking about her breasts in the other. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Romu-Who

Next Gen was Borged and Q'ed to death. But the Romulans are problematic for me. They have always been "The Other Ones" in the Big Three of Trek aliens. There are the logical Vulcans, the honorable Klingons, and the other ones, the Romulans. They look like Vulcans but they act like Klingons. They're mean Vulcans. What is their deal? This movie doesn't explain.

The unlikely possibility of slithery, malicious Shinzon turning good is so telegraphed that Picard looks naive for buying into it. The movie tacks on redemption for the Romulans, but they don't deserve it. They're fickle. Thanks to a silly comment from Worf about how they fought with honor, we're supposed to think they're A-OK.

When I saw the Data double, I thought "It's Lore!" But no; that would be interesting.

When they find the twin, the away team is pursued by Tusken Raiders, on vacation from Tattooine.) The story of Data and his twin is meant to parallel Picard and Shinzon. It seemed to be Brent Spiner's way of saying to the Trek honchos, "Stop calling me."

I'm dubious about the heroic sacrifice. I didn't see it coming. But the reaction by the cast is well-done. That scene was the most compelling part of the film. It got closest to the hearts of these characters.

Even the Trek flicks I don't like have good parts. Final Frontier and Insurrection both have one good part. Nemesis had more good parts than those. But the good parts don't make a complete package of Trekity goodness.

Maybe more Wesley would have done the trick. Alas, we shall never know.


RevolutionSF's Joe Crowe prefers tea. With sugar. Cold.

 
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