STAR TREK: NEMESIS
Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:56 - Released 12/13/02
Every few years, like clockwork, they haul out the old uniforms, apply the girdles and the age-defying makeup, write a bunch of ridiculously huge salary checks, and set forth on a new Star Trek: Next Generation movie. And every time it gets just a little more desperate. Maybe it was just the unlucky fact that I saw Star Trek: Nemesis right between an eloquent, thought-provoking space movie (Solaris) and an enchanting fantasy/special effects extravaganza (Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers), but for me, this flight aboard the Enterprise was a bit of a letdown. Directed by Stuart Baird (U.S. Marshals), whos been an editor much longer than hes been a director, and written by John Logan (based on a story by himself, longtime ST:NG writer/producer Rick Berman, and Brent Spiner, the actor who plays the android Data), the film shows signs that the franchise is running out of ideas. Although we just saw an attack of the clones movie a few months ago, and weve seen more than one episode which included a Data double, those are precisely the films main two plot points. I have no complaint about the work of the actors, of course (they could do it in their sleep by now, as long as they get those huge checks), or of the special effects department. It just feels like the writers are grasping at straws.
This film begins with the wedding of the shows longtime
on-again-off-again romantic couple, Commander Will Riker (Jonathan
Frakes) and ship Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), who, because
she is half-Betazoid, has the telepathic ability to sense the
feelings of anyone nearby. And its about time those two
got married, since theyre both surely pushing retirement
age at the Federation by now. Toasting the happy couple is the
Best Man, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), whose ability
to resist aging is probably the biggest reason the ST:NG
franchise goes on. But Picard hardly gets through with his speech
before he gets an emergency message. Before you know it, he and
the rest of the ships crew (including the unfortunate bride
and groom, who are diverted from their all-nude Betazoid wedding
ceremony) are checking out a barren planet where pieces of an
android that looks exactly like Data are strewn about everywhere.
But after they get him put together, it turns out this version
of Data is not exactly the same superintelligent technician full
of quizzical looks and enlightened observations. This one, who
calls himself B-4 (get it?), is more like a pre-schooler, eager
to learn but rather thick around the cranial capacitors, and always
sporting an irritatingly childlike look on his pasty greenish
face. Data is, of course, intrigued.
Meanwhile, there is another crisis: the planet Romulus, which
has always enjoyed a mutually distrustful truce with the Federation,
has suffered a hostile takeover by the leader of its sister planet,
Remus, a dashing young bald man named Shinzon (Tom Hardy) who
happens to be a genetic clone of a young Picard.
Can the Enterprise gang figure out why there is another
Data? Will Picard discover the truth about why hes been
called to a distant planet by his younger self? Will the Romulans
and the Remans be able to settle their differences, or do they
really have another, much more sinister plan in mind? Dont
trouble yourselfthe answers are yes, yes, no, and yes. But
the more important question is: Do we care?
I can readily admit that Ive never been a huge fan of
the Star Trek series, the old or the new. When there are
space-related movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Contact,
and Solaris, which can tell a compelling science-fiction
story while still respecting all the understood laws of physics,
I grow tired of phasers, transporters, warp drives, and aliens
who all speak English. On the other hand, I can respect that Star
Trek: The Next Generation has built a proud reputation for
scripts that delve into complex matters of human nature, politics,
environmental issues, etc. But this one doesnt. While the
digital effects, as usual, are spectacular (this film contains
probably the best deep space dogfight Ive ever seen), and
the actors clearly know what theyre doing, the plotlines
have just become too predictable. Do we really ever have any doubt
that Picard and his crew are going to get everything worked out?
Of course not. Star Trek has gone through so many life-and-death
situations and come out smelling like a rose, its become
impossible to take seriously, just like James Bond.
While this movie may be sheer mind candy to die-hard ST:NG fans, to me its just more of the same. But this time, the plot has become just as ill-fitting as those tired old uniforms. ***