Star Trek Nemesis isn’t new by any means… In fact I vaguely recall checking it out back in 2003 when it first arrived on DVD and though it did nothing to offend, the prose hadn’t really stuck out in memory either. As such I recently added the DVD to my collection in effort to complete my tour of the Star Trek motion pictures. It has the distinction of being the tenth major motion picture of the Star Trek franchise despite the fact that Roman Numerals in the titles used to identify the films fell out of favor at Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Based on the timeline, character development, and full continuity of the Next Generation television series, Nemesis also (unfortunately) has the distinction of being the fourth and final film based on this crew.
Released originally in 2002, Star Trek Nemesis was directed by Stuart Baird, written by John Logan from a story initially developed by Logan, Brent Spiner (“Data”), and producer Rick Berman. The music score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, a man oft credited as being to Star Trek what John Williams is to Star Wars.
The story, though a bit complex for a couple-paragraph summary, goes something like this: Within the Romulan Imperial Senate, an argument is presented by the military that the time to strike the Federation is finally at hand. The Praetor (Romulus’ version of a president) not only dismisses the aggressive proposal, he goes on to rebuke the military for their foolishness. In a very cool special effects filled sequence, a female senator arranges for the assassination of everyone in the chamber, including the Praetor himself.
In the mean time the crew of the USS Enterprise celebrates the wedding of first officer William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), a ceremony that promises to conclude fully nude on Betazed.
On their way to complete the ceremony, the crew discovers a positronic energy signal on a planet in the Kolaran system (near the Romulan Neutral Zone) that warrants investigation. An away team consisting of Picard, Worf, and Data take a shuttlecraft down to the planet’s surface then tool around in a really cool all-terrain-vehicle while discovering remnants of an android resembling Data.
Considering the ship’s close proximity to the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Enterprise is then ordered by the Federation to conduct a diplomatic mission to the Romulus as apparently the Romulan government has undergone a military coup and is now controlled by a mysterious Reman named Shinzon.
Upon their arrival to Romulus, the crew learns that Shinzon is actually a clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, apparently built by the Romulans to replace the real Jean-Luc at the right moment. While he claims to want peace and freedom for the Remans (who raised him as a fellow slave), he also happens to occupy a most deadly warship called the Scimitar.
The film’s greatest strength, were I to isolate a single trait, would have to perhaps be its ability to take the elements that made The Next Generation television series so successful and apply them directly to the realm of the motion picture medium. A seemingly simple task that somehow manages to become lost in translation with the three Next Generation-based films that preceded it. Possibly coincidental (as I do believe scripting has as much to do with it as does the directing), Nemesis represents the first in three Next Generation films where Jonathan Frakes did not serve as director. As such, Paramount decided to go with English film director Stuart Baird, who confessed to having no prior knowledge of the franchise before coming on board.
The decision pays off in my opinion as the film is rife with solid pacing, interesting visuals, and some really slick editing (Baird’s primary area of expertise happens to be editing).
At this stage in the game, the cast and crew of The Next Generation had the show’s formula rolling like a well-oiled machine and it shows. The character interaction is second to none and perhaps even more impressive is the actors’ mastery of the tiny nuances of their character’s personalities. There’s a relaxed vibe to the acting that “grounds” the usual suspension of disbelief associated with enjoying science fiction.
The visuals are surprisingly low key for the genre but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The era of the film’s production was rife with computer-generated overload (perhaps no greater an example than Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones which was done entirely digitally). Star Trek has traditionally been a franchise that prided itself on resisting falling into becoming a “digital showcase” by relying upon practical effects, even at painstaking time and difficulty. Nemesis carries on with this tradition and the making-of bonus features contained on the DVD are certainly worth a look.
In all there is a bit of a twist at the end of the program that is sure to upset longtime devotees of the mythos but in keeping in mind that this film represents the final voyage of the crew, some sense of finality is to be expected.
There have been criticisms to the film stating that the formula was simply too “long in tooth” to continue any further and perhaps there is a hint of truth to such complaints within the prose. However, as far as sendoffs go, Nemesis delivers with the right blend of believable technology, fiction, and drama to ensure that fans will think fondly of The Next Generation for generations to come.
What did you think of this review?