I must say up front that I am a Trekker, specifically Next Generation cast and I don’t wear costumes to premieres. What I like best about Star Trek movies in general (unlike say, the X Files movie) is they operate on a higher level than the episodes, but complement and/or add to the existing lore. I am also a subscriber to the even/odd numbered quality meter for Star Trek films; i.e. even numbered ones good, odd ones bad. Until now.
This cast has always had delightful ensemble on the small and big screens, and previous directors have taken advantage of this chemistry and their acting pedigrees as well. To the degree that this script allows it, they have that chemistry again; but the script is pretty bad, and has no focus. Not only does this film not complement or add to the vast existent Trek universe, it actually sucks material from other films (bad and good) and puts a big stain on the carefully built Trek universe. Ecch.
After a forced, pseudo-merry introduction, the film proceeds (misguidedly) to try and emulate the empirical colonialism vibe of the most recent Star Wars crap, including meaningless CGI work, heavy reliance on our familiarity with the characters, blatant disregard for the existing knowledge base of the series, and even a freakin’ firefight in a corridor. (When you see it, as I know you suckers for punishment will, you will know exactly what corridor I mean.) The “central conflict” is between two planets (Romulus and Remus) we have never cared about, one of which has apparently been enslaving or keeping down the other in the name of commerce. Oh, but we are ultimately supposed to sympathize with the enslaving capitalists! But that is actually far secondary to the cosmic, personal struggle that screenwriter John Logan (Bats) has in store for us. Ooh I am all atremble.
The titular Nemesis is a – well, I don’t want to give anything away, but it rhymes with bone. The film seems to think the big shocker is pretty obvious, and then crabs about having to tell us. It’s like a bad comedian having to explain a joke that was never funny in the first place. When bee-stung lipped Shinzon (Tom Hardy) appears, it’s really only obvious he’s a bad guy who’s taken fashion tips from Ming the Merciless. Maybe it’s the “Hello, My Name Is Dr. Evil” name tag.
I can’t even go into all the humongous reasons why Data’s Little Orphan Android subplot is irritating, but for the fans I’ll say this: What about Lore?
The film annoys far more people than it entertains, and only raises questions to which we don’t care to have the answer. Most of Nemesis has the same arrogant blandness that George Lucas has perfected, which is of course, bad. I have generally preferred Star Trek to Star Wars for Trek’s non-mythologizing of goodness and cooperation. Trek was founded on the ideals of solving the world’s current problems and exploration and cooperation. Star Wars (see previous reviews) enlists a theocratic elite to battle the imperialist pigs. Sure, it’s all down to taste. But the movies are marked with differing standards of creativity. Trek gives me Vulcans and Borg. Wars gives me Jabba the Hut and Jar Jar and tie-ins. Nemesis gives me more of Jabba’s motiveless random craziness and not enough good stuff like Q; mischief with reasoning. Instead, we have RSC vet Patrick Stewart wasting his sublime and masterful character on scenes with Mini Me. And the music – what the hell is that?
Brent Spiner (with a writing credit) throws away some potential actorly moments, and thankfully I didn’t miss his big moment despite dozing off during the big last battle scene; director Stuart Baird (Tomb Raider) didn’t grab the dramatic brass ring when he could have. Nemesis is an aggravatingly middling movie, which practically guarantees there will be no more in the future. I am very disappointed.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/13/02
Time in minutes 116
Director Stuart Baird