STAR TREK: NEMESIS
Director: Stuart Baird
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Dina Meyer
MPAA Rating: (for sci-fi action violence and peril and a scene of sexual content)
Running Time: 1:56
Release Date: 12/13/02
Review by Mark Dujsik
You either look to Star Trek films with the eyes of a diehard fan or a regular moviegoer looking for a fun journey through space. Count me in the latter, although I appreciate the series for its escapist value and recognize a few of the entries as prime examples of such. The ďNext GenerationĒ cast has done well on the film front, especially after the mess that was Generations, in which the new cast met with the old and the focus changed. The next film, First Contact, is easily one of the best of the series, and the previous movie, Insurrection, although completely forgettable, is still worth a look. So how does Star Trek: Nemesis, the tenth film in the series, fare compared to the other installments? The answer is fairly well. The film doesnít break any new ground for the series or science-fiction in general, but itís an entertaining and well-crafted diversion. Thatís all we ask for or can expect from these films.
The film opens with an act of treachery and a coup within the Romulan Senate. Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew are celebrating the marriage of Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Diana Troy (Marina Sirtis). As the starship Enterprise heads off to the happy coupleís honeymoon spot, they discover a strange signal coming from a distant planet. The signal can only be generated by androids, like the shipís Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Upon a scavenger hunt on the planet, Picard, Data, and Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) discover a replica of Dataóa prototype of the more advanced model. As if this werenít strange enough, the Enterprise is soon called in to meet with the new leadership of Romulus for a diplomatic conference with the topic of conversation being the possibility of peace between the Federation and the Romulans. The Enterprise is met by a gigantic predatory warship and Shinzon (Tom Hardy), its captain and the new leader of Romulus, who shares something much deeper with Picard than a striking resemblance to him in his youth.
It turns out that Shinzon is Picardís clone, created by the Romulans to take the captainís place once the clone has hit the proper age and consequently have a spy within the Federation. Most of the film focuses on the central conflict between Picard and Shinzon, and whatís interesting about it is that itís not merely a matter of good vs. evil. The two are genetically equal but have completely different upbringings. It makes Picard question whether or not, under the right circumstances, he could act as Shinzon does. It also leaves a question open for us: Is Shinzon completely malicious, or are there some of Picardís characteristics in him? This isnít the most complex or captivating issue a Star Trek film has brought up, but in dealing with the argument of nature vs. nurture, the Picard/Shinzon conflict is probably one of the more memorable ones in the series. It all leads to an intense and exciting final battle in which thereís surprisingly a lot of action going on. Of course, thereís the main starship battle, but thereís also a bit of subterfuge and sabotage. It also leads to some events that require a leap in logic, like whatís the use of an ultimate weapon that takes seven minutes to prepare? Why use that weapon against a ship that could be destroyed with much less and as a result allow the opportunity to stop it?
As long as a film like this keeps our interest in the action on screen, we can forgive logical missteps like these, and Nemesisí final battle allows just that. Up until then, the film treats us to some of the best special effects work in a Star Trek movie to date. The giant imposing ships sailing through space are impressive, and the first appearance of Shinzonís gigantic bird of prey is a bit chilling. The split screen work in which Brent Spiner interacts with himself is pretty seamless. The final fight has Shinzonís ship cloaked for a good amount of time, and the way it slightly reappears once hit is a nice touch. I also liked the presentation of the subatomic weapon in the opening scene, where an entire roomful of Romulan senators quickly decay to some kind of hardened ash, and the way in which the veins Shinzonís face subtly begin to show through, eventually leading to a freakish looking villain for the final confrontation. And beside the final battle, thereís really only one other action set pieceóa chase on dune buggies across a barren, sepia-filmed planetóthat manages mild thrills and a resolution thatís hard to swallow.
I have no problem recommending Star Trek: Nemesis. Sure, itís more of the same, but as the film proves, thatís not always a bad thing. The movie is being advertised as the final one for this cast, although box office revenue can always change promises like that. If it turns out to be true, though, itís too bad they couldnít go out with a more rousing final voyage.
Copyright © 2002 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.