Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) – Retrospective Science Fiction Film Review
The tenth STAR TREK feature film is not the worst of the bunch – in fact, with the exception of STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT it is probably the best to deploy the cast of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – but there is a sense that, by this time, the anti-matter had been drained out of the dilithium crystals. The cast and crew strive honorably to recharge the batteries, but the effect is just enough to jump-start one final adventure before sending the Starship Enterprise back to dry dock. As usual for the franchise, STAR TREK: NEMESIS be judged only by other STAR TREK films: fans may or may not like it, depending on whether they feel it stays true to the series; either way, it has little life as a stand-alone feature film.
Actually, screenwriter John Logan (GLADIATOR) makes a decent effort at crafting a dramatic story with some interesting ideas, and director Stuart Baird strives to impose a threatening sense of intimidation, bordering on outright doom, into STAR TREK: NEMESIS. This is not a bright and shiny science fiction film but a dark and brooding drama, and the shift in tone is a welcome one.
Unfortunately, the plot is based on a premise that requires an extremely contrived back story, one so unlikely that viewers simply have to shake their heads and say, “It’s only a movie.” Not only does the android Data’s duplicate show up; Captain Picard meets a Romulan enemy, who turns out to be his “clone.” (How did the Romulans come by Picard’s genetic material? Don’t ask – please!)
If you forgive the frankly incredible set-up, STAR TREK: NEMESIS is not bad, and Baird manages to make it feel less like a made-for-television movie that the previous NEXT GENERATION features. Nevertheless, the film continues the unfortunate penchant for short-changing the cast in favor of focusing on Picard and Data. The female characters, as usual, are the worst victims. The best that the script can think of for Counselor Troi is to have her raped (psychically, not physically, but the implication is clear enough), setting up a last-reel retribution.
As ever THE NEXT GENERATION wears its inferiority complex to the original TAR TREK on its sleeve. In an attempt to create a thrilling, tear-jerking conclusion, STAR TREK: NEMESIS shamelessly cops the conclusion of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (the Enterprise is unable to outrun a catastrophic weapon until someone sacrifices himself), with Data standing in for Spock. If you overlook the plagiarism, the sequence is effective enough, but you wish the films could take us “where no one has gone before” instead of revisiting the same space quadrants over and over.
STAR TREK: NEMESIS was a box office disappointment that resulted in putting the film on hiatus until 2009’s revitalized STAR TREK, which saw the return of the classic cast of characters, played by new, younger actors.
STAR TREK: NEMESIS(2002). Directed by Stuart Baird. Screenplay by John Logan; story by Logan & Rick Berman & Brent Spiner. Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Shannon Cochran, Dina Meyer, Jude Ciccolella, alan Dale, John Berg, Michael Owen, Kate Mulgrew, Will Wheaton, Majel Barrett.