Much to its own detriment, the “Star Trek” franchise has become so niche that it doesn’t allow room for the uninitiated or even the casual viewer anymore. Take “Star Trek: Nemesis” for example: the show offers absolutely nothing by way of explanation or history on the characters. Which means that if you don’t know what a Romulan is, you will sit there like a lump and wonder what the heck is going on — not to mention wondering what the heck is a “Reman”.
“Nemesis” brings back the crew of the “Next Generation” for what seems like, by all indications, their final movie. This time around Picard (Patrick Stewart) and company has to contend with Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a clone of Picard who has taken over as Praetor (i.e. supreme leader) of the Romulan Empire. Shinzon considers himself a Reman because he was sentenced to imprisonment on Remus, the “sister” planet to Romulus, where the Romulan Empire dumps all of their prisoners to work in the mines. Growing up hating Romulans as much as humans, Shinzon has plans to use a new super duper ship and a new super duper weapon to destroy Earth, but first he has to get Picard to donate some blood.
What? Nevermind the above description. Here’s a question: Do you know that there has been, as of 2003, five different “Star Trek” TV series? If the answer is Yes, then you probably have a chance of understanding what the heck is going on in “Nemesis”. If the answer is, “What? Five? You’re kidding me!”, then you probably won’t care anyway. What I’m trying to say is, if you don’t know “Star Trek”, then my advice is to watch one of George Lucas’ shallow eye candy (otherwise known as the “Star Wars” saga) instead. “Star Trek” is not for the likes of you.
The plot of “Nemesis” is so simple that at first glance one might think it’s actually much more complex than it actually is. The screenplay is by John Logan (“Gladiator”) from ideas/stories by current “Star Trek” head honcho Rick Berman and series star Brent Spiner. Once all the talking is done with, the film concludes with a thrilling 40-minute space battle between the Enterprise, Romulan Warbirds, and Shinzon’s super duper new ship, which can go invisible at will and seems to be rather indestructible.
The action in “Nemesis” is standard “Trek” stuff, meaning it’s not of the fast and glitzy variety one may be used to in, say, the “Star Wars” universe. Ships maneuver quite slowly in space, as well they should, and despite the groovy lightshow, the “Trek” ships have always shown a better understanding of science — or at least by movie science standards, ahem. Director Stuart Baird (“Executive Decision”) directs “Nemesis” using a lot of shadows and darkness, adding a lot of atmosphere and somber mood in the appropriate sequences.
For fans of the series, there are a number of bonus treats to be found in “Nemesis”. Kate Mulgrew, formerly the Captain of the “Star Trek: Voyager” TV series, appears in a cameo as an Admiral. Wil Wheaton, who was originally in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series but left early on, shows up in a non-speaking part early in the movie, during the wedding of Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis). Also, for those able to make it out, the name “Kirk” is heard during the long space battle. And these are just some of the few that I caught.
The great leap in special effects has benefited the science fiction genre more than any other genre. The CGI and computer model work of “Nemesis” is truly amazing. This movie looks fantastic, from the aerial view of a Romulan city to a breathtaking scene where the Enterprise decides to “touch bumpers” with Shinzon’s super duper ship. Although I have to admit, the dune buggy scene early in the film is a bit strange, not to mention just more than a little lame.
“Nemesis” is not for anyone who doesn’t know the franchise. I am myself something of a lapsed fan, as I have seen most of the TV shows with the exception of the most recent one. I have not seen a single episode of “Enterprise”, and don’t plan to, for the simple reason that I find the notion of not including “Star Trek” in the show’s title to be more than just a little offensive.
Stuart Baird (director)
CAST: Patrick Stewart …. Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes …. Commander William T. Riker
Brent Spiner …. Lt. Commander Data/B-4
LeVar Burton …. Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
Michael Dorn …. Lt. Commander Worf
Gates McFadden …. Dr. Beverly Crusher