“Jean-Luc, how’d you like a trip to Romulus?
With or without the rest of the fleet?”
“Our eyes reflect our lives, don’t they?”
“To absent friends. To family”
Nemesis is…not great, but it’s the last outing for our beloved TNG crew, so we’re going to give it its due.
Even if we don’t want to…
The biggest issue with Nemesis is that director Stuart Baird knew nothing of The Next Generation or Star Trek. There were issues on the set with several of the main cast members growing upset at the direction the film was taking, and the final cut of the film went through a few iterations. It’s funny that parts of the film feel very much in line with established mythology and others miss the mark wildly. The climax of the film is terrific, but the road leading up to it is quite twisty and strange.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
The Ship: The Enterprise E (Yay!). She takes quite a beating, but she continues on in the Star Trek TNG relaunch series of novels, which is nice. She’s a gorgeous ship and deserves more than three films.
The Captain: Picard, facing probably his most personal trial apart from his capture by the Borg and his torture at the hands of Gul Madred. Not only does he face a villain who has a personal vendetta against him, but he loses a dear friend. *sniff*
The Premise: When the Romulan Senate is assassinated, The Enterprise is invited to Romulus to meet the new praetor, a mysterious human named Shinzon who promises a *makes huge air quotes* “peace treaty.” Once Picard meets Shinzon, it’s clear that he isn’t after peace at all, but is seeking vengeance against Picard (for reasons).
Along the way, they come across a prototype Soong-type android (who isn’t Lore, darn it) whose innocence belies a sinister connection to Shinzon’s revenge plot.
The premise is actually cool, but the way it’s handled is not great.
The Best Moments: Despite its issues, it does have some great moments. Riker and Troi’s wedding is so lovely, and it’s a great farewell party to the cast. Guinan and Wesley even make an appearance, though a longer Wesley scene with dialogue ended up on the cutting-room floor.
I love the moment with Data, Crusher, Geordi, and B-4 right before he’s assembled. It has a classic TNG feel, and I wish those actors had been given more to do. The cast has wonderful chemistry and, if it were up to me, I would have just made the whole movie casual conversation between everyone, with the actors playing off each other.
It’s probably a good idea I didn’t write the script… I just love this cast so dearly.
The final battle between the Enterprise and the Scimitar is really cool, culminating in Picard ramming the ever living daylights out of the other ship (whooo!). I also love Data’s rescue of Picard, even though it…it… *starts crying*
*pulls self together*
So, Data’s big moment.
When I first saw this in the theaters, I was happily going along with all the explosions and crashes and stuff, but that moment when Data whispers “Goodbye” and then BLOWS UP THE SHIP, I almost screamed at the screen I was so traumatized. This was before pervasive internet spoilers, so I literally was not expecting it. But it’s such a powerful moment. Especially afterwards when Picard is standing on the bridge of the Enterprise looking completely and utterly devastated. He tries to keep it together and doesn’t quite manage it. We’ve seen Picard break down before, but this is one of the few moments when he looks completely lost. It’s heartbreaking, and one of the most well-acted moments in the movie.
I’m not a fan of how the comics brought Data back via B-4. Unlike Spock, who needed to come back, Data sacrificing his life really completes his lifelong quest to be human. To negate that sort of takes that away from Data’s lifelong journey. Also, if we take the “A Time To…” series of novels as canon, we learn that Starfleet took Data’s emotion chip for study in between the previous film and this one. So, his emotional decision to sacrifice himself to save his crew arose spontaneously from his programming, not as the result of extra information from his emotion chip. It’s Data’s apotheosis, and shouldn’t be canceled out.
I also love the Romulans. Especially Donatra. She’s fierce.
Why It’s Awesome
Aside from the really cool moments previously mentioned, it’s…not…
It has so much potential to be awesome, but instead it falls to generic action tropes to dictate the story. The Argo is cool, but Picard would NEVER take it down to a planet inhabited by a pre-warp civilization and then re-enact Mad Max with the locals. It’s an action sequence that was inserted just to fill time by writers who decided the Prime Directive was boring.
Shinzon is another element that wasn’t handled well. I LOVE the idea of Picard fighting a clone of himself, and I LOVE Tom Hardy, but the character is written so unevenly that he never feels like an actual threat. And that’s hard to do because Tom Hardy is, like, really cool. Nor do we really care about Shinzon’s backstory, which just feels like a cursory attempt to elicit sympathy. Plus, I will NEVER understand the shot of Picard as a bald cadet. We know he had hair when he was younger. We’ve seen Young Picard many times. It just looks like a lazy art department didn’t want to Photoshop some hair onto Tom Hardy, so they left him as he looked as Shinzon. Sigh.
And why B-4 wasn’t Lore I’ll never understand. I think having the Picard clone team up with Data’s evil twin would have been spectacular. B-4 is cute and innocent, but he becomes a prop/convenient plot point, and isn’t very interesting apart from being a source of comedy.
Initially, the film was intended to lead into another film that would feature a post-Dominion-War Deep Space Nine as well as a safe-at-home Voyager (so the rumors say), but when this film performed so badly at the box office, that idea was scrapped, which is SUPER depressing because that would have been CRAZY fantastic. *shakes fist at universe* Star Trek sort of fizzled out as a franchise after this (carrying on in the various books and comics, some of which are quite good).
Fret not, because the franchise as a whole got a sort of epilogue (that’s kind of a prologue) in the form of Enterprise, which we’ll discuss next week. It’s super controversial, but it’s also quite good. See you then!!