Star Trek 288: Nemesis

288. Nemesis

FORMULA: Unification + The Wrath of Khan + Generations + Redemption

WHY WE LIKE IT: Effects and stunts, mostly, though many small moments as well.

WHY WE DON'T: Data's pointless death.

REVIEW: Finally the Romulans are given their due and are made the villains of a major motion picture. Well, almost. The Rommies are basically just dupes of Picard's evil clone and the Remans, Nosferatu lookalikes from that other planet in the bird's talons. I'm really happy to see Remus, don't get me wrong, but once again the second most-classic race in Star Trek gets the shaft. They're really rather friendly in their plaid phase.

But an evil clone? It's a strange proposition at this point, and if the theme is about the road not taken, well, wasn't that what Generations was for? Shinzon turns out to be a fearsome opponent, but with muddled objectives. He wants to take over the Star Empire, destroy Earth, suck DNA out of Picard to heal his degenerative disease, maybe mindrape Troi a little... And to do all that he's secretly built a giant ship with a massive death ray on it, taken control of the Senate overnight, scattered pieces of a previously unknown Soong-type android on a planet that the Enterprise would hopefully detect... It's all a little convoluted.

Data also gets an evil clone, but B-4 isn't really evil, just programmed to be bad, not that he understands what he's doing. Gives Brent Spiner one last dual role to play, and it seems to give creators an out if they ever want to bring Data back. Cuz, yeah, see, Data dies in this movie. And that's a major problem with it. If it'd done well, it might not have been the last TNG movie, but to be on the safe side, with the franchise losing a lot of steam around this time, it's written to be a last hurray. Crew members gets shuffled off here and there by movie's end, but the most drastic move is Data's death, and it seems to come out of nowhere. There's no foreshadowing (a deleted scene might have hinted at it - and had the Ressikan flute in it, damn it), and no actual last words. Check out other important deaths (like Spock's and Kirk's): They always get dealt a fatal blow, and then can have one last scene, speak some final words, create something that resonates. Not Data. He makes a choice to sacrifice himself, says goodbye to the empty air, and blows up. That's it. There's no big funeral either. Just his friends in an awkward silence, apparently as shocked as we are. Riker finally starts to tell the story of his first meeting with Data (and ours), but he can't remember the song the android was trying to whistle. Well, guess what, we all can. It was Pop Goes the Weasel. It would have been a great moment if B-4 had started whistling that instead of singing the wedding song from the start of the movie. But better to loop the film than 20 years of New Trek, I guess. None of those continuity references non-Trekkies apparently hate so much.

But there are lots here, and many that don't make sense. The wedding, for example, manages to avoid Lwaxana (there's a separate ceremony on Betazed), but still features cameos by Guinan and Wesley... in a Starfleet uniform. So what's the untold story there? The one that puts my teeth on edge, however, is Admiral Janeway. After 7 years of Trek creators trying to convince me that Janeway was hot stuff, they're still at it. Ok on the promotion, I guess they were impressed with her destroying the Borg, and we all know Admirals in Trek are often incompetent bullies, but having her refer to Picard as Jean-Luc while he has to stick to her title was just disrespectful. A better reference is a USS Archer listed on the Neutral Zone task force. Nice to see Enterprise get a little love. And a cameo I knew about but didn't think you could see IS visible at 1:23:25, and that's X-Men director Bryan Singer on the bridge of the ship.

As the big goodbye, Nemesis should probably have been more of an ensemble picture. Troi gets a good role, at least getting revenge on the Viceroy for his mental invasion with her psychic targeting trick. I'd have liked to see more of that on the show. And Riker gets a little action on a rickety ladder, alas. At least he finally makes captain. Geordi and Bev get the short end of the stick once again. If the chief engineer didn't have to play sidekick to Data, he'd be as useless as the doctor. Worf, for is part, gets some action but is still being humiliated. Screaming like a little girl when an android arm grabs his leg and his prudish refusal to go naked at Deanna's wedding is ridiculously out of character.

I seem pretty down on the film, but there are some good points. The acting, of course, is at its usual level, as are the stunts and effects. There are some fun action sequences, from a dune buggy chase in a barren desert to a Scorpion escape through the corridors of the Scimitar. A blind dogfight in a nebula tries to be The Wrath of Khan, but after the major ship battles of First Contact and Deep Space 9, a couple of Romulan ships (and I do like the sleeker warbirds) doesn't excite much. But the final battle between the Enterprise and the Scimitar is certainly up to standards. The ramming maneuver threatened in Insurrection here finally happens, and the damage is major. Data jumping from ship to ship, all of that. Not sure about the physics, but it's certainly epic, and I've always said the Enterprise-E looked as sharp as a blade.

LESSON: My clone would probably be evil. Unless I'm evil, then my clone is good.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: What can I say? Good seeing these characters one last time, I just wish the story was a little more relevant. Shinzon makes for another forgettable villain and the Romulans' potential is again wasted, but it looks good. Repeat viewings cushion the blow of Data's death, but don't make it feel any less futile.


SilverWolf said...

Have you seen the Starwars vs Startrek video on Youtube

Siskoid said...

No, I'm not a particularly big You-Tube guy. I hope Star Trek wins...

Anonymous said...

I am as pissed about Data's death as you seem to be.

Data was like an adopted son to Picard. Picard should have been much more upset, especially given the "family" angle from Generations in which Picard was crying at the loss of his family Data's death would have been absolutely crushing to Picard, similar to Kirk's son David's death in Wrath of Khan.

Utterly inexcusable and waste of Data. And giving themselves an "out" with the other Soong Android was downright cowardly.

Bill D. said...

I dunno... I always thought Picard's use of Janeway's rank was a sign of respect for her, one equally of friendship and of her being an accomplished ship saver & Borg ass-kicker. You've gotta figure he appreciates stuff like that.

Siskoid said...

Sure Bill, I understand where Picard's coming from, I just resent what the CREATORS are telling us about Janeway, as I've always resented their forcing her supposed prowess down our throats.

These characters have never met before onscreen, so a friendship is extremely debatable. And Nechayev called him Captain, as did most Admirals. I know they want us to believe she's "inner circle", that she's one of the "cool kids". I just don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

These elements from the plot: "Taking over the Senate", "Ruling the star Empire" and "secretly building a giant ship with massive death ray" do sound familiar. I just can't put my finger on what may be the source material...

I'll just go back to play Lego Star Wars on my PS2. :-P

Siskoid said...

Oh Doc, you didn't go there, did you?


Joshua said...

When I finally saw this movie, I thought Shinzon seemed less like a clone of Picard, and more of a clone of Wesley Crusher. It's just the actor I'm sure, but every time I see him, it reminds me of Wesley, and it made me think that a final TNG movie that was Picard vs. Wesley would've been WAY superior to what we have here. Even just watching it, I like to pretend Shinzon is Wesley and that makes it a little bit better.


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