Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) / Sci Fi-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and peril and a scene of sexual content
Running Time: 116 min.
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis
Director: Stuart Baird
Screenplay: John Logan
Review published December 12, 2002
Reportedly the last of "The Next Generation"'s big-screen series, Star Trek: Nemesis lacks the punctuation of finality that a last film would have, but it's still an exciting entry, and a definite step up in the plodding action in Star Trek: Insurrection. I know this film has gotten less-than-stellar reviews elsewhere, and maybe the lower expectations helped me to like this film more, but in my opinion, this is almost as good as Star Trek: First Contact, with an exciting last half that hearkens to the guts-and-glory showdown of Kirk vs. Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The film starts of with some levity at the wedding of Riker (Frakes, Star Trek: Generations) and Deanna Troi (Sirtis, Crash), but their honeymoon is cut short when they discover some unusual positronic emissions coming from an area of the neutral zone near the Romulan realm. Once there, they discover an android which was a prototype to Data (Spiner, The Master of Disguise), and then the Enterprise comes face-to-face with a predator Reman spaceship at the control of Shinzon (Hardy, Layer Cake), who happens to be a clone of Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart, X-Men). Shinzon was thrown into the mines by the Romulans, where he had a strong desire to see the stars, not to discover them, but to conquer. However, Shinzon is dying quickly, and needs Picard's DNA, while also plotting the destruction of Earth as his first step to glory and in becoming greater than Picard.
It's not without flaws, as there were too many moments where I thought Tom Hardy as Shinzon looks more like a clone of Mike Myers' Dr. Evil than he does Patrick Stewart, and there were plot elements that were telegraphed long before occurring. However, almost all of the Star Trek films have had major weaknesses, so those in Nemesis are to be expected. The film starts off slow and awkward, but the set-up of the duel between Shinzon and Picard is nicely constructed, and the ensuing battle is as rousing as any in the long-running series. This is Stuart Baird's first attempt at directing a Star Trek feature, but his career as editor and also as director for decent films like Executive Decision and U.S. Marshals prove he has the talent necessary to bring it all together. John Logan, screenwriter for Gladiator, provides some good moments of dramatic tension, even if Shinzon looks and acts a bit too much like Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus to think he wasn't borrowing ideas from himself.
Star Trek: Nemesis is recommended for fans of the series, especially of "The Next Generation", but I'm not sure how much entertainment those who aren't familiar with the characters will have considering the film assumes you're intimately knowledgeable with every aspect. Some of the action is also a little darker and more chaotic than the television show's may be accustomed to seeing, and it takes a while to get used to the different tone and action. Still, for those who do get drawn in (like myself,) it's a thrilling battle, and definitely worth your time. I'm not sure what the future holds for Star Trek fans now that the second generation's chapter is closed, but I'll be eagerly anticipating the next one, and hope it can provide just as much entertainment and thrills.
©2002 Vince Leo