Star Trek (X): Nemesis (2002) – Directed by Stuart Baird – Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Tom Hardy, and Ron Perlman.
You know STAR TREK: NEMESIS is going to be awesome the minute the opening titles roll out and they do the whole backwards/mirrored letters bit with the “R”s in STAR TREK and the “E”s in NEMESIS.
It would be one thing to pull off that “cool when we were sophomores and they finally let us in the editing suite” move if they were relaunching the franchise with NEMESIS, but this is the end of the line, and given the film’s tagline of “A generation’s final journey begins,” and the nature of the script – marrying off Riker and Troi, giving Riker his own command, killing Data – indicates the producers had to know this was it.
It’d be enough thing, too, if this was somehow a different Star Trek film, but it’s not. It’s just more of the same, except worse. There’s nothing about NEMESIS that makes it play radically different than either Generations or First Contact (I haven’t seen Insurrection because Netflix is either saving me or hating me), so it just comes off as a lame attempt to … I dunno, be kewl or something.
It’s dumb, which makes it the perfect titles, actually, for the two-hour bag of crap that follows.
I really just don’t understand what the intent of anything is supposed to be in NEMESIS. From the opening sequence with the Enterprise cast attending Riker and Troi’s wedding (the human half, at least), it seems clear that NEMESIS wants to pull off the “this is an end/this isn’t the end” move. Fine. But then it has a curious way of going about it.
First, they hear some kind of distress call and go looking for it on a desert planet where people shoot at them and Picard, Worf, and Data ride in a dune buggy. While not quite the equivalent of the ridiculous rock-climbing Kirk scene in The Final Frontier (in part because they play this straight; in part because Patrick Stewart isn’t an old fatty), it’s one of those stupid scenes that gets added to an action movie when you haven’t seen anyone shoot anything or blow up in a while. It’s like they want it to be, “See, Picard is still virile because he likes to drive fast in a dune buggy!” but it’s more like, “Hey, when did Star Trek start inserting stupid scenes with stupid things they can knock a toy out of for your local Target?”
Data is all, “I don’t understand the human attraction to going fast” or some crap that he’s always saying. At this point, why does anything about humanity surprise Data? Or if he’s still being surprised, shouldn’t it be about, I dunno, hentai? Chia Pets? People who put ketchup on Shepherd’s Pie? What a completely useless character. Or stupid. Or both. Maybe when I rewatch The Next Generation series, I’ll re-evaluate my take on him in the confines of a weekly television show, but as a movie character … just dreadful.
Worse – oh yeah, WORSE – what do they find on that dustball planet? ANOTHER DATA.
Good lord. And this Other Data’s name? B-4. They know it’s stupid because they have Picard say, “Dr. Soong’s penchant for whimsical names continues.” It’s whimsical because Soong is a genius, but it has all the ingeniousness of crazy people naming their cats after their favorite types of soup. As if to exist just to prove that Data isn’t as awful as he could be, B-4 says things like, “Why does the tall man have a furry face?” when looking at Riker.
Luckily, they decommission him pretty quick when they realize he’s a spy for Shinzon. Who’s Shinzon?
A clone of Picard.
Yup, NEMESIS is a clone story, and again, I have to wonder, what’s the point? I mean, honestly, they try this whole “Picard feels a connection to this younger version of his DNA” but he really doesn’t. Is it supposed to be a silent nod to his whole, “The Picard family line dies with me” bit from Generations? If he’s so virile with his dune bugginess, and if Crusher keeps giving him the I-Know-What-You-Look-Like-Nekkid smirk, get a room and get on with it.
Shinzon is pretty clearly a bad guy right from the start (you can tell this from both his ridiculous costume and his ridiculous name) and he generates no sympathy. Great, you were created as a Romulan plot and then discarded, forced to live on Remus in the slave labor camps. We all got it tough, Shinzon, that’s no excuse to go killing people.
If you’re going to introduce a clone in a movie like this, it would seem the best use of him would be to get the original to re-evaluate their life through the new choices and opportunities that the clone has available to them.
Instead, Shinzon is just a younger, evil Picard … except he’s not. He’s just a run-of-the-mill, lame-ass bad guy. Are we ever supposed to think this guy is Picard’s equal? It doesn’t happen. Not once.
Shinzon has a “viceroy,” who stands around, touching him when Shinzon gets weak (I don’t even want to try to explain it – he’s dying or degenerating or hurrying toward some other artificial ending the movie makers trump up in order to make the plot move faster), and he’s got a cool, evil face that looks like a leftover design from the Master on Buffy, and it’s Ron Perlman.
Look, nothing against Ron Perlman but when did he become such the go-to guy for monsters that no one else gets a crack unless Perlman’s busy? At what point did Hollywood decide if you need someone to put up an unmoving mask, get Ron Perlman. He must’ve read the script for NEMESIS and said to his agent or wife or hooker-friend, “They’re going to pay my rate for this tripe? I say, like, seven things. They do realize they could get one of the stunt guys to do all this, right? God, do I really want to work that weekend? Crappity Jones, they don’t even give this guy a name! Now I’m taking this role just to spite them.”
The Viceroy and Shinzon team up to appear in the single worst scene I’ve seen in any of these Star Trek movies – the telepathic rape of Deanna Troi. It’s a completely disgusting concept, filmed in a manner slasher films would employ, and in no way adds to this movie. It’s made doubly worse when Picard says that he needs her to endure more of these violations for the good of the mission.
This is the point where Riker should’ve got in the old man’s grill and knocked his ass down. Instead, everyone just sort of looks on blankly.
Rape, even if it’s “just” telepathic rape, is a classic bridge-too-far. This isn’t Viceroy stepping into Troi’s mind to have her think Riker got flushed out of an airlock; it’s the Viceroy forcing images of both himself and Shinzon into Troi’s mind while she’s having physical sex with her husband and replacing his face with first Shinzon’s and then the Viceroy’s, so as Riker is pumping away, she’s seeing the two bad guys. Unreal.
The sequence is a total and unequivocal game-changer, and the makers of NEMESIS treat it like it’s just something bad guys do to good guys and Troi will get her revenge when she mind-connects back with the Viceroy later on. Are you serious?
There is no payback for rape, and it is to the enduring shame of this production that the counselor – the flipping ship’s counselor – gets NO SCENE where she is counseled on this telepathic rape. Troi tells Picard, in no uncertain terms, that she was violated and wants to be relieved of duty because she feels herself to be a liability. Picard refuses, telling her that if she can withstand further assaults (!!!!), he needs her by his side. They victimize Troi through the rape, and then silence her professional voice, and then have her telepathically punch back at her rapist as if that’s some kind of logical revenge.
Where were the actors to put a stop to this? Or were they all not thinking, spending all their time sitting around the food cart noshing on slices of baked ham and lobster cakes and reminiscing about the time some broad in a Klingon costume flashed them in Prague.
Is there anything good about NEMESIS? Yeah, the starship fight between the Enterprise and the Scimitar is pretty good. In general, the look of the film is slick, although there are hilarious close-ups of the Enterprise crew pushing their touch pad control boards. Like the audience is right there with Yeoman Whoever pushing the red button, then the blue button, then the other red button.
Isn’t this exciting?
No, it’s just one big, dumb, stupid movie where everyone appears to be sleepwalking. They kill Data, but then reactivate B-4 to take his place, which isn’t at all creepy in its psychological implications.
An unfitting end to the ride of The Next Generation cast. But hey, here’s pretty some pretty CGI footage: