Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Director: Stuart Baird.
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy.
So, they made a complete ‘Ed Balls’ of Insurrection. They took a longer than normal time-out, brought in non-Trekkie Stuart Baird to direct and hired Gladiator scribe John Logan (who is a Trekkie – big mistake) to co-write alongside Rick Berman and Brent ‘The Singing Android’ Spiner. Are the shackles off this one then? Are they f… This’ll barely qualify as a review and will be full of SPOILERS, etc…
There’s been a coup d’etat at the Romulan senate and in comes Shinzon, a Reman, who are sort of like the pit bulls of the Romulan Empire. Shinzon is the new Praetor, whatever that is, the Reman version of David Cameron I should think, and he seeks peace with the Federation. They despatch Picard & Co to be the Fed emissaries but along the way they also discover Data’s brother – no not Lore, another one who nobody knows about but who preceded Data and Lore. He’s called B-4 and he’s a simpleton… Yeh. Anyhow, Shinzon has got an ulterior motive (surprise) and a deadly secret. Oh, and he’s Picard’s clone, developed by the Romulans to infiltrate Starfleet, a plot that was subsequently abandoned (and I think I know why – it was a shit idea). Nevertheless, Shinzon’s not chuffed with just about everybody in the Universe, particularly Earthians, and by Grabthar’s Hammer if he isn’t gonna serve up his dish of chilly revenge…
I don’t know why Shinzon is ultra-angry at Earth and Picard. I can understand him murdering the Romulan Council because it was they who stole his identity and then left him to die in a roughhouse gulag when he was about 3. But okay I’ll go with it, his is a twisted mind, he’s an ‘echo’ of a man he can never fully become with a purpose no longer required, gonna mess with anybody’s head, that. But most of all, and I think you know what I’m going to write next, most of all… he doesn’t look anything like Picard. So, the big moment, when Shinzon steps from the shadows and into the light, accompanied by spooky music cue and incredulous expressions pasted on the faces of the Enterprise crew and in particular Picard, me, as an audience, is sat there going, ‘And? What?’ All right, the moment is probably meant to instil a sense of mystery in the audience but when we find out – ‘confirmed, Jean-Luc, he’s yer clone…’ – you’re having a laugh, mate. Bear in mind also, in the series we’ve seen young Picard in flashback; he looked like Patrick Stewart, not Tom Hardy. And he had hair. Why couldn’t Stewart play both roles? They’ve got a ready-made reason to do it – the Romulans added accelerated aging to the cloning process, Picard didn’t necessarily need to be a younger version. Christ, Spiner’s doing it with Data and B-4; imagine how much fun Pat would’ve had with a dual role.
This is a dilly, this… Shinzon requires a complete blood transfusion to be cured of an aging defect in the cloning process. The only compatible donor is Jean-Luc Picard. The bait is set and the trap sprung; positronic signatures send the Enterprise to a planet called Kolarus III where various lumps of B-4 are scattered hither and thither. Of course, B-4 has been planted there on purpose, for he has been programmed to rummage through the Enterprise databanks and steal information on the whereabouts of the Federation fleet. Remember the ‘Prime Directive’ from last time out? We’re told there’s a pre-warp civilisation on the planet, so straight away the idiot humans shouldn’t be revealing themselves. We’re also told there’s an ion storm nearby and it would be risky using the transporter in case the storm comes any closer. So, right, before it comes closer, why don’t they beam up the bits of android, like we’ve seen them beam shit up on many occasions throughout the franchise, thus leaving the pre-warpies undisturbed? When Picard, Worf and Data take a futuristic jeep for a spin on the surface they are attacked by crazed aliens and it is only through some unlikely stunt driving any of them get back alive. Question: why does Shinzon, a clone of Picard (who feels and thinks like Picard), risk his only chance of survival by dropping pieces of B-4 on a planet full of ‘Mad Max’ psychopaths knowing Picard may exercise Captain’s prerogative, treat himself to some well earned R&R and get his throat ripped out in the process? Did Shinzon not once think, ‘Hmmm… maybe I should stick B-4 on a barren airless moon unfit for futuristic jeeps and slaphead starship captains…’ Brainless.
With Spiner co-writing I’m not surprised Data (‘emotion chip-less’ again – bonus) is up front. I think Spiner puts in a decent performance (apart from the sodding singing), his sombre deactivation of B-4 a stand-out scene. It’s clear the remit was to curtsey in the direction of Khan – big revenge storyline and an epic space battle. And like Khan there was some pre-publicity hype about a major character being killed off. Quite obvious who, from the lumpen moment Data explains the emergency, one-use-only beam out device to Picard. For those who have seen the final episode of the Next Generation TV show which featured an older Data in the future very much alive, it doesn’t make sense. In my opinion, the decision not to off a human character is cowardly – Picard would have been a powerful prime candidate. But, they haven’t even got the balls to kill Data; we get B-4 at the end responding to Data’s (soul) memory engram transplant from earlier in the film. So, really, the series finale features B-4. Who knew…? There’s no reason for B-4 to be in this story. There could’ve been an imposter already on board, another clone maybe. We could’ve still had a scene near the beginning where Picard leads an away team in his buggy and said clone does the futile ‘ship regulations’ rap. Later, after clone has delivered Starfleet secrets, Shinzon cold bloodedly murders him for allowing Picard to take an unnecessary risk and so jeopardising his transfusion. See? B-4 is there for one reason and one reason only; continuity. Cowardly. Still, if there were any more Next Gen movies, at least we could have the whole ‘android learning to be human’ all over again… Joy.
Tom Hardy. Shinzon is a better bad guy than Ru’afo from Insurrection. His arc is sound; he’s not Romulan or Reman, but neither is he human and this inner conflict engenders psychotic tendencies. He should also be exactly like Picard in thought and deed; this conflict just about floats why he isn’t. Baird attempts to show Shinzon in an inquisitive light early on but the dinner scene with Picard fails to convince. Am I expected to think that the Shinz is having second thoughts, or is he merely looking upon the man he may have become if he wasn’t three oars short of a longboat? Hardy is okay for the first half and excels in the scene with Picard captured and the plan laid bare; for the second, he is required to glare at a view screen and with fewer lines on offer his strength is diminished. Remember the metaphasic radiation from Insurrection? Keep that thought for a minute. As already mentioned Shinzon is suffering from an accelerated aging side-effect of the cloning process and it is fatal. Why doesn’t Picard say to Shinz-face, ‘I know a planet where there’s some really nice radiation, it’s a feckin miracle; it reverses aging, worth a punt, eh? You won’t have to kill me and you’ll be cured and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son…’ Honestly, you can’t introduce something like that and in the very next film make no mention of the ‘Briar Patch’; it’s the first thing they’d think of once aging enters the equation. I mean, how can anyone forget Worf’s tits firming up.
Of the other characters, Ron Perlman plays Shinzon’s Viceroy, a character who utilises a form of mind control. Perlman is hidden under make-up and does little until his unspectacular punch-up with Riker which ends poorly in Kirk/ Kruge fashion. Dina Meyer makes for a fetching Romulan but she’s hardly involved and cameos include Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kate Mulgrew and, bizarrely, Bryan Singer (blink and he’s gone). This time the writers give Marina Sirtis something to do, probably not what she would’ve hoped for picking up the script though. During what must be a Star Trek first – a sex scene – Deanna Troi gets mind-raped by Shinzon under control of the Viceroy. Bad enough having Riker’s sweaty gibb bearing down on her, but for him to then turn into Shinzon and then the Viceroy – it’s like a group assault, really quite icky. However, she does gain a measure of revenge on the Viceroy, turning the mind-reading tables on him during the space battle. Sadly, Worf is again comedy foil. Michael Dorn can’t be happy with his 4-film stint – we should be seeing him batter opponents to a pulp (we got some of it briefly in Insurrection). Levar Burton is another who must be disappointed he wasn’t given more to chew on over 4 movies. Geordi, arguably Data’s closest friend, doesn’t get to say ‘goodbye’; his is a silent reaction and though he plays it well I don’t think it’s enough; he’d have something to say, he’d know what to say. They all would.
There’s just a weird atmosphere about the whole thing. Even the crew send-off for Data is stilted and awkward, pathetically empty. But that seems to swamp the entire film; Burton looks like a bloke who knows this is it, the last outing, there’s an air of resignation about his performance. The comedy isn’t as sharply delivered… there’s a glumness hanging over them and it drags the film down, even during what should be an exciting, monumental battle. When the Scimitar explodes I don’t feel the crew have just lost somebody special; they follow Khan this far then fail to send Data on his way. Jerry Goldsmith does his level best to lift it but even he can’t shake the blues off this one. The CG again seems closer to that of a TV series rather than a movie, only visceral moments such as the Enterprise ramming into the Scimitar ramp up the drama, you can feel the damage, then and when the Scimitar reverses. You know what, though, are they ever going to design better shields or what? “Captain, the shields are down to 10%…” What, already, after a couple of hits? Sort it, Starfleet.
I only watched Nemesis years after release and then only because I’d heard of the first whisper of a Trek reboot. That ‘inspired’ me to check it out. I didn’t hate the film as much this time around but it’s still unqualified cack. Reading between the lines, Baird felt constrained by the established rules, unable to imprint his own vision and I believe a number of the cast resisted his intrusion into the ‘family’. John Logan, as a self-confessed fan, is too close to the material and his reverential approach smothers any chance of wresting Trek away from its tired and played-out past.
Me? I’d have killed off Picard well before the end. Riker assumes command, against Shinzon who has flipped beyond the edge of sanity now his lifeline is gone. Worf is on the Scimitar (the survivor of a sortie sent to disable the Reman primary weapon), hand-to-hand, kicking the living fuck out of a never-ending stream of Remans. Data arrives, sticks the beamer on Worf, saves the day and dies – go out with a bang and a big set of bollocks. And later, Riker send’s Data off with a bit of jazz trombone, to parallel his comments on Riker’s musical tastes near the beginning…
Almost there now…
Star Trek Into Darkness (longer trailer): http://tinyurl.com/brxs3ux
ThereWolf, December 2012.