Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Star Trek: Nemesis

And then we have Nemesis, the last film to feature the Next Generation cast, and the last film set in the franchise's original chronological order. It remains to be seen how J. J. Abram's upcoming Star Trek film will fit into the continuity or canon, but all things being equal, this was considered the final Star Trek film at the time of its release.

It's also another film that is almost universally hated by the most vocal Trekkies, though it's actually a pretty good movie. I think it's hated more for what it is not than for what it is. What it is not is an epic finale to the series, nor is it the greatest film in the entire series. It's just a pretty good movie, but for the very last Trek film, that just doesn't feel good enough.

Nemesis is about the duality of man, or some such nonsense. Anyway, it's about an evil clone of Picard named Shinzon who attempts to take over the Romulan empire, using a clone of Data named B-4 to infiltrate the Federation. Or something like that. It was a clever, ambitious plot that unfortunately raised more questions than it answered.

How did Shinzon find B-4? How did he know to put him on a planet where the Enterprise would find him? Why did Shinzon attack Earth? How did the Romulans clone Picard? And why does Shinzon look nothing like him? If you're going to go with the whole cloned Picard thing, why not have Patrick Stewart play both roles? Better yet, get rid of the clone plot and have the film about the Mirror Mirror universe. How awesome would that've been?

So, at its heart, the movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that doesn't mean it wasn't still a whole lot of fun. The marriage of Riker and Troi was long overdue and well done, the action sequences were off the hook, and the special effects and look of the film are the best from the entire series. And the death of Data was bittersweet and actually took me by surprise (SPOILER! OOPS!).

The death of Data was a sore point for a lot of people. Most negative reviews of the film I've heard call it a total rip-off of Wrath of Khan, an accusation I find wholly unfounded. It's a rip-off because a main character died to save the rest of the crew? By that logic, Full Metal Jacket is a rip-off of the Godfather because both films have pivotal scenes that take place in a bathroom. No, this film owes nothing to Wrath of Khan, aside from being a Star Trek film with a cliched villain bent on revenge for no good reason. This film would actually have benefitted from ripping-off Khan.

At the end of the day, Nemesis is a fine film, in my opinion, that more than delivers in the thrills and effects departments, but it just doesn't feel big enough for the end of a series. Shinzon is almost a great villain, but the actor who plays him is a little too stiff, his origin makes too little sense, and we never really get a good idea of what motivates him. Also, considering that this is the end of the series, it's sad to see that this film is pretty much just the Picard show, with little to nothing memorable for the rest of the cast to do, except for Data who gets to die.

But don't listen to the haters. It's a good movie that just should've been great.

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