Sunday 27 November 2011

Star Trek: Nemesis

Last weekend I was in the video store, thinking how good space battles must look on my new television, when it occurred to me that I have never seen the last Star Trek: The Next Generation movie, Star Trek: Nemesis. It’s strange. Though I was never a Trekker (or a Trekkie for that matter), The Next Generation was one of the few decent science-fiction shows that aired during my youth, and I was a fan. I’m sure I saw the other three Next Generation movies in the theatre, but never Nemesis.
Well, this would never do.  How could I live with such a hole in my sci-fi geek knowledge? I picked up the movie for £5 and brought it home to await the next quiet evening. Last night was that evening.
Let me just say this straight off. Star Trek: Nemesis is a bad movie. In fact, it is bad in almost every way.   Its premise is silly. Its pacing is terrible, and it is filled with pointless Hollywood-isms. No, it isn’t the worst Star Trek movie (thanks to Star Trek V, it would take something really special to claim that title), but it also isn’t worth watching unless you are a die-hard fan...
So here’s the premise. A few decades ago, the Romulans created a clone of Captain Picard in the hopes of fashioning the perfect spy.  However, the next Romulan government discarded the plan and the clone, and sent Piccard MkII (now named Shinzon) to the horrible mines on the planet Remus. Shinzon spent the next decade planning his revenge and, by means never fully explained, manages to escape his prison, create the galaxy’s most fearsome warship, lead a military coup and become the leader of the Romulan Empire. Sigh.
Seriously, how did anyone agree to a script that had a clone of Piccard as the bad guy? It’s worse than that though. Shinzon is not fully grown, so our fearsome baddy is actually a petulant teenager bent on destroying earth because...well, I’m sure there was a reason in there somewhere.
So, throw in another android that looks exactly like Data (because Lore wasn’t enough), a bunch of space orcs, a new type of super-deadly, previously theoretical radiation, and 60 minutes of really dull dialog and you’ve got the first half of the movie.
The second half is just as bad, if slightly more action packed. My favourite low was when the baddies send a boarding party over to capture Piccard, a boarding party consisting of six guys, six guys to capture the captain of a ship containing hundreds, if not thousands, of trained personnel. Smart.  Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work, but it does allow Commander Riker to personally kill the orc that used mental powers to assault his wife.
If I’m being negative, it certainly isn’t without reason, but there are a few good moments.  Probably the best is when a hole is blown in the wall of the Enterprise’s bridge, exposing it space. There is also a really cool scene where Data jumps across the void of space from the Enterprise to the enemy ship.
Unfortunately, both of those just serve to set up the whimper of an ending, when Data heroically sacrifices himself to save everyone (which feels like a last, desperate, attempt to bring gravitas to an otherwise pointless film).
It is quite sad to see the Next Generation crew go out on such a story. While the series certainly had its flaws, its run was filled with interesting, complex philosophical questions in the best traditions of science-fiction. And even though I often found their conclusions a bit liberal and utopian, I give them credit for their exploration.

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