For those who are not fans of "Star Trek" (like me), "Star Trek: Nemesis," the tenth in the film series, does nothing to win over non-followers of the cult phenomenon. The experience of watching it is uninvigorating, at best, and its cinematic introduction to the 21st-century has not been kind. Glaringly outdated (save for some nifty visual effects), "Nemesis" is a monotonously dull slog through worn-out material and cheesy production values.
As the film begins, first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has just married Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the whole starship Enterprise
crew has reunited for the occasion (past series regulars Whoopi Goldberg and Wil Wheaton make very brief cameos). It's soon back to business as usual, however, when an uprising occurs in the Romulan Senate, and the Enterprise
crewincluding Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart); Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden); Security Officer Worf (Michael Dorn); Chief Engineer LaForge (LeVar Burton); and android Commander Data (Brent Spiner)is dispatched thinking that they are finally going to make peace. Once reaching Romulus, it becomes apparent that Shinzon (Tom Hardy), who has taken over the reins of power and turns out to be a younger clone of Picard, is only interested in destroying the Federation once and for all.
Directed with little individuality or flair by Stuart Baird (1998's "U.S. Marshals"), "Star Trek: Nemesis" is a marginal step up from 1998's lame "Star Trek: Insurrection
," but a step down from 1996's "Star Trek: Final Contact." The screenplay by Tom Logan (2002's "The Time Machine
") offers up a few ambitious plot threads (such as the discovery of Data's long-lost brother "B4" and the notion that the maniacal Shinzon is a clone of Picard and, therefore, basically forced to fight himself), but takes far too much time in its set-up. The first half of "Nemesis" is slow, plodding, and, worst of all, boring.
The second half picks up speed and may shake back to consciousness those who have nodded off. The action-packed finale, in which the Enterprise
finds their defense shields failing and, in a last-ditch effort, decide to ram their starship into Shinzon's warship Scimiter
, boasts solid effects editing and even some suspense. Suffering through the long build-up is simply too steep a price to pay in order to enjoy the effective last half-hour.
The series regulars could play their roles in their sleep by this point, and some of them appear to be doing just that. Still, Patrick Stewart (2000's "X-Men
") lends a dignified authoritism to the indomitable Jean-Luc Picard, and Brent Spiner (2002's "The Master of Disguise
") is charming as Data. As new villain Shinzon, Tom Hardy (2001's "Black Hawk Down
") is quite an arresting find, appropriately nasty but with a sign of something more in his expressive eyes.
In a time when special effects have nearly reached photorealism and sci-fi/action pictures continue to get bigger in scope, "Star Trek: Nemesis" is clear proof that the series has long since surpassed its days of glory. No longer is it exciting to see people sitting in tacky command rooms and pushing buttons as their spaceship flies through space, nor is it satisfying when the story at hand has been constantly recycled to the point of nausea. Devoted fans may be entertained by "Star Trek: Nemesis," but I suspect even they may have to grudgingly admit that it's about time for the Enterprise
crew to hang up their day jobs and return to Earth.
©2002 by Dustin Putman