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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Film Review: Star Trek: Nemesis

To boldly go where Star Trek films have already gone before?

Star Trek movies have always come under considerable scrutiny from its legion of devoted fans and "Nemesis" will be no exception. After dealing with Klingons, the Borg and the like, the 10th film (believed to be the last for the Next Generation crew) deals with the ever-dodgy Romulans.

Star Trek - NemesisThis in turn, makes the film far more dark and gothic then you would expect. As the story unfolds, it cleverly deviates from the light-hearted Riker & Troi wedding, complete with Data's Sinatra-style stage performance and a hungover Worf (fans of the TV series will balk at this, as they will know Worf is no longer a member of Starfleet). It quickly moves on to the crew discovering parts of a Data-replica on a distant planet, which then leads the crew into a peace meeting with the Romulans.

Here, the audience is introduced to Shinzon, who is actually human and more to the point, a cloned replica of a young Picard. It transpires that he's an espionage experiment that has been abandoned and consequently has been reduced to a life of slavery and servitude on the Romulans' sister planet Remus. Now he wants revenge against the Romulans and humanity itself with a ship armed to the teeth and a global-killing weapon at his disposal. The film then becomes a reasonably balanced mix as it transforms into one spectacular action sequence after another.

These action sequences are very impressive on the big screen, but not very original. It's worth wondering if Picard, Data and Worf jumping off a cliff in a dune buggy will sit well with Trekkies. Picard and Data's escape from the enemy ship with phasers blasting, is comically identical to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker escaping from the Death Star while a shuttlecraft racing through the corridors of the massive enemy ship would look better placed in a video-game sequence. The ensuing battle between the Enterprise and Shinzon's gigantic warship makes Star Wars look like a Warner Brothers cartoon, and a collision scene is pure sci-fi cinematic bliss.

Nevertheless, all the holes spectacularly blown in the hull of both ships fails to fill the gaping hole where a decent original plot is supposed to be. It's ridiculously similar to 'Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan'; a captain and his archenemy, a doomsday weapon and a self-sacrifice saturated in martyrdom. Why Shinzon is so hell-bent on destroying humanity is never fully explained (after all, it was the Romulans who exiled him to slavery) and the character development of Data's lesser double is sadly wasted.

Patrick Stewart delivers a sturdy performance as the unbreakable Captain Picard while Tom Hardy is sufficiently nasty as the sinister Shinzon (even if his entire crew look like the cenobites from Hellraiser movies). However, Jonathon Frakes looks tired in the role of Commander Riker and along with him, Troi, Worf, La Forge and Crusher all take a back seat in the film. Director Stuart Baird does everything right on screen but it still does not make up for what is ultimately, an unengaging plot.

Movie trivia will tell you that only the even numbered Star Trek movies are the ones to watch, but that's an unreliable code of standard on which to judge this latest offering. If this is indeed the Next Generation's final voyage to the movies, then perhaps it's better to bow out now, before it degenerates from the entertaining and idealistic environment it came from.

An enjoyable, if forgettable fare.

Jimmy Murphy