Star Trek: Nemesis Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
December 17th, 2002

"Star Trek: Nemesis" -- Familiarity Brings Fondness and Foibles
by Homer Yen
(c) 2002

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" is a television program that many people miss, airing its last episode in 1994. Through a smattering of well-choreographed encounters, quick-on-your-feet diplomacy, and introspective lessons about humanity, STTNG was as entertaining as it was educational and insightful.

Patrick Stewart-as-Captain Picard had the necessary charisma and fortitude to lead a starship of over 1,000 lives (mostly civilians and families) throughout the galaxy into uncharted and frequently hostile areas. Brent Spiner-as-Lieutenant Data was only an android but provided a microscope into our humanity, thus frequently making him seem more human than anyone else did. And, Jonathan Frakes-as-Commander Riker embodied loyalty and courage. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast seemed perfectly happy to orbit around these three main characters in their supporting roles that enabled the ship to boldly go where no one has gone before.

But in "Star Trek: Nemesis," there is the prevalent and unsatisfying feeling that they have been here and have done that before. Could it be the familiar but unexciting species called Romulans? Could it be the uneasy feeling that this film parallels too closely the best first generation Star Trek film, "The Wrath of Khan"? Could it be the spoon-fed lessons learned? Likely, these elements would work just fine on the small screen where your expectations are equally small. But, when you magnify the size of the picture, have two hours to maximize your storytelling abilities, and are trying to satisfy the needed fix that fans have craved for these four years since the last film, you need to magnify the scope of the film. Unfortunately, the movie's reach and narrative plot is running on impulse power only. While it has slightly more bite than the previous Star Trek film "Insurrection," it pales in comparison to this generation's grandest adventure, "First Contact."
The plot involves, primarily, a political coup on the Romulan (a traditionally belligerent species adhering to an uneasy truce with the humans) home world. As a result, the new leader (Tom Hardy) gestures for increased harmony with the human race. The crew of the Enterprise is sent to assert the true nature of his intent. Another plot involves the discovery of another Data-like android, which provides the inner look into humanity that is a staple of many Star Trek television episodes. And, there is a minor comedic plot involving the inter-cultural marriage between Riker and ship's Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis).

It's safe to say that Star Trek fans will appreciate this film more than the average moviegoer will. It's hard to imagine the flagship of any fleet being manned by 50-plus-year-olds. But you can't discount the grace and energy that Patrick Stewart infuses into his role and this film. Brent Spiner also provides an emotional spark in this latest film. And the space battle scene, while looking very familiar whether it's Picard or Kirk commanding, is still fun to watch as the bridge officers man their battle stations, make tactical analyses, update the captain on shield strength and torpedo inventories, and fire at will. And for the real fans, it's just nice to hear familiar phrases such as "make it so" and "tea, earl gray, hot."
Perhaps the glory days of this generation may be slipping by. They seem a bit weathered. They seem a bit worn. They seem a bit slower. But there are still new worlds and civilizations to seek out. And the fans will still be there.
Grade: C+ if you're a fan; C if you're not
S: 1 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 1 out of 3

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