Star Trek: Nemesis Review

by Ram Samudrala (me AT ram DOT org)
February 18th, 2003

Star Trek: Nemesis
http://www.ram.org/ramblings/movies/generations.html#10

I've always wondered why /Star Trek/ films were made. The best episodes in the TV series are much superior to any of the films, and there are a lot more of these. In other words, everything that could be done in a movie can be done on TV. /Star Trek: Nemesis/, the 10th such made-for-big-screen endeavour, is no exception. It would rank as a fairly decent two-part episode, but would be quite a ways from the top.

In this film, some lines of continuity are closed: Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) finally marries Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Worf (Michael Dorn) pretends he has a hangover. More importantly, Riker assumes his own command as the Enterprise is called into action once again to address a coup in the Romulan empire where the distant cousins of the Romulans, the Remans, have taken power. The head of the Remans happens to be Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a human who is a clone of Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The Enterprise must thwart his vile ambitions of destroying all of humanity since he bears great hatred towards the Romulans for his mistreatment as a child.

There is a sub-plot that intertwines with the main storyline and results in another kind of closure: Commander Data (Brent Spiner) comes across an immature replica of himself, but soon discovers that this was planted by Shinzon so he could gain access to the captain.
It's clear that this group of actors have worked together for a long time and are very comfortable with each other. The performances are as can be expected. The sound track and action sequences are well-done, but again, nothing depicted here is that much superior to what you'd see in a good /Star Trek/ episode.

I've always argued that our complex behavioural traits are completely determined by the environment (or that the genetic (hereditary) influence on complex behaviour is null). The plot in this film holds true to this viewpoint, and even though there are moments of hesitation by Shinzon when he is about to carry out his vile acts, it comes off as being more due to some guilt complex rather than any innate genetically-determined conscience.

The ideas depicted in /Star Trek/ are what has attracted me to it. These ideas were never far from our present, and in fact, the futuristic scenarios generally showcased that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Besides the debate about the deterministic aspects of nature vs. nurture, there's also a stronger message about the issue of how much control we have over our destinies in this film. The inability of the writers to think out of their anthropocentric box might however be a more proper reflection of reality.

/Star Trek: Nemesis/ is a satisfactory outing for the Enterprise, and worth the matinee fare.

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