a critiQal film review Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Plot: The crew of the Enterprise, lead by Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) are on their way to attend the Deanna Troi (Sirtis) / Will Riker (Frakes) marriage when Data's (Spiner) prototype is discovered - and they receive an invitation to visit the Romulans to meet their new ruler, Shinzon (Hardy), a genetic clone for Captain Picard!

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  • ...the "Next Generation" crew peaked with First Contact.

I’m sorry to say it, but I think Star Trek: First Contact (1996) has gotten me spoiled. Every since I saw that film, all of the other films have become somewhat of a letdown. With Star Trek: First Contact (1996), the Star Trek films achieved a pinnacle of excellence that has been hard to compete with, before or since. Now, with each film that comes out in the series, I am not as excited as before – especially after Star Trek: Insurrection (1998). That was such an incredible letdown from Star Trek: First Contact (1996), I’ve become jaded to future films in the series. Now, rather than being right at the theaters to catch the next film, I wait until it comes out on DVD. Having heard good things about Star Trek: Nemesis, I figured I’d give it a try right when it hit DVD.

So, with a little bit of trepidation, I hit play on Star Trek: Nemesis.

The characters, having had a bit of time off between films (and not living the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TV) series anymore) seem to have gotten a bit rusty. Patrick Stewart, always the most imposing of the Enterprise captains, still stays strong, but seems a bit lost in the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis. On first thought, that could be put down to his not playing the character in a while, but upon reflection (and realizing that movies are not filmed in order), that explanation falls by the wayside.

Levar Burton (always and forever “Reading Rainbow” (TV) guy to me. Oh, by the way…he’s not Geordi without the eye gear, no matter what the story says), Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis all begin Star Trek: Nemesis the same way – a bit stilted, and they never quite warm up, even at the end. Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) is incredibly under-used in the film, only showing up in a few scenes, and then mostly as a background decoration.

This film is a prime example of actors playing beloved characters…that they haven’t done in quite awhile…and never quite fully grasp the excitement they originally brought to the roles.

The plot was actually pretty decent, but couldn’t measure up to the intensity of Star Trek: First Contact (1996). There’s action, intrigue, and even some self-doubt, a surprising change for a Star Trek film.

Sure, there is always a setback or two, but to discover your clone is so incredibly different and to question whether your actions would be the same if you were in his situation, now that’s a whole different ballpark altogether.

It’s a more caring, more thought-provoking Star Trek crew this time around…and if the actors had gotten it together, it could have been a nice change of pace. Not to fear, true fans…it doesn’t sway too much from the patented Star Trek ways – there’s enough action and suspense to satisfy devoted Trekies.

The special effects, a must for any Star Trek film, were definitely up to par. With the beatings they put the Enterprise through in every film, it’s amazing Starfleet keeps rebuilding it for them! And trust me, aside from the psuedo-destruction of the Enterprise in Star Trek: Generations (1994), this has got to be the most beat-up she’s ever gotten (even the view screen is destroyed!). Yet, throughout, the effects stay realistic, and quite impressive.

All in all, Star Trek: Nemesis seems to be a last gasp for the Star Trek series. With the crew of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TV) at the end of their films, and with only shoddy imitators “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (TV) and “Star Trek: Voyager” (TV) old enough to begin their film careers, the future looks bleak.

Sure, the new series “Star Trek: Enterprise” (TV) started out decent enough (thanks to “Quantum Leap” (TV) alum Scott Bakula in the leadership role), but it doesn’t look like that’s going to reach the success of either of the first two television shows, either.

As for the crew of “Next Generation”, they peaked back with Star Trek: First Contact (1996), and have never been able to quite reach that pinnacle again. Sure, they could be forgiven for Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), but now with two films under their belt since, it seems like it’s about time for their reign to come to an end.

The series has had a great run…but please, don’t run it into the ground, like what was done to Rocky (1976), First Blood (1982), etc. Wouldn’t the world have been a much better place without Rocky V (1990) or Rambo III (1988)? Do we really want the same fate to be awaiting Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)? I didn’t think so.

Give ’em a round of applause, go ahead and rent Star Trek Nemesis (even if it isn’t so good), and let them take their final bows…and hope the other crews are content with their television shows.

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