starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton
screenplay by John Logan
directed by Stuart Baird
by Walter Chaw For a film in a tired franchise trying to duplicate Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (inarguably the best of the cinematic "Trek" line) down to an articulate arch villain, heroic sacrifice, and mind-meld cheat, the irony of having the central conflict revolve around a defective clone is delicious and hilarious. Star Trek: Nemesis (hereafter Nemesis) is abominable pretension draped in the sheep's frock of sci-fi pulp--pap of the first water invested in undergraduate doubling subtexts and ridiculous stabs at existentialism reminding of the discovery of the wizard of God in the fifth Trek flick.
It appears as though the planet Romulus has an evil twin planet called Remus (natch), a mining colony boasting of hideous bat-like latex applications who can only live on the--wait for it--shadow side. A massacre in the Romulan senate results in the sudden ascendancy of mysterious Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a rebel upstart representative of the Remus minority who just so happens to be the clone of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), abandoned like his planet's namesake as a child to be raised by wolves. Holy Moses. Before we get to all that, though, Nemesis opens with a horrific wedding rehearsal dinner and toast, a performance by Data (Brent Spiner) of an Irving Berlin standard that becomes a running throughline of attempted pathos in the film, and the discovery of a positronic android prototype called "Before" or "B4"--whatever--also played by Spiner.
Because the Enterprise is the closest ship to the Romulan Neutral Zone at the time of the coup d'état, naturally, our intrepid crew diverts itself from a wedding at nudist planet Betazid (the promise/threat of seeing the crew naked plumbed for a couple of cheap jokes before being discarded completely) to investigate Praetor Shinzon's overtures. The scorecard so far, then, involves a planet and its twisted clone, a starship captain and his twisted clone, and an android and its twisted clone. With all of this idiotic operatic melodrama shoved to the foreground at the expense of logic (Shinzon's super special war ship has "perfect cloaking" except when it's expedient for Jean-Luc to be rescued, scanners that work fine until it's expedient for them not to, and so on) and interest, Nemesis, besides being a monumental boor, is a monumental bore.
Stiff as ever, Stewart occupies the proscenium with his booming Iambic elocution and creepy sexuality; the rest of the crew save Data are shoved mercifully to the wings. An emotional rape of the empath Troi (Marina Sirtis) sets up another twinning between Troi's betrothed slab of manhood Riker (Jonathan Frakes, at least not directing this time out (former editor Stuart Baird takes the reins)) and the telepathic "number one" (Ron Perlman, back in drag) of evil Shinzon, but Nemesis generally makes the wise decision of keeping its less talented elements (read: Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Wil Wheaton--reduced to a non-speaking cameo) minimized or ignored. Sadly, when the best part of a film is what we're not subjected to this time around, the end result is something both pathetic and irritating. To Nemesis' credit, however, it doesn't scrimp on the unintentional hilarity. Originally published: December 13, 2002.
by Bill Chambers Though it is the most feature-packed non-Collector's Edition DVD of a Star Trek film yet, one can't say the effort was entirely worth it when it comes to Star Trek: Nemesis. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (pan-and-scan version sold separately), the picture looks nice here, sometimes so clear as to overemphasize the CG elements. This is a flawless transfer, really, yet I'm left in no mood to champion it by the movie in question. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundmix is more undistinguished than that of Star Trek: Insurrection for belonging to a somehow talkier film, though any time the Enterprise is on a gimbal there is a vigorous amount of bass and some fury that trickles into the rear channels. As my theatrical viewing of Nemesis was compromised by poor focus and audio that kept reverting to the optical track, I thought I would enjoy the picture more at home, but tech merits and excitement are less the correlatives as I grow accustomed to the superiority of home theatre.
Director Stuart Baird contributes a dry film-length yakker wherein he seems dedicated to providing the digest version of scene content and justifying the odd decision that's out-of-step with the rest of the franchise, such as the forgoing of the opening fanfare. Baird, an avowed non-Trekkie who resembles David Thewlis in a bald cap, inexplicably compares Nemesis to Rebel Without a Cause when handed the spotlight again in the featurette "New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis" (9 mins.). Other featurettes include: "A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier" (10 mins.), which finds Baird discussing the money-tight production from a design stance (and saying of the 'emotional' ending, "Well, it gets me"); "A Star Trek Family's Final Journey" (16 mins.), during which no verbal commitment to this being the last "Next Generation" movie is actually made (in addition, on-set footage of the shooting of Wil Wheaton's and Bryan Singer's blink-and-miss cameos passes without comment); and "Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis" (10 mins.), wherein Stewart ticks off the joys of dune-buggying.
Eight deleted scenes, some with video introductions (the section proper is introduced by Trek poobah Rick Berman), resurrect Steven Culp's role as a Starship captain as well as "another rape which we had to cut out," Baird says superciliously. The wisest omission was a redundant introduction of Shinzon, which would have spoiled his big reveal to Picard and co.. (Oh for that sensitivity when it came to the indiscrimnate insertion of Jabba in the new Star Wars movies.) A photo gallery and previews for the "Deep Space Nine" set and The Hours (accessible via the main menu or a new interactive Paramount logo that opens the DVD) round out this rather ordinary platter. Originally published: May 22, 2003.