There is a rule, the odd numbered Star Trek films are usually the ones that are just, not as good. Many times, they are actually quite terrible, Final Frontier anyone? When the STNG movies hit, it appeared that the curse of the odds was broken, Generations was a welcome addition, First Contact was tremendous and even Insurrection was a solid entry. So, it seemed almost certain that today’s film would be a shoe in. Unfortunately, it seemed that the fourth time was not the charm. Wrapping up the end of Star Trek The Next Generation and our first run of Retro TV Reviews, This is Star Trek Nemesis.
Stardate 56844.9 Nemesis
The Dominion War is over and the Federation is recovering from the conflict. Just as it appears things are settling down, Romulus faces a coup d’etat that results in a new Praetor, only this one isn’t Romulan, in fact, he is the genetic clone of none other than Captain Picard himself.
The film opens in the Romulan Senate where commanders plead for a unification between Romulus and their sister planet Remus. Just after being denied their plea, Senator Tal’aura leaves and soon the Senate is murdered by a biological agent left behind by Tal’aura herself. It seems that there is a regime change in effect…
We move on back to Picard giving a speech which sounds rather solemn. We soon discover that he is giving his Best Man speech at the wedding of William Riker and Deanna Troi. Lamenting their departure for the USS Titan where Riker is taking command and praising their union, Picard congratulates the new couple. Oh yeah, and Data sings Blue Skies by Irving Berlin, because why not.
Back on the bridge, as they head toward Betazed for a traditional Betazoid wedding, Worf detects a strange positronic signal from the Kolarin system. Intrigued, Picard and crew head off toward the signal on a detour from Riker’s and Troi’s second wedding. Upon arriving, they find six positronic signatures on a preindustrial planet. Picard, Worf and Data take a new Vehicle called The Argo, to the planet where they begin their search for what could be Data’s long lost relative. Blasting out of the shuttlecraft Argo, the team take what amounts to a hyped up dune buggy for a spin. Soon they find the first of six pieces of Android, well rather it finds Worf. Continuing their search, they manage to find the remaining components and run across the head which happens to look very similar to Data himself.
Just as they find the final piece, they are attacked by the locals who look like extras from a Mad Max film. Soon, in what amounts to a clear violation of the Prime Directive, the team is forced to defend themselves against the locals in a firefight, exposing their existence to the pre-warp society. Let’s hope Starfleet can forgive them yet another attack on the founding principles of the Federation.
Needless to say, they make it back to the ship where they begin investigating the new android that looks remarkably like Data. The new Android identifies himself as B-4 and, as far as they can tell, he is a prototype of what would eventually become Data and Lore. So, the Soong Family tree gets a little larger.
As Data reconnects with his newfound Brother, Picard is contacted by Admiral Janeway who informs him that the Federation has been invited to Romulus on a diplomatic mission. It appears that the new regime has requested a Federation ship and the one chosen is none other than the USS Enterprise. Heading to Romulus, the senior staff discuss the situation, acknowledging that they really know nothing about this new Praetor, Shinzon and the situation on Romulus. Knowing they are at a disadvantage, Picard presses his crew to find out all they can. Meanwhile, Data decides to download all of his memory ingrams into B-4 so that the new Android has a chance to better himself. It doesn’t seem to work. Let’s be honest, B-4 is kinda derpy. They soon find that there are some interesting additions to this new Android, including what appears to be an additional memory storage.
Upon arriving at Romulus, the Enterprise waits for some sort of contact with the planet. After nearly eighteen hours, they are finally contacted by the new government in the form of a Reman Viceroy and a massive warship known as The Scimitar. Picard and his senior staff are invited to beam down to the planet where they are to meet the mysterious, Shinzon. Beaming down, they find themselves in a darkened room where they discover that Praetor Shinzon is neither Romulan nor Reman but human instead. Not just any human but
Bane Tom Hardy a clone of Picard himself. After inviting Picard to dinner, Shinzon provides a sample of his blood to prove that he is indeed a clone of the Captain of the Enterprise. Back on the ship, Doctor Crusher confirms the violation.
Back on Romulus, Praetor Shinzon is dealing with the remains of the Romulan government. It is clear that there is some disappointment in the way this new leader of the Romulan government is handling himself but he seems to be very much in control. After his encounter with the Romulans, it soon becomes apparent that there is something wrong with this clone. Soon after, back on the Enterprise,
Derpy Data B-4 is activated and begins to hack into the Enterprise systems for some nefarious purpose.
At dinner, Shinzon reveals his origin to Picard, it seems that his existence is due to a failed plot to replace Picard with a clone so that Romulus could spy on the Federation from within. After the project was cancelled, he was sent to Remus to be disposed of. There, a Reman took pity on him and raised Shinzon as his own. Shinzon reveals that he intents to use his coup to free the Reman people and change the relationship between the Federation and the Romulan government.
Picard wants to believe Shinzon, but explains that Shinzon and the new Reman government needs to earn the Captain’s trust before they begin to move forward. Back on the Enterprise they discover that the Reman ship is powered by Thalaron Radiation, a substance that could wipe out everyone on board the Enterprise in a matter of moments. They soon discover that someone, or something has accessed the ships computers and has accessed a large amount of none important files.
Picard soon finds himself at odds with his feelings, he wants to trust this clone but worries about who this Shinzon really is. Meanwhile, Shinzon attacks Troi in her mind as the counsellor and Riker take some personal time for themselves. It seems that the clone is using the Reman mental powers to psychically rape the counselor. Just as he is about to begin again, he doubles over in pain, forcing him to move forward with his plans. Beaming B-4 aboard their ship, they begin downloading the data they had stolen. Back on the Enterprise, Picard discusses the events with Deanna when suddenly he is beamed away, captured by Shinzon and the Remans.
While there, Shinzon reveals his real plans. In addition to needing the Captains blood to fix some genetic defects, it seems that, now knowing the location of every ship in the Federation fleet, Shinzon plans to invade the Federation and destroy their enemies. According to him, the Remans will not bow down to anyone and this is their attempt to wipe out their enemies once and for all.
Just as things are looking bleak, B-4 arrives and reveals himself to be Commander Data in disguise. Freeing Picard, Data informs the Captain that the entire ship is a weapon that can be used to destroy the Federation. Data has been given a way to escape using a special transponder but, as it is a one way trip, the Captain refuses, siting that they will find a way off together. Shinzon soon discovers that Picard has escaped and now the race is on. They must find a way off the Reman ship, or die trying. They soon manage to escape by stealing one of the Scimitar’s shuttles where they are soon beamed back aboard the Enterprise. To be honest, it seemed a little…easy.
Back on Romulus, it seems that the remaining Romulans are having doubts.
On the Enterprise, Crusher debriefs the Captain with Shinzon’s situation. It seems that the clone is dying and, without a complete transfusion from Picard, he will not live long. Jean Luc realizes that this means Shinzon will be pursuing him soon enough. Picard and the Senior staff discuss the situation and come to the realization that this may in fact be their final mission, the weapon they are facing is their greatest threat yet. (because it has to be for this movie to make any sense.) They soon embark for Federation space to join the Federation Fleet that is preparing for Shinzon’s arrival. As they travel through the Bazon Rift, they realize that this is what Shinzon has been waiting for, while in the Rift, their long range communication systems are useless. Suddenly and without warning, the Scimitar attacks.
The attack commences, it soon becomes apparent that the enemy ship poses a huge threat to the Enterprise. In an unexpected turn of events, Shinzon hails the Enterprise and requests a meeting with Picard in his ready room. Shinzon visits Picard as a hologram and asks Picard to surrender. Picard attempts to reason with his clone, arguing that Shinzon can make himself more than he believes he is. Shinzon ignores the Captains attempts and makes it clear that he has every intention to destroy humanity. After ending their conversation, Romulan ships appear out of nowhere and offer the Enterprise assistance in the battle they are facing. Soon they begin their attack on the Scimitar. As the battle rages on it looks as if the Enterprise is facing defeat, even with the assistance of the Romulans. In a last ditch attempt, Troi uses her
mind bullets metal powers to find the Rapey Reman and locate their ship. Finding the ship, they launch all weapons at the Scimitar causing Shinzon to send a boarding party to the Enterprise. As the boarding party attacks the crew, so does the Scimitar, destroying the bridge and nearly killing the Captain and his crew.
Just as things look bleak, Captain Picard realizes that he has a chance to win. He needs to do something unexpected. Soon, in a final act, he orders the ship to ram the Scimitar destroying much of both the Enterprise and the Reman vessel. Now , with the ships locked together, Shinzon orders the Scimitar into full reverse, further wrecking the two ships. Oh and Riker kills the Reman Viceroy in hand to hand combat because of course he does. Picard, realizing that they are in a no-win situation, orders the self destruction of the USS Enterprise. Just as he give the command, he learns that Auto-destruct is offline. Shinzon orders the Weapon to be deployed as he intends to kill everyone on board the Enterprise. The Thaloron Matrix has been activated.
Picard orders a site to site transport of himself and prepares for a fight. Just as he is transported aboard the Scimitar, the transporters short out, stranding the Captain. Data, determined to not let his Captain remain stranded, jumps through space and flies to the Scimitar. Yeah, you heard that right. As Data Poppins finds his way on board the Scimitar, Picard finds himself in a mortal struggle with his clone as the Captain attempts to prevent the Thaloron Particles from being deployed. Picard, in a moment straight out of an 80’s film, manages to overpower the inferior clone and finds himself trapped aboard the Reman vessel. Data arrives in the last minute and transport his Captain to the Enterprise. Data then destroys the Matrix sacrificing himself in the process.
After the battle, the Romulans assist in medical relief for the Enterprise. Picard, lamenting the loss of Data, holds a solemn toast in his honor with the Senior Staff. Sharing stories about their fallen friend, the crew begin to deal with their pain.
Later, as the Enterprise is being repaired, Picard prepares for his new crewmembers. Riker is heading off with the USS Titan to engage in peace talks with the Romulans. Picard takes some time to talk with B-4 about Data and tries to explain how important B-4’s brother was to them all. Just when it looks as if this android is hopeless, he begins to hum Blue Skies, indicating that some part of Data is still alive in this android.
Is this a ‘Good’ Story:
It should be. It has every element that would make for a great adventure with the crew of the USS Enterprise but, it just doesn’t work. This film lacks a certain element that would have made it so much better, that element, consistency in an established universe aka Continuity or Canon. Oh boy, here he goes, we have a Canon Lawyer on the bridge, just hear me out, you’ll see what I mean.
I remember going to see this film in the theaters with my wife, then Girlfriend, and leaving saddened by Data’s death and somewhat frustrated by the overall story. (Side note, I went dressed in Star Fleet uniform, phaser and all. Yeah, I was that guy. The only problem was that I lived in a tiny town and was the only one there dressed up. Seriously, our of the dozen or so people in the theater, I was the only one in Star Fleet garb representing Nerd Culture at it’s finest.) While I was happy to have seen another Star Trek film, I was disappointed in the overall presentation of the film and it’s story. There is something very important to a franchise like Star Trek and that is to ensure that each and every character remain faithful to who they are and who they have become over time. It is essential to the very foundation of a long form story or the series loses its cohesion as an entity. This film, for the most part, seems to forget everything these characters have gone through and just tells a story whether it makes sense of not. There are huge bits in this story that just do not fit with the characters and the morals that they have pre-established. Specifics you ask? Well, I don’t mind if I do.
How about B-4 android and his discovery? When the Enterprise discovers that there are parts of a Soong Type android on a planet that is inhabited by a pre-warp civilization, that should have been a major hurdle to cross. The Picard we have gotten to know would never have authorized a mission to retrieve anything from a planet like this without some serious safeguards in place. In the very least, Riker would have had to go undercover again and blend in to retrieve the parts. Instead, like that of a Starfleet Cadet, Picard is so excited to use his new shuttle and dune buggy that he just throws out any semblance of the Prime Directive to go find these android parts. By doing this, he and his crew have contaminated the culture on this planet in ways that are unimaginable all for a derpy android named B-4. It is reckless, it is stupid, and it is not something that Jean Luc Picard would have allowed, let alone participate in.
Secondly, the pointless mind rape that occurs between Shinzon, the Viceroy and Troi. Seriously. This is a part of the film that was only set up so as to allow for Troi to find the cloaked Scimitar later in the movie. In addition to using the violation of her character to setup a deus ex machina situation, it also uses her abilities later on in a manner that simply shouldn’t have been. Troi is half Betazoid, she can not project her mental powers in any way form or fashion and, to do so, would be a violation in it’s own right. Troi, even though she was attacked, would never use her abilities as a weapon. They could have easily found any number of other ways to find the Scimitar, why did they have to violate Troi to give us a way later on? This was poor writing and, frankly a disgusting use of rape to further an already weak plot.
You want more? Oh I could go on about many things, from Worf’s unexplained appearance (which I will touch on more below) to the horrible use of Guinan and Wesley Crusher in fleeting cameos, but let’s move on shall we, there has to be something good in this film right?
With everything bad there tends to be the touch of a silver lining and this one has it’s moments. What makes me so upset that this film is so broken is that it has all the makings of a great Star Trek story, just directed by the wrong person. What do I like? Well, for one, Data’s story.
Through the entire series Data has been on a journey to become more human. For the past seven years we have journeyed with him through the pain of death, experimenting with love and relationships, discovering he has family, starting and losing a family of his own and even finally his exploration with emotions. During this time he has slowly become a much more rounded character and yet not ever really finding that spark that gave him his humanity he so desperately wanted. That is where this film succeeds where others have failed. In his sacrifice to save the one man who has stood by his side the entire time, Data has finally exhibited the ultimate trait that even humans fail to show, selflessness. It is with this final act that brings about his demise that Data finally becomes fully human. But, he downloaded his entire being into B-4 you say, so he knew he wasn’t sacrificing himself! Ah, but, believing B-4 to be dangerous and possibly defective, we see him deactivate his derpy brother with the intent of never activating him again. To Data, his sacrifice was truly, his death. There is nothing more human than that.
The Marriage of Troi and Riker, and Riker becoming a Captain. These have been something coming for a long time. Through the entire series we have watched as Troi and Riker have danced around their feelings for one another time and again. We ached as Riker looked for love in just about every species they encountered only to find himself alone time and again. We sighed as Troi tried to do the same only to end up dating Worf in a relationship that was doomed from the start. To have them finally together only makes sense and it seems that, by unifying these two, Riker finally has the courage and self confidence to accept a promotion.
They say that behind every great man is a great woman and it seems that it took the realization that he needed Troi in his life to give Riker the courage to finally accept command. Through the series, Riker turned down promotion time and again, always doubting his abilities and skills. The common denominator here was that he and Troi had not accepted that they were a team and, when they finally did, this gave our intrepid Commander the confidence to move forward. My wife is my rock in this world and it is nice to see Captain Riker finally find his.
I am of mixed feelings when it comes to the Shinzon part of the story. In many ways it is a cool plot that makes sense. The Romulans being who they are, would certainly have formulated a plan to replace Picard. Personally I think it would have been better had it been the Cardassians, with the story itself connecting directly to Picard’s incarceration and torture with by the Cardassian, but that is just me. The character of Shinzon was played beautifully by Tom Hardy (as well as the Viceroy played by the remarkable Ron Perlman) but sadly it seemed that this plot was little more than a general thought than a fully formed idea. The character of Shinzon could have been so much more than just a wasted villain in a sea of better more powerful foes.
Overall, to me, this is by far the worst of the Star Trek films, in fact it is worse than the abysmal Star Trek V The final Frontier. Final Frontier at least kept fairly true to their characters though so it wins out. While there is much good in it, like Darth Vader, it deserves death. Unlike Vader, there is little chance for redemption. (yes, I mixed my Star Wars with my Star Trek, fight me.)
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We see Wesley Crusher at the wedding of Riker and Troi. He is wearing a Starfleet uniform but we never learn why or how he is there. Nor do we ever see or hear from him again.
We do learn that Guinan was married 23 times and has no plans to marry again. So there is that.
Although at the end of DS9 (spoilers) Worf heads to Qo’nos to become an Ambassador, we find him back aboard the Enterprise for no other reason than attending Riker’s and Troi’s wedding. Surly he wouldn’t be in uniform now that he is an Ambassador? Wow, way to keep the continuity.
The small cameo from Admiral Janeway. Seeing that she spent Seven Years lost in the Delta Quadrant in Star Trek Voyager with a crew that started off hating each other, yeah, she certainly deserves an Admiralty.
With Data dead…who is going to take care of Spot?
Also, do you think Picard bothered to notify Data’s next of kin? I mean, he does have a mother…
Picard being portrayed as bald in Starfleet Academy is not chronologically accurate. In fact, he had a head full of hair. Had the Director bother watching an episode before taking this one, he would have known this.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the next series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next up? Star Trek Deep Space Nine!!!
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 11/8/2020 (Originally published 2/22/2019)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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