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"Star Trek: Nemesis"

Directed by Stuart Baird.
Written by John Logan.  Based on the television series. 
Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  12/16/02 


Well, it’s all sealed up—this needs to be the last “Star Trek” film featuring the crew from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

As the 10th “Star Trek” film opens, we are treated to watching the old crew, including Picard (Patrick Stewart), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), La Forge (Levar Burton), Worf (Michael Dorn), Troi (Marina Sirtis), Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Data (Brent Spiner), hang out at a reception for soon-to-be-newlyweds Riker and Troi.  As I sat there, watching the old chums joke around about Romulan ale and all of those battles they had fought through in their past, I realized how boring these characters are.  (Apparently, Wil Wheaton is so boring—he played Dr. Crusher’s son Wesley on the TV show—that he is shown in this first scene, given no lines to speak, and then CREDITED at the end of the film.  It was almost as if he was in “Nemesis” because he hadn’t been in the other three films with this cast and somebody felt sorry for him.)

I had considered it before, but in “Star Trek: Nemesis”, it becomes crystal clear how uninteresting the characters from this iteration of the Star Trek universe are, or more correctly, how inappropriate they are for a movie screen.  Picard and Data have carried this crew for three of the four movies this crew has starred in, and there are moments in “Nemesis” where I asked myself how many minutes I would make it if Picard was killed off at any point during this film.  Two?  Four?  It definitely wouldn’t be longer than five, because Stewart and his character are so essential to this cast that there would simply be no movie without him.  Sure, the plot revolves around both Picard and an alter ego Romulan outcast (Tom Hardy) that battle it out to establish control of a strangely Genesis-like weapon that could destroy Earth and eradicate all of mankind, so we get a lot of Picard time anyway.

But, when you go down the cast from “The Next Generation” TV series, you realize that this cast is just not built for movie screens the way the first cast was.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekhov have enough personality spread out over their characters to make scenes interesting; here in “Nemesis” (and in “First Contact” and “Generations”), you just spend time waiting for Picard to come back on screen, or for Data to say something logical, which by its nature makes him funny.  Even throwing in a cameo by Kate Mulgrew (who played Captain Janeway on the spinoff series “Star Trek: Voyager”) brings nothing to the “Nemesis” experience.  Adding to these problems is the lack of an interesting villain (like Ricardo Montalban from “The Wrath of Khan”) in this current film; Hardy is fine, but he isn’t very evil, which makes watching his scenes a bit tiresome.  “Insurrection” faced a similar problem, and I thought they would end this painful series of films after that release, but I was wrong!

Give credit to writer John Logan (“Gladiator”) for trying to stay true to the roots of the series while writing a screenplay that features the series’ best assets—obligatory shootouts between Picard and Everybody Else (in case you didn’t get the memo, Picard IS a better killer than Rambo ever was; they should nickname Picard “Bodybags”, because he fills about 50 in “Nemesis”); explosions on the bridge of the Enterprise and the requisite “Captain, Decks 12-18 have lost power and life support” lines when the bridge is getting hit with missile, railgun, machine gun, phaser and torpedo fire; unfathomable forays onto planet surfaces with three of the ship’s most important officers, instead of sending five ensigns that double as professional Hollywood film extras; and, of course, shots of the Enterprise going into warp speed.

Honestly, this was probably the only time since the first film in the series where it seemed like there was a lot going on, but there really wasn’t anything going on.  For all the shootouts, the peace talks, the DNA duplications, and the cloaking technology, there wasn’t really anything too interesting going on, but I like Stewart enough to keep watching for his bald pate at every turn.  If you are a hardcore Trekkie, you saw the film this weekend, so I’m already too late; otherwise, you can probably skip this drivel.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09