The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
New 'Star Trek'
can't revive a
tired franchise


December 19, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Legend has it that even-numbered "Star Trek" movies are good while odd-numbered ones are bad. The trouble with legends is that they're usually not true.

"Star Trek: Nemesis" is the tenth film in the "Trek" franchise and the fourth to feature the "Next Generation" cast, and while "Nemesis" isn't a disaster on the level of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" or "Star Trek: Insurrection," it proves the starship Enterprise is running on fumes.

This time, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew journey into enemy space to negotiate a peace treaty with their longtime foes, the Romulans. The Federation and the Romulans have been in a cold war since the days of James T. Kirk, but a change of government on Romulus has thawed the ice.

For centuries, the Romulans have oppressed the inhabitants of the neighboring planet Remus, using the Remans as slave labor and cannon fodder. Now the Remans, in alliance with the Romulan military, have staged a coup and installed one of their own, Shinzon (Tom Hardy), as leader of the Romulan Star Empire.

Much to Picard and company's surprise, however, Shinzon isn't a Reman but a clone of Picard, created by the Romulans to infiltrate the Federation but left to die on Remus after the Romulans abandoned the project. And to no one's surprise, Shinzon's intentions are not peaceful.

Instead, Shinzon has built a doomsday weapon, capable of wiping out all life on an entire planet and housed inside a stealth starship.

For reasons the film never makes clear, Shinzon wants to wipe out humanity, which is odd since his real beef is with the Romulans. Sure, he is a clone of a human, but what has any human ever done to him?

Shinzon's vendetta against Picard is just as poorly motivated. Stewart and Hardy chew some scenery, but try as they might, they cannot recreate the Kirk/Khan dynamic of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Kirk and Khan really did have history between them. Picard and Shinzon only think they do.

Two subplots detract from the main goings on. The first is the belated marriage of Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis). The second is Lt. Cmdr. Data's discovery that he has yet another android "brother."

At least the Data subplot, with Brent Spiner playing both roles, shares the main plot's preoccupation with doppelgangers. But otherwise it leads nowhere except to a sequel, if there is one.

Screenwriter John Logan ("Gladiator") can't decide if he is writing mainly for Trekkers or for casual moviegoers. He peppers the script with obscure "Trek" references, but none counts for much. When it really matters, he throws established lore out the window.

A key point in the story depends upon our heroes forgetting both that they have access to shuttlecraft with working transporters and that ships in space can move in three dimensions.

The story is largely recycled bits of "The Wrath of Khan," including a sequence when the doomsday weapon counts down and a lead character's ultimate sacrifice, complete with the set-up for a resurrection. Throw in a pointless "car chase" early in the film, and the result is a disjointed mess.

Supporting cast members continue to put forth some effort for the brief moments they are on screen, but "Nemesis" is Picard's movie, and Stewart sleepwalks through a role he has played for too long.

More than anything else, "Star Trek: Nemesis" is tired. So, maybe it's time to put the franchise to rest.

Pulp Magazines

RECENT COLUMNS

Order a helping of Cartoon Network's 'Robot Chicken'
03/31/05

Campaign against video games is political grandstanding
03/24/05

Prize-winning author is 'Wrong About Japan'
03/17/05

Censored book not a good start
03/10/05

Some superhero comics are for 'fanboys' only
03/03/05

'Constantine' does well with its out-of-place hero
02/24/05

'80s publisher First Comics' legacy still felt
02/17/05

Director's cut gives new 'Daredevil' DVD an edge
02/10/05

Put the fun back into 'funnybooks'
02/04/05

Is 'Elektra' the end of the road for Marvel movies?
01/27/05

'House of Flying Daggers' combines martial arts and heart
01/20/05

Anniversary edition of 'Flying Guillotine' has the chops
01/13/05

Movie books still have role in the Internet era
01/06/05

Looking ahead to the good and the bad for 2005
12/30/04

The best and worst of 2004
12/23/04

'Has-been' Shatner is a 'transformed man'
12/16/04

'New Avengers' writer Bendis sweeps away the old
12/09/04

MORE



HOME | COLUMN ARCHIVE | NEWS | FEEDBACK | MESSAGE BOARD | ABOUT THE AUTHOR | LETTERS | LINKS | PICKS


© Copyright 2005 PULP CULTURE PRODUCTIONS
Web site designed by Franklin Harris.
Send feedback to franklin@pulpculture.net.