This is the 10th Star Trek film, and the last of the "proper" ones.
Insurrection wasnt a very succesful film, and 4 years later this was released in the winter that saw Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, The Two Towers and Die Another Day.
I watched it in the cinema and liked it, but I knew it was not going to be succesful.
Like the previous film it's a patchwork of previously used ideas, this time with very strong similarities to The Wrath Of Khan. It's more consistent in it's tone though. And the story works better overall.
Directed by master editor, but fairly average director Stuart Baird, visually this film reminds me a lot of Meyers The Undiscovered Country. Both are films shot in extreme darkness, not just to envoke a certain atmosphere, but also to disguise ther fact that the budget is a bit lower then normal.
Visually Nemesis is a rather handsome looking film though. Baird and Jeffrey L. Kimball make it all look a bit better then Frakes and Leonetti did for the previous one. The special effects are also very good.
The story has two major issues. The first one is B4.
Many Trekkies objected to him because the existance of a third Soong Android just comes out of no where. Even worse, Lore isnt even mentioned. But even just in the confines of this film the character is problematic. Why would Shinzon use him as a lure for Picard? And how did Geordiés scans not turn up the extar transponder?
Worse still is that B4 is basically the writers having their cake and eating it.
In TWOK, Spock died, but really didnt. The same happens here. But while Spock's death-scene was actually supposed to be final and only some last minute tinkering gave them a loophole, with B4 they have the loophole built into the fabric of the story. So Data's end never has the dramatic impact that it SHOULD have had.
The second is Shinzon.
Tom Hardy was actually hated for the role by many Trekkies. I'm sure even today after many a fine role there are those who will not be able to see past it. But I hold Hardy mostly blameless.
As a clone of Picard he was miscast, because despite shaving his head he never actually resembles Picard in any way, shape of form.
If you accept that then it's actually a perfectly decent performance. And the character probably has more back story then any Star Trek villain save Khan
The clone idea just doesnt work very well. The script tries to force a bond between Picard and Shinzon that is never really there. mainly because he's so obviously portrayed as the villain.
It's an interesting idea that is handled poorly. Though I find Shinzon more interesting then Ru'afo from Insurrection.
Nemesis serves as a testament to the talent of Patrick Stewart. Because in his final outing as Picard, he is truly in top form. Often rising above the script, lending depth and gravitas to scenes that would have fallen flat.
Picard's speech to Shinzon about hopefully beginning a peace between the Federation and the Romulans works because of Stewart. He started his Trek career in 1987 rising above the questionable level of TNG's first season, and in some ways comes full circle.
The scenes after the destruction of the Scimitar and Data. How Stewarts Picard deals with the loss. Barely able to speak, in pain. Those scenes feel real even though deep down you know that B4 is waiting to take over....
Stewart is an exceptional actor who's unexpected casting as the new "James T. Kirk" pretty much restarted the franschise, and though this film isnt really a worthy send-off. It is still a joy to see him.
The rest of the regulars perform as admirable then ever. Data is givin something a bit more interesting to do then "learning to play like a child" and because Frakes isnt directing, he's a little more prominent.
Worf is back, even though there is no reason for him to be back, he's supposed to be the Federation Ambassador on the Klingon Homeworld, but ok....
The Romulans have always been the red-headed step children of Star Trek. They featured less on TOS then the Klingons because they took longer in make-up. When TNG rocked up they tried to use them throughout but usually with limited succes. They appeared on DS9 too, but because that show featured the Cardassians, they were fairly redundant as majot players. And the movies barely featured them. And in a way Nemesis does the same. It has Romulans. But the focus is on the human clone Shinzon, and his gang of butt-ugly Remans (headed by the equally ugly Ron Perlman who's totally unrecognizable in this film)
Shinzon plans to destroy Earth, but that treat never feels real. Romulan space is too far away for that to ever become prominent. There is a Federation taskforce nearby, which raises the hopes for some epic, DS9 style battle, but that never happens either. Nevertheless the space battle we do get is actually rather well done. And Picard flying the Enterprise head on into his enemies ship is just cool!
So it's a derivative script with some very weak spots. And has a rather silly scene with Picard, Data and Worf engaged in a Mad Max like car chase on a sepia tones planet, hunted by savages from a pre-warp civilization (once again the writers chose to forget the Prime Directive, which makes what they do their a big no no). But I still have a strong fondness for this film.
It's a little more cinematic then the previous one, even though it's mostly a soundstage movie. It's plot slightly more focused and I do like the action. It still feels a bit like a two part episode, but a more profound one.
This is partly due to the score.
Blumenkohl has written movingly about it in context of Jerry's health. And I agree.
It's also the 10th film and for that reason Jerry uses his old theme a bit more, and returns to the Starfleet motif. Also the Quest theme makes a welcome return.
There is something else. The way Goldsmith wrote in the 90's and the 00's. That very streamlined, rather understated way he composed for drama or romance. It really fits very well with the way Patrick Stewart plays Picard.
In First Contact, when Picard bids his farewell to Lily, he almost whispers "I will miss you". Goldsmith's music often does the same. I'm willing to bet that Goldsmith totally "got" Picard.The no-nonsense Captain with an unimpeachable morality and the heart of a poet.
Maybe that explains my fondness for this film. It's not only a farewell to Picard, but to Jerry as well. Since it's the last film he scored that i ever saw.
In many ways it's also a farewell to Star Trek. The Star Trek that shaped my teenage years at least. DS9 ended a few years before. I had already lost interest in Voyager and never followed Enterprise. Nemesis even in 2002 was already a throw back. But it was a throwback to good days, and to a great show.
And for that reason.
*** out of ****