Star Trek Nemesis review
Star Trek Nemesis was released at a time when I honestly didn’t have very much to say regarding Star Trek, somewhat having lost interest in the franchise. Although this is still a well-made film, it takes more than just competent filmmaking skills to get people excited about the Next Generation cast’s last adventure on the big screen. My own lethargic mood about Star Trek could have been overcome with the right story. As it turned out, however, Nemesis only went through the motions of being a concentrated and sincere team effort. It effectively displaced Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as the worst Star Trek film ever.
My principle criticism of this film is that they played it too safe for the most part. The biggest and most fundamental mistake made was the decision to repeat an established formula of success. An even bigger mistake was choosing The Wrath of Khan as the template for that formula, both in the story and behind the scenes, especially when we’d already had far too many Khan-wannabe villains, each with their own cosmic weapons of mass destruction (Soran from Generations and Ru’afo from Insurrection fit this mold, in addition to Shinzon). The themes explored in Nemesis (dealing with aging, a revenge-obsessed villain, the death of a beloved character, and moving on) seemed redundant this time around, because those same themes had already been tackled in not only The Wrath of Khan but also Generations.
Perhaps even more disheartening than mimicking The Wrath of Khan’s story is the attempt to mimic the formula behind the scenes, by bringing in a writer and a director who had never done anything on Star Trek before. That approach pretty much backfired, with a writer who had apparently always wanted to do a Star Trek film and a director so impartial to the franchise that he clearly didn’t care much about it at all.
The fact Nemesis was written by a Star Trek fan (i.e., John Logan, who was best known for writing the Ridley Scott hit film Gladiator) resulted in it feeling as though it had been written by a fan, for fans. Now, this has both its good and bad points. The bad point is that the film has virtually no mainstream appeal, but the good point is that we fans do appreciate writers who are faithful to the faithful.
Indeed, I personally do like some aspects of Star Trek Nemesis. First, I like that Riker and Deanna finally tied the knot; it seemed only right. I liked seeing Wesley Crusher again, and in a Starfleet uniform, indicating he had eventually come back to the Academy after a tour with The Traveler in The Next Generation episode “Journey’s End”. I like that Beverly has more to do in this film, as she’s badly underused in the previous three. I like Guinan’s cameo. I like the Romulans getting their day in the Trek movie spotlight. I like the idea of the Remans as a slave class in a revolt. And I like that our heroes are put through an emotional turmoil they must overcome.
However, I don’t like the film’s villain; Shinzon comes off as a Khan-wannabe, even though a couple of scenes show he could have been something more. I don’t like Data being killed off or the hints of him possibly being “resurrected” (within B-4) just because it’s all part of the “Wrath of Khan formula.” And I don’t like the film ending on such a melancholy note, especially for the TNG cast’s final film. No audience cheering at the Scimitar‘s destruction, no cast signoff at the end with a triumphant score like the TOS cast got in The Undiscovered Country… just bittersweet feelings and emptiness. Significantly lacking style, this film is hardly an epic worth the TNG cast’s final movie outing.
So, while Star Trek Nemesis is watchable and has some nice moments, I’m still saddened, to this day, that the Next Generation cast (who had such a winning run on television) go out, on the big screen, with a subdued whisper instead of a bang.
A freelance writer, Douglas has several years experience writing newsletters, sales copy and movie reviews. He is also the author of the screenplays Supralight and Bloodstone: The Sorceress and the Warrior. His reviews of Star Trek films (as well as a DS9 retrospective) have been published on the TrekSphere website.