Directed by Stuart Baird
There is yet another coup in the Romulan Star Empire and the Enterprise is sent to open negotiations. The new Praetor, Shinzon (Tom Hardy in quite possibly his first American feature film role) ostensibly of the Romulan Empire Reman subclass, has an unusual connection to Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). What is the Reman plan and how does everything connect to the previously unknown Soong-type android known as B4 (Brent Spiner)?
This is quite possibly the best of the TNG movies in my opinion. It had the most action and probably was the most character driven of any of them. The stakes were higher here as the villain posed a viable threat not just to the crew of the Enterprise but the Federation as well. The film delved specifically into TNG mythology for its story and even had a cameo by Captain (now Admiral) Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). I was so happy that the films threw us this series crossover bone.
Nemesis sports some of the better special effects that any of the TNG movies had. I remember seeing it in theaters and the audience that was there with me gasped during the final battle when a portion of a Romulan ship BOUNCED OFF the Enterprise’s shields. And honestly that was a cool effect.
The ship battle at the end is among the best that the TNG films have shown. It ranks right up there with Wrath of Khan. It is exciting and it is tense and edge of your seat. And it packs surprises. I never expected the Enterprise to ram Shinzon’s ship, the Scimitar.
Shinzon was the best TNG movie villain of all four films. He was the most devious and the one that was quite probably a genuine threat to everything. When he and Picard were playing off of each other, the acting was phenomenal. It was a delicate dance of two adversaries feeling each other out. Tom Hardy did really well here, and it was an early display of his genuine talent. It is still tough to wrap my head around Shinzon being played by Tom Hardy.
I am normally not a fan of the alien politics stories of TNG. Too often we get buried with the intricate details of some alien culture’s political structure. While the beginning of the story does rely on Romulan politics it is not the focus. The focus is Picard and Shinzon and their dynamic. It is a game of chess between the two. It is also Picard being confronted by a dark version of himself.
Shinzon is the product of a Romulan cloning experiment that was to replace Picard in order to have a spy in the highest ranks of the Federation. A little outlandish as alien plots in Star Trek go but they got it to work here. As indicated at the beginning of the movie, the end of the plot was the result of a coup and the new government on Romulus no longer wishing to pursue it so Shinzon was cast into the Reman mines before being found by a Reman (Ron Perlman) that sees potential in him and raised him as his own.
The Reman make up was pretty cool. They were vampire like creatures that were creepier looking than usual Star Trek aliens. On a side note I am not sure what it says about Ron Perlman as the Reman Viceroy that he was easily recognizable under his make-up. It did little to distort his features. Kind of reminiscent of when Gabrielle Union played a Klingon pilot on DS9. The second or third time I saw that particular episode with her in it was when I recognized her. By then she was well known. I guess some actor’s features cannot be hidden under prosthetic make up no matter how much you put on.
Shinzon tries to frame himself as what Picard would have become with a more difficult life. Picard is disturbed by this but realizes eventually that the thought is incorrect. As per what Data (Brent Spiner also) said they are not the same person. It eases his feelings.
Most of the characters contribute something to the story in the way of action. Dr. Crusher unfortunately gets left behind in this. Gates McFadden was my second favorite Star Trek doctor. But here her only contribution to the story is to emphasize how dangerous the radiation from the Romulan weapon is. That goes without saying. Everybody is going on about how dangerous it is. The audience already knows that because it is a Romulan weapon and the Romulans are not nice guys. Plus it was used at the start of the film to wipe out the Romulan Senate and the previous Praetor. We know already.
I am still confused by what Worf (Michael Dorn) is doing back on the Enterprise. At the end of DS9 not only was Worf in the House of Martok but he was also the Federation ambassador to Qo’noS (the Klingon homeworld). But with little to no explanation he finds himself back on the Enterprise. They could have gotten him back on the Enterprise for the final TNG movie pretty easily. While the Klingons and Romulans have never really gotten along in Star Trek they have had a much closer relationship than the Federation and the Romulans have had. Worf could have been written in as an intermediary and still done everything else he did in the movie. I know I am showing my nerd cred here, but it bothers me.
The redesign of the Romulan ships makes them look more like Klingon vessels. They still were cool but the TNG version should have been maintained more. The Scimitar does not look threatening enough. Its main body is just too boxy. It is a box with pointy things attached.
My major issue is that once again the Dominion War and its aftereffects are an afterthought in a TNG film. I understand Gene Roddenberry had a thing against depictions of war in Star Trek but once something is depicted in a show in a way that eats up a great deal of that show in what appears to be a shared universe, you cannot push it aside when it is a recent event in the aforementioned shared universe. It looks like DS9 was ignored in this film and its predecessor.
After seeing this movie, I had high hopes that it would serve as a springboard to another Star Trek film. I understood that some of the actors wanted to move on and I was fine with that. That would have opened the door to bring in characters from the other Star Trek shows into the Star Trek films. You could have done an Avengers-style movie with all the assorted characters. It would have been awesome. Unfortunately the performance of this movie was underwhelming in Paramount’s eyes and they shelved future films. Bringing in other characters would have been a great way to freshen up the Star Trek movies.
Nemesis is a great TNG film. It is character driven and its message is that we are guilty for our own sins and not those of others. It ranks up there as the best of the TNG films. This was the last movie before we got a reboot. It is a good movie and deserves some love.