Star Trek: Nemesis

What did we expect?

As parents, our first job is to protect our children. With that in mind, I’ve managed to keep my daughter from the insipidness that is Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, the other day I caught her watching Nemesis on television. I knew it was my sacred duty, painful as it was, to stay with her. Perhaps our togetherness would help soften the trauma.

Mine, not hers.

This motion picture garnered the MPAA’s PG-13 SFAPSSC rating: “PG-13 due to SciFi Action and Peril and a Scene of Sexual Content.” After reading the rating, you really don’t need to see the picture.

Plot Summary: See the last 35 years of Trek.

The Story: The first scene is, creatively, the title and we find two letters are backwards, which forebodes the movie’s attention to detail.

The story itself opens on the Romulan homeworld, Romulus, where we discover the Romulans are arguing over allying themselves with the neighboring Remans–an argument forcefully settled when the lone politician who favors the alliance turns all her opponents into charcoal briquettes.

Afraid to overburden the audience with too much action or otherwise interesting scenes, the movie now cuts to Commander Riker and Lieutenant Troi’s wedding reception on board the Enterprise. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is toasting the grinning couple in his role as “Best Man”–which says something for the masculinity of the rest of the crowd.

The scene cuts to the post-reception dance, where a group is performing that wasn’t hep enough for the Pat Buchanan Geriatric Republicans Convention. We discover Whoopi Goldberg (with one of her trademark heliopad hats) has been married 23 times, which given her personality shouldn’t be surprising. Deciding the party doesn’t have enough soul, Data commandeers the microphone and begins singing, a fate worse than befell the Romulans in the opening scene. Picard announces that the upcoming wedding ceremony on Troi’s home world of Betazed will be performed in the traditional manner: sans clothes. The mere threat of seeing Patrick Stewart and Whoopie Goldberg naked in the same movie should have earned an NC-17 rating.

The crew returns to the Enterprise. There, as they have been for the last fifteen years, sit Riker, Troi, Worf, Data, LaForge, and Crusher. Apparently, serving on the Enterprise isn’t exactly the “fast-track” for promotion. Big surprise.

The ship is receiving “positronic” transmissions from a little-known planet, conveniently located between an ion storm and the Neutral Zone. (We haven’t seen that before, huh?) Picard, Worf, and Data can’t beam down (that pesky ion storm, y’know), forcing the crew to resort to a shuttlecraft and a supercharged dune buggy. Really. With wild-man Picard at the controls, the trio tears across the desert landscape like Mad Max and the Two Stooges.

They park the buggy and wander around, looking for the source of the transmission, when suddenly Carrie’s arm lunges from the soil and grabs Worf’s leg! Terrifying! Only it turns out not to be Carrie, but a limb from yet another of Data’s extended family, which is even worse. They find the rest of the robot’s body parts and are about to return when they are set upon by the local inhabitants in their own ATVs. With the words, “Prime Directive be damned!” our heroes start blasting away at the onrushing assailants. Faster than you can say “the Road Warrior meets the Rat Patrol,” we are treated to a truly puzzling scene of our 24th century techostuds getting their asses kicked and chased off the planet by a bunch of beach bums that look like the bastard offspring of Quark the Ferengi and the Gill Man from the Black Lagoon.

Back on the Enterprise, we learn Data’s brother is named “B-4.” (Get it? Ha ha.) With his usual tactical brilliance, Picard allows all of Data’s data to be downloaded into the new and unknown robot, giving it access to all of Star Fleet’s communication protocols, fleet deployments, and personnel assignments. What could go wrong? (Does that seem familiar?)

About this time, Picard gets a transmission from none other than Admiral Janeway  who screeches that the Romulan Empire has a new Praetor, a Reman named Shinzon, who wishes to talk peace. Since the Enterprise is the only ship within range (familiar?), he is ordered to go get “the lay of the land,” an order Captain James Kirk would have accepted with enthusiasm. Janeway then agrees to send Picard, “all the intelligence we have, but it isn’t much.”

Amen, sister.

The Enterprise rushes to Romulus, goes into orbit, and waits for seventeen hours while nothing happens, a situation I could relate to by this point. A massive, nasty-assed ship dripping with weaponry decloaks, which almost–but not quite–stirs Picard into raising shields. (Does that seem familiar?) Nosferatu appears on their viewscreen, inviting Picard over for brunch with the Praetor, Shinzon. Picard orders the entire command staff to join him on the Away Team, thus leaving the Enterprise in more capable hands.

Onboard the Scimitar, Picard meets the Praetor–young Telly Savalas, a twisted, bitter, vile creature who has the misfortune of being Picard’s clone, which explains at least his bitterness. The Enterprise crew suspects they got the DNA from “a hair follicle or skin cell.” I’m betting it was the skin cell. We learn Shinzon was raised on Remus as a slave to the Romulans before a burning bush showed him the way to free his Reman people. Seems the Remans are the Big Boys now, see, and the Romulans work for them, see?

Back on the Big E, we are treated (?) to the scene of sexual content, as Riker is about to find connubial bliss with Troi. In the middle of sex, Deanna screams in horror and pushes him off, feeling disgusted and violated. She claims it’s because the Praetor and his Viceroy, Nosferatu, entered her mind and made her think it was Nossie doing the honors instead of Riker. Personally, I think it would have been an improvement. (Think that scene is pointless and makes no sense? Well, that’s because you haven’t read the script. Just wait.)

Picard returns to the ship, only to be kidnapped and brought back to the Scimitar. (Don’t ask me–I’m just another helpless viewer.) B-4 also transports over, since it turns out he’s a spy for the Remans. (I guess the Remans knew from past experience that Picard would imbue him with all of Star Fleet’s secrets.) Of course, our wily heroes were on to the scam and replaced B-4 with Data. Fortunately for them, the Remans forgot to verify that the android that showed up was, in fact, theirs.

Well, Data springs Picard and the two rush through the Scimitar, slaughtering many highly trained Reman soldiers whose main strategy is to hope the enemy runs of out ammo while shooting them. Fortunately for both sides, everyone is using phasers and disrupters: had anyone been carrying a pump-action shotgun, they would have been unstoppable.

Data leads Picard to the shuttle bay. Alas! They can’t get inside because the entry code is encrypted. The clever android is forced to try five or six passwords before stumbling on the right one. The Praetor shouldn’t have used his birthday for the code, I guess.

Picard and Data steal a shuttlecraft, and since they both took the Internet course on How to Fly a Reman Spacecraft, they have no trouble. They return to the Enterprise and set course for a rendezvous with Star Fleet, unaware they are being followed by the cloaked Scimitar. The Enterprise passes through another ion storm, meaning they’re out of communication with the fleet (does that sound familiar?), and is set upon, for reasons unknown, by the Scimitar.

Praetor Shinzon sends a boarding party to capture Picard, but due to a metric/English foul-up, they end up on some other part of the ship. Commander Riker leads a security team to intercept, and in the ensuing gun battle we discover the intruders all suffer from a severe form of depth perception disability. The leader of the boarding party sees a side tube, and figures since it worked out for Han, Luke, and Leia, he jumps down it. Riker waddles after him through a fusillade of Keystone Reman disrupter fire.

Meanwhile, the space battle rages. The Scimitar attacks the Enterprise head-on, and we discover that the viewscreen is actually just a big window on the front of the ship. It’s blown out, sucking a hapless crewman in a red shirt into space before the emergency force field can be raised. All looks lost for our heroes when two Romulan ships ride to the rescue, bugles blowing! Seems they’ve decided Shinzon’s plan to eradicate Earth might just piss off the Federation, so they’re out to stop him (even though at the movie’s start they were pushing for a war with the Federation). Well, when you’ve painted your heroes into a corner, there’s nothing like pulling salvation out of thin air. Or a vacuum.

Back in the bowels of the ship, Riker is stalking his quarry. The Reman jumps out, knocking the gun from Riker’s hand (or is it the other way around?), and the two struggle in an epic hand-to-hand combat scene until they plummet over a railing, Riker hanging on with one arm, the Reman grasping his leg. (Okay, does that sound familiar?) The Reman plunges to his death down a mysterious thousand-meter shaft in the middle of the Enterprise.

By this point, the Enterprise has pretty much had the crap beat out of her by the Scimitar. They manage to get in a good blow by utilizing Troi’s sex-link with Nosferatu. Placing her delicate white hand upon the brown, course fingers of her former lover, Worf, she uses the Weapons Officer’s touchscreen as a high-tech Ouija board and gets the Spirit of Plot Convenience to show her where the Remans are hiding.

Eventually, Shinzon decloaks (his ship, not himself) in front of the Enterprise and Picard orders his ship (which is now without warp power, photon torpedoes, and shields) to ram it! Shinzon stares in horror as the battered Star Fleet ship lumbers toward him. He grinds his gears badly in a desperate, but futile, attempt to find Reverse. The Enterprise crashes into the Reman ship which turns out to be made entirely of aluminum foil (and not the heavy-duty variety, either). Shinzon finally finds Reverse and backs away, but his ship is mortally crippled.

Shinzon decides the jig is up and deploys his secret weapon: the Planet Killer gun from Star Wars. This uses “Theramin” to destroy anything in its path. The Enterprise crew is astonished that the lowly Remans, whose technological background consists of counting whiplashes, have built such a device–a device the Federation thought existed only in theory. Fortunately, they know the weapon takes seven minutes to charge. (It’s a pretty good theory, I guess.)

This is adequate time for Picard to beam over and kill Shinzon, by stabbing him with one of the big ol’ sharp poles the Remans built into the walls of the Theramin chamber. (They’ll probably leave those out in next year’s model.) Data shows up, gives Picard the Ronco Emergency Beam Me Up tie tack (I thought the communicators served that function) and stays to destroy the Theramin, thus sacrificing his own “life.” (Raise your hand if you’ve seen that before.)

Picard returns to the incessant grinning of his crew (except Worf, who incessantly scowls). Riker can’t even get through Data’s eulogy with a straight face. They all applaud Data’s selfless sacrifice, forgetting the countless other crew who Picard once more led to grisly death. No one bothered pointing out that Data is governed by the Three Laws of Robotics, the first of which says Data could not, though action or inaction, allow any humans to come to harm, and thus had no choice but to die for them. I think there’s a discussion point in there about android slavery and denial of free will, but geez, this is the new Star Trek. The best philosophical arguments they come up with concern the relative merits of Earl Grey tea. (How hot is “hot”?)

Tragically for everyone concerned, Data isn’t really gone because–THEY HAVE B-4! And he has ALL of Data’s memories, remember? Who could have seen that coming? (Well, everybody.) Unfortunately, this new Data has the I.Q. of romaine lettuce, and spends the end of the movie trying to figure out what the letters “TDK” spell on a floppy disk.

In summary, Star Trek: Nemesis reinforces Producers Rick Berman’s title as “The Man Who Killed Star Trek.”

Performances: Patrick Stewart was typical Jean-Luc Picard, English accented Frenchman with all the tactical prowess of his forefathers. Jonathan Frakes needs to back off the Botox treatments so Riker can do something other than grin like a moron. Brent Spiner was ever-annoying as Data. Michael Dorn’s Worf managed to scowl through the entire movie without sleeping with any other crewchicks.

Without doubt the best performance was turned in by Will Wheaton as Wesley Crusher. You’ll have to look carefully to see him: he’s standing next to Beverly Crusher in the wedding reception scene at the beginning. The producers avoided giving him any dialog, which–given the script–was a blessing for Wheaton’s career.

Stuart Baird “directed” this movie. He made his fame as an editor; I believe he simply pieced this movie together from scraps he’d collected from other motion pictures. God knows there was nothing original here.

Since I’m in a good mood, I’ll leave it at four vacuums.

Screenshots courtesy of

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