DIRECTOR: Stuart Beard
May Contain Spoilers!
Before Bane, there was Shinzon. Well, not that there’s any real comparison beside that a young Tom Hardy cut his teeth here, in the role on Shinzon. It has been over ten years since I sat down to watch “a generation’s final journey” on a Saturday afternoon at my local Odeon. Seen as a let down by many Star Trek fans, I couldn’t disagree more. Granted, it’s not First Contact (1996), which is probably the best example of The Next Generation TV series’ melding with the movie franchise, creating a truly theatrical vision of the series in a manner not dissimilar to Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982).
Its sequel, the ninth movie Star Trek: Insurrection (1999) was little more than an extended episode with many literary cues from some of them as well, and what I felt at this point what Star Trek needed was real sense of theatricality, the difference between the TV show and the epic adventures on the big screen. To achieve this, you need to craft your film around the market, as had already happened with some the previous outings.
With classic Star Trek’s 1960’s effects leaving us wanting, the movies delivered a vision of Trek which was technologically stunning, making the movies distinctly different and a higher standard than the series. The problem with The Next Generation era was that these films were being made in parallel to the ongoing and existing series’, meaning that they had to tie in to the shows, hamstringing them at times.
But by 2002, the only show on TV was the prequel Enterprise (2001 – 2005), with meant that Nemesis was indeed the latest, chronologically, of The Next Generation era, finally freeing them up to do pretty much what they wanted. And Stuart Baird directed the John Logan script, hot from Gladiator (2000) at that point and between them they delivered a feature film which could stand up in its own right.
Action packed, pacey and filled with minor but not particularly distracting potholes, this is a well crafted action thriller, with ties into the history of the series without becoming bogged down with it, whilst setting off on a very Star Trek styled plot, involving clones, Romulan coup’s and the imminent destruction of Earth. (Again!)
This was the first time that the Romulans would appear as the key villains in a Trek movie, let alone their alter ego’s, the Remans, and it would the last of the classic cannon, which I felt that it was suitable and well-played story. Simple, clichéd but consistent and sets up some quality Hollywood set pieces, in a style not usual for a Star Trek movie.
Yes, it sets things up with a Captains Log, some clunky exposition and some dialogue which may well have been cut from Gladiator for being too corny, but this is still a solid Trek tale of Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his younger clone (Tom Hardy), who just happens to be the new leader of the Romulan Empire, and his need to steal Picard’s blood in order to complete the cloning process. Meanwhile, Picard is wrestling with his alter ego and Logan tried to create the same kind of tension that existed between Kirk and Khan in TWOK but it never reaches those epic heights. No Trek film has yet to reach them.
Though Nemesis is the closest to do so in my opinion, it seemed to alienate fans by moving further away from The Next Generation’s cerebral style and more towards the action adventure of Kirk’s era. But look at what would follow in 2009? What about the upcoming film this year? Star Trek is now a top-level blockbuster, so far away from the sitting down and talking Star Trek and more toward the action adventure show which it originally was.
To me, this film was a major step in the right direction, with a fast paced exciting extravaganza, with a nice doses of Trek melodrama, plenty of science fiction plot devices such as cloning and the theoretical “Thalaron” radiation with the power to destroy any life which it comes into contact, whether it be a planet or a ship. What more does this need? The politics are consistent with the series, the science is there and the action sets this apart from most previous Trek movies with beyond a doubt, one of the best space battles committed to screen, pulling out all the stops with the Enterprise’s iconic view screen being blown away and the ship ramming the enemy ship.
It might not always make sense and the narrative does make some strong demands on our suspension of disbelief, certainly as for the sequence in which B-4 (Brent Spiner), Data’s (also Brent Spiner) alter ego is discovered, but it’s enjoyable, as is most of the film. Then there’ the issue of Data’s death. Many feel that this was a mistake. Why?
The series had finished. The film franchise was all but dead but with B-4, could have continued if necessary. He died well, the scenes work, even though they were telegraphed and the crew’s reaction was almost moving. It wasn’t Star Trek II, it probably won’t provoke the strong emotional reactions that Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) death did but all in all, it worked.
Simply put and I know that I may be the only one but I liked this film, a lot! Totally under appreciated by fans and reviewers alike, but this is the first step in the direction that J.J. Abrams would continue when he became the franchise’s savour in 2009.
Farewell to The Next Generation. Now it’s back onto the first crew and a next generation of actors who portray them. Confused?