2002-12-19 / Arts & Entertainment

10th ‘Trek" Movie Is ‘Dullest and Drabbest Of The Lot’

Associated Press Writer
By Ben Nuckols

10th ‘Trek" Movie Is ‘Dullest and Drabbest Of The Lot’


“Star Tek: The Next Generation” TV co-stars (l. to r.) Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden appear in the series’ latest big screen entry, “Star Trek: Nemesis.”     ©Paramount Pictures“Star Tek: The Next Generation” TV co-stars (l. to r.) Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden appear in the series’ latest big screen entry, “Star Trek: Nemesis.” ©Paramount Pictures

By Ben Nuckols

Associated Press Writer

If "Star Trek: Nemesis" is "a generation’s final journey," as it’s billed, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and crew are going out with a whimper in the dark.

The 10th entry in the "Star Trek" movie franchise, and the third in which Picard has flown solo, is the dullest and drabbest of the lot. Simply plotted and feebly directed, it lacks the vigorous action that elevated Capt. Kirk’s adventures into pulp art or the thorny ethical dilemmas that gave the "Next Generation" TV series its resonances.

Screenwriter John Logan’s heart is in the right place; he looks back to past "Trek" movies to find the template for his villain. Kirk’s most fearsome adversaries — played by Ricardo Montalban in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and Christopher Plummer in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’’— were able to outstrip his masculine bravado. Following that logic, what better nemesis for the introspective, solipsistic Picard than himself?

The bad guy is a young Picard clone, created by the always scheming Romulans in an effort to infiltrate the Federation. But they abandoned the project when the clone was still a boy, ditching him in the mines of enslaved sister planet Remus. The Remans, a nasty, militaristic bunch, raise him to be a leader, and as the movie opens he assassinates much of the Romulan Senate.

So Shinzon (Tom Hardy), as the clone is called, becomes Praetor of the Romulan Empire, and he makes overtures of peace to the Federation. Naturally, the Enterprise crew is called to negotiate, interrupting their journey to the second of two wedding ceremonies for Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis).

With his sneering mug and a voice that sounds like sherry poured over sandpaper, Shinzon isn’t very convincing when he talks about peace, and the Enterprise crew discovers in short order that the opposite is on his mind: He has a vendetta against humanity.

Addressing the nature-vs.-nurture debate, "Star Trek: Nemesis" comes down solidly on nurture’s side. Shinzon, who shares Picard’s DNA, torments him with the assertion that if Picard had been orphaned and brought up among the oppressed Remans, he would harbor the same resentments. Similar themes turn up in the relationship between the android Data (Brent Spiner) and a prototype of himself that the crew has discovered.

Director Stuart Baird ("U.S. Marshals") pays lip service to these dualities; he’s more interested in action sequences. But his work is lumbering. And the film’s murky look — the Remans, we’re told, prefer darkness — violates a principle that has informed the best space operas: Keep it sharp and crisp. The audience needs to believe it’s seeing a future world brimming with technology, and that’s not possible if it looks like nobody’s invented the 60-watt bulb.

Baird relies on textureless close-ups and frames his shots as if for television. Worse — particularly considering Baird apprenticed as an editor — the cross-cutting limps and sags.

As every Trekker knows, Federation starships lack the firepower of Romulan or Klingon war birds, so a captain must use his wits if he’s drawn into battle with one of them. This installment, though, values brawn over brains, with the measured Picard eventually borrowing a tactic from a monster truck rally.

The Enterprise crew retains its breezy rapport, though Worf (Michael Dorn), Geordi (LeVar Burton) and Crusher (Gates McFadden) are given little to do. Spiner, the loosest and most freewheeling of the cast, creates some nice comic moments between Data and his less sophisticated prototype, while Stewart appears lost in a reverie of contemplation.

Perhaps he’s thinking about how his other sci-fi franchise, "X-Men," has a future, while "Star Trek" is going nowhere, slowly.

"Star Trek: Nemesis," is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and peril and a scene of sexual content. Running time: 117 minutes.


Return to top

Copyright© 2000 - 2014
Canarsie Courier Publications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved