The tenth and final instalment of the original Star Trek Universe films, Star Trek: Nemesis was released in 2002. Directed by Stuart Baird (US Marshalls, Executive Decision) it is the final appearance of the Next Generation crew of Star Trek regulars and only just making its many back at the box office, lead to work commencing on the rebooted universe by JJ Abrams in Star Trek.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is best man at the wedding of his Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counciller Deanna Troy (Marina Sirtis). As Riker is preparing for his own command, the Enterprise picks up a positronic signal. Having embarked on an away mission, they discover an earlier model of the android Data (Brent Spiner). Meanwhile, the Romulan Senate is attacked and killed by Shinzon (Tom Hardy) who assumes control of the Empire and summons Picard and the Enterprise to Romulus for peace talks.
Star Trek: Nemesis was the tenth iteration of films based on the beloved science fiction franchise and by this time the cracks were starting to show. Everything felt familiar, safe and ultimately tired. The Next Generation crew had completed their seven season run on TV and had starred in 3 films before Nemesis, so there was precious little left in terms of character development. Like any retirement party, Nemesis plays like a fond farewell to a cast whose best days are far behind them.
All the beats are here: A dash of alien planetary scouting, political intrigue then upheaval and a seemingly all-powerful villain who mirrors one of the major characters. This last point in fact is so pronounced that it would be easy to look upon Star Trek: Nemesis as a narrative about identity. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Shinzon, revealed early as a clone of Picard plays fast and loose with the understanding of shared ideas and draws in a minor exploration of nature versus nurture. However, this is only a surface exploration and despite his best efforts, the young Tom Hardy struggles to match the gravitas and drama brought by his elder clone-brother. Patrick Stewart in fact, seems to be the only one attempting to mine some actual emotion and is so good he actually reveals the failings of the rest of the cast to keep up with him. His performance deserves a far deeper and more engaging narrative than it’s given.
The effects are suitably epic, while the score swells and postures at all the right moments, while the crew give a fair overview to the highlights of the Next Generation tropes and themes. There’s nothing particularly outstanding and it just about sends off the crew of the Enterprise with some class, but characters with their history really deserved a little bit more. Star Trek: Nemesis is less boldly going where no one has gone before, but rather going exactly where it has been in the past.
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