Star Trek Nemesis (Paramount Pictures, 2002; see also 2002 in film) is the tenth feature film based on the popular Star Trek science fiction television series. It was billed as "A generation's final journey begins" and is widely believed to be the last Star Trek film to feature the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
While the crew of the Enterprise prepares to bid farewell to Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), who have married each other, they find the remnants of an android resembling Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) on a planet close to the Romulan Neutral Zone called Kolarus III. Reassembling the android, it reveals its name as B4 (also Spiner), a predecessor to Data.
The ship is then ordered by Rear Admiral Kathryn Janeway to a diplomatic mission to Romulus, the homeworld of the Romulan Star Empire, which has undergone a military coup and is now controlled by a mysterious young man named Shinzon (Tom Hardy). Shinzon proves to be a clone of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), who has some nasty plans for both the Romulans and the Federation.
The film has two major story arcs: Picard meeting his opposite number in Shinzon, and having to think his way out of his usual patterns to out-fight himself. As such, the experience of seeing Picard meet a younger, nastier version of himself (reminiscent of several older Star Trek TV episodes, most notably "The Enemy Within" from the original series) doesn't amount to much more than a rousing space adventure with a grand battle at the end. Hardy was widely praised for his acting skills opposite Stewart, however.
The second arc involves Data meeting — after a fashion — his opposite number in B4 (he has previously encountered another double of himself, Lore, who is genuinely evil; B4 is simply less advanced, a previous version of the android). Data eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate his humanness, and his emotional growth and maturity combined with his reactions to the events around him are the most touching moments of the film.
Much of the film is devoted to the quest of a few of the protagonists to discover what it is to be human. After discovering his clone is quite different to what he is, Picard is left wondering what it is to be human. He doubts his ability to defeat Shinzon, given that they are technically the same person, despite the appearance that they are opposites. Picard eventually discovers, or at least concludes, that to be human is to try to improve on one's self. Throughout his time with Data, he realises that it was Data who understood this more than anyone else and this influences and inspires Picard to come to this conclusion. This is a moment of epiphany for Picard, who, as if to frustrate him even more, was not able to explain this to Data before his death.
There are also a lot of plot devices that reinforce the themes that existed throughout much of The Next Generation of Data, the machine's, humanity.
Thematically, Nemesis is yet another example of power corrupting and the need for vengeance driving an individual over the edge to his doom (as best exemplified in the series by Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan); again: Moby Dick.
The film was directed by Stuart Baird. Music was scored by the late Jerry Goldsmith, who had scored several earlier Star Trek films.
Brent Spiner had reportedly wanted this to be his final appearance as Data, in part because he was 16 years older than when he first appeared as the android, whereas Data presumably is ageless. B4's existence, however, leaves open the possibility that he may return in a future installment.
The film, as with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was cut by about a third from a much longer running time, which caused the integrity of the story to suffer as a result. Many scenes were deleted, including a second mind-rape scene and much of the ending involving the crew disbanding.
This movie's gross domestic income was the worst of all the series at $43,254,409 as of December 2004. It earned $67,312,826 worldwide on a budget of $60,000,000. Some fans have noted that Nemesis ends the perceived trend of even-numbered Trek films being better than odd-numbered films. (All figures according to Box Office Mojo. (http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=startrek10.htm))
The blame for the film's disappointing performance has been laid in several places. Paramount Pictures has been criticized for releasing the film only a few days before the powerhouse opening of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Others blame the negative response many Trekkies have towards Star Trek: Enterprise, and general dislike of Star Trek executive producer Rick Berman. Others point to the fact that early drafts of the script were leaked onto the Internet more than a year before the film's release, generating a tidal wave of negative word-of-mouth and criticism that built up over the course of many months. Finally, the film itself is a piecemeal recombination of a number of previously-used ideas and characters: Data already has an identical evil brother; Picard's ramming maneuver instantly recalls the Star Trek Voyager episode Year of Hell; and writer John Logan freely admits to having modelled much of the plot on Star Trek II. This is especially apparent during the films' final battles, which play out almost identically. Logan, a long-time franchise fan, calls these parallels "homages"—and, to his credit, he manages to slip references to every Star Trek series (including Star Trek: Enterprise) into the film—but on-screen, the results simply felt reused to many critics.
The film was released four years after the previous film, Star Trek: Insurrection — the longest gap between films to date — and some defenders of the movie feel this interval might have also contributed to the film underperforming since the Trek franchise in general had been experiencing diminishing returns since the release of the previous film, with the ratings for Voyager and Enterprise shrinking with each passing year.
The poor performance of the film, coupled with the generally low ratings of Star Trek: Enterprise (the series would be cancelled in 2005) has left the franchise with an uncertain future. Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Patrick Stewart have all publicly said that The Next Generation has reached the end of the line and that probably no future Next Generation films would be made. Nonetheless, in the summer of 2004, there were reports that pre-production work was under way on the 11th Star Trek film, which may, like Enterprise, be a prequel to the original Trek series. However, prior to the cancellation of Enterprise in early 2005, Paramount Pictures denied that an 11th movie is in production at the present time.
The film is also notable for being the only Star Trek film to feature a car chase.
Due to poor kerning of the film's tagline, an early trailer appeared to read "A Generation's Anal Journey Begins" (with the "F" and the "I" of "Final" appearing to run together into a stylized "A").
- Official Star Trek: Nemesis web site (http://nemesis.startrek.com)
- Star Trek: Nemesis (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0253754/) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Star Trek: Nemesis (http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/index.php/Star_Trek:_Nemesis)" article at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki
- Star Trek: Nemesis information at TREKPULSE.com (http://movies.trekpulse.com/nemesis/)