Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Movie Review - Star Trek Nemesis

I had high hopes of this film after seeing the trailer - bring back the Romulans, have an enemy that -might- be as good as the Borg, have Lor (data's brother) in on the action (as I wrongly thought), the whole of humanity under threat (again), etc... it seemed to have the makings of the best Star Trek film yet.

The Next Generation crew have long been my favourite set - more hi-tech than the original, more interesting than Voyager, Deep Space 9 or Enterprise, and stars of two of the best Star Trek films to date - Insurrection and (not quite as good but still better than most of the others) First Contact. Okay so they were in Generations, which was awful, but that was their first attempt and they got better.

Sadly, with their last film, they got worse. The plot mainly centres around a clone of Picard created by the Romulans, who after a change of government there was rendered unsuitable for the purpose. He is then sent to Remus (the dark side of the planet - "Romulus and Remus") as a slave in a dilithium mine. Apparently he is the only person the Remans hate more than their Romulan captors. He is there befriended by a Reman, who shows him how to survive. Somehow they not only escape but build an army, a huge spaceship which completely outclasses the Enterprise (and everything else ever seen), and develop a virus based on some kind of banned research which can wipe out every living thing in a room, city or even planet. Oh, and they make friends (sort of) in the Romulan government and depose the rest, thus taking over. After that, they plan to wipe out the whole Federation - starting with planet Earth.

Of the many things which don't even begin to be explained are: Why did the Remans hate the clone so much when he was a slave like them? Since they hated the Romulans, why did they suddenly team up with them and go for the Federation, which they have no cause to hate, or at least no explained cause? How did they escape the mines? How did they build an army? How did they build the spaceship? How did they get their hands on the universally-banned substance to continue developing and ultimately perfect it? How did the clone suddenly become the leader of the Remans?

Other worrying paradoxes are: Upon landing on a planet to check out strange positronic signals (thus leading to the discovery of B4, a prototype model of Data the android, who has been programmed by the Remans... which again doesn't make much sense), the amazingly small landing party of Captain Picard, Worf and Data drive out of the back of the shuttle craft in a hi-tech jeep... which doesn't do anything that a jeep today couldn't do. (Thus proving that 5 centuries or more of scientific advance haven't impacted on vehicles with four wheels... ??) This then leads to a sequence of them being attacked, which looks like a rather poor imitation of a similar scene in Star Wars - attack of the Clones (and, come to that, a similar scene in the original Star Wars film!) It is only memorable for 3 things - 1/ Worf's amazed reaction to the android - [Turns to Data - exclaims: "It looks just like you!"] - well duh, haven't they already met Lor several times and realised that there were several prototypes before Data?, 2/ Data's line: "I will never understand why it is that humans love driving vehicles at unsafe speeds?" (or something like that anyway!), 3/ The jump off the cliff into the back of the shuttle (which Data is using the remote-control for). At least the last two were enjoyable moments, but the first just gives a start to the implausibility of the plot.

The one really interesting aspect of this film is the concept of how the same person developed in differing circumstances - Picard is constantly forced to question whether he would not be doing the same thing if he'd lived the life his clone had. But sadly this theme is not truly developed, and with the motivation of the clone being so spurious anyway, it couldn't be. This is a shame because that's the sort of theme that Star Trek has traditionally done well.

There is not really a lot to recommend this film. Some of the action sequences (such as Data launching himself from one ship to another) do not really ring true, even given the suspended believe that you inevitably have to have when watching this sort of film, and the plot just doesn't even begin to make sense. It's a real shame that the TNG crew have bowed out with such a poor effort, especially considering how good their previous film (Insurrection) was.


Insurrection Review

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