Film

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Todd R. Ramlow

As Nemesis amply demonstrates, the franchise is getting quite long in the tooth.


Star Trek: Nemesis

Director: Stuart Baird
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Tom Hardy
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
First date: 2002
US Release Date: 2002-12-13

Star Trek: Nemesis is the 10th film spawned by second generation of the original tv series (there are five series altogether). The franchise has long seemed relentless, and yet, Paramount is promoting the new film with the fatalistic tagline: "A Generation's Final Journey Begins."

There is more than one way to read this. First, this is the final film for the crew of ST: TNG, that in Trek tradition, it's time to pass the torch to a new crew, and most likely that of ST: Voyager. That said, the cameo in Nemesis by Kate Mulgrew as Admiral Kathryn Janeway already sets up an altered future -- she won't be a captain again unless she's demoted.

Or second, this claim to the "final journey" is a marketing ploy to revitalize interest in the series, as receipts for ST: Insurrection (1998) were less than stellar. But, Nemesis will hardly be the end. Instead, it will likely institute a story arc that spans several more features, as has been done before, in the original cast Star Trek movies II-V.

Perhaps this should be the final "final frontier" story. As Nemesis amply demonstrates, the franchise is getting quite long in the tooth. The film sacrifices much of TNG's thoughtfulness and seriousness in favor of some "ironic" nostalgia for the camp of the first ST series, at least in the first half.

It begins with the marriage of Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). When Data (Brent Spiner) toasts the couple with a song (and why does Data always have to sing?), he opens with "Ladies, Gentlemen, and invited Transgender Species." Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) later calls Riker "Mr. Troi" and worries over the all-nude Beta-Zed wedding ceremony for the two that he will have to attend, and states that until that time, he'll "be in the gym."

Many such attempts at humor fall flat. It's unfortunate. One of the things I liked most about TNG on tv was its philosophizing and scientific sophistication. What we get in Nemesis, however, are cornball comedy and oversized dune buggies (don't ask).

The plot hardly needs elaboration, as it follows the general outline of any ST film. The Enterprise crew encounters some galactic mystery, unravels it to discover just how it threatens all of humanity, and then saves the day and the earth. Here the villains are the Romulans, which is welcome. Though they have been the most consistently treacherous enemies of the Federation throughout the tv series, the Romulans have been given precious little time in the films. It's good to see them take center stage here.

Nemesis also introduces a new species to the ST galaxy. These are the inhabitants of Romulus's twin planet, Remus. There's a complicated bit involving interplanetary relations, but in the end, the Remans are in cahoots with the Romulans and even rise to power when Reman Shinzan (Tom Hardy) becomes Praetor of the Romulan Empire. As one side of Remus is always facing their sun, and is thus uninhabitable, the Remans have evolved on the dark side, which apparently accounts for their looking like any number of previous film vampires.

That is, except for Shinzan, who is human. Shinzan clearly evokes Hellraiser's Pinhead, with his fetishy rubber trench coat, but without the malevolence. So, Shinzan comes off more like Billy Corgan, with all the bald-faced (and -headed) whining that entails. It's hard to feel threatened by a mope-rock wannabe.

Where Nemesis diverges from the formulaic is in the very unnecessary rape of Counselor Troi. After Picard and crew have made contact with Shinzan and returned to the ship to consider his peace proposal (used to lure the Enterprise to Romulus), we get a gratuitous scene of Troi and Riker having sex. In the middle of this, Shinzan invades Troi's mind and replaces Riker on top of her. He mutters some vague threats and naked images of both him and his vampiric Viceroy (Ron Perlman) grunt away above Troi as she screams.

What make this trauma even worse is how willing Captain Picard is to sacrifice Troi, and subject her to further rape. When she asks to be excused from duties on this mission, Picard refuses, telling her she must be willing to expose herself, "if [she] can, to further violations," for the good of crew, ship, and Federation. It's a callous demand that seems very much outside the character so meticulously developed for Picard. But then again, this too is nothing new. Despite the vaunted values of the Federation, and their respect for basic human (and non-human) dignity, they always seem to act against the rights of someone in their pursuit of an interstellar "utopia."



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Music

Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.

Music

Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".

Music

Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.