Monday, December 07, 2009

Retro Review - Star Trek: Nemesis

Or as I like to think of it, the one that nearly sunk the franchise. Why watch it again? I didn't intend to make this a series after my recent Star Trek: First Contact review. I was at the library with my son and saw this on the DVD shelf and thought: "He can watch this. It can't be as bad as I remember it". Wow was I wrong. I still don't think it's as bad as Star Trek: Generations, but it's close. What went wrong?

It's so cheap it affects the plot
Of course this has happened before in Star Trek. Until J.J. Abrahms Star Trek, Trek movies were always made as cheaply as they could be. Extensive set reuse across all shows, reuse of effects (e.g. Klingon Bird of Prey explosion from both Star Trek VI & VII), and Starfleet only having the exact number of ship configurations for a long time that had made movie appearances. What happened in Nemesis?

Geordi is a parody of an engineer. Georgi never leaves the bridge. It's obvious the producers never wanted film anything more in Engineering once the shield (finally?) is put on the warp core. I guess extras cost to much money. There is one scene near the end of the movie that is laughably bad. The Enterprise takes another massive shot from the Romulan ship Scimitar, and transporters go offline. Georgi taps a few buttons on his screen and then gives up. He gives up. If this were Georgi from any previous Star Trek movie, or hell Scotty, engineer's don't give up, they keep trying stuff, even crazy stuff, until they save the ship.

Horrendously bad special effects. On the Scimitar, the hallways are wide for the couple phaser fights in them, but it's clear there are only one or two corridors. There is a hallway extension painting that is huge, but it's so obvious when watching the film "hey, there's a painting at the end of that hallway" it completely takes you out of the film. Also, the Romulan super weapon (I can't spell it) effect is bad CGI. The external CGI shot of the Romulan senate is also cheap CGI, and it's used twice.

Romulan Super Weapon on the Bridge?!? It just makes no sense at all that the Romulan Super Weapon power plant would be at the top of the bridge. It's crazy that isn't in engineering. Cearly the producer's just didn't want to design and build a Romulan engineering set. Obviously, showing engineering on any ship was off limits on this film, you have to show engine FX then.

Bad Music
Not all the music is bad, there is the appropriate use of the Star Trek theme from Star Trek The Motion Picture. Unbelievable, this is Jerry Goldsmith. What went wrong here? It pretty much comes down to much sythensizer that says "old tyme science fiction movie" and the "crazy strings" when the Romulans really go off the rails. This double-whammy of bad music is right in the opening Romulan senate scene, and I start to giggle as soon as I hear it.

Slow Moving Plot and Bad Choices
Shinzon and Picard talk to much about themselves when we everyone in the audience knows Picard and Shinzon are nothing alike in action. But that is only the least of the offenses

Boring Super Weapon. There is absolutely no tension behind what the Romulan Super Weapon can do, you are shown in the first scene. You know somebody called the Remans, have taken over. But you don't know who they are, all you know is they have a super weapon. The movie would have been much better to open on Riker and Troi's wedding.

How did Shinzon get his hands on beta Data? I could easily be mistaken, but I don't remember an explanation of where B4 came from, only that Shinzon got his hands on one and planted it in Death Valley, I mean a planet close to the neutral zone. How come Data has never heard of him before (I kill me with these puns)?

When did the Enterprise crew get lobotomized? Continuing on from the previous point, didn't anyone think that the sudden discovery of a beta Data near the Romulan Neutral Zone, on the way to a meeting with the Romulans, was a tad coincidental? How does Shinzon know the Enterprise is constantly scanning for positronic signals? How much radiation is Data emitting for a ship thousands of light years away to detect? But it gets worse.

Does no one on the Enterprise realize that while flying back to rendezvous with a fleet they are going to lose communications in a rift? Data, Picard, Georgi, hell even a red shirt navigator should have told you that. The flagship crew shouldn't be surprised they have plotted themselves into a trap!

Special Mention: Eyelight on Troi while she telepathically "zero's in" on the Viceroy. The whole rape of Troi could have been a powerful moment, the first moment in the bedroom mostly was, but then they ruin it by putting the eyelight on Troi while she tries to correlate the Scimitar's position by telepathy. Further, has no ever thought "Hey Troi, can't you read the emotions of an enemy ship cloaked?". I know there were TV show episodes where she read the intentions of aliens on other ships, does the cloak break this? How come no one asks her?

Nemesis == 80% Wrath of Khan
No mincing words (see I can do it too), Nemesis is almost a direct rip-off of Wrath of Khan. The Romulan Super Weapon is the genesis device, right down to the build up to detention and destruction of all life. The Scimitar and the Enterprise duke it out in a nebula rift. The Enterprise is heavily damaged. The villain has a personal vendetta against the captain. SpockData dies to save the Enterprise, but not before leaving his memories behind. It's so obvious, John Logan should have been sent to the principal's office for cheating.

I could go on, but this is enough to get Nemesis out of my head after enduring it again. In a way I am thankful this brought an end to the mostly ok, but not exceptional Next Generation movie line. It made room for the total reinvention of Star Trek with J.J. Abrahms, or did it? Perhaps another review is due...

3.5 Inner Exceptions