My old job spent half a million dollars for an outside consulting firm to come in and have a look at how to improve efficiency within my division. They pretended to listen to us for a few months of meetings, then recommended giving raises to all the managers and hiring a couple of outside managers to boot, (over anyone internally.) This new cadre then laid off about half the staff. It's a cruel story but all too familiar.
That's a little how Star Trek: Nemesis feels to me. If Insurrection is as Ryan Britt described it (re: "Insurrection feels like Star Trek got a little drunk and tried to dance to a cool song, with cringe-worthy Napoleon Dynamite results.") - and I think that's fair - then Nemesis is Star Trek getting a make-over by clueless outsiders and shoehorned into a "surefire smash" action movie formula that satisfies no one and embarrasses itself for the attempt.
Early on in the Red Letter Media review of Nemesis, Mr. Plinkett speculates as to the conversation that must have preceded the making of the movie: "Hey, we should make another NextGen film before they get too old, one of them dies, or people stop caring. Let's see, we slapped the first one together, and it sucked, let's not do that again... But people like the Borg one, right? And that was dark and violent. So let's make this dark and violent! And The Wrath of Khan was popular..." He continues: "You have to be some kind of asshole to not see the similarities between these two movies (...) all it really did was shine a giant spotlight on how Nemesis failed to reach that level of quality."
Both films revolve around vengeance, a doomsday device, two villains who become increasingly fixated on their crazy revenge on the Captain of the Enterprise despite their having finally escaped a tormented existence in an undesirable environment, a space battle in a nebula that obscures aim and visibility and results in both ships being crippled, one of them self-destructing, and the Enterprise escaping only via the sacrifice of the franchise's second most important character. Nemesis even features a scene where Captain Picard bluffs/ stalls Shinzon while secretly preparing a sneak attack, just like Kirk with the command codes of the Reliant.
Yet, what makes sense in Wrath of Khan, as the script was good/ the problems thought out/ the action serves the plot/ there is a general theme in place about Kirk learning to face and accept the no-win-scenario (i.e. aging and death,) it is a garbled mess in Nemesis. One last quote from Mr. Plinkett: "None of that happens in Nemesis; all Picard learns is that if he grew up in a space mine, he'd turn into a violent psychopath."
(I am both heartened and frustrated by Mr. Plinkett's Nemesis review. It crystallizes so many of my own feelings on the film and puts forward observations in a funnier and clearer way than I ever have, but damn it, it took half of what I'd planned to write... But, so it goes. If you're familiar with it, though, chances are you've already heard most of what I'm going to say, here.)
To that end, in Nemesis, we see the Scimitar, the biggest, baddest ship the franchise has ever created. Shinzon's ship has 52 disruptor banks, 27 photon torpedo bays, a perfect cloak - something they keep talking about like a cloaking device, perfect or not, is in any way still exciting by this stage in the franchise - and some doomsday Omega-13 thing called a "thalaron radiation weapon."
The last forty minutes of the film feature the most prolonged space battle ever filmed for the franchise, and the Enterprise, disabled to the point where Picard can't even get it to self-destruct, rams into the Scimitar. People are flying out into space or dying left and right, Troi is crying, and the set is shaking like a Cinderella video. With all that going for it, this has to be the most exciting and memorable space battle ever filmed, right? At least for the Trekverse? You'd think so... and yet it's almost instantly forgettable. I was hard pressed to remember the name of the villain or the ship between viewings, and I'd completely forgotten Picard even tried to blow the ship up.
|Which, by the by, is absurd. Picard seems to just shrug his shoulders and tell the computer to self-destruct, like he's as desperate for the film to end as the rest of us. And (once more from Mr. Plinkett:) "Psst. Don't tell the Captain all anyone had to do was fire a phaser at the warp core... Your secret's safe with me; I'm a coward, too." But really, considering five or ten minutes later, Data destroys the Scimitar in this fashion really underlines how little the production team cared even about their own movie, much less the internal logic of the franchise.|
|Three high-speed cameras caught the (again) destruction of 18-ft-diameter models of the Enterprise. How many millions were spent on stuff like this? To what end? Give me a story told within the budget of TOS (even season 3) over pointless excessive noisy destruction any day of the week.|
|Green plastic cymbals? "How will the audience know they're in the future without them???"|
|"But we've seen the NextGen and Voyager casts use traditional woodwinds and instruments that have been around for centuries -"|
"No, the audience will never understand that we're in the FUTURE without green plastic space cymbals!"
|"And we need to make sure Picard is bald in this old picture, or the audience will never understand that Picard is looking at a picture of himself as a young man, despite the dialogue in the scene explicitly telling us so, because the audience knows that Picard is the bald Captain."|
|This is basically like having a film about Abe Lincoln with a flashback to him as a youth and putting him in a top hat and beard, because how would anyone ever figure it out without it?|
Additionally, Stuart Baird comes across as really, really creepy in his introduction to the deleted scenes where he talks about the mind-rape of Counselor Troi.
|A story where Troi isn't violated would be something. I suppose she isn't in her Voyager appearances. I wonder if that was a point of contention with her agent.|
Brent Spiner, speaking to TrekMovie, enthusiastically agrees with the interviewer when the latter says "Data's death was his final stop on his journey to being human." As if Data's death is the big problem with the movie.
|Ok, so Brent thought he was aging out of the part and wanted to kill Data off. B4 is lame - and more than a little reminiscent of ProtoMatter Spock from TSFS - but fair enough. Why does no one even mention Lore? If even as a cautionary example? Oh, probably because if they did, they'd have to pay a royalty for the use of his likeness...|
|Wait a second!!|
So Data gets a "Hey, I have a clone, too" sub-plot to mirror Picard's to give the appearance of a script with internal counterpoint and complexity rather than writing one with those actual things.
Dr. Crusher had some nice scenes with Picard that were deleted. The wedding scene is nice enough, besides the green cymbals. And the Irving Berlin, though hey, what the hell. Data sings; it happens. And it feels like a wrap party for the cast at least vs. the death wish/ child slave labor/ horrible dying of the rest of it.
Guinan and Wil Wheaton show up at the wedding. (Not together)
but not Troi's mother. I assume Majel Barrett was too sick to join the cast, but someone could have mentioned her. I'm not even a Luxwana fan, but come on.
|As for Shinzon, whose hologram recoils at Picard's physical touch...|
|And isn't it a little late in the game to add an entire new caste to the Romulan race? Never before mentioned? I guess, in other hands, this might have been interesting. As it is, it just comes across as a desperate attempt to make the Romulans interesting rather than develop what they already had built. Perlman's fun in anything, of course, even schlock.|
|Image from the RLM review.|
|The lack of credible attempt to make these stunt drivers even look like the cast...|
|i.e. no goggles / does not match the close-up.|
|I can even buy that Picard - a guy who quotes Shakespeare, listens to symphonic music and reads old books, and drinks tea - likes off-roading. But this whole sequence is just pointless action for the sake of having a dune buggy chase.|
Meh. Maybe I'm being too harsh on this one. It's pretty roundly panned as it is, why pour oil on the blaze? I actually don't mind parts of it, and Spiner's performances are effective. But the script, execution, and inspiration for it all seems so damn muddled.
|Some fun guest stars/ cameos, such as Bryan Singer.|
|Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers and one-time love-foil for Brandon on Beverly Hills 90210.|
|And Jude Ciccollela|
|Who'll always be Mike Novick from 24 to me.|
|And of course Admiral Janeway, whose promotion inspires a lot of nerdrage out there. And this I do not share. Who cares if she got promoted? At least becoming an Admiral didn't turn her into a villain like every other Starfleet admiral; that would have sadly been par for the course for this script.|
|or Star Trek: Fatigue (So very, very Tired.)|
|Here is an accurate depiction of "Nemesis," from Sandman: The Kindly Ones.|
|"That was your Nemesis. You created your Nemesis." Okay, so maybe this is nitpicky - I'l even take Star Trek: Data Blows UP Nemesis - but this annoys me more than anything else.|
|Though I do like this visual recall of the star map from TOS "Balance of Terror."|
|I'm also not quite sure if Shinzon's takeover really works. Like everything about the character.|
One last thing: Really, okay, their planet is named Romulus, and they have Centurions, Praetors, a Senate, etc. That's enough. Do they need to have "Remans?" Is there a wolf suckling twin babes, Caesars and Constantinople, too?
Save the Space Romans for R.M. Meleuch.
I'll probably do a big rank-the-movies post somewhere down the line, but it's pretty easy for the NextGen ones. Coming in last is Generations, followed by Nemesis. Second to the top (and a distant one at that, even if I do love it to pieces) is Insurrection. Which leaves First Contact as the only unreservedly great cinematic experience for Jean-Luc and the Gang. And it's one Captain Picard - the wise, compassionate and calm Captain - spends most of frothing at the mouth in rage.
It's a shame. Ah well.
I still hold out hope on a Star Trek: Worf series, (alternate title: Star Trek: K'Plagh! with the exclamation point, thank you) where (to borrow a joke from my buddy Mike) he starts every episode confronted with some "great day to die," then cheating death. His crew rejoices, but it gnaws away at Captain Worf, leading him to more and more suicidal adventures, each of which he continues to best. Until he finally accepts that perhaps today isn't a good day to die...
Trust me, this would be the best Animated Series ever made.