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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Human cloning is a hot topic. It represents cutting edge bio-tech and generates strong opinions from a great many people. So they decided to make a Star Trek movie about a clone. Three hundred years in the future, when cloning will be as cutting edge as the cotton gin.
STAR TREK: NEMESIS was directed by Stuart Baird* (EXECUTIVE DECISION) and written by John Logan (THE TIME MACHINE), based on a story by Mr. Logan, Rick Berman (STAR TREK: Insurrection, STAR TREK: First Contact, STAR TREK: Next Generation [TV]), and Brent Spiner (his first writing credit, but you know him as Lt. Commander Data). I'll tell you up front that I really wanted to like this movie, partly because I'm a Trekkie and partly because I heard that the screenwriter, John Logan, is also a Trekkie. Because Gladiator won so many awards, Mr. Logan is considered an "A" list writer and his agent advised him against writing a Star Trek movie, but like any true fan he just couldn't say no.
The story opens in the Romulan Imperial Senate. For those unfamiliar, the three super powers in this part of the galaxy are the Federation (us the good guys), The Klingon Empire (former enemies but currently Federation allies) and the Romulans (the bad guys). There are two inhabited worlds in the Romulan system: the planets Romulus and Remus. (Note: These are our names for their worlds the actual names in their own language are different, of course). Romulus is clearly the dominant world and culture, since it's the one that built a galaxy spanning empire. The Federation doesn't know much about the species that lives on Remus; just that it's a harsh world, which has produced harsh people.
The Romulan Senate is debating a petition by the military to allow a Reman leader named Shinzon (Tom Hardy) to join them in attacking the Federation. The Senate denies the request and the Generals leave, along with one of the senators, who leaves an odd device behind on her desk. It's not a bomb it's much worse. Next thing you know, the empire needs a new government.
We cut to a happy event: the wedding of Commander Riker
Captain Picard gets a call from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew: REMO WILLIAMS) who tells him that the new leader of the Romulan Empire, the aforementioned Shinzon, wants to meet with a representative of the Federation and Picard is closest. Off they go.
But before any of that can happen the crew detects a "positronic signal" from an uncharted planet near the Neutral Zone (the Federation-Romulan border). The only other thing known to give off such a signal is Lt. Commander Data's positronic brain (with thanks to Drs. Daystrom and Asimov). A minor adventure and some cool action sequences lead to the discovery of "B4", another android made by Dr. Sung, Data's creator/father. This version was clearly a prototype and although identical to Data in appearance, he's not very bright. Think "Data Gump."
And yes, as I and the TV ads have hinted, Shinzon is in fact a clone of Picard. Now how a human ended up in the dilithium mines of Remus, led a revolt among the mining slaves and took over the Romulan Empire is an interesting story. A long, kind of interesting, but ultimately so exposition heavy a story that my mind began to wander and I started thinking about what to pick up at the store on the way home from the theater. Not a good sign.
And mining slaves? That's a bad sci-fi staple but it's not very well thought out. A culture like the Romulan Empire wouldn't use slaves to mine ore. This has nothing to do with morality; it's simply, vastly, more efficient to use automated mining equipment than slaves.
There are some good scenes and there's a pretty cool space battle, but I'm not the first person to say that STAR TREK: NEMESIS is more like a really good episode of the series than a major motion picture (I am the first person to say it ..."officially" -feo). But even there I have objections. Worf is one of my favorite characters but clearly screenwriter John Logan doesn't think much of him. He has a few terse lines and serves as the butt of a few jokes but that's all. A waste of a good character and a good actor.
Plus, I have to take points away for switching from the phasers we know and love to Star Wars style blasters (right down to the sound effects) and for the poorly done goblin-like make-up for the Reman characters. But I add some points back for the Reman viceroy, played by excellent character actor Ron Perlman (SLEEPWALKERS, CRONOS, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU , ALIEN: Resurrection, BLADE II, HELLBOY). I didn't know he was in this movie and I swear, the second he came on screen (in full Reman make-up), before he said a word, I recognized him: He just has that kind of face.
After all the points are added and subtracted the end result is three shriek girls. I really wanted it to be more, but what is, is.
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