Well, there goes that notion that the even-numbered Star Trek films are always good, while the odd ones are the only bad eggs. Nemesis, the 10th in the series, is far from a total turkey, but it boringly goes where few Star Treks have gone before — into interminably chatty discussions about Romulan and Reman politics that seem better fitted to a boring new Star Wars movie.
Here, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise crew must voyage to meet General Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a shadowy military man offering a deal to broker peace between the Federation of Planets and the ever-feisty Romulans. It’s quickly apparent, though, that Shinzon has his sights set on more evil goals, namely wiping out Picard from whom he has been genetically cloned and destroying the Earth.
Although it’s only the fourth film with the Next Generation cast, their adventures are already showing the signs of bad supporting-player self-indulgence from the original crew. Brent Spiner is an actor who has only ever been good as the android Data he plays here, but even that is in jeopardy now. In the worst Data subplot ever (including the dopey emotion chip), we’re introduced to his “brother,” B-4 (also Spiner), who is, essentially, a stupid version of Data. Think an Andy Kaufman character, only not at all funny, whose relatively high profile does not bode well for future installments.
Nemesis works only when it focuses on the viable tension between Shinzon and Picard, which is thankfully quite often. As the evil general, Hardy scores points for looking like a young Picard and for oozing menace over every word. And this introduction of duality allows Stewart, the best actor in any Star Trek film, to do the most thorough of his character’s equally balanced cockiness and insecurities.
The film’s finale, when Picard plays chicken with Shinzon’s ship, is the only one of any merit, the rest all being dopey chases, phaser battles and fistfights that aren’t good at tricking you into thinking which Enterprise crew member bites it. (Yes, someone dies.)
And on a final note, if this is potentially the last trek with the Next Generation cast, let me suggest finding someone other than Voyager’s Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) to take over. Imagine a ship captain trying to sound like Katharine Hepburn. Doesn’t sound good to me, either.