In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard fights himself to stop himself from ending himself. Intrigued and confused? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of sexual assault, consent, and genocide.
So, apologies up front: this is TECHNICALLY a day later than it should be. Last week, I sat down to do reviews before leaving for CrossingsCon, and I just did five episodes of Enterprise straight through. It wasn’t until one of my lovely moderators, ScarlettMi, pointed out to me that I’d messed up my own schedule that I realized what I had done. So, just a day later in the schedule, but HERE WE ARE. On top of that, there are two minuscule jumps/moments in the video for the film. I just bought a brand new laptop for recording, since my old one has been through the ringer over the last few years. However, despite it being new, something super weird has been happening where it’s freezing and giving me the message that there’s “an interruption in the input media.” (If you’re a Mac head and know what this means in relation to QuickTime Pro, please let me know.) I caught both instances within a few seconds of them happening and attempted to sync the video as best as I could, but it might be off by a second or so at two points in the video. I WILL GET THIS FIGURED OUT.
Anyway, let’s talk about Nemesis! I’m sad that this is the final Next Generation film that I’ve got, since there was a bittersweet nature to watching this movie. I knew going into it that the only films left for me to watch were the new ones with the new cast, so this would be the last time I would see any of these characters, and I’m now realizing how TRAGICALLY IRONIC it was of me to state this while watching Nemesis. See, I think this film does suffer from the same problem most of the Trek films have had: it comes off as an inflated episode of said show. (Except Voyage Home, which is still my favorite movie of the bunch.) I don’t think the story is bad, per se, but for a nearly two hour run, it doesn’t do a whole lot, and it certainly doesn’t stand on its own.
Yet… y’all, I have no idea what the fandom thought of this film. Which, to be honest, is one of the fun things about Mark Reads/Watches! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve enjoyed something the fandom has hated or vice versa. But Nemesis was a lot of fun to watch for a few reasons, even if I recognize that it’s not that great. LET US DIVIDE UP MY CRITICAL ANALYSIS.
- Tom Hardy is ridiculous here, and I’m so glad that folks did not spoil me for his appearance in this film. He is perhaps the most scenery-chewing villain we’ve had in these movies, and I’m all for it. He’s a bit campy at times, while at others his motivations are confusing, but at the very least, I appreciated him. Hardy gave Shinzon a sincerity that felt real.
- This film is full of incredible special effects, and it just looks so COOL.
- THE JANEWAY CAMEO. I WAS NOT READY NOR WILL I EVER BE READY.
- In terms of introductions, I am still floored by the incredible writing, filming, editing, and staging of Shinzon’s reveal to Picard. Bravo to LITERALLY EVERYONE INVOLVED. I loved the use of light to hide Shinzon’s face so that he could have the most dramatic entrance possible (while also building into the notion that the Remans cannot exist in full light/sunlight because of where they live). I loved how we only got brief looks at the rest of the crew as they reacted in horror to who stood before them. I LOVE THAT IT’S ALL ABOUT SHINZON COMBINING A SENSE OF AWE AND TERROR. Like, Shinzon is the true drama queen, and I’m so proud of them, I aspire to be just like you in that one regard.
- (In no other regards, though, because YIKES.)
- Riker and Troi actually got married! And the ceremony was lovely! And both Wesley and Guinan were there!!!
- NEW, SPIFFY ENTERPRISE. Which is very weird because I’m watching Enterprise at the moment, and it’s such a stunning contrast between what was and what will be.
- I do enjoy the bulk of the worldbuilding here in terms of finally revealing what’s on Remus and why we’ve never really heard anything. (At least as far as I can remember.) I do have a problem with the end result, but as for the positive: I’m totally into a species that lives on the dark side of a moon literally, that has developed while living in darkness, which fought viciously against their oppressors and won.
- Like most of these movies, Picard’s role is at the center of the story, and is incredible. I love that Shinzon, a clone created by the Romulans for a discarded plan to infiltrate Starfleet, acts as a way for Picard to examine himself, both in the literal and figurative senses. Obviously, there’s the creepiness, as Hardy is used as a retcon of what Picard looked like as a young man, so the horror Picard expresses makes more sense. Is this really how Picard would have turned out to be if he’d lived a different life, though? That’s the question Nemesis asks. Shinzon might be genetically identical to Picard in the majority of ways, but does that mean there is a predestined nature at work? Would Picard always end at the same place, or does environment change a person?
- This is brilliantly paralleled alongside Data’s journey with B-4, the android Shinzon used to trap, which is then used to trick Shinzon as well. In many ways, B-4 is similar to Data, but what of Data’s own life? His experiences? His growth? Does that make him a new individual, even if those things can be programmed into B-4 as well? (The movie argues pretty heavily that this is the case, and I’d agree.)
- One of the reasons I do love Nemesis is that it contains a few things The Next Generation not only never did, but really couldn’t do. First of all: Picard ramming Enterprise into the Scimitar. I CANNOT GET OVER THIS. It’s such a stunning moment just for the sheer physicality of it, but also: PICARD DID THE ONE THING THAT SHINZON DID NOT EXPECT HIM TO DO. (Which was also me. I didn’t expect that at all.)
- The other major thing: Data. Data, running out of an airlock, flinging himself at the Scimitar. Data, sacrificing himself and sending Picard back to Enterprise so that Shinzon couldn’t commit genocide. And the writers actually kept him dead. I worried that he’d be resurrected through B-4, but the ending makes it clear that while there might be some of him within that android, they’re still a different person.
- In terms of the emotional impact, the film does not ignore the massive weight and toll taken when Picard kills Shinzon. It’s actually a chilling scene because you can see the horror and shock on Picard’s face. I appreciate that the movie does not take this lightly at all.
The Not As Good
- Aside from some small plot moments, does anyone else need to be here??? Maybe each crew member contributes to the whole, but it’s largely inconsequential. The Next Gen films have long had this problem, and this movie is no exception. It’s like the film writers can only make Data and Picard interesting. Worf BARELY DOES ANYTHING AT ALL. Same with Dr. Crusher!!! Why does this keep happening?
- With close examination, Shinzon and his motivation falls apart. He’s an interesting character, one desperate to determine who he is, but lord, I couldn’t ultimately understand why committing genocide was the way to go in order to cope with how he was treated. There’s a long history of characters who are oppressed and who end up just like Shinzon, and I was hoping this film would subvert that, but nope! Forgotten medical experiment and ex-slave is now a MURDEROUS DICTATOR. Meh?
- What’s with that room with the weapon being made of knives??? Did someone intentionally construct it to be the sharpest room in the history of the galaxy? SEEMS WEIRD.
- There is one glaringly offensive and out-of-character moment in this film: after Deanna is violated by Shinzon’s Viceroy (EYE ROLL AT THAT ALONE) through telepathy, and after Picard witnesses how upset she is at it, Picard asks her to withstand more assaults so she can help him out. Surely a character like Picard, who was horribly violated by the Borg, would relate completely to Deanna in that moment??? What an awful miscalculation, y’all. No, thank you.
- Seriously, why are the other characters here? I was glad to see them, but lord, this script really doesn’t care about them. Even in the end, Picard says goodbye to Riker, but doesn’t bid Deanna goodbye, despite that she’s arguably just as important as Riker??? BLEH.
So… I had a good time, and I appreciate that. Not my favorite, and it’s a bittersweet way to go out, but maybe that’s why there never were anymore Next Generation films. I had been hoping for a movie that felt like a movie this whole time, and I’m not sure the series ever got there.
Anyway, back to Enterprise! We’ll have to see how the new films fare when I get there this fall.
The video for “Nemesis” can be downloaded here for $2.99.
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