_I can’t skate, and therefore can not make a figure 8. But on day 8, thar be Star Trek: Nemesis. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched this movie. Just over ten years, in fact. While I didn’t remember the movie that well, I remember the disappointment the movie invoked.
_So…that begs the question – why the fuck am I watching this movie again? Well…I wanted to give it another chance. I thought about my expectations for Nemesis when it came out, and looking back…they were a little crazy, although it was easy to get worked up for it. All of the history behind it…knowing this would be the last movie with the TNG crew…the rule about even Star Trek movies always being great…Nemesis was primed to go out with a bang. We were all expecting it to go out with a bang. And…it really didn’t. It was crushing. I remember walking out of the theater in a daze, not knowing what had just occurred. Yeah…that sucked. But I’ve thought since then that maybe it didn’t get a completely fair shake. That was a lot of expectations thrust upon it. Now, I didn’t expect Nemesis to magically become a good movie upon a 2nd viewing. But I wanted to watch it from different viewpoints this time. So…that’s what I did.
_I had a lot of thoughts about this movie upon a 2nd viewing, more than I thought I would. I thought about the sense of finality it had, specifically with Riker. When first we see the Enterprise crew, Picard is giving a toast at Riker and Troi’s wedding and learn that he’s going to captain his own ship. They had often mentioned Riker being offered his own ship in the show, and he turned it down because “I’d rather serve on a ship like the Enterprise than captain any other ship in the Federation, sir, especially if it meant not being filmed and shown on television on a weekly basis and having to introduce a new crew.” But we were always aware that Riker should totally have his own ship.
So what’s the problem with this? Nothing, really…except TNG already had one of the best final episodes in TV history, in my grand and all-encompassing opinion. The series book ending with Q’s court room, Picard joining his crew for poker…it was such a satisfying end for the series…that then continued with some the movies. Which isn’t terrible, I suppose. But none of the other 3 movies really ended in a way that felt like it was trying to supplant All Good Things. They existed, and that was that. Nemesis, though, kind of feels like a “Here’s the super true end now!” People might have been more accepting of this with the original series movies because there was never a real finale to them. It just ended. Nemesis really feels like it’s trying to take over AGT. That’s a no-no.
_When I think about different elements of the script, Nemesis actually could have made a couple good episodes of TNG. One part is the whole “Picard clone” thing. While not entirely original, the whole idea of “The same person walking different roads” is the kind of thing Star Trek loved exploring. A script for TNG written around that concept is easy to envision being a high point of a season.
Another element is the Romulans. Just…Romulans. I remember re-watching TNG a year or so back, and the last episode of season 1 is basically setting up the Romulans as a race that was going to factor into future TNG seasons in a major way. Then they kind of got supplanted by the Borg as the big baddies, and that was that. But there they are in Nemesis, having their counsel assassinated, people in power being power hungry and deceitful…all that jazz. At the end of Nemesis, friends are made, and the seeds for alliances are sewn. Cool…except in the context of the movie as a standalone film, it doesn’t mean much. If you watch the series, you know how the Romulans are, the Neutral Zone, all that crap. In the context of the movie, though, they’re just aliens who apparently the Federation isn’t on great terms with? A episode with a movement towards peace with the Romulans should’ve been a no-brainer at some point in time during Season 7 of TNG. Instead we got “awesome” things like the crew turning into beast men and Data being possessed by a mystical clay mask.
_Think back on First Contact for a second. For a Star Trek fan, everything obviously works. But if you weren’t a Trek fan, it was still ok. Everything was explained for you. “Who are the Borg?” “Machine people. They assimilate people into their collective.” Simple. “Why does Picard have a personal thing with the Borg?” “Because he was once assimilated.” Gotcha. The whole story with Zephram Cochran being the first human to go into warp and first contact with aliens…you don’t need to be a Trekkie to get it. “The Borg go back in time and stop mankind from going into space. This is bad.” First Contact was pretty easy to get even if you didn’t watch the show. Naturally, if you did, it made it even better. But FC is like Wrath of Khan in that way. The first time I watched Wrath, I’d never seen TOS. I didn’t know Khan was a character that appeared in the show. But everything in Wrath was presented in a way where it was fine that I didn’t know any of that shit. That’s what makes Wrath and First Contact as good as they are, and this is where Nemesis ultimately fails.
…along with the script being filled with too much ridiculous shit. Like dune buggying and one of the silliest spaceship battles I’ve ever found myself privy to watching. One thing I’ll give them, though, is that they often have the ships moving without a designated “down.” Like…think about the fact that there’s no gravity in space. Now think about how every time two ships in sci-fi are shown in the same frame, the bottoms of the ship are always level with one another relatively. Now while it would admittedly be a little disorienting to a look at on a TV screen, there’s no actual reason for the ships for be angled the same in space. Granted…I’m using this as a way to explain what I’m talking about. At no point in time in Nemesis do two ships face each other at different angles of rotation in such a way. But there are times where ships fly around planets this way and is also shown flying “up and down” and not just turning left and right. It’s a neat touch.
Final thoughts on Star Trek: Nemesis – It’s definitely not good in the state it is in, but I can’t help but notice the potential for what could’ve been good episodes buried within it. It would all need drastic revisions (Like Picard and Shinzon’s conflict not ending in what amounts to a Interstellar-spaceship-dick-wagging contest) but I couldn’t help but notice all of the potential that was there. That’s a step up from my previous rating of “Complete shit.”
_Join me tomorrow for some classic Japanese cinema by Akira Kurosawa. KAGEMUSHA. See you then~