To Absent Friends

Story: Star Trek Nemesis
Written By: John Logan
Series: The TNG Cast Films
Year: 2002

And so ends the journey of the crew of the Starship Enterprise-D/E. It is a shell of Wrath of Khan, with its revenge plot and darker tone. It is filled with plot holes and bad ideas and characters acting out of character throughout. The opening scene has Riker and Troi tying the knot. Now they are married. That’s it, no development for them. Worf has apparently left his role as ambassador from the finale of DS9, and rejoined Picard’s crew. Wesley is also at the wedding, apparently having left the Traveler. Having Wesley at that wedding is nice, but I would have liked it if he had a bit more to do, maybe NOT cut his one scene with lines. These things do not bother me, they can be so easily explained away myself that I don’t need the film to spell it out for me.
The plot then actually begins. Picard apparently has a clone. This clone is mad at him for some reason, and the Federation too (no clue why for this at all). End plot. Our villain is just seeking revenge against Picard, and then even more revenge against the whole of the Federation for no particular reason, and when you don’t even bother to answer simple character motivations…why even make the film?

The whole cast seems old and tired, but they never call attention to the aging like the TOS films had…which cheapens it a bit. Unlike the original series itself, the movies had really utilized the opportunity for character development. You really got to intimately know Kirk and Spock and McCoy…the TNG films went the opposite route. We got to know this cast for seven years, and then we get to the films and silly plots and little developments are made for Data and Picard, while the rest play the “anyone of us could interchangeably say this line” game. Waste.

And for some reason they find a prototype for Data, and despite finding a similar android to Data 15 years prior and having REALLY BAD RESULTS, they decide to put it all together. No one questions it, no one thinks twice about it. And all it does is give us a retard version of Data. They also try to evoke “Wrath of Khan” a lot with its revenge plot and things like Data/Spock giving their life to save the ship. But the themes are missing, the results are less touching, and the big thing really missing from this (and the other TNG films) is HEART.

The first time I saw this film I hadn’t been watching Trek in a while. I had sort of lost touch with this series I loved as a kid. I can tell you that the first time I watched it I did like it. The more Trek I began to watch, the more little things began to bother me when thinking of this…then when I really watched it again, I couldn’t really figure out what it was I even liked in the first place. It is sort of like re-watching the Star Wars prequels, that first time you see "Revenge the Sith" you think its awesome…but when you watch it again, and aren’t just in awe of the special effects (which by the way look GREAT in “Nemesis”, which only makes its terrible story more depressing) you are sort of left cold by the bad dialogue and characterizations.

There are lots of things I would have done differently in this film.  I think as a big final blowout for the TNG gang, you need to try and connect it to the Series as much as possible, as well as trying to tie up the loose ends from the films (not that the films really had too many loose ends to tie up).  So yes I would finally have Troi and Riker get hitched, and finally have Riker moving on to his own command.  I would have brought Wesley back for a slightly more substantial cameo.  I would have given Geordi and Dr. Crusher something to do.  I would have made it clear just what the hell is going on with Worf, why did he leave his Ambassador job, or did he, is he serving on the Enterprise?  Some continuity please! 
And lastly:  I would have dropped the goofy and poorly written Shinzon plotline.  Yes the Romulans SHOULD be the antagonists, because they were the most consistent TNG villain, even more so then the more popular Borg, because they were there from the end of Season 1 til the very end. Q got his TNG send-off, the Borg got their big battle royale in "First Contact", and the Duras Sisters got offed in TNG-movie 1.  So Bring on the Romulans!  And for god sakes make the big bad not some whacked out clone plot:  Make it someone we freakin' Sela.  Sela not only gives us a familiar villain, but also helps tie up our TNG lore nicely having Crosby, and original castmember, back.  You could even keep the Remans around by having Sela being punished for her failure in her last appearence by being thrown in with the Remans.  Like much of Trek in the end of the Berman era, from Voyager to Enterprise to the films...I could easily rewrite them.

This is the last Star Trek adventure to really take place in the 24th Century (Voyager had ended, and Janeway is even seen as an Admiral here…yikes they PROMOTED HER?), so it sort of serves as a finale to that era, the era that began with this very crew 15 years prior. While I think that is fitting, it is unfortunate that this film isn’t that good, making it a bad end to that era.

NEXT TIME: What Went Wrong