For me the best kind of science fiction movie is one that
comments critically on our own times. "Logan's Run" about our
youth-crazed society. "Equilibrium" about government censorship
of books and all media that can affect our emotions. "A
Clockwork Orange" about the growing trend of adolescent
violence. "1984" about John Ashcroft. I'm not the target audience
for "Star Trek," about as far from being a trekkie as Saddam is
from assuming the guise of Plato's philosopher king.
The 1998 episode, called "Star Trek: Insurrection," focuses on a
battle to seize another planet's secret for longevity, but that's just
a patina: it's a stretch to call that one a serious commentary on
our youth-obsessed culture. Now comes Stuart Baird's "Star
Trek: Nemesis," and if you want to relate the story to anything in
the present day, you might say that John Logan's screenplay from
a story by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner is a
warning against trusting those who say they want peace.
Remember Ronald Reagan's aphorism, "Trust, but verify."
Trusting but verifying is exactly what the heroic Captain Jean-Luc
Picard (Patrick Stewart) does when he encounters the sign of the
dove from the sinister Shinzon (Tom Hardy) a villain who
resembles the hero closely enough so that if this were an Austin
Powers takeoff they could be Me and Mini-me.
Sci-fi fans disappointed by the pseudo-cerebral "Solaris" will be
happy to see the staff of the Next Generation fire lasers and the
like in the action-packed tenth in the Star Trek movie series. The
action takes place aboard the USS Enterprise, where Picard must
confront the titled nemesis, Shinzon, who is has effected what
today could be called identity theft. Presenting himself as a
diplomat from the planet Remus but actually Picard's clone
created by Romulans, Shinzon is out to con the captain, to wipe
out his crew, and in due course to annihilate all life on the planet
The film opens like a James Bond adventure as an alien force
destroys an entire senate, which has been debating whether to go
to war or engage in diplomacy, the filibuster ending as a
mysterious dust falls upon the politician turning them to dust.
After an unlikely scene involving a bourgeois marriage ceremony
between crew members William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and
Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), the crew engage in some exploration,
putting together an android found on another planet. After running
through a battle with some creatures on this unexplored planet,
the focus turns to the confrontation between Picard and his
nemisis, Shinzon. A particularly large role is taken by the albino-
like Data (Brent Spiner) when the crew finds a previous version of
the fellow vested with Data's memory. The principal segment of
the movie is a seemingly unending confrontation of two
spaceships, firing the obligatory lasers into each other, with
Picard ordering his people to crash the hostile vessel.
Surprisingly, an "Antwone Fisher" theme turns up, as Shinzon,
inspired by Picard to become a better person than he now is,
insists that he cannot: that his soul has been destroyed by his
Dickensian upbringing in a mine. Nonetheless, Picard, as though
a teacher trying to motivate an apathetic high-school class,
insists that the purpose of human beings is to find meaning in
their lives which they can if they perpetually seek to better
themselves. In fact, Picard becomes so didactic that the film
could have been called Star Trek: Better.
Far be it from me to project my overly ripened taste on what is
obviously a picture made for an intended audience of trekkies.
Copyright © 2002 Harvey Karten