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Star Trek: Nemesis

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Star Trek: Nemesis

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner
Director: Stuart Baird
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 116 Minutes
Release Date: December 2002
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Tom Hardy, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Ron Perlman, Dina Meyer, Kate Mulgrew, Whoopi Goldberg

Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4

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 Earth.

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

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