What Star Trek: Nemesis Did Right

Star Trek: Nemesis has aged surprisingly well. I’m not saying it’s a flawless film or a misunderstood masterpiece. It deserves pretty much all of the criticism it has received. I’m simply saying it has quite a few positive qualities I hadn’t noticed buried beneath the badness.

It had been more than 10 years since I last saw this movie when I finally gave it another shot last week. I was surprised to find myself enjoying it much more this time around. I’d like to share what Star Trek: Nemesis did right to find the good in this maligned movie.

Shaking Things Up

We get to peer inside the Romulan Imperial Senate in Star Trek: Nemesis.Right off the bat, you know this isn’t going to be a typical Star Trek film from the way it starts. Nemesis was the first film in the series that didn’t have opening credits. Sure, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier had a pre-credit sequence, but there were still credits after that. By skipping the usual formalities, Nemesis tells us it has more important things to get to. There’s no time to waste getting right to the heart of enemy territory as we visit the Romulans on their home world. No film has done that before or since, so I appreciate that, as well.

Another welcome change comes in the form of the music. Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Star Trek: First Contact is among my favorites in the entire series. It is equal parts beautiful and heart-pounding. The problem is Star Trek: Insurrection used pretty much the same opening musical cue from its predecessor over the main title and then a wussified version of the rest of it over the opening credits. That portended a lot of the laziness to come in that film. But Nemesis sounds totally different than either of those. Sure, it has a familiar sound when the main title comes up, but the rest of it sounds alien and hostile. This movie is clearly not trying to be First Contact.

The Chase

This shot is extremely reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road.I know, the villains’ plan to place a disassembled duplicate of Data on some random planet that has hostile natives who attack Picard’s away team doesn’t make sense. There are too many risk factors involved. Why not simply put the android aboard a spaceship in the Enterprise’s path to Betazed or put it somewhere else that it could be easily beamed up from? But whatever. I’m just taking the movie at face value, and all of this is meant to lead us to the film’s first action sequence.

The end of this chase scene looks like it inspired a similar moment in Serenity.For some reason, this time around I was able to look past the plot contrivances and simply enjoy the chase scene. One thing that really helped this scene has nothing to do with this film at all. I was reminded of similar scenes in Mad Max: Fury Road and Serenity. I swear, there’s a moment when a vehicle flips on its side and crashes into the camera, and it looks like it’s taken straight out of Fury Road. And the end to the chase comes when Data drives a vehicle off a cliff into the back of a shuttlecraft, just like what Mal’s crew does in Serenity. Granted, both of those films handled their chase scenes more expertly than Nemesis, but it’s fun to see the possible genesis for those scenes in this earlier film.

Pitiable (Not Pitiful) Villains

Every time I watch this movie, I find myself liking the villains more. Let’s start with B-4. The first time I saw this movie I was really annoyed with him. He’s like if season 1 Data were played like a 4-year-old. He’s a complete tool. But that’s the point of his character. Shinzon just thinks of him as a tool that allows him to get what he wants. But he can be much more than that if he chooses to be. He has potential beyond his programming, just as Data does.

Data bids a reluctant farewell to B-4.I like the final exchange between Data and B-4 much better than the final one between Data and Lore in the episode “Descent.” Lore has always been a villain, so his final pleas to Data just come across as half-hearted and untrustworthy. And Data’s farewell lacks feeling. B-4, on the other hand, sounds like a terrified child, struggling to make sense of what’s happening to him. He literally has no control of himself and Data genuinely sounds sad (in his android way) to have to deactivate his brother. It rivals his emotional farewell to his dying daughter Lal in “The Offspring.”

Shinzon is similar. There are so many subtle moments that make me like him. All of his interactions with Captain Picard are filled with such yearning and malevolence just under the surface. He has a childlike desire to know about Picard and what makes him who he is, like a boy talking to his long-lost father who abandoned him at birth.

Shinzon is a sad and pitiable villain.Shinzon’s talks about patience and curiosity give him a great deal of depth as a character. Sure, it doesn’t make logical sense for him not to grab Picard at the first opportunity and drain his blood on the spot. His survival depends on doing that, but he’s not just after survival. He wants his very existence to have meaning, and only Picard can give that to him. Picard alone can show Shinzon what he could have been had he been given half a chance to be good. It’s not enough to kill Picard. Shinzon must have some kind of satisfaction from killing the man he was cloned from, but this is constantly denied him. It’s truly tragic, and I find him to be more pitiable than any other villain in a Star Trek film.

Scimitar vs. Enterprise

The Enterprise takes a big number of shots in the dark to try to find a cloaked ship.The space battle between the Scimitar and the Enterprise is the best of the Next Generation films and among the best in the whole series this side of Star Trek (2009). That reboot film took the idea of fighting in space to a whole new level with its use of the vacuum of space and surprise attacks. But the extended fight in Nemesis deserves some praise, too. It hearkens back to the climax of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. One thing that bothered me about that film is that the Enterprise never even attempted to shoot back while being bombarded with torpedoes from the cloaked Bird of Prey. Just shoot a whole spray of phaser blasts in the general vicinity the last torpedo came from and see if you can do any damage! Nemesis takes a more proactive approach, constantly coming up with creative ways to try to get around the problem of the Scimitar’s cloak. They even use Deanna Troi’s psychic ability to great effect.

The Enterprise engages in head-on collision with the Scimitar.However, crashing the Enterprise into the Scimitar is still a strange moment to me. Picard was desperate at that point, with virtually no weapons and no backup, but this attack isn’t particularly meaningful or smart, and it seems like Picard sacrificed a lot of people in the front decks of the ship just to moderately damage the Scimitar. It does knock out the Scimitar’s weapons and the Enterprise’s self-destruct capability, but it just feels like it should carry a bit more weight, having two giant spaceships crash into each other like that.

A Triple Double

Number 1 takes on the Viceroy.With Picard and Data having doubles, it’s nice to see Will Riker also getting in on the doppelganger action in the form of the Viceroy. Riker and the Viceroy are both the first officer to the captain of their ships, they’re interested in Counselor Troi, they’re in charge of either kidnapping or protecting Picard, and they pull the same surprise attack on each other in a tense fight scene in a jefferies tube. I wish Riker would have killed the Viceroy in a more symbolic way than just kicking him in the face until he fell down a huge shaft. But other than that, the two offer another interesting take on the duality of characters, even if they aren’t the best utilized.

Nice Try

It’s been 13 years since Nemesis came out and nearly killed off the Star Trek franchise. Enough time has passed (and the series is back on strong enough ground) that it’s safe to say this isn’t the worst Star Trek film, nor is it even necessarily a bad film. It had worthy aspirations. It wanted to tell a good story and it’s certainly not boring. I’m not interested in tearing it down – I have learned to enjoy it for what it is. It’s not a great finale film like The Undiscovered Country, but the Next Generation crew already got a perfect sendoff with the final TV show two-parter “All Good Things.” Their four films were just icing on the cake.

Nemesis was a nice try. There’s too much good in this film for me to be too opposed to it.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

All images are the copyright of their owners.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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15 Responses to What Star Trek: Nemesis Did Right

  1. Another part that this movie got right was that they left the Wesley Crusher scene on the cutting room floor. Seriously, Wil Wheaton reprised his role as Crusher, who for some unknown reason was in Star fleet again. *shudder*

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  2. Kibbin says:

    I like the review, I’m not sure I can agree with it but I like it and you do point out how nice the movie looked and that to appreciate it you have to put too much “logic” and “sense” out of your mind. Why did they bury B-4, why did we have to *drive* around to get him, why did Riker go to fight Ron Pearlman, where was the security team and why does the Enterprise have a bottomless pit on-board? Where did they get the super mega warship and why are they wanting to use it against the Earth; something that always made me think of Marvin the martian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z40AsPaktzw).
    It’s not a bad idea for a story I just think they should have had the guy who wrote this turn it over to someone else to flesh out before shooting. Sort of a, these are good moments now link them together in a way that makes sense. It says something that the Trek books needed ten books to act as prequels to this to get it to make sense and work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Wow, that’s pretty crazy about all of the prequel books for this film. Not a good sign at all.

      I’ll probably always be disappointed by this film, but I guess it says more about me than the film that it has grown on me over the years. Data deserved a better death and I still find the rape scene too extreme and out of character for Shinzon. Other people have eloquently pointed out the numerous flaws in this film. I’m just glad I could put a new spin on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kibbin says:

        Oh I agree, we’re not as aghast at it any more and just take it as read like the star wars prequels or something. You know it’s bad and if you do catch it you can probably appreciate the visuals and effects work better like you said along with the few glimmers of character that shine through. Sort of like Star Trek V, but without the heart and effort.

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    • The ionic storm prevented the transporters. And we don’t know that he was berried or not. There could have been sand storms. They also needed time for the Enterprise to accept the mission to Romulas from starfleet.

      Riker fought him because he helped asult Troi. Also the pit was from the turbo lift. Like an elevator.

      The whole plan was for Shinzon to take over as picard and then get past their defenses using his codes and use that ship to kill everyone on Earth.

      They built the Scimitar brand new on Reemus, Romulas’s twin planet.

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      • Kibbin says:

        Okay let me put my nerd hat on here. First, my problem was why were they driving, they have a literal flying ship you’re telling me the best starfleet can muster is a dune buggy. Second why was Picard driving the buggy. He rarely leads away mission and certainly doesn’t yeehaw like he was doing in the movie. I know Patrick Steward pushed for it and he likes that kind of stuff but he is paid to act, not drive.
        Why did Riker go one to one with the guy, take a security team with you. Also the bridge ran across the endless drop, the turbo lift would have hit the bridge. If this was the end of the turbolift shaft why was there a drop. Reason, it looked “kewl”.
        But why did Shinzon want to kill everyone on Earth. He wanted to get rid of the Romulans because they made him, abandoned him and mistreat him and his “people”, making them work in the mines and fight in their wars. So of course he kills them, but why Earth? Yes the Romulans originally bred him for the plan of taking over the Earth but he’s the boss now.
        Finally the ship, the super mega death ship capable of taking on anything. The Remans were slaves, worked to death by the Romulans. Where did they find the time, materials, plans and space to build such a ship. Some plucky little scout or something, maybe but that?

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      • A turbolift shaft with a bridge across it? Starting near Deck 29 (on a ship with 24 decks)?

        I think (deck number fudging aside) it was more likely to be the Warp Core Ejection Chute, but I still found its depiction as a bottomless pit problematic in the extreme.

        The other connections you draw are decent, and Shinzon does indeed mention “building the Scimitar at a secret base”, but the knowledge and resources required to build a massive, super-advanced warship with a superweapon universally condemned and restricted are just not credibly accessible to a planet of oppressed slave-bats like the Remans. That needed more fleshing out.

        It would have been cooler if it was a Romulan Praetorial Flagship that he claimed and then refitted when they took power.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The reason that Shinzon left the android on that planet is due to the fact that they needed the Enterprise to be right next to the Romulan border so they would be the ship to be sent on the mission.

    The book also explains things a lot better when it comes to the depth of the B4 characters, Data’s last moments, and Shinzons’s thoughts and feelings. This movie was also supposed to be 30-45 minutes longer to go more in depth but it was cut.

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    • Thanks for explaining this. That makes sense about leaving the android on a planet so close to the Neutral Zone. It just seems like they could have left it floating in space or in an abandoned spaceship instead of on a planet where beaming is not an option, thus putting Picard in peril. Of course, they’d have no way of knowing that Picard would actually go on an away mission, since that’s usually not what he does.

      I’d be interested in reading the prequel book to get a better sense for the motivation behind all of this.

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      • Kibbin says:

        The Novel of the movie was decent and the prequel series, “A time to……” weren’t bad but I couldn’t ever shake the feeling that each book was them turning around and saying “okay fix this.” For instance one book has the job of explaining why Worf is back in Starfleet instead of the ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Now it’s been a while since I’ve read it but it was decent with an embassy under siege and stuff but at the end of the day its job is just to get Worf back in uniform and it has to jump through a few hoops to accomplish this. As they all did.
        Why was Riker suddenly accepting of another command after so long of turning them down, read this book.
        Why was Wesely back, read that book. It was a decent series, though it cost a bit due to its size and amounted to someone doing good job of wiping your table down after they spill their drink, imo.

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    • Kibbin says:

      One of the things I liked and didn’t appreciate them dropping from the novel and I believe the deleted scenes was the original ending with Rikers replacement coming on board. Quite light, humorous and fitting for the “end” to next Gen. As Lockard said though I don’t think any ending came close to All Good things.

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  4. Captain Dan says:

    Good review. I just rewatched Nemesis and while many things could be construed (correctly) to be predictable and unoriginal, the movie has grown on me from the only two other times I’ve seen it. First when it came out and then a few years later and now again. Having seen the three nuTrek movies, I feel it is definitely better than Into Darkness and Beyond, which I liked. Picking up on some of the themes throughout, it makes a lot more sense what they were trying to accomplish and even with Data’s sacrifice, I feel it was actually a pretty good movie. Not overwhelmingly great, but pretty good. The nuTrek CGI is much better, but the TNG acting and experience exudes from the screen and is so much more impressive than the nuTrek cast – most of which I like.

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  5. Pingback: The ‘Leaving Spacedock’ Scene Is a Microcosm of Most Star Trek Films | Deja Reviewer

  6. Jason says:

    I don’t understand why Nemesis has such a bad rap, I think it’s awesome. It’s not as great as First Contact (or several of the TOS films) but I still think it’s epic.

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