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Topic: star trek: nemesis (no spoilers, just a lot of grousing) Return to archive
12-14-02 04:54 AM
Peter T Chattaway Just came home from seeing this one. I don't have to review this film for any secular media, and I'm afraid there's no great thematic depth to it that warrants any coverage in the religious media, AFAIAC. So instead of writing a "review", I'm just going to post a few random thoughts.

The trailers for this film didn't excite me all that much, and the film itself didn't excite me either. Having clones of Picard AND Data was a little much, I thought, and the villain kept reminding me of Dr. Evil. It's NEVER a good sign when the villain reminds you of Dr. Evil and the actor plays him straight as though he didn't notice the resemblance.

It occurs to me that there have been TWO Austin Powers movies since the last Star Trek movie. Two Star Wars movies too, for that matter. Four years between Star Trek movies is a LONG time -- until now, the longest delay had been the nearly three years between the generations (that is, between The Undiscovered Country in late '91 and Generations in late '94). This is also the first Star Trek movie since '91 that didn't have to worry about being consistent with the continuity of the current TV shows. So, with all that time to come up with a story, and with all that freedom to take the story anywhere they wanted ... well, they botched it.

I may as well get my recurring action-movie gripe out of the way. Years ago I began to object to the fact that, thanks to Star Wars and films of that ilk, it seemed like EVERY space movie was made by people who worked under the assumption that space movies had to be all about blowing things up. The genius of the original Star Trek series, as my dad pointed out to me when I was but a wee lad, was that each episode could be ANY kind of story -- you could have stories of scientific discovery, battle stories, medical emergency stories, family drama stories, comedies, dramas, romances, etc. To this day, the two arguably most popular episodes of the original series are 'The Trouble with Tribbles' (comedy) and 'City on the Edge of Forever' (tragic romance). So the series premise lends itself to many kinds of stories BESIDES space battles. But with only a couple of exceptions, every Star Trek movie has been a space-battle movie.

There are two exceptions to this space-battle thing, sort of. The very first Star Trek movie began with the disintegration of three Klingon ships and a Federation science station, but after that, it was more of a cerebral psychological mystery than anything else -- and it's not widely regarded as one of the better films in the series. But then there is The Voyage Home -- the time-travel, save-the-whales movie -- which remains, to this day, the top-grossing Star Trek film of all time in raw dollars (and that's BEFORE we take into account the fact that ticket prices have gone up considerably over the last 16 years!). The characters still have to save the Earth, but they do it in a nice, non-violent way -- so the franchise can obviously work *without* all the running and shooting.

Now, I like space battles, when they're done right. The best Kirk movie and the best Picard movie, in my opinion, were both space-battle movies -- and Wrath of Khan and First Contact worked as well as they did because they threw themselves into their space battles with real conviction, and there were larger issues at stake. But the last movie, Insurrection, was a classic, unfortunate case of action-because-the-formula-demands-it,-even-if-the-filmmakers-don't-really-have-their-heart-in-it. Patrick Stewart and others said they wanted to get away from the seriousness of the previous films and do something lighter and different ... and yet, it seemed they still felt obliged to throw in lots of running and shooting. But it was obvious that they would rather have done something else.

The new Star Trek movie just throws more running and shooting at us -- and although Nemesis is more committed to darkness and seriousness than the last film, the running and shooting STILL isn't done very well. Too many sequences are built around phaser battles in narrow corridors, and none of them are all that exciting or plausible. (Supposedly, the Remans are "bred for battle", but they fall over as easily as battle droids, at least when Picard boards their ship all by his lonesome.) One thing I DO appreciate about this film is the way it shows people acting in very direct, physical ways when all the projectiles and energy beams have run their course -- one ship rams another, Data leaps across space from one ship to another after the transporter breaks down, Picard strikes a Reman with the butt of his phaser rifle, etc. If you'll pardon the cliche, there's a fair bit of "thinking outside the box", there. But it takes FOREVER for the projectiles and energy beams to run their course.

Hmmm. I think I may have more gripes to make, but I've spent too long rambling about this one aspect of the film, and I see it's getting late. For now, let's just say that the big shocking irrevocable thing that happens near the end of this film (you'll know what I mean when you see it) is better integrated into the storyline than the death of Kirk in Generations, but is nowhere near as satisfactory or as essential to the film thematically as the death of Spock in Wrath of Khan or even the destructions of the Enterprise in Search for Spock and Generations.

So I leave the film looking back on the origins of ST:TNG, and wistfully recalling how I watched the very first episode with my classmates at a Bible school in the prairies in the fall of '87, and pondering how much water has gone under the bridge over the last 15 years ... and I find myself wishing the film had been a lot, lot better than it was. I mean, Insurrection may have been lame, but at least it was kinda just like another episode -- you could forget it had ever happened, if you wanted to. But you CAN'T forget what happens in Nemesis. Ah well.
12-14-02 12:55 PM
Jeffrey Overstreet
quote:

For now, let's just say that the big shocking irrevocable thing that happens near the end of this film (you'll know what I mean when you see it) is better integrated into the storyline than the death of Kirk in Generations, but is nowhere near as satisfactory or as essential to the film thematically as the death of Spock in Wrath of Khan or even the destructions of the Enterprise in Search for Spock and Generations.



I agree. This death seems almost arbitrary... sort of "Hey, what if this happened now?!" In fact, most of the fights seemed almost arbitrary... ideas that didn't really grow out of the plot, but rather they gave actors opportunity to do something and get some screen time. That fight between Riker and the baddie just went on and on and was such a cookie-cutter fight, such an unnecessary scene.

And I'll never understand the rules of psychic behavior in the Star Trek universe. "She's here." Huh? If she can do that, couldn't that have been used to their advantage a thousand times before?

Gadgets and ideas continue to be invented just in time to play a key part in the plot. This time it's the Personal Mini-Transporter. The moment that's introduced, you know there will be a crisis at some point in which it becomes the key element.

But these are the same kind of complaints I've always had about Star Trek. Too much seems arbitrary. Too much seems devised just to give each character a moment in the sun, even if it's not moving the plot forward. Time to put the franchise to bed.




12-14-02 04:03 PM
Finrod Somebody mark the calendar. Holy cow. I agree with Peter Chattaway.

Actually, I haven't seen Nemesis yet, and may not, since my movie-going money will be spent on Two Towers for several viewings. But I agree entirely with your analysis of previous Trek movies. Khan remains the all-time best, IMHO (and the opinion of virtually every Trek fan that I know), with Voyage Home being the second.
12-14-02 07:33 PM
Jeffrey Overstreet Congrats, Tim and Peter! Can I get you guys to embrace for a photo?
12-20-02 02:43 AM
Peter T Chattaway : In fact, most of the fights seemed almost arbitrary . . .

I totally, totally agree.

: And I'll never understand the rules of psychic behavior in
: the Star Trek universe. "She's here." Huh? If she can do
: that, couldn't that have been used to their advantage a
: thousand times before?

I think she can only do that because he made a link with her earlier when she has in bed with Riker. Apparently the channels were still open, so to speak -- and she had the ability to transmit as well as to receive. But, yes, arbitrary.

: Gadgets and ideas continue to be invented just in time to
: play a key part in the plot. This time it's the Personal
: Mini-Transporter. The moment that's introduced, you know
: there will be a crisis at some point in which it becomes
: the key element.

Yeah. And why is there only one of them? Surely Data can take two with him.

: Time to put the franchise to bed.

I'm afraid I agree. 'Tis a shame. But then, I was always more of an original-Trek kinda guy -- and the only NextGen film that I really liked, First Contact was one that steered clear of the NextGen universe and got back to Federation basics.
12-20-02 10:39 AM
stef I agree with most of the points on this thread, but i have to admit that as a long-time New Generation trekkie, i still loved the film. Most trekkies will, too, but like many of the Star Trek films, i wouldn't advise a non-Trekkie to see it.

-s.
12-20-02 11:35 AM
SDG
quote:
stef wrote:
I agree with most of the points on this thread, but i have to admit that as a long-time New Generation trekkie, i still loved the film. Most trekkies will, too, but like many of the Star Trek films, i wouldn't advise a non-Trekkie to see it.
My wife and I enjoyed the film. I think it's a good "Next Gen" story. The starship dogfight was great, and I appreciated the free-will vs. genetic/life-history determinism theme.
12-20-02 02:05 PM
Peter T Chattaway : I appreciated the free-will vs. genetic/life-history determinism theme.

I probably WOULD have appreciated this theme if the movie had done anything with it. As it is, their treatment of that theme was soooo half-baked. Just like everything else in this film was half-baked, really. They tried to do too many things, and ended up doing nothing all that well. Quite frankly, I found the film boring, and most of the fellow Trekkies I have spoken to have found it difficult to say anything more enthusiastic than "It's not as bad as Insurrection..."

[Edited by Peter T Chattaway]
12-23-02 04:43 PM
Peter T Chattaway Whoa. I know box-office stats are no sign of a film's artistic merits, but apparently the grosses for Nemesis plunged 76% this week. At this rate, it will be lucky to make much more than half of what The Final Frontier (AKA Shatner's movie, AKA the worst and least lucrative film of the bunch) made -- and The Final Frontier did what it did with 1989 ticket prices! I mention this not as a comment on the film, but as a comment on how Trekkies seem to be bailing on the film.

http://www.worldwideboxoffice.com/index.cgi?order=domestic&keyword;=star+trek
12-23-02 05:01 PM
SDG
quote:
Peter T Chattaway wrote:
Quite frankly, I found the film boring, and most of the fellow Trekkies I have spoken to have found it difficult to say anything more enthusiastic than "It's not as bad as Insurrection..."
For a dissenting view, see my guest critic's very positive take.
12-23-02 08:22 PM
stef Cool review by your gues critic, SDG. Is it possible to let him know that i have two questions about his comments:

(The answers to these questions will take SPOILERS, beware)

quote:

There�s one point in Nemesis when Captain Picard desperately tries to pull out an ace in the hole � an ace that has been there for him and every other series captain � only to have it suddenly disappear.


Perhaps it's just my poor memory but i can't think of what he might be talking about here.

AND

quote:

Whether this hope will be explored remains to be seen. The advertising for the film implies that Nemesis is �a generation�s final journey.� It may be this in the sense that the �Next Gen� characters will never be the same. But by the end of the film there is a sequel begging to be made � as the actors and the film�s screenwriter, John Logan (Gladiator) have indicated.


Funny, at the end of the film i felt a sense of closure... Except that perhaps B-4 would try to be the next Nemesis of the Next Generation crew... Is that what he was getting at?

-s.


12-23-02 09:18 PM
SDG : Cool review by your gues critic, SDG. Is it possible to let him
: know that i have two questions about his comments:

The email link for that review (jimmy@decentfilms.com) goes to him and cc's me, so you can ask him yourself if you like; but I think I can answer your questions. (For that matter, Jimmy is now, I think, the most recent new member of Promontory, so we might see him around here sometime, but as Director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers he's really busy so I wouldn't count on it.)

: Perhaps it's just my poor memory but i can't think of what he
: might be talking about here.

The missing ace in the hole is the self-destruct sequence, which is offline after the Enterprise's shattering head-on collision with the enemy ship.

: Funny, at the end of the film i felt a sense of closure... Except
: that perhaps B-4 would try to be the next Nemesis of the Next
: Generation crew... Is that what he was getting at?

I think he was getting at B-4 as a kind of return of Data, the way that the sacrificial death of Spock at the end of Wrath of Khan was followed by Spock's return in The Search for Spock.

[Edited by SDG]
12-23-02 11:31 PM
Jeffrey Overstreet
quote:

I think he was getting at B-4 as a kind of return of Data, the way that the sacrificial death of Spock at the end of Wrath of Khan was followed by Spock's return in The Search for Spock.



Doesn't B-4 have all of Data's memory? Wasn't there some kind of download scene? My memory of this film is already vague, but it seems like there's not a whole lot to mourn.... It's almost like Data downloaded himself into the prototype and thus didn't feel to bad about sacrificing THIS version of himself. So they lost the body, but not the mind and memory. B-4 will be a shade different in personality, but now he's Data too... isn't he?

Or am I totally mis-remembering?

(I just suffered through Treasure Planet which also deals with a robot and his memory problems, so perhaps I just got mixed up. Gosh, I wish THAT robot had thrown himself into oblivion... He almost single-handedly ruined the film!)

12-24-02 03:17 AM
Peter T Chattaway The self-destruct being offline was the one good thing this film had going for it -- but it was a quick joke, and it hardly makes the film as a whole all that good.

As for your guest critic, SDG, I'm sorry, but he gushes all too easily when he calls it "the best" of the series. (Better than Wrath of Khan? Really? Better than First Contact? Really?) The notion that these characters have been "trapped in amber" until this film is simply wrong -- there was a fair bit of character development on the series and even in the films, though the RECENT films have indeed done their best to undo some of those changes (e.g., Data manages to extract his emotion chip sometime between ST:FC and ST:I, and Riker grows his beard back between ST:I and ST:N, and Worf is suddenly no longer an ambassador but a Starfleet uniform-wearing officer again; as for Riker and Troi, they've been an item again ever since ST:I).

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: SDG wrote:

: : I think he was getting at B-4 as a kind of return of
: : Data, the way that the sacrificial death of Spock at the
: : end of Wrath of Khan was followed by Spock's
: : return in The Search for Spock.
:
: Doesn't B-4 have all of Data's memory? Wasn't there some
: kind of download scene?

Yes, B-4 (soon to be known as Data-A, I'm sure) was given all of Data's memories, so it is possible that any future film will entail a Data-like character who is basically indistinguishable from Data, except for some memories that are unique to B-4.

The one possible snag, if my brother (the computer whiz of the family) remembers the technobabble correctly, is that B-4's positronic brain is considerably more primitive than Data's -- thus, while you might be able to store more highly advanced data in its memory circuits, it would not have the ability to make adequate use of that data.

: B-4 will be a shade different in personality, but now he's
: Data too... isn't he?

This is not the first time two characters have been merged into one in Trek -- there was an episode of Voyager where Neelix and Tuvok were merged in a transporter accident, IIRC. The resulting character was both Neelix and Tuvok, yet it was neither of them. But that was a far more serious change than this B-4/Data thing appears to be -- like I say, replacing Data with B-4 will be like replacing the Enterprise with the Enterprise-A -- and anyway, the change was only temporary; Janeway separated the creature back into Neelix and Tuvok, and against the creature's wishes, IIRC, which raises interesting moral questions. (Speaking of memory circuits, I am told that Janeway also thought nothing of fiddling with the Holographic Doctor's memory, and thus of fiddling with his identity -- and that raises moral questions of its own.)
12-24-02 12:36 PM
SDG : As for your guest critic, SDG, I'm sorry, but he gushes
: all too easily when he calls it "the best" of the
: series.

Whoa boy. You misread my guy. He said it was the best of the "Next Gen" films. In my book, the only other possible contender is First Contact -- this film is easily stronger than Generations or Insurrection -- and Jimmy's not all that impressed with First Contact.
12-24-02 12:53 PM
Peter T Chattaway : Whoa boy. You misread my guy. He said it was the best of
: the "Next Gen" films.

Ah, right you are -- sorry 'bout that. But even so, I still find it mind-boggling that anyone could assert that Nemesis is better than First Contact, which, despite its regressive approach to gender issues, is easily the best of the Picard films, in my books. It strikes a very good balance between the Alien-esque horror-movie-in-space stuff on the one hand, and the optimistic hope for the future of the original series on the other -- and, as Jon Wagner and Jan Lundeen have pointed out, Picard's use of Moby Dick is a striking contrast to Khan's use of the same. Where Khan misses the point of the story and uses it to amplify his own hatred, Picard allows the story to, if you will, transform him and renew his mind.

: . . . this film is easily stronger than Generations or Insurrection . . .

I'm frankly not even convinced of THAT, at least where Generations is concerned. But I haven't seen that film in eight years; I'd have to see it again first.

: . . . and Jimmy's not all that impressed with First Contact.

Hmmm, I'd be interested to hear his reasons.
12-24-02 01:49 PM
SDG : : . . . this film is easily stronger than Generations or Insurrection . . .
:
: I'm frankly not even convinced of THAT, at least where Generations is concerned.

Generations has no villian or plot worth speaking of. Its only value is sentimental. And I resent it for being the film in which the Enterprise-C was destroyed. She was a classy ship and deserved to go in a better film.

: : . . . and Jimmy's not all that impressed with First Contact.
:
: Hmmm, I'd be interested to hear his reasons.

Feel free to email him and ask. He's a very methodical and persuasive thinker, and has a better grasp of plot mechanics than anyone else I know.
12-26-02 01:30 AM
Peter T Chattaway : Generations has no villian or plot worth speaking of. Its
: only value is sentimental.

I've always thought it was more of a theme piece than a plot piece -- the theme of death and things passing away plays pretty strongly throughout that film.

: And I resent it for being the film in which the Enterprise-C
: was destroyed.

Enterprise-D, you mean. The Enterprise-C was destroyed in 'Yesterday's Enterprise'. I'm more upset by the way Kirk was reduced to a mere NextGen red-shirt ... though the last time I saw the film, that scene of Kirk almost sitting in the Enterprise-B's captain's chair, and then turning it down, put a lump in my throat.

: Feel free to email him and ask.

Done.

: He's a very methodical and persuasive thinker . . .

I'm sure I've heard you make similar claims before.
12-26-02 05:22 AM
SDG : : And I resent it for being the film in which the Enterprise-C
: : was destroyed.
:
: Enterprise-D, you mean.

Yes, thanks.

: : He's a very methodical and persuasive thinker . . .
:
: I'm sure I've heard you make similar claims before.

?
12-26-02 01:31 PM
Peter T Chattaway : : : He's a very methodical and persuasive thinker . . .
: :
: : I'm sure I've heard you make similar claims before.
:
: ?

E.g., your high opinion of that one guy's review of Punch-Drunk Love turned out to be rather unwarranted. At any rate, you did not explain to us why it might have been warranted, despite a few requests to do so. Granted, no, you did not say he was "a very methodical and persuasive thinker", per se, but still ...