First Aired :
Okay, let's talk about Picard's appearence. In "Tapestry" Q showed Picard an image of himself as a young man. He looked very different from the way he does now because he was played by a different actor, and he had lots of hair. In one episode we saw a flashback to when Crusher viewed her husband's dead body. Picard was there, played by Patrick Stewart, and he had some hair but not much. Yet Shinzon, the near-perfect genetic copy of Picard, is bald in his (apparent) twenties, and Picard is bald in his academy photograph. So did Picard go bald early, and then go through a wig phase? Using progressively thinner wigs? Was there some hair treatment that worked for a while, then failed? And why doesn't Shinzon look anything like the guy from "Tapestry", who would have been four years older at the very most? Actually the appearence thing doesn't bother me, because there's no way they could avoid it. Even hiring the same actor wouldn't do much good, as the guy is a good five or ten years older now than he was then. But while there's little to be done about the face, it's silly that after years of being sensible about Picard's baldness being a sign of his advancing years, suddenly we're told that he has been bald practically since he was a kid. And why? So that Tom Hardy would look more like Patrick Stewart, of course.
What exactly did B-4 access on the Enterprise computer? Geordi claims that it was openly available stuff, yet Shinzon said it gave him the location of every ship in Starfleet. So did B-4 steal something that Geordi didn't spot, or is the information which lets you access Starfleet ship locations openly available? And if it is, why didn't Shinzon just look it up rather than stealing it?
Geordi says that the Kolarans are a pre-warp civilisation. If so, it wouldn't it be against the Prime Directive to go around using phasers and shuttles in front of them?
When Worf comments that Romulan Ale should be illegal, Geordi says "it is." But in DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", Admiral Ross states that the trading embargo has been lifted and Romulan Ale is legal again. Why lift the embargo only to slam it down again a few years later?
Great Moment :
It's hard to pick from one of the many great moments in this movie. But although the battle scenes were all very impressive, I think I will go with the wedding scene. After all this time I feel like these characters are friends of mine, and seeing them all so laid back and at ease, just having fun with one another, was a pleasure.
Body Count :
Quite a few! The Romulan senate, which looked to be a couple of dozen people. Several Remans were killed by Picard and Data aboard the Scimitar, and both Remans and Starfleet types were killed in the boarding action on the Enterprise-E. Casualties amongst the E-E and the Romulan crews from the ship-to-ship combat could have ranged from none to hundreds, even thousands. The destruction of the Scimitar would have killed its entire crew, several hundred at least you would think.
And most notably of course, Riker killed Shinzon's Viceroy, Picard killed Shinzon and Data sacrificed himself.
Okay, I managed to sneak a peek at the Nemesis script. I have no idea what draft it is, but here are just a few of the changes between it and the finished movie :
Originally Crusher was to have left the ship at the end of the movie, back to Starfleet Medical.
We met Picard's new first officer, one Commander Madden. We also saw a new Captain's chair being installed for Picard on the Enterprise-E, complete with futuristic seat belts!
Originally, B-4 was to be called B-9. Benign, geddit?
Geordi's girlfriend Leah was at the wedding! No, it doesn't say if it was that Leah.
A line from Beverly indicates that Worf has given up life as a diplomat and returned to the Enterprise-E as a regular crewmember, back in his old job!
The Romulan Senate is in session, with some military types advising that the Romulans should welcome a group of Remans who are led by a man called Shinzon. The Senate disagrees, ordering the military to force Shinzon and the Remans back to the planet Remus. After the military leave one of the senators follows. A small device she leaves behind activates, emitting a cloud of peculiar green radiation which turns the senators into ashes.
Meanwhile, back on Earth Picard is giving his best man's speech at Riker and Troi's wedding. Worf is present, as is Wesley, and the whole group head off to Betazed for a repeat ceremony in full Betazoid tradition - i.e. with all attending nude. After this Riker will head off to his first command - the USS Titan - with Troi as his counselor. On the way to Betazed the ship detects a Positronic signature from a planet near the Romulan Neutral Zone. Since only Soong androids are known to use positronic technology, the ship heads off to explore. Picard takes a new shuttle type down, using its ground vehicle to track down the source of the signature - an android externally identical to Data. Despite some hostile locals they make it back to the ship and assemble the android, who is called B-4. B-4 is a prototype of Data, somewhat simplistic mentally but physically just as capable. Data downloads his memories into B-4, hoping to give him the experience he needs to become more than he currently is.
A message from Admiral Janeway sends Picard and crew to Romulus. There has been a recent change of Praetor - Shinzon is now in charge, and wants to talk. Little is known of the Remans, except that they live on the permanently dark side of their planet and are used as slave labour to mine dilithium and produce armaments by the Romulans, and occasionally as cannon fodder in battles. Even less is known of Shinzon - just that he is young and a brilliant commander.
The ship arrives and is met by a large, very heavily armed ship called the Scimitar. Beaming aboard Picard and his officers meet Shinzon, and are surprised to find that he is not only a Human, but a near-identical copy of a younger Picard. A blood sample proves that Shinzon is a clone of the Starfleet captain. In further meetings he explains that the Romulans had planned to replace Picard with him, giving them a spy at the heart of Starfleet. When the plan was abandoned Shinzon was sent to Remus to die, but managed to survive and even prosper. Now he is in charge, he wants peace and fellowship with the Federation.
Back on the Enterprise, B-4 accesses on of the ship's computers and gains access to some of its information. Geordi finds it hard to track the source of the unauthorised access, and this is not the only bad news - the Enterprise sensors have detected a trace of Thalaron radiation on board Shinzon's ship. The stuff is only useful as a terrible biogenic weapon, which could obliterate a ship's crew or even a whole planet - we saw the effects on the Romulan senate earlier on. Picard worries that Shinzon is up to no good, despite his claims.
Night falls on the ship, and Troi entices Riker away from his work and into bed (as you might imagine, it doesn't take a whole lot of persuading). But as the two get amorous, Troi sees an image of first Shinzon and then his Reman viceroy above her. Devastated by the experience, she reports that the Reman has managed to make some kind of telepathic link with her.
Shinzon, meanwhile, has had enough of the games. He beams Picard and B-4 aboard and cloaks his ship, leaving the Enterprise helpless. Shinzon reveals that he had planted B-4 in the first place as bait, so that he could access the Enterprise computers and get information that would reveal the location of every ship in Starfleet. He also plans to carry out a medical procedure of some sort on Picard.
When Shinzon leaves, B-4 stuns the Reman guard and frees Picard - it is actually Data, who has fooled Shinzon by imitating his brother. Picard and Data fight their way to a hangar bay and board a small attack craft, flying down several corridors before blasting through a window. The ship is beamed aboard the Enterprise, which makes a hasty retreat.
Crusher has been analysing Shinzon's blood, and has made a discovery - he was engineered to age by about thirty years rapidly, to facilitate his replacement of Picard. Since this was not actually done, his cellular structure is breaking down. He has a matter of hours left to live, unless he can get a massive transfusion of new material from Picard.
Analysis of Shinzon's ship shows that it is designed as a huge emitter for the Thalaron radiation - large enough to blast an entire planetary population. Picard reasons that Shinzon probably wants to use his weapon on Earth, but that he may well try to capture Picard first to ensure that he lives. Starfleet is gathering some forces at the border, ready in case Shinzon tries something. The Enterprise is ordered to rendezvous with a group of ships for support in case of an attack by Shinzon.
Unfortunately, to reach them the ship must cross a "rift" - a region where long range communications are impossible. Naturally, Shinzon chooses this exact moment to attack. The Enterprise struggles to even score a hit on the massively powerful ship, which can fire whilst cloaked. A holographic transmission of Shinzon tries to convince Picard to surrender, but the captain refuses. A pair of Romulan warships arrive to help out the Enterprise - the Romulans are beginning to realise just how unhinged Shinzon is, and are reluctant to allow Earth's whole population to be wiped out in an act of spite. The Enterprise and the Romulans launch into the Scimitar, but fare little better - both Romulan ships are rendered inoperable in short order, and although some hits are being scored on the Scimitar it just isn't enough against the big ship.
Troi comes up with an idea - she uses the telepathic link the Reman has with her to locate him, allowing the Enterprise to blast away and do some damage. But it just isn't enough - the Enterprise is out of torpedoes and low on phasers, but they have barely scratched the Scimitar. Shinzon gloats, expecting Picard to surrender. Picard, though, is made of sterner stuff than his nemesis realises. Instead he orders the Enterprise to ram the Scimitar, which it does. The collision does considerable damage to both ships, but the Scimitar manages to break free and remains partially operational. Shinzon orders his super-weapon activated to wipe out the Enterprise crew, a process which will take seven minutes.
Picard beams aboard the Scimitar, making it across just as the transporters give up the ghost. Determined to help his captain, Data hurls himself bodily into space to get to the Reman ship and makes his way inside. On board Picard gives a good account of himself against the bridge crew, killing several Remans before breaking his rifle over the head of one of them. Disarmed, he fights hand to hand with Shinzon as the seconds tick away. Picard manages to impale the clone on a wall fixture, killing him just as Data arrives. With only seconds to go, Data places a prototype emergency transporter onto Picard and beams him back the the Enterprise. Looking into the radiation inferno about to blast away at his comrades, Data says a simple "goodbye" to the air before firing into the gathering storm. The Scimitar explodes, ending the threat once and for all.
Back on the Enterprise a somber crew mourn their fallen comrade before heading back to Earth, where the ship is repaired. Riker says a final goodbye to Picard and heads off to the Titan. Picard has a long talk with B-4, and is disappointed when the android continues with his usual simplistic outlook. But as he begins to leave, B-4 begins to sing the song Data performed at Troi's wedding - clearly at least some trace of Data remains in B-4 after the memory transfer. Picard takes heart that perhaps something of Data has survived after all, and the movie closes on that note.
As usual, first the bad :
Nemesis is not a perfect movie, but in my mind it's a pretty damned good one. There are plot holes and weaknesses, as there are with all of the movies (yes, even your favourite one), but none of these really came close to pulling me out of the the story. Interestingly, most of the things I didn't like were aspects that were there, but which were not really explored as fully as I would have wanted. For instance, it's hard to believe that a bunch of Remans could take over the Romulan Empire just because they wiped out the Senate. The movie does address this, showing Romulan collaborators, stating that Shinzon must have support in the Romulan military, and hinting at some of the plots and political manoeuvring behind the scenes. But it's all a bit brief and rushed; I would have liked to see a few scenes of Shinzon working the strings in the Romulan government, setting up a power structure around himself, and then have that structure cave in on him as it became clear just how much of a loony the guy was.
Then there is the relationship between Shinzon and his Viceroy. The Viceroy is telepathic, and uses his powers to send Shinzon's mind off to violate women to get his jollies? Is this something all Remans can do, is it just the Viceroy, is it a combination of the Viceroy and Shinzon? How come Troi can now locate the Viceroy and track his location in the battle - are her abilities increasing, or was there some residual link from him to her that she was able to turn upon him? I wanted to see this explained and explored.
Also, the fight between Riker and the Viceroy was too brief. They hinted at a grudge-match element to this, which is something Riker at least certainly had cause for. But the fight itself was a disappointment.
Similarly, the scene mourning Data - good stuff, especially Riker's remembering of his first meeting with Data in "Encounter at Farpoint". This
is what continuity is all about - not holding things up to quote lines from old episodes, but using the enormous legacy Trek has built up to support and deepen the present. But while this scene is great, it's far too short. Barely a minute or two, then we're off Earth and chatting with B-4.
My greatest hope for this movie is that more of this stuff was shot, then ended up on the cutting room floor. Because if that's true, just maybe the gods of Trek will one day throw it all into a special edition DVD. Because then a pretty damned good Trek movie could well end up being my favourite Trek movie of all time.
Anyway, so much for the "bad". The good...
The wedding. I just love seeing the TNG crew joking around with each other like this, and the character humour in this movie is perfection itself. Even Data's singing scene didn't feel at all forced, which it did a little in Insurrection. Worf's reaction to the song and to having to go naked at Troi's second wedding ceremony, Picard's "I'm going to hit the gym" and his delight at playing with his boy-toy shuttle, all great stuff.
The Argo itself was pretty cool - I'm more and more convinced that Starship crews on newer ships are now routinely producing new shuttle designs and hardware whenever it takes their fancy. The Argo land vehicle is not a terribly sensible military design - too little armour for one thing - but it's the kind of thing you might use on an away mission where you need to cover a lot of ground and transporters are not available or useable. I can easily imagine Geordi and Picard cobbling such a thing together just for the fun of doing it.
B-4 was reasonably done. I was worried that he was going to go down the Lore "evil android" route, and at the end I was terrified that he would sit up straight, blink, and say "Captain! The download has just come on line - It's me, Data! I'm back!" Fortunately they made B-4 different and interesting, and the ending gave us just enough to show that Data has left a legacy behind without lessening the sense of loss.
Shinzon. What a villain! You almost like him, then you hate him, then you feel sorry for him. He lived a sad, horrible life and it's not at all surprising that he ended up the way he did. The scene in Picard's ready room hinted that he was close to breaking free, to taking at least a step along the way to becoming the man that he could have been... but it was not to be. The childhood dreams beckoned, but twenty years of brutality was just too much for him to reach through and make that connection. For that he is a pitiable man.
But pity only goes so far. I expect that his hatred of Picard was just the beginning - Shinzon used the word "Romulan" the way one uses an insult, and those decades under Romulan guards were clearly not forgotten. Romulus would surely have been next on the Scimitar's list of places to visit and after that... who knows? This guy would have just kept on going until enough ships got together to pin him down and nail him once and for all, I think.
Ultimately he was a sick little bastard who was so self obsessed that he was willing to waste planets and see whole civilisations fall so that he could feel good about himself. Whatever justification he may have felt he had, he badly needed killing and Picard was the perfect man for the job.
The battle. Oooooo... for three movies now I've waited to see the Enterprise-E strut her stuff like this. She was awesome! There were more than a couple of technical nits and oddities in the battle sequence, but I didn't care - I was so wrapped up in the movie that I simply didn't care. This was quite simply the best battle we've seen in any incarnation of Trek. Yes, better than Kirk versus Chang. Yes, better than Kirk versus Khan. It ebbed and flowed as fortunes rose and fell... and for all the firing phasers and launching torpedoes, it was every bit as much about the people behind the weapons as it was about the weapons themselves. Lovely, just lovely.
And the ramming. Oh wow. As I sit here now, thoughts of kinetic energy and hull strength and structural integrity flit through my mind. But as I watched it, all I could think of was "oh no, Picard can't do that... that's just too gutsy... that's a Kirkian move... oh wow, he's actually doing it...
" and then I ran out of words and just stared in wonder at the sheer insane genius of what Picard had just done.
And the climax. I'd heard rumours that Data died, but it honestly went right out of my mind during the movie. The mad leap across space - let's just say that Picard wasn't the only one being gutsy today! And his death was... it was subtle. It was moving. It was noble. It was heroic. He saved Picard's life then he saved it again, along with the rest of his comrades and who the hell knows how many more for good measure. His last words... no big emotional farewell from Data. He had the emotions, but not the time. But when it's time to say goodbye, what more need you say than goodbye? That word can speak volumes, and in Spiner's hands it does just that. We shall not see his like again... or shall we?
Overall, a fantastic movie. For the most part I avoided reviews before watching the movie, but I knew enough to know that fan reaction has been mixed. So I walked in expecting to see an average movie. I walked out floating, if not quite on cloud nine, then certainly on cloud eight, maybe cloud eight point five. Then I turned around and walked right back in again and watched it over, and the second time was just as good as the first. I can't wait to see it again. And again.
Those people who dissed this movie are sadly, badly mistaken. This was not a perfect movie, but it was bloody good one. If it does turn out to be the last, then its a worthy farewell from the best Star Trek crew in history. If there does turn out to be room for another, then it would do well to approach the level set by Nemesis.