Where They've Gone Before

'Star Trek: Nemesis' rehashes old plots for a mediocre offering, but fans will find it engaging.

These Star Trek movies, they are, how you say, not so great, usually. Oh, a few of them are bad enough to be amusing, like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, wherein the crew of the Enterprise actually tries to kill God. (I'm not making that up ... they shoot him with phasers and everything.) And there's Star Trek: Insurrection, where the crew of the Enterprise goes to a planet that gives free face-lifts. Again: not making this up. Or Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, wherein the Earth is attacked by space aliens who want to talk to our whales. Making this up not am I.

But in general, they're usually just sort of mildly disappointing. Keeping with that great tradition, Paramount studios brings us Star Trek: Nemesis, an intensely mediocre offering that fails to completely suck or be in any way great!

Strangely enough Star Trek: Nemesis was the working title for the last Star Trek film. If some snotty film critic were to say that this indicates that the series has run out of ideas, he'd be right! In fact, the plot of Nemesis is essentially lifted from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, with some elements from Star Trek: The Search for Crack and the rarely seen robo-erotic short film Star Trek: Data and the Angry Inch.

Nemesis opens on Earth with the wedding of long-time fan-unfavorite characters Riker and Troi. There's the usual indulgence in in-jokes and pointless musical numbers, and then the crew has to return to outer space, because that's where they keep their underwear and stuff.

Plus, they have to go to Troi's home planet in order to do Star Trek: My Big Fat Betazoid Wedding. However, before they get there they are mercifully called away to a small desert planet where the magical Enterprise sensors have detected the presence of an android.

I've never understood how the ship's sensors could detect something as tiny as a single person buried under the surface of a planet that's several light years from their location, but then I missed the only Mexican film in the series, Star Trek: Y Tu Data Tambien, where most of this stuff was explained.

Anyway, all of this is just build-up for the big moment, when the crew of the Enterprise gets a long-distance phone call from Admiral Janeway telling them to go to the planet Romulus.

Now, this is nerd-cool for two reasons: First off, Janeway was the captain of the starship Voyager from the TV series Star Trek: Sea Monkeys and we nerd-fans love that kind of crossover cameo. Second, Romulus is the home world of the Romulans, the ninth coolest Star Trek alien race after the Borg, the Q, the Klingons, the Shape-shifters, the Cardassians, the Jem'Hadar, the Trill and the Humans.

Thinking that this is the chance for peace, Captain Picard points his ship Romulan-ward and enters into something that could best be described as Star Trek: The Undiscovered Plot Hole.

At this point, I really can't give anymore away, or all my trek-geek readers would be offended. (By the way, as a fan of the franchise, I prefer the term "trek-geek" to the more uptight "trekker" or the supposedly derogatory "trekkie." If we're going to be derogatory, let's not be supposedly derogatory. Let's go whole hog!)

But let me say this: By lifting the plot from an earlier Trek film, and then mixing in lots of stuff about how the characters are getting older and facing a new phase in their lives, the producers have essentially created Star Trek: Khan Golden Pond.

Which would be OK if they had the writing and budget to back it up. But a Trek film shouldn't just be the equivalent of a two-part TV episode. We want way more, with lots of bonus special effects. We basically want Star Trek: Crouching Klingon Hidden Vulcan, and instead we got Star Trek: Dude, Where's My Space Ship?

Without giving away any of the amazing plot twists, I can freely note that there are only four starships in this entire movie. Four! I want serious space wars with, like, a zillion space ships whizzing around and threatening the Federation with annihilation. I'm sorry, but two Romulan War-Birds and one Reman attack ship are just not scary in an age when terrorists run free and the White House is controlled by a malfunctioning toaster oven.

Plus, the only really cool effect in this movie is the tunic worn by the Romulan leader. But based solely on this tunic, this would be the best Trek film ever. This tunic is all black and shiny like the clothes in The Matrix, only with those scary pointy shoulder pads that people in old versions of the future used to love.

Still, one tunic does not make a film. Big, expensive explosions make a film. Instead of that, we get the usual Trek thing wherein every time a ship is hit, sparks fly off one of the consoles and somebody gets hurt. I can't imagine why they don't put fuses behind the consoles to keep this from happening, but I guess 24th-century fuse technology is still not quite up to snuff.

I will say that Trek fans will not be disappointed in the climax of this film. It's pretty great, and if you're not in tears when the final battle sequence ends then you're probably the kind of insensate monster who goes out on dates and wears clean underwear.

So, on the whole, not a completely bad film, just not the sort of thing that modern movie-goers expect from their Sci-Fi epics. I can only hope the next installment in the series (tentatively titled Star Trek: The Final Cash-in) gives us a little more. But even if it sucks, we'll still be there, because it beats staying home and watching Andromeda reruns.

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