Ask any fan about the Star Trek curse. Even the most
rabid of Trekkers admits that the feature film series based
on the 1960s ratings bomb cum cult favorite television
series has yielded unambiguously mixed results. After nine
movies, the formula has become quite clear: Even-numbered
entries in the series (most notably The Wrath Of Khan,
singled out even on “Seinfeld” as the best of the lot) are
tight, well-scripted ventures that successfully combine meaningful
character interaction, some middlebrow philosophizing, and
a good action sequence or two; odd ones are directionless,
dull, and either unnecessarily ponderous (The Motion Picture,
The Final Frontier) or episodically trivial (The
Search For Spock, Insurrection).
Thus the premiere of Star Trek: Nemesis, the 10th
entry in the film series, leaves the curse-conscious decidedly
nervous. It’s supposed to be good, but a disappointment
could negatively tip the scales of the whole franchise. Paramount’s
powers-that-be seem to share these concerns, as they have
signed on some new blood for this outing: First-time Star
Trek director Stuart Baird (U.S. Marshals),
and Oscar-winning screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator).
The faces onscreen, however, are comfortingly familiar: Captain
Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) leads the crew of the Enterprise,
including the android Data (Spiner) and Klingon security
officer Mr. Worf (Dorn). But things are changing for
the crew, signaling that this film may be the last. First
officer Will Riker (Frakes) and ship’s counselor Deanna
Troi (Sirtis) are getting married and taking assignments
on another ship.
Against the backdrop of toasts and cornball wedding jokes,
the movie’s action begins. On the planet Kolarus III, the
crew inexplicably finds an android prototype of Data, and
Picard, Worf, and Data are inexplicably chased around in a
space-age humvee by some bad aliens. New android safely in
hand, Picard receives his next assignment. He’s to serve as
diplomatic envoy to the Romulan Empire, a familiar Star
Trek enemy that’s undergoing some sort of internal political
When Picard arrives at the scene he’s surprised to see that
the newly installed leader of the Romulans is in fact a human.
Shinzon (British newcomer Hardy, looking not a little
like a young, sleek Dr. Evil) is a clone of Picard himself.
Conceived as part of a diabolical plan to replace Picard with
a captain who will do the bidding of the Empire, Shinzon was
dispatched to labor in the mines of Remus after the plan was
dropped. The human had managed to become leader of the downtrodden
Remans, whereupon this motley crew of slave-laborers somehow
developed a super weapon with which they took over the Romulan
Empire and now plan to destroy Earth.
In yet another confusing plot development, Shinzon also wishes
to use Picard’s body for some kind of medical treatment. Thus
despite several overwrought and unenlightening conversations
about whether or not Picard would have turned out as evil
as Shinzon, had he lived the latter’s difficult life, the
movie plays out as a series of captures, narrow escapes, clever
decisions, technological wizardry, and CGI effects. Beyond
the mere presence of familiar characters and settings, there
is little here to engage either the Star Trek fan or
the casual viewer. Screenwriter Logan has explicitly stated
the extent to which Nemesis consciously refers to The
Wrath Of Khan. For those familiar with the latter film,
the similarities will be obvious, but they are only skin-deep.
The 10th Star Trek movie has none of the drama, suspense,
or depth of relationships that characterized the second one.
The Star Trek curse has indeed been broken, but not
in the way fans might have hoped.