Star Trek: Nemesis

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner
Paramount Rental
VHB 5378
Certificate: 12
Available now

On course to Betazed to celebrate the wedding of Commander Riker and Counselor Troi, the crew of the Enterprise are unexpectedly diverted to the planet Romulus. It appears that the Romulans wish to negotiate for peace. But the new leader of the Romulan Empire has a sinister connection to Captain Picard...

Nemesis isn't a bad film as such, but several things about it really annoy me.

First of all there is the presence of B4, another twin "brother" of Commander Data (Brent Spiner). The first time I saw this movie, the trailer had led me to expect Data's evil twin Lore to appear, but instead we get yet another, even earlier prototype. What is rather odd is that none of the Enterprise crew mentions Lore, even in passing. I can understand the need not to bog the script down with too many continuity references, but surely someone should have expressed concern that this other android might be Lore.

However, this brother is different, since B4's cognitive abilities are more akin to those of a young but inquisitive child. Thanks to another great performance by Spiner, B4 is easily distinguishable from our old pal Data.

As if one look-alike wasn't enough, Shinzon (Tom Hardy), the titular nemesis, is also a replica - a younger version of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). It's a nice idea, raising the question of whether Picard could have turned out bad if his own upbringing had been different. But unfortunately Hardy bears only a passing likeness to Stewart facially, and no resemblance at all in terms of his voice. When he does "evil", he usually ends up sounding more like comedian Phil Cornwell's impersonation of Alan Rickman.

In addition to Lore, the movie's pre-publicity also had me expecting a major role to be played by the Romulans. As it is, this race has relatively little to do with the proceedings. Instead, the main aliens are a much uglier bunch called the Remans, a species we've never heard of before, who have until recently been subjugated on the dark side of Romulus' twin planet, Remus. The Romulans serve little purpose other than to provide the means for Shinzon's creation.

The production team make a more minor mistake when they imply that Picard was bald by his twenties or thirties, as suggested by an old photograph the Captain digs out, showing Tom Hardy as his younger self. This contradicts the television episodes Violations and Tapestry, both of which depict a younger Jean-Luc.

While I'm nitpicking, the away team that seeks out the components of B4 is far from subtle in its survey of a planet inhabited by a pre-warp civilisation. In the TV series, they would have made a big deal of not allowing their advanced technology to be seen by a less developed people, but here they allow the aliens to get a good long look at their shuttlecraft as they make their escape.

My final criticism is that the second half of the story owes far too much to the plot of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. It's basically a prolonged battle, which takes place in a region of space that interferes with ships' systems. There is a particularly dramatic event and some moving scenes towards the end of the film, but these are undermined by a glaringly obvious get-out clause - like Spock's mind-meld with McCoy prior to his act of self-sacrifice - which was presumably added in case the producers decide this is not to be "a generation's final journey" after all.

Star Trek: Nemesis has its moments, though. There are some great special effects, including the now obligatory heavy damage to the unfortunate starship.

References to Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi's (Marina Sirtis) wedding at the beginning of the movie make for a nice touch, since a wedding - albeit one that was tragically curtailed - opened the very first Romulan Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, back in 1966.

As I said, this film isn't all bad. In fact, I enjoyed it more the second time around. However, it is my least favourite Trek movie to feature the Next Generation cast.

Richard McGinlay