Directed by Stuart Baird. USA.  2003.

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The Star Trek phenomenon has endured for over thirty years and it continues to thrive, in the form of the new television show Enterprise, reruns of the previous shows on TV around the world, and of course in its film versions, which began with the original crew of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and continued into the next generation, with a new crew and a new series of movies.  After the disappointing commercial performance of the last film, Star Trek: Resurrection (1998), Nemesis consciously moves away from that film’s more philosophical story and harks back to the aggressive action of Star Trek: First Contact (1996).  To this end, it also features in Stuart Baird, a director who’s new to the Star Trek universe, unlike the previous Next Generation films, which were directed by people closely associated with the TV show.  Baird, the director of Executive Decision (1996) and U.S. Marshals (1998), and a veteran Hollywood editor, seems ideally suited to the task of revamping the Star Trek series for the 21st century.

This new chapter begins on the planet Romulus, where members of the Romulan senate are engaged in intense debate.  When the senate is suddenly wiped out by a mysteriously weapon, the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise is sent to the planet Romulus to begin peace talks with the Romulans.  Once there, they meet the new leader of the Romulan Empire, Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a human who looks remarkably similar to Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the Enterprise’s Captain.  Picard is suspicious of Shinzon and thinks that the Romulans - who are old adversaries of the Federation - may be up to no good.  Picard’s suspicions are proved correct when he discovers that Shinzon wants to use his heavily armed spaceship to wipe out Earth!  The crew of the Enterprise must engage in a race against time to stop Shinzon before it’s too late…

This is the tenth film in the Star Trek series, and supposedly, the final film featuring the crew from The Next Generation, but unfortunately, it’s one of the weaker instalments.  Despite excellent special effects and some effective moments, most of what we see has been done better before, either in other science fiction movies or previous Star Trek films.  The plot uses many elements from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), a far superior instalment and still regarded by many as the best Star Trek film.  The presence of Baird, along with John Logan, the writer of Gladiator, promises to shake up the Star Trek universe and take the audience to places where it hasn’t been before.  However, the film looks and feels more like an extended TV episode, not a feature film, despite the epic ambitions of the story and some impressive action sequences.  In addition, the regular cast doesn’t add much to what they’ve done with these characters before, and with the exception of Tom Hardy’s lively performance, a good supporting cast (including Ron Perlman and Dina Meyer) is virtually wasted.  Although Nemesis is full of potentially good ideas and entertaining moments, it falls far short of being a classic outer space adventure.

Martyn Bamber
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Material Copyright © 2003 Nigel Watson