Star Trek Movies
The movie descriptions are given in normal text, my comments in small text. Rating: 0=worst, 10=best (rating system)
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Star Trek: The Motion
Picture When a huge cloud approaches the Sol
system and threatens to destroy all
life on Earth, Admiral Kirk assumes command of the newly refitted Enterprise,
reducing Capt. Decker to his first officer. On their way to intercept the cloud,
Spock, who sensed its presence when he was on Vulcan, rejoins the crew. When the entity that calls itself "V'ger"
scans the ship, the Deltan navigator Lt. Ilia is absorbed
and later returned as an
android. Spock and Kirk find out that V'ger routinely scans and saves everything
it encounters along its path. V'ger turns out to be an enormous machine built for
the sole purpose of seeking for and eventually merging with the Creator of its distant
relative, the space probe Voyager 6 that was launched from Earth
a long time ago. The entity is accordingly unsatisfied
when it discovers that humans, primitive "carbon units",
were the Creators. But V'ger, in the
form of the Ilia probe, agrees to merge with the Creator, in the form of Capt. Decker,
to a totally new lifeform.
I have to agree with most critics that the plot of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" is rather thin in essence and could as well have been covered in a usual TV episode, especially considering the undeniable similarities to TOS: "The Changeling". Alas, being spoiled by the haste of the old TOS episodes as well as of the first Star Wars movie, the reviewers focused on this lack of action as an alleged deficiency in the first Trek movie. Yet, I don't think that taking its time is a drawback because a movie should make use of all the advantages the cinema offers over the small TV screen, and ST:TMP definitely does. I'm still deeply impressed with the stunning realism, in particular of the scene with the Enterprise in the drydock. ST:TMP is the first and only Trek movie influenced by "2001: A Space Odyssey" and thrives on long VFX scenes and excellent pointed dialogues, albeit neither is necessarily advancing the plot. Most importantly it gives us a sense of excitement to go out into space and encounter the unknown like perhaps no other science fiction movie. The alien cultures of the Klingons and the Vulcans are worked out quite well, and they don't just wind up as humans with make-up. Of course, this applies even more to V'ger, an entity that remains mysterious until the end and that does not know and does not even want to communicate with the primitive "carbon units". All this is supported by an almost ingenious score by Jerry Goldsmith, with memorable special themes for the Federation, the Klingons, Ilia and V'ger.
The actors are still "fresh", continuing much in the same fashion as they did in TOS, giving the ST:TMP a familiar and overall bright and optimistic atmosphere, unlike almost all Trek movies to follow. Unfortunately, Ilia and Decker, who had both a lot of potential (also for the possible second TV series), were sacrificed and never seen again. Overall, it is a pity that, although it was a commercial success, ST:TMP is usually criticized by both fans and reviewers as "The Slow-Motion Picture" or something like that.
Finally, the great set, prop and costume design of this movie set a standard that is still valid today, although the uniforms would never again be as colorless as here.
Remarkable quotes: "Enterprise. What we got back didn't live long. Fortunately." (comm voice, after the fatal transporter failure), "And they probably redesigned the whole sickbay too. I know engineers. They love to change things!" (McCoy)
Remarkable dialogues: "Jim, V'ger expects an answer." - "An answer? I don't know the question." (Decker and Kirk), "V'ger is a child. I suggest you treat it as such." - "Spock! This child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth! Now, what do you suggest we do? Spank it?" (Spock and McCoy), "Decker." - "Fascinating. Not 'Decker unit'." (Ilia probe and Spock)
Remarkable lifeform: "carbon units"
Remarkable ship: the Enterprise, the best one they ever had, redesigned by Andrew Probert
Star Trek II: The Wrath
of Khan Khan Noonien Soong, driven by his revenge
on Kirk, who once dropped him and his genetically enhanced crew on a lonely planet, kidnaps Capt.
Terrell and Chekov, who are on a planetary survey mission for the Genesis
project. Khan seizes command of their ship, the USS
Reliant, and steals the powerful Genesis device that is capable of creating
Class-M planets from any form of matter. The scientists who developed the
device, among them Carol Marcus, who once dated Kirk, and their son David, are
trapped on the planetoid Regula, from where the Enterprise rescues them before
taking on Khan. After losing the fierce battle in
the Mutara Nebula, Khan activates the device. Spock sacrifices his life to
repair the Enterprise's warp drive and to save the ship from the imminent explosion of the Genesis device.
His body remains on the newly created planet Genesis.
"More action" was quite obviously the prevailing motto of this film, but I miss the carefulness in writing, directing and editing of ST:TMP. ST:TWOK is full of technical and logical deficiencies, not only the famous "I-never-forget-a-face-Mr.-Chekov" mistake - for Khan couldn't know Chekov who came aboard after TOS: "Space Seed". The loophole to let the parasites simply crawl off Chekov's ear, while Capt. Terrell has to commit suicide is not very credible either. Finally, plenty of inconsistencies arise from the apparent omnipotence of the Genesis device. Yet, it is one of the most exciting films next to ST:FC, and especially the battle in the Mutara Nebula will always be remembered. It is also remarkable in that Khan as the villain is a match for Kirk and the unspeakable happens at the end when Spock dies. On the other hand, this requires to show stronger emotions than in the series or in ST:TMP and the cast, namely Shatner, Montalban (who played Khan already in "Space Seed") and Nimoy, do not completely succeed in doing that. As opposed to the cautious performance in ST:TMP that was almost like TV routine, I think they are over-acting here.
Remarkable quotes: "Botany Bay. Botany Bay? Oh no!" (Chekov), "Jim, I'm your doctor, and I'm your friend. Get back your command. Get it back before you turn into part of this collection. Before you really do grow old." (Bones), "Khaaaaan!" (Kirk), "Remember." (Spock), "I have been... and always shall be... your friend." (Spock)
Remarkable dialogues: "He's never what I expect, Sir." - "What surprises you, Lieutenant?" - "He seems so... human." - "Nobody's perfect, Saavik." (Saavik and Spock), "Mister Spock, the ship is yours." - "Jim, be careful." - "*We* will." (Kirk, Spock and McCoy), "You okay, Jim? How do you feel?" - "Young! I feel young!" (Bones and Kirk)
Remarkable scene: Spock's death was the probably saddest scene in Star Trek so far.
Remarkable ship: the Reliant, actually the first Starfleet ship design other than the Enterprise
Remarkable fact: Kirk was the first cadet to succeed in the no-win Kobayashi Maru scenario - because he modified the test parameters so that there was a chance to win.
Star Trek III: The
Search for Spock When the Enterprise returns to
Earth Spacedock, it is found that McCoy is carrying Spock's katra, the immortal
soul of the Vulcan. In order to
separate McCoy and Spock, Kirk and his senior crew hijack the Enterprise and
to Genesis. In the meantime, at the newly formed planet Genesis, a Klingon
Bird-of-Prey shows up and destroys the survey ship USS Grissom. David Marcus
and Saavik, who are exploring the surface of Genesis, find the rejuvenated body
of Spock, but are later captured by the Klingons. When the battle-damaged
Enterprise arrives, the ship is already awaited by the warlike Klingon Commander Kruge, who wants to get his hands on the
Genesis technology. To avoid the capture of his ship by the Klingons, Kirk has to destroy the
Klingons kill his son David. After seizing control of the Klingon ship, the crew
barely escape the destruction of the planet that has become unstable. They take
Spock's body to Vulcan, where a procedure to reintegrate his mind
into his body is performed.
ST:TSFS is an enjoyable film, but suffers from the narrow "remember" loophole from ST:TWOK and other logical problems of sequels. First of all, it is illogical how the dead Spock is not only resurrected but even rejuvenated on Genesis. The weird planet is not a credible scenery anyway in my view and looks too much like the styrofoam rocks in TOS. Moreover, why was Kirstie Alley replaced by Robin Curtis in the role of Saavik, an actress who couldn't look more different? Why wasn't the character just abandoned, not being very important anyway?
ST:TSFS also continues the trend of being too lofty (fortunately less than ST:TFF) and emotionally overloaded. It was good to see how the strong friendship among the main characters prevailed over Federation bureaucracy though. I liked that Bones got something more to do, and even Sulu and Scotty had a few nice scenes. The thing I disliked most was that the Klingons were shown as plain villains, they were lacking any reason or even honor. Kruge was much like a cheap reissue of Khan. The latter had at least strong emotions driving his actions.
Remarkable quotes: "Don't call me tiny!" (Sulu), "Jim... your name is Jim." (Spock)
Remarkable dialogues: "She's supposed to have transwarp drive." - "Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a wagon!" (Sulu and Scotty about the Excelsior), "You must bring them to Mount Seleya and only there can both find peace." - "What you ask is difficult." - "You will find a way, Kirk. If you honor them both, you must." - "I will. I swear." (Sarek and Kirk), "My God, Bones! What have I done?" - "What you had to do. What you always do. Turned death into a fighting chance to live." (Kirk and McCoy after the destruction of the Enterprise), "Wait. You said you would kill me." - "I lied." (Maltz and Kirk)
Remarkable scene: the destruction of the Enterprise that was even sadder than Spock's death
Remarkable lifeforms: There were Tribbles in the bar scene with McCoy. ;-)
Remarkable ships: Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Merchantman, Excelsior, Grissom and Spacedock, all new designs for this movie
Star Trek IV: The Voyage
Home Kirk and his crew
are just returning from their exile on Vulcan with the captured Bird-of-Prey
they named "H.M.S. Bounty" when an alien probe threatens Earth by
disabling all power systems. Spock
finds out that the probe is on the search for traces of the now extinct humpback whales.
They travel to the late 20th century and find
two such whales in the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito. After some
problems with 20th century customs and technology, they manage to take the whales
with them, together with biologist Gillian Taylor, who insists to stay aboard. Back in the
23rd century, all charges against Kirk except for noncompliance with his orders are dropped.
Reduced to the rank of captain, he takes command of the new Enterprise
ST:TVH is the final part of the TOS movie trilogy. I enjoyed the movie for the most part. With Scotty talking into the computer mouse and the hospital chase scenes ST:TVH is pure fun without becoming too silly. Also, it is the only feature film that gives everyone of the main TOS cast an opportunity to contribute more than an occasional "Yes, Captain." to the story. To care about environmental protection was a good idea, especially since it had not been done in Star Trek so far, and it was about time. It is only a bit sad that the movie has to recreate the scenario of ST:TMP where a probe was threatening the planet in the very same fashion.
My principal gripe with it, however, is that ST:TVH overall does not have much Star Trek in it. It rather appears akin to many other movies from the mid-80's when it was the fashion of the time to lure people into the theaters with nonchalant fun & mindless action. It's not only the setting, which is almost completely in the year 1986 and Kirk's successful and Spock's unsuccessful attempts to adapt to it that makes ST:TVH different. ST:TVH lacks real sci-fi issues, except for time travel, and the latter exhibits a whole bunch of paradoxes. Moreover, the protagonists are extremely careless about their actions in the past. What are they thinking when they give away the formula for "transparent aluminium" or take Gillian Taylor with them? Another shortcoming of the movie is the lack of conflicts between the characters and the lack of discussions on ethics and moral. Although I have to concede that the two previous of the trilogy features set an unfortunate standard to focus on action instead. Fortunately there are at least a few comments by Spock on the whale hunt and his human(e) opinion that Chekov should be freed because 20th century medicine can't help him. I actually like Spock much more in this movie than Kirk. It may have to do with the fact that Leonard Nimoy was the director, though. ;-)
Remarkable quotes: "Remember this well. There shall be no peace as long as Kirk lives." (Klingon Ambassador), "I don't know if you've got the whole picture, but he's not exactly working on all thrusters." (McCoy), "There are other forms of intelligence on Earth, Doctor. Only human arrogance would assume the message must be meant for man." (Spock), "May fortune favor the foolish." (Kirk), "Double dumb-ass on you." (Kirk), "My god, man! Drilling holes in his head's not the answer! The artery must be repaired! Now put away your butcher knives and let me save this patient before it's too late!" (McCoy)
Remarkable dialogues: "Don't tell me you're from outer space." - "No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space." (Gillian and Kirk), "Dammit, do you want an acute case on your hands? This woman has immediate post-prandial, upper-abdominal distension." - "What did you say she's got?" - "Cramps." (McCoy and Kirk)
Star Trek V: The Final
Frontier Spock's illogical brother
Sybok gathers followers for a crusade on the desert planet Nimbus III and occupies the planet
capital, "Paradise City". Among his hostages are the three ambassadors
of the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulans. When a barely operational Enterprise-A comes
to the rescue, Sybok seizes control of the ship too. With his telepathic
abilities he influences the crew except for Kirk, Spock and McCoy
to head for the center of the galaxy where he believes to find the mystical planet Sha-Ka-Ree. At their arrival the landing party is received
by an eccentric being that claims to be "God" and demands to be brought
aboard the starship to be able to spread his "wisdom". Sybok dies when he mind-melds with the
creature to save the rest of the landing party. With help from the Klingons,
"God" is eventually destroyed.
Almost unanimously fans rate ST:TFF as the worst of all Trek movies, and with a reason. No other movie was so sloppily written and directed, no other movie had so much plain silliness. Kirk's self-aggrandizing rock-climbing, Uhura's nude(?) fan dance, Spock riding a blue unicorn, Kirk hugging Spock in the presence of the Klingons, Spock's misconception of "marshmellons", the three heroes singing "Row Your Boat". Consciously introduced errors abound, such as Kirk's fall that was stopped immediately a few centimeters above the ground, the "Deck 78" on the Enterprise, the impossible travel to the center of the galaxy or the way that Sybok seized the Enterprise without meeting any resistance. All this could have been avoided or improved with little to no effort. It is quite obvious that those who were responsible for the movie had not done their homework. I think most of what turned out silly was originally intended as a tidbit or they were hyperbolized for the dramatic impact, trying to repeat the success of ST:TVH. But William Shatner should have left the writing and directing to people who know it better.
To make it worse, it is not only due to these details that the movie is ruined. The idea of seeking God is definitely intelligent in essence, and could have been an exciting tightrope walk between science and religion. However, already the basic plot of the emotional Vulcan sect leader is too ridiculous. The strange horde taking the village and then the ship hostage without real resistance did the rest to render the story utterly incredible. Laurence Luckinbill still made the best of his role, as he appeared as a credible "soul healer", even when he mind-melded with "God" (I somehow liked that scene). His brainwashed followers, on the other hand, especially the three ambassadors, were just awful caricatures.
Remarkable quotes: "Concentration is vital. You must be one with the rock." (Spock to Kirk), "Be one with the horse!" (Kirk to Spock), "What does God need with a starship?" (Kirk), "Please, Captain. Not in front of the Klingons." (Spock)
Remarkable performance: The Three Tenors and "Row Your Boat"
Remarkable trash scenery: the 78 decks of the turbolift shaft, counted bottom-up, *arrgh*
Remarkable prop: the "marshmellon" machine
Star Trek VI: The
Undiscovered Country After the disastrous explosion of their moon Praxis that has led to an ecological
disaster on their homeworld, the Klingons offer
peace talks to the Federation. The Enterprise welcomes a Klingon delegation
aboard, but after their return the Klingon ship is fired upon and Chancellor Gorkon is
shot by assassins. McCoy attempts to help the dying chancellor in vain. He and
Kirk are arrested and convicted by the Klingons. After they
have been freed from the penal colony on Rura Penthe, they head for the Khitomer peace conference.
Here, with the help of the USS
Excelsior and Capt. Sulu, they defeat the Bird-of-Prey of the treacherous General Chang
and save the life of the Federation President, who was the next on the
assassination list. It turns out that it was a joined conspiracy of Klingon and
Starfleet officers together with the Romulan ambassador who wanted the cold war
The idea to include a real-world development, namely the political changes in the former USSR largely succeeded, especially since the Klingons were always intented to be the equivalent of the Soviets in space and because it had to be clarified why the Federation and the Klingons are allies in the time of TNG. ST:TUC is a film that fulfills these expectations, but it lacks unique moments to remember. The beginning is quite promising, but the suspense dwindles after the Kronos One has been attacked. The movie becomes rather boring after Kirk and McCoy have been condemned and taken to Rura Penthe, although probably the contrary was intended. ST:TUC gets thrilling again as late as in the space battle at the very end. Still, I appreciate the detective story (something which is not very often a topic in Star Trek) and the revelation that it's a plot by both Federation and Klingons. General Chang, however, is given no chance to become a worthy villain. He has neither the time nor the potential for it, and his awful Shakespeare quoting doesn't help him either. I overall disliked the dialogues anyway which were either overblown (at the conference in the Starfleet HQ and during the dinner, for instance), or just silly (Chekov: "Guess who's coming for dinner."). I think they were the second worst of all Trek movies after ST:TFF. Only a few tips of the hat were really fitting, like Chang's line "Don't wait for the translation!" which is exactly what the UN delegate of the USA demanded from the Soviet delegate during the Cuba Crisis.
Remarkable quotes: "There is an old Vulcan proverb: 'Only Nixon could go to China.'" (Spock), "I offer a toast. 'The undiscovered country.' The future." (Chancellor Gorkon), "What about that smell? You know only top-of-the-line models can even talk." (Enterprise crewman), "Perhaps you know Russian epic of Cinderella. If shoe fits, wear it." (Chekov)
Remarkable fact: The same planet Khitomer will be the target of a Romulan sneak attack in the 24th century.
Generations The Enterprise-B is
commissioned, but the maiden voyage becomes a rescue mission when two ships with
El-Aurian refugees are about to be crushed in an energy ribbon. In the course of this mission
Captain Kirk is apparently killed when he works on a deflector modification and vanishes through a hull breach. 78 years later:
The Enterprise-D investigates an attack on the Amargosa research outpost and
barely escapes the explosion of the Amargosa central star. The El-Aurian Soran,
with help from the renegade Klingons Lursa and B'etor, is responsible for the
destruction of whole solar systems. His intention is to return into the Nexus, the energy ribbon
moving through the galaxy that he once experienced 78 years ago. In his effort to stop
him and save the Veridian system, Picard seeks help
from Kirk, who has actually spent the last 78 years inside the
Nexus. They succeed, but Kirk loses his life, and after a skirmish with the
Enterprise-D saucer crashes on Veridian III.
Unlike ST:TWOK through ST:TUC, the story in essence and the technical merits of the movie are more convincing again. In other words, ST:G was the first real quality job since ST:TMP. The basic plot of Soran seeking a way back into the Nexus, thereby creating a connection between Kirk's and Picard's destinies, is intriguing. Soran as a character is convincing in that he is rather unscrupulous than really bad or mad, something we unfortunately don't get to see very often. There are, however, several logical flaws regarding the Nexus. Even if this omnipotent domain is accepted as such, its countless effects including parallel space/reality and space/time travel are too numerous for a movie plot that always needs limited options to remain credible. One of the key questions is why Picard and Kirk return to a place and time where Soran is already about to push the button.
No matter what one might think about Kirk's or Shatner's performance in the last few movies, he is given a worthy farewell. This doesn't apply to the Enterprise-D. I was appalled that the ship whose voyages I have been intently following for seven years was trashed like that. Starfleet's pride fell victim to an obsolete Bird-of-Prey like already the original Enterprise before. The Klingons are very pre-TNG-like again anyway, even if we take into account that Lursa and B'etor are renegades in the view of the Empire. Unfortunately, except for Picard and Data, no one of the Enterprise-D crew has more than a few lines, unlike in TNG where the characters were almost equally important in the final seasons. I think several TNG episodes had far better plots anyway, and only the big budget and the big screen make ST:G a more exciting experience. The dialogues in ST:G are far better than in the five previous movies. I don't want to detract from Nimoy's and Shatner's style of making movies, but I was glad to see that the new, less declamatory, less military and overall brighter atmosphere was salvaged from TNG, rather than carrying on with the Trek movie tradition. Well, they could have turned on a few more lights on the Enterprise-D though. ;-)
Remarkable quotes: "Don't tell me. Tuesday." (Kirk), "Now if you'll excuse me Captain, I have an appointment with eternity, and I don't want to be late." (Soran), "It was...fun." (Kirk), "Somehow I doubt this will be the last starship Enterprise." (Picard)
Remarkable scene: The Enterprise-D saucer crash. I was shocked! I was upset! The sacred saucer!
Remarkable performances: Data and Mr. Tricorder, Data's lifeform song
Star Trek: First
Contact A Borg cube heading for Earth
is destroyed in a fierce battle with Starfleet, after Picard has pointed out a
weak spot in the enemy vessel. The Borg, however, travel back to the year 2063,
altering the present in a way that Earth is entirely Borgified. The Enterprise-E follows the Borg to correct history.
In 2063, the Borg have attacked the launch site of warp pioneer Zefram Cochrane.
away team is helping Cochrane's people with repairs, the Borg are gradually taking over the
Enterprise-E, and Data is kidnapped by them. After a furious dispute with Worf
and Lily Sloane, Cochrane's assistant, Picard reluctantly
orders the ship's self-destruction. Nevertheless, he still tries to free Data.
Data, pretending to work with the Borg Queen who has provided him
with human sensations, finally manages to kill the Borg before
the ship blows up. The warp flight and humanity's first contact with an alien
species takes place as written in the history books when a ship lands near Cochrane's
camp, and a Vulcan exits from the hatch.
ST:FC is a thriller. The film manages to establish a somber and menacing atmosphere without abandoning the basic optimism of Star Trek. It was an obvious choice to bring the Borg to the big screen - already because their cubes are ideally suited to fill it. :-) Telling the story of Cochrane's first warp flight was a good idea likewise. ST:FC has an excellent balance between the eye-candy most fans expect (many visual effects) and the development of the plot and of the characters. It is obvious that VFX had been neglected in previous seven movies, but here they show up again vehemently - and not to the disadvantage of ST:FC. Already the opening scene with Picard in the Borg cube is astounding, and several more visual tidbits like the first appearance of the Enterprise-E, the Sector 001 Battle, the assembly of the Borg Queen, and the skirmish at the deflector dish follow.
The story focuses on Picard and Data again, but gives the other characters more to do than in ST:G. In particular, the idea to isolate part of the crew in the ship and part on the planet proves successful in this respect. The relationship between Picard and Lily is interesting, since it is not one of the typical (movie) love stories. It becomes obvious that the circumstances won't allow them to come together, and so they don't. There are only few points of criticism, concerning some historical inconsistencies and the true nature of the Borg. Personally, I didn't like the Vulcan ship either, because it looks anything but Vulcan. Finally, it is almost needless to mention that the writers and the director did a real quality job, even more so than in ST:G. No doubt: ST:FC is the best Trek movie.
Remarkable quotes: "Perhaps today is a good day to die." (Worf), "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop." (EMH), "Borg? Sounds Swedish." (Lily), "Assimilate *this*." (Worf), "The line must be drawn here. This far, no further! And I will make them pay for what they've done." (Picard)
Remarkable scene: The Sector 001 battle. Wow! We spent hours analyzing the battle and ruined our copy of the tape.
Remarkable ship: the Enterprise-E, a beauty!
Remarkable props: three types of phaser rifles, spacesuits
Insurrection On a joined Starfleet/Son'a cultural
survey mission on the Ba'ku planet, Data suddenly runs out of control and
reveals his and his crew's presence to the local population. Picard and Worf
succeed in apprehending Data, and they further investigate the case. When they
discover a cloaked vessel with a holographic replica of the Ba'ku village, it
becomes clear that the plan was to relocate them. The Federation and the Son'a
were planning to harvest the rejuvenating metaphasic particles surrounding their
planet, which would have made the place uninhabitable. Picard and some of his crew defend
the Ba'ku way of living on their planet, while Riker on the Enterprise takes on
the Son'a ships. Ru'afo of the Son'a, however, wants to fulfill his
mission at any cost, against the will of Starfleet Admiral Dougherty, whom he
kills. After trying to beam out the Ba'ku by force,
he attempts to use his particle collector without evacuating the
planet, which would kill all inhabitants. Ru'afo can be tricked with a
simulation of the particle collection and finally dies when Picard blows up his
collector ship. A reconciliation takes place after it is revealed
that the Son'a are actually the same race as the Ba'ku and left
the planet 100 years ago.
ST:I is a mainly calm and pleasant movie, and for those who had expected "ST:FC, part II" it was probably a disappointment. ST:I is about respect, trust and justice, topics that have made Star Trek the best in science fiction, along with all the technology stuff. The fact that it's not the destiny of the Federation or of the whole galaxy this time, but only of 600 people, doesn't make the whole struggle less relevant. On the contrary, the small Ba'ku planet is like a model, a test of general human(oid) behavior. We have rarely seen Starfleet personnel so dedicated not only to an obvious goal (like defeating the Borg in ST:FC or saving the Ba'ku here), but to basic principles of humanity as well as their own consciousness. Apart from that, the overall beauty of the movie is overwhelming, and this includes the landscape of the Ba'ku planet as well as the emotions of the characters, especially the rejuvenation effects and Picard's and Anij's tender love. There are nice VFX shots, albeit not as exciting as in ST:FC and not always really convincing. The few fight scenes are not misplaced, but necessary for the story, although the cycle of resting and fighting on the planet surface was close to getting boring. Only one thing leaves a bad taste. After Picard has set off the self-destruct of the collector ship, there is not the slightest attempt to save Ru'afo too. A decent hint like "We could beam up only one person" should have clarified that Riker didn't want to let him die.
I was a bit disappointed that, unlike what had been announced, the stress was completely put on Picard, and Data's few scenes were too comical or had relatively little relevance. All other main characters were only good for anecdotes like Riker's and Deanna's bathtub scene or Worf's pimple. I didn't care very much about the Son'a and Admiral Dougherty whose involvement was limited to playing the bad guys, although they turned out to be not so bad after all. ST:I was cut down to 90 minutes, and although some of the fight scenes on the planet were too lengthy, a longer film would have been a better film. Concerning the plot logic, I would have expected a more plausible explanation who the Son'a actually are and how these few people who fled from the Ba'ku planet could subdue two other species and build such large starships. On the other hand, I liked how ironically Worf's unlikely presence on the Enterprise was explained when he just couldn't carry on telling it to Picard.
Remarkable quotes: "Can anyone remember when we used to be explorers?" (Picard), "In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to act as a flotation device." (Data), "How many people does it take before it becomes wrong?" (Picard), "The Son'a wish to negotiate a cease-fire. It may have something to do with their ship having only three minutes of air left." (Worf)
Remarkable dialogue: "It is a gorch, Sir." - "A what?" - [Data whispering] "A pimple, Sir." - "Oh. Well, it's hardly noticeable." (Worf, Data and Picard)
Star Trek Nemesis After
Deanna's and Will's wedding, the Enterprise picks up a positronic signal from
the planet Kolaren near the Neutral Zone where B-4, a prototype of Data, is
found. On Romulus, the new Praetor Shinzon of Reman origin, who has assassinated
the Romulan Senate calls for a Federation ship for negotiations. Shinzon
reveals himself as a clone of Picard, once created to infiltrate the Federation,
but then exiled to the dilithium mines on Remus. It soon becomes clear that
Shinzon used B-4 to lure the Enterprise into a trap. He needs Picard's cells in
order to survive and, moreover, he is about to use a thalaron emitter against
Earth, thereby killing all life on the planet. In the battle against Shinzon's
superior vessel, the Scimitar, Picard's last chance is to ram the ship and to
beam over to blow up the thalaron emitter. Data follows him, and he stays to
fulfill this task, dying in the explosion of the Scimitar.
It was an enjoyable movie for the most part, but nothing more. The problem I see with its premise is much a general problem with Star Trek on the big screen. Most features so far had comparably simple plots and they relied heavily on a black/white contrast. With Nemesis, eight of ten movies had a villain whose goal it usually was to destroy the Enterprise, her captain, and/or Earth. But the fundamental Star Trek, the one on TV, was very seldom about a struggle of good vs. evil. TNG could go almost completely without villains, and DS9 used to exploit the full grayscale of human(oid) opinions and actions even with recurring characters. I wonder why almost every feature film needs to appeal to the lower instincts by focusing all disdain on one enemy.
Still, the spirit of Star Trek was present in "Nemesis". When Shinzon outlined his motivation in the beginning, told about his hard childhood and almost fraternized with Picard, a certain degree of sympathy with the character was created. Unfortunately it was clear already then that he had no noble goals at all. A pity, because it predetermined the way to the showdown. It may have been more intricate if Shinzon had revealed either his true intentions or his appearance later in the movie. Or he could have shown doubts about his doings at one point. At least, he once backed away when Picard urged him to recognize his true nature in their ready room scene. What disturbed me most about Shinzon was that he needed a mean ship, a pompous leather fetish costume (well, it was at least amusing to hear it squeak at every movement), as well as occasional pathetic statements like "We're a race bred for war. For conquest." that clearly stigmatize him as a fascist. This didn't suit him, and it should have been toned down. But aside from these points, I was content with Shinzon as the antagonist and with the course of the plot - maybe also because screenwriter John Logan based both on "The Wrath of Khan" without rehashing this fan favorite.
Something that left me vastly disappointed was that the Romulans themselves were hardly conceded a role in the movie. Their empire appeared much like a banana republic, considering how easily Shinzon could rise to power. There were attempts of rationalizing this (in that something like this is supposed to happen often on Romulus), but seeing and hearing a bit more of the coup d'état would have been more satisfying. I also missed any familiar Romulan face or anyone else who has dealt with the Romulans before. There was not even a casual line about Spock's reunification movement or Picard's previous stay on Romulus.
In a philosophical dimension, "Nemesis" shows the potential that is in everyone of us. Picard, the son of a wine grower on peaceful Earth, developed in a completely different direction than Shinzon, the lab rat exiled to the dark and cruel world of Remus. Shinzon says that Picard would have become just like him, had they switched places. So is there no point in genetic predetermination? Is criminal behavior only a matter of the milieu and, vice versa, would crime vanish in the Federation because this society provides an agreeable life to everyone? It's not as easy as that. I think Shinzon, and to lesser degree Picard too, is depicted as a prisoner of his role. At some point, he unconsciously no longer does what helps him, but what he considers most fitting. Of course, this is anything but an explanation or even an excuse for what has become of Shinzon. But Picard makes a point when he tells Shinzon that, "to be human is to try to make yourself better than you are." Exactly what Data has been doing in all those years on the Enterprise. One must only permit oneself to be improved. In this respect, ironically the dull machine B-4 seems to be closer to become human than Shinzon ever was.
The basic theme of the movie was developed by letting each Data and Picard find their doppelganger. I am glad that this did not turn out a coincidence. B-4's appearance belonged to Shinzon's plan, a man who is quite fond of the symbolism of his actions. As a side effect besides luring Picard to Romulus, he may have wanted to confront Data with his evil counterpart just as he was Picard's, but stripped of all modifications B-4 was just the equivalent of a child. I appreciated that B-4 did not turn out as just another Lore and that Brent Spiner played B-4 without a sign of silliness. Picard's scenes together with his nemesis were clearly more interesting, however. Tom Hardy was very convincing as the theatrical Shinzon, within the limitations of the character I outlined above. Patrick Stewart performed well as always, now in a victim role for much of the time, unsure about his actions because the enemy is somehow he himself. The rest of the main cast was not particularly strongly involved. Only Deanna made a considerable contribution to the story, I liked how her telepathic abilities were fused with the ship's technology to detect the cloaked Scimitar. Riker's scenes fighting with the Reman Viceroy on the crippled Enterprise, on the other hand, were rather expendable. I wonder if they had been better removed in favor of something else, considering that "Nemesis" was cut down by 40 minutes. But Frakes may have asked for more screen presence, and the Viceroy may have been supposed to find an end worthy of a villain.
The amount of action sequences was extraordinary this time, maybe even compared to "First Contact". What I definitely liked was the longest space battle in Star Trek history. Something that I wouldn't have missed was the beach buggy race. Not only that it clearly violated the Prime Directive. Not only that Starfleet wouldn't have wheeled vehicles any longer. Overall, it reminded me too much of "Mad Max" and similar (mostly trashy) end-of-days scenarios. Adolescent and uninspiring. The special effects were quite good and their number unprecedented in Star Trek, but definitely not flawless. Most "cheap" Voyager episodes appeared to be on the same qualitative level. On the other hand, we should consider that the small screen may be more forgiving.
"Nemesis" had a couple of logical flaws and continuity problems. Most obviously, why is it that we have never seen the Remans? Sure, there were said to be slaves confined to Remus. But with Remans serving in the Romulan fleet, it seems very unlikely. Coming back to the doppelganger theme, it would have suited the movie a lot better if the Remans had looked exactly like the Romulans (at least to outworlders). It would also have freed "Nemesis" from the cliché that the bad guys must look ugly (I think the indigenous aliens on Kolaren were enough ugliness for this time, Mr. Westmore). If the Remans had been outwardly equal just like B-4/Data and Picard/Shinzon, this conflict had become just the mystery it should better remain. A bit like Bele and Lokai in TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". Concerning the plot logic, there was a severe error when both ships were disabled and unshielded towards the end. Picard may have been confused when he beamed over to finish his mission with a hand phaser instead of simply taking a well-armed shuttle, but that Data made an even more bothersome mistake when he let himself float over to the Scimitar is inexcusable.
"Nemesis" was the first Star Trek movie without opening credits. This was obviously supposed to shorten the film even more. Personally, I would have preferred to be slowly introduced into the story (like in "Insurrection"), but the opening scene with the zoom on Romulus was nicely done. Something that troubled me more was Goldsmith's score. I hardly even noticed it (which may be even a good sign), but what I remember is something harsh and military along the lines of "Star Trek VI", only unremarkable. There were some brief moments with the "First Contact" theme, but this is even more a sign that the score lacked anything unique.
Concerning the reception of "Nemesis" in a broader public, I agree with some arguments of other critics, but I don't share their assessment of it as a Star Trek movie. They almost unanimously think that the whole franchise is exhausted and that we have seen everything before. I could say quite the same of their reviews. But honestly, shouldn't they rather complain about a general trend especially in the sci-fi/action/disaster/horror genres? Truth to be told, most of the recent flicks in this field (and especially those numbered >1) have unremarkable stories, stupid dialogues and ridiculously exaggerated stunts. They may be taken either as meaningless entertainment or as unintentional satire. One thing that will always distinguish Star Trek from such action mass products is that here is an overall serious tone, stories about characters and an attempt to make a point beyond the mere entertainment. "Nemesis" may be only average Star Trek, it may be only average from a purely cineastic viewpoint, but is still light years ahead of the crowd. We can only hope for another TNG feature. Since "Nemesis" has left a loophole in the form of B-4 just like the "Remember!" from TWOK, it is still possible that Brent Spiner will reprise his role as B-4 or Data II.
Remarkable quote: "On screen." (Picard just before he notices that the screen is gone)
Star Trek (2009) See separate page
Trek V: The Final Frontier: 1
10. Star Trek Nemesis: 4
9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: 5
8. Star Trek (2009): 6
7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: 6
6. Star Trek Generations: 7
5. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: 7
4. Star Trek: Insurrection: 7
3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 8
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 8
1. Star Trek: First Contact: 10
|Movie Cliché Count||Movie Statistics|
|10. The movie is about time travel: 3 (+1 in "Star
9. The Enterprise is coincidentally the only ship in the sector: 4 (+1)
8. It is the maiden voyage of a new Enterprise: 4 (+1)
7. New uniforms appear for the first time: 4 (+1)
6. An enormous vessel/machine menaces all life on Earth: 4 (+1)
5. The crew have to deal with evil Klingons: 4
4. The Enterprise is hardly operational already in the beginning: 5
3. The crew disobey their orders: 5 (+1)
2. Main characters experience completely new sensations and emotions: 6 (+1)
1. The Enterprise is destroyed or very badly damaged: 7
|My average rating: 6.27
My rating standard deviation: 2.26
Proceed to Abramsverse Movies
|Last modified: 09.09.12|