After really enjoying the audiobook version of Star Trek: Nemesis, I was excited to finally catch up with the film. Unfortunately this is one of those cases where the book is far superior to the movie.
Nemesis is a bigger story than an episode of the TV show could contain, but the production values aren’t there to support it’s ambition. Everything here feels really cheap. The costumes are so glossy and shiny they look, well, like costumes. The sets are really small and it makes it feel like we’re just bouncing from soundstage to soundstage instead of from location to location. We’re dealing with entire planets and yet with the small sets there’s no sense of the scale, which makes the film feel really confined.
I didn’t even recognize Tom Hardy as Shinzon. Shinzon is a clone of Picard (Patrick Stewart), but Hardy and Stewart look nothing alike. You can’t just shave your head and say you look like Patrick Stewart. Believe me, I’ve tried. I didn't enjoy Picard and Shinzon’s scenes together either. They both give really understated performances and the dialogue doesn't help them along.
The Reman’s ultimate threat against Earth was really vague and completely unnecessary. Also, the story takes place so far away from Earth that it really doesn't feel like a threat. If the filmmakers wanted to make it count, they needed to have someone on Earth for us to care about. You could argue that we, as the Earth-bound audience, are enough to make Earth important, but that’s a cop-out.
I do enjoy Star Trek space battles and there’s a decent enough one here. They always feel nautical to me, minus the swaying of the sea. There’s one nerdy question that’s always bothered me. Why doesn’t Starfleet develop or steal cloaking technology? It’s really cliche for the Enterprise to be in grave danger because they can’t see the enemy ship. A scene like that happens here. If the Enterprise was cloaked as well it would even the odds, but of course, a scene with two invisible ships would be tough to film.
Star Trek: Nemesis has it’s moments, but on the whole is a disappointing telling of what is actually a great story. Whether you see the film or not, I highly recommend the audiobook if you enjoy great Star Trek storytelling.
Spoiler warning: The last paragraph of this review spoils the ending of the movie.
My biggest problem with Star Trek: Nemesis was the way Data’s sacrifice was handled at the end. I love when he jumps from ship to ship, it’s the best scene in the film. But afterwards, Data’s death is shortchanged. He gets a terrible eulogy and is then replaced unceremoniously by B-4. There is far more to Data’s story, but it’s not to be found in this film. Data is one of Star Trek's best characters, and his death deserved better.