Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

star trek nemesis

“Don’t worry, hell is dark.”

The Scoop: 2002 PG-13, directed by Stuart Baird and starring Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, and Tom Hardy.

Tagline: A Generation’s Final Journey Begins

Summary Capsule: Picard smacks around Mini-Picard, Data finds out he’s a triplet, and we unfortunately see Riker and Troi doing the nasty.

Justin’s rating: I’d hate to see my clone… he’s probably not liking his big nose either.

Justin’s review: As I walked — briskly — out of the movie theater after seeing Star Trek: Nemesis, a fellow waiting in line to see it asked loudly, “So how was it?” Seeing that my bladder was about two notches past the bursting level, I summoned up six solid years of movie reviewing skill to utter out “Eh” over my shoulder as I scuttled into the men’s room. “Eh” actually seems to describe this movie perfectly. That’s sad.

As far as Star Trek movie reviews go, every other one will have some reference to the phenomenon surrounding the odd numbered films (they’re stinkers) and the even numbered ones (they’re the keepers). Up to this movie, it’s been pretty consistent… but now we’re at number 10. You might not know that, seeing as how they stopped numbering the movies after 6, but it is 10 indeed. And 10 ain’t a keeper.

As the last Star Trek: Next Generation-related film, this is not nearly the sort of classy send-off they gave the old Enterprise crew back in The Undiscovered Country. They’ve got the whole crew back including (God help us all) Wesley Crusher in a disturbingly brief cameo. Also, it seems like Picard watched Star Trek: Voyager from time to time, because Janeway pops up on his TableTV unit.

The single coolest idea this movie had in its Paramount-greased palms was exploring the Romulan culture. For the non-Trekkers in our audiences, the Romulans are the bad guys who skulk around in shadows a lot and refuse to accept visitors to their pad, even when they’re throwing a really rockin’ party. We’ve never seen a lot of their race or homeworld, so it’s cool that the movie begins with Picard and Co. off on a diplomatic mission of peace between two previously violent enemies. Here begins the Star Trek flashbacks; this “peace overture” reminded me a lot of The Undiscovered Country’s Klingon-Federation theme.

Unfortunately, it’s all a big ruse to get Picard within punching range so that his bald clone can beat the snot out of him. That’s it. That’s all you need to know about this film. Everything else is just cut ‘n paste window dressing. Picard’s clone shares the captain’s baldness and, unfortunately, his desire to talk and talk and talk. Do you like speeches? Then you’re going to LOVE Star Trek: Nemesis! Get ready, get set and go see the movie that’s going to hit you on the head with tacky, underdeveloped themes of revenge, identity, and receding hairlines!

As a brief sidenote, Picard’s clone, Shinzon, is not a very good clone. I mean, I spent half the movie comparing his lips (Denise Richards-style big) to Picard’s tiny chicken beak, and wondering if Picard lost lip volume from his youth. Does that happen? Is it a problem sign when I spend more time obsessing over little details in a movie than paying attention to the plot?

After they meet, Shinzon breaks out his lowrider spaceship, all jacked up with mecha-steroids and ready to kick some NCC-1701-E nacelles. Nobody ever plays nice in the recess of life, and Shinzon is nothing more than that annoying bully wanna-be, hoisting a big rock and waving it at people, hoping to get a little respect. Yawn. Shinzon goes and chases Picard into some sort of green gas cloud, where they both stall out and try their hardest to re-enact the final battle from The Wrath of Khan. I mean, seriously! Are Star Trek scribes so out of ideas that they’re scavenging battles from a mere eight films ago?

While nothing drags this movie down into the depths of severe suckatude, nothing raises it up, either. Data gets a pretty pointless story with a prototype Data that they find on a planet (this whole subplot makes NO sense when you try to piece it together afterwards, by the way). In a weird tribute to Star Wars, Data’s prototype is named B-4. As in, “before.” “Before Data”. Yeah, the scriptwriters did not spend a lot of time on naming, I do know that much.

Troi somehow gets mind-raped by a Romulan in an incredibly odd and pointless scene. Apparently Romulans can enter minds from miles away at will… at least beginning with this film, they can. Troi eventually gets her revenge, and also is treated to the classic Star Trek “bar of light” effect. You know, when they dim the lights on a character except for a bar of light that is projected across their eye area. I’m never sure what this is supposed to mean, exactly, but it’s there. Maybe she’s got radioactive eyes or something. And since when could she read minds or anything more than vague emotions from aliens?

Riker gets a terribly boring fight, what with the prerequisite “jumping from above” moves and “kicking you off into the abyss” finale. Worf? Geordi? Crusher? Well, they get to fall down a lot when the ship shakes. It’s gangs of fun, being in this movie!

In the end, it comes down to scope. Star Trek is always at its best when it aims high and wide, tackling universe-wide problems like war and multi-government diplomacy. It always falls short when it flinches from the risk and decides to give the audience what it’s seen in every movie to date: two guys duking it out.

Sue’s rating: Earl Grey. Hot. Movie. Lukewarm.

Sue’s review: Personal Log, Supplemental. Hey, I’m a Next Generation kind of gal. My friends and I used to live for Friday nights when the latest episodes would air. So what if I was abandoning my then significant-other and my first-born without a backward glance? This was TNG! We made popcorn! (I just know this is going to come back and haunt me if Spawn of Mutant-1 surfs the site. My dearest son, if you read this, remember two things. 1. I love you forever and always. 2. You had colic.)

Anyway, it isn’t that I don’t like the original Trek — Bones McCoy ruled — but I prefer my starship captains to be able to speak in complete sentences without… taking a… pause for dramatic… effect. I also prefer a captain who can embrace his baldness without opting for a cheesy toupee. But that’s just me. All right, and I have a personal loathing for Bill Shatner after I personally saw him break some little autograph-seeking kid’s heart at the Devon Horse Show back in the day — but that’s another story. The point is that TNG caught my fancy more than any other Trek, before or since.

So I did, after a fashion, watch the TNG movies when they were released. These tended to cause severe disappointment, because none of them ever lived up to some of the really boffo plots in the television series. To that end, I’m sure I watched Nemesis at some point in the past. I have vague memories of the bald guy with bad teeth who was and wasn’t Jean Luc Picard, but for some reason the rest is all a blur. Until now.

How can I put this succinctly? It doesn’t suck as much as Star Trek Generations or, heaven forbid, Star Trek V – Shatner’s Ego Road Trip.

Granted that last paragraph wasn’t exactly a rousing hurrah to cinematic brilliance, but it’s the best I can do.

See, here’s the thing. I can’t quite adapt to an elderly (supposedly 15 years after the first episode of TNG and he wasn’t a spring chicken then) Picard shedding his dignity to turf up someone else’s planet with a souped up dune buggy. Nor can I quite adjust to the sight of him scampering around like a spindly Rambo, blasting chunks out of the Romulans’ inbred country cousins with a laser rifle. The voice is the same. The face is the same. Did Guinan put amphetamines in the guy’s Earl Grey or what?

I also have a teensy problem with Riker (and oh man did I used to have a crush on William Frakes!) taking on the cream of the Reman warriors with his grizzled beard and ill-hidden pot belly and emerging victorious. Deanna Troi is all but unrecognizable, Worf got the heebie-jeebies at least twice and Data was… how do I say this… a little too emotional. I’m sorry, did anyone WATCH the series? Canon anyone? Hello?

Still, there were redeemable qualities here and there. I thought that the space battle stuff was really very cool. There were actual tactics involved and the evasive maneuvering took on more scope than just saying the words, “evasive maneuver”! It’s even nice that the Romulans FINALLY managed to build a cloaking device that — duh — the Federation ships couldn’t crack. Good for you, guys! Perseverance is a good quality! It was also cool to see the Romulan Senate in session… before they got turned into crispy play-doh critters anyway. I’ve had a soft spot for those folks ever since reading “The Romulan Way” by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. Decent story.

Nemesis might have had a decent story too. I was just sort of distracted by characters being so out of character and trying to figure out exactly why I was supposed to buy into Shinzon as Picard’s personal Mini-Me. Aside from them both being follicularly challenged and whining over not being tall, I just couldn’t see any real similarities between the two of them. Besides, I KNOW that Picard had hair when he was younger.

Not an awful movie. Not a great movie. I’m not exactly sorry I rented it, but next time I think I’ll just catch some TNG reruns on cable.

Picard vs. The Space Vampyre


  • Did they forget the use of shuttles in the end part when the transporters went down?
  • Shinzon likes his tea, too
  • That’s Ron Perlman as the viceroy? Whoa.
  • How come in every “battle stations” montage that Star Trek has done, do they always show the crew grabbing phasers and phaser rifles from the walls? If they’re just expecting ship-to-ship combat, isn’t that a trifle overcautious? Or perhaps they fire the phasers from little holes in the hull?
  • Data’s cat Spot makes an appearance in Nemesis. The last time Spot was seen was in Star Trek: Generations.
  • Backwards lettering in the opening credits… huh?
  • The Remens reminded me a LOT of the vampire makeup in Buffy
  • Robert H. writes in: “Grant you they used models for the collision scene, but the instant the Enterprise came to rest in the Scimitars landing bay, there was very little damage to the saucer section, minus the blast damage. But when the Scimitar pulls out, the bow of the saucer was virtually shredded all the way up to the forward phaser array. Last second destruction?”
  • Admiral Janeway says to Captain Picard “The Son’a, the Borg, the Romulans, you seem to get all the easy assignments.” And yet, excluding some conflicts with Seven of Nine, she has one way or another faced off with the Borg more times than Jonathan Archer, Jean-luc Picard, and Benjamin Sisko combined. [thanks Robert H!]
  • At the climax of the film, with the Thalaron particles fully mixed and ready to fire when Data fired his phaser into the weapon, wasn’t he worried that he could turn the exploding Scimitar into a “Dirty Bomb” killing the crew of the Enterprise, as well as his cat? [thanks Robert H!]
  • Excuse me, WORF is too shy to go nekkid in public?
  • Jean Luc Picard – Dune Buggy Maniac
  • Worf wearing a bandoleer and hoisting a big gun makes him look like a hairless Wookie.
  • When Picard orders his “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” he clearly ends up with an empty cup.
  • Pretty much the entire command structure of the Enterprise beams over to the Remus ship. Isn’t that a little.. er.. stupid?
  • Sheesh, Will Riker is definitely going to have some issues after that little honeymoon glitch.
  • Jean Luc NEVER had hair? Oh come on!
  • They spend an awful lot of time diverting power to broken stuff. How much power could they possibly have left to divert?
  • Guess they don’t teach ‘stealthy walking’ at Starfleet Academy, huh Riker?
  • The things you can do with that saucer section when you don’t have families on board!
  • What’s with the blue light that flashes under the captain’s chair whenever anything goes wrong? Did they buy it from K-Mart?
  • It must be hard for the Remans to do computer ops when their fingernails are five inches long. (And seem to have some weird fungal problems.)
  • Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) was invited back to the cast by executive producer Rick Berman after Wheaton spoke with Levar Burton (Geordi La Forge) on a special Star Trek edition of NBC’s “Weakest Link”.
  • Denise Crosby discussed with executive producer Rick Berman the possibility of using her Star Trek: The Next Generation character Sela in the film, but they could not work out a way to properly fit the character into the movie.
  • The four year interval between this film and Star Trek: Insurrection is the longest between Star Trek films.

Groovy Quotes

Riker: Don’t worry, Hell is dark.

Worf: A warrior does not appear without his clothing. It leaves him… vulnerable.

Worf: Irving Berlin (smacks head into table).

Picard: Data? Shut up. I’ve been waiting fifteen years to say that.

Picard: You have the bridge… Mr. Troi.

Data: I will always be puzzled by the human predilection for piloting vehicles at unsafe velocities.

B4’s Severed Head: Why does the tall one have a furry face?

Data [to Worf who is holding a robotic arm]: It appears to be a robotic arm.
Worf: Very astute.

B4’s Severed Head: Have I said something wrong?

Admiral Janeway: The Son’a, the Borg, the Romulans… you seem to get all the easy assignments.

From Picard’s Log: Like a thousand other commanders on a thousand other battlefields, I wait for the dawn.

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  1. yep… it sucked. It was also the shortest Trek movie ever at only 86 minutes long. Though there are rumors of a version that exists that is over two and a half hours long with the actual wedding, an explanation of Wesley and his uniform after he had resigned, and the explanation of why Worf was back, and in a Starfleet Uniform no less, after he had become an ambassador at the end of DS9. Plus there’s allegedly footage of the Titan as she departs spacedock.

    Now it’s been what? 8 Years, and no one has seen this version yet, so… if it’s out there…

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