Awfully Good: Star Trek: Nemesis

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Before you go BEYOND, let’s revisit the movie so bad it killed the last STAR TREK series…

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Director: Stuart Baird
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Tom Hardy, Brent Spiner

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Clone Wars

Pretty much everyone agrees that WRATH OF KHAN is the best STAR TREK movie, but fans tend to argue about which film is the worst. (My money is on #5, the Awfully Good favorite and William Shatner-directed FINAL FRONTIER.) All I know is that after seven seasons, four movies and over 15 years together, The Next Generation crew deserved a better ending than the mess that was STAR TREK: NEMESIS.

Picard looked with terror in to the eyes of the Ghost of Herpes Past.

There’s the occasional moment of painful comedy—including the repeated awkwardness of Riker and Troi’s all-nude wedding or the fact that Data gets a full-on musical performance—but NEMESIS is sadly more terribly terrible than a funny failure. Hopes were high when it was announced that writer and Trek fan John Logan would be following up his Academy Award-nominated GLADIATOR with this movie, but those dreams were quickly shattered a few minutes in as soon as the pale-faced android picked up a microphone and began crooning Irving Berlin. As bad as the script may have been, however, the real detriment to this movie is named Stuart Baird.

Shinzon got all his outfits from the “Fabulous Xenomorph” collection.

Baird directed the modest hits EXECUTIVE DECISION and U.S. MARSHALS and was hired by Paramount in the hopes that he would “action up” the waning sci-fi franchise. And to Baird’s credit, he did just that—in truly dumb ways that belong more in a FAST AND FURIOUS movie than they do in STAR TREK. I’m talking about somehow working in a car chase on an alien desert planet that ends with Captain (and apparent stunt driver) Picard driving his space vehicle off a cliff at top speed and in to a waiting open spaceship. Or having Data decide the fastest way to escape is to fly his spacecraft through another entire ship and out the other side. All these extra action scenes don’t work because the poor Next Generation crew, most in their 50s and 60s, are clearly not action stars accustomed to fistfights and shootouts. (Poor Jonathan Frakes has a slow-paced climactic brawl with Nosferatu Ron Perlman that’s so unexciting it’s amazing.) What’s even worse is that in order to make room for all this unnecessary action, Baird cut out 50 “boring” minutes of film. You know, just the moments sorely needed to explain character motivation and main plot points.

“Gee, I wonder why they sat us together at this wedding…”

It’s a shame because there’s a real sense of camaraderie and chemistry between the cast that could do the concept justice, but the unbalanced script doesn’t take advantage of this at all. It’s no surprise to see that Brent Spiner is credited as co-writer, since not only does Data have the meatiest part in the whole movie, but he also gets to play two characters while so many other members of the crew are relegated to cameo status. For example, Michael Dorn’s Worf literally has nothing to do in this film—save for one line where he expresses trepidation at disrobing for the nudist wedding. Even better, they brought back fan least-favorite Wesley Crusher for the first time in any of the TNG films, only to have him play a silent background extra for literally two shots of the movie. That’s some spite right there.

This is not what Picard meant when he told Data to “Go out and get some head.”

Probably the one reason you may be curious to watch STAR TREK: NEMESIS is the inclusion of a young Tom Hardy as the villain Shinzon, the improbable young clone of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard. It’s an interesting idea in concept, the thought that the beloved Enterprise captain could end up so evil under different circumstances, but the movie constantly spouts so much Philosophy 101 generalities about fate and destiny and nature vs. nurture that it never gets to the substance. It also leads to cringe-worthy lines like: “Look at me, Shinzon. Your heart, your hands, your eyes are the same as mine. The blood pumping within you; the raw material is the same!”

This is also not what Picard meant when he told Data to “Go out and get a little redheaded p….”

Tom Hardy also was no Mad Max or Bane back in the day, as wimpy Shinzon is easily the least intimidating villain of the series. It’s later revealed that he is literally days away from dying, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he makes the Enterprise crew wait 17 hours as a negotiating tactic or invites Picard over for a casual dinner and chat. Even with all this time wasting and philosophizing Shinzon’s motivation for destroying the Earth is unclear. He hates Romulans for torturing him as a child but he hates humans because he’s…human? Perhaps it’s the hour of lost footage doing the villain a disservice, but one second he’s a sympathetic victim who wants peace and to be BFFs with Picard and the next he’s a ranting, raving lunatic who kidnaps Picard and mind rapes Counselor Troi. Oh yes, who could forget the disturbing sex scene where Shinzon and his mentor interrupt newlyweds Riker and Troi on their honeymoon and telepathically tag team the poor woman in front of her husband.

They may be heartless bastards hellbent on murdering all humans, but at least the Remans care enough to take male breast cancer seriously.

This all culminates in a truly stupid finale, where Picard decides the only way to outsmart Shinzon is to do something so crazy and unpredictable even his own clone wouldn’t expect it. Unfortunately for everyone else, in this case it means ramming the already-crippled Enterprise in to Shinzon’s ship, putting every crew member’s life in great jeopardy. Then when everyone miraculously survives (though I’m sure some redshirts died), Picard tries to run the ship’s autodestruct sequence to further blow everyone to hell.
Then you’re treated to a final mano-y-mano fight between the two genetically equal men—one a senior citizen and the other so sick he’s minutes away from dying—that ends in the most amazing way: Shinzon literally walks in to a spear that Picard is holding. Also, Data sacrifices himself to save the crew because he didn’t pack for his rescue mission properly.

What it’s like to be at the Republican National Convention this week.

And just in case you thought you that meant you were finally free of Data singing… nope! There’s B-4, an older Data prototype, that sings to Picard as the movie closes.

Wait, the older android model’s name is B-4? Oh, you can f*ck right off, STAR TREK NEMESIS.

Data being stupid, Tom Hardy being intense, and Worf hating nudity.

The “best” deaths, action moments, sex scenes, and… Data’s musical number.

Allegedly Jonathan Frakes’ back hair was digitally removed from his sex scene. Thanks Paramount!

Resistance is futile! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Someone talks about destiny, fate or any other Philosophy 101 concept
  • Nudity is mentioned
  • Someone does something out of character
  • Tom Hardy overacts
  • Worf gets a line

Double shot if:

  • Data sings

Thanks to Michael and Leslie for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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