31 January 2003 | Li-1
Hopefully, the DVD will have the director's cut.
6 out of 10
If the rumors are to be believed, then approximately fifty minutes of footage for Star Trek: Nemesis are lying somewhere in Paramount's vault. While the movie itself is technically well-edited with a slick Hollywood gloss, this might explain why everyone but Picard and Data are left short-handed with minimal screen time and dialogue. Hopefully, the missing footage will find its way to the DVD release, where we can get the final tribute the crew of The Next Generation deserves.
As a story for a final adventure, Nemesis isn't quite the epic one may hope for. The plot mostly focuses on the parallels between Picard and the new Romulan leader, a human named Shinzon (Tom Hardy), who claims to desire peace between the Romulans and the Federation. He also has a special bond to Picard, which I won't give away, suffice to say Data also gets to experience something similar throughout the film. Essentially, the plot isn't particularly interesting and it works primarily as a set-up for the climactic space battle, definitely the movie's highlight.
Before then, the only setpieces worthy of interest are a gratuitous but enjoyable car chase (!) on a desert planet that resolves in a grin-inducing fashion, and a fast-paced shootout on board Shinzon's warship, the Scimitar, which also resolves in a pretty cool manner. That's all the action we get in the first 80 or so minutes, meaning there's a lot of talky scenes that go nowhere and clumsily insert the good ol' "Nature vs. Nurture" debate to no avail. Outside of the action, what makes the first 3/4's of the movie watchable are the excellent special effects and the crew's camaraderie. Acting wise, we get excellent performances from Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner (by the way, is it just me or does Stewart look even more physically fit than ever? Old age is doing little to bring him down)
Clearly, the final space battle is what we've been waiting for, and after 10 movies and 23 years, we get what is easily the most elaborate action sequence of the entire Trek franchise. The segment runs just short of a half-hour and features the Enterprise going toe-to-toe with the Scimitar, and to keep the concept of one starship battling another from getting boring (because let's face it, that gets old in a matter of minutes), director Stuart Baird throws in a few more ships, some more phaser fights from boarding enemy parties (which prove to be the most exciting parts of the movie), fisticuffs, and even a self-destruct sequence that could prove fatal for everyone. It's a doozy of an action scene, even if it is slightly marred by Troi's psychic link and tiresome reports of collapsing shields. This is the sequence that makes the movie worth watching to sci-fi action fans.
Personally, I would have preferred had Baird just spaced the action out more evenly (a la First Contact), rather than stuffing it all in the conclusion, since the plot itself is hard to hold interest on its own. Still, from the space battle alone, this is more action-packed than any of the original crew's films and comes out just ahead of First Contact in terms of quantity, if not in quality. The finale also features the death of a beloved character, which isn't executed quite as properly as it should have, but is touching on its own. Once again, I'm hoping the director's cut will fix that up. Until then, this is just satisfying enough to those who thirst for outerspace action.