By the time Star Trek: The Final Frontier was released in 1989, the original
crew of the Enterprise had become a joke. From Kirk, Spock, and McCoy's rendition of
"Row, Row, Row Your Boat" to a "sexy" dance from an over-50 Uhura, watching the geriatric
crew was more like an extended Saturday Night Live skit than a bona fide Star Trek movie.
With Star Trek: Nemesis, the Next Generation crew has just about reached this
point as well. Everyone besides Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) has put on 15-50 pounds
since their late-1980s heyday, and not all of them have aged gracefully. Faring best
is Picard, who seems to have not aged in the last 15 years. The ladies, Marina Sirtis (as
Counselor Deanna Troi) and Gates McFadden (as Dr. Beverly Crusher), are looking pretty
good despite showing their age, although the villian's relishing of Troi's "beauty" is
Looking rather worse for wear, however, are Brent Spiner (as Data), Levar Burton
(as Geordi Laforge),
and Jonathan Frakes (as First Officer Will Riker), who seems to become ever more barrel-chested
with each passing year. By the third season of The Next Generation, the once
moderately-sized Mr. Frakes had become a head taller than everyone else on the show, even
edging out Michael Dorn, who plays Worf, a member of the statuesque Klingon race. Like Tina
Yothers on Family Ties, he came to be a size larger than everyone else on the show, and
makes the movie set look as if it is straining to contain him.
Although the effects of age are understandable in a human being, it strains credibility to
see those same effects on the android Data, who has developed a bit of a gut and a rather
pronounced double-chin. Not only that, but an earlier prototype of Data that is discovered
early in the film and is called B4 shares these features. One wonders that the makeup crew
could not have expended some effort on making Data and B4 look a little more like androids
and a little less like a 45-year-old man wearing silver makeup.
Lastly we come to the ever-neglected Geordi Laforge, who never has much to do except reroute
power and erect forcefields. Although he's lost the funky glasses he wore on TV, his light
blue contacts look creepy and he's put on a fair amount of weight. Mr. Burton has
always seemed neglected in this role, and one hopes that putting in his time saving the ship
earns a good paycheck that can keep the Reading Rainbows coming.
Nemesis was plugged as a dark adventure involving the Romulans, who have always
been one of the better enemy races in the Star Trek universe, with their pointy-shouldered
leather suits, pixie bangs, and pointy ears. The evil cousins of the goody-goody Vulcans, Romulans
are meaner and smarter than the dreaded Kingons. One would expect a good story where Romulans
Unfortunately, the plot isn't really about the Romulans, it's about a clone of Picard named
Shinzon, who was created by the Romulans and raised initially on Romulus and then sent to
work in the mines with the slave race of the Remans. (Why is it always mines on Star Trek?
Can the writers really think of nothing worse?)
At any rate, Shinzon stages a coup, seizes control of Romulus, and lures the Enterprise to
the planet for a visit. He and Picard spend a lot of time ruminating on the intrigues of
being genetically identical, which is intriguing to no one but themselves, least of all the
moviegoer though I did find myself wondering why Shinzon has such full lips while
Picard's are almost nonexistent little lines.
Eventually things get under way with phasers firing, shields failing, and even a little
hand-to-hand combat for the towering Riker. But by that point I was so tired out by the
endless talking between Picard and Shinzon that I hardly cared who won the battle. And besides,
I knew who would.
One wonders why, when trying to create an exciting new Star Trek movie, the writers would
rely on the old Next Generation formula of a villain with a personal tie to Picard.
It's been done far too often, and invariably gives Picard the only character with any depth.
Now, a clone of Riker or Laforge with an axe to grind, that might have been fun!
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Capt. Picard and his large first officer.
Riker throwing his weight around.
The geriatric android Data.
Picard's fat-lipped clone, Shinzon.