Star Trek: Nemesis
December 13, 2002
Four years after a lackluster encounter with a dull group of farmers called the Ba'ku, the crew of the starship Enterprise finally returns to local cineplexes. In this latest and possibly final voyage involving the full cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, someone has finally realized that there is a natural mythological basis for a story involving Romulans. Thanks are in order to whoever (I'm assuming it was Rick Berman, the franchise's caretaker) gave the okay for the creation of a new race of people living on a sister planet called...wait for it...Remus.
The people of Remus spend their days as slaves working in dilithium mines in order to better the lives of the Romulans. Nemesis will see the Remans find a leader in the charismatic Shinzon, who will lead them to revolt against their oppressors (which sounds like another Insurrection to me). After some treachery in the Romulan High Council, Shinzon becomes the new leader of the Romulans. Unknown to his people, the man has a hidden agenda and a dark secret.
Shinzon isn't Romulan at all but rather a human clone who needs to find the one who shares his exact DNA match. If he doesn't find this person, Shinzon will die, so his desperation causes him to abuse his usurped power. He threatens to blow up the world (stop me if you've heard this one before) in order to lure his twin to Romulus. Naturally, that person is a member of the Enterprise crew, so the fate of the world again hangs in the balance as the noble crew under Captain Jean-Luc Picard sweeps in at warp speed to save mankind from a most heinous fate.
Nemesis is going to follow the normal Star Trek movie mold by having an important sub-plot involving Spock/Data. Of course, since Brent Spiner helped write the story, it's not surprising that Data is getting a major storyline here. What is surprising is that it's a play upon the popular Data/Lore arc from the television series. Data will again discover a brother he didn't know he had. The difference this time is that his new sibling, B9, is the Forrest Gump of androids. He's gentle and sweet by nature (B9 is going to run away with the title of Corniest Character Name of 2002) but dumb as a stick, so Data feels compelled to nurture his less-fortunate brother.
The cast of the film is effectively the cast of the TV show, and yes, that does include Michael Dorn as Worf and Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan. In addition, there are rumored to be a few cameos from various cast members of the other Star Trek shows, along with another recognizable face or two from the Roddenberry entourage. Also returning is Wil Wheaton as the boy people loved to hate, Wesley Crusher. Wheaton's Web site is an excellent place to stay current on information about the movie. We have also confirmed that Ashley Judd will return to play Robin Lefler, the same role she had as a guest star on the series. She and Wesley are now married. Along for the ride are the vivacious Dina Meyer of Starship Troopers and Steven Culp (Robert F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days) as a Romulan ambassador and an Ensign Smith-type. Tom Hardy of Band of Brothers is cast in the key role of Shinzon, but also noteworthy is the presence of Ron Perlman as one of his Reman viceroys. Perlman recently demonstrated in Blade II just how intimidating he can be as a villain, and will boost the film's fear factor a significant amount if given an appropriate amount of screen time. Here's hoping he's utilized properly as a menacing counterpart to Worf.
Ignoring horror sequels (which are often haphazardly thrown together to make a quick buck), the Star Trek franchise joins James Bond as the two longest-running film series of the modern era. It's not exactly a bold statement to say that Paramount has a lot riding on the performance of Nemesis, as does the cast. Should the movie succeed, the members of the ST:TNG crew will likely assure themselves another sequel. If it disappoints, as Star Trek: Insurrection did, it's a virtual certainty that one of the later shows, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or the current Enterprise, will be used in the next big-screen Star Trek outing. The franchise finds itself in a similar situation to 1989, when Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a box-office failure. Paramount was able to follow that film up with the well-received Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and then make a seamless transition to the TNG cast in Star Trek: Generations. It's reasonable to assume that studio execs would prefer to follow this model again, starting with Nemesis, so expect this outing to be much more of a blatant crowd-pleaser that tries to appeal to a much larger core audience than the diehard Trekker fan-boys. Assuming this happens, Nemesis should outperform the top film in the series to date, Star Trek: First Contact, and re-secure the franchise.
In closing, let's all sing together. Admit it, you know the words.
It's been a long road, getting from there to here.
It's been a long time, but my time is finally near.
And I can feel the change in the wind right now. Nothing's in my way.
And they're not gonna hold me down no more, no they're not gonna hold me down.
(skipping to the end for the big finish)
Cause I've got faith of the heart.
I'm going where my heart will take me.
I've got faith to believe. I can do anything.
I've got strength of the soul. And no one's gonna bend or break me.
I can reach any star.
I've got faith, faith of the heart. (David Mumpower/BOP)
April 26, 2002
As expected, Star Trek X moved again, this time advancing a week to December 13th. A release in the month of December indicates hope for the film to have solid legs thanks to the holiday season; however, this is the very strategy which failed with the (poor quality) Insurrection release. In addition, this is exactly the same weekend that Insurrection came out in 1998, so keeping this date would certainly be a gamble for Paramount. Theoretically, it's a statement of confidence in the product, but it still makes me nervous. (David Mumpower/BOP)