Could it be true? After so many years of bloodshed and war, can peace between the Federation and the Romulans actually be at hand? Will all the hatred and mistrust finally be put to rest? Star Trek continues its mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. Except, Star Trek has been here before. Star Trek: Nemesis marks the 10th time the Starship Enterprise has made it to the big screen. All indications point to this latest voyage potentially being the last and final frontier for The Next Generation crew. And if it is, what a way to go. In Nemesis, the familiar gang’s together again, celebrating the marriage (at long last!) of Riker and Troi, only to be distracted first by the discovery of a prototype twin of the android Data and then by a threat to the stability of the universe on the planet Romulus. The twist here is that it isn’t the Romulans causing all the fracas, but a slave-turned-villainous-rebel leader named Shinzon, who just happens to be a youthful clone of Captain Picard. Portrayed with a sinister edginess by Tom Hardy, Shinzon aims to liberate the enslaved dilithium crystal miners of Remus, Romulus’s sister planet, and wreak a little havoc on the side—you know, destroy the Earth, blame the Romulans, bring about interplanetary warfare and get a life-saving blood transfusion from Picard while he’s at it. It’s up to the crew of the USS Enterprise—soaring through the universe in a snazzy, state-of-the-art Class E-series starship—to stop him dead in his tracks.
But that’s the Reader’s Digest version. Nemesis has an unusual amount of subtext working to its advantage. Unlike previous Star Trek films where not a whole lot made sense, Nemesis is genuinely intriguing and its plot points have been nicely woven together in a compelling fashion. The film subtly observes universal conceits (light vs. dark, good vs. evil, nature vs. nurture, destiny vs. free will), and ideas of brotherhood, loyalty and identity. Perhaps most impressive are the neat space vehicles (the sleek-looking Romulan shuttlecraft, the malevolent Remus WarBird and the ARGO, an all-terrain speed buggy), the impressive special effects and a series of successful set pieces. For the Star Trek fan, the film contains its fair share of in-the-know, closet asides. The entire cast from The Next Generation television series appears (Whoopi Goldberg utters one line and Wil Wheaton says absolutely nothing), but it’s obvious they’re just window-dressing for the dominant Picard/Shinzon confrontation, which nicely parallels a subplot revolving around Data and his own twin. What with its concern for such issues as cloning and rape victims lashing back at their victimizers, this latest Star Trek film seems to show more respect for the intelligence of its audience than others in the series.