I rewatched Star Trek: Nemesis. Paramount must have just signed a new deal with Netflix, cause the Next Gen Trek films have been completely unavailable for a couple of years, but are now back, so I seized my opportunity. I've been meaning to rewatch it for a while cause, well, Tom Hardy.
No, I'm not spoiler cutting this. It's too old for a spoiler cut.
Keep in mind with this movie:
1 - I've only seen it once before, in theaters.
2 - I genuinely liked it the first time. I really did. I definitely thought it had problems, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. Probably just cause I liked seeing my TNG peeps again. And I liked the costumes and the music.
3 - Though I've only seen it once, the soundtrack was one of my staples for a couple of years, so I know it note by note. Which gives this weird dissonance, rewatching it, cause I'd entirely forgotten large portions of the film, but I knew exactly what was coming cause I knew the music.
4 - Also, this is really embarrassing, but I was absolutely convinced that the actor who played Shin Zon was Asian. I can't even say why. I blame it on the lighting. (That actor is, of course, Tom Hardy, so...this is why I never attempt to identify peoples' ethnicity, cause clearly I'm like that guy in the elevator who asked me if I was Japanese and then didn't believe me when I said I wasn't.)
What I was most bothered by, the first time I saw it, was the blatant, enormous, entirely unnecessary retconning of the universe. We have decades worth of Trek canon, hundreds of hours of the show, but no, we're going to invent Remus! The planet that Romulus has always been in conflict with that no one's ever mentioned before. And a whole new type of radiation no one's heard of before! (Cause christ, there just aren't enough technobabble types of radiation in this universe already.) And Data has YET ANOTHER twin brother android we've never encountered before! (Where did Shin Zon find it? Who cares!) And Picard has ANOTHER extremely rare genetic disorder that's never been mentioned before! Speaking of, the thing that bothered me the MOST on my initial viewing, was that we'd seen a young Picard before--in "Rascals"--and he had hair, and looked nothing like Tom Hardy. I wouldn't have minded this contradiction, since there's the whole hand wavy, my nose and jaw have been broken a lot, I look different, thing, except that Picard PULLS OUT A PHOTOGRAPH from the Academy days that shows young him is Tom Hardy, bald and all.
On second viewing, I'm forced to admit that this movie is pretty shit.
Problem one - It thinks it's an action film. Reboots aside, Trek is not an action franchise. TNG was not an action show. And these actors? Not action stars. They were also kind of long in the tooth at that point to do anything but tongue in cheek action. But this movie is full of long, loving shots of dune buggies driving around, throwing up plumes of dirt, and firefights, and flying a fighter through the corridors of a space ship cause exciting! It's really...not good. I mean, more than half of the screen time is spent on action, using a cast of actors whose primary experience acting "action" was sitting in chairs while the camera shook and the props guys threw crap at them.
Problem two - The plot holes, they are legion. Why do those people on the random planet with B4 start shooting at them? Where the hell did Shin Zon find B4? (Shin Zon's entire plan sucks, btw. Lure the Enterprise to the neutral zone with the hopes that they'll pick up the signal from one android on a planet half the galazy away...) Why, if Shin Zon needs Picard alive in order to heal himself would his crew IMMEDIATELY start shooting at him when he escapes? Why, if Shin Zon NEEDS PICARD TO LIVE, does he waste so much time dicking around talking to him instead of strapping him down and taking his blood first thing? Why does Shin Zon suddenly have the capability of holographically projecting himself into Picard's ready room to talk to him? (This one is so egregious, they even have a line of dialogue about it: "Don't look for my holographic projectors; you won't find them." So...how did Shin Zon get holographic projectors into Picard's ready room in the zero times he or any of his crew have been there?) Why, seriously, why is there a mind rape of Troi scene? That serves no plot purpose at all. It doesn't even serve a character purpose. And it's really painful to watch. Why does the doomsday weapon take seven whole minutes to warm up? That seems like a terrible design. (Just--stay there! I'm going to kill you! In...five minutes! Don't move!)
But for all that, the core of this movie is still a Star Trek idea. I mean, it opens in a senate chamber. You can't get more Star Trek than that. And the idea itself, though so clumsily handled, is an intriguing one. I totally buy that the Romulans would create a clone to try to infiltrate Starfleet, then there's a regime change and that program gets iced. But there was so much more they could do with it. Presumably Shin Zon would have been taught all about Picard's life, if he was meant to replace him. Instead of being a mustache twirler, he could have been a conflicted mess of envy and anger about Picard--wanting to be him and destroy him. And you could have had some truly interesting tactical battles between them, since Picard is supposed to be a brilliant strategist. They tell us Shin Zon is one, too, but we don't see it. There's a real missed opportunity to see him out think Picard, and vice versa. For both of them, thinking that they know and could anticipate the other could be a real disadvantage. I mean, even in the ludicrous fistfight they get into in the film (that old Picard only credibly wins cause Shin Zon is on death's door), Shin Zon was raised a lot rougher than Picard. He should have much better fighting skills. It's all a waste.
Instead it's a lot of "I am your mirror" nonsense. And let's not forget the final FU to the concept the movie is trying to get across, that experience and choice make identity, not anything else: Data has a whole speech about how he is a different person than B4, despite their similar construction. But then, at the end, when B4 starts singing "Blue Skies," we are meant to think that Data is living on through him. Which just entirely blows up the "different person" idea. I mean, it's not exactly a happy ending if Data reasserted himself in B4 and eradicated the other android's identity.
Oh, to the Data thing, in the theater the first time I figured out early on we were doing Wrath of Khan, so knew Data was going to bite it. I wasn't surprised by that. And the only reason I think we didn't get the "Data miraculously lives on through his memories implanted in B4" storyline is that we didn't get another movie.
Also, J.J. Abrams totally stole the intership space jump from this movie. Only in this movie, you jump cut from taking off to landing and don't spend enough time for me to run from the theater to the bathroom and get back with them dodging around obstacles (yes, that's how long it is in Into Darkness).