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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Star Trek: Nemesis"


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Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
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"Star Trek: Nemesis" is the 10th movie in the series that started as a failed sci-fi sitcom in 1966, but has since grown to capture the hearts and minds of three generations. One of the main reasons for its longevity is its continuing reinforcement of the "humanity" theme. More precisely, what it means to be human, even in a world full of non-human entities, whether of alien origin, or of synthetic design.

While this universal theme has reached many audiences around the world successfully, one has to be a faithful follower of the specific characters within "The Next Generation" series to understand or be entertained by this new movie. Make no mistake, "Nemesis" is definitely good movie material to be sure. It's just that it is so dependent on the knowledge of the existing characters and ongoing plot lines, that without that background, you may feel, well... "lost in space." Here, let me demonstrate by explaining the plot line (as obtained from the Internet Movie Database):

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Michael Dorn and Jonathan Frakes
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On their way to Riker's and Troi's honeymoon, the Enterprise is sent near the neutral zone to Romulan space, and picks up a prototypic twin of android Data. Immediately they are further sent to Romulus, where a new praetor, Shinzon, a half-Reman cloned from Captain Picard, appears to want peace with the Federation.

See what I mean? To any Star Trek fan, this is juicy stuff! To anyone else, it might seem a little "out there." Fortunately for me, I love the Trek series. If you do too, I can gladly report that this "episode" was far more intelligent, well-scripted and acted, and exciting in all ways
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Ron Perlman and Patrick Stewart
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than previous Trek movies in recent past. In fact, no other since Star Trek II has been as true to the "spirit" of the series as this has. True, Star Trek IV was a box-office smash, and appealed to even non-trekkies with its universal "save the whales" theme, but it had to part a little from the die-hard Trekkie stuff to accommodate the wider audience.

The drawbacks of "Nemesis" are that certain posited ideas aren't given closure. For example, the morality of cloning is introduced. Accordingly, this topical idea in today's current events is brought in as a main theme of the film, as is standard practice for Trek stories. Here, both Data, the android, and Capt. Picard are both "cloned", establishing an
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Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy
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excellent platform for the theme of self-discovery, and "what it means to be human." Yet, while the initial conjecture of the dilemma is superb, the questions it poses are not left with compelling and enduring thoughts that force us to contemplate further. Also, subplots and new twists are introduced that are clearly for the benefit of follow-on TV viewers. While that's nice for promoting the series as a trademark, we movie-goers shouldn't have to be subject to that. Movies should self-contained and not require intertwining with TV for a sense of resolove.

Nevertheless, I came away from "Star Trek: Nemesis" as a very happy viewer. I enjoyed the experience for what it was, and don't think it's important enough to get too dramatic about its shortcomings. As William Shatner once said to a group of surprised fans at a Trek convention years ago, "It's just a TV show! Get a life!"

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