In 1997, a show that had closed its doors some 30 years before, decided to rear it’s exceptionally popular and time-honoured space dock again.
But with this ‘Star Trek’ there was no Spock, no Kirk, no Bones, not even a Scotty… Instead, English thespian Patrick Stewart was seen guiding the vessel as Captain Kirk’s alternate.
And, although for those first couple of weeks I assume he was known only as ‘that new bald guy on the Star Trek spin-off’, some years later Patrick Stewart will be perpetually branded as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise.
After a very successful run on series television, the crew of the Starship Enterprise Mach II made the transition to feature films, taking over where the cast of the 60’s TV show left off.
And they’ve been front row centre for the last three films – Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Insurrection. Now – as rumour has it – the crew have been handed their pink slips and about to embark on their maiden voyage, via this year’s Star Trek: Nemesis.
There’s something rather sad about this episode of the Enterprise… That’s it! Episode: it plays just like an Episode!
Wasn’t this supposed to be a feature film? Hmmm. As great as it was to bring in a non-Trekkie to direct the film (U.S Marshals helmer Stuart Baird) it’s evident he doesn’t know nearly enough about the intergalactic crew of the Enterprise to see them treated justifiably.
Sure, there’s a few skimmed references to villains past and drink of choice, Romulan Ale, but that’s just more substantiation that Baird’s merely skimming the surface of Trek pop culture.
Baird takes the focus of his misdirection by giving the fans a couple of Trek cameos. Kate Mulgrew reprises her Star Trek: Voyager role as Commander Janeway momentarily, and Whoopi Goldberg returns as Guinan, the character she played on the Next Gen series.
Unfortunately, a cameo by Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), who was supposed to pop up at the wedding of Riker and Troi at the film’s beginning, was left on the cutting room floor.
On it’s own, as something unrelated to “Trek” Nemesis plays a little better. There are plenty of nice special effects, a sturdy cast as always, plus a pacey script.
But truth be told, the film doesn’t get nearly interesting enough until after our central villain, Picard’s malicious relation Shinzon (Tom Hardy), is done away with. It’s then that we begin to feel the real ‘Trek’ movie – without the ham-handed villain of the first hour – is about to get going. Until we realise it’s too late, that’s it…
To the film’s merit though, the finale is quite ‘out of this world’. Brent Spiner as Data gives an amazing performance (according to the grapevine, it’s his last… he wanted out of the franchise), while Patrick Stewart – as always – gives a commanding, almost gut-wrenching, turn as Picard. Possibly, for the last time.
So is it the last crossing of the Enterprise?
If you look at the last few minutes of the film you’d probably say so, but hopefully after seeing the imperfect job Baird has done at sending them off in style, the Enterprise will get one last hurrah, in a year or two’s time.
If not, let’s be happy with what we’ve got.
Sure, it shares infinitesimal similarity to the radically superior Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, but 30 minutes of good film isn’t exactly worth the price of cinema admission. At least Khan kept you glued to the screen from start to finish.
The newly-released 4K UHD looks a treat – a new Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack, a fantastic looking 2160p/Dolby Vision video – so if you’re a Trek fan, you’ll likely find it a worthwhile addition to the movie library based on that alone.