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Attack of the Clone:
A Review of "Star Trek: Nemesis"

by Margaret T. Minnick


By the time Star Trek: The Final Frontier was released in 1989, the original crew of the Enterprise had become a joke. From Kirk, Spock, and McCoy's rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" to a "sexy" dance from an over-50 Uhura, watching the geriatric crew was more like an extended Saturday Night Live skit than a bona fide Star Trek movie.

With Star Trek: Nemesis, the Next Generation crew has just about reached this point as well. Everyone besides Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) has put on 15-50 pounds since their late-1980s heyday, and not all of them have aged gracefully. Faring best is Picard, who seems to have not aged in the last 15 years. The ladies, Marina Sirtis (as Counselor Deanna Troi) and Gates McFadden (as Dr. Beverly Crusher), are looking pretty good despite showing their age, although the villian's relishing of Troi's "beauty" is somewhat implausible.

Looking rather worse for wear, however, are Brent Spiner (as Data), Levar Burton (as Geordi Laforge), and Jonathan Frakes (as First Officer Will Riker), who seems to become ever more barrel-chested with each passing year. By the third season of The Next Generation, the once moderately-sized Mr. Frakes had become a head taller than everyone else on the show, even edging out Michael Dorn, who plays Worf, a member of the statuesque Klingon race. Like Tina Yothers on Family Ties, he came to be a size larger than everyone else on the show, and makes the movie set look as if it is straining to contain him.

Although the effects of age are understandable in a human being, it strains credibility to see those same effects on the android Data, who has developed a bit of a gut and a rather pronounced double-chin. Not only that, but an earlier prototype of Data that is discovered early in the film and is called B4 shares these features. One wonders that the makeup crew could not have expended some effort on making Data and B4 look a little more like androids and a little less like a 45-year-old man wearing silver makeup.

Lastly we come to the ever-neglected Geordi Laforge, who never has much to do except reroute power and erect forcefields. Although he's lost the funky glasses he wore on TV, his light blue contacts look creepy and he's put on a fair amount of weight. Mr. Burton has always seemed neglected in this role, and one hopes that putting in his time saving the ship earns a good paycheck that can keep the Reading Rainbows coming.

Nemesis was plugged as a dark adventure involving the Romulans, who have always been one of the better enemy races in the Star Trek universe, with their pointy-shouldered leather suits, pixie bangs, and pointy ears. The evil cousins of the goody-goody Vulcans, Romulans are meaner and smarter than the dreaded Kingons. One would expect a good story where Romulans are involved.

Unfortunately, the plot isn't really about the Romulans, it's about a clone of Picard named Shinzon, who was created by the Romulans and raised initially on Romulus and then sent to work in the mines with the slave race of the Remans. (Why is it always mines on Star Trek? Can the writers really think of nothing worse?)

At any rate, Shinzon stages a coup, seizes control of Romulus, and lures the Enterprise to the planet for a visit. He and Picard spend a lot of time ruminating on the intrigues of being genetically identical, which is intriguing to no one but themselves, least of all the moviegoer — though I did find myself wondering why Shinzon has such full lips while Picard's are almost nonexistent little lines.

Eventually things get under way with phasers firing, shields failing, and even a little hand-to-hand combat for the towering Riker. But by that point I was so tired out by the endless talking between Picard and Shinzon that I hardly cared who won the battle. And besides, I knew who would.

One wonders why, when trying to create an exciting new Star Trek movie, the writers would rely on the old Next Generation formula of a villain with a personal tie to Picard. It's been done far too often, and invariably gives Picard the only character with any depth. Now, a clone of Riker or Laforge with an axe to grind, that might have been fun!

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Capt. Picard and his large first officer.

Riker throwing his weight around.

The geriatric android Data.

Picard's fat-lipped clone, Shinzon.

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