Remembering Star Trek Nemesis – 10 Years Later

Today, December 13, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Star Trek: Nemesis, the final film with the Next Generation crew and last film before the JJ Abrams team took over the franchise. Today TrekMovie’s John Tenuto takes a look back at Nemesis ten years later.

 

Nemesis – Great Promise after a long wait

10 years ago, Star Trek: Nemesis premiered with great expectations. It was being directed by veteran editor Stuart Baird, responsible for such films as Superman: The Movie, and it was written by arguably one of the most in-demand screenwriters of the day, John Logan, who was just coming off an Oscar win for Gladiator. Logan volunteered to write for Star Trek because he was such a big Next Generation fan. Nemesis featured a promising story by Rick Berman, Brent Spiner, and Logan that would reveal more about the history of the Romulan Star Empire. The entire main TNG crew of actors had re-assembled, along cameos from Whoopi Goldberg and Wil Wheaton, and audiences were being told this was the "final journey" of the Next Gen crew. Jerry Goldsmith (another Oscar-winner) was also back, along with veteran makeup artist Michael Westmore. Everything was promising a big Star Trek film with success at the box office.

On television, Star Trek: Enterprise was in its second year. It had been four years since a Trek film had graced the big screen. The gap between Insurrection and Nemesis was the longest since the film franchise kicked off in 1979. It took some convincing to get Paramount to do another film with the TNG crew following what Paramount felt was underperforming box office of Insurrection. Apparently the cast even took pay cuts to make the film happen. 


Teaser poster for ‘Nemesis’

I saw Star Trek: Nemesis under unusual circumstances, for me, anyway. My wife Maria Jose and I had recently had a son, Nicky, who was only six month old at the time of Nemesis’ premiere. We both had to see the film individually on opening day, taking turns watching our new son. Maria Jose went first, to the 3:25PM show. There were few people in the theater, but that wasn’t surprising considering it was a December afternoon with students finishing their semester tests. I was confident the later show I was attending would be crowded, and while there certainly were more people there, it was not as packed as previous Trek opening days had been. I began to worry then as the entire “franchise fatigue” bells had started to ring in the media.

I was bolstered, albeit temporarily, by Nemesis earning $18 million its opening weekend, number 2 at the box office. We did our part, going again the next day with my parents. The excitement would diminish when the film earned only $7 million each week for the next two weeks and it became clear that Nemesis was not resonating with a wider audience. In the end the film grossed $67 million off a reported budget of $60 million. After factoring in the cut for distributors and cost of marketing, this would be the first Star Trek film to take a loss at the box office. While Nemesis may have gone into the black with home media, it was dubbed a ‘bomb.’


Me – excited to about to see ‘Nemesis’

What happened?

But why? All the ingredients were there for a good film: great actors who knew their roles, talented behind the scene Star Trek veterans, excellent special effects, and an intelligent script written by John Logan that respected the characters. The film also introduced audiences to Tom Hardy as Shinzon, and he has gone on to a very successful career, including Christopher Nolan’s Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.

Certainly some of the perceived plusses actually became minuses. Baird’s direction has been famously revealed to be unsuited to the Star Trek world. Logan’s script is very good, but it was heavily edited because of the long running time. Indeed, the film may have been more successful if they kept it to its more than 2.5 hour running time despite that meaning there would be less showings possible per day in theaters. The budgetary limitations, with the actors reportedly agreeing to less money to help the film get made, were also quite evident with the sets and some of the effects.

It did not help that the film was poorly promoted. A Del Taco promotion, a website, some television commercials, and a few toys were not enough to tell the general audience why they should see Nemesis. It also did not help that a James Bond film, a Harry Potter film, and a Lord of the Rings film all opened around the same time.


Director Stuart Baird with Patrick Stewart on set of ‘Nemesis’

Still a worthy Star Trek movie

Yet, I liked Nemesis then, and I like it now. Data’s relationship with Picard is one of loyalty and friendship, seen excellently in the film. In fact, the camaraderie between the characters is undeniably good in Nemesis, from the wedding sequence to Data’s funeral. Picard’s solution of ramming the Enterprise into the Scimitar is fun and surprising, and there are plenty of Trek easter eggs, like Admiral Kathryn Janeway’s appearance or the name of a ship being the U.S.S. Archer, provided by Logan’s script. It was great to learn more about the Romulans and their history, something the unfilmed and edited moments from the script go into even more detail about. The film does all this with some of the best dialog of the franchise, showing a wit and literacy missing since the Nicholas Meyer scripts. Of course, Goldsmith scores again with his score.

New ships like the Scorpion attack fighter and the excellent lighting and cinematography on Kolarus III help distract from some of the other budgetary limitations. Data’s death, yet promised rebirth, offers an appropriate melancholy end to the TNG adventures. Data’s idea that what makes us human is our trying to better than we are is pure Trek, and quite right. And as sociology professors, how could my wife and I not like a film that argues that we are more the result of our social experiences than we are our DNA?


Data says final goodbye to Picard in ‘Nemesis’

What is important is that Nemesis has a place in Star Trek history. It is the last filmed adventure of the TNG crew, at least as of this date (there is always hope!). It is an important timeline moment, with fans discussing the post Nemesis adventures of the extended universe and the pre Nemesis filmed adventures. And, ironically, the failure of Nemesis at the box office meant a radical regrouping of the film franchise resulting in Star Trek 2009. A bald Romulan leader with a long coat from Nemesis may have inspired Nero and his band in more ways than one.

When I think of Nemesis, and when I think of 2002, however, I remember a time when Picard and crew ruled the film franchise. I think of a film where I said goodbye to my TNG friends. And I think of midnight feedings of our new son, while playing the Nemesis music to stay awake.


Publicity photo of the TNG cast for ‘Nemesis’

More on Nemesis @10 to come

The next couple of days TrekMovie will be remember Star Trek: Nemesis with more looks back, including a deep dive into the merchandise. So stay tuned

 

POLL: How do you rank Nemesis?

You have had 10 years to reflect on it, so now how do you rank Star Trek: Nemesis ?(10 being best)

[poll id=”703″]

 

 

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Sci-Fiddy
December 13, 2012 11:42 am

I saw it 3 times in theatres. Didn’t think it was that bad…

December 13, 2012 11:43 am

The thing I remember most about this movie premiere is how the trailers spoiled the Data flying through space ending….

jorDe'
December 13, 2012 11:44 am

I saw it when it first came out. And it was the first of the Next Gen movies I bought.
They said it was not that good, but I liked it.

Luther Sloan
December 13, 2012 11:46 am

In my opinion, Nemesis is better than Insurrection, Generations, The Motion Picture, The Search For Spock and The Final Frontier. Maybe a 7 (in Star Trek rating movies) like The Voyage Home.

New Horizon
December 13, 2012 11:48 am

I would prefer to forget it.

It’s just another rehash of the same tired plot over and over again.

Brian
December 13, 2012 11:48 am

The problem with Nemesis has always been that it was a poorly-done retread of Wrath of Khan, right down to beloved character sacrificing himself to stop a doomsday weapon from killing everyone he loved, and then being miraculously reborn. It’s not the worst movie ever, but it’s certainly not a good one either.

December 13, 2012 11:48 am

To quote the problematic script from Nemesis:

“Cadres of Shinzon’s fearsome REMAN WARRIORS stand around the
chamber. They are his sinister children of the night. Even
more chilling now in the flickering torch light. It’s like
something out of Tim Burton.”

Baby
December 13, 2012 11:48 am

And people actually think JJ Abrams killed Star Trek.

TaxTrek
December 13, 2012 11:49 am

I think poor timing and too much competition killed the film. Yes, there were things that could’ve been better about it, but it was a satisfactory film.

Jeff
December 13, 2012 11:50 am

Abysmal film. Sad to see the TNG cast have to go out on such a down note. The story stank, the characters were all wrong (Picard suddenly likes dune buggies?)… Just an all-around turd.

December 13, 2012 11:51 am

People call J.J.’s film empty entertainment, but it has more intellectual heft than the tale of Picard racing dune buggies to find robot parts that Shinzon left on a planet of savages as part of a redundant scheme to draw the Enterprise into peace talks.

noleknight
December 13, 2012 11:51 am

Honestly, I think the movie was pretty good except for one part. The part where they are on the planet and data’s hand comes out of the sand, then the high speed chase where they launch off a cliff and land in the shuttle at high speed…yeah right!!!!

Other than that, I think the story was VERY well written. It was just released at a bad time and not promoted well.

Optimistic Doodle
December 13, 2012 11:52 am

The movie was better received on the European mainland, I recall.

TaxTrek
December 13, 2012 11:52 am

I often think the TNG cast didn’t get the credit they deserved. We only had three years of TOS, then a layover, so of course there was a demand for more Trek! TNG had seven seasons, two other series, and then movies? It’s kinda overkill and may have lost its appeal. Paramount should’ve waited to do DSN and Voyager, till after TNG TV ended…but hey greed always wins.

Picard's Fish
December 13, 2012 11:54 am

Unfortunately, this movie has always been dissapointing to me – it was simply not a fun movie to watch., there was so little spirit to it.. unlike the best star trek movies

Adam
December 13, 2012 11:57 am

One underrated aspect is that it was the only movie that ever really showed what the Sovereign class could do in combat, even if they were matched up hopelessly against a juggernaut. Nice to see a real, dynamic combat scene rather than sit still and exchange “warning shots”

gov
December 13, 2012 11:57 am

great movie. period.

and a great “remembering” from Anthony. Good article.

Planet Pandro
December 13, 2012 12:01 pm
I remember the time fondly as well, and being excited for a new Trek movie. And I wasn’t as disappointed as many others seem to be. I thought it had some great “trek” moments, the nature vs nuture argument etc. Romulans! An exciting “space battle sequence that trumped all others that had come before it (in my opinion) The only thing that bothered me, really, was the fact that it’s climax was basically the same as each TNG movie, it was ending with a countdown leading to the deployment of a bad guy’s weapon/device. I was moved by Data’s death, even though there was the hint of resurection via B4. I remember reading that script posted online during the filming of the movie ( a far cry from today’s secrecy) and I think Baird’s directing really was the weak link here. It read really well even if the final product wasn’t great. If only TPTB had given Frakes another shot at directing i think it would have been a better feeling film to end on. A funny thing I recall is the 2nd time I went to the theater to see it, the guy a couple rows ahead was sighing so loudly during all of the thalaron radiation exposition that I’m sure the entire theatre heard him, which I’m sure was the point. Of course it may be different for me than alot of other fans who didn’t like the movie, and that’s simply b/c TNG was my first trek,… Read more »
Caesar
December 13, 2012 12:01 pm

I’ve still never seen this movie. I swore off Star Trek movies after Insurrection.

rm10019
December 13, 2012 12:04 pm

Franchise fatigue. But that is only because TPTB let it happen and didn’t substantially change the way Trek was being produced for 18 years.

They should have handed over the TNG film franchise to new producers, and the Trek TV franchise should have gone to Ron Moore, not Braga/Berman.

Lt. Bailey
December 13, 2012 12:05 pm

While I did see this in our local theater with big screen, it did seem to have fewer people on opening day/week than other films. It does beat out Innsurection and Generations by far but I do not think it is better than TMP, but I am one those few that really like and understand Final Frontier. I like Nemesis since it dealt with Romulans, plus I think Cdr Donatra was pretty hot.

The rumor was that after Nemesis, the crew from ENT was supposed to get their onw film or films. That woudl have been great as we could have got a fantastic theatrical release of the Romulan war. However, things happen and we got a long break and things seemed to have changed the next film time and time again.

December 13, 2012 12:07 pm

thanks for the compliment but John wrote article.

Jeff
December 13, 2012 12:08 pm

Best review on the web, explaining in great detail why Nemesis was a piece of trash. NSFW. From the guy who did the Star Wars Episode 1 review.

http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-trek/star-trek-nemesis/

Drunk Garak
December 13, 2012 12:08 pm

With everyone commenting and speculating about whether Into Darkness will still feel like Trek or stray to far it made me realize that the biggest problem with Nemesis is that it didn’t feel like Star Trek. It felt like it was made to be a direct-to-DVD generic sci-fi action film. The characters didn’t seem right, Worf sounded strange, the Enterprise sets were dark and the computer displays red. It was a slow moving film (the dinner scene between Picard and Shinzon has literally put me to sleep), and it felt small in scope.

Interviews with the cast and crew in the past decade point to Stuart Baird’s unfamiliarity and lack of interest in Star Trek. On several occasions Paramount has brought in directors who don’t know Trek and aren’t Trek fans (Meyer, Abrams, Baird) to try to engineer a hit film for a wide audience, on two occasions its worked, but unfortunately Baird was a disaster of a director and the aging TNG crew, who still had potential for great stories, were laid with the blame.

For me, Nemesis is the only Trek film that grows worse with time.

December 13, 2012 12:09 pm

“an intelligent script written by John Logan that respected the characters.”

I’m sorry John, but that’s bullcrap. How do you call this line respectful?

PICARD: Look at me, Shinzon. Your heart, your hands, your eyes are the same as mine.

Picard has an artificial heart, and last time I checked, that was the single biggest change in his life. What makes this exclusion from Nemesis so appalling is that the story deals with the prospect of events in one’s life shaping who they are as an individual. With a clone of Picard standing right there with a REAL HEART, you’d think that would give Picard tangible evidence to prove to Shinzon that they are two completely different people. Instead, all we get is a broken nose and jaw.

Driftwood
December 13, 2012 12:09 pm

I’ve been trying to figure out why Nemesis didn’t work for 10 years. I’m still not sure. Nemesis appears to be a good effort, but I feel like the TNG movie series just ran out of steam. I mean, I love Star Trek, and I didn’t even care if they ever made another TNG movie.

Perhaps the series simply lacked a story arc that created a sense of purpose that kept the momentum going over time (for example: Star Trek II through IV, Nolan’s Batman trilogy).

Colin
December 13, 2012 12:14 pm

Great article,

I think I was 11 when I saw it in theatres, it was alright, and I probably wouldn’t be in any rush to watch it again. I think Tom Hardy is a great actor, and would love to see him rebooted as Picard someday, but I just felt he came off as too one-dimensional.

It was very refreshing to have Romulans and not Klingons for a change though. As the article says all the pieces were there for a great movie, shame it came off so sub-par.

December 13, 2012 12:18 pm

And can anyone tell me anything good about the dune buggy scene? What did it add to the film? Why consequences were there in fighting a pre-warp civilization? What was the point?

Josh C.
December 13, 2012 12:19 pm

I think Nemesis was somewhat uncreative, but I still think it wasn’t that bad. They were clearly trying to replicate Wrath of Khan and couldn’t quite pull it off, but I mean, really, who can say no to the battle at the end?

PIcard, Jean-Luc
December 13, 2012 12:19 pm
Great article, I really loved Nemesis when it came out but since then I think for me a more realistic fondness for it has emerged. I still love Nemesis but its not the greatest story. It had some genuinely great moments in it, Picard and Data were brilliant and the Data arc I think ended fittingly but there were things in it that felt forced and like you said, weren’t executed well enough due to the budget, that combined with one of the weakest Trek plots, the ridiculous sub-plot, the shoddy director, the low-budget feel and the release between three massive blockbusters, Nemesis was just not going to work. Even if Nemesis had had the budget of Star Trek 2009, In those 4 years between Insurrection and Nemesis, Star Trek had really become its own worse nightmare, becoming more confusing for people not familiar with Trek. Its public profile was one of bewilderment and really it had become so convoluted and so introverted that it was impossible for people to just enjoy it without having to know what happened in episode 37 of TOS and even if that really wasn’t the case, the perception of Trek would have people believe it to be true. However, Nemesis was part of 18 years of constant Star Trek, no Sci-Fi series has gone on for 18 years and been as successful as Star Trek so even though Nemesis did poorly for its time, for what it’s worth, Nemesis did pretty well coming off… Read more »
StephenH
December 13, 2012 12:19 pm

I think had they made Nemesis STRAIGHT after First Contact and not made Insurrection at all, and also let Johnathan Frakes direct again, then Nemesis may have had a good sporting chance.

That way, we would have been left with a nice, neat, “Next Generation Trilogy” to round off the TNG crew’s time with the franchise with, and we still could have moved onto JJ-Trek anyway.

But the Enteprise-E’s showdown with the Scimitar was great, Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner gave some gravitas, and as leats if still kicked The final Frontier’s ass anyday ….

Trekzilla
December 13, 2012 12:20 pm

Awful. Overall, this film was a mess. Stuart Baird was not a good choice for director. Could not have cared less about Shinzon…Datas “death scene” rang hollow and pales compared to the emotional inpact of Spock’s “death” in Star Trek 2. Sadly, i didn’t shed a single tear.

Even Jerry Goldsmiths musical score was lacking. It sounded like Holdsmith just phoned it in. Obviously, the film didn’t inspire him to write a memorable score…and that’s pretty bad in and of itself!

Nice visual effects though.

BeyondtheTech
December 13, 2012 12:23 pm

@17 / 22: LOL, reminds me of that scene in Galaxy Quest, “Commander Taggart has saved us!” and Sir Alexander Dane / Dr. Lazarus gets pissed that he doesn’t get any credit.

Harry Ballz
December 13, 2012 12:24 pm

GAWD, HAS IT REALLY BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE THAT PIECE OF CRAP WAS RELEASED!?

Trek in coffee shop
December 13, 2012 12:26 pm

This movie is fascist. The theme is clear by the end when Picard re-instated the Romulan Empire. It’s all a set up. NOt the values of Trek.

dont phase me bro
December 13, 2012 12:26 pm

it killed the franchise (BTW, that was a quick ten years!!)

Eli Rodgers
December 13, 2012 12:27 pm

I loved this movie. It was classic trek. It was about the moral of the story. No, there was not as much action but since when has Star Trek been about the effects? The interplay between Capt Picard and Commander Data was on the same level as Capt Kirk and Commander Spock. If i had one complaint about the movie, i felt they rushed through the death of Data and the after effect. And to #6, it is possible that they are bringing Data back in the books (Cold Equations) but as of right now, Data is dead. So no reborn story plot. They simply hinted at the idea that B-4 might have access to the memories of Data.

December 13, 2012 12:29 pm

I don’t think it was nearly as boring as TMP or nearly as bad as STV but it could have been so much better.

Firstly as a Trek when you saw the trailers I don’t know how anyone thought that seeing two Datas meant Lore which would have been cool. Instead they go another direction which I didn’t care for. It seemed like the only reason to do this was so they could really kill Data but not for real.

I think you might have had a better story on your hand with Lore who was established, and wrote something that saw Data die but at the same time provide redemption for Lore who has pretty much always hated and abused his brother.

Secondly the whole body part hunt on the desert planet totally stuck out to me as something these characters just wouldn’t do, it felt like an action scene just for action scenes sake. Let’s not forget all of the bad jokes that occurred as a result.

DS9 IN PRIME TIME
December 13, 2012 12:36 pm

I watched it 4 times in theaters and at least 10 to 20 times on DVD. It was my second favorite TNG movie… First being “First Contact” It was wonderfuly done and i still to this day do not know why it did not do better. I think if Johnathon Frakes directed it might have done better like First contact did.

Khan 2.0
December 13, 2012 12:37 pm
i remember the pre Nemesis buzz was quite good – it had the writer of the then recent Gladiator and getting an ‘outside’ director (first time since Trek II) who had done the solid action flick Exec Decision (and edited a ton of classic movies) boded well, the trailer with the Danny Elfman Planet of the Apes score looked like a return to First Contact style action/grittiness – the opening with the giant eye recalled Blade Runner and the saucer crash at the end with crewmembers sucked into space (JJ style) was very impressive …producer Rick Berman saying the early footage looked like a Ridley Scott movie was a good sign ( http://trekweb.com/stories.php?aid=VXZ6sPaw.tNnQ )…..and the fact it was an even number was promising (although that rule never held any water for me as id always considered III to be a good one), plus since the last one Patrick Stewart was more of a movie star thanks to Xmen ….so it felt like the stars were aligning and that Nemesis could be a crossover global hit like Voyage Home was (and to a lesser extent First Contact) – Star Trek entering the big league again Alas it was not to be and pretty much flopped killing the movie series for 7 years. The film itself was like a combination or greatest hits of the best of the previous Treks – II (vengeful villian with a grudge specifically against the captain…kirk had a son/Picard had a clone – neither were mentioned before….shots… Read more »
CAPTAIN SCARLET
December 13, 2012 12:38 pm

I liked the movie because it was Star Trek but it was not a great film,that said , what annoyed me the most was to see how much of a wuss my friend Worf had become over the years…In the first season of TNG he was a bas ass, then as years went by he became a whiny bitch and in Nemesis When B4’s arm grabs him his reaction is pathetic….he reacts like a little girl,what happened to you Worf???What happened to the proud warrior?

et
December 13, 2012 12:39 pm

I hadn’t realized there was an original 2.5 hour run time.

Man, I would pay good money to see that released on Blu-Ray. (Along with the “Star Trek V – Final Frontier” director’s cut we’ll also probably never see.)

Planet Pandro
December 13, 2012 12:39 pm

38.

the Lore aspect certainly has alot of promise and would have been great to see played out for one final chapter on the big screen, but again, it depends on moviegoers familiarity with the Data/Lore story arc, and even the most “insidery” of Trek movies has had to cater to the movie-going general public because its such a different venue than weekly TV. But Lore would have been interesting. It would have been a more obvious story about duality if it had been Data/Lore and a Picard/Shinzon that were both the same age, which at one point, I believe, was intended and Patrick Stewart would have played both roles. That way, Picard and Data would both be dealing w/ duality at the same time which means their respective situations would be mirrors of each other, etc etc. A Picard and Data vs. Shinzon and Lore smackdown would have made for interesting viewing!

irishtrekkie
December 13, 2012 12:42 pm

Hey there is going to be a star trek movie about Romulans !
really ? thats cool there one of my fave species cant way to see this !
wait what do you mean its about a clone of picard and the remans ……..who the hell are the remans did you just pull them out your arse ?.

Cmd Donatra was cool character, in fact i the remans thing could have worked , just remove the b4 and the clone stuff , and make it about reman rebellion or something.

trekmaster
December 13, 2012 12:51 pm

Unfortunately they cut out some dialogue between the characters and I didn’t like the car scene.

SirBroiler
December 13, 2012 12:52 pm

A big part of what made Trek II, III and IV work so well was the continuity from one movie to the next even though the plots were very different. The TNG movies stand so far apart from each other – no recurring, underlying themes or story points that carry from one to the other. I wish they had looked at that kind of approach when they made these movies – I think they would have been more successful and the TNG universe wouldn’t have died the way it did. There could have been one or two more.

trekmaster
December 13, 2012 12:53 pm

Would like to see a TNG movie in Abrams style but with the gravity of the TV series. EPIC!!

wi-kiry-lan
December 13, 2012 12:55 pm

I read the Facer’s annotated leaked scripts for Nemesis and ENT:Broken Bow.
The movie was exactly as stupid as those evicerating comments showed and I always suspected the box office numbers were affected by the leak.

I’ve seen Nemesis in pieces since – but I don’t think I’ve ever watched it from beginning to end. And that is coming from a lifetime star trek fan.

December 13, 2012 12:57 pm

I might be the only one, but take out the seat belt joke and I think this would have been a perfect ending after the Data memorial instead of the B4 scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b8jsrDl89M

trekmaster
December 13, 2012 12:59 pm

@#46

I agree. It was a big mistake of the TNG movies that they had no connection to each other and there was no moving forward of the characters. Riker should have gotten his own ship after Generations (with Deanna on board). Worf should have had a role as klingon ambassador (last seen on DS9) and maybe some other trek series characters should have joined the party. But SO the movies have been more or less bigger episodes ignoring age and other developments in the trek universe

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