December 14, 2002

Treking Across the Universe

Well, this doesn't really belong here, seeing as how this is supposed to be an anime blog, but no one's using this for anything else and Trek has been a big source for both american and japanese culture, so what the heck, I'll give my impressions on Nemesis.

First of all, there's the obligatory joke: Staaarrrrsssssfleeeeeet (If you don't get it, go play the Resident Evil game of the same subtitle).

More seriously though, the movie did some things right and some things wrong. It's good to see Riker finally getting out from under Picard's umbrella. It's bad to see that some of the Trek cast have aged rather ungracefully. It's especially bad to see that Data seems to have reverted to uber-scientist mode, spewing huge words and techno-jargon that's completely unnecessary. What happened to all the progress he made in humanity? He's NEVER talked this stereotypically during any movie or TV show. On the good side for him, he finally managed to pull a Spock, completing the parallel between the two (I won't say what kind of Spock he pulled out of spoiler reasons, but if you've seen this movie, let's just say you know what the next movie's gonna be called).

Also on the good side is the parallel between Picard and Data and both of their nemesis... nemesii... nemesises... what's the plural of nemesis? (that reminds me, if you haven't seen Mystery Men, do so now, it's a great super-hero parody that doesn't get enough credit) Anyway, whatever it is, it's good. Picard takes the relationship with his nemesis a bit too seriously, but that's excusable since without that there wouldn't be a movie.

Now for some bad. The bad science is in full force (even worse than Voyager usually is... do the movies always have to have even worse science than the shows?). That wouldn't be so bad alone, but it violates VERY important Trek lore about cloaking devices: namely, that you can't use both a cloaking device and shields and weapons at the same time (well, to be honest, ocasionally they'll figure out how to use weapons and a cloak at the same time, but only in prototype ships and they sure can't get shields to work too). This is IMPORTANT! Without that restriction, the Romulans would have trashed the Federation centuries ago! Not to mention the fact that it invalidates dozens of episodes and several previous movies where that most important of restrictions is a key point.

Oh, and let's not forget the fighting. Besides several obviously tacked-on fight scenes (several of which were rather boring)... why has the Enterprise lost the ability to quarantine enemies in internal force fields? I don't get it. And why was Picard's strategy of ramming the Enterprise into the enemy a surprise? Oh, sorry, I spoiled it for you... get over it! He's used that thing as a battering ram in half his movies and tries to do it at least once every season of the show. I mean, really, when his ship gets beaten down and he's out of options, EVERY captain uses ramming speed. It's a sci-fi tradition, and I can't think of a single captain who hasn't done it several times.

I won't bother talking about the silliness of the Romulan politics. Bad politics is kind of a given, right along with bad science.

In conclusion, Nemesis is a pretty good sci-fi movie with great effects that's a bit over-fond of using them. It steers clear of the most obvious cliches but fails to do anything really incredible. The plot and moral conflict is good and interesting, but not interesting enough to carry the movie. In short, the plot is a great hook, but when you leave the theatre you'll be talking about how cool that ship looked and how great the space battle was, not how interesting the story was.

I once said that the reason I was so critical of Star Trek is that it is supposed to be the pinnacle of science fiction, and I expect it to live up to that standard. The response was that Star Trek IS the pinnacle of science fiction. Upon consideration, I've realized that it's true. Now I just wish that pinnacle was higher: I feel like we've been flying sci-fi at half mast for the past eight years (more or less when Voyager premiered).

Posted by David at December 14, 2002 10:52 PM


star trek lost its spot as the pinnacle of sci-fi to babylon 5, and babylon 5 (and all subsequant sci-fi) lost its spot to Crest of the Stars.

Crest of the Stars, and its subsequant story arcs, IS sci-fi. nuf said. no contest.

Posted by: k-chan at December 15, 2002 01:53 AM

More specifically, I was talking about sci-fi movies. Um, not that I actually SAID so... but... nevermind. Yeah, I agree that B5 and CotS (and Farscape) are way better than Trek, but none of them are movies (well, B5 had a couple made-for-TV movies of dubious quality (I haven't seen them in four or so years, but I wasn't particularly impressed when I saw them. Then again, considering I was about 14, I doubt I was the greatest judge of movies)).

Posted by: David at December 15, 2002 04:50 PM

The B5 movies were pretty weak overall. It's a shame because there is some great story material there, but I feel like they can't seem to come up with stories that I really like.

Farscape is still one of my favorites. I think Firefly had the potential to be a favorite, but Fox killed it already. Just as it was getting good.

Posted by: gregory at December 15, 2002 05:14 PM

Well, I'm glad it wasn't just me thinking the B5 movies needed work (although the Earth-Mibari war one was quite good). What really annoys me is how much stuff there still is to cover in the B5 universe (the telepath war, Sheridan's Ranger son (also named David) and the shadow-pot given by Londo, Lennier, Londo and G'Kar's final fate, the second Drak war, and oh, I dunno, finding the FUCKING CURE BEFORE ALL LIFE ON EARTH DIES spring to mind), and how little porgress has been made. Crusade was killed off before it even started tying up that largest of loose plot threads. The ranger movie with Sheridan's son (it's fairly obvious but never actually mentioned specifically) was a dissapointment in many ways, no the least of which is that it didn't actually do anything important, just introduced a few characters.

I've heard there's a series of B5 novels, but I haven't read any of them. I hope it's not a Star Wars-ish thing where you need to read the novels to have a good idea of what happens.

Posted by: David at December 15, 2002 07:09 PM

I actually read one set of B5 novels that was pretty good that covers the gift Londo gives to Sheridan for his son. I thought as far as books based on TV series went it was pretty good. I've heard that not all the B5 books are that great though.

Posted by: gregory at December 15, 2002 07:13 PM

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