09:03:53 on August 29 2001
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Star Trek X
TrekWeb insider Robnhud, who many will remember as one of the biggest 'Trek' spoiler sources at his own web site only a few years ago, contacted us about reviewing the 'Star Trek X' script, which he has been able to read. Initially trepidatious because there have been at least three big "reviews" and because most plot details have been spoiled previously, I agreed it would interest TrekWeb readers if the review could at least try to accomplish something that hasn't been done yet -- a balanced and in-depth look at the script. With this piece, we've tried to avoid ambiguous statements like "the first two acts are poor," or "there are too many recycled elements," in order to come up with a review that delves into the details of the plot so you can not only get a more complete picture than any of the spoiler reports over the last three months have offered, but so hopefully you can get some analysis about WHY certain parts of the script succeed or fail.
Whether this has been accomplished, I suppose we'll hear about in the Talkback. Be forewarned that there are immense spoilers contained in this review. Most of them have been previously revealed by other sources, but there are a few SEVERE spoilers that we felt were necessary to help clear up some of the ambiguous opinion about the script, but that might reveal too much for some people. For this reason, these sections are preceded by a SPOILER ALERT and will require you to highlight the text with your mouse to see them. There are three such sections: a scene involving the Romulan Senate, a heretofore unrevealed escape sequence, and the space battle in the third act that many reviewers have claimed is "the best ever" but failed to convey why.
Star Trek: Nemesis (June 2001 draft)
A Script Review By Robnhud for TrekWeb
Edited By Steve Krutzler
“… we meet the right sort, this-will- work. We get some, buckaroo…”
-- Captain Marco Ramius, from HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
I’m going to write this review up by comparing it to the other reviews I’ve seen online. Specifically Moriarty’s from AICN, Garth’s from Darkhorizons and finally Captain Kronos’ infamous review published on Darkhorizons. I picked these three because they range from Moriarty’s positive to the hatred of Captain Kronos’. I’ll be listing the things I agree with it as well and the things I don’t agree with, as well as to go into some major spoilers regarding the famous “third act” which everyone raves about…. except Captain Kronos.
In reference to Marco Ramius’ line; I really hope that Stuart Baird can pull this one off. This script really has the potential to be the best TNG feature by FAR. It could even dethrone TWoK if directed and edited well as well as spending the big bucks with Digital Domain to let them work their magic. In contrast, it could also have the possibility to be butchered if not handled well. But let’s move on…
The script by Mr. Logan is very well written and moved at a good pace. If I had my choice, I’d also have him write the novelization for the movie. He does a very good job at relaying how the mood of the scene should feel and only in the book could he truly hash out everything he envisions. The story is by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner. I read the INSURRECTION script before the movie came out and at times it felt boring. The dialog between Picard and Anij felt as though it dragged on forever. This is where I agree with Moriarty; even the “slower” dialog parts, specifically between Picard and Shinzon seemed to move well. Remember the scene in HEAT where Deniro and Pacino are having their “coffee” and you could feel the electricity between them. There’s a similar scene with Shinzon and Picard, which if shot and edited well, can be every bit as good. To be honest, I can’t find any input that Rick Berman had. Brent Spiner’s input as to how Data and B-9 are written is apparent and it works. Really, it does. To me, Data’s dialog in past movies and episodes has been hit or miss but I really think Brent has his finger on Data’s “pulse”. In case you are wondering, NO mention of his emotion chip.
The script follows the typical TNG formula. “A” plot + “B” plot = “C” plot. It also follows the TNG formula of Picard explaining to Data about certain human qualities and frailties; there is a part where Geordi helps Data solve a mystery (ala GENTERATIONS); there is the traditional “Red shirt syndrome.” The “formula” is the part that I believe Captain Kronos has a problem with. To say the story is “stolen” is too harsh; “borrowed” or “likened to” maybe -- but it does follow the familiar TNG formula.
Garth, however, was right; the first and second acts are slow -- but only compared to the third act. Alone, the first and second acts are very good. The third act blew my socks off so it made the movie a little uneven.
There are two things that can happen here:
- The third act can be toned down to be more level with the first two acts or,
- The first two acts could be jacked up to be on par with the third.
Since the third act is a different style of movie -- action oriented rather than drama -- I vote for the later. Depending on how Stuart Baird shoots and edits the movie it could be done very well (that is, unless Sherry Lansing gets her scissor fingers on the reel).
Integral to the plot is the political maneuvering of the villain, Shinzon. But there really isn't much here in regards to a coup staged by Shinzon and his operatives at the beginning of the movie. It needs a lot more length. The scenes that are written possess a wonderful darkness, but more are needed to really present a good contrast with the following wedding reception scene. There is also no mention of the previously-established Romulan intelligence agency, the Tal’Shiar, which is nowhere in sight while this genetic psychopath wreaks havoc with the Romulan Senate and pursues his master plan against the Federation.
Shinzon is a clone of Picard created to eventually take the captain’s place by killing him and replacing him much like the Founders did in DS9. He plans on wiping out Earth's population, referring to this earlier as, "cut off the dragon's [the Federation] head, and it can not strike back." Shinzon, however, is dying; having supposed to age very quickly to catch up to Picard's age, but the Romulans abandoned this plan when they signed a treaty with the Federation. This provides the impetus needed to lure Picard and the Enterprise into his clutches – as a result of the cloning and accelerated aging, Shinzon needs some of Picard’s blood to stay alive.
But beyond this, Shinzon is basically pissed because Picard gets to live while he has to die, and his motivations seem to end there – at least in this draft. Great lengths have been taken to create a villain with a link to Picard, to raise the stakes with a sort of doppelganger; but without more scenes to flesh out Shinzon’s background and to add more depth to his plan to destroy Earth, the character continues in the TNG tradition of weakness. This is not a complicated and multi-faceted man like Commodus in Logan’s GLADIATOR; he is one-dimensional like Soran, the Borg Queen, and Ru’afo, with a single goal motivated by a backstory which is relegated to short explication through dialogue. There are no scenes on the slave world Remus, where Shinzon has been imprisoned for most of his life, there are no scenes explaining where Picard’s genetic material was acquired, there is not even a concrete explanation of how old Shinzon really is, who specifically created him or what has happened to him other than being forgotten on Remus. The villain is from the get-go, matter-of-factly evil.
SPOILER ALERT (highlight the area below to read the details)
In the beginning, Shinzon essentially murders the entire Romulan senate with a weapon he has developed, using Thalaron radiation, which essentially destroys organic matter -- a microscopic amount could kill everyone on the Enterprise in a matter of seconds. A small box-type device is planted in the Senate chamber, sprouts legs like a spider and suddenly a bright beam of green light shoots up from it and cascades all around the room. This leaves the senators puzzled before their flesh starts to melt away and we see them all die horribly.
After the introduction of Shinzon, the ‘Next Gen’ cast is introduced in the wedding ceremony scene of Riker and Troi. The wedding reception scene isn't overly long to my perception, 5-6 minutes at BEST. This is where we first see Picard showing signs of aging, not physically but mentally. He talks of Riker serving as his "trusted right arm for fourteen years" and he is genuinely sad to see everyone go -- it's at the beginning that we learn of everyone's new posts: Riker and Troi will be going to the Titan, Geordi and Leah Brahams have hooked up, and Beverly is going off to Starfleet Medical. The only thing which may irk people is Data singing "Blue Skies" during the reception and everyone getting up to dance. This is important later with the plot line about the long-lost android brother of Data, B-9, but unfortunately it is a little too familiar to us, with Data singing a song playing an important plot point in the last film, INSURRECTION.
They find B-9 after getting sidetracked to the Kolarin system (Kolarin 3 to be exact), which is close to the Romulan border, while on the way to Betazed for the completion of the Riker/Troi wedding festivities. We later learn that Shinzon found B-9, who's been passed off from species to species because he's so damn annoying (he has a vocabulary like a 4 year old) and scatters him across the desert for the Enterprisers to stumble upon. This is where Picard takes the 24th century military jeep for a spin and Data mentions that he is baffled by the human predilection for piloting vehicles at unsafe velocities. This sounds a little like a mid-life crisis but it works here and doesn't seem forced. They find B-9 scattered around the surface and the last piece they find is his head, which is functional. The head talks to Data and says things like "Why am I looking at me?"
I didn't get a feeling that the Data/B9 angle was explored to its full capacity, which naturally seems to draw somewhat of a parallel to the Picard/Shinzon and Romulus/Remus brotherhood angles. However, after Shinzon uses B-9 to lure the Enterprise into his plan (which, if you’re confused, is to get Picard's blood, kill him and then everyone on Earth) B-9 remotely becomes an “inside agent” ala Geordi’s visor in GENERATIONS or La Forge in the TNG episode where he was brainwashed to act as an assassin. When B-9 is activated after being reassembled, Shinzon is able to beam Picard off the Enterprise. This thread eventually culminates in a spectacularly-written escape sequence from the Scimitar (Shinzon’s powerful warbird) where the Data/B-9 doppelganger factor comes in handy.
SPOILER ALERT (highlight the area below to read the details)
Data (pretending to be B-9) tells the guard holding Picard in the Scimitar brig that he has to take him to the Bridge.... being the dumb guard that most bad guys are, he lets them go. Picard and Data escape in a small shuttle called a "Scorpion". Shinzon catches on and raises the force-field around the shuttle bay door. The Scorpion then crashes through the front doors of the shuttle bay and races through all of the Scimitar hallways only to bust out of an observation lounge window and escape back to the Enterprise.
Another important baddie is Shinzon’s Viceroy, who is unnamed in this draft of the script. He is almost more developed than Shinzon himself. As a Reman, the Viceroy is described with the rest of his race as “nosferatu-like” in appearance (vampires with exaggerated facial features and long finger nails; also see SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE). The backstory on the Remans is scant, but essentially we are presented with the notion that the Romulan crest is a bird grasping two worlds in its talons... one is Romulus and one is Remus; the latter is a slave world where the inhabitants mine dylithium for the Romulan Empire and can only live on the dark side of the planet because the lighted side is too hot for habitation (explaining their horrifying physical abnormality).
The Viceroy has been with Shinzon since when he was a boy – a scene we see early in the film where a boy we later learn is Shinzon is presented before the Romulan Senate. When Picard, Riker and Troi meet with Shinzon under the pretext that the villain is the “new Romulan Praetor” (remember the coup in the beginning), Shinzon takes an obvious attraction to Troi, who is then telepathically “raped” by the Viceroy who uses his telepathic abilities (unique to this individual, not all Remans, apparently) to allow Shinzon to enter Troi’s mind. This telepathic rape almost makes the Viceroy more menacing at times than Shinzon himself. This also provides Troi with a meatier role later in the script as she turns the tables on the Viceroy to help locate the cloaked Scimitar. Unfortunately, the other characters – Worf, Crusher, Geordi – don’t get as pivotal treatments.
Riker is given the task of taking care of the Viceroy. Remember how cool Number One was in GENERATIONS when he just said, “Fire!”? Well, he gets in a really cool line where he is about to kill the Viceroy and alludes to Remus with, “Don’t worry… hell is dark” (referring to the Remans hatred of the light). The script seems littered with these sorts of setups and payoffs that make the final act an especially exciting read and help mesh things together more completely than the other TNG feature plots.
Another factor is the humor. There is only one instance where it felt a little forced and out of place (I won’t go into it here because it would take too long to explain), but otherwise the humor worked really well. Specifically, during the reception scene where Worf is feeling the effects of a certain Romulan blue beverage; (setup) Leah and Geordi are finishing talking about Picard….
He just likes things the way he likes them….. (he looks at her, smiles) ….. Of course, so do I.
He kisses her gently as Worf comes to them. Poor Worf is still suffering a bit from the bachelor party. He plops down beside them.
Romulan Ale should be illegal.
Then it should be more illegal.
Or this gem….
I won’t do it.
It’s tradition, Worf. You of all people should appreciate that!
A warrior does not appear without his clothing. It leaves him, vulnerable.
Worf is the “comic relief” in this movie. Deanna had a cute scene in FIRST CONTACT but it wasn’t humor; the comedy was mixed with Data in GENERATIONS and fell flat in INSURRECTION but it works well with Worf here. Yes, Deanna takes the helm and no, the Enterprise does not suffer the same fate as the Ent-D.
Now, to discuss the much anticipated third act. Central to the grand finale is the best-written space battle for any Trek movie to date, blowing Khan out of the water. The Scimitar is a real behemoth, and Worf describes it as having, “Fifty-two disruptor banks, twenty-seven torpedo bays, primary and secondary phased shields...”
She’s not out for a pleasure cruise.
We later learn she can fire while cloaked and the battle at the end is reminiscent of THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’s battle against Chang’s Bird of Prey. Multiply that by ten and throw in the Enterprise/Romulan Warbird fight in Shatner’s book SPECTRE and there you have it. I really don’t want to go into detail of that fight – which as written is easily the most ambitious space battle for a Trek film -- but let me say that as previously revealed, the Enterprise takes a SEVERE beating that leaves half the bridge torn apart and exposed to space. The Scimitar literally rips through one or two Romulan warbirds it’s fighting as well.
SPOILER ALERT (highlight the area below to read the details)
In a word... awesome. It’s a dog fight between two Romulan warbirds and the Enterprise vs. the cloaked Scimitar. The first thing that happens is that the Scimitar rips through the first warbird like tissue paper and it seriously cripples the second and leaves it floating dead in space. All the while the warbirds and the Enterprise are firing phasers and photon torpedoes in all directions looking for an explosion. But the fight between the
Enterprise and the Scimitar is what takes the cake. The Enterprise takes a hell of a beating and the front half of the bridge is literally blown away, sucking the helmsman out into space. For the second half of the battle, the Enterprise dog fights much like using the front windshield of a car – no computer viewscreen! In a last ditch effort, and with Picard knowing he must not let Shinzon reach Earth, the Enterprise rams the Scimitar. The saucer section gets stuck in the middle of the ship and Shinzon orders the Scimitar to beak loose and shake it free. Logan describes it as two scorpions locked in a heated battle. I really don't want to give away more than this because it will REALLY spoil a great fight.
To close, as I stated before, this has the potential to be the, dare I say it, best Trek movie ever made. My one and only REAL complaint is that the script falls a little short; coming in at 109 pages, this June 2001 draft feels like a 1:45 movie – and if the script is under two hours going in, it'll be difficult once it reaches the editing booth. The script doesn’t need to be rewritten as some have posited, but additional pages devoted to Shinzon and the politics surrounding Romulus, Remus, and the Picard-replacement plan would go a long way toward balancing the script. Some scenes on Remus, in particular, might help place some of the villain’s backstory ON SCREEN (as it should be) rather than brief references in the dialogue that leave the character too shallow.
“… if we meet the right sort (Baird), this will work. We get some buckaroo….”
Out of 10…….. 9
Also, keep in mind that while none of this information has been confirmed officially by Paramount, the draft that goes before cameras in October may be significantly different that the one reviewed.
Story, characters, dialogue, plot, title are copyright © Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved. Star Trek is an exclusive trademark (TM) of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.