Star Trek: Nemesis

Okay, it’s time to go over my list of major and minor nits with Star Trek: Nemesis (as if anyone really cares!) I don’t think there are any spoilers in here but read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie.

  • Clones with no tone – the Nemesis of the title is supposed to be a clone of Captain Picard. The clone doesn’t look or sound anything like Picard. This one was so obvious that it was noticed by most non Star Trek folks. A lot of the reviews mention the clone problem. Susan notes that not only did the clone not sound like Picard, but also had an unexplained speech impediment. And anyone familiar with ST:TNG knows that the real Picard had hair when he was young but the clone is bald like the old Picard.
  • Wheels! – The Enterprise has a new shuttle called the Argo which includes a 4-wheeled motor vehicle for driving around on away missions. That’s right, wheels. Big, rubber wheels inflated with air. Even though the Star Trek series has made a point of saying over and over that wheels were given up long ago. Even back in ST:TOS, Kirk and Spock used to see an automobile and make comments to each other like, “wheels, how quaint”. Not even a hint of an explanation was given for this glaring continuity error. Somebody should have caught this the first draft. Don’t any of these folks even watch Star Trek?
  • Sickbay Setbacks – How do you analyze a blood sample on a knife when you’re on a Federation star ship? Anyone who’s watched even a handful of Star Trek episodes can tell you it’s done with a medical tricorder or any of a variety of handheld medical scanners that can relay information about the sample to ship’s computer. How do they do it on Nemesis? They use a 20th century plastic eye-dropper thing with a rubber bulb on the end to suck some blood up and then squirt a few drops into a glass petri dish, which is then stuck under something that looks like a microscope. Huh? Oh and a little later the Romulans (or, rather, the Remans) are using a hypodermic needle to take a blood sample – yep, a needle; they stick it right through the skin.
  • No fasteners – Gene Roddenberry had a long standing rule that no fasteners were to be shown on the Federation sets or costumes. Maybe we don’t know what held Captain Kirk’s pants on or how his chair was attached to the deck, but it wasn’t anything from the 20th century like zippers and bolts. In a key scene in Nemesis, 20th century bolts play a part in the action when Riker and an alien are fighting on a what looks like a portion of iron fire escape inside a Jefferies tube and the bolts holding it to the wall break. All without an explanation of what an iron fire escape is doing on the Enterprise or why it should be attached to the wall with prehistoric fasteners.
  • Shocking optics – In the aforementioned fight between Riker and the alien, Riker gains an advantage by pulling a fiber optic cable assembly out of the side of the Jefferies tube and jamming it against the alien, who is thrown to the floor in a shower of sparks when the broken end of the optical fibers touch him. This might make sense if a high voltage electrical cable was used, maybe even if it was one of those mythical “plasma conduits”, but a fiber optic cable is unlikely to do much more than make a dim spot of light.
  • Equal and opposite action? – After the Enterprise has rammed the much larger alien starship, the two ships are adrift and locked together in a mass of wreckage. The Enterprise has no power. The alien ship orders full reverse thrust and begins tearing itself away from the Enterprise, which somehow remains motionless in space. What force is holding the Enterprise in place against the thrust exerted by the Alien ship? This is another one of those Hollywood physics problems that could have been caught by anyone with a knowledge of high school level physics. (hint, before you email me and say “inertia” answer me this: when you have squashed insects on the windshield of your car, does inertia hold them in place when you back the car up? That would be a handy way to clean the car! (and if you don’t like the car/insect comparison, how about car/car? Remember when cars had actual chrome plated steel bumpers and getting read-ended could cause locked bumpers? If one car tried to disentangle itself by simply backing up, it dragged the other car with it, because the structural strength of the steel bumpers was much great than the force of inertia. Think how much stronger than steel the twisted structural materials locking the two crashed ships together must have been)) One sub-nit with this scene is the exterior view of the alien ship shows what look like huge chemical reaction motors (i.e, rockets) firing; another faux pas for ships which are supposed to be equipped with some sort of reactionless drive.
  • Antiques from the 23rd Century – There is a scene where a nostalgic Picard is looking at curled, brown photographs of himself as a Star Fleet Cadet. The photos are taken from an ancient looking paper photo album. Yet paper photographs were long gone even in Kirk’s time, long before Picard was born. Previous episodes and movies have used 3D images, moving images, and holographic projections of the past, but never old photographs. Oh well, at least they were color photographs.

And there you have it. I’m sure there are other problems but those were the most glaring. Now I expect I’ll get a few of those, “why do you think about this stuff, it was just a movie” emails. My question has always been “how do you manage not to think about this stuff when watching a movie?”. I guess some people just have lot more practice with this not thinking thing.