After all the pre-release hype about `new blood' (director Stuart Baird, writer John Logan) and a `new direction', it's disappointing to learn that Nemesis, the 10th entry in the Trek franchise, is hardly a warp leap forward. The plot (Captain Picard battles a personal adversary - this time, a clone who has access to a superweapon) is straight from The Wrath Of Khan, while the characters stick to formula.
Facing up to Tom Hardy's scowling, strutting villain Shinzon, Patrick Stewart gets the lion's share of the drama and dialogue. He pulls it off with the usual gravitas, showing once more why he's far and away the best actor in the ensemble. But for a cast that's supposed to be just that - an ensemble - there's little for the supporting players to work with. Jonathan Frakes' Riker gets his contractual action sequence, Marina Sirtis' empathic Troi suffers through some embarrassingly-shot `psychic' sequences, and Michael Dorn's Worf is once more reduced to comic relief.
Fans will enjoy the references to previous journeys, including a wealth of trivia-hound cameos, and action junkies will appreciate one or two set-pieces that return a touch of spectacle to the series. However, the overall feeling here is one of missed opportunity. This is no Die Another Day-style franchise reinvention: it's business as usual, with all the Trekkian clichés that entails.
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