Good old-fashioned classical music brings us strolling by planets, most noticably a reddish and then greenish one. We focus in on the greenish one and find ourselves in a highly developed seaside city. This is not San Francisco. This is not Earth. We are on Romulus. There is a meeting of the Senate to discuss the Military's proposal that they ally with the people of Remus. Apparently, there is an uprising on the planet's metaphorical twin. The Praetor rejects their opinion, and the Senator fondling the string on a weird piece of technology (read: bomb) has an important meeting elsewhere. The bomb is actually a weapon that spews green dust into the air, and before the Praetor has her called back for an explanation, they are all dead, turning into gray rocky chunks of ex-people.
Next comes a wedding. Jean-Luc Picard is best man to Riker and Troi. He's their Captain. He's supposed to be performing their service. Not only that, but that means that Data would have been best man, and he would have had a much more interesting speech. They didn't remotely build up the relationship enough to convince me that this wasn't Johnathan Frakes trying to get his character more nookie. The relationship started up again in Insurrection, when the entire ship was bombarded by feelings of youthful energy. Data sings Blue Skies, Worf has trouble with the Romulan Ale, a good time was had by all. Star Trek tries again to have musical instruments and dancing with futuristic feels to them and almost gets it right.
The ship sets sail for Betazed for the traditional Betazoid wedding (nakey and all). They divert the ship for a little while to investigate a Positronic signature on Kolaris III, which sounds to me an awful lot like "Callous," and they are. The course they plot takes them dangerously close to the Romulan Neutral Zone, and they never consider that this might be a Romulan plot. Obviously they haven't read the script.
A landing party is sent down in a shuttlecraft (with wings!) and touches down on a desert planet. The doors open, and a dune buggy bursts out at full speed. This isn't just any dune buggy. It's a shiny silver one with nice euro styling. Once again, Star Trek tries to make something look futuristic and gets mixed results. Data maes an amusing comment about humans piloting in vehicles at unsafe velocities. They discover that parts of an Soong Android are spread over an entertainingly large area, but when they find the head, they finally run into the locals. A prewarp civilization that has sparse industrial level technology. What they mean to say is, they watched Mad Max and thought that their movie lacked Aussies. They jump the dune buggy off a cliff and land in the back of the shuttle, amazingly not breaking their necks with the deceleration. Frigging Inertial Dampers.
They bring back B4, one of Data's long-lost brothers and download Data's memories into him in an attempt to get him to stop acting like a five-year-old. Apparently, in the realm of Positronic AI, they're either geniuses or retards, and nowhere in between. Around this time, they receive word from Admiral Janeway that the Federation has been invited to visit the new Romulan Praetor Shinzon, and the Enterprise is the closest ship in the area. Boy, it's a good thing, too, the plot would be ruined if the ship with one of Starfleet's best Captain/Diplomat/Romulan Experts hadn't happened to have been the closest Federation starship.
The enterprise enters orbit around Romulus and waits. And waits. And waits. And then the biggest starship they've yet bothered to make in Star Trek decloaks, and I think, "Oh, they've invited the Klingons, too." The ship looks like a Klingon Bird of Prey, not a Romulan Warbird. Of course, it's a *Reman* Warbird, but still, this ship was designed by the same scheme as the Klingon ships, not the Romulan ships. The ship has 52 Disruptor Banks, hideous amounts of phasers, wings upon wings of fighters, primary *and* secondary shields, and is emitting a form of radiation that was purely theoretical in Federation Science because it's insanely dangerous.
The viewscreen activates and we finally see what the Riemanns, I mean Remans, look like. They are twisted Morloks who live on a world that has a light side and a dark side, and naturally live on the dark side. They are a brutal, warlike, and highly technological race who are naturally subjugated and despised by the Romulans. Whaffuck? Apparently, the Remans are supposed to be the dark reflections of the Romulans. Funny, I thought the Romulans were supposed to be the dark reflections of the Vulcans. Then again, if you watch Enterprise, the Vulcans seem to just be dark reflections of humans. Star Trek writers have lots of clouded mirrors. Captain Picard assumes, for some horribly stupid reason, that the Reman he is talking to is the new Praetor. He is not. He's just the Viceroy. Now, of course, the Praetor is hypothetically the least powerful member of the Romulan Triumvirate, but I suppose Shinzan might have done away with the rest of the Triumvirate entirely.
The Bridge Crew is beamed onboard the Scimitar, and finaly meets the new Romulan Praetor. His costume is really interesting. It's designed to make him look tall and gaunt, predatory in a tragically wounded sense, reminiscent of the Malevoiy Armour from George Lucas' Shadow War trilogy crafted from the souls of their victims. Shinzon is no Reman. He is no Romulan. He is, in fact, Picard's clone. A poor abused boy sent to work in the Dilithium Mines after it was decided that replacing Picard with a clone would never work. Now, I for one knew that Shinzon would be Picard's clone (don't remember where I heard it), but I still had mixed feelings about revealing it this early in the film, especially when Shinzon cuts his hand and gives the bloody dagger to Crusher.
One thing this movie lacks is metaphors. Never once does Picard talk about playing chess with Romulans. He doesn't think about being cagey or anything of the sort. He has lunch with Shinzon and flatly tells him that he wants to believe that he truthfully wants peace, but the fact that they have the same DNA is not compelling proof. As a matter of fact, Enterprise analyses the weird radiation signature and discovers that the Romulans have a weapon that can destroy the life on an entire planet. Funny, we've had that since the sixties, and Star Trek has been finding weapons of that calibre just lying around since at least Star Trek II. The weapon hurls Plot Radiation at an object, a microscopic amount of which could kill everyone onboard Enterprise by breaking apart organic matter at the subatomic level. I guess Star Trek hyperscience finally found the animus, the property that makes organic matter special enough to be capable of supporting life. It had to be lurking in there somewhere. Guess that's also how plasma knows to only eat organic matter.
Well, Shinzon's getting bored of all this talking and his lackeys yapping at him, so he finally taps B4 and has him break into the Enterprise's computer and steals lots of little bits of information that aren't restricted, but somehow would allow him to know where every ship in Starfleet is located. Wow, those Terrans are dumb. It's a wonder they ever survived encountering the Klingons, Romulans, Borg, and Dominion singly, let alone all of them in succession. Shinzon, via the Viceroy's telepathy, interrupts Riker and Troi's hot Imzadi luuv by invading her mind in a very naughty way. Fortunately, the Crew manages to figure out who their spy is and lays a trap, so that when Shinzon beams B4 and then Picard aboard his ship, B4 is really Data. I would have preferred this coming later in the movie and B4 actually being influence by Data's memories, but that's OK. Data has a lapel-pin-sized transporter (they're going to be so in fashion in future movies), but Picard would rather the two of them escape together. Heaven forbid Starfleet do something smart and give the guy two (Not that Data knew they'd be kidnapping Picard, but still...). The Scimitar puts up its cloak and does a dandy fine job of being invisible. The Enterprise can't detect a single particle out of place. Amazing how that works, considering the fact that any cloak would have to be that perfect to be of any use in Star Trek.
Data and Picard escape, and borrow one of the Scimitar's Scorpion Fighters, a cute little ship resembling a Warhamster Falcon Grav Tank. Don't bother going to the Nemesis website to get pics of anything, it's completely useless. There are no doubt fansites with all the pics you'd ever want, but Star Trek fanboys scare me. The two go for a cruise and end up flying out through the window in Shinzon's Throne Room. Man, that cloak is perfect, you still can't even tell the ship is there with a gaping hole in its hull. Enterprise beams in the fighter en media res, and hightails it out of there, making a Descent-style off-axis turn and returning to join the Neutral Zone battle group. Funny how Neutral Zones and Demilitarized Zones are always surrounded by Armies and Fleets.
On their way to the Battle Group, the Bridge Crew discusses Shinzon's apparent weakness. His RNA was altered so that his growth could be accelerated to match Picard's age. But when this never happened, his body started falling apart. He needs a full transfusion from a mature Jean-Luc Picard (any one will do, but making another clone would just make too much sense). Meanwhile, the Enterprise must pass through the Dumbass Rift (I think they called it the Bozeman Rift, but it's a real dumbass idea). Funny how this Rift cuts off all long-range communications and Data doesn't consider this pertinent until the Ambush is already unleashed. Fortunately, Shinzon's Romulan Commanders decided that they didn't really want to be involved in Genocide of this scale and opt to lend a hand.
Apparently, if you have 3 normally armed ships, it isn't too hard to fight an invisible enemy that could obliterate you in an instant but is only trying to *destroy* two of you. One Romulan ship gets destroyed, the other disabled, and Enterprise has hull breaches all over the place, including the Bridge. Here we wonder again just why they don't put the Bridge as far away from the hull as possible, as an Ensign gets sucked (or maybe blown, the special effects weren't clear) out into Space before the forcefield activates. Enterprise has one volley of torpedoes left, but has no idea where the cloaked ship is. But then Deanna remembers an old Jedi mind trick her mother taught her - Ouija! She grabs Worf's hand and focuses on the mind of the Viceroy, using it to expertly target Enterprise's torpedoes to their target, breaking its cloak, and breaking out of character spewing cries of vengeance. The Warbird moves to face them directly. So here we have the Enterprise in a sorry state with a Reman boarding party being fought off by Riker and Worf. Picard and Shinzon banter, Enterprise rams the Warbird that's like 10 times its size. Front of Warbird caves in, Disruptors offline. Enterprise has some nasty gouges cut into its saucer. Ah, good old Starfleet Plotholium Hulls.
Shinzon, not really caring about surviving this battle, orders the Superweapon Activated, and the excrutiatingly painfully long transformation sequence begins. Picard has them transport himself over so that he can stop Shinzon, shoots the bad guys, uses his gun as a melee weapon, breaks it in half on some mook's skull, and begins fighting hand-dagger with Shinzon over the glowing green fountain of radiation, a microscopic amount of which could kill everyone on the Enterprise. Riker finishes his own hand-dagger fight with the Viceroy. Data realizes that one man against an entire ship is a really dumb idea, and decides to make it 2 by jumping out a hallway that ends abruptly with a forcefield. As I was watching this, I couldn't help but think "Man, that is the dumbest battle tactic ever. Wait a minute, I've *done that* in a roleplaying game...
Shinzon gets impaled on one of the decorative wall pikes, slides his way along it in classic villain form, tries to say something witty, and dies. Data arrives and transports Picard out of there. So, to restate this for those in the Audience who weren't paying attention, Data enters through the outermost parts of the weapon, crawls through tubes and conduits supplying critical power to this weapon, wanders, no doubt, through the Engineering Sections of the ship, stops for a slurpee in the commissary, then drops by the Bridge to transport the Captain away and blow the device up at its most volatile part in the last second. He deserves to die for this, and gets what he wishes. Dumbass didn't bring a single bomb, and didn't think to bring a second transporty lapel pin for himself *twice*.
The Romulans have finished their immediate repairs and are sending a shuttle to lend Enterprise a hand. The Bridge Crew retires to the Ready Room for a toast "to absent friends" (Rocky Horror will be forever tainted in mine eyes). Riker mentions the bit from Encounter at Farpoint when he first meets Data leaning on a tree in the Holodeck, trying whistle a song (it was Pop goes the Weasel) and not getting the last part right. The movie ends with Enterprise in Drydock, Riker and Troi leaving to lead the Neutral Zone Battle Group in the Titan as they intended in the beginning of the movie, and Picard trying to explain the whole thing and who Data was to B4. He doesn't get it. But as Picard leaves, B4 starts trying to sing Blue Skies. Picard gives him a bit of prompting, and then goes about his business on the ship.
It was fun to watch, and fun to bitch about. It's a sad thing that Data is no more, but it's an even sadder thing that Brent Spiner must have wanted it that way.