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Star Trek: Nemesis

Description: Okay thereís this space and itís like the final frontier and thereís this ship, which is always boldly going where no man or one had like gone before. Which is like called the Enterprise, mark E or F or Z or something. By this point, itís hard to remember.

Even numbered Trek movies = a good time.

Okay, so Iím a big time Trek fan. I used to watch the faint fuzzy snowy broadcasts of the original because it was the only Trek around.

Now thirty years later, thereís a world of Trek to be had. The original cast long ago stopped making movies, making movies. Now we move into possibly the last Next Generation movie.

This would be a good place to end. On one hand, the movie has a number of flaws. Why exactly do Data, Picard and Worf go down to the planet to do a bit of dune buggying? No idea. Donít care. Those are my three favorite characters in that order. There are a number of instances where characters seem to forget stuff that happened previously in the series, in the movies, etc.

It made me practically nostalgic. Trek, in general, was never very good on the whole group memory thing. Many episodes came with a great big reset button. 

Itís one of those odd things that if I donít love a story, Iíll tear it to shreds for the slightest flaws. But where my affections are won, well, all I ask for is heart.

This movie is full of heart. Or rather spirit. Nemesis manages to capture the essential truth at the heart of the Trek saga, that we can strive to be better than we are. That we donít blow ourselves up. That there is a future and it is not a distopian hell. The future is both bright and shiny.

Now from here Iíll digress into analysis and spoilers. If you donít want to know, donít read

And yet, this future is not inevitable. It is both the product of luck and striving.

At the center of this canvas, two pairs of doppelgangers circling. 

Picard and his clone Shinzon, whose febrile fascination with his othered self is the kind of sub-text of which slash fiction is made. How wonderful that Picardís dark other is in fact himself as he might have been. Shinzon is Picard shorn of mannerisms and lucky life, but with the same burning hunger to know. Be known. When Picard told Shinzon when he was young, he was thought to be over confident, I couldnít help but think of the ST:NG episode the Tapestry. Young Picard was over confident, daring. His past informed the person that he is. Without it, with different choices, Picard was no captain, but rather a lowly lieutenant. 

And really, thatís the message at the heart of the text. Itís all about choices. Fate. Shinzon is Picardís dark mirror. The Picard raised in a brutal Romulan mine. The Picard with a limited shelf life. The Picard that knows himself to only be an echo of a brighter original. No wonder Shinzon aches to consume all that Picard has. To destroy Earth. To destroy the other so he can be the original.

Thus, while Shinzonís mental rape of Troi makes little sense tactically, it makes perfect sense within the structure of who Shinzon is. What drives Shinzon. Troi is posited in the text as Picardís daughter, with Riker finally wedding the daughter of family before going off to captain his own ship. Form his own family. By attacking Troi, Shinzon attacks to the softer side of Picard. The emotional heart.

In contrast to this hungry angry circling, we have Data and a previous Soong style android, B-4. Where Data has spent a lifetime learning and studying humanity, B-4 is a simplistic machine. Asking questions. Asking questions, more questions. Processing, searching for meaning. 

At a certain point, Data downloads  the sum total of his memories into B-4. Geordie questions this action because perhaps B-4 was never meant to be a simple machine. Dataís response is that he must allow B-4, his brother, the opportunity to grow beyond his current circumstances. To be more than a sum of parts.

Picard is right to be concerned that stripped of his fortunate life, the threads that make up the tapestry of his existence would have woven into a far darker cloth. Data is also correct. Ultimately, ďmight have beensĒ are irrelevant. It is who you are, who you choose to be now. 

In the last moments of the movie, as Shinzon dies, he says that it is good that they are together at this moment, his death, because they are one. And in that moment of self death, Picard is frozen. The complete loss of potential. Enter the Data. He pushes Shinzon aside, thus denying that connection. That vision of the future. He transports Picard to safety. Choosing to sacrifice his life to save his captain, his friends, his ship, and ultimately the human race. 

At the beginning of the moive, Data sings that there are blue skies ahead. At the end, B-4 repeats the refrain.

When I saw it, my friend Christy cried at this point. But in as much as it is Christmas, I couldnít help but be moved by a story in which an innocent chooses to give his life to save the world entire. Confident that by his sacrifice, by his striving that there will be blue skies ahead.

I canít think of any better epitaph for Next Generation.

The Two Towers Ė LotR

Description: An epic tale of good and evil and lots of walking.

About fifteen years ago I skimmed through the LotR triology. Tolkein is great at world building, but his writing style is not exactly my cup of Earl Grey. Iím more of a peach or Constantly Commenting kinda gal myself.

This didnít stop me from joining a group of friends/people who know people I know and the people who know them to go see the TT:LoTR opening night.

It was a great crowd. We cheered at the good bits, of which there were many, hissed at the villains, and generally had a good time.

The battles were incredible, immense, fraught with fighting.

The visuals were absolutely positively stunning. Vast vistas. Intimate details. This is a real world. The swords have weight. The characters have dirt under their nails, well except Legolas, because damn heís too cool for words. 

Many have already and better commented on the WWII/parallels. The onslaught of mechanization. The sorrow of a changing world. So, Iíll not comment on them other than to say they permeate every espect of the movie. 

Iím really going to have to see it again, so I can examine the bits that I was too busy cheering during to really absorb.

It may not be completely faithful to the book, but the movie is three freaking hours long. 

Ahem, great movie, go see it, truly the epic trilogy of our age.

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