Comments on the new Star Trek film, with spoilers (be warned!)
Quick Reference: Weapons Exchange tally
This is an enjoyable Star Trek film, reminiscent of Wrath of Khan with several shades of The Undiscovered Country. It is well-written, fast-paced, visually excellent, and generally overcomes the "fear of commitment" to the story that has caused a few of the Trek films to fall flat. The film was heavily, heavily chopped down, though . . . something like 45 minutes ended up on the cutting room floor. This is where most of the heart and soul went. Even the castrated version, though, isn't bad at all.
Overall, a B-plus.
Wow . . . they handled things well this time out . . . no technobabble or particle deus-ex-machinas suddenly saving the day. They didn't do nearly so well as Insurrection, though, in handling the tech we know and love. But, that having been said, there was just enough technobabble to allow for a still-mysterious doomsday weapon, and that was it. Well done.
In no particular order:
1. Thalaron is a biogenic weapon, somehow transitioning living material into a stone-like material of roughly similar density. Dr. Crusher says: "It has the ability to consume organic material at the subatomic level. I can't overestimate the danger of thalaron radiation, Jean-Luc. A microscopic amount could kill every living thing on this ship in a matter of seconds."
Unfortunately, that sounds rather silly as stated (think "a microscopic amount of heat" or "light"), but in the case of thalaron radiation it could simply mean that a very few thalaron particles could do the deed. One wonders whether the complete transition to stone would occur with just a few particles striking the body or whether it would simply affect part of a person, but this is not clear. In any case, it takes very little to do a lot of bad things.)
The thalaron whatzit is almost as odd as the Nexus from Generations. Thalaron is deadly, yet Shinzon stands right beside the generator. Geordi identifies the spike in the tertiary EM band (as the Scimitar decloaked) as thalaron, yet this obviously wasn't the radiation that kills everyone, since one would assume that the leakage of it would have killed the crew of the Scimitar. The Enterprise's analysis reads "particle analysis", and other references to thalaron particles occur. And, of course, the Scimitar's firing sequence involved the computer reporting "thalaron radiation transfer", "intermix level", and so on . . . not to mention that the device which killed the Senate seemed to rain down particles on everyone. And, of course, thalaron . . . which is shown to only affect organic matter . . . still manages to eat Shinzon's knife that falls into the generator. And let's not forget that the Scimitar's explosion apparently didn't release thalaron radiation, since the crew of the Enterprise didn't die.
Shinzon and company had constructed at least two devices which used thalaron radiation. The first that was observed was a small hand-sized unit which slaughtered the entire Romulan Senate, and demonstrated that the effect was quite controllable. Throughout the rest of the film, they never really narrow down whether it's the particles that are the bad things, or some energy which comes from the particles, perhaps during a decay process. But, the Senate scene's "green snow" suggests that it is probably the particles. But, then, Geordi was able to get an electromagnetic scan of the Scimitar as she decloaked which suggested that they had thalaron particles aboard. Logically, this could not have been the deadly thalaron radiation itself, or else one would expect the crew of the Scimitar to be dead.
The second example of the technology was aboard the Reman Warbird Scimitar and never used. It only adds to the confusion, though, given that the deadly weapon's prefire sequence, involving "thalaron radiation transfer", some sort of "intermix level", and so on all occurred right behind the bridge, through an open door . . . and one could even stand next to where this intermix was occurring and apparently not die. And, of course, this intermixed whatever, which was to be transferred to the firing points at the Scimitar's many targeting arms, was evidently not expected to kill everyone on the bridge.
As Geordi reports: "It's called a 'Cascading Biogenic Pulse'. The unique properties of thalaron radiation allow the energy beam to expand almost without limit. Depending on its radiant intensity, it could encompass a ship, or a planet."
Evidently, it could be fired from behind the cloaking device of the Scimitar, unless we are to assume that the ship would be a sitting duck for seven minutes while the thalaron particles were generated and the targeting arms deployed. However, that assumption is not supported by the film . . . the idea is that Earth would be killed, nothing could stop it, and Starfleet would never be able to see the Scimitar.
It is not known for certain whether the shipboard weapon could affect a shielded target, though the inference is supported in the film by the phrasings used to describe the danger of the device. On the other hand, some sort of shielding or something must be available to stop the thalaron radiation, or else merely generating thalarons would be suicide. However, the nature of the thalaron containment system is unknown. Based on what we see in the film, the process of generating thalarons may involve some sort of self-containment, with that double-helix thingy.
Whatever it is, it is rather unstable, since it can be very catastrophically destabilized by a hand phaser. This apparently destroys the thalarons as well.
2. The Scimitar is a massive vessel, easily dwarfing the Enterprise-E. Backstage comparison drawings suggest a 685.8 meter long, 243 meter wide Enterprise-E . . . compare to the 890 meter long, 1,356 meter wide Scimitar. (This puts the Scimitar up into standard D'Deridex Class Warbird territory, as seen here . . . note also that an Imperial Star Destroyer is about 1,600 meters long.) The backstage info seems at least roughly accurate, if my memory of the relevant scenes is correct.
The ship is described by Picard as a predator . . . which is an understatement. The ship sports 52 disruptor banks, 27 photon torpedo launchers, and both primary and secondary shielding systems. All this is in addition to the Scimitar's main weapon, the thalaron-based "Cascading Biogenic Pulse" that can destroy all life on a planet. Further, the ship's warp drive system seems to allow it to match the maximum warp speed of the Enterprise-E, given that the ship was trailing the Enterprise-E as they approached the Rift at maximum warp. The vessel is an impressive achievement for the Empire, especially considering that it was built at a secret base (presumably with the support of the Romulan Imperial Fleet, or at least Shinzon's collaborators therein). The only drawback of the vessel seems to be a hull which is not as strong as that of a Sovereign Class starship, in "nose-to-nose" comparison.
2a. The Scimitar is highly maneuverable, as seen in its high-speed (~ 1 km/s, based on eyeball estimation and memory from the theatre) starboard turn that occurred in a radius of ~5-10 kilometers. The vessel also sports pop-out reverse impulse units, which expel a great deal of hot gas (visible from behind, and showing the same sort of distortion effect one gets from a road surface on a hot day).
2b. The Scimitar sports a cloaking device of a type never before seen. The ship becomes invisible through a strange embossing effect, and Geordi describes the cloak as perfect, without any tachyon emissions or residual antiproton traces. The cloaking technology allows the vessel to cloak parts of itself (as seen when a portion of the ship was decloaked as a ruse), and fire its many weapons through that cloaking field. Further, the vessel appeared to be shielded even through the cloak.
2c. The Scimitar also carries a large number of Scorpion Class attack flyers, presumably (if only by the name "flyer") intended for surface attack operations, though the only weapon seen on the vessels is on the dorsal surface. (Some might question why a planet-killer might have surface attack vehicles aboard . . . well, by that logic, she shouldn't have any conventional anti-ship weapons (i.e. disruptors and torpedoes), either. But, as indicated, that's just a supposition off the name.) These vessels are very small (perhaps up to 6 meters long and 3m wide), carry two persons, are highly maneuverable (judging by the hallway flight), and pretty quick in open space. One known launching bay is in the forward end of the main hull, given that the Enterprise saucer personally smacks several of the fighters. The Enterprise-E transporters are shown beaming a Scorpion aboard, and Picard is seen to fly it into the wall on more than one occasion creating showers of sparks. Since no shield is observed in those impacts and cannot be inferred from the beaming incident, it is quite possible that the Scorpions have no shields. On the other hand, there doesn't appear to be any damage to the Scorpion, so perhaps it was all wall-damage versus a shielded vehicle. Hard to say.
3. A new "midsize" Romulan ship is observed. Whether it existed previously is not known with certainty, but it appears to be a new design (from the in-universe perspective), finally filling in the gulf between small Romulan scout ships and the huge D'Deridex Class Warbird. The vessels are quite maneuverable and well-armed, but were no match for the Scimitar and did not seem to fare as well under fire as the Enterprise. (On the other hand, that might just be the difference between Shinzon's "shoot to kill" versus the Romulans, and "shoot to disable" against the Enterprise.)
4. Starfleet has upgraded the Enterprise-E with additional torpedo and phaser armaments. A dual launcher unit (rear-firing) is installed atop one of the saucer's dorsal terraces, approximately on the third deck. This is in addition to the quantum torpedo launcher on the ventral saucer, and the quad torpedo launcher (two forward, two aft) on the ventral surface of the engineering hull. (Production drawings show yet another torpedo launcher just above the main shuttlebay at the rear of the engineering hull, but I don't remember seeing this one fire. However, it may have been the source of the aft-fired torpedoes from Insurrection, which previously seemed to come out of nowhere.) Further, phaser emitters now exist on the nacelle pylons.
(They also seem to have squeezed 3-5 new decks onto the ship, depending on who you listened to in First Contact. See, Picard in ST:FC said there were 24 decks, but someone else in the film said there were 26. Now in ST:N, the ship has 29, and this is referenced several times. There may even be a classic "bottomless pit" below deck 29, though this is uncertain (and undesireable). My personal preference is 24 decks, since otherwise you start losing headroom fast.
The Master Systems Display behind Picard gives a deck count of 24 (though that deck 24 at the bottom of the engineering hull would be best suited for those short humanoids from Insurrection). The above shot is from Nemesis.)
4a. In addition, the shuttlecraft Argo seems to have been recently included in the shuttlecraft line-up. This shuttle's primary role seems to be the transport of a Starfleet dune buggy. Presumably, this shuttle and vehicle are intended for use in environments which do not allow transporter function, and which may involve other interference effects (as judged by the Argo shuttle's kicking up of dust upon lowering to ten meters above the surface, suggesting the use of thrusters instead of antigrav units). When in flight, the Argo puts out a significant amount of heat (possibly part of the thrust of the vessel in atmosphere), as judged by the atmospheric distortions observed in the scene of the vehicle below and the shuttle flying above.
The shuttlecraft may be piloted by remote, as Data demonstrated using a small hand-held device obtained from the dash of the dune buggy.
The dune buggy itself is a peculiar design, lacking the usual design aesthetic of a Starfleet vehicle. It's an open-cockpit vehicle which demonstrated speeds on the order of 100 km/h (60mph). A deployable phaser pulse cannon is available in the rear of the vehicle, though the firepower of this weapon is not known at present. It was making some nice big blasts, though, and one of these seemed to cause a rollover of one of the Kolaran vehicles. I'd guesstimate perhaps .5 - 10 megajoules per shot, give or take. The open cockpit does have the advantage of allowing an uninterrupted field of fire by those onboard, as Data took advantage of. However, it would also imply an uninterrupted hit ability for those not onboard. Seems too much like a silly toy for most purposes, especially if that was a dedicated shuttle for it.
4b. I liked the forcefield around the warp core, even if it didn't last long enough to matter. Also note that there was never any concern about the warp core's stability expressed in the film, despite the pounding the ship received (and gave), and the fact that the core was evidently damaged early on. It's about time they stopped abusing that idea.
4c. The Enterprise-E exhausted her entire photon torpedo complement against the Scimitar, and Romulan ships had fired upon it as well. In spite of that, the Scimitar still had 70% shields. I counted 24 photon torpedoes fired, and no less than 9 quantum torpedoes fired . . . this would not count any which were fired off-screen. Data only reported the photons expended, but the plot suggests they were out of quantum torpedoes, too. One would think there must've been many torpedoes fired off-screen (or that the quantum launcher was offline), since even a ship as small as the Defiant carried more than 32 torpedoes.
(Indeed, in "What You Leave Behind"[DS9-7], Worf complained that they were down to 45 quantum torpedoes, to which Sisko replied "that'll have to do." If the Enterprise-E carried even half of the torpedo complement of her predecessor (250 photon torpedoes, as per "Conundrum"[TNG5]), then we only saw a fifth of them fire. Of course, her predecessor only had two launchers, as compared to the several additional ones on the Sovereign Class . . . one would expect her loadout to reflect this.)
Torpedo accuracy against the cloaked Scimitar was rather good, as seen on the screen. Only the first six definitely missed . . . of the other 17, 10 were directly observed to hit, and the rest appeared to be on track to do so off-screen (or at least off the smaller screen I've been reviewing the movie in), though we can't say for sure if they did hit the ship.
5. Starfleet handheld equipment has also undergone changes. Type-II phasers are smaller, more metallic, and more streamlined now, with a grip that has even more curvature than in previous models. More on the new phasers is available on this page of Phasers.net. A new tricorder unit has also appeared and is used alongside the older flip-case versions (which are still seen in use by Geordi on the disassembled B-4 in the lab). The new unit bears striking resemblance to a Starfleet padd or a modern-day PDA. I like the old ones better.
One interesting bit of tricorder behavior occurred during the crew's first meeting with Shinzon. Data's tricorder beeped audibly, apparently alerting him to the Reman in the nearby shadows.
Starfleet holster technology seems to be less impressive than our own. Even today, holsters exist that are capable of securely holding a particular gun, and the gun cannot be removed without a specific, precisely-ordered movement. In the over-technified TNG age, one might expect at least some sort of maglock that isn't released except by a grip on the handle. In any event, we see the phaser holsters holding the new weapons securely during running movements (in spite of the phaser being sideways and perpendicular to the ground). However, Picard still managed to lose his phaser from the holster during a fight.
6. Starfleet seems to have stuck with the round-nosed phaser rifles instead of the square-nosed versions first seen in First Contact, including an interesting alteration to the light/targeting unit involving a red glowy thing. Unfortunately, this only slightly offsets the aesthetic funk of the round-nosed device.
Beyond the aesthetic goofiness of the decision to stick with the round-nose, it would seem that they picked the suckier chassis of the two. In First Contact, we saw phaser rifles being used to physically beat down Borg, and Worf used his rifle as a bat against Son'a drones in Insurrection. The older TNG Type III phaser rifles have been used in DS9 to stop or deflect blows, swords, et cetera. And yet, when Picard uses his rifle to club a Reman upside-the-head in Nemesis, the sorry thing's casing cracks wide open, exposing the innards. Even if Remans are quite hard-headed, this seems rather ridiculous, and suggests a generally light construction for the new phaser rifles. (This may be another reason for the continuing popularity of the TNG Type III rifle during the Dominion War, which also saw some models upgraded to include the First Contact rifle's light/targeting unit.) The weapons fired small, quick pulses, and these seemed to have limited pyrotechnic effects against your average tritanium starship corridor (reference: "Where Silence Has Lease"[TNG2], where the very fact that the false-Yamato's corridor walls were not tritanium that clued Riker to the fact that it was a false Yamato). However, they maintained the at-least-stunning blow.
(The cracking wide open, plus the silly moment of the hand phaser slipping out of the holster, were poorly-written ways to make Picard gun-less at a critical moment.)
(See more on the new phasers on Alyeska's phaser page.)
7. We finally get a good view of an ion storm . . . a luminous, visually interesting cloud of white, gaseous material. There was no concern expressed about the storm damaging the ship, though there was concern that it would strand the away team by making transporting unsafe. Perhaps they learned their lesson from that whole "Mirror, Mirror" thing.
8. The dilithium mines of Reman included open, vertical tubes with slender cylindrical structures inside of them. Eyeballing it, I guesstimated the structure height to be no less than 200 meters. The mines themselves could've run deeper, but this is not seen.
9. The area around the Romulan Senate is quite beautiful, and had a number of flying vehicles (no less than three) passing nearby in the opening scene of the film. These did not appear in later scenes, as I recall, which may suggest that the coup involved a military lock-down, at least in that area. In any case, the scene was pretty good continuity with TNG and DS9 views of Romulus.
10. Reman hand weapons technology seems a bit less advanced than the Federation's, given the design and observed effects. The rifles were seen to be readily switchable from bolts to beam (as seen when Picard sealed the door), but the Reman soldiers didn't seem to figure out this capability, firing bolt after bolt at the door instead of pulling a Picard and getting their melt on. (On the other hand, they didn't do too terribly.)
(Below . . . Picard sealing the door, and then the view of the Reman shots popping holes in it.)
11. The Ramming
(See also The Nemesis Fallacy page)
With no other options, and the realization that Shinzon would not expect such a move out of him, Picard decided to ram the Enterprise-E into the Scimitar. Text-messaging Deanna (who had taken the helm), Picard ordered her to engage full impulse along a certain course when he gave the signal.
The impulse engines were brought back online (as per some off-camera voice), and Picard gave the order. The presumably-damaged (or at least freshly re-enabled) engines accelerated the ship.
In the following scene, we see the Enterprise en route to her close personal encounter with the Scimitar. In the first image, her nose is just becoming visible in the bottom left corner . . . in the second image (the last of this particular angle), the saucer is clearly visible. The scenes are 30 frames apart, at a camgrab speed of 12.5 frames per second.
Now, judging by Eaves's drawings of the ship, we're seeing approximately 40% of her length in the image above. Given Picard's comment of nearly 700 meters for her length, we can guesstimate the figure of 685 meters (i.e. the official figure, which works fine here for our purposes) . . . 40% of that is 274 meters, which becomes visible over 2.4 seconds. That comes out to a speed of just under 114.2 meters/second. That's rather slow compared to her other accelerations in the films (especially TMP, but also compared to TNG accelerations, such as "Booby Trap" wherein a microsecond burst from the impulse drive gets them up to 132 meters/second), but the damage to the impulse drive would be the logical cause. (It's also about half of what the Falcon is capable of, as seen on my page.)
When the ships collided, the Enterprise's bow section did take severe damage, but appeared to remain intact quite well in comparison to the Scimitar's bow. This may suggest that the Scimitar had less-substantial armor compared to other starships, in favor of her dual shielding systems . . . though it's conceivable that the Enterprise just hit a weak spot near the Scorpion bays.
Some have chided the filmmakers for showing Shinzon ordering a full reverse to separate the ships after impact, on the grounds that the Enterprise would've been pulled along (they're in space, there was nothing to hold the ship in place). But, these critics failed to note that an accelerating Scimitar would only accelerate the Enterprise so much before, logically, the wrecks would separate . . . and the Scimitar would continue to accelerate. An observer who maintained position relative to the two ships would only observe the Scimitar pulling away, but not the forces and velocities involved.
Bigtime suck factor to the non-functional self-destruct system. What's the good of a self-destruct system if you can't self-destruct? And there's got to be a manual method (not that we wanted to see that, of course, but still) that can be accomplished in seven minutes. You can't tell me there's no way to scuttle a ship in a very rude fashion that would've taken the Scimitar along for the ride that can't be done in seven minutes. On the other hand, this is the Enterprise-E, which seems to be a much tougher bird to kill.
12. Interesting warp effect in this one, when we were coming up on the huge area known as the Rift. We could see the glow of the area even while at warp, which is (to my knowledge) the first time we've plainly seen any realspace object while at warp before. And, though neat-looking, I did find the rolling-while-at-warp to be a bit odd.
13. The time from the Scimitar's shooting out of the bridge hull until the forcefield activated was 16 seconds worth of screen-time. Note that all the air should've been evacuated almost immediately, instead of the constant blow we saw. This either suggests that the turbolift doors aren't airtight but held, or that the bridge atmosphere systems work hella-fast (which, actually, has been seen in other episodes, such as the 1 second smoke removal effect from TNG). Though, the helmsman would probably think it sucks either way (no pun intended). (Speaking of, where was the order to try to beam him back into the ship?)
1. Picard has led 27 first contacts with alien races, which is probably a fair number compared to anyone but Janeway. Off the top of my head, I can guess that among that list should be the Borg, of course. As for others, it might depend on how you count it (formally or informally) . . . for instance, Picard was the first to talk to the Malcorians openly (in the episode "First Contact"[TNG]), but Riker and others had already been on the planet. (And besides, Riker definitely made "first contact" in another sense.) The same thing occurring with the Malcorians is true for the Mintakans, where Picard was the first person to actually have a conversation with one in an official capacity. The xenophobic Paxans from "Clues"[TNG] would not be on the list . . . but, somewhat oddly, it's likely that the Ferengi are on that list. Other possible or certain candidates would include the race of beings of which Gomtuu was the last, the contact (talking-wise) with the Crystalline Entity, contact (and destruction of) Armus, Nagilum, the Nanite civilization, the Aldeans, the Zalkonians, and the Q. Not counting the Paxans but counting all possible others I can think of, I count 11, suggesting up to 16 first contacts either aboard the Stargazer or aboard the Stargazer and unseen contacts of the Enterprise-D and E.
2. The Scimitar launch bay was 94 meters from a certain location aboard the ship.
3. Few have noticed the overdub of Crusher as she explains Shinzon's life cycle. When she mentions Shinzon's need of compatible DNA, you can see her lips say "RNA".
4. Section 12, Paragraph 4 of some Starfleet code or regulation does not allow a captain to beam down. This is a different system than used in Wrath of Khan, when General Order 15 was quoted as saying that "no flag officer shall beam into a hazardous area without armed escort."
5. The belief that "all men . . . all races . . . can be united", while the Captain of the Federation starship Enterprise stands on the floor of the Romulan Senate. Good stuff, Logan.
6. Data declares that B-4 should be allowed self-determination, and the opportunity to explore his own potential. Compare this to Imperial ethics regarding droids.
I do have two or three mostly-minor gripes with the film, though, and I get the feeling that these help account for some of the negative reviews that several reviewers have heaped upon it. First, though some consider the Goldsmith touch to be as much an old familiar character as Picard, the music is actually more powerful a character because it is not seen, and oftentimes not even paid attention to when heard . . . the entire feel of the movie is intimately connected with the music. The terribly silly music of The Voyage Home plays up the silliness of the movie just as it should . . . the sometimes-ominous, always-intriguing music of The Undiscovered Country sets that film apart from the rest and colors the movie in just the right way, in a manner similar to the other Meyer film's heroic James Horner score, in Wrath of Khan. Even Generations enjoyed music which, if occasionally sounding a little TV-ish, oftentimes made up for it with exquisitely-achieved moods and a fantastic sense of wonder at just the right moments.
In the case of Nemesis, the opportunity existed at one point to get the composer from Gladiator, if I recall my rumors correctly. The entire feel of the film could've been rendered far differently (and I must say, even if we just assume that the Gladiator guy had done a cut-and-paste of music from that film for Nemesis, it still would've been better). But, with Goldsmith's unimaginative score, we get the feeling that we've been here before . . . which is precisely what some reviewers have complained about, even though the story of Nemesis is one of the grandest to come along in awhile.
The second major gripe I had with the film would be in regards to editing, and the effort to have the movie zip along. First Contact seemed to start a trend about that . . . there could be no camera shot longer than about .037 seconds, before the scene absolutely had to change. For that film, it worked out alright . . . the film was action from the get-go. Unfortunately, they did the same basic thing in Insurrection, so that moments which ought to have been lovingly allowed to linger (such as Geordi's first view of a sunrise with real eyes) were instead cut down to near-subliminal levels.
For Nemesis, one gets the feeling that the film is a bit rushed. "Okay, guys, talk quickly, because this scene can only last 4.2 seconds total before we have to start blowing shit up again." For instance, take the scene of Picard "waiting for the dawn" . . . the scene lasted on the order of ten seconds. That hardly served to build anticipation. And, in several other scenes where the deeper threads of the film (individuality, identity, and so on) could've been well-woven, we end up being a bit rushed. Picard's conversation about his feelings with Troi (hinted at by his "Counselor" order) was sliced out entirely . . . but, fortunately, they cut out the bit where Deanna was to be rendered as a whore who wanted to get a piece of Shinzon right after her wedding to Riker.
Though, to be fair, we did have a luxurious moment seeing Picard standing on the floor of the Romulan Senate, so all was not lost.
Naturally, a bit of speed was required for Nemesis to move along. Some have compared it to First Contact or Wrath of Khan and found it ranking, but lacking. One of the major reasons is that those two films both had a pre-existing back-story. (Even Insurrection did, insofar as it involved good interplay between the characters.) For the purpose of getting on to the good stuff, this works out perfectly . . . just a few lines of exposition here and there, and you've got all the time you need to set up and resolve your own movie plot. In the case of Nemesis, though, we had to explain Shinzon, reflect on his history, and introduce him to Picard . . . and it was only when all these were completed that the real action could begin.
Next, I have some issues with the work of John Eaves, designer of all the various ships we see in the film. Besides the fact that his Scimitar is a virtual copy of Dominion starship designs from DS9 (and the Son'a shuttles from Insurrection), one must consider the fact that almost all of his alien ship designs are ridiculously silly. Take, for instance, the Son'a battlecruiser (or its backwards version, the Romulan Valdore) . . . big flat winged things with zillions of greeblies and ridges all over. It's bad enough to design a ship that looks so spindly, and simultaneously give it such a ridiculous amount of surface area for the volume . . . but then, to add so many ridges, mesas, random platforms, and so on, so that the surface area problem is only increased! And why the big stupid Valdore-type Romulan ships? Probert's original TNG Warbird was a wonderful, terrifying sight . . . graceful in curve, predatory in appearance. The ship class and its appearance could've been updated and made to appear larger with the appearance of more differences in the reflectivity of the hull plating (a la the new Enterprise model), more details, et cetera, and showing that big bohemoth schooled by the "Warbat" Scimitar would've been far more resonating than showing the Valdores trying to tag it. Also, what's this deal with torpedo launchers? Jaeger designed the Akira Class seen in First Contact with 15 photon torpedo launchers in mind, and now Eaves has added three additional launchers onto the Enterprise-E for Nemesis . . . this coming after additions were made for Insurrection! There are now eight photon torpedo launchers aboard the Enterprise . . . and, in the silliest move, none of these new launchers seem to require more than a torpedo's-breadth of space (as made apparent with the main torpedo launcher, where the torpedoes must have to scrape the windshield of the captain's yacht just to slide out of the tube). I want the old days of logical Probert and Sternbach designs . . . these overly pretentious fanboy designs annoy me. (And yes, I'm a guy running a Vs. site, where more torpedoes could only be more helpful. I still don't like it.)
And, actually, there's a bit of a fourth gripe . . . or a fourth and fifth depending on how you wish to view it, but I'm lumping all of these together under the "ultra-fanboyish" category: Where the hell was Spock during all this, or Sela for that matter? Not seeing him in the film I understand, but not even the slightest throwaway line by Janeway? Come on. I mean, for crying out loud, they put Janeway in there . . . a mere mention of Spock's reunification efforts would've been wise here. As for Sela, it's not that I'm complaining about Dina Meyer (playing Donatra), who was very delicious even under all that make-up. It just would've been a nice show of continuity. Finally, there's the matter of the Romulans themselves . . . D.C. Fontana always felt that the Romulans were more interesting adversaries than the Klingons, and she was right. And yet, here we are with the big Romulan movie (at long last), and it hardly has anything to do with the Romulans.
And last, but not least . . . where was the order? "What order?", you say. THE order. The order that would have cinched the scene and made the fanboys weep . . . where in the world is Picard saying, with a wry grin, "Ramming Speed!"?
1. Deanna crashed the ship, again!
2. Shinzon may be a clone of Picard, but Picard kept the huge sack all to himself.
2a. The ramming scene in Nemesis is similar to a scene in one of the few Trek novels I've read ("Federation", as a reader has reminded me). The Enterprise-D is hidden within the cloak of a Romulan Warbird, and exits the cloaking field (staying quasi-cloaked for a few seconds) on course to ram another Warbird, neatly cutting it at the neck. Interestingly, I think the scene was played a bit better in the book . . . it was certainly more entertaining, and shown as a one-off situation. And, not only did Picard actually order "ramming speed!", but Worf's reaction was one of reverent worship.
Based on an exhaustive frame-by-frame analysis of the combat scenes on the DVD, I arrived at the following numbers. An explanation of the chart is below.
Enterprise photon torpedo hits
Enterprise quantum torpedo hits
Scimitar hits Enterprise
Romulans hit Scimitar
Scimitar hits Romulan-Brown
* = Two of those hits were kinetic strikes from the piece of Romulan Brown's hull, and not necessarily proper hits. I include them for thoroughness.
Short of composing an uber-page detailing the result of every weapons firing event and providing screenshots of each, this will have to suffice for now. These figures are the tallies made from a chart showing the hits in each scene of weapons exchange. On occasions when, for example, a weapon is seen fired and there's a cut to a bridge which then shakes accordingly, I counted it as an externally-observed hit. No shake was a miss. Viewscreens counted as external data sources, as well. The internally-observed hits are those where we don't see the weapon fired or any external indication of firing, but we get both the impact sound and the characters are thrown about. If there was a sound without the ship shaking, I didn't count it as an impact. As a result, the "observed internally" figures are more or less median values (with the exception of the Valdore, whose internally observed hit occurred right before they 'got to work').
Telling the difference between phasers and photon torpedoes was easy. However, telling the difference between disruptors and Romulan/Reman torpedoes is not. I therefore did not attempt it this time out.
1. By the figures above:
- The Enterprise was hit at least 71 times, possibly
80 if all the unknowns hit, and more still if one counted more internal
- The Scimitar was hit at least 77 times . . . 52 of those by Enterprise. There could be 91 hits if the unknowns were hits, 64 by Enterprise.
- The Valdore was observed to be hit 24 times, the Romulan-Brown was hit 21 times.
2. The Scimitar could've been hit far more . . . many of the hits to the Enterprise are seen from within the ship, whereas we didn't spend much time (by comparison) on Shinzon's bridge during the battle.
3. The Scimitar missed the Enterprise twice and the Romulans nine times. The Enterprise missed the cloaked Scimitar 33 (and perhaps 45) times, most of those during the opening rounds of the battle. (The miss-count racked up some numbers with Picard's zero-elevation phaser firing which employed numerous beams, and the six missed torpedoes which fired immediately thereafter. After that, there were only four observed phaser misses, and no observed torpedo misses.) Given that they were firing on a cloaked starship for most of that time, that's an extremely respectable 61.2% hit rate based on the total shots we could see.
4. Just by the numbers, one might think that
the Enterprise was three times tougher to kill than the Valdore . . . however,
as per the dialogue, the Scimitar was firing to disable, not
destroy. This naturally requires more precision and a more
controlled use of one's destructive power. There may also have been a
difference between disruptor and torpedo shots . . . I think most of the shots
that took out the Valdore were torpedoes. But as I said, it's hard to
tell, and so I'm not going to make a claim and call it definitive.