Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Shinzon a power-hungry maniac who wants to carve his own place in history, or is he an angry, resentful, and bitter man lashing out at a universe that gave him such a terrible, violent life? It's possible that, beneath all his talk of conquest and liberating the Remans, he secretly just wants to destroy both the Romulans and the Federation in revenge for forcing him to be a pawn in their long conflict.
SF Debris has suggested that Shinzon's long string of idioticdecisions throughout the film, is that his already major inferiority complex towards Picard due to being a clone, leads him to subconsciously self-sabotage himself at every opportunity because he secretly wants to lose.
It could also be that Shinzon's time acceleration means he's mentally a teenager. Which explains just about every Idiot Ball decision he makes, to be completely honest.
The car chase scene on the desert planet. The apparently xenophobic natives chasing them are never mentioned again, nor is the flagrant violation of the Prime Directive incurred by firing on them with energy weapons and flying spaceships in plain view.
Shinzon Mind Raping Troi. An utterly tasteless moment that serves absolutely no purpose except Shinzon doing something villainous, like we couldn't tell he was the bad guy already. Add to it that the timing is particularly bizarre given that Shinzon only has literally hours left to live and is apparently only taking this break from curing himself in favor of being eeeeevil.
Fans found the starship fight listed above to be boring and without tension. Four ships looping through empty space throwing little droplets of light at each other, taking forever to break through the Deflector Shields and start setting off the Explosive Instrumentation. That's very realistic... But it's also kind of boring. Tropes Are Not Bad!
Rather odd in that Shinzon's ship was established to have hundreds of fighters and attack drones onboard, which are never used in the fight. Justified in that the Scimitar cripples the Enterprise and the two Romulan warbirds while sustaining no damage whatsoever (and then the fighter bays are seen to be destroyed in the ensuing collision), but it doesn't help make the battle any more exciting.
SF Debris points out that in terms of sheer scale, the fight scenes are a failure; we've already seen epic space battles featuring hundreds of ships - on a TV budget, no less! - on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
The climactic fight between Picard and Shinzon ends with the latter getting impaled on a metal pole that Picard tears off the wall. While the intention was presumably that Shinzon didn't have time to dodge the pole, the way it's filmed and edited makes it look like he's just too dumb to figure out that running into sharp bits of metal is a bad idea.
Harsher in Hindsight: The movie ends hinting at more positive relations between the Federation and the Romulans in the near future. But it never happens because the Romulus of this universe was canonically vaporized by a supernova in Star Trek, giving Nero the impetus to go back in time and screw around with the alternate universe of the Abrams films.
As SF Debris' review of the film lampshaded, one can't watch the opening and dramatic sweep over Romulan Senate Complex anymore without hearing the Oblivion theme blaring in the background.
Picard ramming the Scimitar makes Ben asking Lavelle in the episode "Lower Decks" if Riker was upset at Lavelle because he crashed the ship into something 1,000 times funnier - especially considering it was Picard and Troi who crashed the ship.
The car chase was derided for being out of place in a Star Trek film. Fourteen years later, and the trailer for Star Trek Beyond is pounded for - among other things - having Captain Kirk ride a 20th century dirt bike around on an alien planet.
Jerkass Woobie: Shinzon is hardly a pleasant fellow, though there's no denying that his life has sucked.
Memetic Mutation: In an unusual example, this happened to a line that never actually made it to the final movie. When Riker kicked the Viceroy to his death, he was scripted to quip "Don't worry, hell is dark!" The script was leaked on to the internet however, and the line was mercilessly lampooned by Trekkies, which — along with Jonathan Frakes objecting on the basis that it looked like Riker was killing the Viceroy for the fun of it - resulted in the line being quietly dropped. It's somewhat strange, considering in actual context he's getting revenge on his wife's rapist, so it probably would've been well-received if it had been left out of the trailer.
To an extent. The film is generally considered to be a (temporary) Franchise Killer for Star Trek, but the truth is that the franchise had been in decline for several years before hand; though not nearly as bad, Insurrection was also poorly received (for that matter, on the TV side, both Voyager and Enterprise were equally polarizing; even the franchise's biggest supporters were starting to feel like it needed a rest.) Of course, this movie's unpopularity certainly didn't help things. Plus it's widely thought that it would have at least earned back its budget like Insurrection had, if not for the fact that it was released in the same week asThe Two Towers.
This takes us to another case of this trope. Many, including Berman himself, have tended to blame this film's massive financial failure on The Two Towers. While this did not help, and it's true that the two films share some overlap in demographics the fact remains that a strong movie will be able to withstand another big release the following week. Other Star Trek movies have had to face some extremely stiff competition but all did much better than this one; The Wrath of Khan for instance was released the week before the mega-hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and yet still was a box-office success. What Berman and co. tend to gloss over is that this movie also lost to the Jennifer Lopez comedy Maid in Manhattan and then dropped 76.2% on its second week to ninth place (one of the largest drops ever for a major release, and at the time the largest for a film to have opened on over 2,000 screens). Stiff competition, as well as bad word of mouth and lack of interest is what ultimately sealed this movie's fate.
Moral Event Horizon: Shinzon went from "Attempt to make a TNG version of Khan" to "complete and utter dickwad" when he mind raped Troi as she was having sex with Riker. He does this just to get rid of his sexual frustration and to scare Troi, and the writers use this to try and prove that he still is capable of evil.
Narm: The pathetic attempt to convince us Shinzon is Picard's clone with a picture of Tom Hardy as a young Picard. Especially since the series had established several times that Picard had hair back then.
Never Live It Down: Will forever be known as the Star Trek film outperformed in its opening week by mediocre J-Lo comedy Maid in Manhattan (and then utterly annihilated by The Two Towers a few days after that). Averted in one sense however, as people largely forget that its second week box office drop-off was the biggest ever for a major release percentage-wise... mostly because Hulk and then Gigli took over that title the following summer.
Protection from Editors: One of the main reasons why the film turned out the way it did. Screenwriter John Logan was given a "no rewrites" clause in his contract, something that writers frequently insist upon but are almost never granted, and director Stuart Baird's unfamiliarity with the franchise meant that he wasn't inclined to ask Logan to tweak the script. Notably, one of the key changes to the script — the Scimitar initially having its warp core on the bridge, which was changed in the final version to the Thaleron generator being located in a small chamber behind it — was done at the insistence of technical consultant Rick Sternbach, rather than Baird or producer Rick Berman.
Retroactive Recognition: Ironically, one of the least-watched Star Trek films of all time is also the movie that introduced most of the United States to Tom Hardy, who would ultimately become one of the most recognizable actors of The New '10s. (Not that this film helped any, if anything Hardy would have been a household name much earlier than 2010 had this film not flopped the way it did.)
Special Effect Failure: The overall standard of special effects is better than in the previous movie, but some of the CGI (especially the model texturing) is awful, especially if you're watching on Blu-ray. The portable Thaleron device that Tal'aura uses to wipe out the Romulan Senate stands out, looking hardly any better than what you might have seen on a contemporary episode of Enterprise.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Among the other complaints listed, several people were put off by how the film is yet another example of Picard and Data getting the majority of screentime while a good number of the others (particularly Worf and Beverly) are shunted to the sidelines. Stuart Baird had admitted to liking the idea of Spiner getting the chance to play two characters, and Spiner himself has a screen credit as one of the story writers.
Tainted by the Preview: The screenplay was mercilessly mocked on the Internet when it was leaked before the film's release. The film's trailers, while not terrible by themselves, just helped make things worse, as they confirmed that the script had survived mostly unaltered to the final product.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: You know, even with the Ass Pull involved in the Remans being Nosferatu knockoffs and Shinzon and Picard being related, there were still seeds of a neat plot in there (that dinner scene isn't half bad). And the concept behind B4 isn't really too out there, since Dr. Soong did say prototypes existed prior to Data & Lore. And hey, the starshipfightsare pretty rad. But mash them together nonsensically, and throw in random car chases, and... well...
Not to mention that this was supposed to be the first Trek film to truly feature the Romulans, after being in the background through previous films (they almost were the Big Bad of Star Trek III). But they're barely in it. Fortunately, the next Trek movie would show how badass the Romulans are.
Imagine if the final TNG film had focused on resolving the Romulan cold war which had simmered in the background of all seven seasons of the show?
Not to mention it would make a nice mirror to the final TOS film, which saw the end of the Klingon/Federation conflict.
Possibly overlapping with WTH, Casting Agency?, but many believe Cmdr Sela from TNG would have been a better character choice than Cmdr Donatra, providing closure to another recurring character.
Not more really needs to be said about the Scorpion attack fighters other than why even introduce them if you have no plans to actually use them? And what makes this worse is that they had two perfect opportunities for a dog fight what with the Romulans coming to their aid and the Federation fleet being just outside of the nebula.
In an interview given years after the film came out, Hardy said that he took the film role very seriously, as it was intended to be his big break. The commercial failure of the film and the response from longtime fans apparently led to his relationship dissolving, his turning to alcohol, and considering suicide. It was only when he pulled himself together and starred in Bronson that he got over the film (and we all knowtherest).
Vindicated by History: It is still considered one of the worst Star Trek films by the majority of fans. However, it has seen an unexpected re-evaluation by those who hate the Abrams film series enough to class it Fanon Discontinuity.
WTH, Casting Agency?: No mean to rank on Tom Hardy who gave an okay performance, but for someone who's supposed to be a clone of Picard, he and Patrick Stewart look nothing alike! In fact, more than one critic joked that if anything, Shinzon looked and even acted more like Dr. Evil than Picard.
Slightly handwaved in the dinner scene and the novelization, where Shinzon explains that his face is different from Picard's due to being beaten in the dilythium mines many, many times. Essentially, he experienced a childhood of abuse, where Picard didn't. (Doesn't account for the thick, voluptuous lips of Hardy, however. Or the photo of Hardy as young Picard.)