Yeoman Basha wrote:
The alternative is to not write a clone story in the first place unless it can be done convincingly.
I find that a distasteful answer. I don't like the attitude that a given kind of story "shouldn't" be told at all. It smacks of censorship at worst, a failure of imagination and ambition at best. Everything is worth trying, even with no guarantee of success. If it's difficult to pull off, then that makes it a challenge even more
Part of the screenwriter's job is not only to write a story that is dramatically compelling (not that Nemesis was) but also to write a story that can be put on film in a convincing way -- using the tools that the filmmaker has on hand at the time. I wouldn't write a Picard clone story for the same reason I wouldn't write a story where the gravity on the Enterprise goes out and the characters spend the entire two hours floating around: it's just too difficult to put on film and make it look believable.
Yes, using what's on hand at the time. Which means it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be the best available approximation -- trusting that the audience has engaged, non-atrophied imaginations and will actually make the effort to meet them halfway. For generations, filmmakers did the best they could to create images that were beyond the state of the art -- and that's the only way the state of the art could ever advance! If people had thought the way you do, that if something couldn't be achieved perfectly it shouldn't even be tried, then filmmakers would never have challenged themselves to push their limits and discover new ways of doing things. And actors can't improve as actors if they aren't willing to tackle difficult challenges -- like giving a good enough performance to convince an audience to accept that they're the same person as someone they don't look or sound like. Would Tom Hardy be as respected an actor as he is today if he hadn't been willing to tackle challenges like pretending to be Patrick Stewart's clone? Whether he succeeded or not, the challenge itself, the attempt to surmount it, was how he refined his craft and gained experience. Your attitude is one of surrender and avoidance, and that's not what makes creativity work. It's not what enables anyone to succeed at anything in life.
I'm sorry that you find my answer distasteful but the only "censorship" I see here is that I have no desire to watch a story that is simply bad and insulting to my intelligence. Telling the "evil twin" story for the umpteenth time, with no real character development or interesting themes to speak of is just plain bad storytelling and has no interest for me. So why would I want to do all the mental gymnastics required to believe two different-looking actors are playing the same character when the story is lousy to begin with?
Of course "lousy" is in the eye of the beholder, but the fact remains that Nemesis
was a major flop both critically and commercially, so obviously something wasn't working right.
I'd say Tom Hardy is doing well today in spite of
his turn as Shinzon -- not because of it. Yes, actors have to set challenges for themselves, but those challenges should be interesting and well thought-out. I mean your argument is all great in theory -- we could just have the actors stand on an empty stage, without sets or props or costumes, and have them play out a Star Trek movie that way. Or we could go back to the times of ancient Greece when all the roles, including females, were played by men, and we would all just willingly suspend our disbelief. It would be challenging for the actors. But it would not work in a modern-day Star Trek movie.