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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

"Well. it seems as though we are truly sailing into the unknown."
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: June 01, 2003

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman
Other Stars: LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Shannon Cochran, Dina Meyer
Director: Stuart Baird

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sci-fi action violence and peril, and a scene of sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:56m:18s
Release Date: May 20, 2003
UPC: 097363389941
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-AA A

DVD Review

Technically, Star Trek: Nemesis is one of the best looking and best sounding of the Star Trek films and that is saying something. The Star Trek series of films has garnered many Academy Award® nominations for sound effect editing, makeup and cinemetography. Although not very successful at the box office, Nemesis was touted as the last voyage by the beloved Next Generation crew. There were even pleas during the pre-release hype for fans to pump up the box office so that the series could continue. Opening fairly strong in a tough movie market, receipts for Nemesis trailed off quickly.

At least, this entry is far better than the wretched Insurrection, which was released in 1998 and is probably the reason why Jonathan Frakes is not in the director's chair this time around. Instead, former film editor Stuart Baird was brought in for his third bow in the director's chair following 1998's sequel to The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals and the 1996 airborne action-thriller, Executive Decision. He notes that he is not very familiar with Star Trek, and unfortunately it shows in the decisions he makes in story and character. There are hints in the featurettes of conflict between the director's vision and the opinions of the powers that be in the Star Trek panoply. What finally made it to the screen is a compromise and no doubt Baird was annoyed to see his "innovations" lose out to Star Trek clichés and re-re-retelling of elements, like the character traits of the overly familiar cast.

The story is credited to John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner, the latter of whom is the actor who plays the android Data. Is it any surprise that the Data character gets to sing, the actor Spiner portrays dual roles (yet again) and that Data is crucial to the conclusion of the film? The only thing missing is having the Dr. Soong character, Data's creator (also played by Spiner), pop up. Certainly, Data was the worst part of Insurrection and he exceeds himself here as the worst science fiction character since Jar Jar Binks with the new "brother" android, B4. Good grief... why?

One might have thought that Rick Berman would have learned his lesson about participating in the story after "contributing" to Insurrection. In the featurettes, a lot of words are expended praising the script of this film with its themes and penetrating insights into the essence of Star Trek. Nope. The script by committee for Nemesis is the single worst part of this film. That the film is any good as all is a triumph over the limitations of a weak story line and a lack of Star Trek familiarity by the director.

The story is that a clone creates an intergalactic incident in order to steal the DNA of Captain Picard. (Would someone have been able to sell this to the television series as an episode?) Following the mysterious murder of the entire Romulan Senate, the tale moves to a party for Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) celebrating their nuptials. We see two characters from the television show in cameos, one allowed to speak, the other not. Whoopie Goldberg gets the dialogue as the former Ten Forward barkeep, Guinan. Wil Wheaton gets no lines and only a sliver of screen time as wunderkind Wesley Crusher. The internet was abuzz with Wheaton's tale of filming his scenes for Nemesis, only to find that they were cut on the eve of release.

As the Enterprise flies toward Betazed for the wedding ceremony, who should appear on a subspace transmission from Star Fleet Headquarters but Admiral(!) Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) from the Star Trek television spin-off, Voyager. She informs Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) of mysterious and troubling happenings in the Romulan Empire, and that the Romulans have invited a Federation vessel to a diplomatic mission there.

Another discussion in the featurettes from director Stuart Baird points out the desire to make this a standalone movie that any viewer could enjoy without knowing the back history of Star Trek. Why do they always do this? Do we have to sit through scene after scene that has been done multiple times in the series and in the previous movies, just because there might be someone who has NEVER seen Star Trek? It is just the height of lunacy; at worst it creates junk like Insurrection and at best creates flawed films like Nemesis. Berman notes in a featurette that the original cut ran only 45 minutes. If only the DVD could provide us with that original director's vision... alas. To see an original imagining of Star Trek that deviated from the tried and true would be better than a hashed up compromise that satisfies neither.

On a more positive note, the supporting performances in Nemesis are outstanding and provide a real lift to the less than substantial plotline. Tom Hardy as Praetor Shinzon does a lot with very little, in a role that has limitations by its very nature. Ron Perlman adds another fantastical character to his career as a master of makeup acting like a modern Lon Chaney. His Reman Viceroy adds a level of menace that Tom Hardy's more petulant Shinzon lacks. Dina Meyer (Romulan Commander Donatra) is known for a recurring role on Friends in 1994 as Joey Tribiani's actress girlfriend. She is very effective acting in her makeup here as well.

Patrick Stewart is typically excellent in the role of Captain Picard. Almost any other character from the Next Generation cast could be dropped without loss, but the grace of and elegance of Picard is virtually irreplaceable. By and large, the other usual suspects from the original cast perform well enough in their limited capacities.; they pretty much do those things that they have done so many times. Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) keeps an eye on the sensors and fixes Data (and whatever brother might appear). Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) analyzes DNA and conjectures the plotline forward. Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) huffs and puffs and then disappears following the Star Wars-like shootout on Deck 29 with the Reman invaders. Commander Riker, who seeming has not missed a meal since Insurrection, gets the big fight scene with the Reman Viceroy and Worf only provides cover for him? Please.

Nemesis provides good entertainment as an action film and will ultimately be more successful as a DVD than it was in the theaters. The performances, special effects and technical quality win out over the weakness in the story.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen presention comes off very well for the most part. Some scenes of intense dark are rather murky, but this is rare. There is an unusually wide range of color schemes and styles for a Star Trek film, from the Romulan Senate with its crisp, regal tones to the dark and mysterious interiors of the Reman Warbird, Scimitar, to the muted Federation classic style of the current Enterprise. The transfer does great justice to both the style and substance of the visual imagery. Technically, this is one of the best looking Star Trek films and the video transfer follows suit nicely.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Nemesis comes with English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround choices and provides an outstanding sound experience in the home theater. The super dune buggy sequence on Kolarus III has some great motion and gunfire effects. The battle sequences are terrific and can really rattle the walls. There are great examples of large and small uses of ambient sound to enhance the track. I enjoyed the sound design on this disc as much as any I have heard this year. Once again, Jerry Goldsmith provides a subtle and interesting score that continues his tradition as the Star Trek music man.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Deep Space Nine DVD The Complete First Season
7 Deleted Scenes
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Stuart Baird
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review:

Commentary by Stuart Baird: The director provides virtually a shot by shot recounting of choices made in filming Nemesis. The betrayal of his lack of familiarity with some of the details of Star Trek history will be annoying to the more than casual fan. It might provide some information to a student of film, at least in the context of tackling well-established subject matter.

The featurettes contain spoilers.

New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis (8m:42s): More thoughts from director Baird on his vision fot the film.

A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier (10m:16s): Explanation and apologia about the development and realization of the story.

A Star Trek's Family's Final Journey (16m:16s): Sentimental thoughts of cast and crew on this being potentially the last of the Next Generation films.

Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis (10m:08s): Nice technical look at the action sequences present in Nemesis, which are really the best parts.

Deleted Scenes:

Rick Berman Introduction (46s): Berman notes the whittling down process of deleting scenes as "painful." No explanation is given as to why the deleted scenes with Wesley Crusher are not included.

Chateau Picard (5m:48s): Intro by Patrick Stewart. This is a sentimental scene for Captain Picard with Data and some fancy wine tasting. This scene includes a subtle referece to The Inner Light, one of the great episodes from the Next Generation series.

The Time of Conquest (4m:22s): Intro by Stuart Baird. This talky scene introduces Shinzon earlier at the Romulan Senate and was cut in favor of first showing him in the staircase scene, after the Enterprise arrives in Romulan space.

Federation Protocols (53s): No intro. Worf discusses the hated Romulans and Federation standards with Picard.

A Loss of Self (50s) - No intro. Counselor Deanna Troi discusses with Picard his feelings about seeing the clone.

Turbolift Violation (2m:26s): Intro by Baird. Shows the first psychic violation of Troi by the Remans and includes an interesting 360-degree shot in the turbolift.

Sickbay Prepares for Battle (1m:01s): No intro. Dr. Crusher and Picard in a talky little bit of fluff.

Advice for the New First Officer (3m:44s): No intro. New First Officer Martin Madden (Steven Culp) gets some insight from Riker about Captain Picard when he reports aboard to oversee the refit of Enterprise. Also, Picard gets a new chair. This scene serves as a slightly different ending to the film (and superior to the B4 ending by far).

Photo Gallery: A very nice group of 40 pictures including costume shots, locations, sets and illustrations.

Having to choose between Main Menu and the Deep Space Nine Preview each time I insert the disc is REALLY annoying!!

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

In what has been called the "Final Journey" for the Next Generation cast, Captain Picard must protect his DNA as the galaxy convulses with the repercussions of a Romulan revolution in this DVD release of Star Trek: Nemesis. Good performances and great special effects succeed where a weak storyline fails in this, the tenth entry in the venerable science fiction series. One of the best workouts for the home theater to be released this year.

 


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