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Star Trek Nemesis (widescreen)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Sci-Fi Action Violence, and Perilo and a scene of Sexual Content)

Running Time: 116 minutes

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frankes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis

Screenplay by: John Logan
Story by: John Logan & Rick Berman & Brent Spiner
Based on "Star Trek" created by: Gene Roddenberry

Directed by: Stuart Baird

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Baird, New Frontiers: Stuart Baird On Directing "Nemesis," A Bold Vision Of The Final Frontier, A Star Trek Family's Final Journey, Red Alert! Shooting The Action Of "Nemesis," Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, Previews

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (24 Scenes)

Released: May 20th, 2003

 

 

Well here's an interesting one to talk about! "Star Trek Nemesis" wasn't simply just simply another Trek film where all the fans line up and see it and it makes a modest box office gross, this one bombed hard - which some saw coming and others really didn't. The film made a decent amount of money its opening weekend, but then it took a major drop. Reviews were mediocre, but it seems many Trek fans really disliked this movie (for who knows why). Of course not all of the mainstream moviegoing was going to see this film, but the lack of fan support was surprising. Maybe Trek fans are too trustworthy of other Trek fans. Sure, many hated the "Star Wars" sequels but both made huge sums of money (then again, "Star Wars" is bigger than "Star Trek" in many respects). So with the lack of support and fan reaction, this all led to many questions. Is the "Star Trek" film franchise truly dead? Is "Nemesis" really that bad of a movie?

I know I am not the one to judge this film in the context of Trek lore. Despite reviewing some of the "Star Trek" movies and "The Next Generation" box sets on DVD, I am still pretty clueless about the whole universe. I may have more tolerance for this science-fiction stuff now, but that doesn't mean I am an obsessed fan now (pardon my cyncism but I still really don't care about the whole Trek mythology). I think I can only judge "Nemesis" as a straightforward film, which is what I plan to do. But with that said, I still can't tell you why this film flopped. December 2002 was a very big and competitive time for films, so maybe it was a stupid move to open this film around that time. Or maybe some knew that the franchise was ending from the start, only leaving some possibility for another if the film did real well. With a tag line like "A generation's final journey begins," it certainly highlights the start of the end or maybe just the end. I've heard some of the cast say that they're not interested in making more Trek films. I'm sure Patrick Stewart doesn't want to be Picard forever.

In the latest (and perhaps final) installment of the Trek movie franchise, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) finally get married. But the celebration becomes interesting when the crew of the Enterprise head near a neutral area of Romulan space. There they meet and pick up parts of what seem to be a twin of Data (Brent Spiner) and are subsequently sent to Romulus. It turns out the Romulans want peace and want Picard to be the Federation's emissary. But a vague clone (he's half-Reman) of Picard named Shinzon has him captured because he needs something quite personal from him. But this of course leads to a greater battle that deals with the fate of the world.

"Nemesis" is an interesting Trek romp. I suppose you don't have to be totally into "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to watch the film, but being familiar with the characters certainly helps. Things are decently but not perfectly set up - the hints and nods will be good enough to the casual viewer but die-hard Trek fans will feel rewarded in their own ways. I thought the story was interesting enough and nicely developed throughout, with interesting action set pieces and some decent special effects. I suppose it does expand on some of the characters from the franchise, but not by much for most of them. Nonetheless, I'm sure fans are thrilled to see them in another adventure they'll either hate or love, as it does feature some pretty interesting and intriguing twists (fan reaction will always be interesting about the fate of one character in the film). Mainstream viewers will probably be mildly entertained if they dig science-fiction to some extent.

I really enjoyed the energy Stuart Baird brought to the movie. He movies it at a very snappy pace and is careful not to prolong or overdo the film's plot or action. I appreciated that when I felt a scene was getting a bit tiresome, he wrapped it up in a pretty straightforward but worthy manner. But what counts the most is that he makes a solid, if not intriguing science-fiction film that does stand on its own. The plot and what happens in this movie is form and stands steady. Like I said, you don't really need to be familiar with Trek-lore to enjoy this movie and be entertained by at least some aspect of it. It's well shot and really just a fine, stand alone adventure with strong points about humanity (wasn't that the point of "Star Trek" anyway?). Of course, if you like Trek, then you'll like and get more out of this one since you love these characters and want to know what happens with them. Or maybe you'll feel the opposite. Maybe you won't like what happens in this movie (I'm sure a lot won't be pleased with a certain circumstance toward the end) and feel it doesn't fit the world or characters quite well... perhaps as if its more of a standard romp that sells out in its own respects all in a way to bring some closure to "The Next Generation." Since I'm not a die-hard fan, I really can't be the judge of all that. Though I'm certain some of you will feel that way.

The acting is quite good here, as you'd expect. Obviously the cast members have chemistry and get along very well. I think Patrick Stewart is a very underrated actor who shines in anything he's in, but this is the role people know him best for and as captain, he's damn good like usual. Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes bring their usual likeable selves and charms to their characters, and then LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner have some comic foiling with their sidekickish roles (who doesn't love LeVar!?). I also though Tom Hardy did a very good job in his villainous part. But for all the things the movie does right, sometimes it gets a bit too out there and does lose some seriousness. It almost becomes cheesy, especially with some of the dialogue and humor. Worf getting smashed on illegal alien booze? Data singing? A certain bartender being married more times than Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Evans combined? Hilarious! Then again, all of that is in a single scene. But be warned, the cheese factor runs close to high sometimes later on in the movie and there is more "comic relief" to be had.

So is "Star Trek Nemesis" the worst Trek film of all time? I haven't seen them all, so I can't judge that either (sorry, but at least give me points for being honest). But personally? I enjoyed this movie. It's fun for what it is. It's entertaining. It might not dig deeper into the Trek franchise as some of you are probably hoping for, but I don't think it ruins it by taking a different - and perhaps more mainstream - approach. The filmmakers could have done a lot worse to make a terrible movie, but I don't think this installment is as bad as people are claiming. Nonetheless, most of you didn't see it in the first place for a reason. And because of that and whatever reactions and feelings, this might be the nail in the coffin for the Trek film franchise. But was this a long time coming? Maybe, maybe not.

We all screw ourselves in the end, anyway.

 

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Star Trek Nemesis" looks quite gorgeous and is one of the best transfers from the usually consistent Paramount I've seen in a very long time. Despite being a little grainy, a dirt piece and blemish here and there, slight noise, some edge haloing and just a little hint of edge enhancment, the image is downright splendid (and it's a shame those factors get in the way, but are never anything too annoying). The image pops right out of you and is filled with depth, making it a very stunning three-dimensional image. Detail is quite wonderful as well as impressive, while fleshtones look terrific. Color saturation is vibrant and quite bold - the film has a strong color scheme and it all fits well. In short, this is a very sharp and beautiful transfer that looks damn good.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 by no means is groundbreaking, but it is very good and creates the perfect atmosphere for the film. Dialogue is quite clear and is centered, while the musical score from Jerry Goldsmith nicely fills the channel with a guided sense of ambiance. Surround effects are pretty plentiful and do shake the speakers hard - the action scenes are well mixed and really tend to bring you more into the film (the vehicle chase scene when they pick up the Data clone parts is pretty cool). There are more subtle effects (like the background noises on the Enterprise or the hums of space) as well that add a nice touch. Subwoofer use is very well-rounded too. All of the sound elements are nicely balanced, so one does not overtake the other. A booming but sweet Dolby Digital track that is nothing short of pleasant. Very well done. Also included are Dolby Surround tracks in French and English, plus subtitles and closed captions in English.

 

While I am still confused in how Paramount justifies it's "Special Collector's Edition" label, it'd seem to me that "Star Trek Nemesis" would get that recognition since there is a decent amount of stuff here (and a great amount in comparison to other Paramount releases). Still, it doesn't get that treatment and makes me wonder - maybe in a few years we'll see a two-disc special edition of this film?

To start things off we have an Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Baird. Let me just say I love this guy's voice! His weird and creepy accent certainly had me intrigued not to mention his descriptions that are overly dramatic. Nonetheless, Baird's storytelling-esque voice and unique perspective make him the perfect commentator as he guides you through the film. Thankfully, all of this is worth it since he delivers a strong commentary filled with creative decisions, cuts he made in the film and describes what kind of shots he used. He also gives some background information on "Star Trek" and remembers quite a few names and gives praise to those people. Baird also talks about his vision of how he wanted scenes to be played out. He's guilty of describing what's going on screen at times, but he doesn't overdo it and I'll let it pass. In all, an excellent commentary. If you enjoyed the movie, do give it a listen (and if you didn't, listen to it anyway for Baird's awesome voice).

New Frontiers: Stuart Baird On Directing "Nemesis" lasts a little under nine minutes. Featuring behind-the-scenes clips of shooting, stills and clips from the final film, interviews highlight what an asset Baird was to directing this film and how much people enjoyed him working on it. Producer Rick Berman, Tom Hardy, Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart talk about working with the man and his great qualities. We then hear from the man himself on taking on the project and admitting that he's not a Trekkie. Baird's refreshing approach at looking at the film simply as a film is interesting, and he talks about making the film as far as the characters, story and even casting. It does overlap slightly with the commentary, but is definitely worth watching.

A Bold Vision Of The Final Frontier lasts a bit over ten minutes, and focuses more on the film's production design with behind-the-scenes footage, film clips and stills. Baird talks storyboarding the action and making it a reality. Baird talks about improvising when there was a lack of funds and highlights some important parts of the film. This is actually an interesting way to storyboard-to-scene comparisons, as we see storyboards and film clips put together at times, Baird narrating or him talking all mixed with some other stills and other kinds of footage. Another strong watch.

A Star Trek Family's Final Journey lasts sixteen minutes and sixteen seconds is your typical cast and crew recollection of the movie, but it's still interesting. LeVar Burton, Tom Hardy, Maria Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, writer John Logan, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Rick Berman, Whoopi Goldberg and Brent Spiner talk about making the movie and how special the film is, and the themes of the "Star Trek Family" coming together and breaking apart. Topped with on-the-set footage and film clips, the cast and crew talk about what happens in the movie and what they think of it - Patrick Stewart even speculates some fan reaction. Still, they all do offer some pretty interesting insights about the film's story and the characters, and what it all means within the Trek's universe as well as thematically. Logan does some good compare and contrasting on the story and characters too. It does ruin some of the film's main plot points, so it's probably a good idea to watch this after you've seen the movie for a strong reflection. Nonetheless, a strong look at the film that did make me appreciate it more.

Red Alert! Shooting The Action Of "Nemesis" lasts a little over ten minutes. Seems like all the actors love action as interviews, more on-the-set footage and film clips highlight this. Maria Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Ron Perlman and Michael Dorn talk about the love of action, and the crew talks about making the action (such as stunt coordinator Doug Coleman). The main action set pieces are discussed here and shown in fine example, and the basic idea you get from all of this is that everyone loves action and loved being part of it (Patrick Stewart talks rather passionately about it all) not to mention how it's created. Well done.

Wrapping things up are seven Deleted Scenes, with optional introduction from Rick Berman. But then when you click on certain scenes, Patrick Stewart or Stuart Baird also make some nice introductions. The scenes add a bit more to the movie which is nice, and the scenes are pretty good for the most part. So if you want more "Nemesis" and more additions, then this is the place to go. You can tell why they were cut, but I think in all, they help the film more than you'd probably expect from the usual batch of deleted material. They are in decent quality non-anamorphic widescreen.

Finally, we have a Photo Gallery which is pretty decent to look at and some Previews - one for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" on DVD as well as "The Hours" (for whatever reason). But no trailers for the actual film. Hmph! Maybe because they were cross-trailered on previous "Trek" DVD releases and there's no sense of advertising for this film? And in annoying twist, you can access the previews at the start or go to the main menu. Maybe I shouldn't be complaining since they're not directly forced.

 

It might not live up to the recent "Star Trek" film re-releases that span two discs, but if you're a fan of the franchise or missed this one in theaters (apparently there are a lot of you), then "Star Trek Nemesis" is worth picking up. There is a decent amount of interesting supplements, a fine 5.1 Dolby Digital mix and a lovely transfer. Since Paramount lost a lot of money on this one during its theatrical run, you Trekkies better support this DVD release. This could very well be the end of the "Star Trek" film franchise, so enjoy this movie and disc for what its worth.