STAR TREK: NEMESIS
Reviewed June 6th, 2003 by Brian White
“We’ll make this much money if we put it out in December, but we’ll only make this much money if we put it out in November.” I bet that was the logic at Paramount, and I hope the guy who came up with the idea lost his job. Star Trek Nemesis hit theaters in the midst of the Christmas blockbuster season, and nobody went to see it. If you are a Trekkie, and you are in the middle of the typical craziness before Christmas, be it at work or at school, are you going to go to see the tenth Trek film, or are you going to wait until next weekend and see The Two Towers? Exactly. And that is what they all did.
Nemesis reunites the cast of the Next Generation, who try to thwart the attempts of Shinzon, another bad guy who wants to take over the universe. Shinzon hijacks the Romulan Senate, and then sets out on his evil mission. Shinzon and Picard have a very interesting bond. This bond plays into the underlying theme of the story: family. The gang is breaking up, and Picard is losing his kids in a way. It is ironic then that the family breaks up in what is probably the last Star Trek film to feature this cast.
As a result of the poor box office performance, Nemesis has gotten a poor rap. This is not fair, because Nemesis, when you add up all the pieces, is a great Star Trek flick. Paramount, the filmmakers and the cast are left scratching their heads, because they thought they’d made a hit. Nemesis is not as good as First Contact, but it is almost as good as First Contact. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the film is the fact that the bigger a Star Trek fan you are, the less emotional impact the film contains. John Logan, who wrote Gladiator, was brought in to write the script. An admitted Trekkie, Logan set out to make the best Star Trek movie that he could. Unfortunately, the best Star Trek movie has already been made: Wrath of Khan. Logan took far to many cues from Star Trek II. The movie is too similar thematically, structurally, and even literally to the previous release. Due to this similarity, the emotional effect of rather large events is eclipsed by the fact that the audience recognizes much of what they are seeing on the screen.
To be fair, there is some great action in this flick, and it is presented very well. The jeep sequence on the planet is very cool, as is the bit with Picard and Data flying the little fighter through the halls of the bad guy’s starship. Special effects are top-notch, and there are some very clever bits of writing, such as Troy’s solution when the Enterprise is in real trouble.
Director Stuart Baird wanted to give Nemesis the feel of an epic, and he succeeds. This is a large movie, unlike Insurrection, which suffered from being a little quaint. On one of the interview bits included on the disc, Baird mentions “all that we were allowed to do with Star Trek.” This is the biggest problem with Nemesis. Here is perhaps the best Star Trek movie that they could have made within the parameters that producer Rick Berman allowed. The new television show, Enterprise, goes out of this box because Voyager stank up the box. Nemesis, on the other hand, is made firmly within the Star Trek box, and we’ve just seen it all before. We accept James Bond in a very tight box, but for some reason Star Trek has gotten stale with too many restrictions.
Nemesis is worth seeing for the sleek presentation and some very cool action bits. The interaction between the characters is great, and the performances are quite good as well. There is a real epic feeling to this movie, despite its familiarity.
As for the DVD, the anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is just lovely. There is great clarity here. The viewer can see the quality of the transfer in close-ups that look very detailed, as well as in the whistles and bells of the special effects shots. We have space ships, and we have action. It all looks great. The section with the jeep chase has been treated to present a grainy, golden look. This also looks great on the DVD. A separate Full Screen edition is available.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is an improvement over past Star Trek mixes. First Contact sounded cool, but Nemesis sounds really cool. Every time the Enterprise flies over your head, you get plenty of rumble, and lots of sound in the surround speakers. There is very good use of your subwoofer when Shinzon’s weapon is fired up and it makes a throbbing rumble. Sparks zap all around you, and laser fights fill the room. Well done.
Paramount actually put some extras on this DVD release, unlike most of the previous Trek DVD releases. There is bonus content here, but there is still plenty of room for a special edition. Baird gives a feature-length, screen specific commentary. For the most part, he discusses sets and how he changed the script. There are also a number of featurettes, though most are just bits from one interview with Baird. There is some interview footage with the cast, but not enough. Some interesting deleted scenes are included. The best is the scene with Picard and Data that expands upon some of Logan’s family theme. Another good deleted scene is an alternate ending. It is a little jokey, but fun to watch. Some sketches and photographs are included, as well as previews that Paramount seems to want to force you to watch. All extras seem to have been completed before the film’s release. Perhaps a special edition will allow the filmmakers to reflect on what might have gone wrong.
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