Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
Introduction
The Next Generation crew have clearly been through a lot over the years. They’ve been into battle with nearly every living thing in the universe; they’ve wrecked the vastly superior Enterprise D (no emails please!) and still they find enough time to cause havoc in various quadrants of the galaxy! It’s not always their fault admittedly but it still makes for some fascinating entertainment. Star Trek: Nemesis marks the release of the tenth Trek film and the fourth adventure for Picard and motley crew. After the slightly disappointing 1998 release of Insurrection, do they still have what it takes; or is it time to eject the warpcore – for good. Read on.

Star Trek: Nemesis
Movie
A new era is dawning for the Next Generation crew. It may have taken an entire series and four feature length movies, but finally Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has got his act together and tied the knot with Counsellor Troi (Marina Sirtis). Everybody’s in attendance at the wedding including a few familiar faces such as the ever-reflective Guinan, and the ever-annoying Wesley Crusher; though you’ll have to look rather closely to notice him! However, in the wake of this joyful event, another rather sinister event is unfolding in the Romulan Empire. A new leader of Romulus has been appointed under mysterious circumstances and the trusty crew of the Enterprise are sent to investigate the situation. Along the way they conveniently encounter an early prototype of Data named B-4. Is it just coincidence; or is there something more sinister lying in wait for Captain Jean-Luc Picard…

So how well does Nemesis stand-up to past trek adventures? Unfortunately, not very well. The main problem with Nemesis is that it tries too hard. From the outset it was clear that the Paramount big wigs wanted to try and appeal to the general public as much as possible. Up until now Trek had always been classed as a pretty geeky thing to like and that’s questionably held the movies back from their true box office potential. With Star Trek: Nemesis they decided to try and bring Trek to the mainstream by enlisting somebody that had never watched an episode of the series in his life – Stuart Baird. It’s not hard to see why they wanted to do this, The Wrath Of Khan is seen by many as the best trek film created and that was written by men with no prior experience of the franchise. What is a little harder to see is why they set their sights as low as the director of US Marshals and Executive Decision.

For me, Star Trek films have always been about the character interaction between the crew. Unfortunately Nemesis decides to put that on the back burner and instead focuses on the plethora of action set pieces. This is perfectly demonstrated with the car chase (yes, car chase) across Kolarus III which feels completely out of place and included simply because it would ‘look cool’. Still, there’s plenty of original, back to basics trek action as well. The scene in which the Enterprise rams the Scimitar is true movie magic and something that a lot of fans have wanted to see for a long time – including me. The special effects here are particularly impressive with parts of both ships tearing away in the impact. Good stuff!

Star Trek: Nemesis
Performances on the whole are strong, with a few minor exceptions. Patrick Stewart is of course on top form as everyone’s favourite bald captain. Contrary to other reviews of the film, he doesn’t just sleep walk through his role and instead puts in a pretty emotional performance at times. Not quite on a par with his work on First Contact but solid none the less. Brent Spiner also turns in a touching performance as Commander Data. Although the ‘brother’ storyline is a little overused (Data’s brother Lore was featured frequently in the series) there are still a number of great scenes that may even evoke a tear from one or two. The villain of the film played by Tom Hardy is much more disappointing. Although there’s nothing particularly wrong with his performance (albeit slightly camp performance) the character is very two-dimensional. The main fault of the film is that it fails to explain convincingly why he feels so hostile towards the human race. Seeing as he was brought up in slavery under the Romulans you’d think he’d be far more hostile towards them! Also turning in a weak performance is Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. I’ve never been a huge fan of her character anyway but her performance here is almost non-existent. Particularly bad is the controversial mind rape scene, which will have you cringing for all the wrong reasons.

Video
Paramount has put together a stunning 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for this latest Trek adventure. Seeing as this is almost certainly going to be the last voyage for The Next Generation, it’s only fair that Paramount have put out the best Trek transfer yet. The transfer present on Nemesis easily surpasses the previous releases of First Contact and Insurrection with no major image flaws visible. There was a tiny degree of grain present on some of the darker scenes but nothing too distracting. I should also mention the scenes that take place on Kolarus III. The scenes here are grainy and make use of several filters to alter the contrast and general appearance of the film. This is the director’s intention and therefore will not affect my overall score.

Audio
One of the major selling points of Star Trek: Nemesis would have to be the level of action it includes so you’d imagine the soundtrack to be pretty intensive. Thankfully – it is. Included on the disc is an incredibly active Dolby Digital 5.1 track which really brings the film to life. The quality of sound here is truly outstanding with high use of the rear speakers to put you knee deep in the action. This is without a doubt the most aggressive Star Trek soundtrack ever. Again, Paramount has done us proud.

Star Trek: Nemesis
Extras
Considering the comparatively poor theatrical take, Paramount has still given Star Trek: Nemesis a pretty well rounded disc. First and foremost is an audio commentary with director Stuart Baird. Seeing as Baird is a bit of an outsider in regards to trek, the commentary makes for quite interesting listening. Among other things he discusses his break from tradition with the opening titles; why a number of scenes were cut from the wedding sequence and more. My only criticism with the commentary would be the number of pauses Baird makes throughout it. In some instances, quite a few minutes pass without any commentary, which was a little disappointing. Still, well worth a listen if you’re a fan of the film, or just a Trek fan that demands answers on some of the more questionable decisions made!

Next up is a featurette entitled ‘New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis’. The featurette lasts to just a little over eight minutes and includes interviews with the cast and crew who basically proceed to worship the ground that Baird works on! Plenty of behind the scenes footage is also included as well as input from Baird himself. He talks about his lack of knowledge of the Trek universe and even goes as far as admitting that ‘it’s not necessarily my genre’.  We also learn about how Tom Hardy was first cast as Shinzon. During his initial screen tests it turns out that Hardy actually obtained a script and did a totally different part to the one he was meant to. I expect he downloaded it off of the internet like nearly everybody else!

The next feature is entitled ‘A Bold Vision Of The Final Frontier’ and runs to a little under ten minutes. This featurette focuses primarily on the design of the film including designs of sets and ships like the Scimitar. Giving a running commentary on all of these is director Stuart Baird. Particularly of interest here are the film to storyboard comparisons as well as a look at how they wrecked the bridge during the decompression sequence. A surprisingly in-depth feature and a welcome addition to the disc.

Star Trek: Nemesis
Following on from that we have a feature entitled ‘A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey’ which runs to just under sixteen minutes. It is looking increasingly likely that this will indeed be the final journey so this one will probably interest a lot of the fans out there. Unfortunately this featurette isn’t really what I had been expecting or indeed hoping for. I was looking for the cast to reflect on all of the years behind them on the series and feature films, but instead this acts as a feature to promote the film. All of the interviews are interspersed with short sections from the film, which make the features runtime appear meatier than it is.

The final featurette is entitled ‘Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis’ and runs to a little under ten minutes in total. Plenty of behind the scenes action is included here and unsurprisingly focuses on the action sequences littered throughout the film. Among other things we learn just how much Patrick Stewart enjoyed driving the Argo, and how much Brent Spiner didn’t! We also get a look at how the Enterprise ramming scene was first conceived and pulled off. Until this feature arrived I had been under the impression that the Enterprise was CGI only but this disproves it as we see plenty of model action too. On the whole a pretty fascinating piece.

Next up are the all-important deleted scenes. Each of the scenes is presented in an unfinished and non-anamorphic state so the quality does suffer. There are seven scenes included in total: Chateau Picard 2267, The Time Of Conquest, Federation Protocols, A Loss Of Self, Turbolift Violation, Sickbay Prepares for Battle and Advice for the New First Officer. Nearly all of these include an introduction from either Stuart Baird, producer Rick Berman or Patrick Stewart. The quality of these scenes is surprisingly high and in a few instances I believe scenes should have stayed in the final cut. The main contender would have to be ‘Chateau Picard 2267’ in which Picard and Data share a conversation after the wedding of Riker and Troi. This touching little scene would have added a much needed element to the movie and made the closing stages of the film far more poignant.  Another scene worthy of note would be the introduction of the new first officer. Although rightfully cut this amusing little scene features a nice exchange between the Captain and first officer as well as a throwaway gag involving a seatbelt.

Completing the package is a photo gallery and promotional trailers. The photo gallery contains fourty production drawings and images ranging from conceptual designs for the Argo to photos of the empty wedding party venue. Each of the images can be changed via the remote control. Finally we have previews for the Deep Space Nine DVD’s, Star Trek The Experience and the theatrical release of The Hours starring Nicole Kidman.

Star Trek: Nemesis
Overall
If this is indeed the last adventure for the crew of the Enterprise I’d be disappointed. Not because the series that I had loved as a child was over, but because it had ended with such a wimper. Nemesis does many things right, some of the action sequences really are genuinely breathtaking and certainly put to shame a lot of Trek’s past special effects work. However, at other times the special effects look overwhelmingly fake. I’ve always been a fan of the model work in Star Trek and unfortunately with Nemesis they decided to opt primarily for an all-cgi Enterprise that lacks the detail of a good model. Compare the scenes in First Contact with Nemesis and you should see what I mean. The final voyage of the Enterprise should have been about the characters, and unfortunately many are all but ignored here. Despite this Paramount have put together a pretty solid first release of Star Trek Nemesis with a great visual and audio presentation. I emphasise first as I’m sure we’ll be seeing another release a few years down the line with even more deleted scenes and supplemental features!  


Links: