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MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
In the wake of a joyful wedding between Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis), Picard receives another reason to celebrate: the Romulans want peace and the captain will be the Federation's emissary. But as the Enterprise heads toward the Romulan Empire, a brilliant villain awaits-harboring a diabolical plan of destruction and an unimaginable secret that will give Picard his most fearsome challenge.

Director:
Stuart Baird
Cast:
Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Dina Meyer
Writing Credits:
John Logan

Tagline:
A Generation's Final Journey ... Begins
Box Office:
Budget $70 million.
Opening weekend $18.513 million on 2711 screens.
Domestic gross $43.119 million.
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and peril and a scene of sexual content.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Surround
French Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 10/4/2005

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary from Director Stuart Baird
• Audio Commentary from Producer Rick Berman
• Text Commentary
Disc Two
• “Nemesis Revisited” Featurette
• “New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis” Featurette
• “Storyboarding the Action” Featurette
• “Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis” Featurette
• “”Build and Rebuild” Featurette
• “Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier” Featurette
• Shinzon Screen Test
• “A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey” Featurette
• “A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier” Featurette
• “The Enterprise E” Featurette
• “Romulan Lore” Featurette
• “Shinzon and the Viceroy” Featurette
• “Romulan Design” Featurette
• “The Romulan Senate” Featurette
• “The Scimitar” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Storyboards
• Trailers


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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: Nemesis (Special Edition) (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 28, 2005)

So much for the legendary “odd/even” curse that allegedly dictated which Star Trek films would rule and which would drool. Since I don’t like the even-numbered Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home but I really enjoy the odd-numbered Star Trek: Generations, I never subscribed to that theory anyway.

The tenth entry in the Trek cinematic series, 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis formally kills the “even/odd” trend for even those who resolutely depended it over the years. Maybe we need to begin a “divisible by five” theory, as Nemesis - which could also be called Star Trek X - joins 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as the least successful entries in the franchise.

Actually, with inflation, Frontier probably made as much or more than 1998’s Insurrection, but although many fans dislike the latter, the former remains the series’ most widely disparaged effort. We’ll need a few years of hindsight to determine if Nemesis will endure such widespread disdain, but it will probably go down as the biggest financial dud of the series. With a gross of only $43 million, it came and went without leaving much of a wake.

Did Nemesis deserve to flop? No, but it didn’t offer one of the best Trek experiences. The film starts with a meeting of the Romulan Imperial Senate. They discuss a proposition from a dude named Shinzon to unify the planets Romulus and Remus. When the senate rejects the concept, Shinzon’s allies stage a violent coup. We later learn that Shinzon’s taken over as praetor.

Before then, however, we cut to the long-awaited wedding of Enterprise First Officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). They plan to finally leave the Enterprise, and Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) will take his place as Number One at Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) side.

Before this split occurs, however, the Enterprise picks up a positronic signature that seems to indicate the existence of an android on a planet called Kolarus III. Picard decides to investigate, so when they arrive, he takes Data and Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) down to the surface. There they find a disassembled robot named B-4 (Spiner again), a less sophisticated predecessor of Data’s.

After they come under assault by unknown forces, the four barely escape, and they make it back to the Enterprise, where they try to learn more about B-4. “B-4” this gets too far, though, they get the command to take on a diplomatic mission to Romulus where they will meet the Reman Praetor Shinzon.

When they arrive, they encounter a Reman warbird called the Scimitar and first meet Shinzon’s Viceroy (Ron Perlman) before they get to chat with the man himself (Tom Hardy). Shinzon speaks of his desire for peace and hints at an intimate connection between himself and Picard.

I’ll halt my synopsis there, for I don’t want to ruin any potential surprises. Suffice it to say that the rest of Nemesis investigates these links and also gets into Shinzon’s motives and true desires.

Like the best Trek, Nemesis enjoys an intellectual side absent from most flicks in the genre. Here the debate over nature vs. nurture comes to the forefront, and this occasionally adds some depth to the proceedings. However, “some” depth is about all we get, as the movie never really seems to invest much effort in those notions. Essentially, Nemesis pays lip service to the concepts but doesn’t dive into them with any substance; it remains largely superficial in that regard.

That’s the main problem with Nemesis: it can’t quite invest much energy in any domain. It dabbles in some psychology, it tosses in the odd battle sequence, and it presents some relationship material. Unfortunately, it fails to explore any of these subjects in a rich manner. It keeps all of them at a distance to a large degree and doesn't manage to go much of anywhere.

That doesn’t mean I regard Nemesis as a flop, for it offers some good moments. It embraces too many clichés; it goes into some “evil twin” bits, and the climax far too strongly echoes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However, it provides a couple of very good action sequences and maintains a reasonably fluid and engaging story. It also works better the second time, as I preferred it during my DVD viewing than I did when I watched it theatrically. That’s the opposite of something like Insurrection, which shows more flaws with additional glimpses.

Perhaps eventually I’ll really like Nemesis and think of it as a stronger film than I do currently. However, after three screenings, I regard it as firmly average Trek, and it remains something of a disappointment. The movie certainly had potential, and it occasionally lives up to those possibilities. Unfortunately, the overall presentation is fairly lackluster and not something that manages to stick with the viewer.

Continuity oddity: at one point during the film, Picard looks at a photo of himself as a young man. The 20-something Picard sports a noticeable lack of hair; if anything, he looks balder than the current incarnation. However, when we saw young Picard on the TV series, he had a normal shock of hair on his head. I fully understand the reasons they changed this for the movie – which I won’t discuss since they fall into the spoiler realm – but it still seems like a weird choice.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A-

Star Trek: Nemesis appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though a few small issues popped up at times, overall Nemesis presented a very solid picture.

For the most part, sharpness appeared terrific. A few oddly soft sequences occurred. For example, the opening shots of the Romulan senate were moderately ill defined and indistinct. Similar issues popped up once or twice during the remainder of the film, but the flick usually looked concise and detailed. Jagged edges showed no concerns, but I witnessed a little shimmering at times and a sliver of edge enhancement in a couple of shots. Print flaws seemed limited to a speckle or two; otherwise, I discerned no defects.

Nemesis usually presented a rather rich and sumptuous palette, but it occasionally went with extremely stylized tones. The most notable example of this occurred during the shots on desert planet Kolarus III. The film went for a heavily bleached appearance there that totally washed out any colors. Otherwise, the movie featured nicely vivid and vibrant hues that presented no problems. Black levels tended to appear deep and dense, and shadow detail normally came across as accurate and well defined. I thought the initial low-light shots on the Scimitar were a little murky, but that issue didn’t recur. Ultimately, Nemesis fell short of greatness visually but it mostly looked terrific.

When I compared the picture quality of this DVD with the original 2003 release, I observed no changes. If any differences occurred between the pair, they escaped me, as I thought both looked identical.

The “Special Collector’s Edition of Nemesis presented the same Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack along with a DTS 5.1 mix. I thought the DTS version was minimally superior to the Dolby one, largely due to slightly greater bass impact. However, both were much more alike than they were different. For all intents and purposes, they offered the same audio.

As one might expect from this sort of action flick, the soundfield played a strong role in the proceedings. Much of the time, all five channels got a nice workout. The score demonstrated nice stereo imaging and effects received accurate and precise localization. Elements popped up where I expected them and they blended together smoothly. Quite a few scenes offered solid surround usage as well. The dune buggy chase on Kolarus III really kicked the track into gear, and the escape from the Scimitar and other ship battles also demonstrated fine movement and integration.

Audio quality appeared very good. Effects came across as accurate and distinctive, and they failed to demonstrate any signs of distortion or other flaws. Speech sounded natural and warm, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was bright and full, as the score seemed dynamic and rich. Bass response appeared tight and bold throughout the movie; some sequences really tested my subwoofer. The soundtrack of Nemesis didn’t match “demonstration” levels, but it offered the kind of vivid and involving auditory experience I expected.

While the original DVD included a decent set of extras, this “Special Collector’s Edition” expands on those. Virtually everything from the original also pops up here. I’ll note duplicated materials with an asterisk, so if you don’t see a star, that means the component is exclusive to this package.

This set includes two separate audio commentaries. We begin with a track from *director Stuart Baird. He offers a running, screen-specific piece that only intermittently seems interesting. The director discusses changes in the script, scenes edited out of the movie, effects challenges, visual choices, and a few other elements. At best, he adds a smattering of worthwhile notes, such as when he relates the actual danger experienced by Jonathan Frakes during a stunt. However, Baird goes silent a lot of the time, and when he does speak, his statements remain fairly uncompelling. I didn’t mind the time I spent with Baird, but after he finished, I found it tough to recall any stimulating and concrete notes he’d provided. This remains a very mediocre track.

For the second commentary, we hear from producer Rick Berman. He also provides a running, screen-specific discussion. Berman goes over story issues and cuts, casting, and budgetary restrictions. Based on my prior experiences with Berman interviews, I thought he’d come across as dull here. Unfortunately, I was correct.

Almost all of the moderately interesting information pops up in the first act. Not that Berman provides a surfeit of good notes in that portion, but at least he makes matters occasionally useful. After that, however, the commentary goes into the toilet. Reams of dead air occur, and when Berman does finally speak, he says little that tells us anything interesting. Berman’s commentary is a boring, tedious dud.

DVD One ends with the standard text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda. As usual, this covers a mix of topics such as story issues and cut sequences, guest cast, crewmembers, visual effects and stunts, sets and locations, connections to other Trek work, and various production notes. The Okudas go through the material efficiently and concisely to provide a nice overview of the requisite subjects.

When we move to DVD Two, we start with a domain called “Production”. This area opens with a new featurette entitled Nemesis Revisited. It runs 25 minutes, 43 seconds and offers the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interviews, a format it shares with the other programs. We hear from Berman, actors Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Tom Hardy and Brent Spiner, and writer John Logan. They discuss their reunion after four years away from Trek, story issues and the tale’s development, and characters. A little material from the commentaries repeats here, and the title seems misleading; it implies the show includes recent interviews, whereas I believe all of them come from the period of the movie’s creation. Nonetheless, the program provides a nice synopsis of the story and character-related subects.

We revisit the director with *New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis. The eight-minute and 42-second featurette starts with some praise for the director from Berman, Stewart, Frakes, Spiner, and Hardy, but the meat of it presents comments from Baird himself.

The director discusses how he latched onto the project, his prior ignorance of the Trek universe, the casting of Hardy, and some character introspection. His remarks here seem pretty compelling and useful, which offers a contrast to his fairly dull commentary. Unfortunately, the short program includes way too many movie clips. Message to the DVD’s producers: we already own the flick, so we don’t need to see all that stuff! It feels like it’s there just to pad the running time of the featurette, but it’s unnecessary and somewhat tedious. Otherwise, “Frontiers” offers a reasonable amount of decent material.

Storyboarding the Action fills three minutes, 37 seconds, and presents information from conceptual artist Tom Southwell. He tosses out a few notes about his work and lets us see how a miniature set and camera help him visualize things. The show’s way too short to present much meat; its credits take up more than a minute of its already brief running time. It’s a decent little teaser, though.

*Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis runs 10 minutes and eight seconds. It presents remarks from Frakes, Sirtis, Spiner, Dorn, Stewart, and actor Ron Perlman plus stunt coordinator Doug Coleman. They cover the shooting of the Argo sequence as well as the fight between Riker and the Viceroy and the visual effects for the late battle scene between two starships. Not a lot of depth appears here, but it gives us enough interesting comments and nice behind the scenes footage to moderately flesh out its subject.

In Build and Rebuild, we get a seven-minute and 44-second featurette with notes from production designer Herman Zimmerman, art director Cherie Baker, and art coordinator Penny Juday. They mostly talk about the enormity of the task before them, though we also get some specifics about dealing with various ship bridges. This adds up to a decent show.

Not surprisingly, the 10-minute and 13-second Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier looks at the movie’s driving scenes. We find comments from Patrick Stewart, picture vehicle coordinator and stuntman Rich Minga, art director Donald B. Woodruff, professional off-road racer Ivan Stewart, and stunt coordinator Doug Coleman. The program covers the design and build of the vehicles and their use in the film. It’s a tight and informative look at this rather non-Trek aspect of the movie.

“Production” ends with Shinzon Screen Test. The six-minute and 29-second piece shows Stewart as he runs through a test scene with Hardy. I’d like to see clips with actors who didn’t get the role, but this is still an interesting clip.

For the next domain, we enter “The Star Trek Universe”. Its first component offers *A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey. The 16-minute and 16-second piece includes remarks from Logan, Berman, and actors Stewart, Spiner, Frakes, Sirtis, Burton, Dorn, McFadden, and Whoopi Goldberg. Actually, while I thought “Journey” would mostly focus on the experience of the Next Generation gang’s last cinematic go-round, instead it largely concentrates on some character and story issues. It delves into the movie’s themes and related areas. It seems moderately insightful but not much more than that.

After this we get *A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier. The 10-minute and 16-second piece presents remarks from Baird as he covers a few subjects. He chats about the design of the Scimitar bridge, storyboards, shooting the action scenes, using gimbals for explosions, editing, and the creation of the movie’s climax. Baird nicely relates his thoughts about the various topics, and the presentation uses some split-screens so we get to see production shots compared with the final thing. It’s a good little program that neatly illustrates a few areas of the filmmaking process.

“Universe” finishes with the 11-minute and 36-second Enterprise E. It features notes from Zimmerman, illustrator John Eaves, and set designers Scott Herbertson, William Ladd Skinner and Ahna K. Packard. They talk about modifications made to the ship for this film and specifics of some sets. We also learn about the look and of the Argo shuttle and the off-road vehicle. They create a reasonably informative look at the subjects.

Inside “The Romulan Empire”, we start with Romulan Lore. The 11-minute and 50-second program includes comments from Berman, Enterprise co-producers/writers Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, and Enterprise co-executive producer/writer Manny Coto. The show goes into the depiction of Romulans on the various series as well as the development of the Remans. It’s a tight and interesting little piece.

For character-based material, we head to the 10-minute Shinzon and the Viceroy. It features remarks from Berman, Hardy, and Perlman. They give us some biographical information about the parts and a few insights into the roles. This turns into a fitfully informative chat but not anything exemplary.

Romulan Design takes nine minutes and five seconds to look at those visual issues. It features Eaves, special visual effects artist Syd Dutton, 3D artist John Teska, makeup designer Michael Westmore, and scenic artist Rick Sternbach. They cover the look of Romulus and the ships as well as makeup for Romulans and Remans plus technical issues. They give us a pretty concise overview of the material.

Within the eight-minute and 57-second The Romulan Senate, we hear from Hardy, Zimmerman, lead set designer Alan S. Kaye, and set designer Robert Woodruff. As you might expect, this show covers the design and building of the Senate set. As with the other shows, it delves into the material well and gives us a lot of nice notes.

For the last element in “Empire”, we get the 13-minute and 14-second The Scimitar. It presents information from Zimmerman, Eaves, Skinner and illustrator David J. Negron Jr. It echoes “Senate” as it digs into the design of the ship along with its physical creation. We hear about many specifics connected to the Scimitar itself as well as the Scorpion shuttle. This again turns into a useful program.

An intriguing addition comes next via 13 Deleted Scenes. These run a total of 27 minutes and 12 seconds, though that running time includes some interview statements from director Baird, producer Berman, and actor Stewart. A few of the clips offer fairly substantial standalone sequences, while others feature smaller lifts from existing scenes. None really needed to be in the movie, and an alternate introduction to Shinzon was a good one to lose. A bit in which Worf expresses his disdain for Romulans probably should have stayed, however, as it pays off later in the film; without this context, Worf’s ultimate statement makes less sense. Another would have been nice to keep if just to give poor Gates McFadden some extra screen time; she always got the shaft more than any of the other actors. The alternate ending is interesting but ultimately not as effective as the one they used.

Though we don’t get full explanations for all the cuts, the comments add some nice backstory to the removals. We get some information about the scenes and occasionally hear why they didn’t make the final film. Not all of the sequences come with remarks, however; actually, those statements precede only three of the 13 clips.

Note that this DVD features six deleted scenes that didn’t appear on the prior release. These include “Wesley’s New Mission” (0:55), “Data and B-4” (1:51), “The Chance for Peace” (0:31), “Remember Him? (Extended)” (1:40), “Cleaning Out Data’s Quarters” (1:44) and “Crusher at Starfleet Medical” (0:37). “Mission” is interesting since it includes the much-hated Wesley Crusher, whole “Cleaning” and “Medical” are worthwhile as parts of the movie’s ending. None of them stand out as gold, but they’re worth a look.

As we move to the “Archives”, we discover a Storyboards domain. It includes art for “Scorpion Escape” (49 images), “The Jefferies Tube” (53), “Collision” (33) and “Data’s Jump” (45). Though nothing scintillating appears, this area offers a decent collection of drawings.

Production includes 58 images. Most of them show concept art, but we also see some photos from the set. Props features another 21 stills with close-ups of the movie’s elements. These areas duplicate the material in the original disc’s “Photo Gallery” and expand on it.

Finally, we get some trailers. In addition to both teaser and theatrical clips for Nemesis, we find a promo for the “Borg Invasion” attraction in Las Vegas.

A fairly middle of the road Star Trek flick, Nemesis has its moments but doesn’t stand with the best of the series. Happily, it seems more interesting the second time around, so perhaps eventually it’ll occupy a higher status for me. Right now, however, it appears generally well made and entertaining, but it doesn’t quite move well enough to qualify as a true Trek winner. The DVD, on the other hand, seems quite strong. It presents very good picture and audio quality along with an informative batch of supplements.

So while I can’t make a strong recommendation for Nemesis, I think it’s a good enough movie, at least for Trek fans. If you don’t own the prior DVD, grab this “Special Collector’s Edition”.

If you do already possess the 2003 release, the issue becomes stickier. I like this one’s DTS audio a wee bit more than the original’s Dolby Digital mix, but not by enough to recommend an “upgrade”. Picture quality remains the same, so the SCE only improves on the original in regard to its extras. We get a crummy new audio commentary, but the text track and other extras are pretty good. If those interest you, grab the SCE. If you only care about the quality of the movie’s presentation, you’ll be fine with the old disc.

To rate this film, visit the original review of STAR TREK: NEMESIS