..

STAR TREK: NEMESIS
Special Collector's Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman
Director:  Stuart Baird
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1Dolby Surround
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  116 Minutes
Release Date:  October 4, 2005

“It seems as though we are truly sailing into the unknown.”

Film ***

All good things must come to an end, and if we take Star Trek at its word, Nemesis marks the final voyage of the Next Generation crew.  If it’s really over, and it probably is, their 15 year run was certainly remarkable.

Nemesis might have been a decent entry in the series at other points, but doesn’t quite pack the punch of a grand finale.  I can still remember first seeing the trailers for Star Trek VI with the promise that it was the last hurrah of the original crew.  When I saw the film, I was blown away, and still consider it the best in the series to this day.  If Trek needed to pass the torch from one generation to the next, they did so with style and gusto. 

My imagination probably went a little wild when I started seeing the Nemesis trailers.  After all, the Next Generation TV series ended with one of the finest pieces ever to come out of the Star Trek universe (“All Good Things”).  I expected much from the film that would conclude their journeys.

To be honest, when I saw the picture in theatres on opening day, I didn’t like it at all.  Disappointment was an understatement.  I was even considering that it might have been one of the worst overall entries in the film series.

But I probably expected way too much.  Not much could have lived up to the expectations I had going in.  I’m glad I had a chance to revisit the movie on DVD and at least take it for what it was…a good, not great, effectively entertaining slice of science fiction action with an intriguing, if not absorbing storyline.

I’ll tread a bit carefully for those who haven’t seen it yet…as the picture opens, we find that after 15 years of wasted opportunities, Commander William Riker (Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Sirtis) have tied the knot, and that Riker has finally accepted a promotion to captain and command of his own vessel.  But on the way to Troi’s home world of Betazed to complete their wedding ritual, a call from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) sends the Enterprise on their most critical mission to date…a rendezvous with the Romulan empire and their new Praetor for possibly the first real peace talks between them and the Federation!

But surprises await Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) and crew.  After uncovering a mystery that seems to hold a key to android Lt. Commander Data’s (Spiner) past, they find something they never expected in the neutral zone.  The Praetor Shinzon (Hardy) is not only a Reman (from Romulus’ sister planet Remus, whose inhabitants had been enslaved for centuries by the Romulans), but a younger clone of Jean-Luc Picard!  Where did he come from, and more importantly, can he be trusted?

Shinzon, despite sharing Picard’s DNA, had a very different experience growing into adulthood.  Though he may have once been capable of the captain’s great deeds, he now seeks only to destroy those who have oppressed him…first Romulus, and then…Earth.

What follows is the fight of the Enterprise’s life, as Shinzon has an unbelievably powerful new ship and weapon at his disposal.  Overmatched and with a commander equally bright, will Captain Picard be able to prevent a possible universal implosion?

Nemesis offers a satisfying blend of drama and action, but I can’t help but feel it’s also a film of some missed opportunities.  For example, though actor Wil Wheaton was brought back as Wesley Crusher, he was left largely on the cutting room floor…only a glimpse or two can be seen of him at the wedding reception.  Also, for a farewell film, many of our beloved characters were given little to do.  Gates McFadden remarked she felt closer to Dr. Beverly Crusher in this film than she ever had before…why?  She and Lt. Worf (Dorn) get minimal screen time; Lt. Geordi LaForge (Burton) and Troi don’t get much more.  Like the poster would indicate, this movie focuses mainly on Picard and Data.

Still, the cast is wonderful as always.  They say that they feel like family to one another, and they certainly feel that way to fans, too.  For fifteen years they’ve brought their alchemic mix together to create magic for us, and they do it one more time.  Most noteworthy is Brent Spiner, a terrific actor who really gets a chance to shine in this movie.

There is some sense of closure at the finale, but not completely.  Maybe that’s for the best.  Though we should probably accept that the Next Generation franchise has wrapped for good, there is still a possibility for more.  I don’t mind saying that I’d like to see another adventure for the Enterprise crew, though I’m not getting my hopes up.

And since it probably is the end, let me just conclude by bidding a fond farewell to the creative minds behind Star Trek: The Next Generation, and say thank you for a glorious fifteen years.  May your future frontiers be far from final.

Video ****

Better than good…in fact, this anamorphic transfer surpasses even First Contact in the quality department, and I’ve always lauded that as one of the best looking DVDs ever put out!  Nemesis on disc is a startling revelation, surpassing even the theatrical presentation by bringing out more detail in the many darker scenes than you could see before.  This is a colorful presentation with many distinct shades and textures, with models and/or CGI starships looking more real than ever before (check out the hull on the Romulan warbirds near the end!).  Every image is crisp, clean and singular, every tone is unique and doesn’t bleed, and no piece of visual information is lost from softness, compression or haze.  From the darkness of outer space to the well lit interiors of the Enterprise, nothing is compromised.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

Audio ****

Likewise, the 5.1 audio mixes (Dolby Digital and DTS) start good and get better and better as they go on.  Early scenes of action with an interstellar off road vehicle are only a warm up for what’s in store.  As the Enterprise goes into action, the rear channels keep you right in the middle of it all, with smooth and plentiful crossover signals in all directions.  The .1 channel adds impact to the battle sequences and gives the ship its dutiful hum.  Sounds are crisp and distinct, and dialogue, music and effects are well layered so that every noise seems to occupy its own unique space.  Highest marks.

Features ****

Paramount assembled an impressive features package for this release, starting with a pair of solid commentary tracks, one from director Stuart Baird and one from film and series producer Rick Berman.  Those are both on the first disc, along with another excellent text trivia track by Star Trek Encyclopedia authors Michael and Denise Okuda...always a real treat for the devoted Trekkie.  

Disc Two is even more loaded.  There are a total of SEVEN production featurettes, including a look back at the film, a conversation with Stuart Baird, filming the action and more.  After that, you can peruse five short featurettes centered on the Romulan Empire.  There are 13 deleted scenes (see Wesley Crusher's lost moment!), archives for storyboards, production and props, the theatrical and teaser trailers, and three new chapters for the Star Trek Universe, focusing on the last hurrah of the Next Generation crew.  And as always, the animated menu screens with audio are a nice extra touch!

One note:  the extras contain spoilers, so be sure to watch the movie first.

Summary:

Star Trek: Nemesis may not be the best goodbye a lucrative franchise ever got, but it’s a solidly entertaining blend of drama, action and science fiction, and gives the crew of the Enterprise a satisfactory last hurrah.  The Collector's Edition DVD is top quality, and this release brings to a close one of the best series of special edition DVDs ever put on the market.  Paramount did Trekkies right with these movie releases, so the final frontier will always be as close as our home theatre.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com