Star Trek: Nemesis - Special Collector's Edition Studio: Paramount Year: 2002 Rated: PG-13 Length: 116 minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphically Enhanced Audio: DTS, Dolby Digital English 5.1 English Subtitles Closed Captioned Special Features: Two Audio Commentaries, One Text Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Galleries, Trailers, etc. Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 USD Release Date: October 4, 2005 Where does one begin an analysis of Star Trek: Nemesis? There are just so many things wrong with this film. One might start with the script, since it is the thing that is most wrong with this film - which is a surprise coming from a writer like John Logan - who is not only a talented screenwriter, but a Star Trek fan as well. It seems that John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner, who all share story credit on this one, misdirected this film at the wrong audience. Trek fans want Trek, not some hyped-up, modern Bond-ish version of Trek, but our Trek. I lost respect for the film early on. I forgave the gushy wedding scene... the TNG films have had a habit of starting off with some sappy scene or other. But afterward, when we see aging Jean-Luc Picard racing across an alien desert in an armed (but not armored - which would have been nice, since they end up being shot at...) SUV, wearing stupid looking sunglasses and an equally stupid grin (so against character)... I asked myself, “Is this Star Trek?” So Picard, Data and Worf have a perfectly good little spacecraft (this ain’t your father’s shuttlecraft), fully capable of flying the away team to the various locations needed to pick up scattered remains of an android (which, by the way, were picked up on sensors from how many light-years away??), but no... they gotta take out the RV. Back to the picking up android remains on sensors from far far away deal... if that’s so, how ever did the Enterprise ever hide behind a moon or in a nebula from any number of alien species in the past if Data’s posi-traction - er, positronic - brain could give their location away so easily? But I digress. The RV thing must have been slipped in for the young’ns in the audience... the ones who the studios fear can’t follow a plot, so they stick all the meaningless fast cars and stunts in to keep their attention focused. With these new Bond-like gadgets (new ship, new RV), all they need is a character called “Q” to.... err... never mind. So, after the team collects bits of android parts that look amazingly like Commander Data, the viewer, already knowing that this isn’t the “A-Story,” begins to piece together the forthcoming obvious plot device, which I won’t divulge in case you’re one of the three people back on planet Earth who didn’t see it coming... I don’t want to spoil it for you. That would be bad. There really is an “A” story. It could be the upheaval of the Romulan Empire, and how that will affect the Federation... Sadly, it isn’t. It’s about this guy, who isn’t really Romulan (or “Reman,” for that matter) and who looks a lot like Picard - he wants to kill Picard and crew. Oh, and maybe destroy Earth, too. The reasons are convoluted, at best - and further plot points will be spoiled if I try to explain further. Imagine The Wrath of Kahn, only take away any backstory that makes sense. That’s what the “A” story is. Most people have heard about the starship crash, so I don’t think I’m giving anything away. Even if you haven’t heard about it, other than being an excuse for cool visual and sound effects, it isn’t terribly interesting. It comes down to this... Picard, apparently still under the influence of the adrenaline rush from his earlier race across the desert in his RV, decides to play chicken with a very expensive piece of Starfleet hardware. We never see Admiral Janeway’s reaction to that (yes, the Janeway, from Voyager, has somehow been promoted to Admiral, after years away from traditional Starfleet service). Skipping past the script, director Stuart Baird was never able to find a rhythm with this film. Perhaps that can be blamed on the script, as well... I don’t know. The way the film is cut together seems too deliberate, allowing no real tension to develop. While Picard may have been on the edge of his seat when playing chicken with the Enterprise, I was falling asleep on the couch. I can’t forget the performances. Patrick Stewart can do wonders with inane dialog, but even this was a stretch for him. Brent Spiner plays his android character for laughs too often, presenting us with an oxymoron - a purely logical being who has to be reminded to focus on the task at hand, rather than converse with the disembodied head of his android twin. I half expected to hear the line, “Alas, poor Yorick...”, given Trek’s penchant for Shakespeare. While Data has learned a bit about emotion and humor in the films, he himself has become the joke. It’s a long slide from the character he was in the television series. And then there is Tom Hardy as Praetor Shinzon, Picard’s foil. He delivers every line with an eerily subdued urgency, whether the moment calls for it or not. He’s got one note, and he uses it well - but he has no song. Nemesis is the worst film of the Star Trek franchise, and it seems that it may be the final note in the long and storied verse of Star Trek. It’s too bad that final note is so far off-key. A Word About Packaging My screener came in the dreaded Scanavo 2-up package. Disc two was floating when the package arrived. It was scratched, but playable. Whatever cost savings might be seen by this packaging can’t be worth the floaters, scratched discs and end-user aggravation. This packaging style is a disgrace. Viewscreen On Nemesis is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. The image has good definition, being sharp and nicely detailed most of the time. Colors are well saturated and accurate, with the exception of a scene or two where there were stylized colors used for effect. I noticed no compression artifacts or oversharpening. The print is clean and free of distracting defects. I don’t have the original release to compare to, but I can say with some certainty that this release is more detailed than the Insurrection rerelease. Hailing Frequencies The audio is well presented on this release. There is a choice of DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1. Both tracks present an engaging soundfield with good definition and channel separation. Frequency response is very good, with excellent use of surrounds. Music sounds excellent. The DTS track gets a slight edge in LFE and channel separation, but both tracks are well done. Special Features The special features are not anamorphically enhanced - and unfortunately, much of the new interview footage looks disappointingly soft. Much of the material in the featurettes is superficial and repetitive, though there are a few gems. Commentaries There are two audio commentaries included - one by director Stuart Baird, the other by producer Rick Berman. Baird talks about the film from the director’s perspective, obviously. He talks about editorial decisions, effects shots, the fact that he was not overly familiar with Trek, etc. Berman talks about budget saving devices, story construction, disagreements with Baird, effects shots, etc. Both commentaries offer something of interest, but both have stretches of silence as well. I think one combined commentary may have been more interesting. There is also the usual text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, providing valuable little bits of trivia. Production Nemesis Revisited (25:44) or - “Reminiscences of a Reunion.” In this love-fest, the principle actors recall the reunion, friendships, their special bonds, etc. At one point, Marina Sirtis says, “The friendships are actually more important than the work, now.” John Logan talks about having started with rough ideas... he wanted to have a starship crash, for instance... and they wrote the story around the ideas. Personally, I think the ideas expressed in this featurette are some of the reasons the film was a failure. New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis (8:42) Stuart Baird prefaces this featurette by saying that, prior to taking the helm on Nemesis, he hadn’t seen the other Star Trek films, and that sci-fi wasn’t “his genre”. He talks about casting Shinzon and the main themes of the film. Storyboarding the Action (3:37) Conceptual Artist Tom Southwell talks about mapping out scenes in storyboards. There are some storyboard to scene comparisons. Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis (10:08) An exploration by cast and crew of the primary action scenes - the desert chase, the battle between Riker and the Viceroy, the ship crash, etc... not very deep in detail, but somewhat entertaining. We do see glimpses of raw model shots and CGI shots that went into the crash footage. Build and Rebuild (7:44) Herman Zimmerman, Cherie Baker and Penny Juday talk about set designs and art design. Nice. Unfortunately, Zimmerman’s contribution is limited to only a minute or so. Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier (10:14) All about the real cars behind the desert chase scene. Shinzon Screen Test (6:29) Hardy’s screen test with Patrick Stewart - the dinner scene. The Star Trek Universe A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey (16:16) Much of the same territory is explored as in “Nemesis Revisited,” but there is also a more serious look at the construction of the story. A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier (10:17) Stuart Baird talks about set design, storyboarding, action shots, shaking the bridge, the Romulan Senate, the death scene, etc. Not bad, but I would rather this and other featurettes be less broad and more deep. The Enterprise E (11:36) Herman Zimmerman, John Eaves, Scott Herbertson and others talk about models and set design relating to the Enterprise E. This is the best featurette of the bunch for those who are into the nuts and bolts and tech. The Romulan Empire Romulan Lore (11:51) An exploration of the Romulans, from the original series to Nemesis and Enterprise. Shinzon and the Viceroy (10:00) Rick Berman introduces this featurette about the villains of Nemesis. Tom Hardy (Shinzon) and Ron Perlman (Viceroy) contribute their thoughts on their characters. Romulan Design (9:05) A discussion of the matte paintings, models and CGI that brought Romulus and the Romulan ships to life. The Romulan Senate (8:57) The design of the senate is discussed by Herman Zimmerman and others. The Scimitar (13:14) Herman Zimmerman and John Eaves talk about the design of the Scimitar, and starship design in general. Nice and detailed. Deleted Scenes Rick Berman Intro Wesley’s New Mission Chateau Picard, 2267 The Time of Conquest Data and B-4 Federation Protocols The Chance for Peace A Loss of Self Remember Him? (Extended) Turbolift Violation Sickbay Prepares for Battle Cleaning Out Data’s Quarters Crusher at Starfleet Medical Advice for the New First Officer These scenes are available with a “Play All” feature and have a total running time of 27:12, inclusive of a few scene introductions by cast or crew. Archives The Archives section contains three stills galleries: Storyboards, Production and Props Trailers Teaser Trailer (1:36) Theatrical Trailer (2:06) Borg Invasion Trailer (:32) Final Thoughts This, likely the last installment of The Next Generation films, ends the series on a down note. The film gets a solid transfer and hours of extras which, while not terribly deep, should keep fans of this film entertained for a few hours. Those who are fans of this film will find much to like in this edition, I’m sure.