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DVD ReviewThese are rough times for Star Trek fans. Not only is the film franchise seemingly dead after the last couple of entries flopped, but for the first time in almost 20 years, there isn't a new Trek TV series on the air. This last feature film, 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, almost completely tanked at the box office, and brought in only $43 million against a $70 million budget. Basically killing the "odd-numbered curse" theory that has plagued this franchise, Nemesis, the tenth film, was the first even-numbered entry to really miss the mark. It looks like it's also going to wind up being the last go-around for the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast as well, and it is definitely not a fitting final voyage for this crew.
The story, this time around, finds Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) at the wedding of his crew members Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Of course, such a joyous occasion can only last so long, and it's on to the next universal crisis. This one comes about when the existence of an android on the planet Kolarus III is discovered. With Data (Brent Spiner) as Picard's right-hand-man, the crew sets out on the Enterprise to investigate. A trip to the planet's surface with Worf (Michael Dorn) leads to the finding of a robot named B-4 (Spiner) who is "related" to Data.
The ground-crew is attacked and narrowly (is there any other way for these guys?) escapes. While Data is studying B-4, Picard is ordered to go on a diplomatic mission to Romulus. Once there, they encounter a Reman ship named the Scimitar, where Shinzon and his Viceroy (Ron Perlman) talk about peace. When Picard meets Shinzon he senses a connection that will test his emotional boundaries, and could put the mission and the lives of his crew in great danger.
Nemesis has many problems, but the most troublesome is its incredibly slow pace. All Trek movies are full of techno babble and baseless jargon, but fans have come to love them for that, and those who could do without that get enough action sequences to make them happy. Here, we definitely don't get enough action, and the pointless, extremely confusing talk is ramped up to a far too high level.
A great lead villain has been another constantÑwhether it's a Klingon overlord (Star Trek III), the scary Borg (Star Trek: First Contact), or the vengeance-seeking Kahn (Star Trek II), such characters have stolen the show. In Nemesis, we get the worst villain since Spock's half-brother in Star Trek V. This Shinzon guy looks like a reject from The Matrix, never striking the menacing pose or spewing the over-the-top evil cries that Trek villains are known for. Perlman's (Hellboy) Viceroy is effectively creepy, but this actor has been playing these types of roles so effectively during his long career that he's usually only mentioned on the rare occasion that he does a poor job.
There are some bright spots, though, as Nemesis is definitely not the worst film in the series (Star Trek V still holds that dubious distinction). Stewart is solid as always, and Dorn continues to shine as the crew's loveable bruiser. This is Brent Spiner's show, though. Given the task of dual, albeit, very similar, roles, he doesn't miss a beat, bringing his intelligence, charm, and robotic wit to the characters of Data and B-4 (could there be a worse name for a robot?).
The hardest part of watching Star Trek: Nemesis is realizing that this crew's reign on the Enterprise is over. The actors just look old and tired, and that is truly sad. Spiner is the only one with a real pep in his step and his character is an android. With this crew done, it'll be interesting to see where these actors go next. Stewart has the X-Men franchise and Spiner has a juicy role on the new TV series Threshold, but who knows if we'll see Frakes, Sirtis, Dorn, or the rest in any plum roles that don't involve science fiction. It'll be difficult to avoid such typecasting, but these are talented people that deserve a shot at stardom outside of the Enterprise's bridge.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: This anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation is virtually identical to the previous DVD's transfer. There aren't many problems here, as sharpness is fairly strong throughout (though a bit of softness rears its ugly head here and there). Colors are excellent as well, gelling with the unique costume designs that give the film that "Star Trek feel." Black are deep and shadows are well-handled, helping keep the image as detailed as possible.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The new DTS mix is a gem, but the hold-over Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also very impressive. The DTS has a slight edge thanks mostly to a deeper, tighter, more effective bass presence. Both mixes make skilled use of the surrounds, with directional effects creating an enveloping experience that will put even the best home theaters to the test. The score, ambient sounds, and dialogue are worked into the mix quite well, and are never overpowering.
Audio Transfer Grade: A+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Borg Invasion
1 TV Spots/Teasers
14 Deleted Scenes
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Director Stuart Baird2. Producer Rick Berman3. Text Commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda
Packaging: Double alpha
Extras Review: The first DVD release of Star Trek: Nemesis had quite a few extras itself, but this new set has many more. The first disc has a pair of audio commentaries and a text commentary. The first audio track has director Stuart Baird going scene-by-scene along with the film and talking about what it was like to shoot an entry in such a prominent franchise. He also talks about an incident where actor Jonathan Frakes almost had a major accident while filming a stunt sequence.
The second audio track is with producer Rick Berman. He, naturally, takes a look at the off-set issues, from coming up with a cast, to sequences that were cut out of the theatrical version of the film, and how he managed to work with a $70 million budget.
There's also a text commentary from Michael and Denise Okuda that is nicely in-tune with the film, providing even more valuable insight into its making.
Disc 2 has a whopping 15 making-of pieces, beginning with the 25-minute Nemesis Revisited, where Patrick Stewart leads-off by lamenting how the cast thought that Insurrection was their last film. He goes on to talk about how valuable it was to be reunited with the cast for Nemesis. There's also very candid and funny on-set footage with the cast hamming it up with each other, and more reflective footage from most of the actors, making for a truly intimate documentary.
New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis is an eight-minute look at what this long-time action-film editor brought to the Star Trek universe.
Storyboarding the Action is three minutes of storyboard footage with narration by conceptual artist Tom Southwell.
Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis is a 10-minute look at what went into the action sequences. We hear from the cast and crew, including stunt coordinator Doug Coleman.
The seven-minute Build and Rebuild has production designer Herman Zimmerman, art director Cherie Baker, and art coordinator Penny Juday discussing what went into bringing the sets and ship interiors to life.
Four-Wheeling in the Final Frontier is a fun 10-minute segment that focuses on the dune buggy sequence near the beginning of the film.
The Shinzon Screen Test is six minutes of raw footage of Tom Hardy going through a scene with Patrick Stewart.
The semi-lengthy (16 minutes) A Star Trek Family's Final Journey focuses mainly on the various themes presented in the film, with part of the time touching on the sentiment behind this final voyage.
A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier is 10 minutes of talk with director Stuart Baird, during which he goes into great detail about the intricacies of the Trek universe.
The Enterprise E has Zimmerman, illustrator John Eaves, and set designers Scott Herbertson, William Ladd Skinner, and Ahna K. Packard talking for 11 minutes about the details of the titular spaceship.
Romulan Lore lasts another 11 minutes, and looks at the history of the Romulan, both the Trek movies and TV shows.
Shinzon and the Viceroy isn't very enlightening, but does feature a few nice tidbits of information about these characters over the course of 10 minutes.
The nine-minute Romulan Design looks at the makeup and visual effects that are involved in creating all things Romulan.
The Romulan Senate is all about what went into the design of the set that passes for the Romulan Senate. This piece lasts eight minutes.
13 minutes are devoted to The Simitar, including the design of the Scorpion shuttle.
14 Deleted Scenes last for 27 minutes but don't offer any insight missing from the theatrical version.
There are three still photo archives: Storyboards, Production, and Props, each of which have quite a few images of their respective subjects. A trio of trailers are also on board, including the teaser and two theatrical versions, as well as a commercial for the Borg Invasion theme ride at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Extras Grade: A
Final CommentsIf Star Trek: Nemesis is the final voyage of this Enterprise crew, it'll be a shame that they had to go out on a sour note. The film hasn't gotten any better since the first DVD release, but this two-disc special collector's edition gives us not only a DTS audio track, but a huge collection of extras to boot. The die-hards will be salivating at the chance to get this far behind the scenes, and casual fans will get quite a bit from these extras, even if the movie disappoints.
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