Movie Collectors Guide #7

Star Trek Nemesis

May 2003

Brian Florian

Paramount, 2002, Color


Aspect ratio: 2.35:1/16x9 enh.

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

1 Hr 56 min,  Rated PG

Directed by Stewart Baird

Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Marina Sirtis.

DVD Released May 20, 2003







Video Quality:






MPEG Flags









Another Saga Comes to a Close.

The poster art proclaims: "A Generation's Final Journey Begins".  For the cast of Star Trek the Next Generation, the TV show will be remembered far more than the films (whereas the opposite might be said of the original character roster).  "Nemesis", then, represents a fairly important picture:  The TV show has long been out of production, so with Nemesis, it is the crew's last chance to impress us.

Star Trek Nemesis

In the wake of a joyful wedding between Riker and Troi, Picard receives another reason to celebrate:  the Romulans want peace, and the captain will be the Federation's emissary.  But as the Enterprise heads towards 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.

In truth, "Nemesis" is not remarkable, and that is the very genius of it:  All the Star Trek movies have at one point or another been called "long versions of TV episodes with better special effects".  That's exactly what Nemesis is and why it works so well.  It is a simple space adventure that we can enjoy without thinking too much.

The script has enough substance to engage us mentally, and there are a fair number of decent undertones in the whole Nemesis premise.  There is an interesting contrast between Picard's clone and Data's.  The question of what makes us who we are is aptly asked.

The directing is without a doubt the film's best feature.  The pacing is perfect, and the cinematography is breathtaking and expressive.  We go from the drastically overexposed desert sequences to deep space CGI in the blink of an eye and think nothing of it.

What would Star Trek be without action though?  And in this film you will find some of the absolute best.  The entire desert dune buggy scene is deliciously outrageous and concludes with a move James Bond should envy.  The space battles hold second place to no previous Star Trek effort, characterized by a fast cutting style that is not so quick as to lose us.

Fans of the Next Generation are well rewarded, as we see the characters come to a conclusive evolution.  The wedding alone makes a huge statement about the state of the characters and how far they have come.

It is surprising to me that this one did not do better at the box office.


Commentary tracks are typically only of interest to serious enthusiasts of a film, and even then, I often find them too dry to bother with.  In this case though, if you are inclined to check it out, Baird has a good voice and is very enthusiastic about his work.  His narration, therefore, is interesting and sufficiently engaging.  Unfortunately, he often goes for what feels like a long time without saying anything.

For the documentary type stuff, we start with A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier in which Baird narrates a lot of behind the scenes footage including art design, story boarding and so on.  I especially liked the way much of the material was presented:  the screen was split quarter-quarter-half showing the storyboard, behind the scenes footage, and final footage all at once. Normally this sort of thing only shows a storyboard and final shot, or you have to flip laboriously through angles using your DVD player (which usually is not near fast enough to be helpful).  He also talks about his focus on the editing and his efforts to pace the film properly.

A Star Trek Family's Final Journey is a little dry, consisting mostly of the cast patting themselves on the back and being sentimental.  Patrick Stewart concludes it by saying how great the film was, for being their last picture, but then turns right around and tells us how great the setup is for another movie.

Red Alert! Shooting the Action of "Nemesis" is, as you can imagine, all about the action sequences (which as I've said are exquisite).  The first half focuses on the dune buggy material, while the balance goes into the various firefights, hand to hand stuff, and of course the special effects of the star ship battles.

New Frontiers: Stewart Baird on Directing "Nemesis" is a collection of interview bites with the director, basically enumerating his experiences making the film. It is a little redundant in places to the other documentary, A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier, though here he takes more time to talk about his view of the script, the characters, and the actors.

The Deleted Scenes, as is always the case with such scenes, were cut with good reasons, but these are prefaced with some interesting insights from either the director or the cast and can be interesting to watch.

The Photo Gallery is made up mostly of conceptual artworks such as sketches or paintings.

Oddly, the Previews are not of Nemesis.

In a (bad) break from the other Star Trek DVDs, none of these extras are 16:9 formatted.

The Transfer

The overall video quality is excellent.  There is very little edge enhancement, the picture is dynamic, and it exhibits a nice sense of depth, while shadow detail is about as good as you will see on any DVD.  Colors are consistent, and the chorma channel does not bleed.  There is a touch of video noise in places which may pass as film grain.  It is minor and does not distract.

On the whole, we did find it a little on the soft side, seemingly to miss out on some potential detail the medium could had provided.  

MPEG Flags

This is one of the very rare DVDs that our exclusive software was not able to extract the MPEG PIC data from.

The Audio

This is as good as it gets.  If I could give it a 5+, I would.  Every aspect of this soundtrack represents what we feel is the ideal.  It is crisp and clear, with perfectly intelligible dialogue, and a total lack of distortion.  It is extremely dynamic without being "too loud".  The surrounds are aggressive yet are not overdone or gimmicky.  There is almost always that delicate omnipresent engine noise at just the right level.  The bass content is robust and goes way down, yet does not overwhelm or call attention to itself.  This is a great soundtrack for evaluating a subwoofer:  The bass should be felt, not heard (if it sounds fat, that would be your subwoofer distorting).

In a word:  Bravo!  Shame they did not go for Dolby Surround EX encoding, though it may decode well as is.

Stay tuned for reviews of other Star Trek movies as they are released in special Director's / Collector's Editions.

ST:TMP | II | III | IV | V | VI | Generations | First Contact | Insurrection | Nemesis

Copyright 2003 Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
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