Star Trek: Nemesis appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While superior to the movies that preceded it, this image came with its own issues.
On the positive side, Nemesis lacked the intrusive digital noise reduction of the other Next Generation films. Although I thought some grain management occurred, this didn’t reach the ugly levels of the other prior three movies, so we didn’t find the mushy, clay-like elements of those.
Sharpness felt generally good but erratic. Though much of the movie displayed fairly positive delineation, I didn’t think it seemed terribly accurate on a consistent basis.
Some of this seemed to stem from the source, but that didn’t explain all the moderate softness. Ultimately, the image displayed reasonable clarity, albeit not as precise as I might expect.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but some light edge haloes materialized. Print flaws showed a couple small specks and that’s it.
Nemesis delivered a mostly varied palette, but it occasionally went with extremely stylized tones. The most notable example of this occurred during the shots on desert planet Kolarus III, when the film went for a heavily bleached appearance there that totally washed out any colors.
Otherwise, the movie featured a good array of tones. These seemed adequate but could come across as a little dull and without great vivacity.
Black levels tended to appear deep and dense, and shadow detail normally came across as accurate and well defined. While I feel happy that the transfer lost the heavy noise reduction of the other flicks, it still ended up as a mediocre presentation.
As one might expect from this sort of action flick, the movie’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundfield played a strong role in the proceedings. Much of the time, all five channels got a nice workout, as 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.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray release of Insurrection compare to those of the prior SE DVD? The lossless audio added range to the tracks on the last DVD.
Visuals also showed an upgrade, as the Blu-ray brought improved accuracy, colors and blacks. While the transfer disappointed me, I still thought it fared better than its DVD counterpart.
In terms of extras, the Blu-ray mixes elements from the SE DVD with new components. This set includes three 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.
The third commentary features Trek designers/historians Michael and Denise Okuda. They offer a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, visual design and effects, deleted scenes and changes, various bits of Trek lore, cast and performances, and other areas.
Veterans of many text commentaries, the Okudas clearly know their stuff, and they give us a reasonable amount of good info here. However, they do make this a fairly dry piece. We find enough good info to provide a worthwhile listen, and it’s probably the best of the three, but it isn’t a particularly exciting chat.
Another running feature arrives with the Library Computer. This “interactive playback mode” allows you to learn about various elements that crop up throughout the movie.
It gives us notes about characters, technical pieces, and other connected tidbits. Some of these are tightly ingrained – such as facts about main characters – while others are more tangential.
Because of the changing circumstances of the film’s world, some of the same subjects arise multiple times; for instance, new information about Shinzon comes up as story elements affect him.
All of these come via links; the title of a subject appears, and you select “enter” to read about it. You can examine these in two different ways.
If desired, you can have the links crop up at the appropriate times during the movie. You still have to hit “enter” – there’s no option to let them play without viewer input – but this shows the notes in tandem with the onscreen material.
The “Library” also presents an “index”. This posts the links in alphabetical order. This is a more efficient option if you want to watch the movie without interruption, but it’s less connected to the story.
Either way, the “Library” includes some nice details. It’s pretty dry, but it throws out a lot of background facts and gives us a satisfying glimpse of Trek information.
Next we go to a domain called “Production”, and this area opens with a new featurette entitled Nemesis Revisited. It runs 25 minutes, 45 seconds and offers notes 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, 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 disc’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, as 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, 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, 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, 14-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, 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”, where its first component offers A Star Trek Family’s Final Journey. The 16-minute, 17-second piece includes remarks from Logan, Berman, and actors Stewart, Spiner, Frakes, Sirtis, Burton, Dorn, McFadden, and Whoopi Goldberg.
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, 17-second piece presents remarks from Baird as he covers 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” continues with the 11-minute, 37-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.
Actors come to the fore during Reunion With the Rikers. In the 10-minute, 47-second clip, Frakes and Sirtis pitch their idea for a Trek-related sitcom and joke about other aspects of the series and their relationship. The two interact well and make this a fun ride.
For the four-minute, 23-second Today’s Tech, Tomorrow’s Data, we hear from USC Associate Professor of Computer Science Laurent Itti and a couple of unnamed others. They talk about work in robotics and connect the subject to Trek. Some mildly interesting comes out, but the show’s too short and superficial to do much.
Robot Hall of Fame lasts four minutes, 34 seconds and features Spiner, Almost Human: Making Robots Think author Lee Gutkind, Carnegie Mellon director of robotics Matthew Mason and Carnegie Mellon technology executive Donald Marinelli.
It looks at the organization and Data’s induction. It’s mildly intriguing, mostly because I had no idea there was an actual “Robot Hall of Fame”. (I view it as outrageous that R2-D2 got into before C-3PO!)
Finishing a continuing series, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond goes for nine minutes, 18 seconds. The actor chats about his part in the Nemesis script/story as well as other movie elements. I liked Spiner’s comments in the prior featurettes, and he continues to inform and entertain here.
Another ongoing set of featurettes, Trek Roundtable: Nemesis fills 10 minutes, 26 seconds. We hear from writer Larry Nemecek, Trekmovie.com’s Anthony Pascale, Planetary Association associate director Charlene Anderson, and Geek Monthly editor Jeff Bond.
They reflect on the movie in a variety of ways. They deliver a few interesting tidbits – such as an unused possibility for a sequel – but this remains a fairly bland program.
“Universe” concludes with Starfleet Academy SciSec Brief 010: Thalaron Radiation. In this two-minute, 27-second piece, we get thoughts about that technical concept. This becomes mildly interesting.
Inside “The Romulan Empire”, we start with Romulan Lore. The 11-minute, 51-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, 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, 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, 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, 13 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.
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. This provides both teaser and theatrical clips for Nemesis.
A fairly middle of the road Star Trek flick, Nemesis has its moments but doesn’t stand with the best of the series. Although it appears generally well made and entertaining, but it doesn’t quite move well enough to qualify as a true Trek winner. The Blu-ray brings strong audio and a nice roster of bonus materials but visuals seem inconsistent. An upgraded transfer would make this a more appealing release.
To rate this film visit the original review of STAR TREK: NEMESIS