Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Star Trek X: Nemesis

A couple days ago I finally achieved the moment of watching every single minute of every Star Trek film when I finished watching 2002's Star Trek X: Nemesis (trailer). I recall catching a small part of it off cable a few years back, but until a couple days ago it was the last one I have not seen in its entirety. Nemesis is also noteworthy as it is the final film with The Next Generation cast, and that we would not see another Star Trek film hit theaters until the JJ Abrams directed reboot, seven years later in 2009.

Nemesis builds off of a new relationship established in the previous film Insurrection, as it kicks off at the wedding for Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis). Shortly after the wedding wraps up, the Enterprise detects energy signatures on a planet that leads them to discover an android prototype model of Data (Brent Spiner), who identifies itself as B-4. Speaking of mysterious alter egos, the Enterprise then cruises to Romulus so Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) can meet the new Romulan leader, Preator Shinzon (Tom Hardy), who is instantly revealed to be the long lost (younger) clone of Picard. Shinzon wants a much awaited peace treaty between the Romulans and the Federation, but Picard knows himself too well to trust himself that easy, and soon enough shenanigans are amiss.

Shinzon is one of the stronger antagonists of the Star Trek films, as everything about him simply reeks of evil from his dark leather uniform complete with a menacing cape to his scarred lip. Hardy delivers a superb performance, and emerges as a major, motion picture caliber villain that Insurrection severely lacked. While I appreciated and very much enjoyed the lightheartedness of the previous film, Nemesis pulls no punches and is a much darker film, as once Shinzon reveals his true intentions the action and drama heats up, and keeps amping up until the very end.

I loved the overall aesthetic and tone throughout Nemesis. As the Enterprise, and the Romulans' Schimitar vessels navigate through space, the endless void has a mystifying dark green hue that perfectly captures the spirit of the movie. A lot of overall darker colors and tones are used quite well in the backgrounds of most other scenes that helped establish a more serious atmosphere as the film progressed, including a fantastic dinner scene between Picard and Shinzon where both Stewart and Hardy absolutely nailed the scene and you could not help but tell from this scene that Nemesis is bracing you for an epic last half of the film.

Another factor to consider is that this film came out towards the end of 2002, and that in between the four years when Insurrection and Nemesis were released, that the first two of the much anticipated Star Wars prequels hit theaters. The pressure was on at Paramount to up their game in the special effects department, and they made sure to deliver for Nemesis by having a thrilling dune buggy chase early on, and by having an all out dog fight scene between the Enterprise and the Schimitar that easily runs away as the best spaceship duel of the first ten Star Trek films, and 12 years later it still holds up splendidly.

Once the dust settles from the final conflict, you can tell in the film's final moments that this is it for The Next Generation cast. It is not quite the in-your-face sendoff that The Undiscovered Country was for The Original Series cast, but there is a couple of strong scenes with your Starfleet favorites to close the film that had me glued to the screen taking in everything that just transpired well after the credits finished rolling. I was a little surprised to learn from some of the behind-the-scenes interviews that some of the cast and crew felt the ending was not all that definitive and thought that the cast would likely be back for another film.

Speaking of extras, it should be no surprise that Paramount jam packed this BluRay with a ton of them. Aside from over three hours of previously released DVD content, Paramount tacked on another hour of new HD extras, and that hour count is not including the two previously released commentaries and one new commentary that brings the extras running time well over the ten hour mark. Thanks to the 1.5x speed playback on my PS3, I watched them all. Like the previous commentary tracks on past releases, I listened to about 20 minutes of each commentary track. Of the two previous commentaries, one is from director Stuart Baird, and another from producer Rick Berman. Both provide a lot of great details on the background and why a lot of key scenes were cut, but I am curious as to why the two did not do one together instead. Michael and Denise Okuda provide the new commentary track and have a lot more to say as they naturally bounce off each other well.

Make sure to check out the deleted scenes, as there is nearly a half hour's worth with introductions from the cast and crew as to why certain scenes were cut, including a very well done scene between Picard and Data, and some extended scenes in the film's ending that never made it to the big screen. There are 15 previously released behind-the-scenes featurretes. You will have to be bonkers like me to watch them all, so I will highlight the five that stood out to me. Nemesis Revisited is a must watch, even though it runs a hearty 25 minutes, it is all about how Nemesis came to be with interviews from all the major cast and crew members. New Frontiers, is a quick, but insightful look at director Stuart Baird's background and how this non-Trekkie landed the director's chair job. Red Alert is a 10 minute look at the making of the dune buggy and dogfight action sequences. Star Trek Fan's Final Journey is an endearing 16 minute feature interviewing the cast and crew coming together again for one last film. Finally, Romulan Lore is a thorough 11 minute look at the history of the Romulans in the Star Trek films and television series.

For the new BluRay extras, we get the final, fourth installment of the Brent Spiner interview, and the final fourth installment of Trek Roundtable where four Star Trek critics analyze and dissect the film. Both are well worth checking out, especially the Spiner interview where he comments on how he helped write the script, and the major moments for his character in the film. Reunion With the Rikers is a entertaining 10 minute interview with Siritis and Frakes where they joke around pitching sitcom ideas, and their memories from shooting the film. Finally there are two short four minute pieces, with Today's Tech, Tomorrow's Data focusing on future brain research technology and Robot Hall of Fame interviewing some interesting robotics enthusiasts about Data getting inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame.

As I looked at my list of ratings for all the Star Trek films until this point, I was surprised at how much I dug Nemesis. I had to ask myself a couple of times, 'do I really like it more than The Voyage Home and First Contact' and after thinking about it for a couple of days, it turns out that I do indeed. Out of the first ten Star Trek films, Star Trek X: Nemesis ranks as my second favorite right behind, The Wrath of Kahn, and my favorite featuring The Next Generation cast. You can see for yourself how it compares to the rest of the first ten films in my ratings below. Get psyched everyone, and please come back here soon because in a month we finally get to the JJ Abrams reboot films, and I think it is a safe bet that they are still fantastic watches.

Star Trek Film Ratings

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 5.5/10
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn - 10/10
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 7.5/10
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 9/10
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 6.5/10
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 7.5/10
Star Trek VII: Generations - 8/10
Star Trek VIII: First Contact - 9/10
Star Trek IX: Insurrection - 8/10
Star Trek X: Nemesis - 9.5/10

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