I'm a huge Star Trek fan, but taking a look at this new Special Collector's Edition of Star Trek: Nemesis marked only the third time I've seen the picture, because I've pretty much held the opinion that it's the worst Star Trek movie of the lot.
While past Star Trek films have given us true "baddies" like Khan and the Borg Queen, Star Trek: Nemesis' Shinzon (played by Tom Hardy) comes off like a spoiled child – someone whose life has not gone the way they wanted, so he strikes out at others in anger. It's not a totally uninteresting character, but because of his youth and background, Shinzon comes off as more misguided than truly evil.
What I did like about Star Trek: Nemesis, especially after watching it again, was the self-examination Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) has to undertake in this film – wondering if he is "more than the sum of his parts" as he sees what kind of man Shinzon has turned into. For those not familiar with the movie, Shinzon is actually Picard's clone – originally intended as part of a plot against the Federation by the Romulans, but disregarded and raised as a slave on Romulus' sister world Remus when the Romulans abandoned their plan.
The most frustrating thing about Star Trek: Nemesis is that it turns out to be a less-than-satisfying swan song for probably the most interesting and enjoyable of all the various incarnations of Star Trek that fans have seen. The great thing about Star Trek VI was that it gave the original crew a proper send-off. Fans will get no such feeling at the conclusion of Star Trek: Nemesis. Ultimately, the film is a real missed opportunity at closure for this cast of actors.
Before we dive into the features and extras, a little about the DVD itself. Despite plenty of deleted footage (about 30 minutes worth appears on Disc Two, which I'll discuss later in this review), this is still the original theatrical cut of the movie, and no changes have been made.
The DVD packaging differs slightly from previous editions. The outside of the case appears the same, and is the same thickness as the other Collector's Edition volumes, but instead of having two separate openings inside for the two DVDs, there is only one opening on this set and the DVDs are held one on top of the other, in the same configuration DVD viewers have seen on sets like The Pink Panther and others. The spindles that hold each disc seem to be a little deeper than similar sets that use this configuration, so there appears to be a tad more space that makes sure the two DVDs never touch, but as a DVD buyer, I've never been a big fan of this configuration.
The film is presented widescreen anamorphic at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and is the exact same transfer of the picture that was on the first release. While slight hints of grain and a speck of dirt here and there are evident in the print, this is overall a pretty good transfer and one of the best looking of the Star Trek DVDs.
The big addition here over the initial release is the inclusion of a DTS track, that sounds simply fantastic. The track is highly active and really amps up scenes such as the escape from the planet where Picard, Data and Worf discover B-4; and the big battle between the Enterprise and the Scimitar at the end of the movie. Like the first release, this DVD also contains a 5.1 English track; a 2.0 English track; and a 2.0 French track. English and Spanish subtitles are also available.
As has been the case with most of these Collector's Editions, Paramount has pulled out all the stops in the extras department, and I'm happy to report that in addition to the new features on these DVDs, all of the bonus features that were on the first release have been brought over to this release (so other than that spiffy color insert – not included on this release - you won't need to hang on to your old Nemesis disc if you decide to upgrade).
Disc One includes the return of an Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Baird, a man so out of touch with the Star Trek world that he thinks the first scene of the movie is set on Remus (it's Romulus). This is a rather dry commentary, with lots of gaps where no talking is going on at all. Just to clarify, this is indeed the same commentary that was on the first release.
New to this release is an Audio Commentary by Producer Rick Berman, the man many fans consider responsible for "ruining" Star Trek and a track I was really looking forward to listening to – since I expected Berman to defend the movie throughout and perhaps offer excuses for why it didn't perform well. Berman actually avoids such discussion, although it is obvious listening to him that he still believes the movie is quite good. Like Baird's commentary, there are gaps here where Berman just stops commenting for minutes at a time – however, he does provide a lot more interesting tidbits about the movie than Baird does on his track (One I found interesting: Jonathan Frakes was actually Berman's first choice to direct Nemesis, but was already directing another movie and could only commit to the film as an actor. One wonders how much better Nemesis might have been had Frakes had the opportunity to helm it.).
Finally on Disc One, there is a Text Commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda which can be watched along with the movie, or even along with one of the commentaries should you so choose. I've always enjoyed these text tracks because Michael and Denise don't shy away from pointing out the errors and inconsistencies in the movies – and there's a good number in Star Trek: Nemesis.
Disc Two is jam-packed with featurettes and goodies and is the main reason Star Trek fans will want to seriously consider an upgrade to this release. Disc Two is divided into the following sections: Production; The Star Trek Universe; The Romulan Empire; Deleted Scenes; Archives and Trailers.
Returning from the first DVD are New Frontiers: Stuart Baird On Directing Nemesis (9 minutes), and Red Alert: Shooting The Action of Nemesis (10 minutes).
THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE
Returning from the first release are A Star Trek Family's Final Journey (16 minutes) and A Bold Vision Of The Final Frontier (10 minutes).
New to this release is The Enterprise E, a 11 ½ minute featurette during which Production Designer Herman Zimmerman talks about some of the changes to the Enterprise-E in this movie over the previous ones. There's also another hidden Easter Egg in this section, where Bryan Singer talks about his cameo in the movie.
THE ROMULAN EMPIRE
Everything in this section of Disc Two is brand-new, and it starts off with Romulan Lore, a 12-minute look at the history of the Romulans as shown in prior episodes of Star Trek. Shinzon & The Viceroy (10 minutes) covers the two main villains of Nemesis; while Romulan Design (10 minutes) has Special Visual Effects crewman Syd Dutton and 3D Artist John Teska discussing how conceptual paintings get turned into the visuals you see in the movie. The Romulan Senate is a 9 ½ minute look at the making of Nemesis' opening scene; and The Scimitar is a 13-minute featurette during which Herman Zimmerman talks about how he designed Shinzon's destructive spaceship. Once again, there's a hidden Easter Egg - this one featuring Jonathan Frakes and Ron Perlman discussing their big fight scene at the conclusion of Nemesis.
There are 13 deleted scenes in this section of the DVD, 7 of which have been carried over from the previous release and 6 of which are brand-new. Also carried over to this DVD is the 1-minute Rick Berman Intro to the deleted scenes.
Carried over to this disc are the following scenes: Chateau Picard 2267 (6 minutes); The Time Of Conquest (6 minutes); Federation Protocols (1 minute); A Loss Of Self (1 minute); Turbolift Violation (2 ½ minutes); Sickbay Prepares For Battle (1 minute); and Advice For The New First Officer (4 minutes).
All the deleted scenes are letterboxed, but non-anamorphic, and all of the footage is very rough-looking with a lot of grain and a lack of sharpness. Oddly, many of the newly-added scenes contain Rick Berman's name in the bottom right corner of the picture. The Cleaning Out Data's Quarters scene contains both a running time clock at the top and property information along the bottom of the footage.
Carried over from the first DVD is a Production Photo Gallery, which consists of the same conceptual art and set photos that were in the Photo Gallery section of the initial release.
New to this release is a Storyboards section, that is divided up into sections entitled Scorpion Escape; The Jeffries Tube; Collision and Data's Jump. Also new is a Props Photo Gallery.
They were missing from the first release, so Star Trek fans should be happy that both the Teaser Trailer (1 ½ minutes) and the Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes) make an appearance on this release. Both trailers are letterboxed, but non-anamorphic, and presented in 5.1 Dolby sound. There's also a 30-second, full-frame Borg Invasion Trailer for the Las Vegas attraction. It's presented in 2.0 Dolby. Those interested (I was lucky enough to go early this year, and it's worth a stop if you're in the Las Vegas area) may also be interested to know that a discount coupon is included inside the box.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Star Trek: Nemesis won't go down as one of the fans' favorite Star Trek movies, but Paramount has done everything they could (short of giving us a new cut of the actual film) to make this release an appealing one for Star Trek aficionados. There's enough new material here to warrant an upgrade from the previous DVD release, and for that reason – rather than for the overall appeal of the movie itself – I'm giving this one a solid recommendation.