NEMESIS
Music composed and conducted by
Jerry Goldsmith

Label: Varèse Sarabande
Catalog:
66412
Year: 2002
Tracks:

1. Remus
2. The Box
3. My Right Arm
4. Odds and Ends
5. Repairs
6. The Knife 
7. Ideals 
8. The Mirror 
9. The Scorpion 
10. Lateral Run 
11. Engage 
12. Final Flight  
13. A New Friend 
14. A New Ending

Total Time: 48:36
Rating: ***

Reviewed by
Jorge Saldanha,

English version by
Jaqueline Tergolina


Even before the release, there was a lot of enthusiastic comments about this score from veteran Jerry Goldsmith on the web, which, many of them, I read with a wondering feeling. It seemed to be a consensus that the first half of the CD was definitely average, whereas the second half would be his best action score in years, comparing to Executive Decision and U. S. Marshals, films with the same director of Star Trek: Nemesis. There was the official label release too, not saving compliments to Jerry’s work, rated as “Goldsmith’s greatest score for Star Trek since Star Trek: the Motion Picture”, “Star Trek’s most aggressive score”, “more epic than anything the legendary composer had ever written” etc.

Only after sometime was I to reason about it, and came to the conclusion that much of it, or nearly all that was being written about it was embedded with strongly emotional contents, due to reports, months earlier, that the composer was under chemotherapeutic treatment for prostate cancer. As someone said, "we should be thankful that the “old man”, even being ill, is still willing to compose and conduct the orchestra"... However, I believe Goldsmith, despite his illness and some recent weak pieces of work, has built an amazing opus that will certainly assure him in the future to be considered as one of the best score composers ever. Definitely, he does not need patronizing, as he is still at work, even having been acclaimed by the orchestra musicians, and his work is on screen at movie theaters and in our CD players to be enjoyed. Thus, I was careful enough to listen to the Nemesis CD many times in order to evaluate it fairly. So, I will be frank: contrary to what has been broadly said then by Varèse Sarabande in their advertising, Goldsmith has composed many and many scores better than this, and his opus is full of more aggressive and epic pieces of work.

This score’s main feature is to sound, at a first listening, definitely environmental and gloomy, but also based in a not so inspired reutilization of some of the maestro’s themes already heard in previous films of the franchise. As an aggravating circumstance, no remarkable new theme was created, which has not occurred even in mediocre Insurrection. The composer made an option to portrait the villain, Shinzon, and his allies, Remans, with dark and oppressive sonorities, given by the orchestra and an usual synthesizer base. The first CD track, “Remus”, starts with the well known fanfare originally composed by Alexander Courage (in a more intense performance) for the Original Series, followed by a military-character motif, percussive and menacing that, however, will hardly impress the listener. While The Motion Picture’s Klingon theme was previously used as Worf’s theme, now he uses The Final Frontier’s theme (first heard in “The Barrier” – and better developed in “A Busy Man”) as the android Data and his replica B-4’s theme. As a matter of fact, this theme had already been featured, in minor scale, in First Contact and Insurrection. Now in Nemesis it is featured mainly in “My Right Arm”, “Repairs” and “A New Friend”. In “Ideals” there is what is closest to the score’s main theme, an attractive and nostalgic melody for oboe accompanied by strings, a variation from the motif heard in the main titles – as if both were two sides of the same coin, Good and Evil, Picard and Shinzon – also repeated in other moments of the score. This first half of the soundtrack is thriller music, a maestro’s tendency lately (including the trombone glissando from The Edge in the track “Repairs”). There’s more action in “The Mirror”, beginning in a “bland-thriller” pattern, but soon a more lively variation of the theme from The Final Frontier follows, when at least louder strings, percussion, brass and even xylophone break the apathy. In parts of this track and in “Odds and Ends” there are traces of Goldsmith’s work in Basic Instinct, a masterpiece that had an influence on many later pieces of work and to which the composer often comes back searching for inspiration. Considered by many the score’s cream, the beginning of “The Scorpion” reminds me of one of his best-loved action scores in the 90s, Total Recall, with rhythmic percussion and synthesizer base. The orchestra provides a vigorous performance, and at the end the well known theme from The Motion Picture has a rare (and effective) rendition out of “End Titles”, which helps concluding the track in a positive way. The beginning of “Lateral Run” brings back the gloomy, menacing textures created by the orchestra and synthesizers, later transformed into an aggressive action material. It is out of dispute that it is interesting, but a bit bureaucratic and far from “apocaliptical”, as described on the CD notes. “Final Flight” is the composition with the most dramatic appeal, even being a bit different from the composer’s usual pattern. It is heard in Data’s space ride scene and in the final contend. In “A New Friend” Data’s theme comes back in a more emotional fashion, with good use of synthesizers, piano and violins. The score ends in “A New Ending”, when, after a short passage of “Blue Skies”, from Irving Berlin, there are the fanfare from Courage and Goldsmith’s theme for The Motion Picture in slower and (why not remarking?) more epic versions. The motif first heard in “Ideals” follows, the oboe, this time, more substantially accompanied by the orchestra, which, being a sad melody, results in a not so memorable ending for the score. Heard in the movie this effect is minimized, as during the final credits parts of the composition were replaced by the repetition of more vibrating moments of the score, like "Final Flight".

Comprehensively, I have tried to focus on Nemesis’ essence as played on CD. It is out of dispute the fact that it is not wonderful as said by the label and it is no match to the anthological The Motion Picture and even The Final Frontier. On the other hand, it is superior to Insurrection, which in spite of having a more memorable theme, is weak when considered as a whole. Besides, Nemesis’ soundtrack seems to get better whenever listened to again, when some of Goldsmith’s subtleties can be noted, which had been initially unperceived. There is also a point left to be considered when the subject is soundtracks in general – the way it works along with the film, which is, speaking of that, its basic function. It is hard to admit, but there are cases when the soundtrack is not appealing if listened to separately, but it is extremely functional along with the film. That is, Nemesis is the kind of soundtrack whose appropriate evaluation depends on attentive listening to both separately in the CD and along with the film. By the way, it is singular that the CD was released in the USA one month earlier than the film, even more as it was public that there had been changes on the film edition, scene cuts etc.. As a result, there are themes at the film not included in the CD, and CD tracks out of the film´s final cut. At last, I believe that this must be Goldsmith’s last Star Trek score, which leaves us missing his other, indisputably excellent and memorable scores, either in CD or on screen.

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