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STAR TREK: NEMESIS – Jerry Goldsmith

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Original Review by Craig Lysy

Sadly, the beloved Star Trek franchise took its final voyage with this tenth installment. For the storyline we are presented with yet another morality play, which explores the interplay of upbringing, fate and self-realization in seeking one’s destiny. Following a wedding between Will Riker and Deanna Troi, Picard receives startling orders from Star Fleet Command to proceed to Romulus as the Federation’s peace emissary. Evidently a coup d’état had ushered in a new leadership that wished to reset relations after centuries of unremitting animosity. Upon their arrival Picard discovers that the new leader Shinzon is not a Romulan, but instead a human, a clone of himself. Eventually he realizes a sinister deception as Shinzon’s true motives manifest. Shinzon desires to gain glory first by killing his genetic progenitor, Picard, and then by destroying Earth, a final repudiation of his humanity. Thus from a shared genetic template we see a duality, the polarity of goodness embodied in Picard and the polarity evil with Shinzon. What unfolds is a classic battle between light and darkness, a contest of wills with both Picard and Shinzon using their knowledge of the other and themselves to prevail. In the fateful final encounter, the Enterprise joined by Romulan loyalist ships battle Shinzon’s Scimitar, a cloaked mega vessel with superior shields and weapons of mass destruction. We witness Picard and Shnizon match wits with the most impressive battle scenes of the franchise. The film, while not embraced by critics, performed well and was profitable. The decision to end the franchise was very disappointing.

Goldsmith, who had with four prior films firmly established an indelible and familiar soundscape for the franchise, was the logical choice to score the film. For the voyage he provided a number of new themes and motifs, reemployed themes from previous films, while also utilizing a significant amount of textural and ambient electronica. Shinzon’s Theme is the main theme and it permeates throughout the score. It is multi-phrasal with an A Phrase often carried by a solo oboe dolorosa, which blossoms in the more lyrical B Phrase, carried by lush strings. Regretfully, the full statement is heard only once in the End Credits. Most interesting is that Goldsmith does not attune his theme to emote Shinzon’s villainy but instead his underlying loneliness, estrangement and alienation. As such we initially hear sadness and pity in the notes, not terror or power. Later as Shinzon and Picard contest in battle, the theme transforms, becoming aggressive and militarized. I believe Goldsmith’s approach to Shinzon’s persona was well conceived and spot on.

Additional themes include the familiar four-note Friendship Theme from Star Trek V, which returns to inform us of the special bond that exists between Picard and his crew. Its warmth affords the dark score contrast by emoting not only the bond of friendship, but also the virtues embodied by Picard and his crew. The Reman Theme is new and reflects the martial nature of the Remans, whose legions served as ferocious storm troopers for the Romulan Empire. The repeating six-note theme is militaristic in its construct, replete with snare drums, timpani and horns. The Heroic Theme is a new theme that although militaristic in its construct, being propelled by snare drums and horn fare, it evokes not a sense of aggression, but instead majestic nobility. The Argo Theme is also a new theme, heard but once in the score. The uplifting theme is emoted by French horns, which evoke a sense of strength, confidence and nobility. Lastly, there are two motifs, the Scimitar Motif, a repeating descending phrase of sliding strings and minimalism, which evoke its horrific power, and the Battle Motif, a repeating five-note construct emoted by horns with string counters, which is used to support the Enterprise during battle sequences.

“Remus” is a complex multifaceted cue, which opens over the brief film title credits. Sparkling ethereal electronica sets the film’s tone and serves as a prelude for an elegiac statement by a plaintive solo trumpet. From out it arises the iconic Star Trek Anthem on French Horns nobile, which leads to a final transition to the Reman Theme. Most interesting is as we descend from the vastness of space to the Romulan capital and finally to the Senate chambers, the militaristic melodic line shifts to woodwinds, softening its effect as it fades in a diminuendo. This cue is nicely done! “The Box” features a tense public fracture between the Romulan Proconsul and his military general staff when he summarily rejects their call for war against the Federation. After the admirals leave, a lethal thalaron radiation device is activated, which kills the entire Romulan senate. Foreboding tolling bells, electronica and dark horns portend the coming slaughter. As the device activates ethereal, sparkling electronica rise up and create a sense of wonderment, which plays against the device’s lethality. Goldsmith’s approach to this scene is perfectly conceived.

“My Right Arm” features Picard toasting to Will And Deanna’s happiness and features a sentimental Friendship Theme emoted by solo oboe. “Star Field” provides a view of the Enterprise in orbit and features a warm and welcoming rendering of the Star Trek Anthem. At 0:34 we segue darkly into “Positronic Signal”, where the crew detects a positronic signal, the signature of androids kindred to Data. Goldsmith perfectly scores the scene with simplicity, using repeated eerie statements of the A phrase of Shinzon’s Theme by violins with bell echoes, which inform of us of his complicity. “The Argo” reveals Picard, Data and Worf taking the shuttle Argo to the planet in search of the source of the positronic signal. We hear echoes of “Star Trek The Motion Picture” in the repeating bass rhythm that underpins the cue, which features a wondrous full rendering of the Argo Theme in all its majestic glory.

In “Odds and Ends” we see the landing party securing piece-by-piece components of another Data like android. Harsh electronica, dissonant strings, horn blares and bleak statements of the A phrase of Shinzon’s Theme set the tone of this eerie textural cue. All hell breaks loose at 2:09 as Remans fire upon and pursue the landing party, which flees for their lives. Thunderous timpani underpin horns bellicoso emoting a now martial snare drum propelled rendering of the A Phrase of Shinzon’s Theme. As Shinzon’s Theme shifts to strings and drums, a counter string ostinato line is introduced, sowing tension in its wake. The sterling action writing here is trademark Goldsmith! “Your Brother” reveals Data and Geordi reassembling an apparent precursor android of Data. The Friendship Theme carries the scene. “Course Plotted” reveals the Enterprise’s journey atop the Star Trek Anthem to Romulus. At 1:27 tension is sowed by a pulsating electronica ostinato with eerie string counters as the Enterprise waits in orbit for official contact.

“Repairs” reveals Geordi assisting Data transfer his memory core to B-4 in hope of fully animating him. Goldsmith supports the moment with repeated phrases of the Friendship Theme contrasted with eerie electronica, and later a solemn Star Trek Anthem. At 3:13 we shift scenes to the bridge where sharp electronica interplay with an electronica ostinato to underscore the Enterprise’s efforts to detect a Romulan ship in proximity. Inexorably we build to crescendo atop wailing horns as the massive Scimitar de-cloaks, revealing its horrific destructive power. Fragments of the Reman Theme entwine with the now plaintive A Phrase of Shinzon’s Theme to close the cue in an eerie diminuendo. Once again, Goldsmith’s music really enriched this scene. In “The Knife” Picard and his landing party meet Shinzon, who remarkably turns out to be human. He slices his hand and then hands over the blood stained knife to a stunned Picard to analyze, purposely revealing his identity as his clone. This is an ambient textural cue with dark electronica and a tolling bell, which sets an ominous tone to the meeting. Tension slowly rises in the strings as Shinzon’s true nature is revealed as fragments of his theme struggle to declare themselves.

“Perfect Timing/Allegiance” features Romulan commanders disgruntled with Shinzon’s reluctance to wage war as he promised. Goldsmith evokes tension with minimalism, employing interplay of strings and electronica. “Secrets” is another ambient minimalist cue where we see Shinzon’s rejection of Donatra’s attempted seduction. The ambient minimalism continues into “The Mine”. We see Shinzon relating to Picard his harsh treatment by Romulans in the dilithium mines and how his Reman Viceroy befriended him. As the conversation continues in “Ideals” we see a skeptical Picard hesitant to take Shinzon at his word that he is committed to peace. We hear a tender interplay of Shinzon’s Theme carried by a hopeful oboe and the Friendship Theme that support the encounter. The thematic interplay suggests a possible rapprochement not only between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, but also between Picard and Shinzon. We end darkly and texturally as Picard returns to the Enterprise unconvinced.

“Options” reveals Picard and Geordi working to find a way to detect the Scimitar when cloaked. The Scimitar Motif plays in this minimalist construct to support the scene. In “Bed Time” we see a psychic rape of Deanna by Shinzon, mediated by the telepathic power of his Reman Viceroy. Harsh dissonant and growling electronica underscore the violation. The electronica minimalism is sustained in “Transport” where we see Data in the guise of B-4 transporting to the Scimitar. “Blood Test” reveals Picard being abducted by transporter to the Scimitar. Shinzon plans a transfusion to restore his health, which is deteriorating due to his accelerated aging. A ostinato pulse underpins and ominous rendering of Shinzon’s Theme. At 0:24 we segue into a minimalist line of electronica as we see Picard strapped down and blood extracted from his arm.

“The Mirror” is a crucial scene where we see Shinzon boast to Picard that he is transparent, only to be countered by Picard that their relationship was reciprocal, that he also had insight into Shinzon’s mind. The confrontation ends with Shinzon declaring “not for long Captain, that soon the “echo” would silence the “voice”. Goldsmith scores this pivotal scene interplay with swooshing electronica and eerie strings. A line of throbbing electronica heralds a scene change to the Enterprise bridge as Riker tries to find a way to locate Picard. A return to the Scimitar reveals Data freeing Picard and attempting to escape before discovery. The Friendship Theme and ambient electronica underscore their efforts. At 3:09 a percussive electronica ostinato builds to crescendo as an alarm sounds. All hell then breaks loose in a firefight as Picard and Data struggle to reach the shuttle bay. We are treated to classic Goldsmith action scoring with his trademark aggressive rhythms and competing lines of hornfare and staccato percussion.

Well, hang on to your seat, as “The Scorpion” is a tour de force and a score highlight. We see Picard and Data escape, careening through the Scimitar in a shuttle to gain their freedom. A drum ostinato with twinkling electronic piano counter initiates the action. We explode upon ferocious strings, which contest with Shinzon’s Theme as they exit the Scimitar, gain space and transported to the Enterprise. The Star Trek Anthem informs us of their rescue and the Enterprise’s flight to Federation space. Wow! “His Plans” reveals Romulan commanders being informed by Shinzon that he will soon leave to destroy both the Enterprise and Earth. Once again minimalism in the form of strings and electronica support the scene. At 1:02 we segue into “Data & B-4” where we see Data telling B-4 that he was deactivating him, as he was too dangerous. Ethereal electronica shimmer as Data, with regret, powers down B-4. A counter descending string line speaks to his regret.

“Battle Stations” initiates the incredible battle sequences, the best and most sustained in the franchise. We open atop the Heroic Theme on trombones as Picard and Data prepare the Enterprise for battle. The theme evolves into a snare drum propelled march as the crew prepares. As the cloaked Scimitar prepares to overtake the Enterprise, we hear the horrific Scimitar Motif sounding against electronica and the Battle Motif. “Attack Pattern” reveals the Enterprise knocked out of warp with the first salvo and then being pummeled as its return fire continues to miss the cloaked Scimitar. Goldsmith uses interplay of the Battle, Reman and Scimitar Motifs to drive the action in this tense cue. Wow. We hear interplay of both swooshing and tolling electronica underscore during the “The Invitation”, which features Picard and a holographic Shinzon in a face-to-face encounter. At 0:23 we segue into “True Nature” where Picard valiantly tries to appeal to Shinzon’s conscience by counseling him that he can be a better man by choosing peace over genocide. A plaintive solo oboe emotes Shinzon’s Theme as he listens, but a militarized rendering of his theme informs us of his rejection of Picard’s entreaty. At 1:54 we segue into “Let’s Go To Work” where we see two Romulan Warbirds arrive to join in the Enterprise’s defense. Goldsmith employs his staccato Battle Motif in contest with a militarized Shinzon Theme to drive the battle.

“Lateral Run” reveals Deanna using her telepathy to locate the Viceroy to provide Worf a phaser lock on the Scimitar. Shimmering electronica is joined by metallic percussion and growling bass, which crescendo as she finally locates him. Triumphant horn fare of the Battle Theme informs us of her success as we see the Enterprise pummel the Scimitar with a full spread of phasers and torpedoes. As the wounded Scimitar recovers, its motif returns and then interplays with the Battle Motif and Shinzon’s Theme. The marriage of score and imagery in these scenes is just superb. “The Viceroy” reveals Riker fighting hand to hand with the Viceroy. A simple percussive ostinato supports the action. “Engage” is a monumental cue where we see an over confident Shinzon overplay his hand by placing his uncloaked Scimitar in close proximity to the Enterprise. Picard seizes the moment and launches the Enterprise forward to ram the Scimitar in a final desperate effort to save the Earth. Tense strings, and chattering horns provide a textural milieu from out which rises a powerful rendering of the Battle Theme that crests as a shattering crescendo. The union of score and imagery in this scene is just stupendous!

“Full Reverse” is multi-scenic. We see Riker kill the Viceroy and Shinzon order the Scimitar to full reverse so as to decouple the two ships. An electronic percussion ostinato with interplay of Shinzon’s Theme drives the action. “Not Functional” reveals the Enterprise helpless without weapons and engines. Picard decides to beam aboard the Scimitar in a last effort to stop Shinzon. Shimmering electronica, a drum ostinato and repeated phrases of the A Phrase of Shinzon’s Theme animates the scene. In “Final Flight” we see Data propel himself out of the Enterprise through space to reach the Scimitar so as to rescue Picard. We witness hand-to-hand fighting between Picard and Shinzon that ends with Shinzon’s death. This cue is for me the score’s apogee, its highlight and enduring testimony to Goldsmith’s mastery of his craft. It features a contrapuntal slugfest between the militarized Battle and Shinzon’s Themes. Replete with a fierce string ostinato, powerful horn fare and thunderous timpani, this cue just brings the house down! Bravo!

“Firing Sequence” reveals Data slapping a portable transporter on Picard, which beams him to safety. He remains and sacrifices himself by detonating the Scimitar’s thalaron generator. Shinzon’s Theme underscores the scene, evolving from woodwind born sadness as Data rescues Picard, to full borne tragedy by full orchestra as we see Data consumed in the massive explosion. In “A New Friend” Picard and crew are devastated as they take in Data’s death. Goldsmith captures the pathos of the moment, but also the hope that lays dormant in B-4, the repository of Data’s positronic mind. Plaintive statements of the Friendship Theme emotes his sense of loss, but also hope for the future as the music lightens and we are reconciled that Data still lives within B-4. The music again really captures the emotions of the scene.

“That Song” reveals the crew celebrating Data’s life with a toast. We hear a warm rendering of the Friendship Theme from out which arises a sentimental and sparkling rendering of the Star Trek Anthem, which supports the celebration of Data’s life. At 0:51 we segue into “An Honor” where Picard bids a fond farewell to his dear friend Riker who departs for his new command. Gentile strings, piano and warm horns carry the sentimental scene. We conclude our journey with “A New Ending”. As Picard leaves a singing B-4, the Blue Skies Theme returns in a hopeful statement from which launches the End Title Suite, a score highlight. The suite opens with Courage’s iconic Star Trek Anthem on sparkling horns, which ushers in non-bravado rendering of the Star Trek Anthem. We segue into a dramatic and only multi-themed elegiac rendering of the tragic Shinzon’s Theme whose lush string carried B phrase brings quivers. The cue culminates in true Goldsmith style with a powerful and bold restatement of his Star Trek Anthem.

Please allow me to thank Robert Townson and Lukas Kendall for this long desired complete score for Star Trek Nemesis. The sound quality is exceptional and of the highest quality. In my judgment this story’s dark narrative provided Goldsmith with an extraordinary opportunity that I believe was not fully realized. For me there was insufficient contrast between the forces of light and the darkness that I believe the narrative required. The Heroic Theme for example is a fine theme, but one that found insufficient voice. It was never juxtaposed against Shinzon’s Theme, which is regrettable, as I believe such interplay would have really elevated the score. The extensive use of electronica, while not a problem in and of itself, broke no new ground, and in many instances seemed all too familiar. Lastly, the pacing of the Star Trek Anthem in the End Title Suite was lifeless, displaying none of its heroic bravado. Having said this, there are a number of cues of outstanding quality where Goldsmith clearly demonstrated mastery of his craft, such as “Final Flight”. Folks, I consider this score the weakest of Goldsmith’s five franchise scores. In totality however, the score has sufficient good moments to earn my recommendation for collectors. It goes without saying that I consider it a must for Star Trek and Goldsmith enthusiasts like your author.

Buy the Star Trek Nemesis soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Remus (2:01)
  • The Box (2:21)
  • My Right Arm (1:04)
  • Star Field/Positronic Signal (1:57)
  • The Argo (1:17)
  • Odds and Ends (4:39)
  • Your Brother/Course Plotted (2:07)
  • Repairs (6:27)
  • The Knife (3:10)
  • Perfect Timing/Allegiance (2:21)
  • Secrets (1:28)
  • The Mine (1:30)
  • Ideals (2:16)
  • Options (0:55)
  • Bed Time/Transport (1:38)
  • Blood Test (1:23)
  • The Mirror (5:23)
  • The Scorpion (2:24)
  • His Plans/Data & B-4 (2:39)
  • Battle Stations (2:40)
  • Attack Pattern (2:22)
  • The Invitation/True Nature/Let’s Go To Work (4:38)
  • Lateral Run (3:55)
  • The Viceroy (0:20)
  • Engage (2:14)
  • Full Reverse (1:41)
  • Not Functional (2:54)
  • Final Flight (3:49)
  • Firing Sequence (0:54)
  • A New Friend (2:38)
  • That Song/An Honor (1:24)
  • A New Ending (8:30)
  • Riker’s Strut #1 – Source Cue (performed by Mike Lang) (1:07)
  • Riker’s Strut #2 – Source Cue (performed by Mike Lang) (1:09)
  • Blue Skies (written by Cole Porter, performed by Brent Spiner) (3:17)
  • Blue Skies (Instrumental) (written by Cole Porter) (2:37)
  • Secrets (ALTERNATE MIX) (1:29)
  • The Mine (ALTERNATE) (1:33)
  • Options (ALTERNATE) (0:57)
  • Options (ALTERNATE MIX) (0:58)
  • Data & B-4 (ALTERNATE) (1:39)
  • Battle Stations (ALTERNATE Mix) (2:44)
  • Attack Pattern (ALTERNATE MIX) (2:24)
  • True Nature (ALTERNATE MIX) (1:30)
  • A New Ending (ALTERNATE) (6:11)
  • Director and Composer (2:35)

Running Time: 115 minutes 09 seconds

Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL-1213-1143 (2002/2014)

Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. Orchestrations by Mark McKenzie and Conrad Pope. Theme from “Star Trek” by Alexander Courage. Recorded and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Edited by Ken Hall. Score produced by Jerry Goldsmith. Album produced by Robert Townson and Lukas Kendall.

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  1. February 13, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Surely the weakest of Goldsmith’s scores for the franchise, but I grew up on this one (and First Contact) and thus will always have a soft spot for it. Per usual, a thorough and balanced review, Craig!

  2. C Taylor
    February 14, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Actually the movie cost 60 million to make and grossed about 43 mil. Didn’t perform too well and was the nail in the coffin so to speak for the franchise until the reboot 7 years later.

  3. Daniel
    February 22, 2014 at 12:10 am

    As C Taylor mentioned it was actually a flop, just check Box Office Mojo. It is the lowest grossing Star Trek movie to date (even less than Part V, which even being regarded as a flop was profitable). I also agree that this score is the weakest from Goldsmith for the franchise, but the action music and specially the last part of the score are very good.

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