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STARTREK NEMESIS: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
I’d hate to think that the Enterprise crew has – after meeting the Vulcans and the Klingons and the Romulans and those funny little fellas with the big ears and bigger wealth drives – finally met its use-by-date. For a while there, Next Generation was the best thing on television. It took the seed of a good idea Roddenberry had launched all those years before, removed the silliness, and let it grow into a fine mix of deep space derring-do and sci-fi-philosophy. Half C.S. Forester; half Asimov. The films have never quite flown to the same heights, although the further TV spin-off Deep Space Nine almost did. 

They’ve got another version on the telly now. It’s simply called Enterprise, and it doesn’t live up to its name. I had a feeling it was going to offer all the excitement of a fireworks display in a black hole as soon as the music started up. Star Trek themes are a big deal. You simply can’t wander away when a stirring anthem promises an insight into humanity’s future. But what does Enterprise open with? A trite pop song from Diane Warren, the queen of formulaic chart-toppers. You got the remote, Scotty? Beam me to another channel!

So it’s back to the movies. Unfortunately, this latest in the franchise hasn’t exactly raked it in at the box office, and the murmurs are already around that it’s time to pension off Picard. I must admit this soundtrack has a tired ring to it. Among the myriad great Jerry Goldsmith scores, it hardly ranks in the stratosphere. 

The score embarks on its journey with the original Alexander Courage theme, which is truncated before you can say “make it so”. A little tease, and a big suggestion that Goldsmith is going to take us where no Star Trek score has gone before? ‘Fraid not, Scotty. The next four or five cues are atmosphere setting at best. Stun gun material at the worst of their meandering. More is expected from Goldsmith than pounding timpani and throbbing bass to build suspense. Still, early understatement can sometimes amplify later rewards; and there are a few. 

The intriguing trombones of the cues Lateral Run and Engage; the juxtaposition of militarism and delicacy in The Mirror; and the assimilation (with Borg-like aplomb) of synthesised material into the orchestral palette, all reflect the abilities and experience of a film music doyen. These mid-soundtrack highlights precede some powerful, if unspectacular action scoring, before the most redeeming feature: a wonderful version of the Generations theme. Introduced with an inspired nod to Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies the anthem takes off, takes a breather, and then soars to a new dimension of ennoblement. 

The memory of great franchises is largely sustained by their music. The William Tell Overture has become more synonymous with the Lone Ranger than its eponym; and it’s not hard to imagine that John Williams’ Star Wars Theme will endure long after the Force sues for divorce. But these have a mock epic quality to them: triumphal music in the service of a screen hero on a horse, or samurais in space. Some might argue that is no different with the Next Generation films: a big brass fanfare providing the backdrop to a bald man in a jumpsuit standing at the helm of a flashy set full of blinking lights and golly-gee gadgets. But Picard and his crew stand for more than that. Goldsmith, Courage and Dennis McCarthy’s (Deep Space Nine) themes are worthy anthems for a mythology of the future. Our counterpart to the rich mythology of antiquity. 

Published April 10, 2003

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REVIEWS

TITLE: Star Trek Nemesis
ID: 30206 64122
Varese Sarabande
COMPOSER/CONDUCTOR: Jerry Goldsmith
TRACKS: 14







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