Star Trek: Nemesis – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Star Trek: Nemesis soundtrackSo help me, Jerry Goldsmith almost pulled it out of his hat with this one, very nearly giving Star Trek: Nemesis a completely unique musical score – note almost, as I found the ever-present theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (to say nothing of the recurring four-note Enterprise motif which Goldsmith has been recycling since Star Trek V‘s soundtrack) a bit grating. The bits in between, though, are what matter, and the sooner you can tune out Goldsmith’s reheated themes, the better – the dark recesses of Romulan intrigue make for some interesting musical exploration.

Note that I’m reviewing this soundtrack without having seen the movie (the CD hit the shelves two weeks ahead of the theatrical release date), and – as was the case with my somewhat cryptic review of the soundtrack from Star Wars Episode II – I’ve deliberately avoided exposure to anything except the movie trailers where Nemesis is concerned. I can’t tell you if the music fits the plot or the characters, and I certainly can’t comment on whether or not it melds with the action scenes. But I can tell you that the sense of building dread in most of Goldsmith’s score is a refreshing change of pace, reminding me in some ways of Cliff Eidelman’s criminally underrated music from Star Trek VI. There’s a nice surge of dark power, and a much darker, more desperate edge to some of the action cues (“Lateral Run”).

Goldsmith’s lighter touch, as well as his classical training, elevate the music to a whole new level of sheer beauty on tracks such as “Final Flight” and adding a somewhat cryptic quote from “Blue Skies” to the unusually somber, piano-based beginning of “A New Ending” (I’m sure there are plot reasons for the song quote, I just don’t know what they are as yet). The usual bombast is there, and God, am I sick of hearing that ST:TMP theme over and over again for the end credits, but if you can overlook the recycled material, it’s a good soundtrack – hopefully for a good movie.

In the end, though, the recycling bugs me a bit. Consider this: Nemesis is the tenth Star Trek movie, and it’s the fifth to be scored by Goldsmith. His music for the first movie was stunning, still standing as one of the finest SF film scores in the history of the genre. His music for First Contact was impressive, and Nemesis comes in at a close third musically. But given that each successive iteration of the theme from the first film loses more and more of its “oomph” – not only due to overexposure, but due to some less than enthusiastic cut-and-paste arrangement – perhaps next time Paramount needs to bring some new musical talent to the table. The 3 out of 4previously un-Trek-tried writer and director on Nemesis were a good start, and one can see where the studio might have wanted Goldsmith around to provide a safety net of identifiable themes to ground the new movie. But if the gamble on the new talent pays off with a box office blockbuster, why not extend that willingness to experiment to a new composer next time?

Order this CD

  1. Remus (1:57)
  2. The Box (2:21)
  3. My Right Arm (1:04)
  4. Odds And Ends (4:37)
  5. Repairs (6:25)
  6. The Knife (3:09)
  7. Ideals (2:16)
  8. The Mirror (5:21)
  9. The Scorpion (2:23)
  10. Lateral Run (3:54)
  11. Engage (2:12)
  12. Final Flight (3:48)
  13. A New Friend (2:38)
  14. A New Ending (6:06)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 48:11