Star Trek: Nemesis

Crimes:

  • Alternating gushy humor, grim pretension, and mindless action, and assuming audiences will change modes as rapidly as the film does
  • Trying to add gravity to goofy, illogical material via stark German Expressionist set and light design
  • Piling up nearly two straight hours of "Huh? What the HELL?" moments

Defender: Director Stuart Baird

Tone of commentary: Intense. Baird delivers most of his commentary in a husky, fervent whisper, as though he's telling a ghost story, or he's afraid he'll drown out the film if he speaks too loudly. He explains camera movements, editing choices, and design decisions, but often falls back on just describing the action: "The famous warp speeeed," he purrs throatily at one point as a spaceship leaps into action.

What went wrong: Nothing, though Baird's offhanded and repeated dismissal of pre-established Star Trek canon—characters, design, relationships, backstory, previous Trek films—strongly implies a fatal contempt for the series. He brightens noticeably when describing the parts of the film he got to design from scratch, or redesign to override previous series installments.

Comments on the cast: Virtually none. Baird devotes a bare word or two of praise to actors Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, but mostly seems to regard them as props amid his more interesting sets and computerized cameras. Judging from an awkward reference to "Patrick and Brent and... Worf," he doesn't even necessarily remember their names.

Inevitable dash of pretension: Baird's entire commentary is self-important and affected; his gravelly murmurs make him sound like a beat-poet wannabe at his first open-mic. Suddenly the film's ludicrously weighty tone makes more sense.

Commentary in a nutshell: "The brig! Patrick captured! And trapped in this machine that we designed!"