Friday, March 9, 2018

Nemesis 5: The New Model

Nemesis 5: The New Model
Dustin Ferguson

[In the interests of full disclosure, I not only received a preview copy from the director, but he was also kind enough to cast me as an extra in this film.]

Nemesis 5 is the latest entry in the long-running action-science fiction series created by Albery Pyun, this the first entry not directed by Pyun, who turns the reigns over to Dustin Ferguson. The basic plot of the series involves humans and cyborgs, many of whom don’t get along, forming warring factions. The cyborgs invested in overthrowing humanity are the Red Army Hammerheads. Throw in some murky politics on both sides and a little time travel and you’ve got what feels like if Skynet had launched an attack on humanity with stealth and propaganda instead of nukes.

We are introduced to Ari Frost (Schuylar Craig) as a cyborg and terrorist hunter who was raised by Alex (Sue Price) a genetically bred warrior featured in Nemesis 2-4. Ari sent back in time to 2077,  and along with a small team, is on a mission to track down the leaders of the Red Army Hammerheads to end the conflict once and for all. Along the way, she faces enemy agents, drones, a killer nurse and even the most iconic villain of the Nemesis series, Nebula.

"Let me guess, you're here for the Kraftwerk concert."
With a nineteen year gap between Nemesis 4 (1996) and 5 the film begins with a lengthy opening text crawl that the sets the stage. Clocking in at 71 minutes including credits, Nemesis 5 doesn’t have any time to waste and it gets right down to business. Ari runs from shoot-out to shoot-out, gaining and losing allies along the way. At their heart, Nemesis films are action movies with science-fiction elements but, Nemesis 5 does put in the work to give Ari an internal life as she is drawn in between her humanity and her internal technology. This pays off in a surprisingly thoughtful finale. I would have loved to have seen the rest of her team been given some more moments of characterization as well, they are an interesting group.

On the technical side, Nemesis 5 is filled with bright neon colors, sterile offices, grungy bars, and vast open areas of land. Many smaller budget films confine themselves to just a few locations, but Nemesis 5 moves its story around to varied and different places keeping everything feeling fresh. This production really stretches itself with model work, CGI, and some practical effects.

Well now, who is that sexy cyborg in the back there?
Occasionally dialog is difficult to hear, this is especially problematic during the finale where the film takes a philosophical turn and Ari is tempted with a path to power over retaining her humanity. The soundtrack of Nemesis 5 is one of its strongest elements, it is a fantastic mix of old school synthesizer drones and beats, along with a few choice industrial tunes including a great theme from industrial music mainstay Velvet Acid Christ.

Nemesis 5 is ambitious and despite a few technical setbacks it harkens back to the best days of direct to video action films from the 1980s and 1990s. Despite being over two decades away from the original Nemesis (1992), Nemesis 5 feels right at home in the series.

Update: Director Dustin Ferguson informed that the official release will have an upgraded professional sound mix that will improve the Foley mixing and the hard to hear dialog!

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