Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995) – Review


Never let it be said that Albert Pyun – undisputed lord and master of the dusty bottom shelf at all 90’s video rental stores – ever let common sense get in the way of his need to tell ever more convoluted sci-fi stories – take Nemesis 2: Nebula for example. Those familiar with the first movie might have vague memories of a half-human Oliver Grunner engaging in numerous gun battles with a cyborg Tim Thomerson in order to save a future that’s formed entirely of abandoned smelting plants and warehouses – well, rest assured that those memories won’t help you here as this sequel dispenses with the entire first movie with a single title card and then starts from scratch. This is presumably because Pyun had had enough of making movies with sunglasses, trench coats and guns in it and fancied trying one with a Predator ripoff with a pint-sized bodybuilder instead… and they say there’s no new ideas in Hollywood.

Okay, now pay attention, because this synopsis could go squirrely in a hurry – in fact it may be worth your while to take notes; ready?
After the events of the first Nemesis, Alex apparently failed at winning the Cyborg Wars in 2026 and mankind was overrun by their new, roboty masters (oh, nice one Alex), however fifty year later a resistance scientist created “super DNA” to aid humanity when the time came to push back. However, the DNA was instead put inside a baby whose mother then went on the run with her in order to stay ahead of Nebula, a cyborg bounty hunter that’s been dispatched to kill the baby before its super-duper-mega DNA can prove to be a threat. While your brain questions why cyborgs would need a cyborg bounty hunter when surely they could just programme Nebula to just be a regular hunter without the need for a bounty, the baby’s mother manages to steal a craft that can travel through time (that’s fucking handy) and warps both herself and her child back to 1980 where Wotan Rebels are engaged in an vicious civil war with the government in East Africa, however, after naming her child Alex after an “ancestor”, the mother is killed but the super powered baby is adopted by an African tribe who raise her as one of their own.
Pretty crazy right? Well, we ain’t done yet – skip ahead another twenty years and Alex has grown into a ridiculously healthy specimen of womanhood who sports more muscles than 85% of the cast of Pumping Iron and wants to face the trials the men folk tackle in order to be recognized by the hunters as their equal. However, her idyllic existence of fending of sexism in the middle of the African wilderness is disrupted by the belated arrival of Nebula, who has bizarrely chosen to come back from the future and kill Alex when she’s fully grown. Can our rippling heroine manage to survive against a foe based off of a far superior movie and finally discover her past… or wait, did I mean her future? Bloody time travel.


I have to say, it’s nothing short of remarkable that a film that carries so much needlessly complicated back story and set up can have virtually no actual plot whatsoever as the gargantuan amount of needlessly convoluted information we’re expected to swallow is not only as tangled as a hobo’s hairstyle, it also has nothing to do with the original film. Oh sure, there’s some guff about cyborgs, something about a war and the name Alex is casually dropped in with all the care of a game of horseshoes plain by an enraged chimp, but aside from that, Pyun seems dead set on retconning the entire franchise from the ground up. Weirdly, it proves to be something of a relief, because if my battered memory recalls, Nemesis’ plot wasn’t exactly straightforward to begin with.
Thus we now have a whole new status quo that sees endearingly short professional bodybuilder Sue Price (she’s only five feet tall, bless her) portray a super-powered mutant from the future who was raised by an African tribe since she was a baby – say what you will about a lack of continuity, but I bet that looks killer on a resumé. Anyway, after an opening fifteen minutes of exposition that feels like you’re cramming for a Japanese exam, Nemesis 2 gets real simple, real fast as the plot straightens out to nothing more than a cat and mouse chase flick that’s interspersed with random gunfire and the odd explosion.
Alex has to win over her tribe, fight a naysayer, flee Nebula initial attack, hook up with a random couple of American women and then fight her clunky nemesis to the death in an abandoned structure and it requires her to do this while showing as much of her genuinely impressive physique as she can. In fact, Pyun – and, as a result, the movie – seems so taken with her bulging guns and a butt you could hammer steel on, the script doesn’t waste a single chance to have someone point out how ripped Alex is at the slightest given opportunity. “So what’s the story with your body?” randomly enquires one of her American tag-alongs at one point, “You’re pretty muscular for a girl.” – uh… we know, Albert.


Much like the first movie, Nemesis 2: Nebula isn’t a particularly well made movie. It’s confused and muddled and feels like it’s been written and shot by children; and yet, there’s that strangely endearing 90’s memory of renting a piece of shit like this and devouring a ton of snacks and booze that can’t help but give me a gooey feeling of nostalgia. To give Pyun his due, not a lot of action movies in the 90’s would base such story around a female character surround her with a cast full of mainly black actors – I mean, none of the black characters actually make it to the end credits alive and the woman gets her abilities from super DNA, but it’s something, right? Plus, with some Mr. Fantastic-style reaching, you could even call Nemesis 2 a precursor to the resent Predator sequel Prey which also saw a highly capable woman butt heads with a sci-fi tinged hunter.
However, that’s where the similarities end, because believe you me, Nebula is no Predator. Featuring future John Wick director Chad Stahelski encased in a chonky robot suit that has a drill-bit hand, an inability to turn its head and some swirly CGI tinkering that makes it completely incomprehensible, it’s less the ultimate hunter and more like an action figure that someone’s set to “evil” and as a result, makes about as much sense as Alex’s throwing knife that confoundingly comes with a laser sight in the hilt!


Impossible to love, yet oddly difficult to hate, Nemesis 2: Nebula is, by all accounts, terrible. Yet the fact that both Pyun and Price really do seem to be trying their best is genuinely endearing in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. However, the fact that the director seems incapable of telling a coherent story, added to the fact that the upcoming parts 3 and 4 were supposed to be one massive movie, proves to be the true nemesis here.


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