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Star Trek: Generations

Star Trek:

Original release date: 11/18/1994
Rewatch date: 1/9/2013

The Enterprise-D pursues an alien scientist hell-bent on entering the nexus--a realm where time has no meaning--even if he has to destroy whole star systems to get there. In the process, they find a man history claims is dead: Captain James T. Kirk.

Spoiler-free notes:

When the Enterprise-B gets the distress call three light years from Earth, how can they possibly be the only ship in range?

How did the transport ships get caught in the Nexus? Did they not see it coming?

I disagree with La Forge. I think Data pushing Dr. Crusher overboard is absolutely funny, and I'm not sure why nobody else does.

There's more cinematic lighting (which I like for the most part, even though it gets way too dark in a handful of scenes) and new sets (the bridge seems much smaller, but Stellar Cartography is a huge upgrade), but it's hard to disguise the fact that this is supposed to be the same ship we've seen on television for the last seven years.

When Dr. Soran tells Captain Picard that "time is the fire in which we burn" and goes on to talk briefly about life and regret, it's almost as if he knows that Picard just lost his family in a fire. It's funny, but I never picked up on that before.

Every time Soran pulls out his pocketwatch, it reminds me of Time After Time, in which the same actor, Malcolm McDowell, plays a time-traveling H.G. Wells pursuing Jack the Ripper (played by Trek veteran David Warner) into modern times. Also worth noting is that Time After Time is directed by Nicholas Meyer, the same guy who directed Star Trek II and Star Trek VI.

Speaking of Malcolm McDowell, he is the uncle of Alexander Siddig, the actor who plays Dr. Bashir on DS9.

I love Dr. Soran's phaser.

Those people in the photo album look nothing like the Robert and René in "Family." Same goes for the René we see in the nexus.

We finally get to see Guinan's quarters.

Is the Klingon helm officer aboard Lursa and B'Etor's ship Lieutenant Klag from "A Matter of Honor"?

Worf says they won't be able to shoot down the probe in time because they don't have an exact point of origin, but they get Soran's coordinates from Lursa and B'Etor in order to beam Picard to him. Why not just use those coordinates as an exact point of origin? Granted, it's a moot point, since the Enterprise is a bit crashed when the probe is finally launched.

Riker tells Troi, the only bridge officer available who happens to be female, to take the helm and to get the Enterprise out of orbit. That was a dumb idea, wasn't it?

I wish they hadn't recycled the sequence of the Bird of Prey exploding from Star Trek VI, including the interior explosions with Klingons flying through the air. In fact, there's a lot of recycled effects shots throughout the film, including several establishing shots of the Enterprise and part of the saucer separation sequence. It makes the movie feel a little cheap.

The crash sequence is awesome, though. I still remember how intense it was on the big screen.

Picard has less than a minute to stop Soran once he confronts him on the bridge, but when he and Kirk are working together, they have more like ten minutes. It's a pretty significant discrepancy.

If firing the probe at the star causes an instant change in the course of the nexus, why doesn't the drastic change in gravity affect the planet at the same time?

I hate that Guinan is wrong about Picard, that she said he wouldn't want to leave the nexus, even though it only takes him about a minute and a half to decide he needs to go. With how easily Picard and Kirk let go of the nexus and decide to leave on their own, it renders everything Guinan and Soran say about the nexus being this end-all-be-all realm of contentment utterly devoid of believability.

I'm not going to dwell too much on this--as I've covered it before--but Picard leaving the nexus is extremely problematic. There is no reason to believe that Picard has actually left the nexus at the end of the story, that Kirk is in any way real, or that the Veridian star did not in fact explode. However, there is every reason to believe that Picard is still in the nexus, living out his fantasy of stopping his last great mistake.

When Picard reappears on Veridia 3, wouldn't there be another Picard there with him? Where did the first Picard go?

I understand what they're going for with the rickety bridge and bare-knuckle fighting in a rocky desert climax--it's Roddenberry's Western influence coming out--but it's a little too trope-ish and cliché for me.

"It was fun." Not bad for famous last words.

The thing about Star Trek: Generations is that it has a hard time justifying itself as a feature-length movie. Sure, it has Kirk and Picard meeting each other as a way of officially passing the torch, and it has some big budget special effects, but at the end of the day, it still feels like an episode of TNG. With TOS, there was an extremely long gap between the last episode of the show and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but production for Generations started mere days after filming stopped on "All Good Things..." There isn't enough time to set the television show apart from the first movie, and it shows.

Indeed, Generations is written like an episode: it has an opening hook that ends with Kirk's "death," and then the rest of the story has an "A" plot concerning Picard, Soran, and the nexus, alongside a thematically unrelated "B" plot concerning Data's installation of his emotion chip. You've even got Lursa and B'Etor showing up, looking exactly the same as they did in "Firstborn"; you've got the same setting, the Enterprise-D; you've got all the same characters in exactly the same place they were before (except for Worf, who is given a minor promotion that doesn't affect the dynamics of the crew); etc.

Having said that--and putting aside how many problems I have with the nexus as a McGuffin--there is some deep thematic density to be had here. For starters, there's the emphasis on family, starting with the reveal of Sulu's daughter aboard the Enterprise-B. The idea of family pops up again and again: both Kirk and Picard are restless that they chose Starfleet over family, Soran is driven in large part by the loss of his family to the Borg, and Picard loses his family to the fire on Earth. The other major theme is mortality: Kirk dies (twice); Picard's family dies; and Soran's ultimate motivation is escaping death. What the writers are attempting to address is the notion that one shouldn't look at avoiding death as a goal in life, since a life without death is as meaningless as existence within the nexus. True contentment can only come from "making a difference." Granted, this is hardly a ground-breaking theme, but it's a perfectly good one, and done creatively.

As a final analysis, I will say that there is nothing particularly wrong with Star Trek: Generations--I love Malcom McDowell as Soran (especially his "time is a predator" speech), the destruction of the Enterprise-D is worth the price of admission, it's fun to see Kirk and Picard interact, and the story is more than mere fluff--but it's only a baby step for TNG towards a more cinematic approach.

Spoiler section:

Dr. Soran's phaser, with the barrel that pivots around a central axis, is similar to the phasers in 2009's Star Trek, which have a barrel that spins around to switch from stun to kill.

Is it wrong that, when Picard is talking about his family line being broken by the death of his brother and nephew, all I can think about is Picard's outburst in Star Trek: First Contact, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"?

The Armagosa star going supernova doesn't seem to be a huge deal, but in 2009's Star Trek, the supernova of the Romulan star somehow threatens the entire galaxy in the future.

TNG 7x25
"All Good Things..."
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek:
First Contact
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