Here we come to it, the passing of the torch. I myself would say i prefer The Next Generation and its spin offs and derivatives (DS9, Voyager), more than The Original Series. So it is a damn shame that there aren’t as many good movies featuring them.
In fact most of them hover in and around the quality of this entry into the franchise, and has stayed there for the past 20 years… I wonder why this was the case, i suppose keeping a franchise going as long as this one has the idea factory starts to run a bit dry, or diminishing returns in profits and viewers likely don’t lead to the taking of many chances.
But regardless of all that let’s get straight to:
This is probably the best TNG has looked on-screen, and its funny as it (much like between I and II) is the result of the cinematographer deciding to turn some of the lights down and upping the contrast. The SFX are for the most part good, and have aged well enough not to call too much attention to, and this film is more or less how TNG should look like on the big screen.
Keeping with the trend of getting sophisticated villains to appear on the series (well, at least their played by sophisticated people), Dr. Soran’s motivations recall Nero’s while being much less bland, as at least he gets at least one good, psycho villain line pulled from other sources (“…Time, is the fire in which we burn…”). As played by Malcolm McDowell he isn’t the best villain in the series, but he happily sits inoffensively in the middle of them, or in other words: good while your watching, but ultimately forgettable.
I think Data’s emotion chip is one of the elephants in the room for this movie. The idea is solid, and is an interesting thing to do with his character, and i think its trying to go in the right direction. As it succeeds in giving us at least one scene of decent humour (Data trying out a drink he hates) and one good scene between two characters (Picard reprimanding Data), but it quickly wears out its welcome. Data’s constant laughter, outbursts, and bad one liners is just as irritating and discomforting to me as an audience member, as it would seem to be to everyone else on the ship. Despite the concepts promise, it really just doesn’t suit Data to have emotions.
The other rather large cloud hanging over the production would be in how Kirk is killed. I can’t say that i myself am bothered in how Kirk meets his end in this film, however i can most certainly see how it would be a massive disappointment for others.
I’m not personally disappointed by his end as i find it rather suiting to the character. Sure he doesn’t die in some space battle or other form of heroic glory, but i find him dying while falling off a face of a cliff to be the most honest way for someone like this to have died. I compare it to the way other important historical figures have died. Look at Stalin for instance, here is a man who made history, who by personal actions influenced world policy and caused the death of millions. How did he die? How did a man who is responsible for a sizable chunk of 20th century history die? Why in bed of course. After spending most of the previous day lying in a puddle of his own stale urine.
Now i realise the inherent silliness of this comparison, after all James T. Kirk is not a real person, but i merely want to point out at why i think his death here in Generations isn’t a disappointment to me. His death is thankless sure, it is devoid of glory and isn’t suitable for a man of his importance. But it is at least honest in how a man in his late life, after he had retired, and agreeing to that “one last mission” would probably have died anyway.
In terms of a broader narrative it’s unsurprising why Kirk’s death is a disappointment, as his story ended in Undiscovered Country. All of his remaining plot threads were resolved, he himself was resolved to go into retirement, as evidenced by him giving up the captain’s chair on the Enterprise B, there was literally nothing left to do with him other than having him die. This is prime example of why stories need to end, as anything after a good ending will merely be a retread of old ground and more than likely be a disappointment, and if it had been the decision to have Kirk’s end be his death, it should have happened in VI.
I asked my teacher in grade school (this is like 20 years ago here…): what is a prologue and epilogue in a book? To which they responded with: It is optional information, you can read it or you can just skip them.
While i always end up reading epilogues and prologues for the insight they may give, ultimately if they were truly important to the story they would be a chapter in the book. What strikes me most vividly about Star Trek: Generations is how unnecessary it is. The story is so insular, and contained to the series, its is a strange mixture of being an epilogue for Kirk, and a prologue for First Contact, and just like their literary companions you can either watch it, or skip it.
Honestly i say skip it, you wouldn’t be missing much.
** 1/2 OUT OF FIVE