A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 328 – Star Trek Generations

Star Trek Generations – January 22nd, 2011

Ah, the end of an era. And I say that with both regret and good cheer, because I find I am capable of loving both original and next generation flavors of Star Trek, so the passing of the torch is a bit mixed. On one hand, I do so love The Next Generation. On the other hand, there’s something so iconic and fantastic about the original cast and the world they inhabited. But as the finale of TNG says, all good things must come to an end. Which is rather the point of this movie. It’s all about moving on and new beginnings. I only wish they’d made it a little sooner.

I fully understand why this particular storyline was done post-TNG. After all, they destroy the Enterprise. That’s a big fucking deal, you know? But at the same time, according to the trivia for this movie, DeForest Kelley couldn’t join the cast because his failing health made it impossible for him to get on-set insurance. Things like that make me sad that there couldn’t have been a better send off for the whole crew. I realize that having a fully realized plot along with a goodbye to a whole cast would be tricky, but it could have been done. I’m sorry Sulu’s not there (even though the character’s daughter shows up). I’m sorry Leonard Nimoy’s issues with Spock’s lines in the script couldn’t be rectified in time for him to agree to join the cast. I’m sorry Uhura isn’t there. I love Kirk and there are some great lines and moments between him, Chekhov and Scotty, but something just feels missing to me, and I suspect it’s the rest of the original core cast. Still, given the timing and the inevitable focus on the newer cast, it is understandable.

And really, there is some great stuff here for the newer cast. Granted, by the time Generations was released, TNG was over. The last episode aired in May of 1994 and the movie was released the following fall. That’s not too big a gap there, which I liked, because man, did I miss the show. I mentioned in my review of the first movie that I watched TNG in its original run. I only missed episodes when it got pre-empted for things like football (those nights were unhappy ones in my home, with only my brother unfazed by it) and by the time the last episode aired, I’d grown up with it. Seven years is a long time when you’re the age I was and I cried when it ended. So the movie was more than welcome and at the time I was only too pleased to have just a taste of the older cast. After all, they were my parents’ crew. Mine were all on screen (except Wesley) and I loved it. But tonight, coming out of six nights of original cast movies, I’d simply have liked a bit more. One more scene with Sulu. One more exchange between Kirk, Bones and Spock. Ah well.

But enough maundering about my feelings regarding the overall tone. Let’s talk time travel. To be honest, this movie has some glaring holes. Time travel plots are tricky to execute well and hole-less and there are certainly some issues here. If Kirk and Picard, once in the time vortex, can exit whenever they want, why not go back to any point they want? Why not go back to keep the trilithium away from Dr. Soren? Why not save the Enterprise? Unless you put some sort of internal logic on your time travel method, you open yourself up to all sorts of issues. And what about duplicates? That seems like prime material for mucking with! After all, take a look at Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the use of two versions of a single person, one version knowing what the other is doing and creating a paradox wherein they influence their own actions. That’s what makes time travel plots fun! And this movie rather ignores it all. It’s not so much a time travel plot as a convenient tool to allow Kirk’s presence and some rather maudlin scenes wherein we learn that Picard wants a family. It’s sloppy, to be honest.

The whole plot revolves around the character of Dr. Soran, an El-Aurian who’s spent decades trying to find a way back into the Nexus, which is a time vortex in which you can do anything. You can relive moments from your past or create the life you always wished you had. A gigantic ribbon of energy seems to be the only way into it and so Soran has made a deal with the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor for their aid in acquiring the right materials to get the ribbon to do whatever he needs it to do to actually get in contact with it. Kirk was lost to the Nexus when the ribbon hit the Enterprise B during her maiden voyage. So sixty-odd years later, when the ribbon shows back up and the Enterprise D goes to investigate an attack on a solar observatory, it’s up to Picard to stop Soran from destroying everything and so on and so forth. I’m feeling rather Men in Black about the whole “the fate of the galaxy is at stake!” here. It’s always at stake. I sort of ignored the details. I’m sure they were excellent sci-fi technobabble. In any case, there’s a big explosion and the Enterprise has to separate the saucer section and crash land it on a planet. Meanwhile, Picard’s having a very Victorian-feeling family Christmas in the Nexus, where he has a bunch of curly-haired moppets and a wife and a small-but-rideable carousel in his living room. Kirk, on the other hand, is having visions of settling down with a woman named Antonia. And they both leave it all behind to go save the day.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy this movie. I enjoy it a hell of a lot. But I don’t enjoy it for the plot. The plot, to me, feels somewhat incidental. Sure, yeah, the universe is in danger, rogue Klingons want a weapon of horrible power, time ribbon, mad scientist. It’s got holes and I honestly think the series did a better job dealing with Picard’s regrets and life choices than the movie does. So what I enjoy about it is the acting and the character interactions and the visuals, which are nicely done. It is fun to see Kirk and Picard on screen together, even if the means to do so is a little wonky. I like seeing the newer crew get a feature and there’s some fantastic over-acting from Brent Spiner as Data, who uses his new emotion chip and finds it difficult to control. I like the saucer separation and the evacuation scenes, because I love seeing how a ship like the Enterprise D, with all of its civilians and the like, deals with a crisis. I like that the movie exists. It could have been so much better, but it was a bonus taste of TNG when I was missing it and so while it might be nostalgia talking, I like it. Holes and all.

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January 22, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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