A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Star Trek Generations

January 22, 2011

Star Trek Generations

This movie represents not just the first film involving the cast of the next generation but also the first Star Trek movie to give up on using the numbered system. This made for fun times when I was still working at Blockbuster and a customer would want to know the order of the movies. Of course I know it, but most of the time they would not. For the average non Trek fan there’s no way to tell which comes first: Generations or Insurrection. It also means that we’ll never see Star Trek XII: So Very Tired. Even though the next Star Trek movie to come out will be the twelfth.

Now I’ve watched a lot of Star Trek the Next Generation. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every episode. (Well, I might have tuned out for large parts of Shades of Gray.) When the show first started airing I recorded every episode on VHS and watched them over and over again. That first season was pretty awful at times, but it was the only Star Trek on television and I loved it for that. In college I and a small band of nerds and recluses would emerge from our rooms once a week to watch new episodes in the common room as they aired. Amanda and I own all seven seasons of the next generation on DVD in their entirety. I mention this simply to stress that I think I know pretty well how to recognise an episode of TNG. Which is what this movie is. It may have played in theaters and been filmed in Panavision, but in almost every regard it feels like a long episode of the show.

It features actors and characters from the original series, as in the episode Relics. It has a scene of silliness on the holodeck that brings to mind episodes like A Fistful of Datas. It features plot threads from the TV show such as Data’s ongoing attempts to become more human and the emotion chip his creator Dr. Soong left for him. It even features the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’etor who appeared multiple times in the show trying to take over the Klingon high council and causing trouble for Worf.

In general I would not even say that it is among the better episodes of the series. It doesn’t have the end-of-the-Earth stakes of The Best of Both Worlds or All Good Things. It doesn’t have the emotional heft of The Inner Light. It doesn’t have the mind-bending coolness of Remember Me or Parallels. And the show had done a better job, in my opinion, of bringing Montgomery Scott and Spock into the 24th century world of TNG than this movie does of bringing Kirk to the future.

One problem this movie has is that it is so transparent in its attempts to bring captains Picard and Kirk together for a single epic confrontation with evil. The movie centers around a wandering temporal vortex called the Nexus which back at the end of Kirk’s career slammed into the Enterprise-B and absorbed Kirk in the process and has been floating around the galaxy ever since. Inside the Nexus not only is time immaterial (which means that for Kirk no time at all has passed) but all your deepest desires are granted. Eventually Picard gets absorbed into the Nexus as well while fighting a madman named Soran who has been trying ever since the incident with the Enterprise-B to get back into the Nexus. Picard and Kirk decide to leave the Nexus and fight Soran together, which should be a rousing moment of Star Trek fan wish fulfilment with the two Enterprise captains together, but for me is overshadowed by the many plot holes and inconsistencies created by the Nexus as a plot device.

Let me get this off my chest: the Nexus makes no sense. Inside the Nexus Picard meets an expository “echo” of Guinan, who had also been absorbed by the Nexus at the same time as Dr. Soran. Now I can get past the notion of a part of Guinan being left behind in the Nexus, or even the notion that since time in the Nexus has no meaning that her brief stint in there took place at the same time as Picard and Kirk’s time inside. But the exposition her character spouts (some of which has the feeling of having been recorded in post and not part of the original screenplay) implies that this echo of her that’s left behind in the Nexus somehow knows Picard (whom she will not have met for another eighty years or so after the incident on Enterprise-B) and remembers being on his Enterprise-D. You can kind of explain that away by saying that Guinan has a sort of supernatural sense of the timeline that goes far beyond that of Humans (as established in Yesterday’s Enterprise) but there are other problems with the Nexus too. For one – Guinan tells Picard that he can return to any time when he leaves the Nexus – so why did he choose to return just a few minutes before he went into the nexus instead of going back further and stopping Soran before any of the rest of the damage he and the Klingon sisters caused had happened? Picard doesn’t usually make his choices that poorly. Furthermore, why does Picard have such a sense of urgency about getting Kirk out of the Nexus? If they can re-appear at any time why don’t they live out their fantasies until they’re completely sated before going back? (I kind of think that there is potential in a series depicting the never-ending adventures of the two captains side-by-side in the Nexus defeating every possible enemy they could ever imagine. Some day, when they’re both just tired of that perfect life, they can leave the Nexus and deal with Soran and the real world.) But the thing that irritates me most, of all the plot holes introduced by the Nexus, is that there should be TWO PICARDS at the end of the film! Why, if he has gone back in time and appeared just before his climactic battle with Soran, does the him who was already there battling just disappear? It drives me crazy!

Oh, I’m not saying that I hate this movie. Far from it – it has some cool action set-pieces such as the massive crash of the Enterprise saucer section. It has some humor that I enjoy – mostly from Brent Spiner’s great portrayal of Data trying to cope with his unleashed emotions. There are plenty of lesser episodes of TNG that I like just fine, and this movie kind of sits with them in my mind. It’s not in my top ten, but it’s still perfectly fine TNG fun. I’m really looking forward to watching tomorrow’s movie though – which IS among the best next generation plots.

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

2 Comments »

  1. Are you going to use Galaxy Quest as a stinger on your Star Trek marathon?

    Comment by Doc Wheat | January 23, 2011 | Reply

    • But of course!

      Comment by tanatoes | January 23, 2011 | Reply


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