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Monday, March 5, 2012

GSY Review: Star Trek Generations

Spoiler Alerts: This movie was out in 1994, if you haven't seen it by now, see it before reading this.

Star Trek Generations was the seventh feature film in the Trek franchise. It signaled a passing of the torch to the next generation of Star Trek (hehehe, if that joke isn't old now... it should be). The mid 90s was a high point for all things Star Trek and for science fiction in general. As I have mentioned in earlier Go Screen Yourself Reviews, there was a lot of good science fiction on television during these years. Star Trek was booming and it seemed nothing was going to stop it any time soon.

Aside from the 2009 Star Trek movie, no Trek film has spawned as much debate within Trekkerdom as Generations. Most debate comes down to the killing of Captain Kirk. My position in the debate, is that if you are going to kill off such a major figure in your franchise, the death better be good and it better be absolutely necessary to the story. The problem with Kirk's death is it was not necessary to the story. It just sorta seemed like it happens just because they could do it. Worse further, they filmed two deaths. The first death scene features Kirk getting shot in the back by Soran. Thankfully the powers that be decided this didn't seem right for Kirk. They rewrote the death scene. Sadly, it wasn't all that better. He falls off a bridge.



Plot shouldn't be difficult. Yet Kirk's death is directly associated to the films plot problems. Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga had a tough task of finding a way to meet all these seemingly arbitrary stipulations from the studio about the plot. In their DVD commentary they talk about the problems. The original crew can only be in the first 15 minutes, but Kirk can come in at the end. For their first film they did a great job. I think at the end of the day there were just too many things fixing them to a certain path. The biggest plot problem is the Nexus.

The Nexus was the key for everything. Without the Nexus, Kirk never is put into a situation that enables him to save the day, with of course, Captain Picard's help. The writers attempted to make this a non time travel story. Note attempted. The Nexus is a huge time travel plot device. Saying it exists out of time does not change the idea that I can enter into it at any time and leave to any time I want. Why would Picard and Kirk (two really smart veteran tacticians) leave the Nexus at the most difficult moment in order to stop Soran.

Why not travel back to the moment where Picard meets with Soran in Ten-Forward on the Enterprise. Bring Mr. Worf and a team of security guards and toss him in the brig. That way he could even save Geordi from being tortured, and prevent the destruction of the Amargosa system. Heck, Picard could have gone back even further in the film and saved his family from the fire at the vineyard and still stopped Soran! Still would have prevented the destruction of Amargosa, maybe even save all the scientists from being killed by Romulans and Kirk would be alive.
Take the magical NEXUS to this stop and punch him!
The Nexus spoils this movie even more than Red Matter spoiled the Star Trek of 2009. When they used Red Matter in that movie there was no guarantee where they were going to end up after entering the blackhole...while the Nexus the characters have a CHOICE!

Plot problems aside. The cast and crew did a good job. Star Trek has always had great acting (that usually goes unnoticed by the major award shows) They made the 'Next Gen' cast great for the big screen. Data became an even more interesting character with the emotion chip. It is clear that this movie was a Kirk and Picard movie. I just wish the other cast had a little more screen time. McFadden and Sirtis seemed to never have much to do.

Villains

As cool as it was to see Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Soran, he really just wasn't that interesting of a villain for a Star Trek movie. Not since Captain Kruge in Star Trek III had I been so disappointed in the main villain. He was so undeveloped that the writers had to bring in the Duras Sisters (very cool to see on the big screen) Had they been the main villains you would have had a much better movie. the TNG era movies seemed to lack strong villains. The Borg Queen being the exception. Rating them goes as follows: 1) Borg Queen (First Contact) 2) Ru'afo (Insurrection) 3) Sisters of Duras (Generations) 4) Dr. Soran (Generations) 5) Shinzon (Nemesis). The writers had at this point countless other villains they could have used, but didn't find a place for them. These great villains needed a movie: Sela and Lore.

Story is everything in Star Trek movies. It's hard to screw up special effects, music and the visual look of the sets. I just don't think the story was the one everyone was envisioning when we saw the posters with Kirk and Picard's face on them. You can just imagine the preview trailer narration:

"The once in a lifetime meeting of two historic captains. One is a man of action. The other a diplomat. Together, they'll make eggs and be unstoppable."
This moment is so absurd it hurts.
One cool thing to come out of this film was web based film promotion. This was the first official website of any film by a studio. Today, these sites are required for any film to make it big. 1994 seems like a long time ago. Here is where you can explore the official site.

To me this was  a long, poorly plotted TNG episode. You don't kill off such a great character for so little reason. The acting and special effects were great, I just wish the story would have lived up to the hype.

Here's the trailer

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