There was a wave of excitement in 1994 when Star Trek VII was released.
Not only was the franchise at the height of its popularity thanks to a wonderful TV Show with a Next Generation Crew, but the old brigade were still basking with the critical success of their movie swansong The Undiscovered Country, which was a pretty good farewell to the now vastly ageing members of the Enterprise. With the time right for the one franchise to step down and for the new guys to step in, Star Trek Generations was going to be the film that bought the likes of Picard and Co to the masses….and Trekkies were foaming at the mouths with excitement, simply because for the new gang to be introduced, they were first going to meet up and say goodbye to the the people who started it all…………which meant that the two Captains….Kirk and Picard, were going to meet…………. A great idea on paper, but how did transfer onto the big screen?
20 years has passed since Generations was released and while back then, reviews were rather mixed, with more bad than good, the years itself has not been kind to the film. I be the first to admit that I am not a die hard Trek fan, I watched the old classic series when I was a child and loved it, while a Next Generation came many years later and while curiosity made me watch, I did not love it like I did the original. That is not because I thought it was poor or anything, far from it. The Next Generation is a TV Show that is wonderfully written and one of the most iconic Sci Fi programmes ever created. I still remember that cliff hanger ending in Season 3’s “The Best Of Both Worlds”, when Picard appeared on screen as a fully fledged member of the Borg. Such a stunning moment that made fans stop for breath and its still one of the best moments ever in TV history. Its just I could take and leave Next Generation. One week I would watch, then maybe the next I wouldn’t. I’ve eventually seen every episode and I can only marvel at the performance of Patrick Stewart who is simply outstanding as the Captain of the most famous Spaceship of all.
The films through were different. Despite me being bored as a child when watching the original Star Trek film (and many fans were and still are), it was the Wrath of Khan that led the way for me to eagerly watch the films. By the time we hit the Leonard Nimoy directed sequel The Voyage Home, I was loving the voyages of the Starship Enterprise and its mission to seek out new life and new civilisations.
So when the news broke that these two legendary characters were going to meet for the first time, I was like many excited by the prospect. With Cinemas everywhere sold out when it was released and I was there in the crowd overwhelmed with the thought, it was a thrill to see it on the big screen. Back then the sheer image of seeing Kirk and Picard in a deep conversation was enough to carry the film across the space barrier, but now with twenty long years passed and with a few more Star Trek series come and gone and with an even new all younger crew at the helm at the Enterprise, how is Generations to this day?
Well poor if I am going to be honest with you.
Watching the film tonight for the first time in many years and I was shocked at just how lame the entire film is, from the uninspired music score, to the sometimes illogical plot and of course the main selling point which was the death of Kirk, which in my view was handled badly.
Right from the off you feel that something is wrong with the film.
If you going to sell this new approach to the old and new fans then you need to really go for it and get the audience onside. But the beginning just does not grasp you. There is no bombastic tune to get the juices flowing, no snazzy credits to show that you are about to watch something special. Its a rather tame opening which is followed by a new Enterprise B where a now retired Captain Kirk is going to wave it on its journey. Here is evidence that we weren’t going to get the swansong that we wanted. Kirk is accompanied by Scotty and Chekov, two brilliant characters of the old brigade, but surely it would have been better if it was Spock and Bones. Maybe the two actors turned down an approach, but surely some effort had to be made to get the only trio that mattered back on the big screen. It does not take long though for Kirk to do his hero business, saving the Enterprise from something called a……..well……it looks like the crack in the wall from Doctor Who.
The Crack in Doctor Who……
The Nexus in Star Trek Generations………………
Anyhow, for Kirk to save everyone he has to die and while Scotty and Chekov look out at the gaping hole left behind and wonder how they not getting sucked into space themselves……78 years pass and we are now with the all new gang and they are playing with that Holodeck and are all at sea. Its an odd introduction for fans who may have never seen the TV Show but there are some dialogue snippets to bring them up to speed. But again there is nothing to grab hold of you, nothing to make you go “Wow, we into something special here!”
The opening half is virtually of nothing. We get the odd plot vice of Picard dealing with death of his close relatives that leads to much moping around for a while and then we come to Data….the generation version of Spock who is not a Vulcan. Its was mentioned for a while in the show that Data wanted to feel more human and in this for their first screen outing, they decide to give him the emotion chip. Now, like the entire idea of the film it sounds good but its put on screen in a clumsy fashion. This should have been a plot arc full of depth and style, that bought the character much closer to old and new fans alike. But the scene where he is constantly laughing over and over at an old joke is nothing but annoying and the fact this drags on for a while makes you eventually just have the urge to shut him up., especially later on when he sings a little ditty about searching for lifeforms while Riker looks on with the same WTF expression we all have.
What we gather is the Nexus is this place that time does not exist. You can live out your life, all the happy memories and basically be the happiest person alive. Sounds a decent place and its a rather good selling point Whoopie Goldberg’s Guinan tells Picard, even warns him that if he goes there, he never want too come back. Basically the film’s bad guy Soran (played with relish by Malcolm Mcdowell) wants to go that place after losing his family to that bastard Borg …….sounds reasonable, but to do it he has to blow up a star and kill millions and then use the aftershock to get sucked into that place. Ok! Bare with me here! If that aftershock can blow up ships and everything around it…..not a person?????? hmmmmm……………
Anyhow being 300 years old, he tried this once before, in the same event that killed Kirk and now he is doing it all over again, but this time Picard is there to stop him. But he doesn’t! Picard hangs around for a bit, throwing stones at this forcefield before finally seeing a gap and tries to climb through. What we get then is a laughable scene where he is stuck and Soran with a laser gun…fires twice and misses him but blows up the place around him and yet Picard still survives this??? Yes really!
Despite the many flaws at this moment, this is probably the best stage of the film as we get a space battle which results in the Enterprise detaching into a actual flying saucer and crash landing into a nearby planet. Picard fails, the star blows up…..killing everyone and sending Picard along with Soran into the Nexus. Here we have a quite pathetic sequence where Picard is surrounded by the most perfect Christmas and a delightful family. Its so cheesy and vomit inducing that you believe you have stumbled onto a Hallmark film. Its a good plot to have this perfect world but its ruined because we just do not spend enough time, gathering all this insane logic. He is only there for like five minutes before he realises all this is wrong – so much for Goldberg stating “Once you there you never want to come back!”…..and speaking of her, how the heck she turns up there as an ECHO, is beyond me. Its like a dumb decision to inform the audience just want is going on, but it smacks of the writers just making this shit up as they go a long.
Finally though we get to the finale and after a huge promise of The Two Captains meeting for the first time, what we have is such a silly anticlimax. Somehow Kirk landed in the Nexus himself and his dream life….chopping wood….making food and riding on a horse. Easy life Kirk but I half expected you to be in bed with a green Alien and showing her just how perfect life can be. After a rather pointless conversation between the two in which Kirk tells Picard he is staying and not going to help him fight Soran (I get to that in a minute), this rather sheer determination is quickly vanished when he tries jumping this gap on his horse and does not feel the “thrill”……which makes him decide to risk his life once more……. now this does happen, I am seriously not making this shit up.
So back to Soran and this Nexus. Now we told this place is where anything can happen, where there is no time and you can do what you want, when you want. If is really the case, then surely once the two Captains are there, what has happened….HAS HAPPENED…..which means everyone has died…and by changing what happened to a happy ending means nothing, because you just giving yourself that delightful outcome. Which basically means….Kirk just wanted to save the world one more time and die….and what followed in the next films……..First Contact, Insurrection and Nemeses was all played in the mind of Picard who did not want to give up the Enterprise…..
Now that is some heavy dark shit…..
But if that is not the case, and the film leads us to believe that once in Nexus, you can go back anywhere in time and change history……why didn’t Soran go back and save his family, which made these events never happen? And why did Picard need Kirk’s help and just go back to the moment of the film when he and Soran were talking on the Enterprise and just arrest him………????
Instead Picard and Kirk go right back to the moment Soran is all set to explode the star! Why??…….. Is it just excuse for the viewer to see a clearly over the hill William Shatner have one last fight scene before his death. And as for that……..I had a good giggle, which surely should not be the case for a icon like Capt Kirk. Why my laughter? Well we get the scene where Kirk is dangling for his life on a hanging damaged bridge. Picard reaches out and saves him, only for a mere one minute later, Kirk to willingly walk down the same dangerous bridge…… Seriously……you given us that……!!!!!!!!!
Kirk and Picard save the day, Kirk gets flung from the bridge and then dies, not before uttering one of his famous lines….and even then we are left with a stupid scene where instead of Picard beaming up and giving him a proper send off, he buries him under a pile of rocks……..nice way to treat a war legend guys……
At the end you realise for such an important moment for the two franchise, it was done with such poor control. Both characters and shows deserved better. What should have been a HEAT moment for the Sci Fi brigade came across nothing more than a cheap gimmick and while the Next Generation crew redeemed themselves with the quite brilliant First Contact…..it was a shame that the movie that was supposed to push them to the new Frontier.….while saying goodbye to the old was done with no real conviction. Like Spock would say…………….
NEXT……………WHEN……………ALIEN MET BASIC INSTINCT………