PG, because Data says the s-word. He puts a "Holy" in front of it. Also, a major character dies. Because of that, there's blood. If you really want to be a stickler about content, Klingon outfits can be revealing at times, but that's really a stretch of the imagination. OOoh, Geordi is tortured off camera. That's kind of bad news. PG.
DIRECTOR: David Carson
It's the movie that really got me to be a Trekkie! (Wait, this one? Out of all of Star Trek, this is the one that got this film nerd to be a big Trekkie?) I was the right age, guys. I had seen the other Star Trek movies before this with my dad. He wasn't a big Trekkie, but they were fun family movie nights so I had a pretty solid background in all things Trek. But I was just the right age. If you are wondering, that age was 11. I hadn't even imagined that Star Trek could do something like a crossover. I didn't know that movies could exist as cross different franchises. Do you know how everyone is losing their minds over an Avengers movie coming out in the next week and every single character is going to be in it? That's what I thought in 1994. Sure, we only had Kirk, Scotty, and Chekhov in it. That's an odd assortment of characters to put together. I even hear that there was this whole other scene where Kirk wears a flight suit to keep himself busy during retirement. . But in my mind, a crossover couldn't get any bigger.
Now, I know that Star Trek: Generations hasn't aged well. I get that. I'm not going to try to defend it objectively as a film because I can see why people wouldn't like it. I do like it. I think it is actually pretty darned fun. But I kind of want to fight the battle that goes along the lines of that Star Trek: Generations, not Star Trek V, might be the closest in tone to an actual episode of Star Trek, but just with a bigger budget. Okay, not many people would fight that Star Trek V had a big budget. That movie had practically no money attached to it, so let's put that in perspective. But Star Trek: Generations practically is the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While watching that movie, there's very little primer for what the relationships in Star Trek: The Next Generation were all about. There's a little bit of that, but really, the movie throws us into the deep end for expecting the story to continue. With Star Trek: The Motion Picture, there's a lot of setup. All of the characters are practically given their own entrance, none more so than Spock. But Star Trek: Generations takes a lot of the plot threads from the show and continues them on, some more forced than others. One of the B-plots of the story is Data's quest to be human. From his introduction on screen, we quickly understand that Data still hasn't completely understood basic human interactions, shoving Dr. Crusher into the water after Mr. Worf has fallen in by accident. Yeah, I just read this whole thing about how Geordi's reaction might have been inappropriate to Data's tiny sin, but we simply have to go from there. I remember that I hadn't seen a lot of the TV show by this point. I knew that Data was an android and that he had problems with emotions. But the central conceit of Data's emotions stemmed from an emotion chip that he gained over the course of the show. Because I was so on board the movie, I simply had to believe the film that Data got that emotion chip and that moment was important. I understand this moment as being a moment for fans, but it is so entrenched in the television story that I'm amazed that they made it a central plotline for the character in the feature film. Remember, this was the '90s. The X-Files: Fight the Future would try pulling the same card. But then there's the entire story with Rene, which is Captain Picard's driving force. On the podcast, we kind of explored that Picard is given all of these external tragedies to make his character a little bit deeper. While Rene and Picard's brother had been characters on the show, they really were relegated to one or two episodes. The idea that their deaths would have had such a profound effect on this man who encountered real tragedies in his lifetime is a bit of a stretch, but I kind of forgive it. This would also be an issue with his time as Locutus in Star Trek: First Contact. It's just odd that he became this Ahab character when he went season after season barely acknowledging that it happened. I suppose that's the problem with very episodic television. It downplays the mythology, but the movies have to upsell that idea. It's a bizarre relationship.
But it is just a continuation. I love the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. "All Good Things" is such a tonal conclusion to the series without actually having to kill anyone off. It shows the past, present, and future of Star Trek and we understand, without having to vocalize it a la Angel that real people don't just end their quests. Life continues on. But Star Trek: Generations kind of acts like an alternate ending. SPOILER: Blowing up the Enterprise-D is a spiritual end to the television series. The other movies don't really have the casualness that Generations has to the mission of the Enterprise crew. We have the Next Gen crew hanging out on the holodeck, but then we go back to the format of the show with Picard's Captain's Log. Their appearance at the Amargosa Observatory is the way that one of the shows would start. Compare this to the rest of the movies in the franchise. The crew always had to have an excuse for what they were doing. In the original film, Kirk has to co-opt the Enterprise. In Khan, it's used as a training vessel. Then from there on, it's an internal trilogy. We have one movie where they are called away from shore leave. But the mission of Star Trek, the TV series is continuing on in Generations. They are just doing busy work. They don't know that the visiting of the Amargosa Observatory would lead to the direct destruction of the Enterprise. That's routine for them. Maybe they could chalk up their bad luck to a change in uniforms. But Data implanting his chip is something that an episode would do as either an A story or a B-story. It's so casual and I kind of love it. It's kind of like when Doctor Who came back with Matt Smith. The effects budget was heightened, but it was tonally very similar to things that we had seen before. I adore it. So that's what the big question is. Does Star Trek: Generations really work as a film? I think that the reason that I like it is that it feels like a really ambitious episode of the television series and I kind of love that. As a film, it might just be falling on its face. I mean, you have Malcolm McDowell as the villain of the story. He's great and I absolutely adore him. I would be terrified to have him sign my poster that is over the bed in our basement. (It has both William Shatner's and Patrick Stewart's signatures!) I know that this is me inserting myself into the history of this movie and none of this is based on fact, but Malcolm McDowell's seeming apathy towards this role is what is stopping it from reaching its absolute potential.
The movie is barely there. Okay, let me slow down. This movie is a very tight film. But it is almost too tight of a film. It has so much going on, but there's barely any plot involved. SUPER SPOILERY: The movie starts off with the Enterprise-B saving the El Aurian refugees as a prologue. The Enterprise arrives at the Amargosa Observatory and Geordi is kidnapped. The Enterprise goes to Veridian III. The Enterprise crashes. We see the Nexus. Repeat the last few items. It's a very simple movie. There's only one moment where the crew of the Enterprise isn't reactionary. Holy moley, I just realized that. That's what is missing from the movie. Things happen to the crew and the crew just responds. That's the entire film with the exception of stellar cartography. Think about it. The crew receives a distress call from the Amargosa Observatory. From that point on, they are either failing to investigate or just responding to threats to their well-being. Normally, the Enterprise crew is super proactive. The Amargosa star explodes and they run away. Insert Stellar Cartography, the only scene where actual solutions are found. Even that has to be coaxed out of Data. Then they are fired on by the Bird of Prey with the footage that was reused from the last Star Trek movie. They have to land because they were blown up. Picard responds to the Nexus telling him that it is the Nexus. (What a choice. I want to look at that!) And all this reactionary stuff leads to the death of Captain Kirk. Why does Kirk have to die in this movie? I kind of get it. There has to be the temptation to constantly bring him back. Shatner has been playing the on-the-verge-of-retirement Kirk for a while. Having him in the 24th Century is actually too dangerous, especially with the dramatic irony that Spock and McCoy are alive and well in the 24th Century. Also...Scotty. It just seems like the movie really tried to be important even though at heart it wasn't important. You have this major crossover of characters. Two of the captains meet each other. The two grand-daddies of Star Trek, Kirk and Picard, are going to team up. But the story doesn't really allow them to have a real adventure together. Rather, Kirk is a side thought in the film. (Remember, I'm a big fan of this movie and even I notice this.) His death is underwhelming. It's almost the death of potential. I'm not saying "Don't kill Kirk" in Generations. It just feels like his death is utilitarian. He can't exist in the 24th Century. The movie doesn't really set up for sending him back to his home time. That means that there's always the temptation to continue Mary Sueing him throughout Star Trek, the way that Spock was in the Kelvinverse. It just seems like a waste. I really want a full on crossover. It's what Please Stand By called for: a true crossover.
Why does the Nexus remind Picard that this is all fake? It's a little bit of a cheat to have Picard be strong enough to resist the pull of the Nexus. Honestly, I keep comparing Generations to Star Trek V. There are some real common threads that I think Generations does better. The Nexus is Heaven. We get that, right? It's an afterlife. Soran is a religious zealot who will do anything for his faith. It covers the same stuff. It's the same reason that Kirk, Spock, and Bones aren't moved by Sybok in Star Trek V. But the Nexus lets Picard know that this is all fake. Like Star Trek V, it really doesn't make sense that Picard can shrug off this perfect reality. Part of it comes from the fact that Picard's family was fake while Soran's family is alive and well again. But Guinan says that it took her a long time to leave the Nexus behind. I get it and I weirdly approve of it. The tale of the refugee means that a return to status quo would be a greater pull. But Picard's ability to dismiss perfect happiness doesn't make sense with the context of the great drama that the film presents him. I already fought for the Rene narrative being grafted onto his character, but it allows him to move on way too quickly from Rene's death. From Picard's perspective, his greatest gift has been given to him with more. Not only is Rene alive again, but the family he always apparently wanted is there too. But this transitions me into something I really like about Generations. I love the idea that both Kirk and Picard share the notion of not having a family. The captaincy apparently is a position of solitude. The entire franchise kind of deals with that. Apparently, the studio told the filmmakers that Carol Marcus couldn't be in the film, a decision that I completely don't understand. But they attach Antonia to Kirk and it kind of works if it wasn't such a studio move. They are heroes because they continue to make the unselfish choice in the face of comfort. They are fundamentally heroes, unlike Soran. He is a creature of selfish comfort and that's what transforms him from someone who wouldn't hurt a fly to the Soran of the movie. It's interesting. I don't know if it is properly explored, but I tend to give this movie the benefit of the doubt anyway.
I really like this movie. It's on my list of bad movies that I really like. It's just because it is an undercooked film when there's really no excuse for it to be. It is a weak swan song for Kirk and a bad finale for The Next Generation when "All Good Things" was really the amazing finale it needed. I still think of it as a finale despite the rest of the films because there is a tonal shift with the other movies. I adore First Contact, but it definitely feels like a very different beast, especially with the gargantuan Enterprise-E. Regardless, I dig this movie and I'm grateful for the fact that it really got me into Star Trek.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.