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Star Trek: Generations

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Story: Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga

Teleplay: Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga

Directed by: David Carson


WARNING: This article contains major spoiler information for the recently released motion picture, "Star Trek: Generations." Anyone not interested in being spoiled is advised to skip over this article ... now.

In a nutshell: not the disaster a lot of fans were predicting (or prejudging) ahead of time, but not the magnificent success many people might have hoped for, either.

"Generations" had a lot of isolated moments that worked extremely well, but in the aggregate, things didn't quite jell properly, at least for me. Details to follow -- but first, of course, a synopsis:

The time: late 23rd century. The place: Spacedock. The event: The christening of the Enterprise-B, Captain John Harriman commanding. Also in attendance are Pavel Chekov, Montgomery Scott, and retired Captain James T. Kirk. The media, of course, are buzzing around that last person like vultures, more interested in his reactions to being on an Enterprise he doesn't command than in anything about the actual ship.

The ship gets underway for a brief shakedown run around the solar system ... but things take a turn for the worse when they receive a distress call from a convoy of refugee ships, trapped in some sort of energy ribbon. The Enterprise-B is undermanned and underequipped, but is the only ship within range of the problem -- and Harriman, grudgingly, orders the ship to the rescue.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it seems. The Enterprise has no tractor beam, and cannot get close enough to the ships to beam people off without putting the ship at serious risk. Harriman, after running out of options, asks Kirk for advice -- and Kirk orders the ship in, saying "risk is part of the job if you want to sit in that chair."

One of the convoy ships is destroyed, but some of the people from the other ship are saved at the last second. Among them are a white-haired man insisting that he must "go back" somewhere ... and a very bemused-looking Guinan.

However, the Enterprise-B is now trapped within the ribbon itself -- and while Scotty believes a photon torpedo might disrupt the ribbon enough for them to escape, there's this little problem: the ship doesn't have any of *those* on board either. Scotty reasons that a retuned deflector dish might do the job, and when it becomes clear that someone will have to manually adjust the deflector controls to do it, Kirk volunteers.

The ship escapes successfully, but not without its casualties. One final burst of energy from the ribbon causes major damage to some of the forward sections of the ship ... including the deflector control room. Scotty and Harriman race there, calling Chekov back from sickbay to join them. The three find that the deflector control room has lost its hull and been opened to space, and that there is no sign of any life. "Was anyone in here?" asks Chekov. "Aye..." says Scott, as the three look out into the vastness of space...

78 Years Later:

The crew of the Enterprise-D are sailing an old-style sailing ship, and Lieutenant Worf is about to receive "punishment". The charges, read by Riker, turn out to be a paean to Worf's service over the years, and Picard promptly promotes Worf to Lieutenant Commander -- "and may God have mercy on your soul." Worf then walks the plank to obtain his "badge of office" (i.e. a proper nautical hat), and actually obtains it safely ... only to be unceremoniously dumped into the sea when Riker orders the computer to remove the plank rather than retract it.

Data, meanwhile, is a bit befuddled by why Worf's dousing is to be considered humorous. After Dr. Crusher urges him to be spontaneous, he decides to play along -- and pushes Bev into the drink herself. The rest of the crew, Geordi in particular, is ... less than amused.

As the celebration continues on, Picard's musings on the freedom of the old sailing days are interrupted by a communication from Earth. Picard reads the message, and immediately excuses himself from the festivities, not to be seen again for some time. Troi is concerned, but no one has time to ask what's going on -- because another message comes in, this one reporting trouble at a nearby observatory. The Enterprise heads to the scene with all deliberate speed.

"Trouble", it turns out, is an understatement -- the observatory has been decimated. Beaming over, an away team finds signs of a Romulan attack (in particular, one dead Romulan), and a handful of survivors, including one Dr. Soran, a white-haired man who was also present for the Enterprise-B's rescue mission.

Data, in the interim, has made a decision -- his growth as a lifeform has reached an impasse, and he can only continue his journey with the aid of Dr. Soong's emotion chip, despite the risks of the emotions overwhelming him. Geordi, while very concerned for his friend, agrees to help -- but only with the understanding that at the first sign of major trouble with Data, the chip gets removed.

Soon after, in Ten-Forward, Data savors the feeling of actually despising a drink. Meanwhile, although no one knows why the observatory was attacked, Soran insists to Picard (coaxed out of his ready room by Riker) that he must be allowed to return to the station for some critical research. Picard says that they'll do what they can, but no further -- and even when Soran cryptically refers to loss and the stabbing twists of fate contained in time, Picard only says he'll do what he can. Soran leaves, just as Guinan becomes aware of a presence in Ten-Forward she recognizes.

Troi finally decides to talk to Picard and find out just why Picard has seemed so unlike himself, almost to the point of uncaring despair. She finds him poring over an old family album -- in particular, looking at pictures of his brother Robert and nephew Rene. The message he read earlier brought tragic news: Robert and Rene were burned to death in a fire. Picard is more heartbroken by the news than he really expected, and he realizes that given his own choices never to have a family, Rene would have been the one to carry on the Picard name. Now, he feels, he is truly the last of the Picards -- and the burden is not an easy one.

Geordi and Data beam down to investigate the observatory a bit more -- and by now, Data is so fascinated by the concept of humor as to be nearly insufferable to Geordi. Their investigation takes a strange turn when they discover a concealed room behind a sealed door. When Data opens it, they find what looks in part like a weapons laboratory, including supplies of trilithium, an unstable compound that is a "stellar inhibitor", capable of stopping fusion reactions within a star.

Data's emotions threaten to completely short out his systems at this point, and he falls to the ground, unable to move. Geordi rushes to his assistance, only to be caught off guard by the sudden arrival of Dr. Soran, who stuns Geordi into unconsciousness and leaves Data paralyzed with fear. Hastily, he launches a missile towards the system's sun, gathers up his supplies, and beams away -- to the now-uncloaking Klingon vessel coming into orbit. There, he reprimands Lursa and B'Etor, his co-conspirators, for their carelessness in letting the Romulans find out about the stolen trilithium, and notes that although they want a trilithium weapon for purposes of conquest, he is under no onus to help them in any way. Confidently, he orders the ship to proceed to the Viridian system, and a disgruntled Lursa seconds the order.

The Enterprise crew retrieves Data and discovers what has occurred, but as no one is quite sure where the ship has gone, they are at an impasse -- to say nothing of the fact that Soran's missile destroyed the nearby star, taking the station, and very nearly the Enterprise, with it. Picard, however, discovers from Guinan that Soran is an El-Aurian, whose race was nearly wiped out by the Borg decades earlier, and that Soran is on a quest to re-enter a place called the Nexus -- the energy ribbon that almost wiped out the Enterprise-B. The Nexus is a place of almost tangible joy, according to Guinan, and anyone entering it never wishes to leave. The ship that she and Soran were on 78 years earlier was pulled forcibly from the Nexus for some unknown reason, and although Guinan has learned to live with the thought that she'll never return there, she suspects that Soran has not -- and that he is, as a result of his obsession, an incredibly dangerous man. Further, she warns Picard, if Picard goes into the Nexus for some reason, he'll never want to come back. "You won't care about Soran, about the ship, about me ... nothing."

Picard and Data begin examining the effects of Soran's destructive acts, hoping to find a clue as to their reason. Although Data feels he is not able to perform his duties owing to his past fears, Picard reminds him that he is no more immune from his responsibilities than anyone else with feelings, and that he is an officer expected to perform his duties, no matter how much he may be in inner turmoil. Eventually, Picard realizes that with no ship able to enter the Nexus without severe damage, Soran is trying to bring the Nexus to *him* by altering gravity in the area and thus changing the course of the ribbon. The closest planet to the ribbon's current path is Viridian Three, and if Soran destroys the Viridian star as well, the ribbon will travel directly through the planet, thus allowing Soran to fulfill his dream. However, Viridian Four contains over twenty million inhabitants of a pre-industrial culture, and Picard orders the Enterprise to the system at maximum warp, in the hopes of stopping Soran before it's too late.

By the time they reach Viridian, however, Soran has been busy. Having failed to extract any information from Geordi, he instead decides to return the VISOR to him, with a few select alterations. Leaving the ship, Soran beams down to the planet's surface, offering Lursa and B'Etor the plans to a trilithium weapon upon his return. After he is gone, however, the Klingons discover the Enterprise in the area and decide to face them.

Picard urges the pair to let him speak with Soran, only to find that Soran is elsewhere. He then asks to be beamed down to his location, but the sisters scoff -- no doubt he'd comply, they say, with an armed Federation away team attacking him. Picard then plays his last card, and offers himself as hostage in exchange for Geordi -- if, as their first act with him, they beam him down alone to talk to Soran. They agree to this, and simultaneously take Picard while returning Geordi.

Picard beams down to the surface and finds Soran. Soran quickly muses that Picard must have deduced his intent "and now you've come to talk me out of this. Good luck." Picard tries nearly every rhetorical weapon at his disposal, but although Soran appears to pause when mention is made of his long-dead family, Soran nevertheless continues with his work. He refers to time as an implacable predator, waiting for as long as it takes before moving in for the kill. Except, he points out, for the Nexus -- there, time has no meaning, and "the predator has no teeth." Soran, however, does have "teeth" -- in the form of a forcefield preventing Picard from getting close to Soran or his missile launcher. Picard sits and tries to think of a way through.

Meanwhile, the sisters are using one of Soran's "modifications" to Geordi's VISOR to spy through Geordi's eyes. When Geordi finally returns to engineering, they pay close attention -- and when they discover the frequency on which the Enterprise's shields are based, they hastily alter their weapons to compensate for that and open fire on the ship.

The Enterprise is taken completely by surprise, and their return fire does little more than impact the Bird of Prey's shields. As the Enterprise takes a pounding, Riker and Data realize that the Bird of Prey's vulnerability is in its plasma coils, which control the cloaking device -- and that a burst of ionic radiation concentrated enough might force the Klingons to recloak, temporarily leaving them defenseless. They trigger the pulse, and the Bird of Prey recloaks -- and the Enterprise hastily fires, blowing the ship and everything on it to pieces.

However, despite this victory (and Data's enthusiasm for it), the damage has been done. The engines are about to overload, and a sudden coolant leak renders Geordi unable to fix anything. With a warp-core breach imminent, Riker orders everyone to the saucer section. Once evacuation is complete (barely), the saucer is separated, and the crew watches helplessly as their engineering section explodes before their eyes.

As if this weren't enough, however, the final blast of the engineering section damages the saucer's engines, and they begin slowly drifting towards the planet below. Data, seeing this scenario, says what everyone in the crew is thinking: "Oh, shiiiiiiiiiiit..."

The saucer, fortunately, has enough of its thrusters intact that their descent at least manages to level off -- but that's the limit of what can be done. "All hands brace for impact!" booms Riker, as the saucer skitters across the surface of Viridian Three like a stone tossed onto a lake -- except that this "lake" consists of trees being mowed down like blades of grass. Eventually, with a path of destruction stretching behind it farther than the eye can see, the saucer section grinds to a halt, and a battered bridge crew begins taking stock of the tragedy.

Picard, meanwhile, takes advantage of a small hole in Soran's forcefield to make an attempt to enter, only to have Soran target his location with a hand-held disruptor and very nearly take down the entire cliff face. Even this, however, doesn't stop him, and he confronts Soran on a narrow bridge just as Soran returns from arming the missile he's readied to destroy Viridian's star. The two grapple, but Soran gains the upper hand and knocks Picard into a cliff wall. As Picard gasps for breath, Soran's missile launches itself towards the sun, and scant seconds later the sun begins growing darker...

The energy ribbon appears, and the destruction of the star brings it veering down on top of the pair. Soran stands on the cliff face, exultant in his victory and ready for what he termed his "appointment with eternity." Picard stares into the face of Soran's destruction, and everything goes black.

Until, that is, Picard finds himself twirling around in a room, blindfolded. When he asks what's going on, the blindfold is removed, and he finds himself at home, preparing to enjoy an almost Dickensian Christmas with his wife and children. Yes, children -- quite a few of them, in fact, complete with a visiting Rene. Picard is incredulous, but quickly comes to terms with this fact and delights in his new-found fortune.

A visit of sorts from Guinan, however, surprises him. While not quite the Guinan he knows (being but a residue of Guinan's own time in the Nexus), this Guinan is well aware of what is going on nonetheless. Picard, however, is not interested in hearing her warnings -- only in his family. Ere long, however, he realizes that none of it is real, and that this sort of false life is emptier than anything he could ever experience in reality. He tells Guinan he wishes to leave the Nexus.

"Where would you go?", she asks with surprise. "Time has no meaning here -- you can leave to wherever and whenever you wish." Picard decides that he needs to go back to Viridian Three, with just enough time to stop Soran. Realizing that he can't do it alone, however, he asks Guinan to accompany him.

"I can't," she says, reminding him that in reality she's already there. "But there's someone else who might be able to help you," she points out, "and from his point of view, he just got here, too..."

Enter one James Kirk, whom Picard finds chopping wood outside an old log cabin. Kirk greets Picard warmly, inviting him in while Kirk cleans up an attempt to cook some eggs. When Picard attempts to tell Kirk of the situation, however, Kirk is skeptical. "The future?" he asks. "No, this is the PAST!" -- and so, to him, it is, for he is surrounded by his old things, in an old house of his, with an old dog years dead -- and even with an old love, lost for many years when he went back to Starfleet. Kirk, while accepting Picard's claims of what is going on, shows no interest in helping, saying that he "was out saving the galaxy while [Picard's] grandfather was in diapers!", and that so far as he's concerned, the universe owes him one. Not this time will he be a slave to duty, he thinks -- this time he'll get the rest of his life right. Kirk heads upstairs to the bedroom, there to ask "Antonia" to marry him. Picard hesitates, then follows, ready to argue the case even more.

However, neither one finds himself in a bedroom; rather, the two are in Kirk's uncle's old stable, back on the day when Kirk first met Antonia. Kirk is delighted, realizing that he can now set things right with her from day one. He saddles a horse and rides off -- and Picard, frustrated, follows.

He finally catches up with Kirk after Kirk has jumped a minor chasm many times over. He's jumped it hundreds of times ... "and every time it's scared me to death -- until now. Because it isn't real." Kirk is finally beginning to realize the emptiness of this false existence as well, and even the sight of Antonia doesn't shake him of the feeling that none of it matters. When he was in Starfleet, he muses, "I made a *difference*," -- and he desperately wants to do so again. The two ride off into the sunset, and right out of the Nexus.

As Soran prepares once again to launch his missile, he again finds himself in a confrontation on the bridge -- but this time it's James Kirk who stares him in the face. "Who in the hell are you?" he asks.

"He's James Kirk," replies Picard, now behind him. "Don't you read the history books?" The two captains both attack Soran, but Soran, fueled by desperation, still manages to get away. Kirk goes after Soran, while Picard initially races towards the launcher. However, Soran cloaks the launcher and attacks Kirk, leading Picard back to the pair once more.

Soran is eventually beaten back and forced over a cliff, where he hangs almost literally by a thread. However, to stop the missile Picard and Kirk must get hold of Soran's control device, which hangs tenuously on the other side of the now-destroyed bridge. Noticing that Soran has managed to escape the cliff somehow, Picard goes in search of him while Kirk makes his way carefully down the ruined bridge...

As Picard tries to elude disruptor bolts, Kirk finds the device -- but at a terrible cost. The bridge collapses entirely, and as Kirk falls down with it, he manages as his last act to uncloak the launcher.

Picard immediately heads for it, but has only a few seconds with it before Soran yells at him in a fury to get away from it. Picard, hands in the air, lets Soran back at his precious missile, but Soran finds that Picard has sealed down the locking clamps -- and as the missile tries to fire, it destroys itself, the launcher, and Soran.

Picard, relieved, inspects the terrain -- but finds the wreckage of the bridge and a dying James Kirk. Kirk, after being reassured that he once again made a difference, smiles peacefully. "It was ... fun," he muses; and then, with a murmured "oh, my," his eyes close for the last time.

Some time later, Starfleet has arrived to help rescue the Enterprise crew, most of which survived the crash of the Federation flagship. However, the Enterprise herself is unsalvageable, and everyone begins trying to save what they can from the wreckage. Data, having experienced the full range of emotions, now tells Troi that he's able to deal with them -- but begins to doubt this anew when he finds Spot alive and well. "I am happy to see Spot," he points out, "yet I am crying! Perhaps the chip is malfunctioning." Troi reassures him -- "I think it's working just fine." Picard and Riker, meanwhile, recover Picard's precious Shakespeare tome from what's left of the ready room -- and when Riker, seeing the wreckage of the bridge, says that he always thought he'd "have a shot at this chair," Picard says that he still well might. "Somehow I doubt that Starfleet will let this be the last ship to bear the name Enterprise," he says, and the two beam up to a rescue ship to await what time, no longer a predator but a companion, will bring for them next.



Whew. It's been a long time -- three years, in fact -- since I've had to write a summary that lengthy or from memory. It's not pleasant, I can assure you. :-) Anyway, on to some commentary.

The best one-sentence phrase I can come up with to describe the film is this:

"I liked all the pieces, but I'm not sure they make a coherent puzzle."

In other words ... while most of the particular things that were *done* worked well, I think that "Generations" may have a few too many similarities to "Redemption II", a season opener from a few years back. It tried to do too much for a single movie -- and in the attempt, it ended up looking cluttered.

I can understand the urge to do so much. I can almost picture a story meeting when everyone realized they had freer reign than they ever did in the series. "Great!", I imagine was said. "Let's have the captains meet!"

"And give Data emotions!" "And blow up the ship!" "And kill off Lursa and B'Etor!" "And give a little of Guinan's past!" "And promote Worf!"

Hell, the only thing missing from this was a kitchen sink floating through space somewhere ... and the flying champagne bottle came close. :-)

Unfortunately, when you shoe-horn everything in like that, it shows. That doesn't mean "Generations" is a bad film -- I don't think it is. But it does mean that "Generations" is, by trying too hard, less of a film than it might have been had it concentrated on trying to do a couple of things really well rather than a whole ton of them.

Take, for instance, Lursa and B'Etor's involvement. While the battle scene 'twixt them and the heroes was very good (and certainly one of the scenes that provoked a lot of spontaneous applause at its end, at least where I saw the film), would it really have altered things that much to make them random terrorists or smugglers? Their involvement wasn't nonsensical, but they were put in Generic Badguy Role 27 rather than actually doing something related to their long-term goal. As such, killing them off felt a little more like housecleaning than an epic confrontation -- and while it worked fine, it was just one extra piece that didn't quite fit.

That's the general feel. Now, let's take care of some specifics.

The prologue back in the "original" movie era? Well, it was fine. It was nice to see the Enterprise-B at long last, and the mystery was set up nicely to lead into the main section of the film -- so for the most part, it worked.

I did wonder a bit about Scotty and Chekov's presence, though. Although in real life their presence on board is well understood (they're the two cast members beyond Shatner who signed), the lack of the other members of the main group meant that they stood out. Kirk being invited to christen the -B makes a lot of sense, and the old engineer I can understand -- but Chekov? What's he *doing* there? (If Kirk invited him along or something, fine, but I wish we'd heard something about it.) Unfortunately, Moore and Braga seemed to almost have the same quandary where Chekov was concerned, because they certainly didn't do much with him -- he spent most of his time in sickbay, playing the role I imagine McCoy would have had had Kelley signed. The prologue worked okay, but felt a little artificial.

[It was a bit amusing to have Alan Ruck playing Captain Harriman, though. Given his most prominent role, in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", mentions of "Captain Cameron" were cheap and plentiful. Ah, typecasting...]

The present-day (so to speak) portion of the movie got off to a nice start; while a little more lighthearted in tone than I think I'd really expected, I thought Riker's "retract plank" gag was a scream -- and frankly, I think Geordi was a spoilsport. Data's action *was* spontaneous, and fit beautifully in with the spirit Bev was describing -- if she didn't agree with her own setup, I think that's *her* problem. :-)

That scene set up the two real emotional arcs of the movie, though: Picard coming to terms with mortality, and Data's decision to use the emotion chip. While I found myself actually *resenting* the choice to kill off Robert and Rene, that may be a good sign -- if I'm involved enough with those two that their deaths upset me, I'm more likely to feel with Picard. Given that I *did* feel his loss most keenly, this is a good selling point. [Besides ... Ron Moore *made* the damned characters back in "Family", so if anyone's got a right to kill 'em off, it should be him. :-) ]

Of particular interest was his worry about being the last of the Picards. We've seen familial pressures on Trek before, to be certain, and Picard's shown himself not to be immune from them in the past. Even so, though, I don't think we've seen a pressure to "carry on the family name" before, at least in a regular character, and it's a common enough thing even now that I'd be surprised if none of them felt it. We've seen some of Picard's occasional regrets about not starting a family, too; and maybe now we're seeing a little hint of why. This was all nicely done, in my view, as was his later realization that it's not quite so easy. (Given his experiences in "The Inner Light", for that matter, I can well imagine him realizing *very* fast the difference between a family you've raised and one you're more or less presented with.)

Data's emotions are a slightly tricker issue. It was generally solid, but also veered a bit too often into almost screwball comedy (or, as Jonathan Frakes has said at cons once or twice, "wacky uncle Data"). Basically, I like Brent Spiner's work a bundle, and I think he *can* be good as comic relief ... but it's usually tiresome when that's *all* Data is, and for a large part of the movie it seems that exactly that was going to be the case. Things like the drink bit in Ten-Forward, as a result, prompted more of an "oh, cute" chuckle than a major laugh.

(On the other hand, I liked "Open, Sesame!", the "where are the life-forms" song, and even Mr. Tricorder had its moments. :-) )

One Data-centered item that I particularly *did* like was his paralysis from fear in the observatory, and especially his subsequent reaction to it. Data's shown a lack of faith in his abilities when anything remotely human gets in the way at times (anyone remember him locking himself in his quarters after losing a simple game in "Peak Performance" an eon or two back?), and when he's been struck by something *this* novel and *this* overwhelming, it's very natural (and in some ways healthy) to recoil from it in initial shock. Beautifully done on all levels.

[That scene was beautiful in other ways, too; the effects in stellar cartography were mind-blowing.]

Turning from character-centered issues to plots ... while the Nexus isn't a particularly bad idea, it's also another in the long line of Mystery Alien Thingies, which specialize in doing semi-magical things while going totally unexplained. I'm not insisting that everything be explained, mind you, but I'm not necessarily thrilled with the idea of a Cosmic Bluebird of Happiness [tm] floating around the galaxy either, and the fact that there's no attempt given for any sort of explanation rankles a bit in addition. (The external travels of the Nexus, on the other hand, made a lot of sense.)

The attack of Lursa and B'Etor, while a little implausible in its beginnings (no one bothers to check the VISOR, even though Geordi's been manipulated before? NOT sensible, folks), was one of the more riveting bits of the movie, from opening shot to the dust settling around the saucer. The battle sequence was among Trek's best (though it's arguable how many we have to choose from :-) ), and the slow disaster of watching the Enterprise fall to pieces around us simply hurt to watch. I had my fingers digging into the armrests during this entire section, and I'd lay pretty firm odds I wasn't the only one. Never having tried, I'm not sure how easy battle scenes are to write (certainly, a lot of the *impact* is visual, but I'm not sure who designs what the scene's supposed to look like in the first place), but this one worked, regardless.

That leaves, in effect, two issues: Soran and Kirk. Let's take the easy one first.

Soran wasn't exactly the most complex character Trek has ever shown, but he had enough in the way of motivations to be convincing given the right actor -- and yes, Malcolm McDowell clearly *was* the right actor. Longtime readers know that I'm a huge fan of "Time After Time", primarily for David Warner -- but McDowell was hardly a slouch in that film either, and his other work (such as, say, "A Clockwork Orange") has rarely failed to impress me either. I expected good things from Soran, and I got them. 'Nuff said.

That leaves us with the Nexus and its aftermath, and in particular the meeting and parting of the two captains. Frankly, I was more or less expecting the worst here; it's no secret that I've no great love for Shatner, or that I've said many times over that Kirk's death should have occurred back in ST6 three years ago (a claim I'll still stand by). As such, I was more or less expecting to endure Kirk's presence in the 24th century while waiting for more interesting things to happen.

Fortunately, I was wrong -- and I think Shatner gave one of the better performances I've seen from him this decade. Perhaps it's because he knew it was, at long last, his character's final sendoff; perhaps David Carson managed to rein him in well; perhaps it's simply because we weren't stuck with some of ST6's horrible mugging sequences such as the Kirk/Kirk duel. In any event, Shatner was something I think I've almost never seen before -- he was subdued. And that sense of "I've had my fun with the universe; now it's time to rest" made all the difference in the world to me.

In particular, although it was a given that Kirk would resist going back and that Picard would eventually talk him into it, I thought the contrast between the two was nice. Picard "came to" more or less of his own volition, and very quickly -- as Kirk rightly pointed out, the slave to duty basically had no time for happiness. Kirk, on the other hand, has been something of a hedonist for a while (at least I think so), and as such was far more willing to revel in his situation for a time -- only repeated pressing from Picard and the realization that one of his longtime pleasures was no longer a pleasure in the Nexus is what brought him back to his interest in "making a difference". That's a nice contrast in the personal styles of the two characters, and was laid out well.

And Kirk's death? Well, it was a long time coming -- and I *still* say it would have been more appropriate in the last film. However, it was a fairly nice sendoff, and one with an appropriate sense of perspective: there was no galaxy in mourning seen, no endless scenes of grief or shock; just one man burying and paying tribute to an illustrious predecessor. Would that we all could manage that.

In near-universal TNG tradition, though, the ending was way too quick. In about five minutes or less, we went from Kirk dying to "tra-la-la, off on another ship", and that was one of the few things in the movie that felt unequivocally *wrong*. In particular, the "fortunately, casualties were light" line prompted snorts of laughter all over the theater, some of them coming from me. (The line "Well, at least no one was hurt" from the old _DESTROY!!!!_ comic was called irrevocably to mind.) Jeez, guys, you've destroyed the ship and killed off a legend; it seems odd to be squeamish NOW about casualties. Still, even here there were highlights, Data's finding Spot being a prime example. (There was a lump in *my* throat, anyway; maybe it's just because I'm a cat person.)

That's the end. So, a few shorter points:


  • The incessant costume switching got on my nerves in a major way. There seemed no rhyme or reason to it, so why bother?
  • Lisa and I had fun playing "who thought up which bit" afterwards. We figured something like this:
    • ursa/B'Etor -- probably Ron
    • Robert and Rene's passing -- Ron
    • Blowing up the Enterprise -- *definitely* Brannon
    • Showing it twice -- ditto
    • Weird spacetime anomaly -- either, really :-)

Any other takers?

  • This was very much a four-actor movie: while Shatner, Stewart, Spiner and McDowell got to do a lot, virtually everyone else was window dressing. (Gates McFadden in particular got absolutely *nothing* to do.) I hope the next film works in a bit more of the ensemble.
  • Nitpicks. First, the timing doesn't work; 78 years prior to "season 8" TNG [i.e. 2371] is when ST6 took place, which leaves very little time for Kirk to have retired for years. Second, of course, is the inconsistency guaranteed to get James Doohan annoying questions at cons for the rest of his life: "If Scotty saw Kirk die, so far as he knows, why did he refer to him as if he was alive in 'Relics'?" Someone had to say it -- let's just try to be considerate when we do. :-)
  • Given McDowell's past big role in genre work, the fact that Soran kept checking an old-style timepiece absolutely cannot have been accidental. It was sending shivers down my spine, to be sure -- all it needed was a melody playing. Brrr....
  • As for the no-doubt-brewing controversy over Data swearing: yes, it was gratuitous, and yes, it might have been better avoided; but it definitely voiced what every single person was thinking, and it should be okay if it's not a regular thing.

That about covers it -- and as I said, while most of the *pieces* worked well in isolation with only minor concerns, I just came away with the feeling that not all of them fit the same puzzle. TNG's not exactly been accused of excess in the past; maybe it's those same restraints that made everything go wild upon their removal. At any rate, hopefully with the motion-picture "shakedown run" out of the way, the *next* TNG film can knock us all completely out of our seats (and rest assured one will come; as this morning's paper informed me, "Generations" had the biggest opening weekend of any Trek film in history).

In sum, then, I think we're talking about a 7 or so for "Star Trek: Generations". Not bad ... but less than its potential.

NEXT: The future.


Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tlynch@alumni.caltech.edu
"If you'll excuse me ... I have an appointment with eternity, and I DON'T
want to be late."
			-- Soran
Copyright 1994, Timothy W. Lynch.  All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the
author*.  Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.

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