May 25, 2012

[Movies] Star Trek Generations (1994)

Three years after the movie franchise associated with Star Trek TOS wrapped up with the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the studios finally decided that it was time to launch the TNG crew into movie orbit with Star Trek Generations. And naturally they wanted to have some sort of a hand-off between the two crews in the form of veteran cast members appearing in the new movie.

Now there are rather mixed feelings when it comes to this movie. Many fans believe in a sort of "curse" regarding the odd-numbered releases in the Star Trek universe save for the last movie released in 2009. And given Generations is technically the seventh Star Trek movie released, it can be argued indeed that the curse was at work here.

Maybe the marriage of the two crews and the eras they respectively represented wasn't the best thing at this point. Or perhaps the direction was prepared to find a way to logically bride the generations.

Or maybe we needed more than a spatial anomaly as a central pillar of the movie's story. Maybe.

Synopsis: Star Trek Generations is a 1994 science fiction movie directed by David Carson based on a screenplay by Ronald D. Moore and Rick Braga.

The movie begins in the 23rd century with the christening of the U.S.S. Enterprise-B. She is now captained by one John Harriman (Alan Ruck), who has the honor of receiving their special guests James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) and Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), who were part of the original Enterprise crew. But during this little shake-down crusise (and you know those never go well in the Trek universe), the Enterprise receives a distress signal from two El-Aurian ships that are caught in some strange energy ribbon. They eventually manage to save some of the people but also lose a valued member of the crew in the process.

Then we fast-forward to the 24th century with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. After a quirky promotion ceremony for Worf (Michael Dorn) on the Holodeck, the crew receive a distress call from Amargosa Station. They arrive too late to engage the attackers and instead investigate the station itself. There they encounter El-Aurian scientist Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell) and evidence that the Romulans may have been involved in the attack. But as always, not everything is at it seems.

The story certainly had its mix of action and drama, as is fitting for any television series making the jump to the silver screen. So apart from the need for a big threat to deal with, we naturally have little side stories like Picard's (Patrick Stewart) mysterious source of irritability which is later revealed to be grief or other items like the lingering on-again, off-again relationship between Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes).

Of course the bigger side plot (I know, weird term) was the return of Data's (Brent Spiner) emotion chip, which had been introduced earlier during the main TV series. For some reason he decides to have it installed to continue his growth as an individual and naturally it leads to some unusual results at the worst possible moments.

And as weird as the main plot was, you have to give the writers credit for finding a way to bridge the divide of nearly 80 years in order to arrange a meeting between Kirk and Picard. Sure, it was a bit of a stretch and maybe even silly in some aspects, but it was plausible enough and it certainly gave Shatner another opportunity to ham it up on screen. And that's not a bad thing - it's part of his charm and the unique way that he has brought Kirk to life time and time again.

Star Trek Generations is by no means the greatest Star Trek movie by any standard, but it is a highly entertaining one. It's definitely one that was crafted with the fans in mind and a way to get fans both old and new excited for the movie franchise that was just starting at the time. So we respectably rate the movie as 3.5 excuses to have the Duras sisters have funny / witty dialog out of a possible 5.

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