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Star Trek: Generations (1994).

February 26, 2008

The Scoop:
For a film that is such a landmark in the “Star Trek” franchise, “Generations” sure does find some ways to disappoint. This cinematic passing of the torch from the cast of the original series (represented here by William Shatner, James Doohan and Walter Koenig) to the cast of “The Next Generation” features some stirring action sequences, but is otherwise saddled with an uninspired plot.

“Generations” opens with the elder statesmen from the original Enterprise crew (Kirk, Checkov and Scotty) on hand to oversee the launching of their successor, the Enterprise-B. A distress call leads them to save a shipload of El Aurians from a mysterious energy ribbon. Among the refugees are Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and Dr. Soran (Malcolm MacDowell). The rescue damages the Enterprise and sweeps away Kirk, who is presumed dead.

Skip ahead to the 24th century, where Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew of the Enterprise-D, including the mysterious Guinan, are investigating the destruction of a science station. This leads them to Soran, who will stop at nothing (including the destruction of entire civilizations) to return to the Nexus, the timeless energy realm from which he and the other El Aurians were taken by the Enterprise-B rescue. To stop him, Picard must team up with Kirk, who was trapped inside the Nexus this whole time.

As if all that weren’t enough, the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) has also decided to install a new emotion chip, which brings him difficult consequences.

It’s a rather long and convoluted plot (courtesy of “Next Generation” producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, along with Ronald D. Moore) which, frankly, adds very little to the overall “Star Trek” mythos. However, director David Carson handles the action sequences well, especially the showstopper (uh-oh, spoiler alert!) — the crash landing of the Enterprise-D.

Otherwise, the performances are fairly routine. The regulars from both series stroll through the roles they’ve played hundreds of times before, with the only life coming from Shatner and Stewart’s scenes together. These two old pros know the momentousness of this for the fans and rise to the occasion. Meanwhile, guest star MacDowell provides his familiar over-the-top histrionics.

This film is a must for Trekkies, of course, particularly for the pairing of Kirk and Picard. For newcomers to the series, this is definitely not the place to start. Check your local listings for the TV episodes instead.

Best Line:
“I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was in diapers.”

Side Note:
Picard’s Enterprise-D was destroyed in the film for reasons that go beyond the story. Because the model was designed for the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of television, it did not look as good on film’s 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Because it had to be replaced anyway, the producers decided to destroy it onscreen (and also symbolically cut the crew’s ties with the television show), with the new widescreen-friendly version becoming the Enterprise-E of the later movies.

Companion Viewing:
The rest of the series.

Official Star Trek site.

Take a Look:
As you might expect, Paramount has tried mighty hard to scrub the internet clean of any sort of clips. But there are a few out there, like this fan-made trailer:

More homemade trailer-ation, this time in German and with lots of spoilers:

A montage of starship shots:

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