Star Trek Generations (1994) Director: David Carson
“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived” -Picard
While often critically lambasted by Trekkies, I actually quite enjoyed Generations far more than expected (excluding several key moments). Generations is explicitly a fan-service film as it hands the torch from one generation to the next –James T. Kirk to Jean-Luc Picard. William Shatner plays his delightfully awkward self but the only two other actors from the original series in this film are James Doohan and Walter Koenig (the rest of the original series cast apparently wanted nothing to do with this film). While I thought aspects of Generations were terrific, I freely acknowledge that Generations is a movie that really did not need to be made because of how succinctly Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had concluded the franchise for the original Enterprise crew. In hindsight, it likely would have been a better move to simply release a solo Next Generation movie without joining the cast from the original series.
The film begins with a retired Capt. Kirk, Chekhov, and Scott who board the Enterprise for one last vanity trip around the solar system (it is intended to be a flashy trip for the media, going out no further than Pluto). Notably, Alan Ruck (of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame) plays the new captain of the Enterprise. However, shortly thereafter a couple ships containing El-Aurian refugees release a distress call –their ships are on the edge of a strange energy ribbon. Since the Enterprise is the only ship in range they venture close and beam aboard a handful of refugees thanks to Kirk’s quick actions below deck, however an accident occurs and Kirk is sucked out into space and presumed dead.
Many years later in the 24th century, we encounter the Enterprise-D (these are my personal favorite parts of the film). We see Picard and the crew of The Next Generation as they hold a mock awards ceremony aboard an 18th century naval vessel created by the ship’s holodeck –this scene was good fun! But it is followed with a scene in which Picard learns that his family lineage has died in a tragic fire, and thus he is the end of the line. The Enterprise-D then also receives a distress call from a nearby star as a character named Dr. Tolian Soren (Malcolm McDowell) launches a probe but he escapes aboard a cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey helmed by the Duras Sisters (Klingon villains from The Next Generation) with whom he has apparently made a deal. Eventually Picard and crew learn that Soran is intent upon returning to the strange energy ribbon that last appeared nearly a century prior in order to be transported to a place known as the “Nexus” where only fabrications of pure joy exist. Soran intends to alter the path of the ribbon to a nearby star so that he can be absorbed into the energy field.
At this point the movie starts to go off the rails. The Enterprise-D battles the Klingon Bird of Prey and the Enterprise-D crash-lands on Veridian III. Shortly thereafter Picard is sucked into the Nexus when he sees a vision of another life, a secret desire of his own in which he has children at Christmastime. He soon realizes it is a fictitious, fraudulent vision and so he seeks out Capt. Kirk who is also trapped in the Nexus and he convinces Kirk to travel back in time through the Nexus to stop Soran from detonating a missile to redirect the energy ribbon. The film closes with a ridiculously anti-climactic fight sequence on a rusty, broken-down bridge as Picard stops Soran and Kirk falls to his death from the bridge as he is crushed by rubble. I really wish Kirk was never included in this film –what a silly and unfortunate ending to this legendary captain’s life. Picard buries Kirk under a pile of rocks and the movie ends.
Apparently the original ending involved Kirk being shot in the back by Soran but this was met with too many negative reactions in early screenings. In addition to Kirk’s silly and anti-climactic death, there were plenty of other flaws in this film –Data’s odd side-plot involving his emotion chip that goes nowhere, Picard’s decision to travel back in time to a decidedly inconvenient point, and so on. However, I still enjoyed this film much more than I ever thought possible, especially after the bizarre mess that was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Oh, and Dennis McCarthy’s score for this film is another terrific and triumphant inclusion in the series (McCarthy was a notable composer for The Next Generation and other Star Trek collections).