Star Trek: Generations – Killing a Hero For Lack Of a Better Idea
Star Trek: Generations is the first feature film to feature the cast from the Next Generation TV series. The film follows Picard and his crew as they uncover a Klingon-aided plot which involves destroying a star and endangering a pre-industrial world.
The film moves at a leisurely pace; it isn’t until 40 minutes in that we understand who the villains are and what their motivation is. When we get to the action scenes, we see some decent visual effects, but the action itself is barely acceptable, not especially exciting. The stakes don’t feel very high. We don’t even see any of the residents of the inhabited planet in danger of being destroyed. Generations is not an edge-of-your-seat action film; instead, it feel more like an extra long Next Generation episode.
In a film series with a recurring cast like Star Trek, it is the villains that define the individual films. There are Klingons who pilot a single ship, a ship that the USS Enterprise could easily take on. Malcolm McDowell plays Soran; as far as villains go, Soran is not especially intimidating or even interesting. The end fight scene that he participates in is not incredibly exciting.
Actually, now that I think about it, the end resolution was terrible. The plot specifically dictated that there were an infinite number of ways that the conflict could have been resolved, but, out of all their options, the characters in this film choose what could arguably be considered the most dangerous and impractical way to save the day. This is sloppy writing.
There’s a subplot in the film involving Data getting a new chip so he can experience human emotions. He starts laughing at jokes, feeling emotions and eventually starts to feel regret over his decision to have emotions. This plotline gets old and starts to feel pretty tiresome pretty fast.
Picard does have some decent personal drama going on during this film, but it’s not spectacular, and not nearly good enough to redeem all of this film’s other shortcomings. Aside from Picard, most of the characters from Next Generation don’t get any chance for good character development.
So, the film is not a spectacular action movie, but does Generations work for fans of the TV series? I am not especially familiar with the Next Generation TV show, but I believe the answer is no. According to another reviewer of this film who is more familiar with Next Generation, there are a great many internal inconsistencies that this film has with the series: transparent aluminum windows don’t shatter like glass, Data’s chip is too big and Picard disregards a prop that was once considered valuable in another episode.
While Generations is a Next Generation film, it opens showing a handful of cast members from the original film. From a plot perspective, their presence in this film is unnecessary; they’re really just there to pass the figurative torch of Star Trek films to the next generation. Having both casts in the same film is merely a gimmick to make it appeal more to fans of the original series.
Generations is not a terrible film, it’s just not very good. There’s an unofficial rule that odd-numbered Star Trek films are generally weaker than their even-numbered counterparts; Generations is an odd numbered film and it certainly shows.