Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 9 of 12)
On the planet, Soran is ready to rock. He takes a moment to taunt Picard before climbing up to the launch platform.
Well, the character may be dull, but he at least gets one or two decent lines. Picard takes the opportunity to spring into action, quickly removing the clump of rocks to enlarge the gap in the force field.
Back on the ship, the evacuation is complete. The saucer section separates just as the core breach happens. The star drive explodes, and while they were able to get clear, the shockwave hits the saucer section and causes it to hurtle out of control towards the planet. No word on if their hearts will go on, though. Sorry.
As for the actual plot development, it’s a pretty ballsy move to have the Enterprise get blown up real good in its movie debut.
Of course, they already did this routine in the third movie, and then, it worked on an actual emotional level as well as being a fantastic visual moment. You almost get teary when the Enterprise goes up. Here though, it’s just a special effects shot with little to no emotional impact. It’s merely a plot gimmick, like the other big twists coming up in the movie.
We get a nice shot of the viewscreen as the planet looms into view, getting closer as Bipolar Data makes the only rational remark one could possibly make at a time like this.
This little bit is a rather fond memory for me, as it relates to my first online experience way back in late 1994/early 1995. I was just browsing around newsgroups when I came across a discussion on what (I guess) was a Trek board. It seemed a debate was going on concerning whether or not Data’s line would fly on a real naval vessel.
Is it any wonder I’ve always looked at most message boards with a measure of trepidation? I remember thinking at the time, and I still believe, that on a real naval ship this would quite likely be the cleanest thing you’ll hear. It is, after all, called “swearing like a sailor” for a very good reason.
Not to mention, if this is the thing you’re going to pick out from this movie as not making sense, you need a serious perspective adjustment.
Back on the planet, Picard has almost cleared away the entire clump of rocks, and attempts to squeeze through the rather small hole he’s made. The rock gives way a bit, hitting the force field and alerting Soran, who fires a few shots in Picard’s direction. This sends up a huge cloud of dust. Oh no! Is Picard dead?
We go back to space as the Titanic—I mean, the Enterprise approaches the planet’s atmosphere. I have to say the ensuing effects scene here is impressive. The ILM guys do a great job, much as they did in the previous film when they blew up the Klingon ship. Which we just saw, again. This movie is like an ILM demo reel.
There’s a nice shot of the saucer section as it emerges from the clouds. Data tries to level their descent as Riker tells everyone to brace for impact. The ship touches down and skids for what seems like an eternity, smashing the bridge up real good, and blowing up god knows how much dirt before coming to a stop. It’s a riveting, intense sequence that would be so much more effective in a better movie.
One thing I do find amusing is how Riker stays seated through almost the entire ordeal while everybody else is being thrown around like rag dolls. I think the beard gives him super powers.
Everyone regains consciousness a little later, and we see the sun streaming in through the bridge’s broken skylight. It’s another nice moment that belongs in a better movie. Though, I have to wonder, why would you have a skylight on the bridge that was made out of any kind of breakable substance? I can imagine the conversations at Starfleet: “Yep, the U.S.S. Yorktown had its whole bridge crew sucked out into space!” “Damn, that’s the third one this week!” “Sir, can I suggest—” “Never! We must have the skylights!”
Back with Soran, as Picard makes his way around a rock. Soran walks onto a bridge, and Picard suddenly steps in front of him. They struggle for Soran’s gun, and Picard manages to knock it away before engaging in a brief fistfight, which Soran wins rather handily. Huh, aren’t starship captains supposed to be drilled in self-defense? I guess not.
Suddenly, the ribbon appears in the sky, and Picard can only watch in horror as the missile launches. We see it hit its mark, and the sky goes dark as the sun begins to implode. Instantly. Apparently light travels much, much faster in the Veridian system.
Soran climbs to the highest point on the scaffolding, and thrusts his arms out in anticipation as the ribbon approaches. He and Picard both vanish into the passing ribbon.
Seconds later, the shockwave from the imploding star hits the planet, destroying the Enterprise saucer section. Just for a second, you can see tiny people wandering around the surface of the saucer, before the passing shockwave blows them up real good.
And then, the whole planet blows up.
Well, that was a dark way to end the movie—oh, wait.
What follows is maybe the worst sequence in the film. We find Picard in the Nexus, and apparently his bliss is a nice family Christmas, complete with a wife and kids and his nephew who in this reality is also his son (played by a different actor from the boy who was in the TNG episode). This whole section is just unbearably sugary and sweet to the point where I think a diabetic probably needs an okay from the doctor before viewing this scene.
The biggest problem is one of simple character logic. It’s pretty well established that Picard is not a family man, and doesn’t especially like kids all that much. It’s almost the first thing we learn about him in the pilot. Later, it was a plot point in an episode where the captain had to protect some lost children when the ship was in danger. Even if Picard regrets his nephew’s death and is fantasizing about seeing him alive, it’s hard to swallow that Picard’s most deeply held dreams involve a tons of kids roiling around him in nonstop Christmasworld.
It would make sense if it was clearly his brother’s family, and if his brother were there too, but that’s not the case. It’s a trite, saccharine scene that rings false in just about every conceivable way. Hell, even the writers agree with me that the scene doesn’t work. Some mention is made on the commentary track about Picard secretly wishing he had a family, but it just doesn’t scan.
Picard’s eye is caught by an ornament that flashes in a similar fashion to the star implosion. He walks around the house a bit, and I can’t help but notice the portrait in the background of what I guess is one of Picard’s ancestors. Actually, it’s not much of a guess, as it’s pretty clearly a portrait of Patrick Stewart.
He looks out the window, and his eye is caught again by ornaments on the tree outside flashing in the same way we just saw. He suddenly catches on that something is wrong when Guinan’s voice is heard from behind. He turns around and there she is, standing across the room from him.
Well, it’s not really her. Rather, it’s an “echo” of her from when she was in the Nexus before. Still, she evidently retains memories of Picard, even though they’ve only known each other for a few decades at most. Though, that was always kept very vague too, and of course there’s the Old West stuff from earlier in Guinan’s life to complicate things even further. It’s the sort of thing you really shouldn’t try to think about, unless you like picking little bits of brain out of the carpet after your head explodes.
Let’s just say it makes no goddamn sense, and move on.