5 reasons the TNG movies weren’t that good

I think it’s safe to say that Star Trek fandom was at its height in 1994. The original series movies had ended on a great note with 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Next Generation had ended its seven-year run on a high with its final episode “All Good Things…” (which won Trek the last of its four Hugo Awards), Deep Space Nine concluded its successful second season, and the first TNG movie was in the wings.

That movie, Star Trek: Generations, also had the added bonus of teaming Captains Kirk and Picard together on the big screen in the first of what everyone thought would be a successful run of films for TNG.

After all, with the exception of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, all of the movies featuring the original series cast were first-rate (I admit, I found The Motion Picture enjoyable, if slow). So everyone was counting on TNG to reproduce that same kind of magic on the big screen.

There were a total of four Trek movies with the TNG gang. Alas, none of them managed to truly capture the spirit or success of TNG the TV series. Here are five reasons as to why these movies just don’t hold up as well as the TOS films.

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1. The need to “pass the baton”

Let’s start with the first movie: Generations. This was a gimmick by Paramount to “pass the baton” from TOS to TNG on the big screen. As far as fans were concerned, the baton was already passed with the lovely final shot of the Enterprise-A sailing off into the stars at the end of Undiscovered Country. Still, the chance to see Kirk and Picard share the screen could have been something special.

Alas, the final product proved anything but. There was some good stuff in Generations, such as Picard’s torment over the deaths of his family members, the Duras sisters returning, and Data getting used to his new emotions; And while everyone knew Kirk was going to die even before the film was released, the destruction of the beloved Enterprise-D was quite shocking, even if it lacked the drama of the destruction of the original ship in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

But the movie’s main selling point, Picard teaming up with Kirk, is handled in such a sloppy way that it basically started the whole TNG movie franchise off on a sour note. In the end, it would seem Kirk’s death ended up hurting TNG more than it did the character of Kirk himself.

5 reasons the TNG movies weren't that good

2. No character development

One of my colleagues on this site wrote an article which noted that TNG made an effort to give the spotlight to all its regular characters, not simply Picard and Data. At the time of the release of Generations, there was a monthly magazine called Star Trek Communicator, and around that time, I read a letter from a reader in one issue that sadly turned out to be prophetic.

The author expressed concern that the TNG movies would basically leave no room for the character moments that were TNG’s hallmark, such as Picard and Crusher having tea together, or Data and LaForge being BFFs. TNG’s final season also gave us the beginnings of a Picard/Crusher romance, as well as a Worf/Troi/Riker triangle (I know some people disliked the latter, but it’s no worse than the Worf/Dax romance on DS9). However, Generations, like the following three TNG movies, is mainly focused on Picard and Data, pushing the other characters aside. This brings me to my next point.

3. The reinvention of Jean-Luc Picard

One of the biggest reasons that the TNG films don’t live up to the series is that they’re more interested in being action flicks, TNG’s legacy (and in some cases, common sense) be damned. In all four of these movies, there seems to be a tendency to recreate Picard as a swashbuckling hero, engaging in fisticuffs with each of the movies’ villains.

5 reasons the TNG movies weren't that good

I can accept this in the second TNG film, Star Trek: First Contact, given the character’s history with the Borg, but having him do so in the other three movies in such a contrived manner had me questioning more than once if this was the same man we enjoyed watching on TV for seven seasons.

At the same time, there was an attempt to make Picard more of a romantic figure by giving him pseudo-love interests in both First Contact and the third film, Insurrection. The former involves the character of Lily (Alfre Woodard), Zefram Cochrane’s assistant who’s brought aboard the Enterprise and fights the Borg alongside our heroes. This character is unnecessary, because she does what Crusher had often done on the show: talk sense into Picard.

In Insurrection, we see Picard and his crew inexplicably side with a race of people who, when you really look at the story, are just a bunch of selfish jerks. One of these people, Anij, played by Donna Murphy, proves to be another replacement for Beverly, in that she gets bonding scenes with Jean-Luc. Patrick Stewart got an associate producer credit for Insurrection, so many blame him for trying to make Picard into an action/romance star in this movie, but if the previous two films are any indication, Paramount would have encouraged this direction anyway.

The reason Picard’s heroics worked in episodes like “Starship Mine” and “Gambit” is that, unlike the films, those circumstances didn’t compromise what we knew and loved about the character.

4. All self-contained stories

Although most dislike the slow pace of the movie, The Motion Picture nonetheless did its job of introducing Kirk and his crew on the big screen in a grandiose way. However, it was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that ensured their big screen exploits would be as beloved as their small screen ones. A major reason for this was producer Harve Bennett taking a good look at the series before production began, and making two key decisions: he wanted to recapture the character moments between the crew, and bring back a strong antagonist for them.

This decision basically led to how Star Treks III, IV, and VI would play out (it’s an interesting coincidence that the much-hated Final Frontier is the only film of the bunch to not follow upon Wrath of Khan’s storyline). As a result, the way the movies tied in together is part of why they nicely complemented the show itself. In contrast, all four TNG films were simply self-contained adventures with little ongoing significance, much like Voyager and Enterprise would later turn out to be.

Even First Contact suffered from this, from the beginning of the movie when it was revealed that a single Borg ship was launching an attack on the Federation, which was a rehash of the same battle in TNG’s classic “The Best of Both Worlds” two-parter. You’d think that suspense would have increased tenfold if the Borg had sent more than just one vessel this time around. I know some will argue that the attack in the movie was just a ruse to get the Borg’s time travel scheme underway, but then, why didn’t the Borg just use their time travel further away from Earth, so no Federation ships could follow them?

Granted, we saw the Borg in the series, but as DS9 was on the air at the time the first three TNG movies were in theaters, I think the Borg should have been tied in with the Dominion, much the same way that the TOS movies eventually tied in Khan’s storyline with the Klingons.

5. Constantly trying to compete with Khan

Another thing all four TNG movies have in common is their attempt to have the crew battle a specific, evil villain. This was understandable in First Contact, but even that ended up hurting the movie in the end. As unnecessary as Lily is, even more so is the Borg Queen (Alice Krige), a character who appears to be strong proof that First Contact is as much a movie by committee as the other TNG films. What made the Borg unique is that they were all one hive mind, and hence, not like other villains. Giving them a single leader made them simply just another generic foe.

5 reasons the TNG movies weren't that good

Insurrection didn’t fare any better in this department, as the person we were supposed to hate (played by F. Murray Abraham) turned out to be hammier than a can of Spam (watch how he screams the patented Star Wars “NOOOOOOO!” and you’ll see what I mean).

Rolling Stone had an article discussing the fourth TNG movie Nemesis several months before it premiered. In that article, they mentioned that Nemesis would have a villain to rival Khan. Right at that moment, my mind was screaming for this not to be. Putting aside the fact that TNG already had, for all intents and purposes, its counterpart of Khan with the Borg, this article was basically saying that the film wanted to go the action route again, just like its three predecessors.

That villain turned out be the Reman leader Shinzon (played by Tom Hardy), who via plot contrivance had been surgically altered to resemble a younger Picard. Other nonsense this film gives us is yet another android who resembles Data, which is as bad an idea as giving Spock a brother in Star Trek V. There’s even a big climatic battle in the finale of the movie meant to generate the same emotion as the one in Star Trek VI. Sadly, this film reinforced the fact that “All Good Things…” would have been a better sendoff for the TNG gang.

 

To summarize, the four TNG movies had some good ideas, but those were sadly overshadowed by the studio’s desire to turn TNG into something it wasn’t, hence invalidating the series the same way Alien 3 invalidated its predecessors. Or to look at it another way, if TNG ended with “All Good Things…”, those stupid “Troi can’t drive” jokes wouldn’t exist.

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  • Toby Clark

    “In Insurrection, we see Picard and his crew inexplicably side with a race of people who, when you really look at the story, are just a bunch of selfish jerks.”
    Because they don’t want to get kicked out of the small fraction of the planet they’ve called home for the last 300 years, by people who have no such claim on the area?

    • Tony

      Check out Confused Matthew’s and SFDebris’s reviews of Insurrection, and you’ll find the reason for that statement

      • RockyDmoney

        those are good. Also worth checking out are the redlettermedia review and Linkara/Nostalgia Critic. Linkara, an avid Trek fan, brings up some great points about why they are assholes.

        • Toby Clark

          I’ve seen the Linkara/NC review, which lost all credibility with me when it tried to compare the Federation kidnapping another race from their chosen home of 300 years to the Federation evicting its own citizens from a planet in hostile territory that they no longer had a legal claim on (and actually never did, as was persuasively argued by Admiral Necheyev earlier: “Captain, the Indians on Dorvan are a nomadic group that have settled there only twenty years ago, and at that time they were warned that the planet was hotly disputed by the Cardassians. The bottom line is they never should have gone there in the first place.”)

          I doubt any of those other reviews will be more convincing to me.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            One really should think, that 300 years would be more of a reason to keep them there, than twenty years. And even that is more or less dickish. They found a planet, they settled, now the federation says “Yeah, sorry – this planet now belongs to the cardassians.”
            Even I’d say “Frak off!”

            Concerning the radiation of the Bak’u-Planet: Hey, Federation! Did you forget how to ASK for things? “Might we built a clinic on the other side of the planet, where it isn’t bothering you?”

            And the “rejecting technology”-thing: Just because you reject more sophisticated technology like – say – an android, that doesn’t mean, that you aren’t allowed to use dams.
            Plus – if one really had listened, what that one guy said, instead of whining “That’s hypocrisy talking there!”, one would’ve heard, that he said “We believe, that if you build a machine, to do something, a man can do, you take something away from the man.”

            Ergo: Technology to bake bread, cake and so on, sewing machines , dams, houses, the technology to create said sewing machines, dams, houses, bridges, boats etc. are okay. Because there is no way on heaven or earth, you could bake a bread with your own body, bake a cake with your own body, dam a river with your own body. Okay, Sewing machines and houses are a bit luxurious then.
            What is NOT okay, what would “take something away from the man” – computers, androids, warp drive.
            It is really that simple – and there is no hipocrisy there.
            See, the reviews of Linkara and SFDebris are usually awesome or at least okay – the reviews concerning “Insurrection” where the ones, where I shook my head constantly.

          • RockyDmoney

            So by your logic then warp drives and spaceships are ok. Unless the Baku expect you to walk around the galaxy. Also what about medical technology? Does it take away from the man if you say use medical technology to save lives or make life easier for the sick?

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            But you listened to what Anij said, yes? “Where would warp drive take us, but away from here?”
            So – why would they use warp drive. They found paradise, why move away? And they made a sweet deal of living there – where’d be the problem of letting them stay there?

            Even, when they were taking hostages (i.e. the survey-team), they just said “you can’t leave” – they didn’t menace them or anything. Concerning medical technology – clearly that is allowed, if a bit unnecessary, once you think about how this planet will take care of most of that.

            So, you have “hippies”, that don’t want to leave, but would be willing to help the persons in need, if Admiral Dickbag hadn’t decided to listen to Ru’afo, who – later – turns out to be an outcast of those “hippies” and is now slowly dying, because he decided to live a wasteful life and is blaming that on the Bak’U.
            No where in the movie is it stated, that the Bak’U would be dickbags.

            “We believe when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man.” – that is the statement and you think, it is a dbag thing to say. Why?

            I mean, think about where they came from?

            Bak’U and Son’A were once one race – they devastated their homeworld, found the planet in the Briar-Patch, decided that they’d like it there and settled down.

            One group now said “Nah, that life is boring, we’re out of here”, the other group decided to stay and develop into the Bak’U-society.

            And when you think, that the overabundance of technology let them into destroying their world… I think, they have every right to say the statement you took issue with.

            That has nothing to do with new-age-crap like “Oh, illness is just your body showing internal conflicts” or bullshit like that. In contrast to those persons, the Bak’U SAW what their overabundance of technology (mind you, THEIRS not neccessarily OURS) made of their homeworld and they decided to live a more simpler life – with more simpler and “in tune with nature” kind of technology.

            Yes, there is an oven, that is baking bread – so?

            There is a dam – so?

            It would be hippocritical, if they’d a secret high-tech-laboratory. But not with that kind of more simpler technology.

            And again – listen to that sentence:
            “We believe when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man.”
            In that specific setting (relatively small village, no wants of expansion), that is meaning things that damage the balance between them and the nature.

          • Greenhornet

            What was never brought up was the children remaining children until the day they die.
            You can play… until you die.
            You can go to school and learn… until you die.
            You can be treated like a child to be taken care of by “adults” who have seen just as many centuries as yourself… until you die
            OR…
            You must behave as an adult, doing adult things in a child’s body.
            But we see none of that, they act and are treated as CHILDREN. Shall I go into BABIES being born and staying babies for centuries? The dodge may be that they are all sterile, but WHAT IF a woman who was pregnant came to the planet? would she carry the baby to full term and then have to care for a new born for years, decades until she leaves? Will she remain pregnant the whole time she’s on the planet? (The “slow time” thing we were shown might confirm this) Or will the pregnancy be “terminated”?
            F**K the Baku and the smug-@$$ horse they rode in on.

    • RockyDmoney

      They were a bunch of smug self righteous hippie jerks who wanted to keep the cure for death all to themselves. Also, its worth mentioning that it isnt even their home planet. They themselves were explorers

      • Toby Clark

        If they were actively trying to stop anyone else from landing on the planet and getting the same benefits they were, you might have a point. But as it is, the Federation could help billions of their own people in the longterm elsewhere on the planet (or even elsewhere in the Briar Patch) and the Baku wouldn’t have a problem with it. And the reason they’re not doing that is because Dougherty feels the need to help a group even smaller than the Baku, who aren’t even trustworthy Federation allies, from dying out of old age first.

        And by the way, since when do the Federation have a right to not only decide where other races can and can’t colonise within “Federation space” but to enforce that retroactively, on a planet that was colonised before the Federation even existed?

        Smug or not, self-righteous or not (which, incidentally, I’m really not seeing myself), it doesn’t excuse the Federation becoming aggressors scarcely better than the Dominion, over what isn’t even a particularly practical plan when you think about it.

        • Thomas Stockel

          I think the smug attitude comes from their rejection of technology, even when it is obvious technology built their dam, their houses, their clothes, etc. There is an inherent hypocrisy there. I’d go more into it, but it would mean me having to go back and refreshing my memory by watching the film again and I’d rather shove red hot needles under my fingernails first. Instead go watch SF Debris’ review; he does a stellar job lambasting the film and all it’s faults.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Actually – no.
            Like I said – they don’t reject ALL technologiy, just the super-advanced (machines to do the work of a man).

          • RockyDmoney

            what does that even mean? Do the work of a man? that’s the height of douchebaggery. If you make a shovel isnt the shovel doing the “work of a man?” I mean use your hands if you’re a man

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            What do you mean “What does that mean”?
            If you start and think about how they live, it is crystal-clear, that they mean “If you build superadvanced machines”.

          • RockyDmoney

            so in other words you dont know either. I’m glad that is settled

          • RockyDmoney

            I hate to go all college professor on you but define your terms.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Which part of “super advanced machines” is so hard for you to understand? Is a “super advanced machine” a shovel? Don’t be silly. Is it a computer? Well, most certainly, when you come to think, in which environment they live. So – building a shovel? Sure thing. Building a computer? Not really.

            Where is the problem, Mr. college professor?

          • RockyDmoney

            The fact that you dont simply answer the question is all the answer i need. But I give you another shot what exactly is “the work of a man”

          • RockyDmoney

            I think you should change your screenname to DeputyDouchebag seeing as how upset youre getting

        • RockyDmoney

          “We believe when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man.”

          This about sums it up for me. What a dbag thing to say

        • NameWithheldByRequest

          Actually, I think the Baku might have a problem with billions of people settling on the planet. Didn’t they kick the Son’a off the planet? This, in effect, condemned them to sterility and eventual extinction. An act that amounts to genocide. Not exactly a likeable bunch, these Ba’ku.

          Of course, one could ask how the Ba’ku could lay claim to an entire planet, or the rings that encircle it, or why a bunch of egotistical hippies should weigh their few hundred lives–on a planet that is pretty much a dime-a-dozen in the Star Trek universe–greater than the lives of untold billions who would benefit if they had access to the health enhancing effects of the rejuvenating radiation. One could imagine that the Federation would have offered the Ba’ku compensation for “their” planet, and probably would have offered them another planet to colonize. But even if they did, the Ba’ku are so egotistical and indifferent to the lives of others that they would most likely have refused, just to be dicks. At least that’s the impression I get.

          • Toby Clark

            No, they kicked the Son’a out of the village, as punishment for an attempted coup. The Son’s had every opportunity to settle elsewhere on the planet over the following hundred years or so.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Um, no, that’s not how I remember it. As far as I can recall, the Son’a were exiled by the Ba’ku, which I took to mean that they were exiled from the planet. Given that the Son’a actually left the planet, this seems like the most probable explanation. I don’t recall anyone in the movie mentioning that the Son’a were exiled to another part of the planet. Just to be sure, because my memory of this film isn’t exactly crisp, I checked the wiki entry at Memory Alpha and it concurs with me, that the Son’a were exiled from the planet.

          • Toby Clark

            Would you mind thinking about this accusation for five seconds? They had no way of forcing the Son’a off the planet, and no way of stopping them landing elsewhere!

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Well, I agree. I find it difficult to believe that the Ba’ku could drive the Son’a from the planet. It makes much more sense for the Son’a to be exiled to another part of the planet itself. However, that’s not what’s in the movie. It’s stated by Ru’afo that the Ba’ku exiled the Son’a to die slowly. The implication being that they were driven from the planet. After all, it doesn’t make sense that the Son’a would voluntarily leave, because that would be an automatic death sentence. Be that as it may, I’m making no “accusations” here. I’m merely pointing out what is stated in the movie. If it doesn’t make sense to you that the Bak’u could exile the Son’a–and I agree with you that it doesn’t–your problem isn’t with me, it’s with the script.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        Actually, they didn’t want to keep the cure for death all to themselves. The Son’a said, that it would not suffice to let people stay on the planet for a short time.
        A claim, that clearly isn’t true, but motivated by hate of Gallatin. Because, Geordis eyes are working, the rest of the crew is getting younger – clearly the radiation is helping you, even if you’re on that planet for a couple of hours.
        So – ask the Bak’U, if you could build a hospital on the other side of the planet, bring your wounded soldiers there, mission accomplished.

        But no, you have that asshole-admiral, who is definitely just a mouthpiece for Gallatin, who wants his revenge on the Bak’U, because he was a stupid little brat and run off and now is dying.
        My sympathy is limited here.

        • Toby Clark

          Actually, the villain’s name was Ru’afo. Gallatin was his henchman, who turned on him in the last act.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Yeah, sorry, mea Culpa.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        So, if I stumble upon a nice place, decide to live there and suddenly people come and say “Go away, this is now our land”, I should say “Of course, take my land.”?
        Is’ ja geil (Awesome!) – that means, by your logic, I go to my neighbour and say “Go away, this is now my land, because you’re sitting on a gold mine” and he can do jack shit about it. ^^

        • NameWithheldByRequest

          That depends. Can a couple hundred people lay claim to an entire planet? I don’t think so. At most, they could claim a few hundred square kilometers of land that they settled on, and that’s it. The Ba’ku are colonists themselves, and I don’t see how they could have any right to deny someone else settling on another part of the planet, since they couldn’t possibly claim to own it all. And, to be fair, the Federation didn’t want to take the Ba’ku’s land, they wanted to harvest the planetary ring. Not the same thing.

          And the only reason to resettle the Ba’ku was to prevent them being harmed by the harvesting process. Now, let’s say you owned land, and it was found that next door to your land existed the fountain of youth, that could enhance the health of every human being on the planet. The only catch was that the process of attaining this magic elixir was to kill every living thing within a few hundred kilometers around, including on your land. And let’s assume that you refused to move, because you’re a hippy douchebag like the Ba’ku. Should the government then let billions of people suffer and die because you’re a douchebag, or should they remove you to harvest the fountain of youth and also so that you’re not in any danger? You’d lose nothing, and the government would compensate you with land and money. I think the question pretty much answers itself, don’t you?

          • Toby Clark

            At no point in the movie are the Ba’ku presented as wanting the planet to themselves. Like I said at the start of this, all they wanted was to not be thrown out of the small fraction of it they were actually using.

            And as I said elsewhere, harvesting the planet is not a smart plan when you can help billions in the long term without doing so.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            No, that’s exactly how they’re depicted. The Ba’ku exiled the Son’a from the planet, which implies that they wanted it all to themselves. If you don’t agree with the Ba’ku, you’re outta there buddy. Otherwise, if they didn’t want the entire planet all to themselves, they could have exiled the Son’a to the other side of the planet, which they didn’t do. In any case, I doubt that the Ba’ku would be happy with millions of Federation colonists bringing their advanced technology with them. It would interfere with their hippy lifestyle. How long do you think before the Ba’ku exiled these people?

            As for your comment about harvesting the planet, I agree. This film is so badly written–that is to say, written to present the Federation in the worst possible light–that it goes out of its way to present an either/or dilemma which is, in my opinion, completely unrealistic. Why couldn’t the Feds study the radiation and synthesize it instead of harvesting it? I don’t know. Maybe because then there’d be nothing for our intrepid band of heroes to rebel against. And then the stupid premise of this film would have to be tossed into the garbage, which would have been a great idea.

          • RockyDmoney

            they did say it would take up to ten years to harvest the energy from space and that a lot of the Son’a didnt have that long. But the most daming thing is that no one simply asked the Baku and the reason is that they couldnt say no without coming off as selfish jerks. So the writers simply didnt bring it up hoping the audience wouldnt catch it

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Or – and that could be something, I could come to think of, they wanted to portray the Son’A as evil. they didn’t even bother to ask. If they HAD asked, the Bak’U had most certainly said: “Yes, sure, come down, come here again.”

          • Greenhornet

            Sure, and if they refused, the “just take it” option would still be available. What would the Federation have to lose in negotiation? That’s something that should have been brought up in the dialog: “We tried to reason with them Picard, but they’re just a bunch of douchbag hippies!”
            Unless said people –who reject any technology more advanced than what the Romans had at their peak– actually have something that can “kick your @$$ off their planet”, that is.
            Hmmm…

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Aand what exactly DO they have in order to kick the Son’A of the planet? No, honestly, show me that integral piece of dialogue, which shows us WHAT kind of technology they used in order to kick the Son’A out. There IS no piece of dialogue supporting that.

            Oh, that “exiled”-piece?
            Yeah, it’s not that much Sojef or even Anij, who is using that word. It’s Ru’afo, and we all know, how much he is to be trusted as a narrator.

            “Oh, but what about Anij and Sojef never actually not adressing, that Ru’afo is lying”?

            Listen to how Anij and Sojef are talking. They are at peace with the world, they live in, at peace with themselves, why would a liar like Ru’afo be something, they would loose their cool over.

            So that brings only that one logical conclusion: The Son’A are lying.
            There is no way, that they could’ve been FORCIBLY removed from the planet – they just didn’t want to live on that planet anymore and once they noticed, that that was a bad idea, they decided to spin-doctor their way out of their pardicament, in order to not be those hippocritical children, that they are.

          • Greenhornet

            (Mostly a re-hash of my other reply, but what the heck?)
            Yes, they WANTED to leave, but what stopped them from coming back and settling somewhere else? It’s obvious that they’ve been in a bad way for some time and planets are pretty big, you know. Something or someONE is preventing them from returning and it can’t just be ego.
            Too many questions, not enough answers. Did the Federation representatives even ASK to allow the Son’a and a hospital on the planet? If so, what was the response? A sentence or two would have cleared it up and we wouldn’t be having this conversation!
            “You see, the Ba’ku blah, blah, blah.”
            “Oh. Well that makes perfect sense. I’ll stand back to back with you to defend them, Captain Picard.”
            See? Is that so hard?

          • Greenhornet

            You know what? We’re literally thinking too much about this. We’re not supposed to examine “Insurrection”, the audience is supposed to watch it and think:
            “THE ESTABLISHMENT is going to steal this planet from the peaceful hippie-commune people and rape it! BOO! Fight the power! Stick it to THE MAN!”
            I grew up in the sixties and I’ve seen too much of this sort of thing.

          • Greenhornet

            And by the way, the Federation wouldn’t even have had to ask the Ba’Ku if they could put the Son’a and a hospital on the planet because the Ba’ku don’t occupy the whole planet! That brings up my question: “what stopped them from doing so?” The answer has to be the super powers that were hinted at. And if that is the answer, the Ba’ku are a bunch of SOBs.
            Don’t bother to bring up the “many of them wouldn’t have lasted the ten years it would have taken for the radiation (Or magic, or whatever) to have any effect” thing, because I’m talking about the Son’a settling YEARS ago. If they couldn’t do that then, WHY?
            Questions, questions, everywhere and not an answer in sight!

          • Greenhornet

            And by the way:
            “They are at peace with the world, they live in, at peace with themselves…”
            I’ve met several people who were into all that “serenity, peace and love” stuff and they were all vain, arrogant, self-righteous jerks who would screw you over and feel good about themselves. Being “at peace with the world” does not make you a good person.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Actually, no – that was NOT how they were depicted. Because – if they had WANTED the planet for themselves, don’t you think, after all the background about the Bak’U and Son’A had been explained, they would’ve still said: “I don’t a flying fart about it – get those Son’A from my planet.”
            No – they tried to reason with them, they tried to talk to them.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            The Son’a were exiled from the planet by the Ba’ku. That’s a fact. If the Bak’u didn’t want the planet all to themselves, then why didn’t they simply exile the Son’a to the other side of the planet? Maybe the Ba’ku accepted the Son’a at the end of the movie because they’d been defeated and were ready to assimilate back into Ba’ku society. Again, trying to make sense of this movie is hampered by the terrible script. In any case, it is doubtful that the Ba’ku would have tolerated an unreconstructed Son’a element in their society, seeing as how they didn’t before.

            If it was indeed the case, as you claim, that the Son’a could come back whenever they felt like it, explain why oh why they don’t. The Son’a are dying, and their desperation is palpable throughout the movie. If they could go back, why would they instead choose to commit suicide by staying away? That doesn’t make any sense. Indeed, the plan to harvest the metaphasic radiation only makes sense if the Son’a could not go back to the planet. And what’s keeping them from going back, you ask? That would be the Ba’ku. Now, does any of this make sense? Nope. Given the Son’a’s advanced technology and the Ba’ku’s complete lack of same, the Son’a could simply beam down to the planet and nobody would be able to stop them. Again, the script doesn’t make sense, and the more you think about this movie, the less sense it makes.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            You’re right – the Son’A have advanced technology, the Bak’U don’t use that sort of tech. What is keeping the Son’A from coming back?
            Obviously, they are a bunch of spoiled brats, who – as I pointed out – were told “no” the very first time, and decided that the Bak’U were not worth their time. So, they went away. Probably in the space-ships the Bak’U used to have.

            Then they lived their live, are dying now, because they lived a wasteful life – but they are still too proud to come back and say “Hey, about this whole ‘wanting to take over the planet thing’ – that was kind of a dick move from us, and we want to apologize”.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            That’s not “obvious” at all. You’re wrong when you say that the Bak’u voluntarily left. That’s not what’s stated in the film. What’s interesting, I think, is that in probably any other context, the Son’a would be considered victims of the Bak’u, not the villains. What do I mean? Well, think about it. The Son’a are exiled from their home, forced to roam the galaxy doing what they have to do to survive, and are now–at the time of the film–on the verge of extinction. They take some desperate measures, and do some questionable things, to be sure, but wouldn’t any one of us, faced with extinction, make some not-very-well-thought-out decisions? It’s clear that the Son’a aren’t out for revenge, they’re not trying to exterminate the Ba’ku or wipe out their culture or anything. Indeed, the Son’a, for much of the film, go out of their way to ensure that the Bak’u aren’t harmed, and the so-called “evil” plan is to transport the Ba’ku to another planet out of harm’s way where they can live in peace. What a dastardly scheme! Nobody in the film, as far as I remember, seems to care about the Son’a, only about the Bak’u. In a well-written and well-thought out story, I think, the Son’a would be portrayed and viewed much more sympathetically. I don’t know what happened during the writing of the script, but I do pick up some hints here and there that the Son’a may not originally have been the cardboard cutout bad guys we see in the finished film.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I never said, that the Bak’u left volountarily – I said that the Son’A left volountarily.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Oops, got my Ba’kus and Son’as mixed up. Don’t know how I missed that.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            The fun thing is – the son’a could’ve settled on another part of the planet. But like a bunch of children, who were told “no” for the first time, they decided to pout and say “it’s soooooooooo much cooler out there”, took their machines and went off.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Actually, it’s stated clearly in the movie by Ru’afo that the Son’a were exiled off the planet, not to another part of the planet. I won’t get into a discussion about how a bunch of neo-luddite hippies managed to throw a group of people off an entire planet, because there really is no good answer to that, except that nobody making this film bothered to think any of this through.

          • Toby Clark

            I’ll acknowledge that that’s his version of events, but why the hell are you taking it at face value if you acknowledge that it makes no sense? Seemed to me he either has a self-serving memory or was just desperately lying for Admiral Dougherty’s benefit. Either way, Dougherty saw through it.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Ru’afo makes this claim speaking to Sojef and Anij, who don’t deny it or contradict him.

            SOJEF: A century ago, a group of our young people wanted to follow the ways of the offlanders. They tried to take over the colony and when they failed…

            RU’AFO: And when we failed, you exiled us to die slowly.

            ANIJ: You’re Ro’tin, aren’t you? …There’s something in the voice. (turning to Gallatin) …Would you be his friend Gal’na? …I helped your mother bathe you when you were a child. She still speaks of you.

            Picard then states clearly that the Son’a were “expelled” by the Ba’ku.

            PICARD: You brought the Federation into the middle of a blood feud, Admiral. The children have returned to expel their elders, just as they were once expelled.

            Nothing in the film, not Ru’afo’s claim to have been exiled, nor Sojef’s and Anij’s non-denial of his claim, nor Picard’s statement backing Ru’afo’s version of events, supports your argument.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Aaaaand HOW exactly were they expelled, if they didn’t go themselves? Do you really think, that the Bak’U put them into the ships and sent them away? No – of course not.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            How were they expelled, you ask? I have not the slightest idea. Like I’ve said, it doesn’t make sense. But the facts are (unfortunately) the facts. The movie states, without ambiguity, that the Son’a were exiled by the Ba’ku. And there’s nothing you or I can do to square that circle.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            So, if you have not the slightest idea, how the Son’a were expelled from the planet, and that “a bunch of space hippies” have no means of getting them off the planet, it leaves us with just ONE logical conclusion.

            The Son’A went off to space themselves. They packed their stuff, they ran of like little children and they lived the life-style of the outlanders.
            THAT is the only logical conclusion.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            You would be absolutely correct, if it weren’t for the unfortunate fact that the scenario that you insist on positing is directly contradicted by what’s in the film. Contrary to your claim, there is actually more than one logical conclusion. A second conclusion, which, for some reason, you don’t seem to want to accept, is that Insurrection is a poorly-thought out movie and that much of what’s in it makes no sense. Now, you can continue to believe that the Son’a voluntarily left the planet–despite the fact that there’s nothing in the film to support it and it’s specifically stated that it’s otherwise–if you like, but I don’t see much point in trying to apologize for a badly made film. Well, to each their own, I guess.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Exactly – to each their own. I’m not saying, that the movie is a masterpiece, I’m just stating that the Bak’u are not as “eeeevil” as you want them to be.
            But in the end – it is just a movie.

            Let’s argue about other stuff, for example if Greece should leave the eurozone (to which I say no) but – I can live with the idea that Ru’afo (just as a stubborn child) would be turning and twisting his personal truth.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Not to beat a dead horse here, but I want to reiterate a point I made previously. I forgot to mention it in my last post. If the Son’a went into exile voluntarily, then the implication is that there’s nothing to prevent them from returning voluntarily. But they don’t. They’re on the verge of extinction, but it never occurs to them to return to the planet? That doesn’t make sense. And it contradicts your “one logical conclusion” that they left voluntarily.

            And I don’t think the Bak’u are evil, just extremely selfish.

            And, yes, Greece should leave the Eurozone.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Let’s think of the Son’A as kids – or teenagers at best. They left the planet and decided that they liked it out there. Fine. Now their bodies start to deteriorate. They know ONE place, where they could go, but that would mean, that they would need to apologize to those other people, they were dicks to. Hey, you don’t even need to be a teenager to get this, sometimes you just DON’t want to appologize to persons, you thought wronged you personally.

            In the opinion of Ru’afo and his people, the Bak’u wronged them – and they don’t want to return to those people. Hell, if they had the opportunity, they wouldn’t even set one foot on the planet.
            We can see that, it is all in the script.

            Why do you think, the Son’A don’t use their advanced technology to beam the Bak’u off the planet?
            Would you go to the place, you once failed to make your stand and were “exiled” yourself?
            Would you even TALK to those people, who wronged you personally?

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            You’re assuming, first, the the Son’a couldn’t settle on the opposite side of the planet from the Ba’ku village. So they wouldn’t need to “return to those people” at all. Second, you’re assuming that the Son’a would need to “apologize to those other people” when they needn’t have even laid eyes on the Ba’ku. Like I said, they could have settled on the other side of the planet, and the Ba’ku wouldn’t have ever found out they were there. And, finally, you’re assuming that an entire group of people would let themselves die rather than settle on the same planet as “those people, who wronged you.” None of the motivations you ascribe to the Son’a would be operative here.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            You’re trying to spin doctoring your way through that, yes?
            Of course, the Son’a could’ve settled on the other side of the planet. I’m not even saying that they couldn’t, BUT apparently they didn’t want to live there. Because they left this planet, remember? They were exiled from the village (sure, Ru’afo says “Planet” but again, HOW would they do that?) and decided to go off in space.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            First, that the Son’a were exiled from the planet contradicts your claim that the Son’a “apparently didn’t want to live there.” They never “left this planet” voluntarily, as you are claiming, and “decided to go off into space.” They were kicked out. If the Son’a didn’t want to remain on the planet, then there would have been no need to “exile [them] to die slowly” in the first place, as Ru’afo says. The key part of that statement being the “to die slowly” part. Why? Because being exiled to the other side of the planet would not have been a death sentence. And the “exile” and “to die slowly” parts are explicitly causally linked, implying that the latter was a direct result of the former, which contradicts your claim that the Son’a were first “exiled from the village” and only later, on their very own, “decided to go off into space.” Furthermore, Picard states that “The children have returned to expel their elders, just as they were once expelled.” Note that Picard draws a direct parallel between the Son’a exile and the plan to involuntarily remove the Ba’ku from the planet. This too contradicts your claim. If the Son’a weren’t exiled from the planet involuntarily, then Picard’s statement is nonsensical. You seem to want to keep asserting, in spite of the evidence to the contrary, that the Son’a left voluntarily. As I’ve already shown, nothing could be further from the truth.

            Second, even if we assume that the Son’a left the planet voluntarily, you still haven’t explained why the Son’a would choose to die–which is contradicted by the film, and their desperate attempts to harvest the metaphasic radiation–rather than settle on the other side of the planet. You seem to like psychoanalyzing movie characters. Explain how it’s reasonable for an entire group of people, who are facing imminent extinction, to decide not to settle someplace because they just “don’t want to live there”? That’s kinda like not wanting to go to a hospital to get life-saving medical treatment because you don’t like the colour of the paint on the walls, isn’t it?

            And no, I’m not “spin doctoring” anything. I’m merely pointing out the flaws in your argument. All the reasons you’ve given for why the Son’a wouldn’t go back to the planet don’t stand up to scrutiny. If anything, it could be argued that you are attempting to spin doctor away all the problems in this film. A Sysiphean task, for which I don’t envy you.

          • Greenhornet

            There is also the word “exile” that is used continuously throughout the movie. To “exile” someone means to FORCE them to leave a place and PREVENT their return. That implies threats backed by violence.
            I’d like to know what the Bak’u are packing that can back that up.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Nothing – because they were not exiled. Ru’afo is saying that. but is it true? I doubt thatz.

          • Greenhornet

            There is that “time slow” power. Do ALL the Ba’ku have that or some other super power? Sorry folks, we can’t go into that, we have to have more scenes of ACTION! and SNAPPY DIALOG!. And boob-firming. Can’t forget the boob-firming, Very important plot-point.
            The reason we’re arguing is because the movie makers raised questions that they refused to answer.
            PS: yes, they DID say the Son’a wanted to travel the stars, but they just don’t explain why they just couldn’t land on another part of the planet YEARS AGO where the Ba’Ku would never see them or even know they were there. If I were an investigator in this movie, one of the first things I would look into is the SUPER POWER angle.

          • Greenhornet

            The means of exile should have been addressed, or even just hinted at: “After we exiled the Son’a, we began to reject advanced technology. We… *I* did some terrible things to enforce our will on them. It’s easy to kill a man, you know; you have to make sure that it doesn’t become TOO easy.”

          • Greenhornet

            Off-set drilling.
            Build a derrick on adjoining land and drill into the deposit. It’s a technique almost a hundred years old and I’m sure that with TRANSPORTERS, the Federation can do it easily.

        • RockyDmoney

          Um..yeah no. The federation isnt taking the land cuz its a nice place to live. they are taking the land cuz it could save billions of lives. If I were living on a land that contained a plant that cured cancer I dont think I could live with myself if I said to folks no you cant have it.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            It feels as if the writers didn’t think any of this through. I find it difficult to believe that the Ba’ku–if they really are supposed to be the good guys in this film–would refuse to leave once the Federation explained to them what the metaphasic radiation would mean to the billions and billions of people in the galaxy. The entire conflict in this movie could have been avoided if someone had thought to ask the Ba’ku to leave (and, of course, offered them compensation). If the Ba’ku refused to leave, I personally don’t see any problem with implementing Admiral Dougherty’s plan to remove them. Given the extent of the benefits to be gained, and given that the cost of relocation to the Ba’ku would be effectively nil, it’s a no-brainer.

    • There is a principle in property use law called “Highest and Best Use”.

      You have the right to own and profit from the use of your property, you do not have the right to hoard things to the point of harm. There are some instances in which this gets dicey, someone who owns land that is rich with coal that could power a city, but who sees a moral and ethical gain in not selling the coal, an ethical gain worth more to them than the money they would get. If the people in the city determine his ethics are worth less than heat in the winter, they will take his property for what they feel is a fair price, kick him out, and then use the coal.

      It is the whole basis of eminent domain law, and is rather core to the acquisition of materials and man power during emergencies and war time.

      Again, you are allowed to profit and make use of your property as you see fit… to a point.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        And you heard the Bak’u saying “You’re not allowed to land on our planet and get healthier?”
        No – actually, they didn’t say that. They said nothing concerning this – and if you see, how the people, after the first problems were resolved, waved the Enterprise-Crew good bye, we can surely assume, that they would’ve said “Sure, come down, regenerate and have a good time. Just don’t mess with the enviroment.”

        • To say that would be an inefficient use of a natural resource is a massive understatement. As was explained in the movie.

    • They refuse to temporarily move off their planet to let the Federation save literally billions of people. As far as I’m concerned, I’d be fine with letting the colonists die if we’re saving that many.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        They didn’t refuse anything! They were not asked, not in the slightest.

        • They’re never directly asked because the movie couldn’t come up with a way to show them refuse without them coming off as selfish dicks.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            And it is so much better to portray the Federation as idiots, who not even bother to ask. ^^
            All it would’ve needed would be: “Oh, of course you can come down here and get better – but then you can’t leave the planet anymore. See, it is the radiation, that changes us, so… ”

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Exactly right. Insurrection was one of the worst movies in the Star Trek franchise. And the Ba’ku the most insufferable bunch of douchebags in science fiction history.

      • Toby Clark

        It wasn’t temporary. The Federation’s plan was to harvest as many of the particles as they could in the Son’a’s Collector, destroying whatever made it a renewable resource and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Like I said, the Federation could help billions of their own people in the long term without doing any of that.

        • And there’s a war in the short term. Billions vs 300.

          • Toby Clark

            And how many of those billions do you think the radiation can even save in that form? It’s not going to help those killed when their ships are destroyed in battle, or those massacred on Dominion-captured planets. Even the relatively few war-wounded they can save aren’t going to be any less vulnerable to dying the next time they’re sent into the field. I can’t see this having much of an effect on the war.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Plus – I think, it was established, that the radiation was only able to do their magic, because it was very concentrated there. Does the federation think, that, if you change something about the concentration, nothing else will change?

    • Uzair Uzair

      The Nostalgia Critic review of Insurrection I think does a great job on why the “ethics” of Insurrection are stupid.

      • Toby Clark

        I’ve seen it. It did not convince me that the Federation should ever be party to invasion, mass-kidnapping, destruction of property, theft of land and resources, etc against people who are no threat to them and for the benefit of other people who have been collaborating with the Dominion amongst other crimes.

        • Uzair Uzair

          I don’t want to get into some long, drawn out argument over the ethics of a 17 year old movie, but if Picard was willing to forcibly relocate Native Americans just to make sure a peace treaty is enforced (a real ethical dilemma) but is willing to disobey Starfleet to defend a few white people who are hoarding the cure to many illnesses and the only ability for a race to survive and not go extinct just makes the ethics of Picard totally whacked to me in the film. I believe even Patrick Stewart said he’d agree with Starfleet in the film. This is alongside the other plotholes and issues that have made the film among the most hated in the franchise. For the record, I don’t think it’s the worst, it’s just boring and mediocre and nonsensical when you think about it for five minutes.

          • Toby Clark

            ” if Picard was willing to forcibly relocate Native Americans just to
            make sure a peace treaty is enforced (a real ethical dilemma) ”
            A dilemma that was undercut from the start by the fact that those colonists knew the planet they were landing on was disputed by the Cardassians and therefore should never have gone there to begin with. In any case, that’s Picard evicting members of his own species from a planet they never had a claim on vs the Federation kidnapping another race to rob them of their claim on a planet, which predates the Federation itself by nearly a century.

            “For the record, I don’t think it’s the worst, it’s just boring and
            mediocre and nonsensical when you think about it for five minutes.”
            This coming from someone who repeats the BS “hoarding” accusation without stopping to wonder how they’d even be capable of stopping billions of Federation colonists from landing elsewhere on the planet and getting the same benefits they do, if they even wanted to do that. At no point in the movie is it ever an issue of the Ba’ku wanting to be alone on the planet.

          • Uzair Uzair

            I think forcibly relocating a group of people who have faced genocide and relocations for things as trivial as gold just to defend a peace treaty (even if it means preventing galactic war) and then going gung-ho and Rambo to defend greedy assholes who would let an entire species die out (that’s in the plot) to hoard a planet they’re not from makes the ethics contradictory and ridiculous, and really bad. I don’t know the history of the development of the film, I’d be interesting in reading on it though, because how the hell did they write this garbage?

            The Native American dilemma at least makes sense because it’s the whole “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” and he plans to do the exact same thing, beaming them out in their sleep! Now maybe it would have been cooler if Picard just said “fuck you” and fought against Starfleet, but honestly I don’t want to debate the ethical merits of a 20 + year tv episode too much.

            “This coming from someone who repeats the BS “hoarding” accusation
            without stopping to wonder how they’d even be capable of stopping
            billions of Federation colonists from landing elsewhere on the planet
            and getting the same benefits they do, if they even wanted to do that.
            At no point in the movie is it ever an issue of the Ba’ku wanting to be
            alone on the planet.”

            Thanks for alerting me to even more plotholes that make this film even worse than I remember. Not making a good case on your end. By the way, this plothole is addressed in the NC video. The movie itself even says the Ba’ku cannot make their own colony because they’ll all be dead in a decade, thus they need to extract these minerals to survive, and that’s ignored for the rest of the film. All you’ve done is highlight a huge plothole.

            Also, are you trying to argue that my opinion is objectively wrong? It’s my opinion, you can’t factually argue it’s wrong, so knock it off with that bullcrap. If you like the film, good for you. I don’t, for the reasons most don’t. Learn to live with it.

          • Toby Clark

            I don’t like the film and I’m not trying to deny that it has plot holes. I just don’t understand why people are determined to distort the facts of the movie to stay mad at it. The fact remains that the Ba’ku have done nothing to deserve this kind of aggression from the Federation – they found a remote, uninhabited planet and settled on it, having no idea that an alliance of planets would unwittingly form around them over the following centuries, would then declare the Briar Patch Federation territory and suddenly decide not to care about any other race’s right to colonise.

            And again, disturbing historical parallels or not, that group of native Americans knew they were encroaching on Cardassian territory when they landed, and so did not have a leg to stand on once the treaty was decided on. I don’t have a problem with the episode’s resolution (the colonists giving up any claim to Federation citizenship to stay on the planet), but I do have a problem with people bringing this episode into the argument about Insurrection, as if legally enforced eviction and mass-kidnapping were the same thing.

            And as for the “needs of the many” argument, how about the fact that Dougherty is harvesting a planet that could have helped billions of Federation citizens in the long-term to help a group of non-Federation allies (again, Dominion collaborators) even smaller than the population of the Ba’ku village right now?

          • Uzair Uzair

            Distort the facts? First of all, movie tastes (like all tastes in entertainment) are subjective and not “facts”. If people hate this film, get over it. If you don’t like it, don’t act like such a fan boy and continuously defend its plot and structure.

            Anyway, this follow up from the Nostalgia Critic goes into detail about how badly written the plot is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzRJtkcuZiw

            Actually that TNG episode plot was that the American Indians were on a Federation planet that was ceded to the Cardassians, this was the basis for the whole Maquis plot that followed into DS9. Picard had to get rid of them to prevent galactic war. So Picard is willing to simply protect a treaty, even if it prevents war, but is willing to go gung-go to defend white people (why didn’t they bother to make them um…aliens in the least?) who don’t even belong on the planet who want to hoard this essentially miracle cure for aging and disease esp when a race desperately needs it to prevent extinction. So yeah the films ethics are simply ridiculous, esp. if you consider it alongside that episode.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            No one is saying, that the Son’A can’t move down to the planet. Not even the Bak’u. They can move down on the planet and live their life there – that’s entirely possible.

  • Sooper

    Pretty accurate analysis. Though I honestly in retrospect find Star Trek IV to be the one TOS movie that really ages badly. Still not as bad as V, obviously, but as my wife put it when I showed IV to her, “This feels like a zany 80’s sitcom, but with a time travel subplot about whales.” I know that’s blasphemy because a lot of Trek fans love that movie, but over time, I’ve come to actually prefer III to IV.

    • mpedone

      I agree with you. It’s overly comedic, and a little heavy-handed on the environmentalism (and this from someone who likes comedy and environmentalism). Granted, the comedy works far better than some other Trek comedy attempts, but I thought it was just too much. There’s also the issue of the extra traveller they bring back with them (is that ever resolved…or even mentioned again?). The whole movie feels a little silly.

      By way of comparison, my only issue with III is that Kirstie Alley did not reprise her role as Saavik. Other than that, I loved it.

      That said, I’d far rather watch IV than V, or any TNG movie other than “First Contact” (not that it doesn’t have its own flaws).

      • Sooper

        Yeah, but I’d rather watch just about anything before I’d put in V and give it a watch. I only own a copy because it came with the box set. It is the one disc I have never actually put in my bluray player.

        But yeah, of the odd numbered movies, III is the clear front runner. I like how IV starts and ends, with Spock’s sort of identity crisis arc as he tries to re-learn how to deal with his human side, but overall, IV is a hard watch now for me, even if I do love some individual scenes for the amusement value (The bus scene with the punk, Spock’s “colourful metaphor” gag, Scotty trying to talk to computers in the 1980s) but the movie as a whole doesn’t hold up too well. All of the drama surrounding whatsername and the whales puts the movie at a dead stop for me. And yeah, she’s like a bond girl in that she falls for Kirk and then is NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN.

        But it’s still a part of the overall complete story arc that spans II, III, IV, and VI that I think is a pretty cool story and was a great way to cap the series. I am very thankful that, as the article points out, you can throw out V without losing any piece of that plot.

        • mpedone

          Definitely. Just writing about this now made me realize that II-IV is an amazing trilogy, and VI is the perfect “we made a great trilogy, so let’s make a sequel” that not only continues the story, but wraps everything up nicely, I think because it completes Kirk’s character arc.

    • Capt. Harlock

      I must be one of the few that doesn’t hate ST:V. I do, however, hate ST:TMP. Must be because I stood in line for hours to see it on opening day, only to be served a mash-up of episodes from TOS with newer effects and loooooong, sloooow pans and shots.

      Q: Why does God need a Starship?
      A: Because, He thinks He’s James T. Kirk.

      • Sooper

        TMP isn’t far behind, because it is, again, pointless to the overall plot of 2-4 and 6. I actually can’t for the life of me tell you what the plot *is* of TMP right now, something about staring at space clouds and that bald woman. The one memorable thing about TMP for me was that transporter accident, which, first time I saw it, I was like “Well that’s messed up.”

        But got, V is insufferable in so many ways. the tone is all over the place, like it tries to be lighthearted and jokey like IV but the jokes are all pretty terrible and overly self-aware, and then it’ll suddenly go to a place of utter darkness where we find that McCoy commits euthanasia, that weird awkward flirting with Uhura and Scotty, Scotty being ramped up into a completely ineffective buffoon.

        Then there’s the bit I never understood, where Spock has a half brother, who is clearly Vulcan, or at least part Vulcan, which means it’s on his father’s side. So either SPock’s dad just has a thing for human women, which would account for why Spock’s brother is so into emotions, or he’s a full blooded Vulcan in which case what the crap? This dude defines illogical.

        • mpedone

          If I recall correctly, there was an attempt to make TMP relevant to the rest of Trek by insinuating that V’Ger merging with its creator (baldy and the dude from Brewster’s Millions making out at the end) was the spark that created the Borg. I’m pretty sure that idea was shot down.

          I liked that movie, but I saw it years later, after I’d seen the rest of the movies (my father is a huge Trek fan, but he never even spoke of TMP). I can fully understand the criticisms, though. Not much happens. I do, however, love the ending, and think it would have worked better with a little (any?) more action throughout the movie.

          “How do we get out of this? Massive space battle?”
          “Nah, with kissing!”

          Imagine if V had ended that way. “God” doesn’t want a starship, he just wants to make out with Kirk.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I read this premisse in one of the Shatner-Trek-Novels and found it very intriguing.

          • Sooper

            I’m sure if Shatner could have slipped that through as a plot point in V, he would have. “So, instead of having Spock’s brother have some kind of weird symbolic fight with God, how about we make it a sexy alien woman and I make out with her?”

      • NameWithheldByRequest

        What TMP has over ST:V is that it’s actually a Star Trek story. ST:V is so reviled, at least in part, because it’s not true to the established characters. The idea that everyone in the crew–Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, Scotty–would so easily betray Kirk is so fucking offensive that I’m amazed everyone working on this piece of garbage didn’t revolt once they’d read the script. And, from what I’ve heard, Spock and McCoy were also supposed to betray Kirk, but Nimoy and Kelley refused to allow it. In contrast, as bad as TMP was–and there are legitimate criticisms to be made, for sure–it can’t be said that the characters behaved in ways that contradicted twenty years of established development.

        ST:V is a terrible movie, from the script, to the special effects, to the editing, and so on. It is, however, a brilliant expose of directorial megalomania. And for that, it deserves some sort of recognition, I suppose.

    • Yeah, it is a comedy and should be taken as such. You are there for the fish out of water humor and shenanigans not really for the plot. Really more humor in Star Trek would make it more accessible, as is that entry seems like the wacky uncle who shows up to a family reunion of war veterans and college professors.

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    The NextGen crew always had a rough time of it: whenever they kept close to the successful formula of their TV show, critics would say the movies were just a blown-up version of the TV episodes (it didn’t help that, unlike the classic crew, there was a much shorter gap between their respective movies and the aired TV shows, so comparisons were easier to make).

  • Cameron Vale

    The entire concept of a TNG movie seems delusional to me, like they somehow became convinced at some point that they were the real Trek, and not just a spin-off TV show.

    • They have more episodes than the original series, and in turn have two spin offs of their own set in the same time period. They are also the series with the most critical acclaim. Arguably they are the definitive Trek.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Great article. And I’m glad you give TMP it’s due. I am a huge fan of that movie but even I can recognize it’s flaws.
    Personally, I fail to see why producers feel the need to pass the torch like they do. Shatner wasn’t needed in Generations, neither was Nimoy needed in the reboot. I don’t know a single person who went to see Abram’s ‘Trek just because Nimoy was in it.

  • Eliot Littlejohn

    I only agree with the fact that insurrection is the worst star trek movie ever made. It shouldnt have been theirs a unpublished book by the writer michael piller about writing the movie. The orginal script was alot better and was supposed to be a two part movie. Only one producer read it and said patric stewart wouldnt like it because it would make him look old. He rewrote the script went through several more drafts. Mr piller told patric stewart about the fountain of youth planet in the orginal script. He liked it but he didnt show him the orgninal script and wrote the crappy version we got. When generations came out i didnt have the internet and didnt know captain kirk was going to die. When he fell off that bridge i almost did the star wars noooo! in the theater. First contact was great why would the Borg work with the dominion their not human they cant be stopped they cant be reasoned with. My only problem with nemesis was why bother killing data if your going to introduce a exact copy of data.

  • Trying to remake The Wrath of Khan has basically killed Star Trek Movies ever since at least Generations. Hell, the last two films we got were complete rehashes, with the newest involving Khan himself for no reason.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    I’d say they only have one problem, and it’s the cause of all the above and more, the writing was bad.
    Bad writing is what is also wrong with nu-Trek.
    Real science fiction is hard to write. Space Fantasy is easy to write. Science Fiction requires ideas and the exploration of those ideas. Ideas are the tent poles of science fiction. Space Fantasy is just hand waving pixie-faeries with ray guns.
    I’m not laying it all at the feet of the writers, they have been capable, but they certainly weren’t allowed to write anything worthwhile. You have to lay most of the blame at the feet of the producers. The people responsible for the films got exactly what they wanted and what they wanted was shallow pandering dumb action crap.

    What’s really galling is not that they did this for TNG but that their nu-Trek “reboot” simply doubled down on the dumb.
    Did the crappy TNG films kill the franchise? I say they did. People point to how much the franchise changed after TNG but fail to recognize how much it changed during TNG. Towards the end of its run TNG had adopted piecemeal all the bad habits that would sink all future attempts.

    So that brings us to the BIGGEST problem with the franchise – the fans. The producers gave the fans what they wanted based on the loudest most obnoxious voices and those voices have defined Trek ever since. Die hard TNG fans have been particularly guilty of this eagerly slamming EVERYTHING that is not TNG and refusing to admit the better qualities of any series in the franchise which is not TNG.

    • Gallen_Dugall

      In many ways Star Wars got lucky when the prequels were just mediocre. The same attitude, that everything must be the best ever or worst ever and therefore the prequels must be the worst ever, is just as pervasive there. As a result everything that was different about the Star Wars prequels has been the subject of exhaustive fan vitriol. As a result of this the new films, as well as The Clone Wars and Rebels, have gone back to source.
      Unfortunately the fans claim that all the shallow pandering action crap TNG introduced is what makes it “the greatest ever” so they can’t go back to source with Trek.
      Second problem is that Trek lost a lot of fans who were alienated by the rabid jackassery of the best-ever-worst-ever crowd. There’s only so many times you can correct people who… think… Shatner… talks… like… this… because… TOS… isn’t… TNG… and… therefore… SUCKS!!! and seriously go watch one of the DS9 episodes where Avery Brooks was in full scenery chewing mode. I for one am glad the franchise is dead. I say let it stay dead.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        I wouldn’t start holding the eulogy yet, Gallen. ^^
        Personally, I have no Trek-movie, that I absolutely dispise. I’m not a big fan of TWOK, but even that one is a great flick.

        • Gallen_Dugall

          It has been dead since Insurrection. The corpse keeps getting trotted out to be squeezed for a few more dollars, but there’s no life in it.
          Really too bad too since the new cast is, like all of their casts, really good.
          It couldn’t survive scripts written to meet marketing department generated key points, pander to rabid shallow fan interest, and lowest common denominator mass market appeal.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            So, we all, that go and see the movies (Abrams-Trek for example) – what are we then?
            Couldn’t it be, that we, who go to see the movies, are okay with what we get?
            Couldn’t it be, that those, who are saying, that those movies (from Insurrection onward) are bad, are just a bit annoyed, that things aren’t the way, they supposed to be in 1994?

    • Clu Gulager Alert!

      I place blame with the studio as well, perhaps more than any other party. Paramount has a history of micromanaging Star Trek properties to appeal to (what they think are) the largest audiences, rather than putting someone who understands the universe in an EP role and letting them do their thing.

      • Gallen_Dugall

        Fair enough analysis for the films, but my point is that it started falling apart in TNG, bit by bit. Fans, writers, producers, and studio execs all contributed misunderstanding about what kinds of stories the franchise is designed to be telling. The films just exaggerate all the flaws.
        I heard Micheal Dorn say he wanted his proposed Captain Worf show to go back to the roots of taking modern issues and presenting those within the show’s context. Modern TV writers can’t manage such complex writing. They can barely manage to string together who’s-sleeping-with-who plot arcs these days, and when they try you get horrible self rightous crap like Force of Nature or a lot of what made it into Voyager.

  • Sardu

    I like TMP because it’s actual science-f*cking fiction. It’s the only movie in the whole series with a sense of wonder and grandeur. It’s the only one with a concept grander than “O sh!t That crazy guy wants to take over the galaxy!!” I could watch the V’ger fly-over for four hours. And it’s character driven. Sure it has flaws- some bad acting for sure, and dated production design but so what. A lot of the pacing and plot flaws were clewed up in the director’s edition. It and WOK are the only two Trek films of all of them that deserve to live alongside either of the first two series. Wrath may have been an action movie but it was still character driven. Every film after that has been nothing but an appalling action-driven mess and it grows worse with every iteration.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Preach on, brother! I realize the film could be slow in spots, but yeah, it feels like a full-on sci fi film.

      But what I also love about it is how big a deal the gang getting back together feels. Bearded McCoy coming off the transporter, Spock’s entrance, I just love it.

      • Muthsarah

        TMP does feels like a victory lap. The story is almost inconsequential, the point is just being there.

        And are we seriously bashing III, IV, and VI here? Below an article about the TNG films? In a time after the Abrams’…things? Sure, the Weimar Republic had its issues. Looks pretty good in retrospect, dun’t it?

        Yeah, I went there.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          I prefer VI to II to be honest.

          • Muthsarah

            An…interesting perspective, to be sure. I’ve been rewatching them this week. I’ll tuck that away for when I get to VI. Have you always preferred VI?

            Until recently, I thought II > III/IV/VI (tied) > I > V. Upon rewatch, IV pulled ahead of III (although Christopher Lloyd in III beats any single thing in IV). So already, my tastes have changed over the years.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            I’ve always preferred IV, yes. But I’m a history buff and I like the Cold War parallels and the political intrigue and stuff. Also, I think I saw more of VI when I was younger than II, so a bit of nostalgia may be at play.

            But in general, I think VI feels…BIGGER, than II does, given the stakes (a rogue madman vs intergalactic conspiracy and war), and it works brilliantly as a conclusion to the original series, since it wraps up the Federation-Klingon conflict that underpinned the show. Wrath of Khan is good, but Khan was originally just a villain of the week and he’s better remembered for what he does in that film than anything else. Wrath of Khan is about the characters; Undiscovered Country is about the characters and the established themes and setting.

  • While I would point out that my favorite Star Trek movie is a TNG movie, that movie is also a sequel to an episode, and was the first purely TNG movie. Didn’t care too much for the follow-ups and I still have yet to see 6 or 7.

  • Uzair Uzair

    Other than First Contact, the TNG films are widely regarded as mediocre to terrible, so a title like “5 reasons the TNG movies weren’t that good” isn’t necessary when most would agree. I love First Contact , but the rest of the TNG movies are just meh.

  • NameWithheldByRequest

    Reading this article again, in the new year, I realized that maybe the problem wasn’t so much that the TNG movies didn’t capture the spirit of the series, but that maybe they brought too much of the series to the big screen. Looking back at the miserable disappointment that was the TNG series of movies, I’m inclined to agree with Rob, that maybe they should have done something akin to what The Motion Picture did. Have the movies take place a few years (maybe a decade) later, reintroduce the characters, have a refitted Enterprise, and so on… Essentially, a soft reboot. Having the movies continue directly from where the series left off, I think, was a big mistake. If anything, the TNG movies, at least for me anyway, never really felt like movies. They felt like the TV show projected onto the big screen. Of course, all this speculation depends on a creative staff that is, well, creative… and that is probably asking too much…