Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 1 of 12)

The Cast of Characters:
Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, and Marina Sirtis as Picard and the Usual Gang of IdiotsPicard and the Usual Gang of Idiots (Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, and Marina Sirtis). The crew of the Enterprise D. Just for a switch, let’s do it Gilligan’s Island style. The Captain, the bearded guy too! The android and the Klingon! The blind guy! The doctor and empathic shrink, here on Enterprise D! If you’ve read my other TNG recap, you know who’s getting the spotlight here. I’ll give you a hint: it’s the bald guy and the android.
William Shatner as Captain KirkCaptain Kirk (William Shatner). Let us now praise William Shatner, who managed to get star billing and a big payday for a glorified cameo in which he, let’s see, fries some eggs and then dies, twice.
James Doohan as ScottyScotty (James Doohan). Former engineer of the Enterprise. He’s only here because Nimoy backed out, so he gets Spock’s dry snarkery mixed in with his own compulsory “she canna take it” griping.
Walter Koenig as ChekovChekov (Walter Koenig). Former navigator of the Enterprise. Chekov is likewise standing in for Dr. McCoy here, which is why he’s able to turn paparazzi into nurses. It’s a useful power in certain situations.
Malcolm McDowell as SoranSoran (Malcolm McDowell). Our guest villain for the movie. A crazed scientist who really wants to get into a vague energy ribbon so he can rejoin his dead family… sort of. Couldn’t he just shoot himself? For a Trek villain he’s unbearably bland, despite getting the plum assignment of killing Kirk, but he compensates by giving Shatner a run for his money as the movie’s largest ham.
Whoopi Goldberg as GuinanGuinan (Whoopi Goldberg). Enterprise bartender. She’s here basically to provide unbelievably vague and “mystic” exposition. Plus, this way the filmmakers can say they have an Oscar winner in the cast.
Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh as The Klingon SistersThe Klingon Sisters (Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh). A pair of treacherous sisters from TNG episodes that probably no one outside of the actresses, their friends, families, and hardcore fans care the slightest bit about. Their presence in the movie reads like a midterm assignment from Plot Complications 101.

After the original Enterprise crew was given a nice sendoff in 1991 with the sixth movie, it only made sense to do the next Star Trek film with the cast from The Next Generation.

The decision was made at some point to use actors from the original series to serve as a bridge between the two casts. Spock and McCoy were initially supposed to be involved, but Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley declined, largely because they were expected to show up for the first scene trailing along with Kirk like they were his entourage or something, and they’d already said goodbye in the previous movie, anyway. So James Doohan and Walter Koenig were brought in like the poor man’s Spock and McCoy, giving you a sense from the very beginning that after all these years, the doddering Trek franchise was degenerating into the road company version of itself.

With Kirk and cronies dispensed with early on, for the rest of the film we’re left with (a) the overlarge yet perfunctory TNG cast that’s entirely peripheral to (b) a soggy, vague story featuring (c) a villain played by a noted character actor, and (d) some really unfunny humor. In other words, it’s the blueprint for all the Next Generation movies. This is unfortunate, given the film was intended to be a sort of a passing of the torch from the original crew to the new one. The fans were hoping for something really stirring, and they got a big pile of mush instead.

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Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Tag: The Star Trek Movies

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  • Jake

    Over the years, many have (rightfully) said that both The Godfather Part III & Alien 3 would probably be viewed as good films had they been the first in their respective series. Do you think the same could apply to Generations had we never seen Kirk or Picard prior to this film?

    • Shoebox

      I don’t know about Ed, but I really, really doubt it. Reading this recap, all I can think of is how much slack I initially cut it because, y’know, Star Trek, and all the little in-jokes and stuff… (and actually, I still think that Data’s ‘lovely lit-tle life-FORMS!’ scene works well on that level).

      But as a cinematic experience, this recap was dead-on. If you don’t give it the grace of the existing fan affection, it’s not even a crappy movie — just a fair-to-middling NextGen TV two-parter, with the lights turned down a bit.

    • Ed

      I think that if you take the Trek out of it, it’s still a confusing science fiction adventure with a murky plot with really not much happening and some major holes in the story.

  • The problem with these agonybooth reviews is they try too hard to criticize everything rather than only the things that deserve it. Is it really a big problem that the Enterprise-B wasn’t a brand new class of vessel? Considering that each generation of the Federation only seems to have 2-4 main classes of starships, no, it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, it’s more plausible to have it be an existing class of ship than to have it be one of a kind. Or the idea that it’s horrible for the crew of the Enterprise to have a clue what their own shield frequency is. Or the idea that the echo of Guinan makes no sense. The Nexus can supply any fantasy you want – and Picard doesn’t want fake-fantasy happiness, he wants real life, so the Nexus includes an explanation of how to get out of the Nexus and back to real life.

    • Monoceros4

      “The problem with these agonybooth reviews is they try too hard to criticize everything rather than only the things that deserve it.”

      Yeah, but “the things that deserve it” and “everything” are rather synonymous with this movie, no?

    • Capt. Harlock

      Since the Enterprise in TOS was a Constellation-Class vessel, I have no problems with E-B being an Excelsior-Class ship.

  • Monoceros4

    God, Data. How did anyone ever like a character who was, at bottom, a ham actor’s attempt at coming across like an autistic three-year-old?

    • Ed

      Your guess is as good as mine. I never cared for the character, even in episodes that were fairly decent. The concept is okay, it’s just that the execution was really, really off and the worst part of it is that said poor execution went through seven seasons and four movies.

  • Constable

    Please add more entries/episodes/movies to Worst of Trek!

    • edharris1178

       Glad you enjoyed it.  Not sure if there are any coming soon but there’s always a chance I’ll suddenly get the urge to do one.

  • Si80

    The more I think about it, the more Data seems like Star Trek’s answer to the typical Spielberg-ian man child – the intelligent, awkward (can I add autistic?) outsider who simply wants to be liked. And that’s not really a crime in itself, is it?

  • packman_jon

    “Have they forgotten how to make circuit breakers in the future?”

    Clearly the Eugenics Wars caused whatever advancements to prevent arc flashing (a technical term for that effect) to cease to exist.  Seriously, we do a better job at stopping it now than in the 24th century!  A Trek cliche that I try to ignore otherwise it would drive me nuts!

  • Arch9enius

    Candles in Guinan’s quarters? Does anybody else remember what happenned when space oirish tried to make Poteen in the cargo bay? I suppose you could light a cabin with lots of sparkly force-fields, though.

    I’m pretty certain that warbird blowing up found it’s way into the ‘Atom Zone’ coin-op at the beginning of Alien Resurrection. Irwin Allen Would have been proud, too.

    I laughed at that thing with the Duras Sisters watching Beverly Crusher in Geordie’s Pinto air filter (it is); even though it came hot on the heels of Crusher being shot in soft-focus with such a gooey expression I thought “wait..really?”. I guess the joke was so bad I admired it’s balls for showing up anyway..

    Anyway, has anyone noticed both times Deanna drove the 1701, she bent it? Not that we make such sexist jokes in the future… (edit: yes, nearly everybody has.)

    “Antonia here is being suddenly presented as Kirk’s One True Love.” Didn’t she get a mention in the first film ? Or just the One True Love that’s popped into his head right then… Does Kirk have ADHD, he’s got the attention span of a puppy judging by what goes on in the nexus.

    By the look that cat’s giving Brent Spiner, the feeling’s mutual. When I read the caption about slash fiction, I though it involved claws/the tip of Data’s nose.

    Odd-things-to-say-wise, “Oh my” is up there with “I, have had, enough, of YOU!”

    Why don’t they fix it so you can play the deleted scenes in the actual movie? Would it require some sort of software? As well as putting the deleted scenes on the same disk obviosly

    “Chekov, in a line no doubt originally intended for Spock, remarks he was actually thirty-five meters off.” I dunno, maybe he was a mathematical genius after all. I thought that was in yhe new film to make him more useful (maybe a backup for when Spock is roaming the halls, weeping and wailing).