Jan 24, 2020
Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 1 of 12)
The Cast of Characters:
Picard 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.
Captain 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.
Scotty (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.
Chekov (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.
Soran (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.
Guinan (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.
The 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.