Apr 27, 2018
Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 7 of 12)
Back on the Klingon ship, Soran is trying to intimidate Geordi into giving him the Enterprise’s shield frequencies. It’s at this point that he makes the remark about being a great listener, while “ironically” not shutting up.
Cut back to the Enterprise, as Picard logs a report stating that Crusher has discovered that the malfunctioning emotion chip has fused into Data’s head and cannot be removed. Despite this, she’s cleared him for duty [?] and we get a scene with Picard and Data in the Stellar Cartography part of the ship. I guess this was a big deal with Trekkies at the time, seeing a new part of the ship. Actually, it’s rendered in a fairly neat manner, though it looks nothing like the Stellar Cartography section we saw in an earlier TNG episode.
Before we get into it, I should also note the establishing shot of the ship looks suspiciously like stock footage from the series blown up and enhanced for the movie.
The scene flip flops between tracking the Nexus, and Data getting worked up about how his newfound emotions endangered his best friend Geordi. Data even asks to be shut down at one point, before Picard yells at him and essentially orders him to grow a pair. The scene almost works, as Stewart is his usual commanding self, but Spiner overdoes it a bit, trying to match Stewart for intensity.
In fact, the decision to have the two conversations in the same scene hurts both plots. The tracking of the Nexus is important to the movie, but the emotion chip conundrum is comparatively trivial—something that could have easily been placed in any episode from the series. This scene minimizes the importance of the A plot, makes the B plot even more trivial, and tries to distract the audience with well-rendered computer imaging that’s constantly in motion, so the whole thing is a little disorienting.
Interestingly, the writers’ commentary on the special edition DVD does address this. While I’m hard on the writing team, I do applaud their ability to admit their faults on the track. Still, at the end of the day, they’re partly responsible for the fact that this film is not just a mess, but a hodgepodge of messes.
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Data, tracking the energy ribbon’s movement through space, determines it’s headed for the Veridian system. Hey, that’s the same system Soran is on his way to! That particular system includes a populated planet, which of course raises the stakes, since the only way Soran can get into the Nexus is by destroying a star, removing a gravitational impact on the ribbon, and forcing it in a new direction—In this case, onto one of the planets in the Veridian system, where Soran presumably will be waiting.
Of course, Picard, like the rest of us, is wondering why Soran can’t just take a ship into the ribbon, rather than waiting for it on a planet. But according to Data, every ship that’s gotten close to the ribbon has been either destroyed or damaged, which rules out the “fly into the goddamn ribbon” option.
But wait. How did Soran get into the Nexus in the first place? On a ship. How did Guinan get into the Nexus? On a ship. How did (spoiler ahead!) Kirk get into the Nexus? On… a ship. Sure, the ships themselves were damaged, but it seems pretty clear, even from the evidence that Soran has at hand, that the Nexus shreds starships but sucks up the people unharmed.
Soran comes onto the bridge of the Klingon ship, as Brunhilda toys idly with her hair. Well, with all that hair, I suppose it was inevitable we’d see a Klingon doing that at some point. I wonder if Klingon girls have slumber parties?
Soran has Geordi’s VISOR, and mentions that he got nothing out of the man, because “His heart just wasn’t in it,” which is a reference to an unused torture scene I’m not sure made it past the script stage. I’m honestly glad we were spared that.
After some pointless bartering over payment, Soran is ready to beam down to Veridian III (not the planet with people on it, but another world in the system—the one he’s redirecting the ribbon towards). Meanwhile, the Enterprise wanders into the system.
Soran tells the sisters to take care of the Enterprise. Helga whines that their little Klingon warbird is no match for a Galaxy-class starship. Remember this for later.
Soran suggests they give Geordi his VISOR back. Okay, that’ll even the odds!
On the bridge of the Enterprise, our heroes are stumped as to how to find the Klingon ship. Worf has more bad news: they won’t be able to shoot down the probe. As seasoned Trek watchers, we know this means the only solution will be for Picard to talk the villain to death.
The Klingon ship decloaks in front of our heroes, making the whole finding-them thing pointless. A back-and-forth negotiation takes place. Picard gets the sisters to send him down to the surface where Soran is, in exchange for Geordi. The exchange is made and we get a look at the planet.
Well, this looks a bit like the God planet in the fifth movie, rocky and barren. Actually, that’s not really fair. The location is quite spectacular to look at. Picard beams down (sans communicator) near Soran, who has a platform with some metal bridges and a larger platform on top of a mountain. Soran taunts Picard a bit, and we find out he has a huge force field protecting his work area when Picard walks right into it. Bzzzzt! Sorry, thanks for playing.
Back on the Klingon ship, it turns out Soran installed a hidden camera in Geordi’s VISOR. The sisters can now see whatever Geordi sees, and this first thing he sees is Crusher’s smiling face.
Helga: Ugh, human females are so repulsive!
Ha ha, get it? Because the sisters are ugly with nasty ass teeth!
In sickbay, Geordi is given a moderate bill of health, and Data offers an abject apology. But Geordi shrugs it off, telling Data that he was simply “acting like a human”. Yeah, and what an improvement. Data went from being a harmless walking thesaurus to a coward with a serious bipolar disorder, and we’re supposed to celebrate?
Back on the planet, we get the inevitable big Acting! scene between Soran and Picard, which… actually works very well. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best scene of the movie, but that’s mostly because the rest of the movie is frustratingly sucky.
Soran insists that his way is the only way to get back to the Nexus. We see a huge missile that was hidden by a cloaking device (why?), which is the missile Soran will use to destroy the Veridian star. Picard, attempting to get under Soran’s skin, tries a comparison between Soran’s plan and the Borg, but Soran won’t bite. He replies that his experience with the Borg taught him that death is the only constant.
It boils down to talk of beating time, which Soran calls a predator, and both Patrick Stewart and Malcolm McDowell give nicely low key performances here.
McDowell may actually be too low key here and elsewhere: According to the movie, his character is supposed to be deranged by his need to return to the ribbon, unhinging his moral compass enough to allow him to commit genocide, but McDowell just isn’t giving us deranged at all. It’s a good performance, but it’s an unmemorable one, and certainly not the one that’s called for by the plot. In the end, it’s just a technically solid performance by a solid actor, nothing more. As I said before, this movie screws up even the things it does right.