Star Trek: Generations (1994)
August 26, 2020 8:11 AM - Subscribe

A space anomaly appears to kill Captain James T. Kirk. But 78 years later, he emerges from the anomaly alongside Captain Jean-Luc Picard—onto his last battlefield.

This first section of background comes from the authoritative Trek fan wiki Memory Alpha (there's much more at the link, of course):
• Then-current TNG writing staffers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, whose script was ultimately greenlighted, at first bandied about ideas which involved the two Enterprise crews battling each other, the pair of writers quickly abandoned this concept. Ron Moore explained, in 1994: "The best possible poster you could ever hope to have for this picture would show you the two Enterprises battling against each other. We all tried our best, but we were never able to come up with any scenario that made both crews look heroic. No matter how we played around with this thing, somebody was gonna come off looking like the bad guy."

• Braga and Moore nonetheless continued searching for a major "event" to anchor the film. Recalled Moore: "One of us just kinda threw out, 'What if we kill Kirk?' And we all kinda looked at each other and said, 'Wow. That would be amazing.' …From that point on, Kirk's death became part of the fabric of our story, and as a big surprise to us all, there was never a moment where it really came into question."

• The name of the film's villain, "Moresh", was later changed to Dr. "Soran" to avoid recalling David Koresh, the infamous cultist.

• The early scripts featured large action set pieces that were later removed. Among them was the Romulan attack on the Amargosa observatory, cut when TNG writer (and Star Trek: Voyager co-creator) Jeri Taylor suggested something more "charming". Another major revision to the script revolved around the Duras sisters and their crew: surviving the destruction of their ship, they would have battled the Enterprise-D crew in the jungles of Veridian III.

• Stating that they had felt their characters made sufficient exits in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley declined to appear in Star Trek VII. Leonard Nimoy – having been offered the director's chair – reportedly requested script changes, but was rebuffed. Nimoy explained the issues he had with the Generations script and why he declined to appear. After proclaiming that "there was no Spock role in that script", he elaborated: "There were five or six lines attributed to Spock […] but it had nothing to do with Spock. They were not Spock-like in any way. I said to Rick Berman, 'You could distribute these lines to any one of the other characters and it wouldn't make any difference.' And that is exactly what he did."

• Later drafts of Generations and the full TNG finale "All Good Things..." were written simultaneously. This often led the writers to mix the stories up. In their joint 2004 commentary for the Star Trek Generations (Special Edition) DVD, they admitted that they felt "All Good Things…" turned out to be the superior effort.

• Last minute decisions included the hiring of actor Malcolm McDowell as the man who would (at least in the final draft script) gun down Captain Kirk, reportedly later receiving death threats from obsessed fans. The actor's nephew and DS9 star Alexander Siddig later said during an interview that McDowell thought the script was "shit".

• Captain Picard's chair was stolen from the set mere hours before shooting was scheduled to commence. A new one was quickly fabricated.

• Arguably one of the film's most memorable sequences, the crash of the Enterprise-D was shot almost entirely live by ILM. Storyboarded by Mark Moore, the shots were achieved through the creation of a twelve-foot model of the Enterprise-D saucer section and a large landscape model. Suspended by large cables, the saucer model was repeatedly flown into the landscape, shot with high speed cameras and then slowed down in post production and mixed with several composite shots of Veridian III. The saucer section's crash was inspired by drawings of an emergency saucer landing in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual.

• Test audiences reacted poorly to the originally-shot ending wherein Soran kills Kirk by shooting him in the back. Moore commented: "The executives believed in the picture and said basically, 'You've got a good movie here, but you need to fix the ending.' So Brannon, Rick, and I put our heads together and struggled to come up with a workable way to reshoot the death of Kirk [...] Brannon and I talked over many, many different sequence involving various weapons, devices, hidden underground laboratories that Soran may have hidden under the mountain, phaser fights, cat and mouse chases, etc. but ultimately they all proved impractical, uninteresting, prohibitively expensive, or all of the above. The bridge gag came to us as we watched the footage over and over and realized that we might be able to use the established set pieces to our advantage. The studio, the director and the actors all liked the new version and so that's what we went with."

• Scripted and shot at the request of William Shatner, the film's original opening featuring Kirk skydiving from orbit to find Scott and Chekov waiting on the ground below was among the many scenes cut, replaced with the champagne bottle opening.

• The official website for Star Trek Generations, created on 28 October 1994, was the first site on the internet to officially publicize a feature film.

• Giving the film two stars out of a possible four, Roger Ebert concluded: "Star Trek seems to cross the props of science fiction with the ideas of Westerns. Watching the fate of millions being settled by an old-fashioned fistfight on a rickety steel bridge (intercut with closeups of the bolts popping loose and the structure sagging ominously), I was almost amused by the shabby storytelling. Why doesn't more movie science fiction have the originality and imagination of its print origins? In Stargate, the alien god Ra was able to travel the universe, yet still needed slaves to build his pyramids. In Star Trek Generations, the starship can go boldly where no one has gone before, but the screenwriters can only do vice versa."

• Regarding some of the oft-mentioned plot discrepancies within the film, Moore commented: "Our reasoning (and it's admittedly thin) is that Picard didn't want to go back any further in time than absolutely necessary since he knows the extreme dangers of unexpected results from any tampering with the timeline. Okay, it's not much, but there it is."

• Elise, Picard's wife in the Nexus, was played by Kim Braden, who appeared as Ensign Brooks in TNG: "The Loss."
The following quotes come from The Fifty-Year Mission, an unauthorized history of the Trek franchise which I've previously championed on FanFare as worthwhile for Trekkies:
William Shatner: "I've never liked the science-fiction game of time travel. [...] We used it, in effect, with this movie, and it's used with great effect…with good effect…it serves the purpose."

Brannon Braga, co-writer, on original director Leonard Nimoy: "Nimoy read the script and hated it and felt the only aspect of the script that was interesting was Data's emotion chip story, but he hated everything else. By the way, he probably wasn't wrong. Rick [Berman] and Leonard were very good friends, but he refused to direct the picture without a rewrite, and Rick said no, and they never spoke again. They were both pissed at each other."

Leonard Nimoy: "My feeling about Generations is very negative. Star Trek seven was a media event. Generations… two captains meet at the Nexus. Okay. Something to sell. And they sold very hard on it."

Malcolm McDowell: "I really—in my mind—had this idea that this man [Soran] was like a drug addict who had to get a fix and wouldn't let anything divert him from that."

Herman Zimmerman, production designer: "The Enterprise never looked so good as it did at the beginning of the movie, but it was only for about three days until we started tearing it apart. [...] Soon the Voyager set was sitting in that location."

Ronald D. Moore, co-writer: "What I remember is the struggle of getting it done and how hard it was. And how determined we were to make it work. Then watching it and feeling that our reach was exceeding our grasp and it wasn't going to quite come off. [...] It got a big box office number when it premiered, so that was great, but now I feel like it's a miss. We didn't succeed in achieving any of our goals on that. I feel like we were so hamstrung by the list of requirements that had to go into it, and we had to construct a story around those elements. So, as a result, the movie kind of looked like that. [...] It doesn't feel like it has an organic life to it."

Ronald B. Moore, visual effects supervisor: "When we finally wrapped, it was an emotional moment, but Patrick [Stewart] seemed to be taking it very well. He got out of his costume, walked down a hallway to leave the building, and walked straight into a plate glass window. He almost knocked himself out cold."
And this last section of background comes from the film's Wikipedia page:
• Producer Rick Berman informed [Alan Ruck] that the character was from a wealthy and connected family, and was placed in command as a stepping stone to a political career.

• Kenneth Turan, James Berardinelli, and Roger Ebert called the film safe. Turan wrote that Generations relied heavily on viewers' appreciation for the Star Trek television series, and Berardinelli and People's Ralph Novak felt that the film felt like a longer version of the television series. Jay Carr of The Boston Globe described the film as "reassuringly predictable", saying that it featured elements that would be recognizable by the fans of both series, but said that the "lack of surprises" was a benefit in this instance.

• The meeting of Kirk and Picard prompted comparisons between the two respective actors, Stewart's performance often winning the day. Berardinelli and Ebert wrote that Kirk's lack of presence through much of the film was still keenly felt. [...] Novak wrote that Data's subplot of learning about emotions was a highlight and probably the most enjoyable part of the film for non-fans, while Ebert said that the premise "could have led to some funny scenes, but doesn't."

"They say time is like the fire in which we burn."
- Soran, to Picard

"All you'll want is to stay in the Nexus… and you're not gonna want to come back."
- Guinan, to Picard on the addictive nature of the Nexus

"Part of having feelings is learning to integrate them into your life, Data. Learning to live with them. No matter what the circumstances."
- Picard

"Close to retirement?"
"Not planning on it."
"Let me tell you something. Don't. Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there, you can make a difference."
- Kirk and Picard

"It was… fun… Oh, my."
- Kirk's dying words to Picard

Poster's Log:
This has the distinction of being the first Trek film that I had legitimate doubts about when it came out. (I hadn't been clued in to the Hollywood rumor mill during the time of The Final Frontier.) I should say at the outset that TOS isn't my top Trek, though I like Kirk and crew, and love a few TOS episodes and pre-GEN movies. The doubt probably had to do with Nimoy passing on it; I had the spidey-sense that that was significant. I imagine Trekkies more hardcore than I was at the time were even more concerned on that basis.

My main emotional response to the initial viewing—apart from fiery indignation at the arbitrariness of the 1701-D's destruction, which is a sentiment shared by Bernd of Ex Astris Scientia—was a curious…disorientation is too strong a word, but certainly a kind of foggy cognitive reeling. And that's only partly due to the handful of deliberately (and effectively) hallucinogenic sequences. It was ineffably weird not only to see the Enterprise-D and her crew on the big screen, but with this vastly different framerate, and cinematography, and tone. (And Cameron as a Starfleet captain.) And it was maybe most of all due to the fact that this story just doesn't flow like a normal story. In a way, I like that; it gives this film a sense of "anything can happen," which it needed to have, given the Kirk/Picard reunion hype and the nature of the Nexus. I praise what I perceive as its effort to be unpredictable. But the moment Picard beams down to Veridian III, the momentum hits a brick wall. As does the disjointed story—for instance, Lursa and B'Etor's motivations stop making sense once they start negotiating with Picard.

I think I agree with "Berardinelli and Ebert [...] that Kirk's lack of presence through much of the film" was a major issue, not because Shatner Is God or anything, but structurally. He "bookends" the movie; we get the lengthy opening 1701-B stuff, Kirk seems to die, then the film seems to forget about Kirk for a subjectively really long time. You can't do that with Kirk; he's Kirk—we're gonna think about him, especially after he "dies." Seeing Guinan on the refugee ship is not quite a clear enough narrative clue that Kirk will return in the 24th century via this Nexus doohickey, and thus, the audience is left with split attention. I don't know if that's the biggest problem with this script, but I feel like it IS a problem and it's one that affects a lot of other moving parts.

Another critique that I've heard and agree with is that bringing back the TOS crew for this movie (and worse, bringing back only *some*) cheapens the grand-finale-ness of The Undiscovered Country in a similar way to how Terminator 3 cheapens Terminator 2 (i.e., "We beat Skynet" / "No you didn't", "It's our last space adventure" / "No it's not"). I might not feel that way to the same extent had they postponed the initial Shatner/Doohan/Koenig stuff for later in the film (maybe even as a flashback of Kirk's?) which might additionally have felt less weird structurally. But then you're back to the problem of the audience being distracted waiting for Shatner. Maybe the Nexus was too mindbendy a plot device to use for the first TNG film? Or maybe the story issue is insoluble unless Shatner and Stewart are somehow teamed up in the first ten minutes? Certainly, that would resolve another objection that I doubt I'm alone in: this long-awaited and heavily-promoted Kirk/Picard team-up is…just them hanging around a ranch? We could have had Kirk on the -D's bridge fer cryin' out loud -_-

What I do always enjoy is the TNG crew in the Napoleonic navy uniforms, the dramatic lighting, the fact that Guinan has a big role here, stellar cartography living up to its adjective, and of course the glory shots of the Enterprise-B. (Not nearly enough of those for the -D in this.) And I praise Braga and Moore's boldness in choosing a theme of wrenching, profound loss for this hype-heavy of a film; if your dominant metric is "it's actually about more than just lasers and ships," Generations isn't a failure. Really, most of the film's first half is pretty solid—engaging, quick, and very Trek. It could have been reshot into shape had the studio been willing to delay release.

Poster's Log (Supplemental):
I get the sense that, had they been given an opportunity to interact for longer than like an hour, Kirk and Picard would have gotten along pretty well. After all, Kirk and Riker have a lot in common (by design, of course), and Picard on at least one occasion calls Riker the finest officer he's ever served with.

Data not understanding humor is consistent with his tutor on the subject.

Here's a "Looper" piece all about GuinanGenerations being her last appearance of significance (she does have a cameo in Nemesis), at least until her reportedly-done-deal return in PIC season 2!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a "Looper" piece all about Guinan …Generations being her last appearance of significance (she does have a cameo in Nemesis), at least until her reportedly-done-deal return in PIC season 2!

Oh, man, I loved that when Patrick Stewart surprised her with the invitation to join the cast when he was on The View.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

I re-watched this one a few weeks back for the first time since seeing it in the cinema as a teen. I agree the first half has a lot to recommend it, the weirdness most of all (the Nexus has a bit of a 2001 Space Odyssey star gate sequence flavour ... but trek ... on a ranch).
What angered me about the movie, as someone with slightly too much affection for Picard, is what they did to him with the deaths of his brother & nephew. Stewart acts the hell out of the reaction to that news, but it felt like a cruel thing to do to the character.
McDowell vs Shatner is quite fun, that’s a heck of a lot of A-grade ham.
posted by threecheesetrees at 8:43 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think I still like Generations a lot purely because TNG was "my Trek"-- I don't have a lot of sentimentality around TOS and how Gen undercuts VI, or Kirk basically only having cameos. It's a TNG movie to me, and I think it works in that regard.

Picard's loss here obviously feeds a lot of ST:Pic in regards to legacy etc. I appreciate the emotionality; it's super different for the character but it works.
posted by supercres at 9:05 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Renegade Cut: Generations is good, actually

The Playmates action figures for the movie featured the aborted new uniforms which would have debuted in the film. They also did a Kirk figure from the deleted skydiving sequence.

Star Trek CCG featured this film in The Motion Pictures set, further expanding on the 'tos movie timeline' crew, in particular: The Enterprise-B, Captain Cameron, The Other Sulu, and a couple redshirts.

In terms of the metagame, the movie crew was mostly kinda ok. At this point there were completely OP Delta Federation and Hirogen factions you could play. They gave Tom Paris six skills for jeez sakes! Back in Premiere and for some time afterward, that distinction was limited to Picard. And you could play two copies of all your VOY rares...

Speaking of shameless money grabs, here's the Ultra-Rare(1 per 144 packs) James T Kirk.

There's also a small card cycle representing the plot of the film: The Nexus, Lure of the Nexus, and Dr. Soran.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:58 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

This movie was The Movie of my 1994, aged 13. It was A Big Deal. My big Trekker friend and I were counting down for the release. We were there opening night. It was a thrill to see the Enterprise-D on the big screen, and my favorite shot from the entire movie is the moment where Picard orders "Warp one, engage!" to outrun the Amargosa shockwave and we see the Enterprise do this little spinny-turn thing in space and zip away just before the shockwave obliterates the observatory. (Which, really, a massive destructive energy wave is coming at you and you saunter off at warp one? Floor it, man! You're in space!) Seeing Kirk and Picard together was a thrill even if, at the time, I wasn't a TOS guy.

The Enterprise-D crashing on Veridian III is a long sequence that you have a feeling will be undone by the time travel, but surprisingly wasn't which was a bold storytelling choice (and this was a discarded idea for the show's Season 6 cliffhanger). The Enterprise is practically a character unto herself and here they killed her off on her big screen debut. I know that the sets and models were just TV-quality and weren't meant for the big screen so they had to hide the lower detail levels with darker lighting and were eager to replace the D with a new ship designed for film, but crashing her like this just hurt. She truly went before her time. (Incidentally, the Defiant cameos in the next film, First Contact, and has the same issue with the lights all being burnt out on the bridge because they had to hide the TV quality set design)

On first watch this was an amazing movie, but the more you think about it and the more you look at it, the more it comes undone. The Nexus time travel / spiritual travel thing doesn't make any sense even by Star Trek standards. Where does your physical body go when "inside" the Nexus? How can you leave the Nexus and return to any point in time if the Nexus is not always everywhere? How do you leave a seemingly sentient afterimage of yourself in the Nexus after you've left? Why do Picard and Kirk have to defeat Soran on their first time teamed up together? I mean, if it looks like they're going to lose the fight, just let Soran win and call the Nexus back over to the planet. It will scoop them all up again, Picard and Kirk can regroup then go back in time to the planet and take another run at it.

I wish the production had just kept the familiar TV uniforms as the standard. Flipping the characters back and forth into DS9 jumpsuits looked awful, largely because everyone but Picard and Data had to wear hand-me-downs from the DS9 set. Riker is wearing Sisko's uniform which doesn't fit him so well. These people need a tailor! I know a plain, simple guy that could've done it.

I know the writers were on a time crunch and were burnt out after writing "All Good Things" but I really feel they wasted the Kirk/Picard team-up here. I've read that the other ideas they were kicking around involved Picard using a holodeck Kirk to help him solve a problem which really wouldn't have worked. The fans wanted to see the real Kirk. Riding horses on a ranch really feels lackluster. There had to be a better, more satisfying use of Kirk that I wish they'd found. And then they kill him off at the end and Picard buries him on the planet under some rocks. Kirk is one of Starfleet's biggest heroes; don't you think they'd want to honor him with a proper burial somewhere? Nope! Just leave him under some rocks. At least he didn't die alone.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

What an oddly lightweight film, for all that it does and tries to do. The idea that both Kirk and Picard, the pre-eminent warriors, diplomats and explorers of their respective eras, could be united in regrets about the roads that they didn't take--and Soren, the villain, is likewise trying to get back to the paradise that he briefly experienced in the Nexus--is an idea with deep roots in the franchise (Kirk mourned his lack of a life outside his Starfleet career on numerous occasions only to regret when he took a desk job on Earth; Picard had similar misgivings on at least one occasion ("Family")), and it could have been the foundation of a much more epic movie, even above and beyond the other landmark events--the launch of the Enterprise-B (the last of those ships shown in profile in the observation lounge of the E-D, and whose final fate still isn't known, at least in canon), the destruction of the E-D, Data getting emotions, and, of course, Kirk's Last Stand. That the film doesn't really reflect the importance of its events is kind of a puzzle, and not necessarily due to the removal of some of the bigger action scenes. Obviously, quite a bit of thought went into the film: the cataclysm that Guinan and Soren are escaping at the beginning of the film would have been the Borg's assimilation of El-Auria, and, given how far away the Borg would have been at that point, they could have been on those refugee ships for a long time. Kirk's actions on the E-B--dashing off to another part of the ship for an emergency tech fix which (apparently) costs him his life while the rest of the crew is busy on the bridge is a very close parallel to Spock's actions near the end of The Wrath of Khan; Kirk has finally had his own real-life Kobayashi Maru scenario, without cheating. The brother and nephew that have died were the same ones from "Family." Lursa and B'Etor, the Duras sisters who helped bring about the Klingon Civil War, are willing to put it all on the line for revenge, and they get it, even if they're not around to see the ship go down.

But... the best metaphor that I can come up with for the movie is to imagine someone creating a stunning vista in the holodeck, but when you go to try to touch something, you find out that the force fields that give things in the holodeck substance and texture were all turned off. Start with the beginning--OK, the "Tuesday" joke was pretty funny, but really, the successor to the most renowned starship in the history of the Federation is being christened and literally the entire rest of Starfleet is gone, along with their ships? (Appropriately enough, TVTropes calls this trope "The Only One", and it happens regularly in comics.) You kind of get why both Nimoy and Kelley turned down the parts as written for them. Likewise, Worf basically gets made into a butt monkey in the Ye Olde Enterprize scene, but otherwise doesn't really have anything to do (in a movie in which the secondary enemies are his family's personal foes), and I don't even remember if Beverly gets to do a single thing. The most amazing thing about Kirk's original death is that anyone involved in the production thought for even a minute that that would be adequate for one of the franchise's keystone characters; it wouldn't have been adequate for Kevin Riley. Maybe another good metaphor for it is what Servo5678 said above about the movie reusing sets that were really only good enough for TV; they made the sets a bit darker and hoped that that would pass muster. (The next movie, First Contact, while not without its own problems, does better in this regard; it generally seems to have a real weight to it that's just not here.) After this came out, Shatner retconned Kirk's death away in a series of novels ghostwritten by Trek beta canon veterans; I can't say that I blame him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:15 PM on August 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

P.S. Those proposed new uniforms remind me of the Lower Decks uniforms, mostly because of the double-breasted look.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:47 PM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Likewise, Worf basically gets made into a butt monkey in the Ye Olde Enterprize scene, but otherwise doesn't really have anything to do (in a movie in which the secondary enemies are his family's personal foes)

Good catch. So much of the film feels like missed opportunities, which is sorta thematically appropriate but maybe not in the way they intended.

If you're going to do a movie with the original crew and the tng crew, why go half way? Or more like a quarter of the way maybe. Perhaps they wanted to avoid re-treading Yesterday's Enterprise, Relics, and/or Reunification.

The sequence with Picard's family in the nexus always puts me in the mind of A Christmas Carol. Almost to the point of parody. Ghosts of the Past, Present, Future, and of course the ghost of the alternate universe....on reflection, All Good Things has some of that as well. That may have a lot to do with why they didn't go with a proper time travel adventure here.
posted by StarkRoads at 2:48 PM on August 26, 2020

... actor Malcolm McDowell ... The actor's nephew and DS9 star Alexander Siddig


I cannot believe I was not aware of that connection.
posted by hanov3r at 3:43 PM on August 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

As a casual watcher of Trek (currently watching the movies weekly through Australia's SBS + have seen random episodes) this one swept me along pleasantly enough. I think the received wisdom that 'only the odd numbered ones are good' is a bit overdone (only the second half of The Final Frontier has been dross).

All of the ship based action sequences were great. Kirk and Picard's nexus-ideal worlds were pretty lame, but I took that as saying something about their characters - after having been in service forever, they would romanticise the alternative.

But yeah, Kirk's end was cheap and private when it needed to be epic and *public*, and they could've easily name-checked him once or twice in between his bookends (maybe the ship has portraits of former Captains that are walked by or something) to keep him in the film throughout.

I quite enjoyed Malcolm McDowell's Dr Soren, and was surprised at how much screentime Levar Burton's Geordi Laforge got - he always seemed a minor character to me.

Thank you again for posting ... and now I discover that Fanfare seems to lack a First Contact thread!
posted by jjderooy at 3:57 PM on August 26, 2020

The sequence with Picard's family in the nexus always puts me in the mind of A Christmas Carol.

posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:23 PM on August 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

Picard is also supposedly born in 2305, so why does his imaginary family look like something from 1910?
posted by zadcat at 5:02 PM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think everyone in the 24th century is in starfleet, engaged in hard-core scientific research, or cos playing the lifestyle of late 19th century agrarian communities.
posted by skewed at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

I cannot believe I was not aware of that connection.

It's not super-obvious, but once you know you can't unsee it, especially as Siddig gets older.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:47 PM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

As a casual watcher of Trek (currently watching the movies weekly through Australia's SBS + have seen random episodes) this one swept me along pleasantly enough. I think the received wisdom that 'only the odd numbered ones are good' is a bit overdone (only the second half of The Final Frontier has been dross).

I was going to say that this is a blunder here — only the even-numbered ones are traditionally held to be good. But then, maybe this is a hemisphere thing, like which way the water goes down the drain or whether Christmas is in winter or summer.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:50 AM on August 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

or whether Dickens is English or French ;)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:25 AM on August 27, 2020

only the even-numbered ones are traditionally held to be good.

Yes, but didn't they write, produce and distribute Star Trek: Nemesis, the tenth film in the series, with the specific and exclusive purpose of destroying this pattern? I mean, that was the only explanation I could come up with.
posted by skewed at 6:59 AM on August 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

A popular fix for the alleged breakdown of the even-odd rule is to include Galaxy Quest.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 AM on August 27, 2020 [10 favorites]

I can't believe I forgot to mention my favorite nerd trivia item about this movie! When the Duras sisters attack the Enterprise, the critical shot that triggers the destruction of the ship causes a coolant leak in Engineering. A panel blows out, Geordi says there's nothing he can do, the blast doors start to lower and he does his patented LaForge Maneuver roll under the closing door. Does this seem extra familiar somehow? In the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", the Klingons attack the alternate Enterprise which causes a coolant leak in Engineering. A panel blows out, Geordi says there's nothing he can do, the blast doors star to lower... For an added bonus, both that episode and this film were directed by the same director, David Carson. See the two scenes to compare them here.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2020 [4 favorites]

Okay, I was this many years old when I learned Alexander Siddig was related to Malcolm McDowell. O.o

I never hated this one as much as a lot of people I knew, but it was definitely disappointing enough that I have only rewatched once till now. I disliked the manner of Kirk’s death, for sure, but for me it was killing off Picard’s relatives that makes it difficult to watch. It’s way, way too close to the bone for me. There’s too much grief in this one. And yes, it doesn’t bear much scrutiny in terms of sense.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:36 PM on August 27, 2020

Was this one filmed near Las Vegas? I remember being on a tour of the outskirts and I wanted to know about the plants and geology, and the tour guide wanted to tell me where various "Star Trek" scenes were filmed.
posted by acrasis at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2020

As a casual watcher of Trek (currently watching the movies weekly through Australia's SBS + have seen random episodes) this one swept me along pleasantly enough. I think the received wisdom that 'only the odd numbered ones are good' is a bit overdone (only the second half of The Final Frontier has been dross).

I was going to say that this is a blunder here — only the even-numbered ones are traditionally held to be good. But then, maybe this is a hemisphere thing, like which way the water goes down the drain or whether Christmas is in winter or summer.

Yes, a blunder that I hope will be forgiven.
posted by jjderooy at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

It looks like it was filmed partly at Valley of Fire state park near Overton so yeah, one location was near Vegas.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 6:40 PM on August 27, 2020

This is definitely my favorite of the TNG movies (not that there's much competition) and Imma quote myself from a 2014 thread:

I will never understand all the hate for Generations. That movie feels like a real Next Generation movie to me, in a way that none of the others did. Like, a really good episode of the show, but with higher stakes and a bigger budget and some really lovely cinematography. There's some good character stuff in there, with Picard losing his family and Data freaking out about his emotion chip. I always geek out during the big crash at the end, when the Enterprise is slooooooowly crashing through the wilderness and we see this mountain in the foreground with those itty-bitty trees. There's something about that particular shot that feels so real to me, the ship really looks immense and the crash is terrifying in this super-cool way.

Also: "Time is the fire... in which we burn." Come on!

That being said, the Kirk stuff doesn't quite work, and his death is underwhelming. It works as a Next Generation movie but not really as an original series movie, and maybe that's what drove people so nuts.

Elaborating on this movie's treatment of Kirk, I had this say in 2018:

Last weekend I was talking with my dad about The Force Awakens (he's a geek too) and how much it bugged me that they brought back Luke Skywalker only to kill him off, and my dad said, "Well, that was what Trek did to Kirk too." And thinking about it, it's hard for me to say why I was so bothered by what happened to Luke, but I was OK with what happened to Kirk. I guess I felt like Luke's path in TFA was kind of BS, that running away for decades like that was just not what Luke would have done. But the same could certainly be said about Kirk, that having to be talked out of being "retired" forever in the Nexus wasn't true to him either! (Although Kirk had the excuse that the Nexus apparently really fucks with your head, and you feel so utterly happy and peaceful in there you never want to leave. Once he got over that, he was telling Picard to never, ever give up command, because that's where you can make a difference... and THAT sounds like Kirk.)

This concludes our sampling of Ursula Hitler Blathering About Star Trek: Generations on Metafilter.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:54 PM on August 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can't say I outright dislike this movie, but I certainly would never recommend it, either. Whenever I see it, I can't help thinking it would be so much better without Kirk. The whole "Kirk! Picard! Together!" gimmick just feels forced. It would have been so much better (IMHO, of course) had they just written the damned thing as a full-blown TNG film.

And, to top things off, crashing 1701-D just simply angers me, like it's a big "eff-you!" from the producers.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:44 AM on August 28, 2020

Oh, also!

It's been awhile since I watched the movie. The Enterprise blows up the Sisters' Bird of Prey due to an unpatched software vulnerability, right? Worf says "yeah, that model's been taken out of service; it turns out you can get it to start cloaking and so their shields drop and you can hit them with a photon torpedo" and then they make it so. ("Mistress, we are cloaking! Our shields are down!")

In 1994 they did have product recalls; if your car broke they'd bring it in and fix it, but we [mostly] didn't have the Internet and we couldn't download fixes if there was a software problem (we also didn't really have to worry about unauthorized remote access, because we weren't connected anyway). You could download a new version of PKZip from a BBS with bug fixes, or a newer McAfee definition file, but like that was it.

Anyway, if this movie was made today they'd have to do some explaining as to why the Klingon Imperial Software Ministry didn't push out a quick software update to fix the thing. (You could even have a whole thing where the Bird of Prey wants to reboot just before a battle.) Maybe Birds of Prey all run on Android, and after a couple of years they just don't get OS updates anymore.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:16 AM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

My favorite indelible best movie-theater memory is going to see Generations at a preview screening in Atlanta. The theater was full of Trek fans who got early tickets, and everyone was sort of excitedly buzzing about being there.

During the crash scene, the entire room appeared to be holding their breath. There was a palpable sense of "oh shit!" sort of emanating from everyone. So the crash sequence ends, and there is a tiny moment of complete silence in the theater. And from the front row comes a loud, deep, dark Barry White type voice who goes "Man! Picard's gonna be PISSED!"

The entire audience just burst out laughing, and you could really feel the release of tension. It felt like the most authentic moment of shared joy, and it was so nice. For that alone, I love this movie.
posted by gemmy at 6:07 PM on August 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

I had some roommates who went to see this when it came out, and they said “it’s just an episode of the show but in widescreen” or whatever, and then later that week, the whole house went, including the two who pooh-poohed it, and one of them said to me, “oh, here’s the part where we came in before” and
NO WONDER they thought it wasn’t much: They went in 45 MINUTES late! Who does that?

I agree it’s not the best, but I still like it, yeah, mostly for Data’s emotion chip, but like, Data’s long, complicated relationship with emotion is really the heart, soul, and spine of TNG for me, anyway.

It kind of is just a longass episode of the show(s), in some ways, but I don’t know that that’s necessarily a bad thing, depending on the episode, I guess. I’d rather this than a two-hour “Angel One” or “Code of Honor.”
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:11 PM on August 29, 2020

Okay, I was this many years old when I learned Alexander Siddig was related to Malcolm McDowell. O.o

Yeah, I recall being a little surprised when I learned that years ago. I suppose the equivalent in the other big sf franchise is that Ewan McGregor is the nephew of Dennis Lawson, who played Wedge in the original Star Wars trilogy.

It is odd finding seemingly unlikely family connections among celebrities: just yesterday I saw a clip of Mark Harmon being interviewed by Stephen Colbert. Harmon was talking about his early appearances on talk shows and how he had been a little star-struck to be seated next to George Carlin when he was interviewed by Johnny Carson (Colbert, over a decade younger, was lamenting that he never got to meet either of these guys).

That sent me off to read up about Harmon’s early career and life. He was raised with two sisters and when he began acting, his two brothers-in-law were Ricky Nelson and John DeLorean. Hard to envision these three guys around a Thanksgiving dinner table.

Anyway, to return to the topic at hand: like a few others, I have never fully grasped the widespread dislike of this movie. It’s got an issue or two with tonal shifts and character logic, but it is no disgrace. If we stick with the traditional even-odd dichotomy, I think it’s the most rewatchable of the odd-numbered entries. The themes are mostly worthy of addressing, although it occurred to me just now that when Picard laments to Troi the passing of years, he says something about the realization that there are more years behind him than ahead. That’s a bit funny now, as when Generations came out, Stewart and Sirtis had spent seven years in those roles; twenty-six years later (as of this writing) they are still playing them.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:53 AM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

That opening CGI scene with the bottle of champaign is so janky. I suspect that it was part physical effect but modern consumer GPUs can render that in realtime with far better accuracy/ fidelity.

Yet, like the globules of Klingon blood in zero-g, I recall being so impressed at the time.

But the physical models are amazing, and inconceivable in today's CG environment.
posted by porpoise at 11:47 PM on December 12, 2020

Ya'll I gotta say, I even enjoy the bad with Star Trek.
posted by valkane at 9:48 PM on January 2, 2023

Ok so we caught this one last night, not knowing really anything except that this was the torch-passing movie. Listen: it's bad. It's like a Russian nesting doll of "makes no damn sense." But as far as Bad Trek Movies go, it's probably bad in the funniest ways? Like, it's very watchable, and pretty likable, in its indisputable Badness.

I'm not sure how to really fix this movie (obvs go back to the script phase, for one) but the first thing I'd do is excise the Data B-story completely. Structurally, thematically, tonally, it just doesn't work. Data choosing to get the Emotion Chip is a Big Ass Deal, and that decision should carry weight. It's not something he decides to do after pushing Beverly into the water on the Holodeck after she basically goaded him into doing so. It's not an inciting incident, the complications from the emotion chip are front-loaded, and then the third act is all Picard/Kirk anyway so there's no real payoff (though finding Spot in the denouement was nice.) If it needed to be done at all, it needed to be done a lot better, but that's kind of the rallying cry for this movie as a whole.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:04 PM on August 1, 2023

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