Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Release Date: November 18th, 1994 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: David Carson Actors: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Malcolm McDowell, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, Alan Ruck, Jacqueline Kim, Jenette Goldstein
aptain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) takes a look around a brand new iteration of the starship Enterprise, reminiscing about his time helming the legendary line of vessels. It’s been 30 years since he piloted such a ship (and the same amount of time since his retirement), but the thrill of being back aboard is bogged down by overzealous reporters and a notably young crew, including Ensign Demora (Jacqueline Kim), the daughter of Sulu. Just after giving the honorary order to fly out from spacedock, a distress call is received from two transports stuck in a deadly gravimetric field.
A temporal flux and deteriorating hull integrity present further obstacles, especially as most of the ship’s crew, weapons, and other technical components aren’t due to be installed until a later date. Although 47 people are successfully rescued from one of the trapped ships, Kirk is caught in the deflector control room, located on a deck not protected by a forcefield when an energy ribbon strikes the bow. He becomes one of the most significant casualties of the unanticipated mission.
78 years later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew are merrily celebrating Worf’s (Michael Dorn) promotion to Lieutenant Commander. When they’re called away to deal with an attack on an observatory, Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) retrieves Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a mysterious figure who was also previously involved in Kirk’s untimely demise. Additionally, Data (Brent Spiner) experiments with an emotion chip (a particularly goofy subplot), a collapsing star creates an opportunity for Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) to get kidnapped, Klingon revolutionaries plot to retake the Empire, and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) shares some secretive information about the otherworldly fantasy realm of the Nexus.
The most noticeable upgrades from the long-running television series are the visual effects – a worthy retrofitting for this first theatrical outing for the “Next Generation” cast. There’s a shimmer and a polish to the sets, backgrounds (which appear more spacious), and even props. The lighting, makeup, stunts, and explosions are similarly grander or more complex, making use of the bigger budget and the more accommodating shift in medium; the world of the Enterprise has become a bit larger, shinier, and crisper all around.
What has not changed is the technobabble – generating motives and explanations and spontaneous predicaments at every turn. But they still suit the story, giving it a familiarity to the source material, which is entirely necessary. The plot itself is a touch slower, obviously aware of the expectations and acceptability afforded to a feature-length running time, but plenty of details add on to the already enormous universe built up over the course of seven seasons of the show. The target audience is evident; anyone unfamiliar with “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will be completely lost. Even fans of the 1960s series will require knowledge of this vastly modernized crew in order to appreciate the continuing sci-fi adventures.
“We get one shot at this!” As for the film’s actual impact and expansion on the “Star Trek” saga, the story appends little real significance. It’s not just a couple of episodes strung together; it’s a surprisingly bland selection of possibly unused concepts from the show, fleshed out in an unspectacular fashion. The villain and the time travel nonsense are so poorly conceived, there isn’t even an explanation for his people or the Nexus (a purgatory-like plane of existence). It is slightly amusing, however, to see Picard participate in a fistfight; to see the Enterprise engage in spacebound, photon torpedo shootouts; and to see the whole cast together again, no matter how flimsy the excuse.
– Mike Massie