Star Trek Generations (PG)
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This came out in November 1994, several months after the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation ended. I don't recall if I saw it in a theater or not, but I'm watching it again in 2023 as part of my Summer of Star Trek. And the movie has everything you could ask for. Two crews coming together, bridging the gap between two series, two eras. Malcolm McDowell playing a villain. Guinan doing her whole Guinan thing. Lursa and B'Etor adding their own unique brand of magnificence to the screen. Alan Ruck playing starship captain John Harriman. We meet Hikaru Sulu's daughter, Ensign Demora Sulu (Jacqueline Kim). We see Tim Russ as a human crewman on the Enterprise-B, who would be the subject of fan controversy concerning whether or not he was actually Star Trek: Voyager's Vulcan Tuvok (who had served on the Excelsior some time before the events of this movie). Even confusion over whether or not the title should have a colon! (I don't pretend to know the answer, despite not putting a colon in my review title.) With all this (and more!) going for it, how could it be anything other than the coolest Star Trek movie ever?
Could it be... the curse of the odd numbers?
No, it's probably something else. After all, from now on no one will even be able to easily keep track of numbers, since the movie titles no longer include them (this is the seventh Star Trek film, and the first TNG film). Honestly, I don't think there was anything terribly bad about the movie. There just wasn't anything terribly good about it, either. And I do have some minor nits to pick.
It begins in 2293, with the christening of the Enterprise-B, under the command of Captain Harriman, and with Demora Sulu at the helm. Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov, now apparently all retired, have come aboard to tour the ship and take part in a shakedown cruise around the solar system. (There are also a ton of reporters aboard covering the event.) But before they can even take off, they get a distress call and are forced to respond since they're the only ship in range, even though the ship isn't fully equipped yet. They find two ships transporting El-Aurian refugees (their planet had been destroyed by the Borg, yet somehow it would be several decades after this before the Federation became aware of the Borg's existence). The ships are caught in an energy ribbon of some kind, which is tearing them apart. One ship is destroyed before Enterprise can do anything, but they manage to transport a portion of the second ship's passengers aboard before it's destroyed, as well. Those rescued include Guinan, who would decades later be the bartender on the Enterprise-D, and Dr. Tolian Soran (McDowell). To escape the energy ribbon, Kirk does some realigning of the Enterprise's deflector dish controls, or whatever, but the ship sustains heavy damage including a hull breach in the control room, and Kirk is assumed dead (though his body isn't found).
78 years later, the command crew of the Enterprise-D are aboard a sailing ship in the holodeck. Worf is brought out as a prisoner in shackles, while Riker reads the "charges" which are actually about exemplary service, and Worf is promoted to lieutenant commander. But Riker pulls a prank on him, which I didn't find particularly funny, though apparently almost everyone on the ship did. Data doesn't understand why it's funny, but to "get into the spirit of things", he pulls essentially the same prank on Dr. Crusher, which no one finds funny. (I don't believe it was any less funny than the joke played on Worf.) This incident prompts Data to finally have Geordi install the emotion chip he'd gotten at one point during the TV series. This becomes an issue throughout the movie, sometimes played for laughs (which I would say only occasionally works as intended) and sometimes for drama and plot complications. Meanwhile, Picard receives news that his brother and nephew had died in a fire, which distresses and preoccupies him for much of the movie. Counselor Troi attempts to help him work through his grief.
The Enterprise soon receives a distress call from a stellar observatory, and when they arrive they find part of the crew had been killed, apparently by Romulans. One of the survivors is Dr. Soran, who later turns out to be working with everyone's favorite scheming Klingon sisters, Lursa and B'Etor. They want to use the subject of his research as a weapon, while he just wants to return to the energy ribbon. This is because it's a doorway to a place called the Nexus, in which time has no meaning and you can live out your heart's deepest desire. But as we'd already seen, ships can't survive the energy ribbon, so Soran wants to divert the ribbon's path to come to him on an uninhabited planet, Veridian III. (How people can survive it when ships can't is beyond me.) To divert the ribbon, he uses his creation to destroy one star, and then has to destroy a second one when the ribbon gets close to the planet. Unfortunately, the second star system contains another planet with a pre-industrial civilization of hundreds of millions of people, and destroying the star would mean their extinction. (We never actually see these people or their world, but their existence is of vital importance to the plot of the movie. )
Well, a lot more happens, and I don't want to spoil all of it. There is a battle between the Enterprise and a Klingon bird-of-prey, and in the end both ships are destroyed, with the Enterprise's saucer section crash-landing on Veridian III. Picard tries to stop Soran from launching the trilithium probe that would destroy the star, but fails, and the ribbon takes them both into the Nexus (though we only get to see Picard's fantasy life there, which is indeed pretty nice). He also meets an "echo" of Guinan, who gives him some advice. And he meets Kirk, who had entered the Nexus in 2293, though from his perspective he just got there. He eventually convinces Kirk to come with him to Veridian III shortly before Soran launched the probe, so they can stop him together. And... this time they succeed, but Kirk ends up dying. (A lot of fans hold Kirk's death against this movie, for reasons I can't quite fathom, even when they explain it. I mean, he saved an entire civilization from extinction, which I find to be about as meaningful a sacrifice as one could reasonably hope for. And I'd love to someday see the civilization advance to the point where they can join the Federation and learn what Kirk and Picard had done for them, and revere them as heroes, albeit long after both their deaths.)
Anyway, that's all I want to say about the plot. I thought it was a decent story overall, with a bit of decent humor (and a bit of failed humor). I thought the drama and action worked well enough. Soran was an okay villain. I liked his interactions with Picard as well as with the Klingons. I like that Data finally has emotions, even if he has some trouble dealing with them. I'll miss Lursa and B'Etor as villains. And... hopefully I haven't forgotten anything I wanted to say. It's just a pretty darned okay movie.