10. Star Trek Generations (1994)
Directed by David Carson.
Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes. Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden. Marina Sirtis, Malcolm McDowell, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and William Shatner.
Much as films built on the foundations of fan service tend to, Star Trek Generations was a colossal disappointment; a tantalising attempt to bridge two epochs of Trek that fell desperately short amid both impossible expectations and its own underwhelming creative.
On paper, the prospect of a movie where Captains Kirk and Picard join forces to stop a colossal threat probably seems like it can’t miss, and yet Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga’s anodyne script makes one fatal flaw; it doesn’t offer up much of the advertised experience at all.
This may be more the fault of Paramount than the writers, in fairness, who marketed the film extensively on the strength of a team-up which lasts all of 20 minutes and doesn’t happen until deep into the movie’s third act.
Kirk is off-screen for over an hour after his introductory scene, and though the eventual meeting of the iconic twosome is almost laughably contrived – the result of the pair entering an extra-dimensional realm known as the Nexus – the chemistry between Shatner and Stewart is at least palpable to make their initial encounter giddily enjoyable.
But it’s tough to know what anyone was thinking with the eventual outcome; Kirk meets an infuriatingly anti-climactic and un-cinematic end, crushed by a bridge complete with some risible final words (“Oh my”). It cements that, despite the entertainment value of the Captains hanging out, Kirk was really just a torch-passing prop for all the hastiness of his appearance here.
Picard is at least well-served by some trenchant character development, particularly the grim revelation that his brother and nephew burned to death in a fire. It’s heavy, but Stewart sells the pain well, while offering up a meaningful meditation on mortality and steering away from trite “family is everything” truisms that are so common in blockbuster IP nowadays.
The rest of the cast sadly isn’t served too well; the Original Series and The Next Generation teams are fragmented into their own deeply episodic subplots which offer little fruitful. Data being fitted with an emotion chip is alternately amusing and excessively goofy, swinging from charming to cringe-worthy in an instant, and though Malcolm McDowell brings plenty of gusto to the villainous Tolian Soran, he’s ultimately an incredibly uninteresting character.
As a piece of filmmaking, Generations doesn’t benefit much from the presence of veteran TV director David Carson, whose totally featureless, personality-devoid filmmaking is further sullied by an excess of shaky cam. It doesn’t help that so much of the film’s second half effectively transpires on a rock, giving the excursion a cheap, low-effort feel. The film’s practical effects are at least well-aged, for sure, though the craven recycling of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey explosion from the previous movie is flat-out embarrassing.
All in all, Star Trek Generations is an underwhelming slog; even excusing the agonising wait for Kirk to re-appear, it feels rather on the long side for what it offers up. That it can’t even deliver on the crowd-pleasing basics of its operating reason for existence is what effectively deals the killing blow here.
Though not the worst of all the Trek movies, the stupefying Generations is easily the most disappointing, with the much-hyped Kirk-Picard team-up lasting all of 20 minutes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Click below to continue…