Review for Star Trek: Generations
The legendary Captain James T. Kirk died during the maiden voyage of the USS Enterprise-B, on a rescue mission to save two El Aurian refugee ships caught in a violent energy ribbon. Eighty years later, the Enterprise-D under Captain Jean-Luc Picard comes to the aid of one of the El Aurians rescued during the earlier mission, Dr Tolian Soran, who’s been caught up in a Romulan attack on a Federation research station. But all isn’t as it seems. Soran has been working on illegal trilithium research, creating weapons capable of stopping all nuclear reaction in a star. He has no qualms about destroying stars either, all in aid of returning to that energy ribbon called the Nexus. But the Nexus holds quite the surprise...
Generations gets the 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p treatment on this Blu-ray, and at a rough guess, I’d say that it’s mastered from the same source as the DVD release. It’s clear and sharp, and better than the DVD when it comes to detail and clarity. Some flicker early on is indicative of the film source, but there has been a degree of DNR applied, and I did notice some telltale ghosting in an early scene. Fortunately it didn’t crop up again. One thing that the Blu-ray makes obvious is the amount of the TV sets that are reused for the movie. The Enterprise sets most obviously, but also the other ships, and the space station. It all looks low budget when it’s not on location. There also seems to be a push towards the yellow when it comes to colour timing, and reds are a little too punchy at times. It’s another transfer that will do until something better comes along.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and DD 5.1 German, Spanish, Italian, and French, with subtitles in these languages as well as Arabic, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese and Croatian. Once again, the volume is a little low in the mix, but the surround is effective enough in bringing across the effects and the action. It’s not the most dynamic of sound mixes but it gets the job done, while the music suits the film well. The dialogue is clear throughout, although there is a moment of loose ADR sync when Picard confronts Soran on Veridian III.
The Generations disc boots to an animated menu, and offers the kind of extras that I really missed when I bought the original barebones DVD release as a Star Trek fan, but now that I’ve lapsed I can barely engender the effort to check the run times.
There are two commentaries on this disc, one from director David Carson alongside Manny Coto (Enterprise show-runner in its last two seasons). The other commentary is apparently reused from a DVD re-release, and features the film’s writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga.
The Library Computer is that fancy pop-up trivia track.
There are four vintage SD featurettes in Production, running to a total of 66:42.
There are two featurettes in Visual Effects running to 20:23.
Scene Deconstruction looks at three scenes from the film, 15:30.
The Star Trek Universe contains the remainder of the featurettes. 5 are vintage SD featurettes, and run to 58:24; the other four are in HD and have been created for this release. They run to a total of 33:29.
You get Storyboards and a Production Gallery in the Archives, the Teaser and Theatrical Trailers, and a BD-Live link.
The Next Generation TV series was coming to an end, and it was ending on a high, and it was no surprise that Paramount wanted to capitalise on its cast of adventurers the way they did with the original series cast. It made perfect sense to make a feature film that had the all important passing of the torch moment between Original Series and Next Generation casts. Why did they have to make it so that there was no way of passing the torch back by killing off Captain Kirk? Oh... spoiler alert. I guess it made sense at the time, given that The Undiscovered Country had been the original series swansong, and given the age of the original series cast, boldly going yet again was going to be an unlikely prospect, but the end result is that Generations feels more like a gimmick than a feature film.
I had a quick listen to the Braga and Moore commentary, and something they start out with is quite telling. Paramount gave them some guidelines to adhere to when writing the film, notably that the original crew and 23rd century sequence was to be no more than 15 minutes long, that the film should concentrate on the Next Generation crew, which no doubt explains why of the original cast, only three signed up. The second thing was that there should be a comedy b-story featuring Data in the film. The minute the bean counters start tying creative hands like that before anyone has even put ink to paper, you’re heading for trouble.
Generations plays adequately enough. You get enough of the characters to enjoy watching the film, even if it has more of the sense of an expanded Next Generation episode than an actual feature film (they really only got that right the once). But the great big elephant in the room is the whopping great plot hole of the Nexus. It’s in the dialogue, it’s the equivalent of a TARDIS, able to send you anywhere in time and space. So Picard on his self-appointed mission to stop Soran chooses to go back to the most dangerous point, where he is most likely to fail, not any earlier where it might be safer just to throw Soran into the brig. Or Kirk could go back to the Enterprise-B, save himself and stop them rescuing Soran from the Lakul in the first place, so he could live happily ever after in his personal paradise. The logic hole is so massive in this film that it just doesn’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny, which has the effect of making the characters seem monumentally stupid.
Generations is a good movie while they are still in the 23rd Century, and I would have far preferred to see the continuing adventures of Captain ‘Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller’ on the Enterprise-B than what came later after the time-skip. But Generations has the advantage of being the one film that still retains the ensemble feel of the Next Generation TV series, unlike the other three films which pretty much became the Picard and Data show.