Review for Star Trek: Generations
I remember getting the big Blu-ray boxset of Star Trek movies back in 2017, some four years after its release, and at the time I thought that would be it; I’d never buy any of the six original cast and four Next Generation movies again. While the films were just as I recalled, I have to say that the transfers were disappointing, back when studios thought that DNR applied to vintage films to make them match the then current digital aesthetic was a good idea. The way the transfers worked out, the older the film, the worse it looked. The DNR wasn’t quite as egregious on the Next Generation movies (indeed Nemesis was the best looking film of the bunch), but it still looked as if those Blu-rays had used the same source material for their transfers as the original DVD releases. I suppose we have to be grateful for the advent of a higher definition format, as the desire for 4K UHD releases of the Star Trek movies necessitated a full remastering of the films, and consequently, new 1080p Blu-rays from those masters have been released. Earlier this year, a new version of Star Trek Generations came out...
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...
Star Trek Generations gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, and you get the choice on this disc between Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround English, and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and English Audio Descriptive, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. I’ve complained before with the earlier films about the lack of the original theatrical audio options, but Generations dates from the era of digital surround audio, so there’s not much cause for complaint with the 7.1 audio (although the previous disc was 5.1). The audio is nice and immersive, the action comes across well, the music is a high point of the film, and the dialogue is clear throughout. The image quality is a noticeable improvement over the original disc. It is clear and sharp, very well detailed, and free of print damage and signs of age. DNR is absent thankfully, and grain is finely detailed and unobtrusive, but thankfully present. The much improved image quality does throw into starker contrast the clash between theatrical flourish, and the television sets and costumes though.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case, wrapped in an o-card slipcover. The disc boots to a static menu.
There are two audio 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.
This disc ditches the BD-Live content, but adds the Denise and Mike Okuda Text Commentary track. Also new to this disc are 4 Deleted Scenes.
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 were created for the previous BD release. They run to a total of 33:29.
You get Storyboards and a Production Gallery in the Archives, and the Teaser and Theatrical Trailers.
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. I enjoyed it a little more this time; I didn’t feel like nitpicking as much, and was enjoying the characters as they were back when The Next Generation was still fresh and current (it contrasts in a curious way now with the Picard Season 3 reunion). This 4k re-mastered Blu-ray presents the film as if it were brand new; now almost 30 years old at this juncture. It’s a worthy upgrade of the film from the previous release, and if you’re a fan, downright essential.