Time Is The Fire — ‘Star Trek Generations’ At 25

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Trek Generations, the highly anticipated transition of the Next Generation cast from the small screen to the big one. TrekMovie is marking the anniversary with a retrospective from guest author Steve Vivona, who tells us why he has a special place for the film in his heart, and why it’s still significant to him 25 years later.

I should really, really hate Star Trek Generations. At the time of its release (November 18, 1994), my personal life was imploding. I was 24. My girlfriend of four years (who I thought I would marry) kicked me to the curb the day it came out, and my professional outlook was bleak. I was eagerly anticipating its release, knowing it would be the swan song for my beloved original crew, and here I was, engulfed by a bleak pall. Given its reputation among Trek fans, you’d think seeing it would’ve done nothing to improve my dark mood.

I liked it. I still do. That might have something to do with sentimentality and my mental state when I saw it, but I have watched Generations many times over the years, and its themes of mortality, change, and ultimately, hope, still resonate with me. Its execution was somewhat flawed, but I loved the acting. I loved the action sequences, especially the destruction of the Enterprise-D.

Let me be clear: I’ve heard it all. I know (and I agree) that the Nexus is a plot device rife with holes you could drive a Mack truck through. I know the overwhelming majority of Trek fans think James Kirk’s death is as un-Kirk-like as possible. I know Leonard Nimoy passed on acting and directing in the film because he wouldn’t work simply for hire, and deemed Spock’s role perfunctory at best.

Generations was the movie that could have been, but wasn’t, pure and simple. It had the chance to be epic and grandiose, and it failed. However, it contains moments that really bring a tear to my eye.

The film’s entire existence is predicated on the mandate to unite Kirk and Picard without time travel, so from the jump, co-writers Brannon Braga and Ron Moore were somewhat handcuffed. However, the MacGuffin of the Nexus, for all its problems, allowed the pair to write some very touching scenes with Picard and his illusory family, allowing him to glimpse a life he could’ve had, but didn’t.

Let’s cast aside plot holes for a minute. We know they exist. The Nexus raises more questions than it answers. I get that. However, the Nexus provides a (convenient) through-line for the themes of the film: Kirk’s feelings of uselessness upon retirement, the death of Picard’s family, and the subsequent realization his family line dies with him, Soran’s desire to freeze time and live in a paradise where life’s tragedies can be reversed. It’s within the Nexus that these themes play out, and it’s within the Nexus that Picard and Kirk share some introspective moments about the lives they have led, and what could’ve been.

The two captains confer on horseback

Now I realize that is probably not what audiences expected or wanted. I imagine they wanted something along the lines of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” an epic meeting of both casts teaming up to save the universe, not some touchy-feely interlude at the climax of what (up to that point) had been a pretty exciting, if uneven, yarn.

For me, Star Trek has always been at its best when it was exploring deeper themes, and while people would probably argue that Star Trek II said everything about aging and mortality that needed to be said (in the midst of an incredibly exciting Shakespearian tale), Generations just works on some level for me.

For my money, this film was a real showcase for Patrick Stewart. By this time, he had already delivered some powerhouse performances in episodes like “Best of Both Worlds,” “The Inner Light,” and “Chain of Command.” What I love about his performance in Generations is his portrayal of a man desperately trying to hold it together in the midst of a great family tragedy, while at the same time fending off the Duras sisters, Soran, and even mentoring Data, who’s experiencing his own existential crisis.

Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind for this kind of tale. I wasn’t upset that the manner in which Kirk and Picard came together was less than epic. In my mind, Kirk had been saving the galaxy since Picard’s grandfather was in diapers. Hadn’t we seen that countless times before? I thought Trek VI was a great way for Kirk to go out, and Generations felt more like a coda.

And how about William Shatner? First off, I loved the opening scene on the Enterprise-B. The old tropes of “no other ship in the quadrant,” “an inexperienced commander,” blah blah, were tired and hackneyed, but the sequence picks up steam quickly, and doesn’t let go, giving Kirk his first of two heroic demises.

I loved his interaction with Walter Koenig and Jimmy Doohan. Knowing full well they were meant for Dee Kelly and Leonard, there was still a touching warmth on display, especially with Koenig. I love the shorthand with which they speak when the Nexus rears its ugly head, but most importantly, I love that Kirk realizes it’s not his ship; his time is past, yet he can still contribute.

The sense of loss when the pair realizes Kirk is gone is palpable. Walter Koenig gave a gut-wrenching performance reacting to Kirk’s death in a deleted scene not included on the DVD, but easily found on YouTube. I can remember him telling an assembled audience at a convention back in ’94 that he was channeling the recent death of his brother in that scene.

When Kirk reappears in the Nexus, he’s obviously transfixed by this idyllic experience, and it takes Picard some time to snap him out of it (having already done that for himself). We see a restrained Kirk ruminating on the course of his life, much like Picard, and as the two of them argue about duty and obligation, we pull back the veneer both these men have worn for decades. At the end of the sequence, both of them realize what needs to be done.

I am well aware of the vitriol reserved for Kirk’s death. I have no issues with it. I like it far better than the original death scene, which I felt was cheap. The bridge sequence is pretty suspenseful (it’s no escape from the Mutara Nebula) but it works. Kirk’s actual death is poignant. Shatner has explained (ad nauseam) over the years what he was trying to achieve, and it makes sense to me.

I liked the fact he died alone as he foreshadowed in Star Trek V, even if that was a “happy” coincidence. Shatner was restrained. He was with someone he had no history with, connected only by their captaincy of a certain ship, and they have a touching exchange that really got to me.

I loved Malcolm McDowell as Soran. It may be his most well known “paycheck job,” and he’s gotten a lot of mileage out of the whole “Killer of Kirk” thing over the years at cons and such, but he gives a great performance that was reminiscent of Khan in some ways. Don’t get me wrong: I am not suggesting he eclipses Khan in any way, shape, or form. However, he’s a tragic villain, driven to the brink of madness by the great loss he’s endured. He engenders a fair amount of sympathy from me, perhaps even more than Khan did.

I met Malcolm McDowall at a convention in 2007, and I gave him a photo of Soran beckoning the Nexus on Veridian III (you know the picture), and he looked at it admiringly. He said, “Time is the fire,” and proceeded to inscribe that on the photo. I love that line, and obviously he did too.

Soran eagerly awaits the arrival of the Nexus ribbon

David Carson, who helmed some of Next Gen‘s foremost episodes, does an admirable, workmanlike job bringing Trek to the big screen, with a huge assist from cinematographer John Alonzo, who did an incredible job lighting the existing sets for the big screen, giving them a theatrical scope I never thought possible. It’s understandable they destroyed the ship so they could design one more appropriate for films, but it was great to see how good the Enterprise-D could look, just once.

I really want to single out the work of composer Dennis McCarthy, another Next Gen veteran, who creates a wistful mood that permeates the film. So many of the film’s themes possess an ethereal, otherworldly quality that does more for the concept of the Nexus than the actual script. I honestly believe McCarthy was the man for this particular job, and not the mighty Goldsmith (who I adore).

Generations is rife with death and destruction, but it ends on a hopeful note. It ends with Picard realizing that, yes, he is going to die. We all are, but he comes away with that realization secure in the knowledge that we need to treasure every moment; that we need to move forward even after we’ve been beset by hardship and tragedy.

I was 24 in 1994. Today, 50 looms large on my radar. There truly are fewer days ahead than there are behind. Generations has become more prescient than ever for me. And at any given moment I can think, like Soran does, that time is a predator that stalks us all over lives. It’s easy to think that way when we lose loved ones, or bemoan the loss of youth and vitality. However, at other times, when recalling the many good things in my life, both past and present, I feel like Picard—that time is a companion on the journey, reminding me to cherish every moment.

Generations is not the best Trek film. It might not be the best two-part episode, but as silly as it may sound, it contained the right message at the right time for me, both then and now, and maybe for that reason alone, I love it.

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Lukas

Unpopular opinion.

Nimoy passed up on Generations but sold out on the trash Kelvin films.

Jako

… whats the opinion?

Cygnus-X1

Jako

… whats the opinion?

That gave me a nice chuckle. Thank you.

c d

>;>}

Garth Lorca

Despite of what you may think of the KT movies, I still loved to see Nimoy back in action two more times before his passing. People can change their minds and Nimoy did so on several occasions (“I’m Not Spock” vs. “I Am Spock” :-)) but I’m glad he returned for those films.

It’s the same with the Star Wars sequels. You may not like them in their entirety, but at least fans had a chance to say good bye to Carie Fisher that way which would not have been possible only months later…

PEB

It’s your opinion. Should also be noted that Nimoy at that point in his life, didn’t mind coming back to do something like this and actually made the 2009 film better. It still holds up as the fun film to be honest. One fan’s trash is another fan’s treasure. Meanwhile, Shatner took on Generations only to have figure after being killed off ways to get his character into the franchise he started. I’d say Nimoy won. He even got a nice nod in the 3rd Kelvin film so….

Rocketscientist

I agree with you, PEB.

Both Shatner and Nimoy’s characters had similar functions in their respective films, to essentially hand the baton to a new cast.

I loved ST 2009 and didn’t care much for Generations. I think the essay is pretty on point regarding its issues. It wasn’t a problem with production, characters, or the actors. The biggest problem was the story and script. Both Ron Moore and Brannon Braga have admitted that they blew it. Moore went as far to say that Leonard Nimoy’s criticism about the script that Berman gave him were spot on. That said, they don’t deserve all the blame at all. They were essentially given a list of requirements by the studio and Berman, saying Kirk could only be in the beginning and end of the film.

Speaking for myself, I had a lot of problems with Generations. The biggest is the script. I really thought the Picard and Kirk chemistry was great. Apparently Stewart and Shatner really hit it off and Stewart was sorry when it was over.

Now, why in the world, with that chemistry would you have the Captains teaming up at the end of the film?

There were other problems. The destruction of the Enterprise D was obviously, like the death of Kirk, a big moment. Kudos to them for that, even if it didn’t and really couldn’t ever have the poignancy and shock of the original Enterprise’s destruction in ST III. But the way the D went down, taken out by a bug in Geordi’s visor? We saw that before on TNG, right? And by a Bird of Prey? It was pretty contrived.

And there’s the whole Captain Harriman thing. Why in the world would someone like that be given the new Enterprise-B?!!??!

The replacement of Spock and Bones with Scotty and Chekov, is, as others have noted, not perfect. It works, but you can see some cracks in the dialogue and writing.

I didn’t think the direction was that inspired. No disrespect for David Carson, but, look, for instance at what Meyer and Nimoy did with lesser and comparable budgets.

McCarthy’s music was ok. Ron Moore said in an interview that he wished they could’ve gotten Jerry Golsmith.

So you have a TV director, a TV composer, and, really a TV producer in Rick Berman. You also have the original, although very redressed, TV sets for the Ent-D. You also have borrowed uniforms from DS-9. It’s no wonder why Generations looks and feels so much like a TNG episode.

Kirk’s death was ok. The original, with him getting shot in the back by Soran, may be from the John Wayne film, The Cowboys. It worked there. I don’t think it would’ve worked as well here.
The bridge did work better. But Kirk’s death doesn’t come off as well as Spock’s in TWOK or the Enterprise’s in TSFS.

Now, the things I liked about it, again, were the characters. The chemistry between Kirk and Picard was great. It’s such a shame it was so brief.

Soran was a great villain played by the great Alex the Druggie Malcolm McDowell. He’s one of those guys that can play sinister and just nasty to perfection.

There were some nice set pieces too and some beautiful cinematography.

And, yeah, the themes were certainly worthy of Star Trek.

Like STTMP and INS, imo, GEN is ultimately a mixed bag.

Andros

Generations committed two unforgivable sins:
1. Killed Kirk. No need to kill him AT ALL.
2. Destroyed the beautiful Ent D and replaced it with this Praying Mantis looking piece of shit in FC.

Everything else could have been forgiven, but not these two things.

Superman

THANK YOU! Kirk should have lived and reunited with his friends who had also survived into the 24th century and the E-D could have been slightly modified to work on the big screen. I personally just ignore all the TNG films as they’re all far from the spirit of the series in one way or another and just pretend the E-D went on for many more years. They can still fight the Borg and meet Zephram Cochrane, Worf can still be requested fo help at DS9, Riker and Troi can still get married, and Data can become Picard’s new Number One after “The Trois” go to a new ship. Those are the highlights anyway and they don’t require the rest of the stuff that didn’t feel like TNG.

ML31

“They were essentially given a list of requirements by the studio and Berman, saying Kirk could only be in the beginning and end of the film. ”

If this is the case then it would explain why they opted for this story line for the passing of the torch over the Borg story they had as well and held on for the next feature. For the Borg story to work Kirk & co would be in it a lot more.

navamske

[[Kirk’s death was ok. The original, with him getting shot in the back by Soran, may be from the John Wayne film, The Cowboys. It worked there. I don’t think it would’ve worked as well here.
The bridge did work better. But Kirk’s death doesn’t come off as well as Spock’s in TWOK or the Enterprise’s in TSFS.]]

“Bridge on the captain!”

kmart

gen DID have a vet tv/film producer, over Berman I believe who battled with GEN director all the way through. Guy was a vet of THE PRISONER and at least one Kubrick feature.

Shane

I was 12 when TNG started and had already been a Star Trek fan for a while. By the time Generations came out, I was a young adult.

If I had to rank Star Trek movies and only had the Kelvin movies and Generations to choose from, Generations would be at #4. I rank it as being only marginally above Star Trek V. I rank it as being nearly as bad as Threshold. I’d rewatch Nemesis before I’d rewatch Generations.

Aus Trekker

Wow. Harsh on Generations. The Kelvin films were absolute garbage. Awful, awful films.

Especially Into Darkness. Pure garbage.

Who cares

Unpopular? Dunno and don’t care. Stupid and wrong? Yep.

TrekMan

Nimoy did not sell out. The Kelvin Films were not trash. He died befor the last one was made. Generations on the other hand was pure trash. It was a missed opppotunity to do something great in the franchise. It was just another bloviated episdoe of the tv series. The complete disrespect they show Shatner and that ridiculous Nexus plot. Those were the days when they made Trek films purely for the people who watched them all the time. Calling Nimoy a sellout is disrepsectful.

Dre

Agreed TrekMan.

Rocketscientist

Nimoy was asked to appear in the Star Trek Beyond, but couldn’t because of his COPS. It’s so sad what happened to him. :(

Pick Hard

“Unpopular opinion. Nimoy passed up on Generations but sold out on the trash Kelvin films.”

You didn’t express an opinion, so your point is moot.

Tiger2

Nimoy just hated having a glorified cameo and said he was interested in being in the movie, but wanted to do something more than just show his face for 10 minutes and say a few Spock lines. Yes, the movie was about TNG but you can’t blame him for not just wanting a walk on cameo which all the other TOS cast basically got outside of Shatner.

In the first Kelvin film, the entire movie plot circled around him. His character was the entire emphasis of nearly everything that happens in it. Basically there is no movie (story wise) without his character in that film. He was only in a few scenes but they made him very important in it, not to mention creating an entire new timeline through him and Nero. I can’t blame him for passing up Generations and taking the new Kelvin movie. I would’ve done the same in his shoes.

Rocketscientist

It wasn’t just the Spock part that lead to Nimoy turning down GEN.

He had expressed his interest to Berman to direct it. Berman ended up meeting with him and handing him the script. Nimoy read through it and informed Berman that the script needed significant work, i.e. probably a total rewrite. Nimoy was all for being a significant part of the film and directing it, but in his opinion the script was bad. He had the same misgivings about ST V. Nimoy, imo, has a good sense of story.

Berman informed Nimoy that there was no time to rewrite the script, that they were already in production, so Nimoy walked away. Also, according to him, that was the start of Paramount essentially turning a cold shoulder to him for years. He wanted to play Spock again and would’ve been happy to do it in a TNG film and/or directing, but apparently either Berman and/or Paramount burned their bridge with him.

That was one of the reasons he was so happy to be asked to be in Abrams ST film.

Tiger2

I know all of that too of course. I’m only saying he just wasn’t happy with what he was offered with Generations UNLIKE the Kelvin movie where he didn’t have any demands from what I can tell. He seem to just genuinely liked the role they gave him along with the general story. He certainly wasn’t going to be asked to direct or anything. So we’re basically saying the same thing.

Rocketscientist

Oh, I agree Tiger2.

I didn’t mean to offend. If I did, I cetainly apologize.

I was just adding to what you said.

Tiger2

NO, you didn’t offend lol. I was just saying I knew that as well but now I realize you were just adding on to my point! I understand now, thanks.

Methuselah

Sorry, but I’m just not impressed by this fakey sounding, “I know better” shtick.

navamske

I think Nimoy’s role in the first Kelvin movie was integral to the plot, but I thought his appearance in the second film was gratuitous and pointless. He gave a great swan song in the first film and should have left it at that. (Full disclosure: I hate the Kelverse movies. They are decent movies, even decent science fiction movies, but they are not Star Trek.)

Denny C

I attended opening night and left disappointed. Paramount really wanted a Kirk and Picard Star Trek movie and the entire endeavor felt rushed with a feature film released just months after the series went off the air felt. It felt like a cash grab (which it was) and given more time I suspect Moore would have developed a much better story with Braga for Kirk and Picard.

And, yes, the Nexus was a mess. You have a tool at your disposal capable of taking you back to any point in time and it didn’t occur to two of Starfleet’s greatest captains that they could stop Soran long before the maiden voyage of the Enterprise B? Really?

So, sure, it had some nice moments (as all Star Trek movies do) but it was a missed opportunity.

ML31

Yeah… I didn’t bring up that issue in my original post but it is a problem when you deal with time travel. Once you give characters control over time travel all the dramatic elements are gone. For example, as I was watching and it looked like Kirk and Picard might fail, I figured they should just stop, let the Nexus take them then go back and try again. Or better yet, why did Picard choose to go back then? Why not go back and just grab him and detain him in the bar earlier? For that matter, why not go further back and stop his brother’s family from burning to death? It did create problems, for sure.

Also, they literally started shooting the movie the instant the series wrapped. I felt there probably ought to have been a little distance but I guess the studio wanted to strike while the iron was hot.

JetpackJesus

“Also, they literally started shooting the movie the instant the series wrapped. I felt there probably ought to have been a little distance but I guess the studio wanted to strike while the iron was hot.”

And while the sets still existed.

Rocketscientist

That’s how I felt, Denny C. It was a let down.

And, yeah, I have no doubt that Moore and Braga could’ve come up with a much much better script given more time and without Rick Berman directing them.

'Drew

Of all the Next Gen movies, Generations felt the most like the show. I suppose that probably had more to do with the timing of the filming than anything else?

VZX

Generations is not a bad movie. It’s just that it could have been so much better, it felt rushed and needed more time for a script polish or three. I did see it four times in the theaters, but I was 20 and in college when it came out so I had the time. Generations is at least better than about half of the other Star Trek movies.

But here’s a question: how do you write a Kirk & Picard movie without time travel? Holograms would be cheap. I think that the Nexus was the best way to do it, even though it was weird and took you out of the movie when questioning the logic of some things. Maybe using Q somehow?

I wish that they just did the “Yesterday’s Enterprise” route and did a simple time travel thing with one Enterprise crew meeting the other.

Danpaine

Yup, same thing I said above about the Yesterday’s Enterprise idea. I mean, it made for a fine TNG episode, but what a waste.

Lukas

Sad part is Star Trek 6 was such a great film that they should’ve made Generations a solely TNG affair. Just my opinion though.

ML31

Understood but the studio felt some sort of proverbial torch needed to get passed. For good or ill.

ML31

That’s why I liked them doing First Contact first but going back to Kirk’s day. Which was on the table…

Baxter

I love Generations simply for the lighting and cinematography. For sure.

Jako

THIS!

Denny C

And ILM’s effects. It looks great but, pffft, it falls short for me.

Cygnus-X1

Baxter

Good point. Some nice, moody shots of Veridian III, among others.

Jako

I really like this Film. Its not perfect and the ending sucks but there are a lot of cool moments in it.

And I will never forgett the Game… oh that Game… I loved it!

Cmd.Bremmon

Generations in my opinion is notable as afterwards I had realized I had grown to the point I was done with pretending TNG was any good regardless of any label or time spent watching it. They took what could have been the ‘Endgame’ of Star Trek, the end of TOS (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Enterprise, etc), and made it dreadfully boring and nonsensical. Picard ends up the ultimate loser losing the Federation flagship to a 150 year old Bird of Prey. Who is more incompetent – Geordie for not figuring out the Klingons used him to get the shield frequencies or Worf for allowing such a security breach? Also Generations confirms what is wrong with all time travel movies, why didn’t Picard go back and save his ship and crewmembers? Why not go back and stop World War 2? Is he that heartless that he only thinks of himself? What about the family he was just crying over??? Time Travel = LAME AND NONSENSICAL (at least Star Trek IV tries to portray a logical ‘loop’ exists and is funny about it). Some redemption in the movie was the Galaxy class bridge actually got some side displays that it couldn’t be confused for a lounge, just in time time for a Councillor to drive it into a hill. The TOS movie uniforms and ships still came off as cool, but they were gone in 20 minutes. New Sulu at the helm hinted as to what could have been but wasn’t.
The best part though was the Enterprise-D going down, that saucer crash was glorious and I love that thanks to what had to be some of the worst producing decisions ever the 1701-D goes down from the same BOP the 1701-A defeated in Star Trek VI in much cooler fashion (and lived to tell the tale). The saucer section finally finds a suitable place to operate as a glorified hotel, the writers could finally get the soap opera set there they always seemed to want.

DarkSquare

Haha… this is one of the best reviews I’ve ever read of Generations.

Matthew D.

Excellent review, very well written. Was a pleasure to read!

Garth Lorca

I love this movie for what it is. As with the author, it has a very special place in my life as well.
It was the first Trek movie I saw in cinema at the age of 14, the first movie I ever watched in a cinema on my own (up to that point – as unusual as it may seem for today’s kids – I had only been allowed to see movies in theatres with my elder sister) and it only came out about a year and a half after I had fallen in love with Trek and decided to become a Trekkie. It was the first movie I bought on original VHS tape and later to became the first movie to be bought on DVD, weeks before I even got my first DVD player :-) (Unfortunately, it didn’t make my first Blu-Ray disc, that honor goes to Iron Man).

Of course the Nexus felt riddled with plot holes, the most obvious for me was that Soran needed to change its course in the first place. Data states that every ship that closed onto the Nexus had either been destroyed or severely damaged, but Soran got that way into the Nexus the first time round so why bother not just flying a shuttlecraft into it now?

But despite that, the movie just felt wonderful for me. I truly felt wrapped up in a blanket of light in those Nexus Christmas scenes (and I actually got Generations bed sheets for Christmas that year).
I thought Kirk had a meaningful and heroic death and was never able to understand that criticism. I loved and still love McCarthy’s score, the first Star Trek movie score I bought that launched my soundtrack collecting passion.

The crash-landing of the Enterprise was really exciting back in the day, just before the birth of the modern-day SFX blockbuster (it wouldn’t impress contemporary kids I guess:-))…

What I also loved about the movie was the very fact it just came out after the series finale. Most people say it was rushed, but for me that led to a couple of creative choices I really adore: the back-to-back use of TNG and DS9 uniforms for example! I loved it, seeing both sets of uniforms on screen, even adding another layer of crossover feeling to it (though it might have been exciting to get those other uniform designs used on the action figures and now – somewhat – for Lower Decks).

I loved the Stellar Cartography scene – again, this was 1994 – and loved those nasty Klingon sisters. I had some movie clips on my very first computer and I watched them to death,improving my English (which isn’t my mother tongue) along the way.

It was this movie that got me hooked on Trek entirely. From this day forward, I knew this was going to be my life’s center of attention and it remained that way until ENT got cancelled in 2005. Trek still is one of the most important genre franchises for me, even after such a long hiatus on TV.

There are far better Trek movies (and two-part episodes) out there, but GEN will remain one of the cornerstones and the launching site for my love of Trek.

Drink-Mix Man

Great essay. It is indeed a flawed film that needed way more time to gestate. But I love its themes of impermanence. I never got the beef with Kirk’s death. Yes, of course we all secretly fantasized about him going out in a heroic blaze of glory on the bridge or something, but the whole point of the film is that life is full of unflattering endings, and it’s how we deal with the here and now that matters. That doesn’t make for crowd-pleasing blockbuster entertainment (in fact, it’s kind of the antithesis of that), but it’s a resonant message. I wish I could have lived in the alternate universe where they had more time to refine those ideas.

Also, while the film doesn’t all gel in the most pleasing way, it has many, many exceptional isolated scenes, like Data asking to be deactivated and Picard telling him what he secretly needs to hear himself about dealing with emotions. Good stuff.

Danpaine

Despite it’s so-so script and many missed opportunities, I have a soft spot for this one. The last time we see Shatner’s Kirk, some great banter between Picard and Kirk, Scotty at the helm one more time, the overall theme of time and loss, and that super-intense opening. If the whole movie was as good as the first 15 minutes, they would have had something there. And to think this was supposed to be “Yesterday’s Enterprise,’ which turned into the TNG episode – if they had actually made the Ent-A come through the time rift to meet the End-D as a film, the possibilities could have been endless. All that said, I still take the dvd out for a spin once a year or so. Great review, by the way, and thanks.

And thanks for that info about the Chekov deleted scene! Just YouTubed it, and he really did some serious emoting there.

ML31

I absolutely LOVED Kirk’s last line. It felt completely write both for Kirk and Shat. It is the film’s standout moment for me. Even better than watching the E-D bite the dust.

“It was…. fun.”

Rocketscientist

“It was…. fun.”

Yeah, that was Ron Moore’s line. He thought it summed up the Kirk character and it does, succinctly.

Shatner’s idea was the “Oh my” part that came after and he’s explained it as Kirk seeing what was beyond life. I get what he was going for, but imo, they should have just left it with “It was…fun.”

Steve Gennarelli

When it was decided at Paramount that there would be a transitional film that would in some way include members of both casts, 2 scripts were commissioned. The one we ended up and one written by former ST:TNG producer Maurice Hurley. I’ve often wondered if Hurley’s film might have been better than the one we got.

I think Kirk didn’t die in his script and who knows, that might have allowed Paramount to revisit those characters earlier than 2009 when Spock returned for JJ Abrams “Star Trek”.

ML31

The version I heard was the two scripts were both going to be made into features. It was just a matter of which one would be first and which one 2nd. I heard that both could easily incorporate the TOS crew. The films were the Nexus story and the Borg story.

Just Another Salt Vampire

There is a summary of Hurley’s script in the Mark Altman book “The 50 Year Mission”. It involved a holodeck recreation of Kirk helping Picard figure out how to stop an alien invasion from another dimension. The real Kirk would have been long dead in the story.

Rocketscientist

Salt Vampire’s right.

I think maybe the Kirk as hologram element didn’t excite the Paramount execs and Berman as much as actually killing Kirk. I can’t remember whether that was Moore’s idea or Berman’s. I think it was Moore’s.

Tiger2

I doubt many fans would’ve liked that idea. Kirk already being dead (although realistic) would’ve killed a lot of the interest. Many people wanted to see Kirk and Picard actually together in the flesh.

c d

Hurley Cut!

PEB

There were clips in this film that I liked but overall…it’s odd to think this is what launches TNG into the feature films. I remember my mom taking me to go see this. We had watched Trek 6 in the theater together. They did a TNG trivia game in my theater before the film started with some nice prizes but the thing I remember the most were the number of TOS fans who were openly saying, I’m just here to see Captain Kirk, I hope he’s in a lot of movie. They had zero interest in TNG and couldn’t stand the characters.

Mike S.

At the risk of being that guy, Picard’s choice of when to go back to when leaving the Nexus is perfectly reasonable when you consider the fact that he has no way of communication with the Enterprise; he has no idea what the Duras sisters are gonna do and only finds out what happened after the fact.

ML31

But he DID know what Soren was doing and could have just gone back and detained him when he met him in the ship’s bar.

dennycranium

I did enjoy this film when it came out. I wasn’t keen on the casting of Alan Ruck as Captain Harriman. He will forever be Cameron (to me) from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I just couldn’t take him seriously as a Starfleet Captain. Also, having a bumbling Captain as commander of a flagship just didn’t make sense to me. I know it’s done to make Kirk look more heroic, it just doesn’t play here.
In my opinion, the comedic tone taken during the Nexus sequence with Enterprise B wasn’t suitable for the gravity of the situation.
Great read and review, however.
Great fun to reminisce

Tillsy

Actually its a misconception that the Enterprise was the flagship – that honour only fell upon 1701-D.

Kev-1

It’s not a bad movie. Do feel that the Nexus is time travel, albeit in a different way. This movie is truly the end of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek — the death of Kirk and the destruction of the Enterprise-D makes that clear. Going forward, the Enterprise clearly becomes a warship, and even the Starfleet uniforms lose more and more colors– from DS9 proportions to just collars and sleeve tabs. Knocking off Kirk never made any sense to me creatively or financially. I mean, Picard used him for a fist fight. Did the weapons in Kirk’s house work? He brought his uniform. He could have taken one. Kirk would never have been satisfied just sitting in that house. Maybe if that were Edith Keeler with him. Pretty good movie. Good Star Trek?

The River Temarc

I never bought the idea that Kirk was tempted to stay in the Nexus — and it was precisely because “Antonia” was just another name of the week. Had it been Carol Marcus, maybe.

ML31

I felt that way to. Antonia was just one too many “great loves of Kirk’s life”. As an audience member very familiar with the Kirk character, I had a hard time buying it. Had it been Carol Markus, then I could more easily buy it. I think the timing for it could have been right…

Mathew

I love this movie and Nemesis. Insurrection is my least favorite of the four. I have a film strip from the original star trek generations film from the scene where Kirk and Picard are sitting on horseback talking. Love this movie.

ML31

Hey… Someone who agrees with me that Insurrection was the weakest of the 4 TNG films. I liked Nemesis, too. A lot.

Rocketscientist

I agree with you too.

The inclusion of Kirk and Malcolm McDowell push Generations over INS for me. Yeah, INS probably has a better script and a Jerry Goldsmith score, but GEN has Kirk and Spock teaming up against Alex the Druggie!

Rocketscientist

Kirk and Picard, not Kirk and Spock!

Frank, Germany

My first ST movie in cinema was ST VI and I remember how I was eagerly awaited Generations in 1994. In those days the German version came out some time after the US premiere. But I and my Trek friends from the monthly “Trekdinner” were lucky: one of the group took us to a screening in a US military base near Frankfurt. He helped us even by changing our currency in US dollars. I vividly remember the anthem before the movie started and the xxxxxl popcorn that was sold. ;-) It was just AWESOME to watch it with our american friends (we had always great connection to the US troups – they were esspecially great to kids) in the original version. Weeks/months before its offical premiere in Germany. A trek moment to cherish and remember! And yes I liked the movie :-) Unbelievable that its 25 years since then and hiw big has Trek grown!

Boze

I saw Generations in the cinema before I got to see seasons 2-7 of TNG on TV (the airing order in my neck of the woods was… complicated), and that was probably one of the reasons I profoundly disliked it for years to come (the other major reason being that the movie used my favorite heroes as mere background characters). Eventually I learned to appreciate it as a part of TNG – but I only truly reconciled with the movie after reading the third book of DRG’s “Crucible” trilogy, which places the whole thing into the context of Kirk’s life, and perhaps even turns Kirk’s death into a happy ending of sorts, no matter how weird it may sound.

Pick Hard

First sentence: “I should really, really”

Right off the bat, that’s bad writing. Come on, folks.

Danpaine

Hey, Steve obviously wrote the piece with heart, an honest affection for the film and included a personal experience. I think he did a great job. And this isn’t exactly The New Yorker here. I’ve read much worse on the internet, where it’s more prevalent to find emojis used to describe something than actual words.

Really? That’s all you have to contribute?

Steve Vivona

In case anyone is wondering, I do this for a living. 25 years and counting.

Just Another Salt Vampire

I really enjoyed your story. I was in exactly the same place in life you were when I saw the film and had the same reaction to it. Thanks for your piece.

If this is all you’re going to contribute (and repeatedly comment effectively the same sentiment), this kind of thing is becoming a pattern with you, so maybe it’s time to move on Pick Hard. Consider this a warning.

It was a dark and stormy movie review….

Lighten up, buddy, this ins’t the literary guild.

I don’t hate any Trek, but for the movies, Generations is the worst of the bunch. And for others, the favorite. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Vantheman77

Generations could have been the best time to have both TOS and TNG crossover. The only things that stood out were the Kirk and Picard team-up and the destruction of Enterprise-D.

The nexus ribbon storyline was not well thought-out. Time has no meaning there. Kirk could have figured out on his own and would have returned to the Enterprise-B before his apparent death. Thus history could have been changed.

ML31

Well, I can understand where this writer is coming from. And I can see his points and do agree… To a point. My opinion of the film has changed somewhat over the years. But not a ton. When I first watched it I felt the film had the most life was only when Shatner was on screen. The TNG parts really fell flat. Now days I’m not as harsh on the TNG parts. They were OK. I guess my problem was, and sorta still is, their part of the movie felt like a TV episode. Granted, one of the better TV episodes, but still I do not want to feel like I’m watching TV at a theater.

The only Kirk issue I had was throwing yet another love of his life at the audience. I get why they did it but, my word… Enough already! As for his ultimate demise, I felt his final scene was quite touching and I really felt it amazingly appropriate. Also it made good on his premonition from Final Frontier where he figured he would die alone. He wasn’t alone but I took it to mean not around his family of friends. Picard could not be counted as one of them. At best he was a colleague.

Speaking of Kirk and Picard together… That is really what I think most were looking forward to. And I think most were disappointed at how little time they spent together. Personally I thought there were going to bring them together pretty early and then have a Butch & Sundance kind of adventure together. With them both getting to know each other and respecting each other a bit. Maybe even have Picard have the opinion that Kirk was over rated and meeting and working with him gave him new insight into the person he was and the era he was from. Yes, this is entering “buddy” movie territory but so be it. It still would have been better than the two of them in the kitchen.

As far as the features are concerned, I consider the film to have a couple of decent moments (I was THRILLED to see the E-D bite it. Hated it when I first saw it and never warmed up to it.) but overall rather mediocre. I heard they had two scripts and were going to do both. Both could easily involve Kirk and the plan was to do one and then go straight to the other. The other ended up being First Contact. I can only imagine the Kirk aspect of that would have been Borg go back to Kirk’s day and the ‘real person vs historical version of a person’ part of the story was going to be how everyone perceived Kirk. Part of me wishes that was the one they did with Kirk instead. But who knows how that would have played out?

fgdj2000

I agree with this. Sure, the film is somewhat silly, the Nexus all but a watertight concept, the destruction of the Enterprise thanks to stupidity (why didn’t they change the shield frequency?) and the death of Kirk controversial.

However, I love how the film incorporates the theme of transience into virtually every aspect. From the opening moments when Kirk was aboard the new Enterprise only that it wasn’t his ship, to his passing, to Picard loosing his family (which became so much more hard hitting after I watched “Family”, to the whole Nexus sequence where both Captains are enchanted by how different and less lonely their lives could have been, to Kirk sacrificing himself to “make a difference”.
I think Kirk’s death was handled particularly well. It was small in scale, not glorious, but also not as stupid as the original ending, and he died alone as was unintentionally foreshadowed in Star Trek V… also, just before he passes there is this moment of utter terror when he realizes, it is finally happening…

As for launching the TNG film franchise: well, this wasn’t the film for that. I see it more as a double-coda to both of these crews’ proper finales, Star Trek VI and “All Good Things…” and also a jumping off point for Star Trek: First Contact as the true start of the TNG film franchise with a new ship, new costumes, new sets, redesigned Borg and a slightly retooled crew (Picard as action hero, remaining cast except for Data more as supporting characters rather than main characters, overall darker more action-oriented tone).

I’m glad this one exists.

Michael Thompson

A good read, thanks.

Really needed the whole TOS cast and maybe something like yesterday Enterprise story

But glad we have it

Harry Ballz

I saw ‘Generations’ on opening night in a packed movie theatre in Toronto. When it got to the part where Kirk and Picard are talking in the cabin, with Kirk cooking the eggs, and Kirk says, “something is missing”, an audience member shouted out, “yeah, it’s called a plot!”
Everyone screamed with laughter, making it the one enjoyable moment in watching this mess of a movie!
A few years earlier, when they got the “Yesterday’s Enterprise” script, they should have stuck it in a drawer and kept it for the movie cross-over.

Tiger2

I agree with many that Generations felt like a missed opportunity overall! I remember how excited I was to see it being such a big fan of TNG turning me from a loyal fan of Trek before into a die hard fanatic and thought the show ended amazingly after seven (mostly) great seasons. It was definitely the most excited I had been to see a Star Trek movie up to that point being able to see the TNG cast on the big screen and of course with a few TOS favorites, culminating to the historic union of Kirk and Picard.

I saw it opening weekend at Mann Chinese theater with another fellow Trek friend from high school, which we had saw TUC there three years prior. It was our go-to for Trek movies at the time. Ultimately the huge excitement after months of build up ended up as disappointment by the time the credits rolled. Never hated it, but never loved it either. I don’t think my mind has changed much about it at all in all this time. While some Trek movies I felt got better the more I watched (and a few worse) overall my feelings on this movie has stayed in the middle.

There are definitely great moments in it and the stuff on the Enterprise B was a lot of fun. And I never had an issue with them killing Kirk off. Still don’t. It’s just HOW they did it I know rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Really loved the Data scenes (but thought the whole TNG cast was great) and yes the saucer crash is still pretty great IMO. It was so cool to see it on the big screen. I didn’t love the score at the time but that is the one thing I have learned to love later on. But overall the film just feels too disjointed. The Nexus is really one of the DUMBEST things Trek has ever done and yet it was the entire linchpin of the whole movie. But on its head it just makes no logical sense. I went into a huge rant about it on another site years ago how much it bothered me lol. I understood they wanted to avoid a straight time travel story but they should’ve just went that direction, especially since the best Trek films are mostly the time travel ones, First Contact being a great example of it in the very next film.

Anyway I still liked the film overall, but its still ranked on the bottom half of all the Trek movies. Not awful, but far far from great.

Trek in a Cafe

Before I had a chance to see it in a theater, I was at an art collective downtown in New York and someone had a dub of the film, the kind they shot with a cheap video camera. We sat on broken chairs and watched it on a small TV. I don’t know why I let myself watch that.

FredH

The entire film is a meditation on the choice between viewpoints about time and death: Soran’s “Time is the fire in which we burn”, vs Picard’s epiphany near the end that “Time is a friend that sees us through.”

There’s fire imagery throughout relating to death or time running out: the initial encounter with the Nexus and Kirk’s “death” in a burst of flame; Rene’s death in a fire; Kirk’s first line in the cabin (“Do you smell something burning?”); and of course the sheet of flame that wipes out the saucer and everyone on it the first time around.

When Kirk dies, after having changed all that, he’s *not* alone — a friend (Picard) is there to see him through.

Tom Schoon

I really enjoyed this article and your ‘fire’ comments above, Fred, are totally on point.
I watched Generations for the first time in over a decade recently and really enjoyed it. I got more out of it as an adult than I did watching it as a teen.
To be honest I think the writing of this film is Trek at its best. I just think it suffered from ‘too many cooks’ and ultimately that’s the issue.

I hope ‘Picard’ makes reference to the fact that Picard suffered some serious trauma in this film. Huge personal loss while meeting (and quickly losing) his childhood hero. I mean, that’s a plot point for an episode right there.

Anyway, your post about the Fire is totally right. The writers would have been across this and it’s a wonderful part of the writing most people miss.

TS

PaUl

Kirk’s echo is still alive in the Nexus to this day waiting for a skilled writer to bring him back & Paramount to agree to fund it!

Barry Mosk

A fantastic essay—wonderful reflection on a great movie, and a fantastic performance by Bill Shatner: “Did we make a difference?” Wonderful. Thank you, Steve.

albatrosity

When I think about successful franchises of the modern era and how well some of them [Marvel in particular] pulled it off, I’m forced to look back at Trek and think about all those misses the franchise suffered, yet still endures. Generations is probably the prime example of an epic would-be franchise crescendo moment that fell flat on its face. Why can’t Trek writers WRITE good movies? Honestly, you look at the last seven Trek movies [i.e. everything from Generations on] and while some of them are enjoyable films, the writing and plot is by and large junk. First Contact is nonsensical, Insurrection is boring, Nemesis is boring and stupid, and the Kelvin films are fun but dumb. Can we please just get a decent sci-fi movie in the Trek universe for once, where the action is in service of the plot, the logic adds up, and it explores thought-provoking themes? *cough* Quentin Tarantino *cough*

NX01

Lots of great moments in this movie, but lots of bad ones as well. Killing off Picard’s family like that felt like a lazy way to open up a part of the Picard character that was rarely touched upon. Killing off Kirk was also a lazy way to ‘pass the baton’. And a creaky 20 year old BoP isn’t inflicting that sort of damage on Enterprise, shields down, or not, because a Galaxy class ship would rip it to shreds before it could. It all felt lazy and quickly contrived.

The good moments were between Kirk and Picard, and the family scenes with Picard, despite the writers never having even hinted that Picard regretted not having a family (quite the opposite, actually). Though I suppose that is also evidence of lazy writing?

I still like it, though. And I still watch it when it’s on TV.

I absolutely loved this movie when it came out, and did not recognize its (many) flaws until they were pointed out to me years later. So I got to genuinely love this movie for many years, and still have a soft spot for much of it; and that ain’t a bad result.

I still can’t summon much actual dislike for it, apart from the doofy Harriman scenes and Kirk’s ignoble death. Overall, I just take it as a TNG episode, and I love TNG episodes.

You had a very similar experience to my own when I first saw Generations 25 years ago; I’d just survived an intense and devastating motorcycle accident (hit by a drunk driver), only to have my father pass away shortly afterward. With its themes of persevering in the face of adversity and great personal loss, GEN really spoke to me when I was at a personal crossroads (or nexus?) in my own life.

Yes, GEN is a flawed film, but those flaws don’t dull the message of the film for me, nor do they diminish the soothing effect it had on me during a very challenging year. It was like a hug from an old friend when I really needed one.

I wrote about it a couple years ago, when it seemed I was reading nothing but hate for this movie online:
https://musingsofamiddleagedgeek.blog/2017/12/12/in-defense-of-star-trek-generations/

Cygnus-X1

Well, it’s a Star Trek movie. It’s got that going for it.

I enjoy Malcolm McDowell’s performance. I don’t see any need to compare him to the incomparable Ricardo Montalban. McDowell turns in a compelling and enjoyable performance in his own right, probably the best performance in the movie, for my money. Patrick Stewart is wasted, as is William Shatner. Picard’s story-line — his brother’s family suddenly dying in a fire — comes across as a contrivance in service of both the plot and Stewart’s need for some drama to sink his acting teeth into. Eh, have his family die in a fire — something he can cry about, so movie audiences get a nice introduction to thespian Patrick Stewart. I don’t know what it is that makes some viewers take scenes like that sincerely while I find them cringe-inducing, but there you have it. We all go into movies with different baggage, needs and expectations. The scene on the Enterprise B I also find cringe-inducing. It’s so on-the-nose. Kirk is just there as a guest, but he can barely restrain himself from leaping to the rescue when things go awry, you know, because he’s a stereotypical hero… It just didn’t work on me — mostly, I guess, due to the way it’s shot. Too obvious, too melodramatic, the hackneyed reaction shots… like I said, too on-the-nose. And don’t even get me started on the Nexus. I’ve argued enough about it here, and I’m going to move on without saying another word about that concept.

All that said, reading this article has put me in the mood to watch that extremely disappointing movie. In spite of all its badness, there are parts littered throughout the movie that I enjoy. As has been mentioned already, the movie has good production values and cinematography (not the aforementioned reaction shots, obviously). McDowell’s performance is fun. And it’s not shot at the ADHD pace of the Bad Robot movies, which try to fool the audience into believing that their stories are complex, deep and thought-provoking by making them go by so fast that the viewer doesn’t have time to think about what’s going on. GENERATIONS doesn’t do that. It’s got a normal pace (or, what used to be normal for Star Trek movies), and it doesn’t try to hide its flaws amidst rapid-fire editing and spit-out dialogue. So, in an odd way, the Bad Robot movies have given GENERATIONS a certain luster of nobility by way of comparison. GENERATIONS isn’t the King, Queen, Prince or Princess of the franchise; it’s one of the lesser known Dukes that would be lucky to have a scandal in his lifetime. But, he’s still part of the royal family.

Cygnus-X1

P.S. “Time is the fire in which we burn” is the best line and concept in the movie. I don’t know that the concept goes much further than the line, but it’s a great line. It sounds like something that Nietzsche would have written.

(Friedrich Nietzsche, not Bob Nietzsche.)

Harry Ballz

“Time is the fire in which we burn” is a quote written by Delmore Schwartz. I suppose if you really geek out on the line, well, may the Schwartz be with you!

Cygnus-X1

Harry Ballz

Thanks. Nothing against Moore and Braga, but I had a feeling that line was too good to have been coined by them for this movie.

“Time is the school in which we learn, Time is the fire in which we burn.” – Delmore Schwartz, “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day” from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge.

ML31

With all due respect, I’m still going to hang my hat on “It was… fun.” as the best line in the movie. Even though Kirk’s part was way too small it was what the movie was building to. And in THAT instance at least, the writers did it the ball right on the screws.

c d

Generations was, unfortunately, a rushed money grab, full of missed opportunities. A disappointment all the way around. No wonder Nimoy and Kelley did not want to be part of it. The only interesting thing was the orange lighting in Picard’s quarters.
The shock by the others at Data’s dunking of Beverly always bothered me: it made no sense. But neither did the rest of the movie. The Nexus was stupid. The contrived death of Picard’s brother and nephew was stupid. OK, I liked the dog Butler. There was about 15 seconds of halfway decent interaction between Kirk and Picard.
But overall, it was…not fun.

tony

i like most of this film but think picard was shortchanged in it.
for some this was their first time seeing him on screen if they did not watch the tv show and him being all weepy over his loss meant they don’t get to see him as the strong leader he can be, especially when kirk turns up later.

they should have drawn on how picard prepares him self for losing someone close in ‘lessons’

and his nexus fantasy is dumb, should really have taken him back to the planet from ‘the inner light’.

tony

and some of the silly humour with data is redeemed when he almost loses it in stellar cartography.
that in itself is a great bit he and picard put the pieces together with some cool visuals.

Antonio Fernández Parga

This was the first Star Trek movie i have seen. I don’t share most of “popular” opinions by ST fans about the movies (For example, i prefer TMP over TWOK), and this is not an exception. For me, is one of the best ST movies and one of the more loyal to Rodenberry’s vision. People is complaining about Kirk’s death but i couldnt’t imagine a better ending for him than dying saving millions after putting his Starfleet duty above all his personal desires. The way he realizes that his Nexus life is like “a real dream” is totally awesome. I can’t explain with words my feelings when i watch that scene with the horses when Picard ask Kirk to “make the difference again”. The acting, the music, is something that you can just see in any new Trek film or series (hopefully in Picard).The opening with the bottle crash, the first Kirk’s “death” scene is one of the most epic scenes i’ve ever seen. When Harriman is about to go to Deck 15 and Kirk takes the captain’s chair he knows Ent-B is not his ship and says he will do the job is an incredible moment. You can see in his face the same epic expression he used to have in TOS. The transition between the Deck 15 scene and “HMS Enterprise” is just perfect, as are all the scenes with Guinan. OFC it has It flaws , some plot holes and some silly humour, but overall is a very good movie.
Thanks you Dennis McCarthy for creating one of the best movie scores ever. I recommend you all to listen to it, specially this tracks:
-Enterprise B/Kirk Saves the Day
-Deck 15/HMS Enterprise
-Out of Control/The Crash
-A Christmas Hug
-Jumping the Ravine
-Two Captains
-Kirk’s Death
-To Live Forever
-Overture (End Credits)
25 years later, Generations shines as strong as it will always do. It will always have a special place in my heart.
Excuse me for my bad english :(

Steve Vivona

Your English is just fine Antonio. Your message comes across loud and clear. Thanks.

Mike Thompson UK

Not forgetting the star of the film, Spot (Data’s Cat)

tony

and i think this film does well to finally end kirk’s story arc started in TMP, wrestling with his mid life crisis and wanting back in the chair again.

funfastonelover

Now really going for a curve ball on this post, but I happened to really enjoy the music and score. The adventurous fanfare as Kirk rides his horse through the woods was powerful. When Star Trek The Ultimate Voyage (the orchestra) was doing its run, I watched Dennis McCarthy direct his themes from this movie LIVE at Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. He brought a lot of emotion and strength to his compositions. In spite of so many missing plots and themes from the film, I thought one of its strengths was the score.

ST:EXP

I remember vividly opening night of Generations. First of all, when I saw the trailer in the theatres months beforehand, I nearly Shat myself when I saw Shatner. For whatever reason in high school, I didn’t even know the movie was in production. I was all about TNG but this was pre-internet days in Northern Ontario, so I was going in blind.

Then on opening night in our mono-speaker Cineplex… a whole group of us… MIXED GENDER NO LESS!!!… went to see it. All the closeted Star Trek fans came out of the wordwork that night. Normal boys and girls in unison to see a Trek movie. Unheard of up there at the time.

At the theatre….they sold a special TNG drinking cup with a Worf-head attachment on the lid. It was so weird. But what stood out in my memory is my friend sitting next to me who was too cheap to buy anything… asked to drink from my Coke cup. So then after his lips sucked up the elixir through the straw poking up from Worf’s ridges, I never drank from it for the rest of the night and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ruin the experience of the movie.

Short note… I still keep in contact with him… he’s in his 40s and is bragging to me this week how he downloaded Mandalorian on torrent rather than pay for Disney+. Just sayin’.

Anyway…. I was overwhelmed at the movie’s opening sequence in the TOS movie era… was puzzled by the absence of the rest of the crew because I obviously didn’t know about the behind-the-scenes stuff back in the day…. but I thought it was amazing.

Then I went into a confused panic when the next sequence is onboard a seaship. I didn’t clue in that they were on the Holodeck at first. It was sensation overload.

The rest of the movie… in the theatre… in 1994… was amazing. But all of us ended the movie walking out of the theatre… 16 year olds… saying to each other… “uhhhh…. why not just go back in the Nexus and…..”

So … once again… an otherwise possibly satisfying movie that is sabotaged by a massive, glaring, downright embarrassing plot hole. Oh well. Good times.

The “movie theatre” experience was different back then. I remember very clearly also opening night of The Undiscovered Country in 1991. First of all, hard to believe only a 3 year gap between those 2 movies. But there was a lineup outside the theatre to get in… and literally the entire theatre erupted in applause when the Klingon ship was destroyed by the Excelsior.

I don’t ever experience group-theatre moments like that anymore.

Old Trekker

Nice review.

Its a pretty good movie considering how crappy the story is. Still, it does have some really great moments and I love and now totally relate to some of Soran’s lines. As I age and am now knocking on 60’s door I am more keenly aware of my own mortality. I’ve lost friends and family in the years since Generations premiered. I hear the predator stalking. Sometimes I think I sense like the predator is circling or feel breathing on my neck waiting to pounce for the kill. This makes Picard’s line that time is a companion we take with us that much more poignant.

Could it have been better? Of course. Dumb story? Yes. Watchable 25 years later? Hell yes.

TonyD

I absolutely hated this movie; it’s one of the few things I’ve ever watched that makes me palpably angry just thinking about it. I refused to watch it during its theatrical run because it just looked terrible from the previews and when my brother encouraged me to watch the laserdisc edition with him, I think my one and only comment was “I’ve seen better plots in a cematary”.

The prologue on the 1701-B took every bad trope in the book and threw it into a blender: the only ship in the quadrant, the green captain, launching a ship with no weapons, etc.

The attempts at humor, especially with Data, were cringe-inducing and in many cases badly timed. Maybe they were trying to show that Data didn’t have a grasp of when it was appropriate to tell a joke but whatever the reason I never laughed once with the film.

The Nexus was the ultimate expression of Trek technobabble, leaving more questions than answers. First the writers set up that you could use it to go anywhere and anywhen, only to have Kirk and Picard return to the real world at pretty much the worst possible moment, not to mention not even bothering to at least try to explain how they were even able to leave the Nexus in the first place.

Making “Antonia” the love of Kirk’s life that he left behind only demonstrated to me how little the writers really cared for the TOS legacy. Since we never really even see her, why not try calling her “Edith” or “Carol” or “Miramanne” for that matter. At least that would have had some level of resonance.

Stewart’s acting was over the top to the point of being distracting a lot of the time. His grieving at his brother’s and newphew’s off screen deaths never felt sincere; neither did his “happiness” with his Nexus-manufactured family.

And of course the gratuitous murder of Kirk at the end in some misguided attempt to add shock value or pathos though I think it was just a further, overzealous attempt on the part of the filmmakers to cement the TNG cast as THE bearers of the Trek torch going forward.

The whole thing looked cheap and smacked of writers and filmmakers who were too in love with their own ideas to step back and take a truly critical look at what they were putting together.

Bravo to Nimoy and Kelley for wanting no part of this turkey; too bad Shatner didn’t exercise the same common sense and restraint.

Dom

Shatner said he was told they’d kill him off with stock footage, if necessary.

TonyD

Shatner came up with many excuses over the years. Personally, I feel he just thought Trek had run its course and wanted to get one more paycheck out of it.

If the filmmakers had really tried to pull a stunt like that, especially without Shatner’s blessing or participation, they would have been called out on it and the fans, press and probably the film critics would have had a field day.

Thorny

The movie has problems, but I’ve always loved that movie poster.
The Abrams movie posters were awful in comparison. Maybe movie posters is just a dying art. So much CGI today, that they seem to forget you just need a real artist for some things.

TonyD

Movie posters today have largely become Photoshop mashups. Sadly, many of the great artists like Bob Peak have passed away and it is a dying art form.

TechNoir

It’s not really a “dying” art form per se. It’s just simply ignored and under appreciated by the mainstream.

Plenty of great posters still get made – by fans and by artists who show their works in galleries like Mondo. The problem is the studios deciding photographic posters are the ONLY way to market a movie in that form. Not long ago I heard a story from someone who asked a studio suit why posters by illustrators in the Bob Peak and Drew Struzan mold no longer get official releases and their reply was, “Too artistic.”

albatrosity

I liked the minimalist Enterprise going to warp in black and white poster

Thorny

To each his own. I think it is hideous. I call it the “malfunction at the printing plant” poster.

ML31

It was nice. But misleading. It gives one the impression both will be in much of the movie together. Which, and yes this has been said before, I think most moviegoers were thinking the two would be together for the bulk of the film. Right there you have disappointed most of the audience. So the film had an uphill road right early on.

TKW

Always wondered what exactly Kirk and Picard had to do to leave the nexus. It’s like they just said “we’re going now” and it was easy as that… and Kirk knew how to get to same place as Picard somehow. What a mess

Thorny

Nevermind, “why didn’t Picard go back a few days earlier and warn everyone about Soran. Or prevent the fire that killed Robert & Family.” What a mess is an understatement.

And it would have been great if Picard’s fantasy life in the Nexus had been with someone we knew, like Kamala or Nella Darren, instead of that generic Charles Dickens family.

Tiger2

That was the entire problem with the nexus, everything about it just screamed PLOT DEVICE!!! There was no rhyme or reason to any of it. How could Kirk not know he’s been stuck there for 80 freaking years but yet Guinan (no sorry her ‘echo’) seem to know everything about the place, how long she’s been there, how it operates when she got there literally the same time Kirk did????

And if you can LITERALLY leave and go back at anytime or anywhere, why not, and wait for it because it’s not what you think, just go find Soran IN the Nexus and tell him to go back to his family before the Borg came???? If Kirk’s mind can be changed 20 minutes after he met Picard I’m sure Soran could have too if his choice involved getting his real family back and not the fake made up ones. And then no one has to be ‘stopped’ or stars has to be obliterated. And everyone lives happily ever after? Hell Kirk can just go back to his real time as well since its so bloody easy to do!

Honestly I defend Star Trek more than I criticize it but every time I think how ridiculous the Nexus is my blood practically boils.

ML31

I’ve always said giving characters control of time and space destroys all dramatic tension and urgency. If they had to struggle somewhat to leave the Nexus and learn that you can only do it once for some technobabble reason then you have created urgency. These Nexus time holes could have been plugged if they really wanted to with not much additional run time.

P-D Cougar

I’ve always thought that what would’ve made this film work better — and what would’ve provided a more emotionally satisfying impact about the sacrifice of Kirk — would have been if the planet that Dr. Soran was putting in peril was not Veridian III …. but, instead, was the planet Vulcan. Kirk sacrificing his life to save the planet of his friend, who had earlier sacrificed himself to save Kirk and the entire original Enterprise, would have given Kirk’s death at least some sense of connective poignancy (which just wasn’t present at all in what actually occurred). Rescuing a planet we’d never known about before by losing a character we all -did- know just didn’t have any sense of worthwhile tradeoff for the fans.

tony

they could have had a shot of the veridian III species, just as they did the aliens at the start of ‘darkness’.

Olaf

Great article, thanks for your opinion and explanation why it is the way it is. I actually share some of your love for the movie, but never thought about the reasons why. Though I must say I was sad to see the Enterprise D destroyed, as it was the ship with wich I grew up (I was something like 12-14 when TNG first aired over here in Germany or was available on video cassettes), and I don’t particularly like the Enterprise E tbh. Andrew Probert just wins over John Eaves for me every time, easily, though both have done a lot good for the franchise ;-)

Rocketscientist

Probert and Eaves’ two Enterprises are completely different and reflect the artists’ two different sensibilities.

I like them both. Yeah, the D is radically different from the original TOS TV and movie ships, but that was kind of the point, to make a futuristic looking Enterprise. I thought Probert accomplished that with his design for the ship and its bridge. It was over 80 years removed from the TOS films.

In contrast, John Eaves really liked Bill George’s Excelsior model and never liked the D. Consequently, that lead to his more retro Enterprise E.

Again, I think they’re both great.

I’ve never liked the C, though. That one just looks ugly.

One thing I like about Generations is the lighting of the NCC-1701D. I realize the tv show had to light things a certain way due to budgetary restrictions. But seeing the familiar set with shadows on them and different lighting was a nice touch.

ML31

People speak about how great the lighting in Generations was. But I found it to be the opposite. On board I could barely see anyone. They really needed to turn the lights up. The first thing that went through my head in the scene where Troi enters Picard’s room while he is looking at pitcures and he asks:

Picard: Is there anything I can do for you Counselor?

Troi: Yes! You can turn the damn lights back on!!!