Star Trek: Generations Review
The Star Trek juggernaut never seems to slow down. We've now had four TV series and nine movies with a tenth currently entering production. Given the critical mauling that greeted the first movie it is surprising that anything else bearing the Star Trek moniker was made. Thankfully while it may have been a failure in terms of reviews, monetarily it was a resounding success and that’s the reason why Star Trek has become an integral part of Paramount’s catalogue of titles.
Any Star Trek fan will tell you that the odd-numbered movies were always thought of as being inferior to their even-numbered counterparts. For every Wrath of Kahn (great) there was a Final Frontier (mediocre!). Being the seventh movie in the series, Generations always had a cloud hovering above it - even before it was announced. Thankfully it didn't scrape the barrel in terms of content and never came anywhere near as bad as some of the earlier movies. That said, it was never really outstanding either - especially when compared to The Wrath of Kahn or The Undiscovered country.
Starting of pretty cheesily with Kirk, Scotty and Chekov coming aboard the Enterprise-B (the third ship to bear the name) on its maiden voyage. Of course, with this being Star Trek there was little chance of this being a smooth voyage and literally minutes after leaving Spacedock an SOS call comes through. With the Enterprise being the only ship in range of they go on yet another rescue mission. Arriving at a ribbon of energy they find two small ships containing refugees caught up in its gravitational effects. Both eventually get destroyed with Scotty only managing to save a few of the El Aurian passengers.
During the rescue, Kirk is apparently killed by a rogue tendril of the ribbon that also rips through the hull of the Enterprise. The energy ribbon - known as the Nexus - was actually a gateway to an alternative existence where everyone’s dreams are a reality. As a result, the El Aurian survivors weren't best pleased to be pulled back by the Enterprise transporters - one, a scientist named Soran (McDowell) ends up spending the next seventy years finding a way back into the Nexus.
Cue the entry of the Enterprise D, captained by none other than Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) himself. The Enterprise is called to a stellar observatory after it is seemingly attacked by Romulans looking for a volatile substance known as trilithium - on board who do they find? None other than Soran, who appears to be conducting experiments - experiments that apparently consist of the destruction of a star or two! Assisted by the Klingons, Soran makes his escape and after some investigation it becomes apparent that he plans to change the course of the Nexus by destroying one more star. The new path would take the Nexus into the atmosphere of a planet where Soran intends to await its arrival. The star in question just happens to have a planet in orbit which is home to millions of humanoid life forms and in order to stop them being killed Picard and crew must stop Soran before it is too late.
Unfortunately, Soran is a match for Picard and it seems all is lost - the star is destroyed and the Enterprise is destroyed in a spectacular array of special effects. Being Star Trek, there's no way things are going to end up so badly and inside the Nexus, Picard meets Kirk who has been there since being 'killed' aboard the Enterprise B. Together they unite and leave to once again face Soran and stop his trail of destruction.
I hope I haven't spoiled too much for you! That's the general gist of things, and as you can see the plot is a little convoluted to say the least. It's fairly well scripted - although as with all Star Trek movies we have the obligatory technobabble that bogs things down slightly. The performances are generally strong, particularly that of McDowell who fits in well as the tortured scientist willing to do anything to find happiness. Shatner is undeniably just as good at playing Kirk as he always has been - even when not in Star Trek, he's still Kirk and I don't think he'll ever easily fit into another role.
The story is an effective link between the old and new Trek's but it suffers from being a little too inaccessible to the general cinema-going public. If you don't like Star Trek then there is no way this film is going to convert you - it's a perfect demonstration of average Trek.
Being an early Paramount release, the disc is something of a letdown. After a promising start, they lapsed into a period where every release would be non-anamorphic and feature-free. Generation suffers immensely and after the excellent picture of First Contact this is a huge disappointment.
Presented at the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 the picture is, as mentioned above, non-anamorphic. It's not even a good non-anamorphic transfer - everything seems overly dark and the blacks tend to hide a lot of detail. There aren't any noticeable digital artefacts (that said, if there were the non-anamorphic transfer would do a pretty good job of hiding them1) although there is some very limited print damage with a few scratches visible from time to time. The special effects scenes are the highlights seeing as these are generally dark anyway and as such they seem well defined. Despite the problems mentioned the contrast levels are fairly good and the brighter scenes do look reasonable.
Sound-wise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does a pretty good job. The front soundstage is well defined with good use of surround effects. Science fiction films always tend to fare well when it comes to sound and this one is no different. There are plenty of nice deep explosions giving out a lot of bass and the central channel is nice and clear - dialogue is nice and clear.
There are literally no extra's. Unlike all of the other Star Trek releases currently on the market, this one doesn't even contain a trailer. Hugely disappointing as some interesting extras could have made this discs a potential keeper; the lack of extras is, however, unsurprising given Paramount’s early track record.
The Region 2 release of this movie is due in October, and going on their current Region 2 releases it looks likely that this one could be anamorphic. If you want the best version of this movie then it's certainly worth waiting. Once again this is a demonstration why all of those Region 1 zealots aren't always right!
It's hard seeing anyone other than die-hard Trekkies wanting to own Generations. It's not one of the best movies of the franchise - it's little more than average when compared to those that do stand out. That said, it's far from the worst and it is far better than some people would have you believe...