Star Trek Movie Retrospective: Star Trek Generations
The warning stroke of the Star Trek franchise.
I can’t keep putting it off. I promised I would do the entire series and am at the dross of Star Trek. This is like dinner as a kid, when I would rush to eat all the delicious mac and cheese and be left staring at a bowl of steamed spinach and broccoli. The fun is over. Time to put the work in.
Ugh. Where to begin. I suppose I should just do what I have been doing so far and talk about what happened in 1994. Tonya Harding went nuts. Nelson Mandala became president of South Africa. The US invades Haiti. The Northridge earthquake hits LA (I slept through it). OJ is arrested for the murder of his wife and her lover. A Finnish ferry sinks, killing over 900. NAFTA is signed. Most of Montana burns up in a wildfire. No one else in the US notices. Java is released as a programming language. The Channel Tunnel is dug. Other movies included the Lion King, Forest Gump, Dumb and Dumber, the Mask, Clear and Present Danger, and Pulp Fiction. Popular music included Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Sheryl Crow, and Boys II Men. Television was Law & Order, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Frasier, Star Trek DS9, and the great X-files (one day ask me about my Scully fantasies).
(Generations image courtesy of the Star Trek t shirt category)
While TV was doing OK, I think it pretty obvious that movies and music had both hit a slump. Paramount needs another hit Star Trek film. However, as the last one has more or less shown, the cast is well past their prime and not likely to appeal to the modern generation (haw!). The obvious solution would be to create a Next Generation movie. However, anti-movie producer Rick Berman failed to have enough faith in the TV show he produced for years to believe it could stand on it’s own, and like attaching water wings to a young (or severely disabled) child managed to convince the TOS stars with the least respect for their characters, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, and of course, Bill Shatner, to step in and make their TOS roles look even stupider.
So, the story. A giant space ribbon is tearing ass across the galaxy and sucks up Captain Kirk or something. Still not sure what happened there. Later, Picard comes across Malcom McDowell (remember that really cool movie he did a while ago about a violent sociopath? The movie with the great story that made sense and came from a book. I’m talking about Tank Girl, of course), who wants to get sucked back into the Nexus (the name of the ribbon) again because for some mysterious reason that is like Heaven, where you can do or be anything you want (my plan is to become an erotic dancer named Destiny). The only way he can do that is to attract the ribbon, and the only way to do that is to blow up a star with a populated planet around it. Picard and his crew do what they can to stop him, but fail.
So Picard gets sucked into the Nexus, where he gets bored of Heaven pretty quick. He runs into Guinan, still wearing the dumb hats, who explains that she is not really there but is a shadow and Picard can exit the Nexus anywhere he chooses, at any time he chooses. So he wants to go back to stop Malcom, but needs help. He recruits Captain Kirk, who was happy just chopping wood. Together they get into the lamest geriatric fight action sequence of all time (think a less coherent Bum Fight). Kirk dies, but Picard succeeds. Then, Picard leaves Kirk’s body to the rats as he goes rushing off to more adventure.
That’s pretty much it. I don’t want to get too deep into the what it had and didn’t have, although the value of what it didn’t have grossly outweighs what it did. What is specifially didn’t have was Mr. Spock or Dr. McCoy. Leonard Nimoy and DeForrest Kelley both either had too much integrity or they hired a third grader to read the script and let them know it was a steaming pile of crap. Uhura managed to miss it too. Sulu they only got by promoting him.
What the movie had was some massive, gaping plot holes you could fly the Enterprise through. Let me go into a couple.
OK. You are Captain Picard. You are in the Nexus, and need to stop Malcolm McDowell. You can come out at any point you wish. Why would you pull an old man out of retirement and then appear 2 minutes before Malcolm launches his doomsday rocket? Why would you not show up three days earlier on the bridge of the Enterprise and just throw his ass into the brig right then and there? Or paste his little base from orbit? Or transport to the surface with like 100,000 security guys? How dumb are you, man? He could have saved his brother’s life too
What the hell was Worf doing on the Enterprise? Wasn’t he supposed to be on DS9? And if he somehow transfered back, why was he still wearing his DS9 uniform, along with about half the crew? Was the costume budget so small they had to recycle old uniforms from other shows?
So Malcolm is about to launch his death rocket. According to Worf, it will impact the sun in something like 11 seconds. Assuming, since everyone can breath on the planet, it is a class M world similar to earth, that means it is 8 light minutes from the sun. This rocket would have to be able to do warp 46 to get there that fast. Lazy writers piss me off.
Why didn’t Picard recruit like 100 people to help him? For that matter, if time has no meaning in the Nexus why not enjoy a few million years of happiness and hair before dealing with the problems at home?
The planet’s ionosphere prevented the Enterprise’s sensor from detecting Picard? How lame are these sensors? This planet has an ionosphere. Also, given that we can now read a credit card from space couldn’t you just have the computer visually look at most of the surface, searching for the distinctive reflection off Picard’s shiny pate? How about getting off your lazy, bearded ass (yes, Riker, you) and send down a couple shuttles to look around a bit? I mean, it’s just the captain, right? He’s not really critical to the operation of the ship. No way he has broken a leg and is currently dying of thirst.
Why would Picard pick Kirk anyway? It’s not like he needed Kirk’s years of experience. He basically needed a red shirt to distract Malcolm and die while Picard saves the day, which is pretty much what Kirk did. While I do find irony in Kirk finally going down like a red shirt, it still bugs me that Picard didn’t recruit some kind of young combat guy or something.
What was the point of Data and his emotion chip, other than to completely annoy and distract the audience from the rest of the plot? Actually, now that I think about it, given the quality of the rest of the plot I don’t know if that was such a bad move. Still, it sucked.
If after Picard failed the first time and he and Malcolm were both in the Nexus, what was to prevent Malcolm from going back in time and killing Picard as a child, then jumping back into the Nexus at the first point he encountered it? For that matter, why didn’t he just fly up to it in a ship and shoot himself at it inside a photon torpedo?
Why did Picard leave Kirk, a galaxy wide hero known across Star Fleet, buried under a pile of rocks? His ship was about to pick him up. Are coffins so expensive in space? How about a nice memorial and tomb for him? I hope your final wish was to be eaten by alien worms on a forsaken planet, James.
What’s the deal with everyone in the universe being totally familiar with Tri-Lithium when it is an experimental compound the Romulans (not well known for sharing secrets) were experimenting with? Also, if it is such a rare, exoctic material, why did they have to come up with such a common sounding name? Lithium is pretty commonplace, and Tri-Lithium sounds like you just packed three of them together. Why not a Romulan name?
Did any of you ever watch the TV series? Apparently none of the movie producers did. Remember when Picard had to change his pants after being given a 12,000 year old “curlin nescar” (I don’t know how it’s spelled) and has a whole speech about how priceless it was? Well, why then would he drop it on the floor of his wrecked ready room and leave it for future archeologists after picking up his stupid photo album? For that matter, why the hell was his photo album and curlin nescar (Curling NASCAR? Maybe it had something to do with that weird Olympic sport where you sweep the ice combined with stock car racing) in the ready room and not his quarters? Isn’t that where he is supposed to keep important personal items?
Actually, the list goes on and on. The script was stupidly and lazily written, the TOS charactes were really out of place, Shatner’s overacting totally clashed with Picard’s Shakespearean training, Data acted completely out of character, and more or less the movie experience sucked. Of course, was it the worst of the Star Trek movies? Nope. It was more the harbinger of more pain to come.
Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.