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Generations

Review

Title : Generations Rating : 4
Number : VII Stardate : 48650.1
First Aired : 1994 Year : 2371
Director : David Carson
Writers : Brannon Braga, Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore
Main Cast :
Brent Spiner as DataGates McFadden as Beverly Crusher
James Doohan as Montgomery ScottJonathan Frakes as William T. Riker
LeVar Burton as Geordi LaForgeMarina Sirtis as Deanna Troi
Michael Dorn as Worf RozhenkoPatrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
Walter Koenig as Pavel A. ChekovWilliam Shatner as James T. Kirk
Guest Cast :
Alan Ruck as Captain John Harriman
Barbara March as Lursa
Brian Thompson as Klingon helm
Brittany Parkyn as Girl with teddy bear
Christine Jansen as Journalist
Christopher James Miller as Rene Picard
Dendrie Taylor as Lieutenant Farrell
Glenn Morshower as E-B Navigator
Granville Ames as E-D Transporter chief
Gwen Van Dam as El-Aurian survivor
Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor
Henry Marshall as E-D Security officer
Jacqueline Kim as Demora Sulu
Jenette Goldstein as E-B Science Officer
Jim Krestalude as El-Aurian survivor
John Putch as Journalist
Judy Levitt as El-Aurian survivor
Kim Braden as Marie Picard
Kristopher Logan as El-Aurian survivor
Lynn Salvatori as Antonia
Madison Eginton as Picard's child
Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Tolian Soran
Marcy Goldman as El-Aurian survivor
Matthew Collins as Picard's child
Michael Mack as Ensign Hayes
Mimi Collins as Picard's child
Olivia Hack as Picard's kid
Patti Yasutake as Nurse Alyssa Ogawa
Rif Hutton as Klingon guard
Stewart Lew as E-D Crewman
Tarik Ergin as E-D Medical Technician
Thomas Dekker as Picard's child
Thomas Kopache as E-B Com Officer
Tim Russ as E-B Lieutenant
Tommy Hinkley as Journalist
Tracee Lee Cocco as Lieutenant Jae
Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan
YATI : When Soran blows up the Veridian star, it dims as soon as the probe hits it. In fact, since the speed of light is not infinite it should have taken at least several minutes for us to see any difference at all.

There are several scenes in which we get close-ups of Geordi, and you can see his eyes through the VISOR. Each time we see his real eyes, not the white ones he is meant to have.

Great Moment : The crash landing of the Enterprise-D saucer section on the planet was amazing.
Body Count : El-Aurian refugees, some Amargosa observatory staff, the crew of the Klingon ship, Dr. Soran. Also 200 million on Veridian III nd the Enterprise-D crew, but these came back alive again.
Factoid : Originally, Kirk was shot in the back by Soran. Test audiences said this wasn't heroic enough, so the ending was re-shot to give Kirk a better send-off.
Quote : Scotty : "Finding retirement a little lonely, are we?"
Kirk : "You know, I'm glad you're an engineer. With tact like that, you'd make a lousy psychiatrist."

"They say time is the fire in which we burn..." - Soran to Picard

Soran : "Ah, Captain. You must think I'm quite the madman."
Picard : "The thought had crossed my mind."

Riker : "Data, we need you to scan the planet for lifeforms."
Data : "I would be happy to sir... I just love scanning for lifeforms. [sings] Life forms... you tiny little life forms... you precious little life forms... where are you?"

"You know there was a time when I wouldn't hurt a fly. And then the Borg came. And they taught me that if there is one constant in this universe, it's death." - Soran to Picard

"It was... fun. Oh my..." - Kirk; His last words

"Somehow I doubt this ship will be the last to carry the name 'Enterprise'." - Picard to Riker

Plotline

A tumbling bottle of champagne floats past a starry sky, sailing in towards a Starfleet Spacedock where it smashes against the Enterprise-B to mark the ships official launch. The ceremony is heavily attended by the press, there largely because the guests of honour are none other than Kirk, Chekov, and Scotty. The ships young Captain - Harriman - asks Kirk to order the ship out of dock, and they are soon off on a short trip around the solar system.

During the trip the ship receives a distress call from a pair of refugee transports a few light-years away. The ships are caught in some kind of anomaly, and are in great danger. Harriman is reluctant to help - his ship is ill prepared for a real mission, and he seems nervous of the situation. Nevertheless they are the only ship nearby, so they set an intercept course.

When they arrive they find two ships caught in a colossal 'energy ribbon'. Nothing Harriman tries will break them free, so he asks Kirk for help. Kirk tells him to move the ship in close enough to use the transporters, although it risks their own ship. They manage to rescue some of the refugees, but the Enterprise is soon caught up in the ribbon itself. Chekov goes down to the sickbay to assist the refugees; unknown to him one of the is Guinan and the other is Tolian Soran, a man who repeatedly demands to be sent back to where he had come from.

Scotty finds a way to break free using the main deflector and Kirk races off to deflector control to implement the plan. He is successful, but just as the ship escapes a bolt of energy destroys the section Kirk is in. As the ship limps home Scotty, Chekov and Harriman race to the scene and find a gaping hole in the hull - and no sign of Kirk.

We cut to seventy eight years later, and the crew of the E-D are on the Holodeck celebrating the promotion of Worf to Lieutenant Commander by masquerading as sailors from ancient Earth. Data, as usual, finds it hard to understand the emotions going on around him and is told by Crusher to be spontaneous. He responds by throwing her overboard.

While at the party Picard receives a personal message which causes him to leave at once. A few seconds later the party is further interrupted when the ship receives a distress call from an observatory which is under attack in the Amargosa star system. The ship races to the scene, but the attackers have departed. Picard orders Riker to take an away team and investigate. Riker finds the observatory wrecked; there is a dead Romulan body present, along with a survivor - Doctor Tolian Soran. Back on the Enterprise, Picard seems completely uninterested in the findings and asks Riker to inform Starfleet himself.

Meanwhile, Data is concerned by his behaviour at the party. He has struggled for many years to be human, but he still has not managed to understand such a basic thing as humour. He convinces a reluctant Geordi to install the emotion chip that his creator Soong designed for him, despite the engineers misgivings about the devices safety.

Initially the chip seems to work, and Data experiences various emotions. But when Worf finds that the Romulans tricorder was configured to detect Trilithium - a substance which can destroy an entire star - Data and Geordi are ordered to go over to the observatory and see if there is any of the substance there. They find a solar probe which has Trilithium within it, but Datas emotion chip begins to malfunction and he becomes hysterical. When Soran turns up and knocks Geordi out, Data cowers in fear and begs the scientist not to hurt him.

While this is going on, Troi goes to see Picard and asks him what is upsetting him. He shows her pictures of his brother and nephew, then breaks down in tears as he admits that they have burned to death in a fire. As Troi comforts him there is a sudden massive explosion on the Amargosa star - the solar probe has been launched and the star is collapsing. A shock wave has been produced which will destroy the entire solar system within a few minutes.

Riker and Worf go over to the observatory, but Soran pulls a gun and begins raining fire at them. Data refuses to help, still too frightened. As the fire fight continues a Klingon Bird of Prey arrives on the scene and transports Soran and Geordi on board before escaping. The Enterprise beams its away team back and escapes just as the shock wave destroys the observatory.

Soran tortures Geordi in order to see what he knows about Trilithium. Meanwhile on the Enterprise Picard learns about Sorans past and asks Guinan about him. She tells Picard about the energy ribbon, which she calls the 'Nexus'. Apparently the Nexus is a kind of paradise - once inside you can live any life, anywhere, have anything you have ever wanted. Sorans family were killed by the Borg, and he is obsessed with getting back to the Nexus in order to be able to live with them again.

Datas emotion chip has become fused with his neural net and cannot be removed. Nevertheless, Picard orders him to continue with his duties and they analyse the trajectory of the Nexus. Picard surmises that Soran destroyed the Amargosa a star in order to make the Nexus pass through the Viridian system. He plans to destroy the Viridian star in order to make the Nexus sweep past one of the planets, where he will wait for it to pick him up. Unfortunately, one of the other planets in the system is inhabited by hundreds of millions of people.

The ship heads for Viridian, where it finds the Klingon ship waiting in orbit of one of the planets. Lursa and B'Etor are on board, and Picard does a deal with them - he will trade himself for Geordi if they beam him down to talk to Soran. Once on the surface Picard finds Soran has built an encampment on a mountain top to launch another solar probe from. His camp is protected by a fifty gigawatt force field, and he is resistant to all of Picards arguments. Fortunately, Picard finds a way to get under the force field and sets about digging through.

Back on the Enterprise Geordi has returned to work, not realizing that his VISOR has had a small camera installed in it which allows Lursa and B'Etor to see everything he does. When he looks at the shield control panel the sisters are able to find the Enterprises shield modulation frequency, and promptly rain torpedo and disruptor fire on the ship. The Enterprise tries briefly to return fire, but is unable to fight effectively without its shields. Finally Riker and Data come up with a plan to force the Klingon ship to cloak by sending an ionic pulse at it. The plan works; as the Klingon ship cloaks its shields drop, and Worf uses a photon torpedo to destroy it. Unfortunately the Enterprise has suffered catastrophic damage and a warp core breach is imminent. They separate the saucer section and try to escape, but the massive explosion of the Engineering hull pushes the saucer into the atmosphere of the planet and it crash-lands on the surface.

Meanwhile, Picard attacks Soran but is quickly defeated. The solar probe launches and the Viridian star collapses, altering the course of the Nexus so that it sweeps up Soran and Picard. The shock wave from the sun then destroys the system, its inhabitants and the Enterprise saucer section and crew.

In the Nexus, Picard is living his ideal life complete with wife and children but he cannot rid himself of the feeling that it is not real. He meets an image of Guinan, left behind from when she was briefly in the Nexus, and she tells him that he can leave the Nexus whenever he wants to. When Picard asks for her help to stop Soran she declines, but takes him to meet Kirk just after he arrived in the Nexus from the Enterprise-B.

Kirk is initially reluctant to help, but Picard manages to convince him and they both return to the planet to stop Soran. As Kirk fights with the Doctor, Soran activates a cloaking device around his solar probe - then loses his remote control on a collapsing bridge. Picard heads for the launcher as Kirk goes for the control, climbing out onto the precarious structure. He manages to retrieve the device and deactivates the cloak, but as he does the bridge collapses and he falls with it into a rocky chasm.

Picard manages to engage the locking clamps on the probe, and as Soran attempts to release them the rocket fires, causing an explosion which kills Soran instantly. As Picard climbs down to find Kirk the Nexus passes by overhead. Kirk is badly wounded and as Picard assures him that he has made a difference one last time, Kirk slowly slips away. At the instant of death his eyes widen slightly and he murmurs "oh, my!" in apparent surprise.

Picard buries Kirk in a simple rock tomb on the mountain before a shuttle arrives to pick him up. Several starships have arrived to rescue the Enterprise crew, who fortunately suffered only light casualties. Even Datas pet cat Spot survived, and despite the androids confident prediction that he now has his emotions under control Data weeps with joy at finding his beloved pet. Picard and Riker beam up to the waiting ships, and they warp out of orbit.

Analysis

So far I've generally talked about the bad things in a film before going on to talk about the good. So here goes :

Generations has plot holes in it. They're not the gaping chasms that some claim, but they are definitely there. The largest is the sudden insistence about halfway through that you can't get into the Nexus via a ship. Yet Soran originally gained access via a ship, as did Kirk, as did Guinan. The hole is fixable - we could say that there was a risk that the ship would be destroyed before it was close enough for people to be scooped up, and that Soran was unwilling to take this risk. But although this would have been trivial to accomplish - maybe two or three lines of dialogue would have done it - the film makes no such statement. As I said several times in my review of ST V, audiences should not have to rationalize these kinds of things for themselves.

Then there is Picards choice of where to go when he leaves the Nexus. Why not go back earlier, on the E-D, when he held all the cards and could just order Soran put in the brig? We can speculate that Picard wanted to minimize the changes he was making to the timeline - and bear in mind that at this point he didn't know that the Enterprise had been destroyed so had no motivation to save it - but again this is something the writers should have made clear.

Datas emotion chip is also treated somewhat unevenly. For one thing, it's grown to about fifty times its original size in this film. It's inserted into the top of Datas head instead of his neck. They claim it cannot be removed, but then at the end Data says he has decided not to remove it! The latter at least would be trivial to avoid - simply have Data say he has asked Crusher to stop trying to work out a way to remove it and the problem vanishes.

Then there is the battle with the Klingons. I only partially agree with some of the nits on this one - the Enterprise could not warp out of orbit to avoid destruction, because one of its nacelles takes a hit quite early on. There is nothing to say that they did not try to rotate shield frequencies to save themselves, as some say they should, whilst we were not looking. But bear in mind that it is Geordi that would be doing these changes, and Lursa and B'Etor would adapt their weapons in a matter of seconds.

More seriously, however, we only see the Enterprise fire one single phaser beam at the Klingon ship during the whole battle. This is ridiculous; the ship has phaser arrays capable of firing on any point in the sky, it should easily have been able to keep up a continuous barrage on the Bird of Prey.

There are also a couple of less important nits - the Enterprise is plunged into near darkness for this film, as if it simultaneously blew about three quarters of the bulbs on the ship! When Riker leaves Picards ready room he walks into total darkness - there is no signs whatsoever of the bridge beyond. And of course, having Scotty believe Kirk is dead in this film leads to a contradiction with "Relics" where Scotty in the future thought that he was alive. Probably the biggest and most obvious technical nit is the lack of light speed time lags during the initial stages of the destruction of the Viridian star.

All of this is without doubt annoying, and several are large enough to be serious distractions even on first viewing. But so much for the bad points. What of the good?

This film is one of the very few that has an 'epic' feel to it. We have BIG things going on here; a story that spans almost a century and involves the death of entire solar systems, the destruction of the Federation flagship, even the loss of what is probably Star Treks single greatest icon - Captain James Tiberius Kirk himself. Visually the film is stunning; the Enterprise-B is cool and its encounter with the Nexus is an amazing sight to behold. The Enterprise-D exterior looks incredible in some scenes - although less impressive in others - and while the interior darkness is a little hard to understand it does give the ship a more mysterious and interesting feel. The battle and subsequent crash of the saucer section is one of the most magical sequences in any film, while the destruction of the Viridian system is gorgeous also.

The film is also a very emotional one - we see a warmth and familiarity between Kirk, Scotty and Chekov at the beginning of the film through to similar feelings at Worfs party, to Picards grief at the loss of most of his family. Picards struggle with his feelings is paralleled by Datas own struggle, which throws up some excellent scenes. Seeing Datas fear of Soran for the first time was a genuinely unsettling experience for me, while some of the humour this thread generates is also excellent. Soran himself is a good villain - his obsession is not quite so well done as Syboks in ST V, but is nonetheless convincing. Sorans reasons for behaving as he does also manage to introduce a little sympathy for him, no mean feat considering his actions in the film. The chemistry between Kirk and Picard is excellent, with both actors playing their roles just right. The sequence where they defeat Soran is reasonably well done, although the re-working of the ending messes up the timeline somewhat.

In considering Kirks death, comparisons with Spocks final scenes in ST II are inevitable. This is a much more subtle and low-key sequence, but that is in keeping with the characters involved. I really like this scene; in the original ending Kirks death was a fairly meaningless one, shot in the back by Soran. In the revised version he goes out in a final act of heroism, which is much more fitting. His final moments are good, when Kirk seems to see something that makes him exclaim "oh my!". A hint that just maybe he is starting on a new adventure after all...

So, in my opinion the good things about this film more than outweigh the flaws. It remains one of my favourites.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 6,122 Last updated : 23 Nov 2014