Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Kirk (William Shatner)
"Engage!" Patrick Stewart as Capt. Picard
By Steve Vivona
Paramount, $29.95, Widescreen
After "Star Trek VI" Paramount decided it was time to retire the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and graduate the cast of "The Next Generation" to feature films. While it was probably the right thing to do, old-time "Trek" fans like myself were greatly saddened that we wouldn't see our old favorites in action anymore.
However Parmount decided the next feature should be a "passing of the baton" between the two casts. Initially the plan was to feature the entire original cast along with the "Next Gen" cast. But it was deemed logistically impossible and scrapped in favor of a 20-minute prologue featuring Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley declined to appear in what they deemed as perfunctory roles, forcing producers to go down the food chain and get James Doohan (Scotty) and Walter Koenig (Chekov) to appear alongside William Shatner (Kirk).
"Star Trek Generations" was touted as the film where the two captains, Kirk and Picard, would finally meet and share an adventure. The one mandate from on high was that no time travel be involved, giving the screenwriters a hefty challenge to get these two together.
The story was designed around the eventual meeting of Kirk and Picard and that is what drives the plot. In the 23rd century a retired Captain Kirk visits the all-new Enterprise-B for a christening ceremony, along with his loyal officers Scotty and Chekov.
During a "quick run around the block" the Enterprise receives a distress call from two ships caught in an energy ribbon. With no other ships in the area the incomplete vessel races to save the trapped ships. Kirk feels a strong desire to spring into action but he must defer to the Enterprise's much younger and more inexperienced captain.
The ribbon is an immensely powerful energy conflux that is tearing the ships apart. After one is destroyed Capt. Harriman (Alan Ruck) asks Kirk to intercede. Moving at lighting speed Kirk manages to save some passengers of the other vessel before it is destroyed. Soon the Enterprise is also caught in the ribbon, and will be destroyed if Kirk doesn't act quickly.
Kirk heads below deck to simulate a resonance burst from the main deflector dish, breaking the ribbon's hold on the Enterprise, but not before an energy tendril tears a gash in the hull of the Enterprise. Scotty and Chekov are horrified to learn their friend and captain was right in the ribbon's path when it hit, and he is presumed dead.
Nearly eighty years later Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has just learned his nephew and brother have been killed in a fire on Earth. The devastated Picard must come to terms with the loss of his family members and the probable end of his family line.
the Enterprise-D receives a distress call from a solar observatory that has been attacked by the Romulans. The Enterprise rescues Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcom McDowell), an El-Aurian scientist who survived the energy ribbon's destruction 80 years ago. Since then Soran has been trying to get back into the ribbon which is in reality a temporal nexus where time stands still and anything is possible. Soran is obsessed with the nexus and will do anything to return there.
He escapes the Enterprise and destroys a nearby star. Picard and Data determine that Soran is attempting to divert the ribbon's course and bring it to him. The ribbon will of course destroy anything in its path, but all Soran wants is to return to that idyllic paradise. Before long Picard realizes that Soran has formed an alliance with the nefarious Duras sisters to help him meet his goals.
After Geordi LaForge is captured by Soran Picard agrees to be part of a prisoner exchange in the hope he can convince him to abandon his insane desire. The Duras sisters return LaForge but Soran implants a transmitter in his visor, allowing the Klingons to punch through the Enterprise's shields and get off a devastating sneak attack.
The Enterprise manages to defeat the Klingons but the ship is irreparably damaged and crash lands on Veridian Three, where Picard is trying to thwart Soran. There Picard is unable to convince Soran to stop his maniacal plan. After he fails to bring his opponent down the planet is destroyed by the ribbon.
Strangely Picard finds himself in the midst of a Christmas celebration with a wife and family he never had. He soon realizes he is trapped in the nexus and none of this enchanted world is real. Picard knows he needs help to defeat Soran and he enlists the aid of another "prisoner," Captain James T. Kirk!
Everyone who saw "Star Trek Generations" knew Captain Kirk would not survive the film. He dies valiantly aiding Picard in his struggle against Soran, saving millions of lives in the process. Many complained that Kirk's death was not heroic enough or dramatic enough to befit a character of his stature.
I think that no matter how he died people would find it anticlimactic after the exciting opening sequence where he is lost in the energy ribbon. And having seen his original death sequence, which was roundly criticized by preview audiences, I can say this is a fitting and moving end for the good captain.
"Generations" is not the best "Trek" film. How could it be when the whole film essentially is built around a gimmick. See the two captains together! I thoroughly enjoyed the film despite some of the gaping plot holes, and Shatner and Stewart do have a nice chemistry in their few scenes together.
"The Next Gen" cast really came into their own with the far superior "First Contact," a film that proved they could carry a feature without any help from their predecessors.
Paramount's DVD of "Generations" is very nice, but is obviously struck from the same master as the laserdisc (an accepted Paramount practice during the early days of DVD). The widescreen image looks great and the dolby digital sound really rocks, but the film deserves a new anamorphic transfer. There are no supplements whatsoever, not even a trailer.
I've seen the workprint of "Generations" so I know about all the deleted footage that is out there (as well as the original ending). Hopefully Paramount will revisit the title in the future (along with all the other Trek films) and give Kirk's swan song its due.
The two captains