Star Trek – Generations

Two Captains, One Movie, No Point

Nice poster, at least

Now that the original crew have sailed off into the sunset with an unambiguously perfect finale for them, we have this, a weird attempt at both a coda for the TOS crew and the first of four attempts to bring the TNG crew to the fore. But can they do it?

Pre-Existing Prejudices: I saw this at the Odeon, Leicester Square in London on the very first week of its release. “All Good Things…” had not long passed and it was terrific, and being in the position to see this at one of the world’s premier cinemas combined with the warm afterglow of the TV series set me up to be very receptive towards this, and I remember thoroughly enjoying it when it was released. I’ve seen it a few times since and sadly it seems that time makes fools of us all, and it would be a vast understatement to say that my opinion of it has plummeted.

What’s It All About, JG? Kirk and a random assortment of available actors from the original crew are sending a new Enterprise off on its maiden voyage when there’s an emergency and they need to rescue some people who have encountered an energy ribbon. Kirk races to save the ship while refugees are beamed on board, one of whom is Guinan, and one of whom is This Movie’s Bad Guy, Dr Soran. Kirk is apparently killed as the ribbon hits the ship… and now we’re on the Enterprise-D, a hundred years later, dicking about on the sodding holodeck. Picard gets a plot-adjacent family death but is sent to investigate a stellar array which has been attacked. Soran is discovered there, brought over to the Enterprise to finally get the plot moving. He has a nefarious (?) plan to get back to the ribbon by diverting its path via the highly-credible plan of blowing up a star. He’s in cahoots with the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor who – for reasons too stupid to go into – blow up the Enterprise causing the saucer section to crash. Picard ends up inside the Nexus where he discovers Kirk who – twist! – isn’t dead after all. They unite to stop Soran although this time it really does cost Kirk his life. And not a small amount of dignity either.

Any Other Business:

  • I do like that opening of the champagne bottle spinning through space before shattering on the Enterprise-B’s hull.  A pleasingly different image to get the credits out of the way to. 
  • The bridge of the Enterprise-B is quite the who’s-who of “hey it’s that guy!”, including Aaron Pierce off of 24, Cameron Frye off of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and of course Lieutenant Tuvok off of Star Trek: Voyager (and there’s a small part of me that wishes that someone would CG a pair of Vulcan ears on to Tim Russ in this, just for fun). 
  • Sorry to say, but James Doohan just isn’t trying a leg here.  The contempt he has for proceedings is radiating off him with enough to power a warp core, and he looks far too casual as the Enterprise-B starts to pull free of the ribbon instead of trying to inject some tension into the scene.  It’s a sad turn for his last appearance in the role.  Walter Koenig is noticeably better, and has a much more relaxed, casual charm about him. 
  • William Shatner, on the other hand, is agreeably cheesy as one would expect but he gets a couple of great moments, most noticeably when he’s champing at the bit to intervene when Harriman is receiving status updates on the unfolding crisis but forcing himself to hold back. 
  • There’s also something quite pleasing about the fact that what eventually defeats Kirk (well, the first time anyway) isn’t some Klingon plot, galaxy-spanning conspiracy, or space whale, but the comparatively small fry of a rescue mission gone wrong.  Even when it’s a minor, by his standards, incident Kirk is still prepared to put his life on the line.  I really like that. 
  • One of the problems Generations suffers from is that of redundancy.  Both Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and “All Good Things…” conclude their respective branches of the franchise perfectly well, so there’s no obvious need to extend either any further.  ST:VI gives a charming send-off to the old lags as an effective Cold War allegory by taking things right back to their roots but with a genuine sense of progression.  And “All Good Things…” brings a narrative unity to TNG while bringing all the themes and intentions of the show full circle.  Yet here we are. 
  • Credit where credit’s due – though I generally avoid discussing effects, the one for the Nexus energy ribbon is genuinely terrific and worthy of some praise. 
  • No credit where no credit’s due – the crashing of the saucer section looked rubbish then and it looks rubbish now, though it does pass my what’s-in-the-script-is-what’s-on-the-screen benchmark.  See the Voyager episode “Timeless”, though, for how good a crashing starship can look. 
  • Every. Single. Second. spent with Lursa and B’Etor is painful, over-acted, deeply unfunny, un-necessary and hammy in all the terrible ways that non-Trek fans mock the show for.  That they die here is a mercy – that they appear here at all is most certainly not. 
  • Yay, we have a TNG film, and in Whoopi Goldberg TNG has a legitimate movie star!  And now she’s going to be in the TNG movie!  More yay!  Wait… that’s what they gave her to do? 
  • In the review, I’ll pointing out that one of the (very few) great things about Generations is how good they are at getting the details right.  What makes Generations such a frustrating film from today’s perspective is that so many of the details are right but the basics seem to have been entirely neglected.  
  • Marina Sirtis is on screen in this movie for about… I dunno, eight or nine minutes maximum?  Yet she’s really, really terrific.  The scene in Picard’s quarters where she gently questions him until he breaks down is usually seen as one of Stewart’s stand-out performances, which is it, but Sirtis is brilliant during that scene too and should definitely not be overlooked.  And the casual but professional way she takes the helm during the crash is excellently played as well, all no-nonsense practicality.  
  • I really like Soran’s gun.  And I really like that it blows actual chunks out of things!  It lends a real sense of threat to every scene its used in.
  • The staging of the sun dying as seen from Veridian III is obviously nonsense from any kind of scientific accuracy point of view but it’s very nicely shot and the darkness falling over California the planet is very effective. 
  • While I’ve always found Picard’s fantasy and fake Nexus family a little… tawdry and unremarkable somehow – especially since they seem to forget that Picard is French, somehow, and is instead given a Hollywood-perfect English family – I love Kirk’s.  He’s always been at the frontier of space exploration and now here he is, in a symbolic representation of America’s frontier and the Western roots from which Star Trek sprung.  That’s a wonderful, elegant piece of writing and imagery.  
  • One of the flaws in Generations is that after you’ve show a Klingon Bird Of Prey be destroyed, then the Enterprise blown up and the saucer-section crashed, then a sun explodes, then the planet Our Heroes are standing on is destroyed, its very tough to make a bit of fisticuffs between three less-than-svelte actors look like a worthwhile climax to two hours of adventuring.  Maybe if had been in a tight, claustrophobic environment, full of tension and dread, they could have pulled it off, but not under the wide open skies and glaring sun of yet another desert shoot – it just drains the tension away. 
  • However there is one thing that, unforgivably, Generations fails at.  In its treatment of the death of arguably the single most iconic science fiction character of all time this film is, regrettably, a failure.  Honestly, Kirk’s Enterprise-B death is more affecting than his final one, which seems like a bit of a flaw in a film that’s there to explicitly kill him off.  Though at least it is final, which is a point in the film’s favour, and despite the wheezing labours of any number of spin-off novels to suggest otherwise. 
  • The final scene between Riker and Picard on the ruined bridge is, however, really rather charming, and a nice conclusion to the whole rather pointless escapade.  The film could have done with a bit more of that.  And the three-ships-jump-to-warp that concludes the film is corny as hell but very difficult to watch without having a broad grin plastered across your face.   

In Conclusion:

Right, here we go! The TNG crew have, at last, made it to the big screen. After a wobbly first couple of seasons (scripting wise – the show always did well in terms of ratings) TNG managed the near-impossible task of not only taking on TOS at it’s own game, but in some fairly significant ways bettering it. In Patrick Stewart TNG finds an actor of suitable ability to really anchor the show with, and once you have the captain’s chair sorted out everything else kind of falls into place. TNG has cemented its place in popular culture. Nothing can quite replicate TOS’s place in culture, because that time and that crew are consigned to history now, but it’s a huge achievement that TNG was, in essence, able to achieve exactly the same position in popular culture for the 80’s and 90’s that TOS managed in the 60’s.

And, just like TOS, it dealt with issues relevant to the times – anything from genetic experimentation to environmentalism – and by doing so both roots the show in the time it was produced and fulfils Star Trek’s mission statement to be actually about something. Even now, with the new Picard show up and running (to variable success), TNG continues to exert considerable cultural pull, whether through the new show, memes and gifs of Picard looking despairing, “Make it so” and “engage” becoming functional catchphrases… TNG’s place in the cultural lexicon is secure, and it was back when Generations was released as well. After seven wildly successful seasons it was far from surprising that Paramount would want to bring TNG to the big screen, and so we have this, released just a year after the show finished. Finally, all the goodwill, all the quality, all the thoughtfulness would be brought to the movies, giving TNG its chance to really prove that it could better TOS in that environment too.

Oh dear.   

Right, let’s try that again.  Time hasn’t been very kind to Generations, it’s fair to say, and it’s flaws as a movie seem a lot more glaring with the distance since its initial release.  Obviously the first and most important thing to say about Generations is the big marquee selling point – the meeting of Kirk and Picard.  That’s what the film exists for, that’s what it was marketed as, that’s the whole point of the exercise.  And Generations does make a genuine effort to build to this and make the appearance of both captains function beyond the handful of scenes Kirk and Picard actually share.  Of particular note is the difference in direction between the opening TOS segment and the latter TNG segments. 

The TOS segments really do feel like they belong to the same series of movies that the original cast rattled about in for six instalments.  That’s in part because, apart from a couple of moments from Shatner, nobody seems to be trying to act per se but rather have just turned up to do their party pieces – even the guest cast we haven’t seen before – which gives everything a jokey, companionable feeling.  So there’s a bit of laboured humour, just like the old films, and then there’s a bit of a crisis, just like the old films, and good old Captain Kirk springs into action, just like the old films.  It all seems very familiar, so when we’re left with the realisation that this time something has genuinely gone very wrong it is jarring in all the right ways. 

Shatner running up and down corridors – well we’ve that hundreds of times before while Scotty works another miracle, and the script goes out of its way to call attention to this (“Keep her together until I get back”, says Kirk.  “I always do” Scotty shoots back) before delivering the blow of Kirk’s death.  It’s an effective subversion, and James Doohan’s one attempt at acting in the movie – his heartfelt “aye” when Chekov asks him if anyone was in Engineering when it was damaged – really helps to sell it.  Even the fact of a major character being “killed” is something we’ve seen in the original series of movies so even that feels like it has a resonance with the past.  All of this really lets the TOS part of the film feel like it’s part of what came before it, part of the same canon and part of the same continuity.  And then… 

… we crossfade to the (you can assume the word “sodding” always precedes mention of the…) holodeck and there’s a subtle but definite shift in the style.  This is, obviously, the most ambitious use of the holodeck to date, and certainly the most expensive.  The holodeck has always been a bit of a Magic Cave, owing as much to The Old Curiosity Shop or, to be honest, Narnia, as it does to any meaningful extrapolation of technology.  As far as TNG goes it’s been there to inject a bit of variety, something it’s done more or less successfully as long as you don’t think about it too much.   Here, though, there’s a real attempt to stretch what can be done with the holodeck in a way that, well, just seems a little bit more ambitious than the TV show ever managed even as it remains perfectly in keeping with it – just as hanging out on the bridge of the Enterprise-B was perfectly in keeping for TOS

That’s appropriate – if there’s one thing that Star Trek: The Motion Picture taught us it’s that just doing the same thing you did on telly but on a movie screen isn’t enough.  So seeing the familiar trope of lets-have-a-jaunt-on-the-holodeck but on a noticeably grander scale helps to establish the feel of how a TNG movie should operate but just that little bit bigger and bolder, while at the same time differentiating it from what came immediately before in the TOS section of the movie.  So that’s all to the good then.  Yet it’s almost impossible not to argue that the whole holodeck sequence is rather self-indulgent – because it is – though there is at least some attempt to have some degree of thematic resonance with the rest of the film, however successful that may be (hint: not very).  Beyond acting as a trigger for Data to decide that it’s time to install the emotion chip, it also gives us our very last look at this crew, on this ship, actually taking the time to relax and enjoy being there.  

This holodeck fantasy contrasts strongly with the fantasy that the Nexus can bring – indeed the holodeck ends up looking rather like a poor man’s Nexus by comparison even though this is the best we’ve ever seen it look.  Though no explicit link is made between them on screen, starting the TNG section of the movie with a projected fantasy of limited scope before detailing a significantly greater fantasy generator later in the movie sets up exactly where we’re going to end up going and without seeming like clumsy foreshadowing precisely because we, as the audience, are so used to this being a functional part of the TV show.  And of course it’s the holodeck where Picard finds out about the death of his brother and nephew, just as it’s the Nexus where he sees them “resurrected”. 

The interesting thing about this is that there’s no need to have him find this information out on the holodeck, but by so strongly contrasting between Worf’s promotional shenanigans and Picard’s loss we get a sense of just how powerful the drive that fantasy can provide is, and why this would be so very tempting to Picard once he enters the Nexus.  So within the holodeck scene we have the set-up of fantasy, and the set up of loss, which will prove to be twin pillars on which Generations is built, all while gently re-establishing the pre-eminence of TNG because this is, after all, a TNG film into which TOS crashes and not the other way about. 

In theory. All of that is true, yet the film is spectacularly bad at getting any of these themes to actually resonate. They’re there, there’s clearly some consideration been given to them, but in truth the death of Picard’s nephew and brother is just a plot-convenient contrast. They don’t exist in any way as far as this film is concerned (and assuming that a movie-going audience is going to remember or care about details from the episode “Family” is idiotic and hugely misplaced). It’s a great scene, but that’s all it is – though Stewart sells the hell out of his grief over their passing the film just can’t get any of these thematic points to resonate. At. All. There needs to be a much more explicit line drawn between Picard’s loss and the lure of fantasy. But there isn’t. It’s all just… there.

Yet while the two principal character in the film, Kirk and Picard, are defined by their loss (and feel free to draw a line between the TOS “family” losing Kirk while the TNG Picard loses actual family, gently hinted at during the TOS section when it turns out Sulu, of all people, found time for a real family), in what’s very much the C-story here, Data is defined by what he gains, namely the emotions he’s spent seven seasons of TNG trying to acquire. I won’t over-emphasize the spectacular cheapness and laziness of the “emotion chip” which functions to undermine Data’s journey rather than having him acquire what he sought from actual acquired experience, but you can assume that it’s there anyway.  In a film steeped in losses of all scales it’s important to have some kind of counterpoint and Data’s acquisition of emotions is a significant step forward for him in terms of his character development as well as providing that counterpoint that the film needs. 

Indeed, one of Data’s principal defining features is the fact that he basically can’t have character development – while it’s obvious the way Spiner plays him has changed over the years the character himself has, odd exceptions like “Descent” aside, been more or less preserved in aspic.  We see in “All Good Things…” a possible-future Data with his emotions fully realised and here we see how that process would begin.  This is the first significant, but more importantly, permanent change to the way Data behaves, and in something that’s becoming a hallmark of Generations we again see that they’ve taken the time and effort to get the details correct, if not the bigger picture.  Inserting the chip was always going to be more that a Clippy-esque “I see that you want to experience the full range of human emotions – would you like some help with that?” but the overloads, the brief borderline-insanity, and abject terror at facing off against Soran all give shading to his experiences in a way that gives the character a genuine expansion of what it’s possible to do with him (and we’ll see more of this in First Contact).  Even his guilt when he’s reunited with a freshly-tortured Geordi plays pretty well when it could have been cloying simply because from this character it’s a whole new facet we’ve never seen before.  This gives the film at least a degree of emotional balance, and manages to find a role for Data that informs and supports the principal narrative without taking away from it. The chip itself is trite – not the fault of Generations, to be fair, though its use is – but again there’s some visible effort being put into doing something with it.

One of the things that Generations very clearly benefits from is a direct, obvious villain in the shape of Professor Soran, played with some degree of gusto by Malcolm McDowell.  Well, he’s great, isn’t he?  It’s kind of a pity he’s stuck in a film like Generations, really, because it does mean he tends to get overlooked – a good villain in a bad movie.  This is something of a shame, since he turns in a wonderful performance, slightly camp, always controlled, and yet full of steel when the moment requires it.  That he and Patrick Stewart don’t get more time face to face – rather than bellowing at each other over some rocks, for example – is also a bit of a shame, but every single time they face off together the air is electric, and it provides a spark the film needs (yes, even when bellowing at each other over some rocks, for example).  What makes Soran so successful is that he’s got such a clear motivation, yet the simplicity of what drives him as a character never seems shallow or contrived. 

A lot of this is down to McDowell, who’s able to invest a huge amount in what is, on paper, a thinly sketched character.  Just look at the way he delivers his lines to Stewart while hopping about prepping his rocket – “you must think me quite the madman,” he declares as he skips down the rocks, yet he then makes it clear that he’s aping being quite that insane, before lapsing into bitter regret, then actually being quite mad as he informs Picard that, “the predator has no teeth,” chewing his way through the scenery like a thing possessed yet never seeming ridiculous.  Someone who can eat that much scenery yet never become ridiculous is a huge boon.  That whole sequence takes around two minutes but it’s a terrific performance, and it gives scope and depth to Soran’s suffering, even as he seeks to explain it away and justify his action.  Since Soran is, ostensibly, the principal driving force behind everything that happens here it’s absolutely vital that his credibility stands up, so it’s an immense relief to be able to say that it does.  He’s got enough physicality to make the action sequences work – well, enough to make it look like he could slap about a portly Shatner and a pre-action star Stewart anyway – and enough dramatic heft to sell the character.  If the part is a bit under-written – and it is – then McDowell is more than capable of making up the shortfall. That he’s stuck in such a dog of a film is a terrible shame, though.

So – the big meeting.  That’s what we’re all here for, right?  Kirk and Picard are going to butt heads a bit, then there will be a bit of tension, they work it out and ride off (sadly, rather literally) to save the day.  And that’s what we get, pretty much to the letter.  The strongest aspects of the meeting is how ineffective both captains are when they try to resort to their default modus operandi.  Picard tries hard to give Kirk a big lecture on the importance of duty and responsibility, and it falls on completely deaf ears.  We’ve seen Picard give this speech dozens of times – to Worf in “The Drumhead”, Riker in “The Pegasus”, even to Data right in this very film – and it gets him nowhere.  Kirk defaults to his stereotype – always with a beautiful woman, bold outdoor activities and so forth – and it gets him nowhere either.  This is important in establishing just how wrong the Nexus is.  We never get a bafflegab-y explanation for the Nexus, so it basically exists as an abstract concept-space, and the concepts Kirk and Picard have of themselves continue to exist within that space but cannot function within it. 

That goes a long way to establish the more discombobulating nature of what the Nexus is, far more than any speeches about the perfect family or leaving Starfleet, because the characters we are so familiar with are unable to function within such an environment.  This is where the shifting of TOS to TNG style mentioned earlier pays dividends and we finally get the two colliding alongside the meeting of the two captains.  The acknowledgement of the fiction of the Nexus is what allows them to break free of its grasp and, as they do so, the correct order of things reasserts itself.  But it takes that acknowledgement, and an explicit rejection of the power of fantasy over their lives, for them to achieve that escape, in what is perhaps the film’s sharpest piece of observation. 

Fantasy is important, just as we’ve already seen on the holodesk, but it cannot become predominant otherwise we lose who and what we are and how we function.  The release of the characters from the concept-space of the Nexus is at the cost of the knowledge of the futility of over-arching fantasy, but it finally allows normality to be restored.  Even death is seen to be better, to be more important, than just drowning in the waters of fantasy because at least it’s something real.  And of course death is exactly what it leads to. As ever, the film badly mishandles the landing of these themes, and the contrasts between Picard and Kirk need to be far more sharply realised that a bit of egg-cooking and Shatner being able to get a horse to walk sideways, but it’s something.

So the day is, naturally, saved, but at the very highest price imaginable.  With the loss of both Kirk and the Enterprise-D the film has real consequences of the kind that it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen in Star Trek.  Indeed, while something like, say, “The Best Of Both Worlds” has a larger cost in terms of the number of ships destroyed and lives lost, and even though we get to see the Enterprise flying through the remains of the battle at Wolf 359, it still feels rather abstract in a way that the death of Kirk and the shattered remains of the ship we’ve spent seven years tooling about the galaxy in doesn’t.   There’s an immediacy to both these events, and if the message of the Nexus was the need to embrace reality rather than living a fantasy simply for the sake of it then the final few minutes are of the consequences that making that choice brings. 

It’s also made clear that this can be a heavy burden to carry, and the film makes no attempt to try and soften the blow of this or soft-soap it, even though it presents this as being meaningfully the only option.  For Kirk, the cost is his life.  For the crew, it’s the loss of the Enterprise.  For Soran it’s the cost of his own life.  Everyone pays the price for his delusions and self-importance.  The matter of consequences will go on to be one of the most resonant aspects of the TNG films, with each building on the idea that the actions of the past have relevance and impact on the present, in very real and concrete ways.  In First Contact that will mean revisiting Picard’s experiences with the Borg, for Insurrection we have the consequences of unchecked power, and in Nemesis we have Soong’s arrogance on one side and Shinzon’s evocation of the past on the other.  This helps to give the TNG films a degree of thematic unity, and it’s in Generations that we first see this being built.  

In truth, Generations had a huge mountain to climb as the first TNG film out of the gate, and by choosing to conjure up consequence and loss as its most important thematic statements it makes this film feel like it’s of a piece with the more philosophical aspects that we already associate with TNG while still acting as an extension of them and giving the remaining films in the sequence space to play with similar themes, but without repeating them.  It is in this that Generations gains real traction as a film and it is in this, ultimately, that the film finds its greatest expression. 

What it absolutely, completely fails at is providing two hours of entertaining cinema. Generations is a miserable film, and part of the misery watching it as a fan is that it’s so very close to getting everything right, but actually manages to get everything wrong. The cast are fine – mostly, Shatner could have put in a bit more work during the Nexus sequences – the ideas make sense, but the on-screen realisation is simply dreadful. None of the elements of the script line up with each other, there’s glaring plot holes that should have been dealt with – most obviously, why doesn’t Soran fly a ship into the Nexus, since that’s how he got there in the first place – and nothing comes close to cohering. This is a fussy, over-plotted film that seems thing that bringing back characters like the Duras sister – rubbish the first time round, never mind here – for a cinema audience is a good idea rather than a trivial irrelevancy, Whoopi Goldberg gets bog-standard Magic Negro bullshit when they could have really used her, McDowell is wasted… the list goes on. The direction is flat and insipid for the most part, other than the lighting on the Enterprise, which is suddenly and mysteriously dark and moody in a film that’s anything but (it looks great, to be clear, but it makes no sense for this script whatsoever). Kirk’s death – squashed by a falling bit of bridge, oh the indignity of it all – is a stupendously stupid way to kill off a character with that much cultural gravity and is really the ultimate sin here. Generations is by miles the worst Trek film to date, and I am frankly overjoyed to be done with it.

What Percentage Of This Film Could Be Cut?

All of it, really. But Ok, let’s err on the side of kindness – not that the film does anything to earn that kindness – and say all of the TOS material. Even setting aside how perfect an ending The Undiscovered Country was, it’s hugely undermining to the TNG crew to be reduced to side-players in their own movie. This isn’t a film about the TNG crew at all, it’s about wrapping up Kirk’s story despite that being something which has already been achieved. Everything in the narrative is subservient to that goal, and this would be a considerably stronger – and pleasingly shorter – film if all the TOS stuff was simply excised and the TNG crew were allowed to come front and centre in their own film. I’m guessing that means a solid 15% of this can go.

How Shatner-y Is Shatner?

Shatner ultimate! He briefly crosses the line into insufferable during one scene in the Nexus (“dill!”) and though he gets a few good moments (his regret at what might have been) this is for the most part simply Shatner turning up to do That Thing Shatner Does, a party-piece performance from someone who – fair enough – really doesn’t have anything to prove and isn’t going to exert much effort doing it. His scene with Stewart on the horses (“the situation is grimmmmmmmm”) veers a little too close to self-awareness, though that’s mostly the script’s fault rather than the way he performs it, but for the most part he’s amiably watchable without really doing much to justify his place in the film. Since the script doesn’t really bother to justify his place in the film either, this can hardly be held as a strike against him.

How Rikerd Is Riker?

Using “Rikered” as a synonym for drunk, obviously, based on the fan theory that William T Riker is much easier to understand if you simply assume he’s always drunk. Here, he doesn’t get drunk and crash the ship, nosiree. He puts a woman at the helm and lets her take the blame, just like any irresponsible drunk driver who causes an accident might. In truth Riker has very little to do here, but the chances of him being sober during the holodeck scene – surely the perfect place to be chugging rum – are less than zero, and his few scenes definitely do suggest some level of inebriation. And there’s no way, during the final scene in Picard’s wrecked Ready Room, that he hasn’t been nipping at a hip flask. He seems way too happy among all that destruction for there to be any other explanation (well, maybe he just really hated Picard’s Ready Room, but since it looks like every other room on the Enterprise it’s hard to parse that as the reason).

Data’s Annoyingometer Scale

Running from zero to ten, and this time out he gets a 5. Brent Spiner does surprisingly well dealing with Data’s panic when him and Geordi are pinned down on the array, and his manic, hysterical laughter later on when he just can’t stop is at least supposed to be annoying. The “life-forms” song is cute and just swerves away from being annoying, but when Data is contemplating using the emotion chip prior to its installation – and again, it is impossible to over-stress how crap an idea that is – he is full of regret at what he has failed to achieve and trepidation about what might happen as he considers using it. Which are emotions. And annoying.


Marina Sirtis. I just love her performance here. Stewart is great, but we kind of expect that now. And McDowell is great, but he’s the wrong villain for this movie (not his fault, by any stretch). Spiner does well with his material, Shatner is… Shatner. But with just a tiny handful of scenes Sirtis proves just how far she’s come over the course of TNG, and is able to give a dignified, bold performance with very little to work with. In what will become a running theme with the TNG movies, the female members of that cast are given absolutely sod all to do – yet another strike against Generations, I’m afraid – but with just a few lines and a couple of scenes Sirtis knocks it out of the park. Long gone are memories of bouncy perms, cheerleader outfits and “he’s definitely hiding something, Captain” – here she’s a strong, competent character that’s more than worth spending time with. If only we got to.

Movie Rankings:

1. The Undiscovered Country

2. The Voyage Home

3. The Search For Spock

4. The Final Frontier

5. The Wrath Of Khan

6. The Motion Picture

7. Generations

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