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Star Trek: Generations (1994)

-Written by Kyle Bain

When a mad scientist, Soran (Malcolm McDowell), threatens to murder on a global scale to make his way back to the Nexus, a galactic ribbon full of joy–Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) must team up with the presumed dead Captain Kirk (William Shatner) to save the day. On their heroic mission, extreme emotional trauma will be met by wild comedy as Star Trek: Generations brings together a series of space-traveling teams. 

Up to this point in my Star Trek journey, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, my gateway into the canon, was my favorite film. I entered Star Trek: Generations asking myself “how could this be better than the film that came before?” History dictates that it can’t be…but this is a franchise that has stood the test of time. So, hopes were high, and, spoiler alert, I was not disappointed. 

So, why did Star Trek: Generations hit the way that it did? The answer is right in the title. Kirk is here, ready to accomplish more of what he had in the past, Picard was ready for battle in ways that I hadn’t seen just yet in the franchise, and Worf (Michael Dorn) pre-prises his role from Deep Space Nine, the only thing I knew him from to this point. This brought together generations of Star Trek fandom that not just existed together, but thrived together. The title itself is brilliant, accurately prepping viewers for all that they would see throughout…and I was floored by the premise itself. The promise that generations of both Star Trek characters and fans would come together for this film was made good on, and from start to finish, the emotional roller coaster on which I rode enthralled me. 

The technical entirety of Star Trek: Generations feels like a massive step up compared to previous installments of the franchise, able to engulf viewers in the emotionally gritty (in the best ways) film. Special effects take a step in the right direction, allowing viewers to suspend their disbelief, sound helps to develop effective tone, and set design is on par with the series that would shortly follow after (Deep Space Nine). However, there is one instance of light that captivated me more than any other technical aspect of Star Trek: Generations, that allowed me to fall in love with the film. After a particularly emotional moment between Picard and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), a bright light is shown on Picard’s face, quickly and effectively shifting the tone of the film at that time. The shift is abrupt, but it’s completed tactfully–and viewers are pulled from one place to the next without any feeling of whiplash, but rather a feeling of exuberance and satisfaction. 

More so than I’ve ever noticed before in the Star Trek canon, Star Trek: Generations is steeped in emotional relevance. This integral part of the film is headed by Data (Brent Spiner), as he attempts to gain emotional capabilities with the help of Geordi (LeVar Burton). As he navigates his newfound emotional capacities he is forced to come to terms with the idea that feeling isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be. Again and again I found myself ready to cry alongside Data, prepared to fully break down. Not only is this a testament to the writing of Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, and Brannon Braga, but to the talent of Spiner–as he is able to convey every newly-realized emotion from start to finish. In less than two hours Data has become my favorite Star Trek character, as he encompasses the ideas of mental instability, compassion, and more in his role in Star Trek: Generations. In short: Spiner is brilliant in his performance. 

Star Trek: Generations is an emotional roller coaster, one that traverses the difficulties of everyday life on a galactic scale. From Picard to Data, and Soran to Kirk–nearly every character has the opportunity to shine brightly in regard to their emotional relevance. Furthermore, Star Trek: Generations is leaps and bounds ahead of what I had seen from the franchise in the past (even in its most grandiose moments). I adore this film, nearly every second of it–and Star Trek: Generations has currently taken the top spot among my list of favorite Star Trek properties. 

Directed by David Carson. 

Written by Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, & Brannon Braga. 

Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Malcolm McDowell, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, etc. 




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