cover of Star Trek Generations
'Star Trek Generations'

A Christmas Season movie review

This review contains no spoilers - except for this spoiler for the review itself: Be warned loyal fans, read no further, for I'm going to slam this movie some.  Like the starship slamming into the planet surface...

... Which, by the way, is too obviously derived from the early 80s film 'Enemy Mine', where the fighter-spaceship does a gratingly noisy crash landing. And also an overused sequence in the (currently upcoming) movie 'Nemesis', it seems. Starship "mechanicals" - dockings and landings and crashes etc - are a trivial source of interest in any movie! It used to be of current interest - sort of alive - in Kubrick's late-60s '2001', which had many 'mechanicals': because such maneuvers in space were currently being done frequently. Nowadays , all such are just routine shuttle piloting, and only in low-Earth orbit, so it puts anything Deep Space into the realm of the unreal or of fantasy, or of the past/historic/bygone.

But the central issue in 'Generations' is, selfishness.  The scenes in the 'Nexus' are actually quite good cinematically... well, at least there are no commercial interruptions, and the sets are appealing. And seeing Patrick Stewart upstaged by Kirk/Shatner is a rare and delicious thing, a really good idea for the fan or even the experienced viewer. ["Something new", really, really, really is what the Star Trek 'franchise' needs. Not repetitions of classical and precedent dictated   old stuff.]

The character Malcolm McDowell plays (Soran) fits in as an extreme example into the theme of selfishness:   his selfishness is indifferent to the fate of millions, at the absolute extreme of that vice. The Christmas scene with Piccard's family is central, though: the Christmas festival & ceremony is of course one of self-indulgence and generosity combined, traditionally. One enjoys and gives enjoyment (if its done right by the right people.) In my family this was also a matter of meeting others, other people, at their best and enjoying life without trammel, fulfilling a deep need for ritual observance, otherwise unindulged to a surprising extent. But Soran comes into things as Dr. Seuss's Grinch, for he has no wish to involve himself with others, and no appreciation for their selves, lives, welfare, or needs. He's there to steal Christmas if he can, you might say. (Poor jerk.)

The two Enterprise captains, however, though attracted to the infinite possibilities for self-indulgence and wishful thinking within the 'nexus' ( - it's rather a moral sort of physical phonomenon, isn't it?), reject it after a (thorough) taste, because it has no element of a pleasure they are good at obtaining: that of dealing with other people. And a good purpose. All the 'nexus' offers is a private pretense, recognizably without other real people, populated entirely by their own desires embodied.   (- Rather an unsubtly indulgent physical phenomenon, this nexus thing. Why couldn't it fool them a little ... uh, because purely physical phenomena have no element of mind in them. Yeah, that would work.)

But most of the movie is disappointingly typical of the 'expanded TV episode' concept. ST II, ST III, and ST IV excelled at avoiding this altogether, and were perhaps the only true ST movies qua movie, as well as the best -not coincidentally.) The smug STtheNG indulgence asserts itself, Shatner's final line is ridiculously flat - how can his ST career as a character be summed up as 'fun' ... and nothing more! Aside from the fact that that line is borrowed from Heinlein's (excellent, recommended) 'Have Space Suit, Will Travel', where a child, on the point of departing and dying, says, "It was fun, mostly." To which the reply was: "I wouldn't have missed it for the world," a much better epitaph for the original TV series. - But in Kirk's mouth, it sounds incongruously immature and insufficient.

And Patrick Stewart delivers a bad line with gratingly inapt smoothness and self-satisfaction - for God's sake, this isn't Shakespeare! - "Time is ... a companion." Oi. Shouldn't that be more wistful! he's just said goodbye to his dreams and his predecessor. Gross. Ugh. Wretched bad drama/acting/direction.

McDowell's Sorin is, of course, a villain because he's rude, violent, and simply treacherous, like a bad spoiled child. Not much of interest there. (But it does fit, well enough, his being the epitome of selfishness and lack of interest in others.)

...If only ST movies could just stick to drama ... not necessarily with happy endings (Christmas has no Happy Ending; it does have to end, the normal way resumes, and those involved may not learn anything about generosity or sacred ritual as human values.)

..."If only Christmas could be every day," eh?!

[ Review (c) R. Hess, December 8, 2002. ]

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- Page created December 12, 2002, (using ReviewZoom version 1.18), (and tweaked March 2 2003) by Russell Hess, Webmaster ( of 'UpSky2' & 'UpSky'.

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