Directed By: David Carson
Written By: Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, and Brannon Braga. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)
It was finally time for a changing of the guard on Star Trek and luckily they found a story that would allow a little of both worlds. I remember this as being the first Star Trek film I saw in the theater. I was ten and probably went to see the movie with my mom, who I grew up watching The Next Generation TV series with. I haven’t been a viewer of Star Trek in more than twenty years but when I was a kid I loved the show and loved this crew. Yeah the originals had cultural diversity with a Vulcan to boot, but the Next Generation had so much more. They had a robot, a Klingon, Geordi with the cool visor, and they had Patrick freaking Stewart as Captain.
As a little kid, before I graduated to He-man and then G.I. Joes, my action figure play consisted of Star Trek. I had action figures for all of the Next Generation crew and probably countless other Star Trek toys I can’t remember. I would watch the show with my Mom and play out the scenarios I saw on TV with my toys. I think my favorite character back then was Commander Riker, I don’t know why but I remember him as being the one that survived in my games.
One of the coolest crew members in the Next Gen is Data and this movie made a big change to the character giving him an emotion chip. There are so many situations where a robot comes in handy, but that chip gave him a weakness in this one. He’s still a cool character but I hate to see him cowering in the corner because he’s feeling fear for the first time. His subplot makes for an interesting story in the film and is a good example of why the Next Gen is better than the originals. There are subplots in this film, stories within the story. It’s just grander than any of those that came before it.
This film echoes The Search for Spock when the Enterprise was destroyed by a Klingon Bird of Prey. It was supposed to be a huge deal when it happened in the third movie and I’m sure it was to fans of the original series. This was the one that hit me though. When the Enterprise started to crash I was shocked and I still remember how blown away I was as a kid. This is better not only because of the difference ten years of advancement in special effects can have but because it is just a more exciting scene. There’s an entire ship to account for and a lot more people to get to safety. It’s cool how the top of the ship disengages from the engines, I remember having no idea such a thing could even happen. Then they crash land on a planet which was awesome.
Following the incredibly dramatic crash landing where everyone gets tossed around is a fist fight between Captain Picard and Soren. Having watched all these Star Trek films back to back I have got to say Picard would beat the shit out of Kirk in a fight. Kirk’s efforts at hand to hand combat were so laughable while Picard holds his own facing off against an evil space Alex. When you need an actor to play the villain in your movie you can’t go wrong with picking Malcolm McDowell. He is great facing off and acting along side Patrick Stewart. It isn’t fair that they only made four movies featuring the Next Generation when the original cast got six movies. We could have used two or three more movies featuring Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard.
So much happens in this movie before that fateful meeting between Captain Picard and Captain Kirk. I was really too young to get the full effect but I imagine it was quite an interesting moment for long time Star Trek fans. They get this awesome scene together before the climax is back on and the whole movie hangs in the balance. It’s an exciting end to see two generations of Captains work together and one pass the torch to the other. Captain Kirk looks much better fighting in this movie than in any of the films before. I wonder where in the time line it became practical to bring in some kind of fight choreographer.
I like this movie and it did a good job of getting me pumped for the rest of the series. Time will tell if that is a realistic anticipation or not. It was great to finally see the Next Generation cast on the big screen and they crash the Enterprise into a planet for their introduction into the series. Shatner does a fine job in this movie and saves face a little bit from earlier weak performances. He goes out well and dies a heroes death, it was a great way to close out the character.
It would have been nice to have had a little bit of Spock in the movie but Leonard Nimoy wasn’t interested after reading the script. He felt like Spock’s lines were indistinguishable from what any other character might have said and that proved to be true as he was simply replaced by Scotty. DeForest Kelley may have been more open to a cameo but his health prevented him from participating.
This movie ushers in a new generation of Star Trek characters and I for one was really happy with the change. Having sat through six movies featuring the original cast I must say it was time. I thought the Next Generation crew transitioned to the big screen well and this is an odd Star Trek film that I enjoyed. As far as Star Trek movies go this one isn’t bad and I’d say it was worth your time to see.
NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)