Film: Star Trek: Generations aka: Star Trek The Next Generation
"It was fun... oh, my..."
— Captain Kirk imparts his final words of wisdom
Star Trek: Generations is the seventh movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1994.This is the first movie featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Billed as a Cross Over (Cross Through?) with Star Trek: The Original Series, although the main representative from TOS is merely given The Cameo and then gets a bridge dropped on him.It's shortly after the end of the Next Generation TV series, which ended its run just before this film was released. Our baddie is Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a Mad Scientist with a malicious agenda reaching back seventy-eight years to when he was "saved" from the Nexus by Kirk, who then disappeared into it himself and was presumed dead. Soran now plans to blow up a couple suns to get back into the Nexus, but Picard gets Kirk to leave the Nexus and join him for a bridge-dropping climax.Perhaps the best that could be said for Generations is that it's not too badly paced considering how thin the storyline is. Still, the plot is mostly just a vehicle to bring Kirk and Picard together, their meeting only occurs at the end and the final battle is over too quickly and extremely predictable. Despite this, the ending is fairly moving.
Tropes seen in Generations include:
Abandon Ship: The Enterprise-D in the film's climax. Played With, in that they simply evacuated everybody into the part of the ship that wasn't about to explode and separated it.
Absentee Actor: They couldn't get Leonard Nimoy or DeForest Kelley to return as Spock and Bones for the opening scene, so Kirk is instead accompanied by Scotty and Chekov. As a result, Chekov seems to be acting in the capacity of a doctor when they pick up the refugees and Scotty calls Kirk "Jim".
In the alternate opening scene, Kirk boasts about his precision skydiving. Scotty 'helpfully' announces that Kirk was off by a few meters. Definitely a Spock line.
Armor-Piercing Question: El-Aurians are "a race of listeners". Well, Dr. Soran shows what happens when they use their powers of observation for evil, as he expertly manipulates Picard in a quietly malicious manner.
Anyone Can Die: This was supposed to be the overarching theme of the movie ("Time is the fire in which we burn").
Apocalypse How: Soran causes Stellar Physical Annihilation in the Amargosa system and the Veridian system...but the Veridian system gets reversed thanks to Picard and Kirk.
Arc Number: Scotty manages to save 47 people. 47 is an arc number in all the modern Star Trek series.
Artistic License - Physics: Soren's plan to divert the Nexus makes sense at first, but promptly falls apart later. In order to actually get inside, he has to destroy the Veridian star so the Nexus hits the planet instead of a near-miss. Problem is, the timing of this is such that there would be no appreciable change in gravity since the sun is still largely intact and thus a massive gravitational body. The Nexus suddenly altering course to hit the planet would never happen. It would have made more sense to destroy the star then have the Nexus hit a planet in another solar system.
Big Damn Movie: Captain Kirk dies, entire star systems are in danger of being destroyed, the Enterprise-D is destroyed and crashes, Picard loses his family and Data gets emotions. YMMV over the movie's quality, but events are certainly a step up from the average episode.
Break Them By Talking: If you ever wondered what would happen if an El-Aurian used their keen insight against someone instead of counseling them - look out.
Soran: They say time is the fire in which we burn. Right now, Captain, my time is running out. We leave so many things unfinished in our lives... I know you understand.*
Picard had just confessed to Troi that his brother and nephew burned to death in a fire. He then told her he started to wonder about the lack of any sort of legacy for the Picard family, and the realization of his own mortality.
While exploring the Amargosa Observatory, Data reminds Geordi of a joke Geordi told Riker at Farpoint Station. As noted in Late to the Punchline, Farpoint Station was the setting for the pilot episode of TNG.
Shortly after the D12 is destroyed, the movie cuts to Geordi in engineering examining an open panel and in the middle of a conversation about the damage the ship's taken. He turns around and communicates with the bridge, only to be cut off as the panel he's just walked away from explodes and engineering rapidly degenerates from being a mess to being an outright hazardous environment. As he's ushering everyone out, Geordi tells the bridge that they're a few minutes away from a warp-core breach he can't stop. This scene mirrors one from the episode Yesterday's Enterprise, where the ship was fatally damaged fighting Klingons in an alternate timeline.
It helped that David Carson directed both Yesterday's Enterprise and Generations. It's even the same panel which blows out.
William Shatner is an expert at horseback riding, and having his horse walk sideways to join Stewart is pure showing off.
Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: One of the most subtle examples on record. At the beginning of the film, the main cast is wearing their ST:TNG-era uniforms, with the black shoulders and colored torso. Then a few Red Shirts in the background are seen with the updated ST:DS9 color scheme with the black torso and colored shoulders. Then Data starts wearing it. And then Riker, and Geordi, and finally Picard. In at least one case with Riker his uniform literally changes between two scenes where he couldn't possibly have had time to do so in real life.
Though possibly unintentional, Kirk remarked in Star Trek V that he knew he would die alone. Specifically, after taking a near-fatal fall off a mountain in Yosemite during a camping trip with McCoy and Spock, he tells McCoy that he felt confident he would survive because both of them were with him. He adds, darkly, "I've always known... I'll die alone." When he "dies" on the Enterprise-B, he's the only guy in the room. His actual death could be argued the same, since Picard was the only other person around and he was too late to actually prevent it. The novelization of the movie actually mentions the callback at Yosemite.
This could even be argued to bookend a "Kirk trilogy" of V, VI, and Generations, in which Kirk plays Peter Pan at the end of VI, receives unending exploration within the Nexus, but finally accepts his fate as a man.
While aboard the observatory, Data mentions the Farpoint mission - which was the subject of the TNG series premiere.
Continuity Overlap: This one's an interesting case. The film was released during the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and while there are no mentions of the station, characters are wearing the jumpsuit uniforms created for DS9. However, as detailed under Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy , the usage of the jumpsuits was a last-minute decision, making this an unintentional overlap.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Soran is quite savvy about villainy in general and mocks Picard's attempts at talking him down.
Soran: I know why you're here. You're not entirely confident you can shoot down my probe, so you've come to dissuade me from my horrific plan. Good luck.
Notably, Picard almost succeeds in talking down Soran from blowing up the star by bringing up Soran's dead wife and child... only for Soran to realize what Picard is doing and countering with "nice try".
More so in Crusher's case, as she barely did anything in the movie, while Troi's role was proportionately about as large as she got in most TNG episodes.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Trope Namer itself. In fact, it doesn't just literally apply to James T. Kirk; in the way we've defined this trope, the deaths of Robert and Rene Picard are examples too. Ironically, Kirk's death was a reshoot from one that was poorly received by test groups where he just takes a blast to the back and dies.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. At the beginning of the film, the officers are having a promotion party for Worf on the holodeck, where they're on an 18th-century naval ship. They make Worf walk to the end of the plank and jump for his new rank insignia, then Riker orders the computer to "remove the plank." The plank disappears, dropping Worf into the sea, and Riker jokes that he meant to say, "retract". After Crusher attempts to explain the humor to Data, he pushes her overboard.
Data:(smirking) That was...
LaForge: ...not funny!
This serves as the catalyst for Data to have Geordi install his emotion chip, as if he cannot grasp a concept like humor, he will never be human.
Though ironically, a good deal of viewers find it very funny, so that Geordi comes off as a humorless priss.
Enhance Button: While looking through Geordi's visor, the Klingon sisters use one to see the Enterprise's shield frequency.
Exact Time to Failure: While the Enterprise-B is in the energy ribbon, there's "45 seconds to structural collapse." After the Enterprise-D takes damage, it's "five minutes from a warp core breach" (though it's implied that the warp core actually explodes in substantially less time that the five minutes that Geordi initially predicted).
Executive Meddling: Happens in-universe to the Enterprise-B: the ship is deployed incomplete missing key systems and crew for its shakedown cruse so Starfleet can show it off to the press without having another ship around to help. Meddling confirmed in an comic that takes place after the movie.
Failure Hero: Picard. As SF Debris put it, the story is less the team-up of two legendary captains like we were promised, than Picard putzing around for an hour until the real hero finally shows up.
Face Death with Dignity: Having been obsessed with death, and with escaping it for so long, when Soran is finally confronted with it he elects to close his eyes and stand his ground rather than do any more futile running or protesting.
Fake Out Opening: Not exactly the opening, but the scene following the 23rd-century prologue shows an 18th-century sailing ship with the caption "78 years later". It turns out to be a holodeck simulation.
First Time Feeling: When Data's emotion chip is first installed, he experiences emotions more strongly than the humans around him. Eventually the chip overloads and his emotions become so intense that he collapses.
YMMV, of course, but this could also be creepy. Just watch Data's face as the emotion chip overloads; it just keeps morphing and changing from emotion to emotion, wide-eyed the entire time.
Five Second Foreshadowing: When Dr. Soran checks on his sun-killer missile after Picard messes with it, the viewscreen says that the missile's locking clamps are still engaged. Soran gets an Oh Crap look on his face as he and the audience realize that something bad is going to happen when the missile tries to launch. One second later, the missile explodes, killing him.
Foil: Doctor Soran and Captain Picard: Both characters had lost loved ones to certain circumstances (Soran to the Borg, and Picard to a fire), and both were also devastated by the deaths. The difference is that while Soran is perfectly willing to destroy entire worlds so he'd at least be reunited with his family in some fashion (by the Nexus), Picard isn't willing to do so.
Force Field Cage: Inverted. Instead of restraining Picard, Soran has actually sequestered himself inside a giant forcefield dome. Picard beats it by slipping under a rock arch that the forcefield was resting on.
For the Funnyz: Data spontaneously decides to shove Doctor Crusher into the holodeck ocean when she unintentionally implies to him that it would be funny. None of the Enterprise crew are amused.
The Future Is Noir: Very noticeably so, compared to the way the exact same USS Enterprise sets appeared on the TNG television series. The set designer on this movie knew that the sets had been built for the considerably lower resolution of television, and that they'd never stand up to the scrutiny of a cinema screen. The solution? Turn off all the lights, so the audience can't see the joins.
This is a rather common technique, and is one big reason why a lot of Sci Fi shows have dark sets. And in this case, they only had to do it for a single movie, since the sequel traded up to the 1701-E with movie quality sets.
Gangsta Style: Soran's gun tilts its shooty-part on the side, and he likes to twist his hand to the side to compensate?
Gilligan Cut: A deleted opening scene had Kirk skydiving, echoing his mid-life crisis in Star Trek V. Chekov reminds him that they're scheduled to look over the new Enterprise. Kirk states emphatically, "I'm not going," and of course this would have led to the bottle smashing on the ship and Kirk arriving.
Kirk: I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim. Picard: You could say that. Kirk: If Spock were here he would call me an illogical, irrational human being for taking on a mission like that... Sounds like fun.
Actually according to the epilogue, there were barely any casualties from the Enterprise's crew, this might be the only Star Trek movie where a great deal of red shirts don't die.
Except for the refugees caught in the Nexus, a few Romulans, a ship full of Klingons an undetermined amount of researchers on the Amargosa Observatory and Kirk, of course.
Kicked Upstairs: Kirk is perturbed at having to order the Enterprise-B to move. Everyone on the bridge applauds patronizingly.
Kirk later warns Picard not to accept any promotions.
Late to the Punchline: Thanks to his new emotion chip, Data finally gets a joke from the Farpoint mission, which was in the Pilot, seven years ago. This particular joke is never heard in the actual pilot, incidentally.
This creates a Series Continuity Error, considering Data can understand (if not entirely appreciate) humour as early as the first season's end.
He'd understood the principles that underlie human humor, on an intellectual level. It's not until he has emotions that he can grasp how funny the joke was.
Made of Explodium: This film has the biggest exploding console plague in Star Trek history; firstly the Enterprise-B navigation officer gets nailed early on in the film, then in the film's big battle scene the entire rear row of consoles on the Enterprise-D's bridge blows up, killing what must be at least half a dozen officers.
Multiple Endings: The videogame adaptation provides two endings: one which follows that which is seen in the film, and another where you track down Soran before he gets to Veridian III and defeat his starship in battle, circumventing both the destruction of the Enterprise D and also the death of Captain Kirk, who under this scenario does not appear in the plot at all and presumably remains entirely at peace within the Nexus. Needless to say, if you complete the game and get the second ending, then you've created an Alternate Continuity.
Mythology Gag: The Next Gen portion of the movie takes place 78 years after the launching of the Enterprise B — there were 78 original aired episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series (Counting its sole two part story as one episode).
Picard throwing a lavish party on a holographic 19th century naval ship. As you'll remember, Roddenberry pitched the original as Horatio Hornblowerin space. (way back in 1965.)
Nightmare Face: When Data's emotion chip overloads, they went so far as to stretch his eyeballs.
Nietzsche Wannabe: Soran explains to Picard: "You know, there was a time when I wouldn't hurt a fly. Then the Borg came, and they showed me that if there is one constant in this whole universe, it's death. Afterwards, I began to realize that it didn't really matter. We're all going to die sometime. It's just a question of how and when." Soran saw the Nexus as the way to escape death forever.
No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: While in the Nexus, Kirk rides a horse as it jumps across a chasm, in a reconstruction of his old homestead. Then he realizes how futile it is jumping across the chasm as he did many times before, since in the Nexus there's no way he could be hurt if he fell in, removing all the thrill from it.
No OSHA Compliance: Played with. In the deflector room of the Enterprise-B when Kirk is climbing down the ladder we can see what appears to be some kind of deep shaft. It hasn't got any guard rails around it to stop people from falling in... but what it does have is a hilariously small "Caution" sticker on the wall right next to it.
Oh Crap: Actually, more precisely, it's "Ohhh, shit!"
Klingon equivalent: "WE ARE CLOAKING! OUR SHIELDS ARE DOWN!"
Soran, when he realizes what Picard's done with the missile controls.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Harriman gushes over the TOS crew, remarking how he read about them in grade school. Kirk is unamused.
Orphaned Punchline: We don't hear the rest of the joke that Data finally "got". A Ferengi in a gorilla suit would be quite a sight, though.
Outrun the Fireball: An unusual instance, in that it's the Enterprise-D's saucer that's trying to outrun the stardrive section before it explodes. Also subverted in that the saucer doesn't outrun the fireball — the explosion's shockwave destroys the saucer's engines and knocks it sharply out of orbit, causing it to crash onto the planet below.
Precision F-Strike: Oh, shit! If any character other than Data (who had just acquired his emotion chip) had delivered this line, it wouldn't have been as profound.
Rebuilt Set: The Enterprise-D bridge now has noticeably more workstations than it (usually) did on television.
Recycled Script: The Duras sisters' attack against the Enterprise-D is essentially the same as Khan's first attack against the Enterprise from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and they're defeated the same way: the Enterprise forces their ship to lower their shields, becoming vulnerable to an attack.
Gerodi gets kidnapped, tortured, and has his visor manipulated by his abductors, just like in the TNG episode "The Mind's Eye".
Refusing Paradise: Picard and Kirk decide to leave the Nexus together in order to stop Soran. Although Kirk is reluctant at first, he soon realizes the ability to make a difference is more important to him than anything the Nexus could offer. He also finds the Nexus lacks one critical element: for all its realism, there's no risk.
Reset Button: The Nexus can act as one, which allows the film to show the failure of Picard to save the day.
Reverse Polarity: When Data needs to open a magnetically sealed door, he reverses its polarity by attenuating his axial servo.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: The bottle-breaking version is used with the Enterprise-B, except the bottle is thrown at the ship instead of just smashed against it. This leads to the hilarious mental image of a dude in a spacesuit trying to pitch the bottle at the ship without missing.
The Roast: It wouldn't be TNG without a scene where Worf gets emasculated again. His 'promotion' ceremony is carried out in the style of a condemned sailor being forced to walk the plank, with Riker reading off a scroll of charges.
Running Gag: Quite a bit of the Enterprise-B's equipment and essential crew will not be available until next Tuesday, much to Captain Harriman's compounding frustration and embarrassment when a crisis breaks out.
Schrödinger's Butterfly: Captain Picard and Dr. Soran, the villain, enter the Nexus, a dimension of eternal pleasure that shapes itself to your desires. Picard is told by a mental projection of Guinan that he can use it to travel anywhere in time, and so he goes back right before Soran blew up the sun that destroyed the planet they were on and the Enterprise. It's entirely plausible that Picard never did leave the Nexus, and that he still exists there to continue his voyages in his own perfect reality. And if he did really travel through time and stopped Soran, whether the Soran that entered the Nexus in the alternate timeline is actually still there. In fact, see the Star TrekWild Mass Guessing page for more interpretation of this.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Worf states that Soran's rocket will take eleven seconds to hit the sun. Considering that he shoots it from an M Class planet, which are more-or-less the same as Earth, it would have to be traveling faster than light to make that kind of time. However, it's been established well before this film that there are probes the size of Soran's missile with warp drives, which he could have acquired.
On the subject of distance, the probe might have traveled faster than light, but it still would have taken eight or however many light minutes away the planet was before you could actually see the change in light.
The Nexus moves through space at the speed of plot. It clearly moves slower than light, given the Enterprise-B's ability to keep pace with it while using their transporters. Yet it somehow gets from one solar system to another in a matter of hours (it would have to pass near the Amargosa system to be affected by the missing star, then reaches the Veridian system shortly after the Enterprise-D does), instead of taking longer than the lifespans of everyone save Soran and Guinan.
Also the Enterprise (-B) is once again the only ship in range to rescue the ships trapped in the Nexus, despite being inside the Sol system, one of the most densely populated and traveled systems of the Federation and the headquarters of Starfleet.
Series Continuity Error: Scotty witnesses Kirk's death, despite an earlier TNG episode showing him as a Human Popsicle who immediately assumes Kirk is the one who woke him up. Moore and Braga said that they were well aware of the continuity issue, but just couldn't resist seeing Scotty in action one last time.
Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy: An example of the "both being made together" type. The action figures from the movie reflected certain aspects of the pre-production version, but did not accurately reflect the movie as released in theatres. For example, one problem was an action figure based around Captain Kirk in an orbital skydiving suit, which was from a scene which was filmed but cut from the theatrical release. Another, more famous problem with the figures was that all the Next Generation characters appear in new versions of their standard television uniforms: these new uniforms were intended to debut in the film, and were even designed by the costume department, but a last minute decision seen them pulled before filming began, replaced with the jumpsuits from Deep Space Nine (and Voyager). Nobody told the people making the action figures that these new costumes had been pulled, however, so all the action figures are wearing Starfleet uniforms that were never actually seen on screen...
New DVDs, however, now list the Next Generation films by number, ie. Star Trek VII: Generations.
Throw It In: Kirk's wide-eyed "Oh, my..." just before death was improvised by Shatner. He deliberated for a while on how his character would approach death, and decided that Kirk would find it wondrous.
Trash the Set: The Enterprise being destroyed. A lot of the sequences showing the ship breaking up as it crash lands were given added realism by production crew actually taking a sledgehammer to the sets which had served the television show so well for seven years. In the final scene the bridge set is only barely recognizable.
Before you get too angry about this, bear in mind that the sets would have been trashed regardless, in order to make way for the sets of Star Trek: Voyager. At least this way we got to see the sets destroyed in action, rather than them just being dumped in some Los Angeles scrapyard.
Aside from the need for space for the sets of Voyager, the TNG television sets were not built for the higher definition found on film. This was why the film was shot with darkened lighting over its television episodes because the set's flaws would be too apparent in the movie.
Word Of God is that the big wooden wishbone railing (where Worf had his console) was saved.
Unwanted Rescue: Soran's rescue from the Nexus. The others are like this, too, but Soran is the most vocal.
"No, I have to go... I have to get back. You don't understand! Let me go!"
Kirk: I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was in diapers.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Soran. His all-consuming desire is to return to the Nexus, where the family he lost will exist (and so will he) for all eternity. To get there, he'll kill entire solar systems, inhabited or not, to shift the Nexus' course in such a way that entering it is nothing less than a sure thing.
Ye Goode Olde Days: Picard, in his stuffy Naval uniform, gets wistfully sentimental about life on the bounding main. Riker begs to differ: "Bad food, brutal discipline, no women." (And you know which one is the deal-breaker for Number One.)
Year Outside, Hour Inside: Captain Kirk spends 78 years inside the Nexus. When he returns to the real world, he hasn't aged a day.