Monday, May 25, 2009

Star Trek: Generations (1994) [PG] ****

A film review by Betty Jo Tucker, ReelTalk Reviews.

Suppose you were faced with a choice between living in an eternity of pleasure or performing your duty in a situation filled with danger? In Star Trek: Generations, Captains Kirk and Picard must make this decision. Stalwart as they are, it is not an easy one for either man. Both have deep-seated yearnings for home and family that could be satisfied by staying in a place called the Nexus, a timeless zone of personal delights. Still, the two captains choose duty over pleasure and join forces to stop Dr. Soran, a mad scientist who is willing to destroy an entire galaxy if it helps him get back to the Nexus.

Generations is the Star Trek movie that passes the torch from Kirk (William Shatner) to Picard (Patrick Stewart). Surprisingly, of the two performances, Shatner's Kirk comes across as the most believable. It’s unfortunate that Stewart’s acting in the Picard role is not as effective on the big screen as in the television series. (His background as a Shakespearean actor doesn’t seem to help here.) Shatner gains sympathy immediately with his interpretation of Kirk’s complex reactions to loss of command while inspecting a new Starship. Later, Kirk’s tongue-in-cheek questioning of Picard before they leave the Nexus adds a welcome humanistic touch to this high-tech sci-fi adventure.

Supporting cast member Brent Spiner provides the film’s humor with his excellent portrayal of Data. This talented actor is just as watchable in the movie as on television. My favorite scene occurs after an emotion chip is implanted into Data’s android brain, causing him to catch on to jokes and to laugh unexpectedly when he remembers funny stories told to him years ago. Playing the evil Soran, Malcolm McDowell scowls, shouts, manipulates, and lies in the best tradition of outstanding film villains.

However, all actors in Generations take second place to the real star of the show -- Special Effects. From the opening shot of a champagne bottle floating in space to the pulsating ribbon of an engulfing Nexus, the film’s images dazzled me. And I have to confess they probably hypnotized me into ignoring some major plot loopholes. In fact, it took me several hours after seeing the film to start wondering how Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) got back to the Nexus -- and, if she could return to it, why an intelligent scientist was having such difficulty. But that lingering question doesn’t stop me from rating Star Trek: Generations as one of the best offerings in this popular franchise.

Labels: action, mystery, sci-fi, space-time, thriller
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 55/100
Tomatometer (critics=48, viewers=58)