Wiliam Shatner and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek VII: Generations
This was to be the Star Trek movie that bridged the gulf between the original Star Trek cast and the cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Kirk would hand over the baton to Captain Picard and then the crew of the Enterprise-D would fly on in a series of new movie adventures. While that might sound like a good idea on paper, in reality, or at least in this reality, the results don't do justice to either Kirk or the Next Generation crew.
The movie opens with the maiden flight of the Enterprise-B. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov are onboard as part of the ceremonial launch. During the launch the ship receives a distress call from two ships caught in some kind of energy ribbon, they respond with a rescue attempt during which Kirk is "killed".
This opening scene was to have featured Kirk, Spock and McCoy, but Nimoy turned it down because the script was so bland and DeForest Kelley's declining health prevented him from appearing. With very little alteration of the script, James Doohan and Walter Koenig were brought in to replace them as Scotty and Chekov. Out of sheer laziness their lines remain the same despite the character change. This is most obvious when Chekov tells two crewmen that they're now nurses as he goes to set up a sick bay.
The film then jumps 78 years into the future to the holodeck of the Enterprise-D for an embarrassingly unfunny scene of the crew onboard a wooden ship for Lt. Worf's promotion ceremony. Data's, "I'm a wooden boy, but I wish I was a real one" schtick, which had grown old during the series, is trotted out one more time here.
When the plot does get going, it is revealed that a Dr. Soran, who was one of the people rescued by the Enterprise-B all those years ago, is trying to find a way back into that same energy ribbon, because apparently once you are in it, anything you desire becomes yours. It's like living in a Matrix of your own design. His plan wouldn't be such a problem except that to get back in it, he's destroying stars to alter the course of the ribbon so that it will pass through a planet that he intends to be standing upon.
Although there are moments of excitement and action, this plot ends up feeling like a souped-up two part episode of the television series with some higher quality special effects. It's definitely not a movie for anyone who is unfamiliar with the characters. No introductions are provided and no background given.
Eventually Picard ends up in the Ribbon along with Soran. He discovers that instead of dying, Captain Kirk has actually been inside the ribbon all this time. Picard convinces Kirk to leave the Ribbon with him and help him defeat Soran. Kirk does and he, SPOILER ALERT, dies for real in the process in a very unsatisfying manner.
Kirk's death should have been epic. He should have been saving the galaxy one more time and he most definitely should have died while onboard the USS Enterprise. Reportedly an early version of the script had Kirk commanding the battle bridge onboard the Enterprise-D and dying in combat against the Klingons, but the plot was scrapped. So instead he dies trying to stop a madman from destroying a star, which is noble enough, but not nearly legendary enough.
The most annoying thing about his death is that he dies because of a stupid plan that is the result of a poorly written script. When Kirk and Picard leave the Nexus Ribbon they are told they can leave it and exit into any time or place that they want. So Picard choose's five minutes before Soran's plan is completed. This means that the finale is a race against time. Well, why the fuck not just leave two hours before his plan is due to finish? Or a day, or hell, why not exit to the time when Soran was on the Enterprise and just hold him prisoner then?
Not only is Kirk's death a waste, it also takes time away from the Next Generation cast, whose movie this is supposed to be. Dr. Crusher and Worf are reduced to extras in their own film. Riker gets a few lines, but only Picard and Data get their own plotlines. Troi has a scene with Picard early in the movie but at the end is consigned to piloting the ship to give her something to do (a skill she was never shown to have before).
Being that this is Star Trek 7, an odd-numbered Trek film, I suppose it's no surprise that it's such a bad one. It just goes to show that they shouldn't have tried to mix the two casts, at least not in this half-assed way. Kirk's death deserves a movie of its own and certainly the Next Generation deserved a better introduction than this one.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (1994)