So, months after the wonderful final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things…”, fans eagerly packed movie theaters to see the first big screen adventure of the crew of the USS Enterprise-D, and they were treated to… Star Trek: Generations. This complete mess of a movie shits on almost everything TNG stood for. Sorry, everyone. Plus! Data is an asshole.
Well done. FWIW, Patrick Stewart didn’t seem to care much for the movie either. I’m reading Michael Piller’s unpublished book about the creation of Insurrection, Fade In, in large part because it’s so all over the place I wondered what went wrong, and it includes some private correspondence between the two where he offhandedly dismisses Generations as being a mistake to learn from, and specifically criticizes the dullness and pacing, as well as its not properly identifying the stakes and hewing too closely to the TV model. This was in the service of his ripping an early idea of Insurrection to shreds. Which, watered down, more or less became the actual film.
I still need to read that. I have a pdf copy but I hate reading on screens.
It makes a little sense considering that neither Ron Moore nor Brannon Braga had much (if any?) experience writing for film, and boy does it show.
That it does. My personal theory is that Generations marks peak Braga, with only a handful of moments (Picard and Troi talking about his family, Picard’s scenes with Soran) that feel like anything Ron Moore ever wrote. On the other hand, it does have awkward comedy, a Macguffin-esque spatial anomaly of the week, time travel, and the catchphrase-y dialog are all common features in Braga’s writing. It even has the little technical trick to solve the greater puzzle beat that Braga includes in many of his episodes, such as "Cause And Effect," "Parallels" and "Timescape," among others (and it’s wildly inappropriate in Generations, as it comes during a battle where battle tactics would have been more appropriate). The film is just a "DNA rewriting itself" away from Braga bingo. You get all of his tics but none of the cleverness he managed in his better stories.
The book is fairly interesting–it seems to be targeted at a mass audience and has all kinds of footnotes explaining Vulcans and such. I was expecting more of a Trekkie-oriented "what went wrong?" book rather than a general public "how a movie gets made" book, but nonetheless it’s got some interesting stuff. I’m about 2/3 through it and my takeaway so far is that the decision to move away from action/darkness/revenge was the right move in general after First Contact, but the themes that Piller wanted to explore in the movie and that stuck around through every different draft just weren’t going to make a good Star Trek movie no matter the treatment. It could be possible to make a slow, reflective movie that critiques youth culture while also making a strong statement against cultural assimilation and forced relocation, but Piller failed to make it work even before other stakeholders demanded compromises. What’s interesting is how Piller and Berman seemed to be aware of the pitfalls of what they were making, but wound up hitting so many of them anyway.
You guys didn’t mention it (I don’t think), but the endlessly shifting uniforms in Generations is something I can’t stop noticing when I watch it. Everyone is wearing ill-fitting uniforms, and none of them match in style.
That and the fact that I’ll never understand why David Carson was selected to direct this one. I’ll never be able to understand why they couldn’t hire a known director, with a known pedigree, who happened to be a fan of the show. They went the opposite, and took a TV director and overrated his knowledge of the show.
It’s just such a bland movie. Everything feels flat.
That’s a really good point–we don’t tend to talk about direction that much, but it’s definitely a big reason why the movie feels so bland.