- Star Trek Generations
Star Trek Generations
Theatrical release poster art
Directed by David Carson Produced by Rick Berman Screenplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Rick Berman
Ronald D. Moore
Based on Star Trek by
Starring See Cast Music by Dennis McCarthy Cinematography John A. Alonzo Editing by Peter E. Berger Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) November 18, 1994 Running time 118 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $35 million Box office $118,071,125
Star Trek Generations is a 1994 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. Generations is the seventh feature film based on the Star Trek television series and the first film in the series to star the cast of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
While the film performed reasonably well at the box office, it received mixed reviews from critics.
In the year 2293, recently retired Captain James T. Kirk attends the maiden voyage of the Starship USS Enterprise-B. During the voyage, Enterprise is pressed into a rescue mission to save two refugee ships from a strange energy ribbon. Enterprise is able to save some of the refugees before their ships are destroyed and Enterprise becomes trapped in the ribbon itself. Kirk descends to the lower decks to alter the deflector shields, allowing Enterprise to escape. The ribbon makes contact with the ship's hull and causes major damage; the section Kirk is in is exposed to space, and he is presumed dead.
In 2371, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D receives a distress call from a solar observatory. They find that everyone, except Doctor Tolian Soran, has been killed by Romulans. The android Data, who recently installed a chip that enables emotions, helps engineer Geordi La Forge search the station. The two discover a compound called trilithium in a hidden room. Soran appears, knocks La Forge unconscious, and launches a trilithium missile at a nearby star. The missile causes the sun to go supernova, sending a shock wave towards the observatory. Soran and La Forge are transported away by a Klingon Bird of Prey belonging to the treacherous Duras sisters. Data is rescued just before the station is destroyed.
Enterprise Captain Jean Luc Picard learns more about Soran from Enterprise bartender Guinan; Soran and Guinan were among those rescued by the Enterprise-B. Guinan explains that Soran's goal is to return to the "Nexus", the energy ribbon Enterprise encountered. Picard and Data realize that Soran is altering the path of the ribbon by destroying stars, and determine that Soran will attempt to reenter the Nexus on Veridian III by destroying its star—and, by extension, a heavily-populated planet in the system. On arrival in the Veridian system, the Duras sisters appear and offer to trade La Forge for Picard. Picard is transported to the planet's surface and finds Soran working on a missile, protected by a shield. La Forge is brought back aboard the Enterprise, unaware that his visor is transmitting a signal to the Klingons. When the Duras sisters discover the Enterprise's shield frequency, they attack. Enterprise is able to counterattack and destroy the Bird of Prey, but takes critical damage. Riker orders an evacuation to the saucer section of the ship to separate from the damaged engineering section. The explosion of the engineering section causes the saucer to crash on Veridian III.
Picard finds a hole in Soran's shield, but is too late to stop him from launching the missile. The Veridian sun collapses and Soran and Picard are transported to the Nexus before the shock wave destroys the planet. Picard asks for help from an "echo" of Guinan in the Nexus; she sends him to meet Kirk, who is also safe in the Nexus. Picard convinces Kirk to return to Picard's present and stop Soran. The two leave the Nexus, arriving on Veridian III minutes before Soran launches the missile. They distract Soran long enough to lock the missile in place, causing it to explode on the launchpad, killing Soran. Kirk is mortally wounded from the encounter; as he dies, Picard assures him that he helped to make a difference. Picard buries Kirk before being shuttled to the wreckage of the Enterprise saucer section, reuniting with his crew, and leaving the planet.
The entire main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation appear in Generations. Patrick Stewart plays Captain Jean-Luc Picard, commander of Enterprise-D. Jonathan Frakes plays Commander William T. Riker, Brent Spiner the android Data, LeVar Burton the engineer Geordi La Forge, Michael Dorn the Klingon Worf, Gates McFadden Doctor Beverly Crusher, and Marina Sirtis the counselor Deanna Troi. Many of the cast, no longer working a steady job on a television series, were wary of the so-called "Star Trek curse" preventing them from finding non-Trek roles in the future.
Many actors reprise their recurring characters from the television series. Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh play the villainous Klingon sisters Lursa and B'Etor. Patti Yasutake plays Enterprise nurse Alyssa Ogawa. Whoopi Goldberg plays Enterprise bartender Guinan. Many of the background players appeared in different roles throughout the series' run, including Tim Russ, who portrays an Enterprise-B officer in the film. Russ played a terrorist in "Starship Mine" and a Klingon in "Invasive Procedures", and later joined the cast of Star Trek: Voyager as the Vulcan Tuvok.
William Shatner reprises his role as Captain James T. Kirk. Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley declined to appear. Their lines, as Spock and McCoy, were modified for James Doohan and Walter Koenig, as Montgomery Scott and Pavel Chekov. In Scotty's case, it created a seeming continuity error, given Scotty's dialogue in the TNG episode "Relics". In that episode, Scotty implied that he believed Kirk to still be alive, despite the fact that the scene's setting was after Scotty had witnessed Kirk's apparent death in Star Trek: Generations. The official explanation for the inconsistency is that Scotty was disoriented in "Relics", as he had just re-materialized after 75 years transporter stasis.
After the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991, it was expected that the next Star Trek feature film would feature the cast of the Star Trek: The Next Generation television spinoff series. Paramount Pictures executives approached The Next Generation producer Rick Berman in late 1992 about creating a feature film, four months before the official announcement.
Berman informed Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga that Paramount had approved a two-picture deal. Moore and Braga, who were convinced Berman had called them into his office to tell them The Next Generation was cancelled, instead found Berman asking them to write one of the Star Trek films. Berman also worked with former Next Generation producer Maurice Hurley to develop possible story ideas. Executive producer Michael Piller turned down the opportunity to develop ideas, objecting to what he saw as a "competition" for the job. Ultimately Moore and Braga's script was chosen; the writers spent weeks with Berman developing the story before taking a working vacation in May 1992 to write the first-draft screenplay, completed June 1.
Berman felt that including the original cast of the previous Star Trek films felt like a "good way to pass the baton" to the next series. In the initial draft of the screenplay, the original series cast appeared in a prologue, and Guinan served as the bridge between the two generations. The Enterprise-D's end also appeared—the saucer crash had first been proposed as the cliffhanger for Moore's original sixth-season finale "All Good Things...", which eventually became the series finale. Kirk's death initially developed in Braga, Moore and Berman's story sessions. Moore recalled that "we wanted to aim high, do something different and big... We knew we had to have a strong Picard story arc, so what are the profound things in a mans life he has to face? Mortality tops the list." After the idea of killing off a Next Generation cast member was vetoed, someone suggested that Kirk die instead. Moore recalled that "we all sorta looked around and said, 'That might be it.' " The studio and Shatner himself had few concerns about the plot point.
Refining the script also meant facing the realities of budget constraints. The initial proposal included location shooting in Hawaii, Idaho and the Midwestern United States and the total budget was over $30 million. After negotiations, the budget was reduced to $25 million. A revised version of the script from March 1994 included feedback from the producers, studio, actors and director; the writers changed a sequence where Harriman trained his predecessors in the Enterprise-B's operation after Shatner felt the scene's joke went too far. Picard's personal tragedy was written as his brother Robert's heart attack, but Stewart suggested the loss of his entire family in a fire to add emotional impact. The draft script's opening sequence took place on the solar observatory with two Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-influenced characters talking shortly before the Romulan's attack; Next Generation writer Jeri Taylor suggested that the opening should be something "fun", leading to the switch to a holodeck promotion-at-sea.
Nimoy turned down the chance to direct the feature as well as reprise the role of Spock. The producers chose David Carson. The British director had no feature film experience, but had directed several episodes of Star Trek, including the popular Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" and the Deep Space Nine double-length pilot episode "Emissary".
Production on Generations began while The Next Generation was still filming. Scenes that did not feature The Next Generation regulars were filmed first. After the end of the show, there was only six months before the film was scheduled to be released in theaters.
Generation's production designer was Star Trek veteran Herman Zimmerman, who had worked on previous Star Trek films, The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Zimmerman collaborated with illustrator John Eaves for many designs. Zimmerman's approach to realizing a vision of the future was to take existing and familiar designs and use them in a different manner to express living in the future. Taking cues from director Nicholas Meyer's approach to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Zimmerman noted that even in the future humanity will still need life support and have the same furniture needs, so a logical approach was to start with what would remain the same and work from there.
Transitioning from a television screen to a movie meant that sets and designs needed to be more detailed, the colors more subtle, and the level of polish higher. Zimmerman felt obligated to improve on the sets fans had watched for seven seasons, especially the bridge. Zimmerman repainted the set, added computer consoles, raised the captain's chair for a more commanding presence, and reworked the bridge's ceiling struts; Zimmerman had always been unhappy with how the ceiling looked but had never had the time or money to rework it previously.
The script called for an entirely new location on the Enterprise, stellar cartography.
The Enterprise-B model was a modification of the Excelsior vessel first designed by effects house Industrial Light & Magic for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock a decade earlier.
While the feature film made use of new sets and props, Dwyer reused previous Star Trek props or made new ones out of premade materials where possible rather than spend more money on entirely new items. A chair used to torture LaForge was created using a birthing chair, nosehair clippers and flashlights for accents. Packing pieces from electronics were used to form the shapes of set walls for the Bird of Prey bridge. The Amargosa stellar observatory set was filled with reused props from The Next Generation,with others added in deliberate nods to past episodes. Other setpieces were original; these included paintings of Picard's ancestors and a cowboy for the locations in the Nexus.
Despite the budget cuts Generations shot many scenes on location.
The Enterprise-D promotion ceremony on the holodeck was filmed on the Lady Washington, a full-scale replica of the first American sailing ship to visit Japan. The Washington was anchored at Marina del Rey and sailed out a few miles from shore over five days of shooting. Some of the Washington's crew appeared amongst Enterprise crewmembers. The film's climax on Veridian III was filmed over eight days on an elevated plateau in the "Valley of Fire", north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The rise's height and sloped sides required cast and crew to climb 160 vertical feet using safety ropes and carry all provisions and equipment with them. The 110-degree heat was difficult for all involved, especially Shatner, as his character wore an all-wool uniform.
Picard's house in the Nexus was a private home in Pasadena, California; almost all the furnishings were custom props or outside items. The barn and horse jump of Kirk's Nexus recollections were filmed at a ranch.
Generation's special effects chores were split between the television show's various effects vendors and ILM.
The previous Star Trek films used motion control techniques to record multiple passes of the starship models. For Generations, they began using computer-generated models for certain shots. No physical miniatures were ever built for the refugee ships, for instance, and the Enterprise-B's encounter in the ribbon also solely used a computer-generated model. Other CGI elements included the Enterprise warp effect, the solar collapses, and the Veridian III planet.
While digital techniques were used for many sequences and ships, a few models were physically built, including the observatory, built by model shop foreman John Goodson, and the Enterprise-B, which used the existing Excelsior model with additions designed by Zimmerman.
Because Generations featured the Enterprise-D separating into saucer and engineering sections, the original 6-foot (1.8 m) model built by ILM for the television series was hauled out of storage. The ship was stripped, rewired, and its surface detailed to stand up to scrutiny of the silver screen. A 12-foot saucer was constructed for the crash sequence, filmed in a 40-by-80 ft forest floor set extended by matte paintings. ILM shot its crew members walking about their parking lot and matted the footage onto the top of the saucer to represent the Starfleet personnel evacuating the saucer section.
Dennis McCarthy, a composer who had worked on The Next Generation, was given the task of composing for the feature. Critic Jeff Bond wrote that while McCarthy's score was "tasked with straddling the styles of both series", it also offered the opportunity for the composer to produce stronger dramatic writing. His opening music was an ethereal choral piece that plays while a floating champagne bottle tumbles through space. For the action scenes with the Enterprise-B, McCarthy used low brass chords and touches. Kirk was given a brass motif accented by snare drums (a touch forbidden during The Next Generation), while the scene ends with a dissonant notes as Scott and Chekov discover Kirk has been blown into space.
McCarthy expanded his brassy style for the film's action sequences, such as the battle over Veridian III and the crash-landing of the Enterprise. For Picard's trip to the Nexus, more choral music and synthesizers accompany Picard's discovery of his family. The film's only distinct theme, a broad fanfare, first plays when Picard and Kirk meet. The theme blends McCarthy's theme for Picard from The Next Generation's first season, notes from the theme for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Alexander Courage's classic Star Trek fanfare.
For the final battle of Kirk and Picard against Soran, McCarthy used staccato music to accentuate the fistfight. For Kirk's death, McCarthy mated lyrical strings with another statement of the Courage theme, while a shot of Picard standing over Kirk's grave is scored with more pomp. As the film closes, the Courage theme plays once more.
Marketing for the film included a web site, the first on the internet to officially publicize a motion picture. The site was a success, being viewed millions of times worldwide in the weeks leading to the film's release at a time when fewer than a million Americans had internet access.
A novelization of the film written by J.M. Dillard spent three weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list.
Generations grossed $75,671,125 in the U.S. and $118,100,000 worldwide against a $35,000,000 budget. In Japan, the film grossed $1.2 million its opening weekend, a large amount considering the franchise's usual poor performance in that market.
James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave Generations two and a half stars out of four, saying: "Despite a reasonably original story line, familiar characters, first rate special effects, and the hallmark meeting between Captains Kirk and Picard, there's something fundamentally dissatisfying about [the movie]. The problem is that [...] too often it seems like little more than an overbudgeted, double-length episode of the Next Generation television series."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times said: "Generations is predictably flabby and impenetrable in places, but it has enough pomp, spectacle and high-tech small talk to keep the franchise afloat." Jeremy Conrad of IGN gave the film a score of 7 out of 10, saying that it "feels a little rushed and manufactured," but called it "one of the better of the odd-numbered Trek films," referring to a belief that even-numbered Star Trek films are traditionally of higher quality.
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- ^ a b c d Nemecek, 308.
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- ^ a b c d e Nemecek, 309.
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- ^ Marc Shapiro (January 1995). "David Carson: Director". Star Trek Generations: Official Movie Souvenir Magazine (Titan Magazines).
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- ^ "The First Movie Web Site: 'Star Trek Generations'". StarTrek.com. Paramount Pictures. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20090227104351/http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/features/specials/article/7647.html. Retrieved 2005-07-02.
- ^ "Star Trek Generations". Box Office Mojo. 2007-05-26. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=startrek7.htm. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- ^ Groves, Don (1996-01-01). "Bond, 'Babe' light up o'seas B.O.". Variety: p. 16.
- ^ James Berardinelli (1994). "Star Trek Generations Review". ReelViews. http://www.reelviews.net/movies/s/st7.html. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- ^ Janet Maslin (1994-11-18). "Star Trek Generations Review". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B05E5DD1031F93BA25752C1A962958260. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- ^ Jeremy Conrad (2001-11-01). "Star Trek Generations DVD Review". IGN. http://dvd.ign.com/articles/315/315697p1.html. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- Bond, Jeff (1999). The Music of Star Trek. Lone Eagle Publishing Company. ISBN 1580650120.
- Dillard, J.M. (1994). Star Trek: "Where No One Has Gone Before" — A History in Pictures. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-51149-1.
- Edgerly, Philip Thomas; Herman Zimmerman (December 1994). "Architrek: Designing Generations". Omni.
- Magid, Ron (April 1995). "ILM Creates New Universe of Effects for 'Star Trek: Generations'". American Cinematographer 1 (76): 77–88. ISSN 0002-7928.
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- Nemecek, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 0743457986.
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- Official website
- Star Trek Generations at the Internet Movie Database
- Star Trek Generations at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
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