Friday, August 10, 2012

STAR TREK GENERATIONS

***** (5 stars out of 5)
I know, I KNOW. I'm all alone out on this particular limb. This movie isn't as beloved in the fan community as I feel it should be. Too bad! I love it to pieces, which is all that's left of the video tape I wore out watching it into the double digits.

Back in 2293, Starfleet launched the Enterprise 1701-B under Captain Cameron from 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off'. I adore Captain Harriman, not least because he has to deliver lines like "I remember reading about your missions when I was in grade school," and "It won't be installed until Tuesday." You see, Captain Kirk came along on this maiden voyage/press junket and was heroically blown out into the ether because the B had no staff or equipment ready for a rescue operation. Possibly including poor Harriman, who I firmly believe only looks bad when standing next to his boyhood hero.

The rescue went badly for the El-Aurian refugees partly because they did not WANT to be rescued: the glowy, sparky Temporal Nexus that's killing most of them is the next best thing to heaven, and that's not an easy dimension to turn down. One who turned her back on it was Guinan, and one who did not is the Commodore from 'Wing Commander'. Also, Captain Kirk fell in while saving everyone else, never to be seen again... Until...

In 2371, Data finally has his emotion chip installed. The mechanical feelings graft themselves in permanently and start causing him no end of comedy and tragedy, often at the same time. While drinking Guinan's concoctions, for example, Data sums up my experience of marathon reviewing:

"I HATE this! It is revolting!"
"More?"
"Please."

As Picard reels from the death of his brother and nephew in a fire, nutty El-Aurian physicist Dr. Soren teams up with the Duras sisters in an elaborate, scientifically unsound scheme to snag himself a trip back to paradise. With the slight side-effect of destroying a populated world.

Data's newly discovered cowardice nearly gets Geordi killed by Soren's tortures. The android also contends with the suicidal guilt that follows. Picard orders Data to cope and integrate his new feelings into his life. (This scene is one of my all-time favorites. God, I love those two!)

When Soren destroys the Veridian system, he accidentally whisks Picard into the Nexus with him. (Offscreen, Soren lives out his dream of ruling a desert Earth as the head of Water and Power. 'Blast you, Tank Girl!'...)

Picard must resist the lure of a charming British family on Christmas Eve, which is apparently his idea of heaven, Tiny Tim's Captain Power jet and all. Picard is guided away from all this by the Ghost of Christmas Guinan, who partly exists here (explaining her otherworldly sense of time at long last). Picard implores Kirk for a time-travel team-up. The Shat is reluctant to leave off his heavenly retirement of horse riding and marriage (to a woman, not a horse, you understand).

"Come back with me!" Jean-Luc urges. "Make a difference again!"

Through force of will, the two great Captains join forces to beat up a scrawny old madman. Kirk avoids getting shot in the back long enough to save millions of strangers he's never met and will never get to sleep with. Then he's crushed to death by a collapsing bridge. It is still a profoundly sad moment for me, and a worthy death for a mighty hero.

It is also the end for my beloved Enterprise-D. I'm sick of people including me making the joke that they should never have let Troi behind the wheel! Keeping in mind that the drive explosion probably took out everything but the maneuvering thrusters, I'd say a thousand people owe their lives to a woman driver's ability to land what was essentially a falling rock. If you need someone to blame, ask RIKER why he didn't eject the damn warp core when it started to breach! Pssh! Men!

Real Men may not have saved the ship, but they sure can cry if their kitty cat is found unharmed! Acting props to Brent Spiner (who does not enjoy cats) for making me sob for a filthy moggy when Spot is rescued from the wreckage. (I DO enjoy cats, you see.)

"STAR TREK GENERATIONS" has logical flaws that don't take a dozen viewings to discover (not least of which is how easily the Duras sisters annihilate the Federation flagship when they were last seen scrounging for cash and mildly inconveniencing a lone Dopterian wimp).  I see its flaws and I adore it anyway. So: "Time is the fire in which we burn" OR "Time is our companion reminding us to treasure every moment?" Discuss. Share your work.

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