Trek Generations is a 1994 American science fiction film released by
Paramount Pictures. Generations is the seventh feature film in the
Star Trek franchise. Depicting the death of Captain Kirk, it is the
first film in the series to star the cast of the television series
Star Trek: The Next Generation.
While the film received
mixed reviews from critics, (it was an odd numbered sequel after all)
it performed well at the box office. The entire main cast of Star
Trek: The Next Generation appears in Generations. Patrick Stewart as
Captain Jean-Luc Picard commander of Enterprise-D. Jonathan Frakes as
Commander William T. Riker. Brent Spiner as Lieutenant Commander
Data. LeVar Burton as Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge. Michael
Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf. Unlike his TNG co-stars, this was
Michael Dorn's second Star Trek film, having appeared on Star Trek
VI: The Undiscovered Country, portraying his TNG character's
grandfather, Colonel Worf, who defended Kirk and McCoy on their
trial. Gates McFadden as Chief Medical Officer Commander Beverly
Crusher. Marina Sirtis as ship's counselor Commander Deanna Troi and
Whoopi Goldberg as Enterprise bartender Guinan.
Malcolm McDowell was cast
as the villan, Tolian Soran. Many of the background players appeared
in different roles throughout the run of the series. Tim Russ, who
appears as an Enterprise-B bridge officer, 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.
Initially, the entire
principal cast of The Original Series was featured in the film's
first script, but ultimately only three members appeared in the film:
William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, James Doohan as Montgomery
Scott, and Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov. Leonard Nimoy and DeForest
Kelley declined to appear as Spock and Leonard McCoy. Nimoy (who was
offered the job of directing the film) felt that there were story
problems with the script and that Spock's role was extraneous, "I
said to everybody concerned, that if you took the dozen or so lines
of Spock dialog and simply changed the name of the character, nobody
would notice the difference." Nimoy and Kelley's lines were
subsequently modified for Doohan and Koenig. In Scotty's case, it
created a seeming continuity discrepancy, given Scotty's dialogue in
the TNG episode "Relics". In that episode, Scotty implied
that he believed Kirk to be still 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
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 1st.
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
seventh-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 man's 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 Romulans' 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 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.
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.
According to Zimmerman, the script characterized the location as a
small room with maps on one wall. Finding the concept uninteresting,
Zimmerman designed a circular set with three stories to give the
impression the actors are inside a star map. Zimmerman's previous
work designing a crisis management center influenced the design,
dominated by video screens.
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. Production designer Herman Zimmerman designed
the Enterprise-B with additions to its hull, some of which were added
so that they could depict damage to the ship without harming the
underlying model's surface. The surrounding spacedock was a
modification of the model created for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
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.
Blackman, The Next Generation's long serving costume designer
re-designed the Starfleet uniforms which the Enterprise-D crew would
wear in the film. The designs combined some of the elements of the
costumes seen in The Next Generation with those used earlier in the
film franchise from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan onwards. These
included a fastening on the right side of the chest and a slightly
more militaristic approach with rank bandings on the sleeves.
The costumes for the female crew-members
were different, instead of the additional fastening, there was a
higher than previously seen black band around the waist. These
designs were ultimately never used, instead a combination of the
uniforms as seen on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were worn
by the actors. However the news of the change in costumes came so
late in production that the original re-designs were included on the
range of licensed action figures by Playmates Toys.
Also created by Blackman
was the skydiving outfit worn by Shatner in the cut skydiving scene,
this was eventually reused in the Star Trek: Voyager episode
"Extreme Risk" by Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres.
CLUB FEATURETTE DEPARTMENT
Star Trek: Generations unites Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in a time-jumping race to stop a madman's quest for heavenly contentment. When a mysterious energy coil called the Nexus nearly damages the newly christened U.S.S. Enterprise-B, the just-retired Capt. Kirk is lost and presumed dead. But he's actually been trapped in the timeless purgatory of the Nexus, an idyllic state of being described by the mystical Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) as "pure joy." Picard must convince Kirk to leave this artificial comfort zone and confront Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), the madman who will threaten billions of lives to be reunited with the addictive pleasure of the Nexus. Add
Star Trek Generations to your DVD collection.
Berman backed Director
Carson's choice to hire John A. Alonzo, the director of photography
for Chinatown and Scarface, and 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 house, barn and
horse jump of Kirk's Nexus recollections were filmed at William
Shatner's ranch. Generation's special effects tasks 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.
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.
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 is a
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; Kirk was given a brass motif accented by snare
drums (a sound forbidden during The Next Generation), while the scene
ends with 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.
went on general release in North America on November 18th, 1994 and
grossed $23.1 million during the opening weekend, averaging $8,694
across 2,659 theatres. It was the highest grossing film during the
first week of the its release in the United States, and stayed in the
top ten for a further four weeks. In Japan, the film grossed $1.2
million its opening weekend, a large amount considering the
franchise's usual poor performance in that market.
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 Best Seller list.
Several tie-in video games
were released to coincide with the film's release. These included a
PC game by developers MicroProse called Star Trek Generations, which
featured the film's cast as voice actors. The game roughly followed
the plot of the film with the majority of the game played in a
first-person perspective. Absolute Entertainment published Star Trek
Generations: Beyond the Nexus for the Game Boy and the Game Gear
Star Trek: Generations
earned mixed reviews from critics. 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
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.
In a negative review, Roger
Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times asserted that Generations was
"undone by its narcissism" due to the film's overemphasis
on franchise in-jokes and the overuse of "polysyllabic
pseudoscientific gobbledygook" uttered by its characters. Ebert
also lamented the film's unimaginative script and complained "the
starship can go boldly where no one has gone before, but the
screenwriters can only do vice versa."
Malcolm McDowell would play Mr.
Roarke in the 1999 short lived revival of Fantasy Island, a part
originated by Ricardo Montalban who played Kahn in Star Trek the
originals series and Star Trek II - The Wrath of Kahn.