Tuesday, January 5, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: re: "Generations"

The thought occurred to me recently that it's been 15 years since Star Trek: Generations was released. That's the same amount of time as between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Generations itself. Makes me feel reeeeally old, as though I need any help in that department.

It's also the same amount of time between "Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I wasn't around for "Space Seed." In fact, I was conceived at about the time Star Trek ended its network run, and generally, anything that happened before one can remember ends up getting lumped together as The Historical Past. But thinking about these 15-year stretches, at a time when I'm watching the episodes of the original V on the 25th anniversaries of my seeing them the first time, gives me more of a feeling of scale, timewise.

But that's not what I called you all here for. Here's the original opening scene from Generations. (Note that it's intercut with the floating champagne bottle which ended up opening the film.) I remember reading somewhere that a stuntman was killed shooting Kirk's landing, but that may not be true, since I can't find anything about it via Google. If it is, the fact that the stunt ultimately needn't have been performed makes it even more sad.

Generations was originally written with Spock and McCoy accompanying Kirk, but Leonard Nimoy felt the script needed a rewrite, and DeForest Kelley thought he'd had a good send-off in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and a return would just undermine that. So the producers went with Scotty and Chekov instead. Unfortunately, as you can tell in the clip above, the writers made only minimal changes to accommodate the different characters. (Hence, also, Chekov oddly taking charge of Sickbay on the Enterprise-B.) In the clip below, after Kirk is thought killed by the Nexus, Scotty gets Spock's philosophical observation.

Generations was originally supposed to introduce a new Starfleet uniform. It was pretty much the Next Generation version, but cut more like the original-cast movie jackets, with sleeve rank stripes reminiscent of the original series. A set of action figures came out with this uniform, but the movie ended up just using the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine uniforms (which the characters alternate with puzzling frequency, as though they were constantly stopping in mid-action to change).

Until I saw this clip, I didn't know that any footage was shot before the producers made their decision. But here, you can (sorta kinda) see it at about 0:11.

And here's the original fight scene. More about that in a moment. But it is every bit as lame a death for Kirk as you've been led to believe.

Here's a clip from the Rifftrax of Generations, featuring Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I haven't seen the rest of it, but this doesn't seem to be one of their best. (I did mostly enjoy Murphy and Bill Corbett's Rifftrax of the Star Trek New Voyages episode I co-produced, "World Enough and Time," although it was needlessly cruel to a couple of the fan actors.)

Okay, now about Kirk's death. I thought Generations was all right, but even at the time, I noted that the story was less like a plot than a to-do list: kill Kirk, destroy the Enterprise-D, give Data his emotion chip... The elements just seemed shoehorned together, without much logic or sense of occasion. Especially the use of Kirk. I mean, this is it, right? The big meeting between Kirk and Picard? The death of a hero some people had been following for 28 years? And it is such a damp damn squib, even in the reshot version that made it to the screen. Captain James T. Friggin' Kirk goes to the 24th century and lays down his life... as muscle to keep Soran busy for a moment while Picard presses a couple of buttons? Never mind that, had Picard (or the writers) applied a moment's thought to the situation, he could have found a better time to come out of the Nexus, and defeated Soran much more easily.

Which brings me to the next three clips, which are much more entertaining than you'd think a thirty-minute evisceration of Generations could be. That's because it's not a shrill rant, but more a sardonic, logical point-by-point takedown which notices the things I mentioned above, and many more. (For instance, I'd never noticed that Generations reused a couple of effects shots from the previous film. Granted, Khan reused numerous shots from The Motion Picture, but at least that one had economy as an excuse. Generations cost about three times as much as Khan.)

No comments: