Why aren’t the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movies very good?

Please bear in mind that the opinions presented in this blog are just that. Taste is subjective.

Let me be clear: I absolutely love Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is quite possibly my favorite TV show of all time. I love the characters, I love the stories, I love the setting… in short, I want to live there. A reality in which mankind is no longer driven by the acquisition of wealth and material possessions, instead devoting itself to self-improvement? Sign me up! Free healthcare? Solid holograms? Hell yeah, son, let’s do this shit!

On may 23, 1994, I, along with many others, said goodbye to the crew of NCC-1701-D.

It was a spectacular series finale; All Good Things has yet, in my opinion, to be rivaled by any final episode of any other television show. A masterpiece of epic proportions. The perfect bookend episode; it and The series premier, Encounter At Farpoint, are two thick, perfectly toasted slices of rye bread and the episodes in between are sauerkraut, corned beef and a generous slathering of thousand island dressing. Well, many of them, anyway. There are indeed some “meh” to “ugh” episodes, but consider this: each season was comprised of 26 episodes. There were bound to be some lackluster ones.

Immediately after I paid this tearful farewell to my onscreen friends, Star Trek: Generations went into production.

I remember receiving a printed copy of the script from a friend who’d gotten it from a computer, of all things(In 1994 I only vaguely understood what the internet was), a good six months before the film’s release and thinking to myself, This can’t be real.

Well, long story short, it was. And I liked it, but I didn’t adore it like I did the series. Something about it didn’t feel right.

Why is that? My theory is that when the first movie featuring the original cast was released, there was such a hunger for it, such a demand to see those characters return and let everyone know what they were up to 10 years later, that there was a certain “welcome back” nostalgic vibe to all of it. Each subsequent movie gave us the opportunity to revisit these old friends, check in with them, see them fleshed out and given more depth than they possessed in the original series.

TNG, on the other hand, went on summer vacation and came back to school the following year with a beefed up physique and peach fuzz mustache.

“Oh, hey, good to see you again, TNG. Had a little growth spurt, eh?”

LOCK AND LOAD.

The film was a fun popcorn romp, complete with a mad scientist villain and every fan’s wet dream about Kirk meeting Picard. And they saved the universe together. Wow!

Yeah, it was pretty cool, but we didn’t even get a chance to miss our beloved Nextgen cast before they came back bigger and badder on the big screen at our local cineplex. We just saw them last year, for crying out loud! I’d much rather have seen an eighth season full of thought-provoking science fiction television than Generations, but still, that being said, I saw it five times.

First Contact is generally considered the best of the bunch. See, I can’t really get with that; to me, it’s the movie that completely demystified the Borg and turned Star Trek into Rambo in space. It was full of cheesy action flick tropes and corny one-liners. The pacing is just fucking stupid. It hits the ground running and doesn’t relent until the final frame. Sounds exciting, sure, but it’s no Best of Both Worlds or Q-who. I’ll go so far as to say that it isn’t even as good as I, Borg, the episode in which Geordi befriends a lost Borg drone who has been separated from the collective, forcing Picard to come to terms with the psychological impact of his assimilation during The best of both worlds. And I don’t believe a single phaser or photon torpedo was fired during that entire episode. And it made me think. Does it become more difficult to hate my enemy now that he’s been humanized?

That, to me, is the kind of thing that separates Trek from most sci-fi franchises. The optimism, the reevaluation of preconceived ideas. A kick in our complacency.

Insurrection, the next film in the series, is universally reviled, but to me it’s the most Star Trek of the bunch. The crew lay their careers across the chopping block to fight for what they believe to be right. Sure, it’s basically an overgrown later-season TNG episode but what’s wrong with that? The film has its flaws, of course, but I believe it’s unfairly maligned. But then again I also feel the same way about Star Trek V.

I can’t really comment on its followup Nemesis with any authority, as I’ve only seen it once and don’t remember a whole lot about it, other than not really liking it all that much.

Overall, all four films are pretty forgettable, in my opinion. They came and went, and they served their purpose, which was to keep the cinematic flame of Star Trek burning, and to squeeze more money out of the franchise, of course. It just seemed utterly pointless. Maybe things would’ve turned out differently had they waited ten years to make a movie.

What’s done is done though, of course, and Nemesis is likely the last we’ll ever see of the Nextgen crew.

And that’s a shame, considering that a fitting sendoff could still be made. It’s not too late. By the time Star Trek VI: the undiscovered country was released, the original cast were all fairly old. Older, I’d wager, than the cast of tng, at least for the most part.

So yeah, it can still be done. I cried at the end of VI. That scene with the signatures… it felt like a proper goodbye. Nemesis didn’t.

It occurs to me as I write this, though, that Data is dead. Well, no problem, we’ve got B-4(bizarro data)right? I understand that in some of the newer novels Data’s consciousness has been uploaded into B-4. Well, who’s gonna play him? Brent Spiner looks great, but he doesn’t look the same as he did when TNG was on the air, and since the character doesn’t age, that’s a huge problem.

UNLESS…unless Data undergoes some kind of procedure to give himself living, aging human flesh over his mechanical body, like the Terminator, as part of his never-ending quest to be more human(Don’t bother, Pinnochio, it’s really not worth the effort!). I could see him doing something like that . In All Good Things he’s put grey streaks in his hair in an effort to appear more distinguished, and he’s also “grown” a beard(roundly mocked by his fellow officers for no real reason; it looked fine.

So yeah, it could work, if paramount and cbs could hash out all their bullshit and and give fans a movie to empty their wallets for. Doubt it’ll happen anytime soon, if ever, though, and sadly, the clock is ticking.

Just as well, perhaps. As a wise Vulcan once said, “Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

Still, in my opinion, the films just weren’t that great because we were never given a chance to truly miss Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now that we do, so, so much, there has never been a better time to bring it back one last time, and to do it justice.

5 thoughts on “Why aren’t the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movies very good?

  1. Nemesis was such a huge let down. I read somewhere that there was talk of giving the Next Generation crew a fifth movie, something with Riker commanding his ship and Picard commanding the Enterprise. Seven of Nine was going to be in it too, for some reason. But Nemesis was such a commercial failure that it didn’t get past preproduction.

  2. Yeah. It almost went down the same way with Star Trek V, I think. Which I like on some level. I like the whole Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic, I like the overall concept, but it’s certainly a highly flawed b-movie and not suitable as a “farewell.”

  3. And I’m also well aware that my lack of enthusiasm for First Contact isn’t shared by many fans, but it just feels liked dumbed down TNG to me, I dunno. It doesn’t have all the “stuff” I like about the show. insurrection may have been poorly executed in some ways but it has more heart, to me. Watched it recently for the first time since the 90s and was pleasantly surprised. I too was once amongst its detractors.

  4. Ok, I didn’t read this post. I know zilch about Star Trek. But, way to go! I’m sure it was well written.

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