"People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation) just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout 'Star Trek: The Next Generation')"! Well, I don't know if this this series has been put down all that much, because it's certainly done better than certain other follow-ups to legendary series, but I still stand by the lame song reference, as The Who are mighty British, and this film is so British that they traded out a Canadian for an Englishman in the role of a Frenchman, even though Patrick Stewart doesn't even attempt to do a French accent (Would anyone else like to hear William Shatner do a French Canadian accent?). Seriously though, this is one interesting crossover film, because, really, I didn't think that the NBC soap opera "Generations" was big enough to be somehow crowbarred into the "Star Trek" universe. Shoot, I joke, but it's a good thing that "TNG" was on syndication, because if it really did take up deals with ABC, or CBS, or Fox, man, the major network rivalry would be so intense that not even two "Star Trek" series would be allowed to mix their blood. Well, maybe NBC and its rivals would let this film go, seeing as how the "Star Trek" TV series, by 1994, alone, had been long, long, long gone, while "Star Trek: The Next Generation" apparently fell out of high relevance in no time. This film came out only a couple of months after "TNG" ended, and already you're wondering what reflects the desperation of this cinematic project more: the fact that "TNG" ostensibly released a film out of desperation to keep people invested, or the fact that this film features Malcolm McDowell. Well, luckily, this film was something of a success, and I can see why, as it offers plenty for you to enjoy, but not without having some setbacks.
You certainly can't ask for too many refreshing aspects to this 179th episode in a popular second chapter in a popular mythology, but even when you disregard the obvious familiarity of this subject matter, for a sci-fi flick, especially one of the '90s, this film takes quite a beating from conventionalism and predictability, even though it has the unique aspect of being told with a bit more unevenness in pacing than certain other sci-fi films of its nature. Okay, perhaps this film isn't that particularly uneven in its pacing, not just in comparison to other sci-fi films like this, but by its own right, but when entertainment value isn't broken by fairly effective areas in atmospheric kick, it's watered down by limp spells that are rarely, if ever all that bland, but bland, nonetheless. Inconsistency in pacing messes with the engagement value of the often rather bland film, though the inconsistencies do not end there, as the film's focus sometimes finds trouble in juggling its layers, leaving you to jar back and forth between certain subplots and central plot aspects whose weight goes diluted by the inconsistency, while inconsistencies in tone crowbar in fluffy aspects whose fall-flat moments range from cheesy to near-aggravating (Yeah, the subplot featuring Brent Spiner's android Data character getting used to artificial emotions is cute and all, but by the time he starts playfully singing about searching for life forms, it's hard not to groan a little bit). The film does not have as tight a grip as it should on tone or focus, and it's not exactly assured with its originality or pacing, and all of that, as you can imagine, slows down momentum rather considerably, yet it's not the hiccups in the telling of this story that really secure the generally well-done final product as relatively underwhelming. No, people, what really undercuts the potential of this film is the story itself and how it presents only so much potential to begin with, because while there is some weight to this film that you just didn't get on TV, in one too many areas, this doesn't feel like it's all that much more than a pretty decent installment in the TV show upon which it is based, and while that makes this not too shabby for television, it's hard to not want a whole lot more out of transition of "TNG" to the silver screen. Sure, the film gives you quite a bit too enjoy, so much so that you get more than a few glimpses into the rewarding sci-fi flick that it could have been, but looking at this effort as a high-profile sci-fi feature, consequentiality is limited, and with such shortcomings in concept going emphasized by shortcomings in storytelling, you end up with something of an underwhelming final product. Regardless, this cinematic debut for "Star Trek: TNG" is a relatively satisfying one, not exactly standing as all that rewarding as a film by its own right, but coming close enough to keep you going, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.
"Star Trek" scores have always been iconic, but in the original films, they kept getting some then-hot new film score composer to define the distinguished musical aspects of the cinematic wing of the "Star Trek" mythology, so with this effort, we see for the first time the return of a composer of "Star Trek" TV scores, Dennis McCarthy, whose tastes are formulaic, to be sure, whether when you're looking at this film as an opportunity for livelier musicality or simply as yet another flick to be punched up by lively music, but still quite good, with classical soul, as well as a range whose steady moments are near-piercing and whose more boastful moments are near-sweeping, thus making for nice musical artistry to back up nice visual artistry, or at least nice production value. Returning to his duties as the preferred production designer for both the "Star Trek" film series and that "Star Trek: The Next Generation" sub-franchise, Herman F. Zimmerman does not disappoint, crating, for this saga, only so many outstanding designs, but still bringing this world to life as well as always with nifty production value that itself complimented by anything from handsome cinematography, - courtesy of John A. Alonzo - to visual effects which have become slightly dated through the years, but still dazzle, not just in their nifty conceiving, but in their generally very impressive final rendering. Stylistically and technically, this film is about as impressive as any of the "Star Trek" films were up to this point, offering plenty of eye and, well, for musically tasteful, ear candy, even if it can offer you only so much punch to substance, which even then, is meaty enough for you catch glimpses into a rewarding film. Like I said, there are areas in storytelling that are too fluffy for their own good, and it's not like the film's story concept is ever too much more momentous than one of your juicier episodes out of the "TNG" series, but there is still more intrigue to this subject matter than plenty of people are giving this effort credit for, and there are, in fact, times where you go firmly reminded of the potential of this film by what is done genuinely right by director David Carson, whose tastes in pacing gets to be uneven, but is generally brisk enough to keep entertainment value adequate, while inspired moments in the exploration of the heart of this subject matter graces the heavier moments in conflict with a degree of tension, and even tosses in unexpected moments of dramatic resonance. The film opens strong, with an audacious stinger for "Star Trek" fans that is pretty effective, and brought back in for a particularly compelling final act pretty beautifully, and while those bookends for this high-profile sci-fi drama mark the peaks in this film's impact, they break up a consistent degree of engagement value, which is potent enough to keep you invested, but not without the help of some inspired performances. Now, I haven't seen enough of this TV series to know how LeVar Burton typically is, but in this film, the occasions in which he is used mark dull lowlights in this effort's acting value (Sorry, "Roots" fans), though that's just one out of a good deal of performances, most all of which are decent, with standouts that include a Malcolm McDowell whose proves to be convincing as an antagonist obsessed with reclaiming a dangerous sensation, as well as a sparsely used William Shatner who is as charismatic as ever, and a leading Patrick Stewart who delivers, not only on his own iconic charisma, but some unexpected dramatic range that breathes a lot of life into the human depth of this drama. Many of the highlights in the film go anchored by Stewart, but everyone's favorite bald English-oh, I mean, "French" space captain isn't the only one who keeps things going, because while the final product ultimately falls short of rewarding, there's enough inspiration behind it for it to come closer than many say it does.
When the first chapter in the cinematic adventure for the second chapter in a timeless saga is closed... or whatever, predictably formulaic storytelling, unevenness in pacing, focus and tone, and more than a few natural shortcomings within a sometimes thin story concept drive a promising final product short of rewarding, but through lively score work, fine production value, excellent visual effects and a decent story concept that often goes brought to life by anything from inspired direction by David Carson to inspired performances by Malcolm McDowell, William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, "Star Trek Generations" stands as a generally pretty entertaining and often genuinely compelling, if held back sci-fi flick.
2.75/5 - Decent