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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Star Trek Generations - Special Collector's Edition
Star Trek Generations - Special Collector's Edition
Paramount // PG // September 7, 2004
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted September 13, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

Star Trek: Generations represented the passing of the feature-film torch from the "old generation" to the new. It's really a Next Generation film, but as the first feature-length production featuring the new cast, the filmmakers decided to weave in a connection to the original characters, most notably Captain Kirk. I remembered Generations as being a somewhat weak film, but in watching it again it holds up better than I recalled: the story is entertaining and the conceit of the "two captains" works better in action than it might seem on paper.

The film opens with a very cleverly done sequence set in the "old generation": Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov are invited on board for the maiden voyage of the new Enterprise-B. Director David Carson handles this material deftly; there's a wry sense of self-parody as the "famous" Enterprise crew members are on the receiving end of adulation and media attention, while at the same time Kirk is visibly itching to get his hands on the command of a ship that's not intended for him. It's never overdone, never pushing over into outright jokes, and overall it's quite fun to see Star Trek able to poke fun at itself a little bit.

Although the film opens with the original cast, the main body of Generations involves the Next Generation cast. The Enterprise is called to investigate an attack on a science station, and rescues a scientist named Soren who, it turns out, has some decidedly self-centered plans that involve a destructive (yet seductive) energy ribbon called the Nexus. As the story unfolds, Picard discovers that the Nexus is a strange universe all its own, and that in order to stop Soren, he must enlist the aid of a captain from the past... one James T. Kirk.

It's interesting to look at Generations in the context of the earlier Star Trek films as well as the Next Generation films that would come afterwards. While I think that Next Generation is a far better television show than the Original Series, when it comes to feature films, it's reversed: the films with the original cast have, on the whole, been far better than the Next Generation films. What's going on here? I'd venture the theory that in the original-cast films, we see more risk-taking in terms of story, plot, and characters. Kirk has become a bitter, frustrated man who is only able to feel truly alive when he's at the helm of the Enterprise; Star Trek II, III, and IV created a full story arc involving some pretty major events in the characters' lives; Star Trek VI covers a pivotal moment in the Star Trek universe, with its plot revolving around potential all-out war with the Klingons.

In contrast, the Next Generation films are entertaining, but they tend to feel like extended episodes rather than full films, as though the filmmakers are hesitant to really shake things up with either the characters or the story world. I'd actually attribute that to a positive feature of Next Generation, namely the strong emphasis on character that we get in the show. With these characters already fleshed-out and beloved by the audience, the filmmakers are, I think, hesitant to really shake things up.

Which brings us to Generations. The story itself is reasonably interesting, and I think it's nicely handled that the central plot point is not a "destruction of all life and the universe as we know it" type of threat, while still being of a sufficiently large scale to be impressive. What's interesting in terms of the Next Generation film franchise is that Generations takes some chances with the characters (but not gratuitously so): we see Picard grappling with loss and the re-evaluation of his family ties, and we see Data in the process of discovering emotions. For long-time viewers of the Next Generation series, these character elements help give Generations some added depth. This, along with what happens to the Enterprise at the end of the film, is more change to the status quo than we'll see in most of the later film.

At slightly under two hours, Generations keeps the pace moving along fairly well; there are some slow points, but not many, and the action sequences (including an exciting encounter with the Klingons) make sense in the context of the story. Of course, there are some plot holes that it really doesn't pay to think too deeply about, but if you're willing to let a few things slide, it's quite fun to see Captain Picard (for he's the central character here) in action in a feature film. I'm not sure that Generations is really a film that stands on its own if you aren't a fan of at least one of the Star Trek television series, but for Trek fans, it merits a place in the collection.


Star Trek: Generations – Special Collector's Edition is a two-disc set, packaged in a double-wide plastic keepcase, like the other Collector's Editions of the Trek films. The first disc contains the film, and the second holds the special features.


The new special edition of Generations improves on its predecessor by offering an anamorphic transfer, which is presented in the film's original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Overall, it's a reasonable transfer that offers respectable image quality, and while I didn't have the earlier edition on hand to do a side-by-side comparison, the anamorphic enhancement alone would be enough to rate this as a significant improvement.

Colors and contrast look excellent throughout the film, with a bright, natural look to the colors, and with the blackness of space appropriately rich and dark. There's some interesting use of color tinting and light and shadow in several scenes, which the transfer handles quite well. It's far from being a perfect transfer, though. Grain is distinctly visible in several scenes, most notably the blue skies in the scenes set on Viridian; edge enhancement ranges from severe to hardly noticeable. Scattered print flaws also pop up throughout the film. All in all, Generations could have (and should have) been cleaned up more thoroughly, but it's a reasonably good transfer that will satisfy viewers.


Viewers have a broad spectrum of soundtrack choices here. Of most note is the DTS track, but for those whose systems don't support DTS there's also a Dolby 5.1 and a Dolby 2.0 option (as well as a dubbed French Dolby 2.0 track).

The overall sound quality is quite good without being outstanding. Dialogue, effects, and music are clear and natural sounding, and are blended together nicely. I didn't find the surround effects to be particularly noteworthy; certainly we do get some surround action in the appropriate scenes, but not as much as we might hope for in a sci-fi film.


There's a considerable amount of bonus material here, though in typical Paramount fashion it's broken up into a myriad of little featurettes. On the first DVD, we get two commentary tracks: an audio commentary from screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ron Moore, and a text commentary from Trek experts Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.

Disc two is where the featurettes are located, under a handful of categories. First up is a section called "Scene Deconstruction," in which the making of several special-effects-heavy scenes is discussed. We get a discussion of the main title with its designer, Dan Curry; the Nexus ribbon scene with Alex Seiden, ILM's visual effects supervisor; and the saucer crash sequence with Patrick Sweeney, the visual effects director. The total running time of these segments is about 15 minutes.

In the "Visual Effects" section, we get two featurettes focusing on (as the heading suggests) some of the special effects: "Inside ILM: Models and Miniatures" (9 minutes) and "Crashing the Enterprise" (11 minutes).

The "Star Trek Universe" section is a bit of a catch-all for several unrelated featurettes. "A Tribute to Matt Jefferies" runs 19 minutes, and is a homage to the late art director of the Original Series. We get several interview clips with Jefferies himself, discussing his experiences in designing the sets for the show, as well as interviews with various artists and designers talking about how they were influenced by Jefferies' work. Next in this section is "The Enterprise Lineage," a 12-minute look at the real-life traditions behind the Enterprise name, "Captain Picard's Family Album" (7 minutes), in which art coordinator Penny Juday discusses the making of this prop, and "Creating 24th Century Weapons," a 14-minute interview with Gil Hibben, the knifemaker who is apparently the official Klingon armorer.

The "Archives" section holds a production photo gallery along with storyboards for three scenes from the film.

"Production" offers several more featurettes. "Uniting Two Legends" discusses the ideas behind bringing the two captains together, and features interviews with William Shatner and Patrick Stewart; at 25 minutes it's one of the more substantial pieces here. "Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion" is a 9-minute piece that looks at the creation of that scene in the film. Lastly, "Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire" is a 22-minute piece that, although it starts out looking like a generic promotional piece, ends up discussing the location shooting for the Viridian scenes.

The last section of special features is the deleted scenes. Here we get a total of about 33 minutes of deleted footage, which can be viewed either with a "play all" feature or as individual scenes: "Orbital Skydiving," "Walking the Plank," "Christmas with the Picards," and "Alternate Ending." What makes these scenes worth viewing is that three of them feature introductions by associate producer Rick Berman, who discusses the intent of the scene and why it was either cut or altered for the final version of the film.

There are no trailers on the DVD, although the original printing of the DVD cover says that there are; as of this writing, Paramount has recalled the mis-printed DVDs and has yet to announce a revised release date for the re-printed copies.

Final thoughts

Although most Star Trek fans will agree that Generations is one of the more low-key installations in the feature film series, it remains an entertaining film, with a fun plot and interesting characters. While the transfer isn't perfect, it's still nice to see it with an anamorphic transfer, and the selection of special features is pretty solid as well. I'll give it a "recommended" if you're a Star Trek fan.

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