STAR TREK: GENERATIONS
STAR TREK: GENERATIONS ($20) was the movie that passed the cinematic baton between the casts of The Original Series and that of The Next Generation. STAR TREK: GENERATIONS also factored in as the seventh installment in the STAR TREK movie series and seemingly susceptible to the curse that seemed to affect the odd numbered films. As it has been stated in numerous places, the odd numbered STAR TREK films never seem to be quite as good as their even numbered counterparts, although I am no longer sure if this was a curse or mere coincidence. When STAR TREK: GENERATIONS was released, I was somewhat disappointed because I felt The Next Generation crewís inaugural voyage on the big screen should have told a bigger story- one involving their greatest nemesis: The Borg. However, the necessities of integrating the Captains of these two separate eras into a single story obviously tabled a Borg based adventure until The Next Generationís second cinematic opus.
Of course, I donít want to give the impression that STAR TREK: GENERATIONS is a bad movie, itís actually quite a lot of fun and offers fans plenty of great Trek moments on a much larger scale than could be accomplished during the seven year run of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. STAR TREK: GENERATIONS opens with the christening voyage of the Starship Enterprise, registration number NCC-1701B. Retired legends, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Captain Montgomery Scott and Commander Pavel Chekov, from the crew of previous two Starships to bear the name Enterprise are on hand for all the pomp and ceremony, as well as quick trip around the solar system to inaugurate the new Starship.
Unfortunately, a crisis arises in a nearby sector of space, which requires the Enterprise B to mount a rescue mission- a mission in which Captain Kirk is lost. Flashing forward 78 years, we encounter Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew of the Enterprise D, who find their hands full with Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a madman intent on killing millions in an effort to be returned to the strange galactic phenomena, from which he was rescued by Captain Kirk and the Enterprise B so many years earlier. Like a television series episode, STAR TREK: GENERATIONS also features an entertaining "B" storyline involving the Enterprise Dís android second officer, Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who experiences emotions for the first time, thanks to some hardware upgrades provided by his creator. The cast of STAR TREK: GENERATIONS also features Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alan Ruck, Jacqui Kim, Jenette Goldstein, Barbara March, Gwynyth Walsh and Brian Thompson.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made STAR TREK: GENERATIONS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a very nice-looking transfer, which offers a fairly big improvement on Paramountís previous DVD release that was little more than a retread of the widescreen Laserdisc master. Image sharpness and detail are both quite fine and help to bring out the beauty in John Alonzoís excellent cinematography. Colors appear lush and fully saturated, without a trace of noise of smearing. Blacks are dead on, white are completely stable and the picture boasts highly smooth contrast. Occasionally, a bit too much video processing has been applied to the image, which sometimes can be annoying on larger displays. The film elements used for the transfer displays some blemishes, and while not excessive, they could have been cleaned up just a bit more. There is a bit of noticeable grain here and there, but it gives the presentation a nice film like quality. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout the presentation.
For this release, STAR TREK: GENERATIONS comes with 5.1 channel soundtracks in both the Dolby Digital and DTS varieties. Ten years ago, this sound mix was definitely demonstration quality and has held up extremely well over the decade. Aggressively implemented, the sound design makes excellent use of all the discrete channels for directional effects, as well as panning sounds across a very broad soundstage. Fidelity is generally excellent, which makes the sound effects completely convincing and adds great musical detail to Dennis McCarthyís fine score. Voices have a nice, natural timbre, while the filmís dialogue is always totally understandable. The bass channel packs quite a punch and is certain to shake oneís listening room during key moments in the film. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, the latter has a slight edge in terms better localization and sonic warmth, but the standard bearer is certainly no slouch. English and French 2.0 surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.
Computer animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's very nicely designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the fine array of supplements, which have been spread across both discs of the set. Disc one begins with a running audio commentary featuring screenwriters Ron Moore and Brannon Braga. The two talk in extensive detail about the development of screen story, as well as sharing their memories of working on the series. Disc one also features a text commentary on a subtitle channel by Michael and Denise Okuda, authors of The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Presented pop-up style, the text stream provides plenty of Trek trivia and other interesting bits on the making of the movie.
Moving on to disc two, we find the remainder of the supplemental programming, which has been broken up into various sections. The Scene Deconstruction section shows how the special effects were achieved and assembled for the Main Title (three minutes), The Nexus Ribbon (seven minutes) and the Saucer Crash Sequence (five minutes). The Visual Effects section features these detailed programs: Inside ILM: Models & Miniatures (nine minutes) and Crashing the Enterprise (ten minutes). The Star Trek Universe section features A Tribute to Matt Jefferies, who designed much of the look of original series (nineteen minutes), The Enterprise Lineage, a look at the ships (both real and fictional) that bear the name Enterprise (twelve minutes), Captain Picardís Family Album (seven minutes) and Creating 24th Century Weapons (thirteen minutes).
The Archives section features a Production Gallery of photographs and Storyboards for three sequences in the film. The Production section features Uniting Two Legends, a look at the bringing together of two Trek generations (twenty-five minutes), Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion focusing on one of the filmís most visually impressive sequences (nine minutes), Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire discusses the difficult location shoot for the filmís climax (twenty-two minutes). The Deleted Scenes section offers roughly thirty-three minutes worth of footage, including interviews and a look behind the scenes, plus these sequences Orbital Skydiving, Walking The Plank, Christmas With The Picards and Alternate Ending. Although theatrical trailers are indicated on the DVDís initial packaging, they are not present on either disc.
STAR TREK: GENERATIONS may not be the best film to feature the cast of The Next Generation, but it is an enjoyable adventure, with a number of great sequences. Paramountís Special Collectorís Edition is a decided step up from their previous movie only DVD release- offering better picture quality, a DTS sound option and some very enjoyable supplements. If you are a Trek fan, youíll either want to add this disc to you collection for the first time or upgrade the old DVD.
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