Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) may have retired from his duties as a Starfleet commander, but he is still called on for public relations appearances, as he is today when he appears onboard the latest ship to bear the Enterprise name, accompanied by two of his former crew, Scotty (James Doohan) and Chekov (Walter Koenig). Kirk is pleased to see the daughter of Mr Sulu as part of the new crew, but this also makes him feel old and nostalgic for his time in command, though he acknowledges he is simply there for the reporters to interivew as the ship makes its way for a "trip round the block" as the new Captain (Alan Ruck) says. However, suddenly a distress call is received...
Star Trek: Generations was the first of the movie franchise to feature the cast who had been a hit on television in the revamped series The Next Generation, but as if they were reluctant to allow the old timers to go, it was decided Kirk would appear for one last time to offer him a heroic send off. Never mind that he had already had a heroic send off in the previous film, the production team at Paramount had not milked the originals dry quite yet, and a notably clunky plot device was employed to ensure that Kirk met his successor of almost a century later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Therefore about fifteen minutes into the film, Kirk apparently dies saving the new Enterprise.
But that's not the last we've seen of him, as there are some rum doings going on with a ribbon of time warping energy called the Nexus which has whisked Kirk away into its embrace. One other character knows all about this, and he is Dr Soran (Malcolm McDowell), who is rescued at the start, but shows up again in Picard's time when he and his crew visit a space station that has been under attack, looking for survivors. There is one, and he's Soran, recognised by the Enterprise's bartender Guinan (an uncredited Whoopi Goldberg) who is as old as he is. One thing leads to another, and the mad doctor's obsession with returning to the Nexus leads the cast in fresh dangers, as he is willing to sacrifice many lives to get his way.
One problem with the Trek movies was that they seemed like small screen escapades blown up to big screen size, and with Shatner effectively the special guest star as Leonard Nimoy had been on a Next Generation two-parter, only the effects budget marks this out as anything other than lacking in the genuine sense of wonder that such a production should really have had. It doesn't help that the Nexus is something that would be used by any long running TV show to bring back old characters if they so desired, in fact it was used on Dallas in the eighties to bring back Bobby Ewing after he had died, and is a concept that elicits such groans in anyone hoping for more imagination that it's almost insulting.
Fair enough, they wanted to pay tribute to their venerable past, but they would have been far better to start afresh with the new cast, something more like they did with the following instalment. Sure, in J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek Nimoy's Mr Spock was brought back, but that was fuelled more by nostalgia and paying tribute than slavishly second guessing what the fans wanted to see, and here it's too much like playing it safe. Besides, if the Nexus is so captivating that you never wish to leave it and will do anything to get back, why does it take Kirk and Picard about a minute to make up their minds that it's not all it's cracked up to be? Add in an irksome subplot about the android Data (Brent Spiner) getting emotions to illustrate the theme of coming to terms with your feelings about the past, and you have a deadening experience, this in spite of action sequences that see the Next Generation Enterprise destroyed, always a sign of desperation when going for spectacle in this series. Worst episode ever. Music by Dennis McCarthy.