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‘Star Trek’ has proved itself to be a definitive sci-fi series. To have a story in which the first chapter was told thirty years ago and still have the tales told today is a stunning achievement. This seventh ‘Trek’ film crosses over the characters from ‘The Next Generation’ series with some of the characters from the original series, as well as acting as a farewell to the original crew members.

Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition
The film opens with the christening of the new U.S.S. Enterprise-B in a beautifully created opening title sequence. The ship, under a new captain (Alan Ruck), is about to go on it’s maiden voyage, and ‘Star Trek’ legends Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner), Scotty (James Doohan) and Chekhov (Walter Koenig) are along for the ride as special guests. Things hit a snag when a distress signal is received from two transport ships stuck in a mysterious energy ribbon. Of course, yet again, the Enterprise is the only ship in range. So this understaffed and undersupplied ship must come to the rescue. With lots of assistance from their special guests, the Enterprise rescue only a quarter of the trapped colonists and only narrowly escapes itself. It is at a heavy cost however as Kirk was believed to have been disintegrated when the ship was struck by the ribbon.

Almost eighty years later, the crew of the Enterprise-D find themselves dealing with the same energy ribbon. Only this time, Dr Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a survivor from one of the transport ships all those years ago, has plans to change the energy ribbon’s path by destroying suns, causing the total obliteration of the star systems they are in. Why? The ribbon is a doorway. A doorway to an alternate reality that can bring only eternal joy, giving those who enter everything they’ve ever wanted. Soran has plans to enter this alternate world at any cost, even if it means obliterating an entire civilization. The Enterprise crew is all that stands in his way.

As you can see, this is a fairly dense plot that shows that the opening scenes are not just for showing off the original cast members. It’s not at all a down side, the fact that there is a lot to this film works well as it is well balanced and is never overbearing. Everything is unravelled one step at a time allowing a dense plot to be easily received. This creates an exciting, fast-paced and very entertaining film, with some wonderful character angles and some nice themes about family and life. There are also plenty of special effects and action sequences including one of the best and most memorable crash sequences in recent cinema.

It was nice to see all the ‘Next Generation’ crew take part in this film, not matter how small their part. The film centres on Picard (Patrick Stewart), with sub-plots involving Data (Brent Spiner), Geordi (LeVar Burton) and Klingon villains. Each character gets their chance to do something exciting (Jonathon Frakes’ Riker taking command the Enterprise for example), but Picard is the main character in this picture. This is not a problem, he is a very deep and yet strong man who carries the film well, but the supporting crew is well placed and gets their chance to be in the spotlight for a while. There are those such as Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Counsellor Troi (Marina Sirtis) who have very small parts to play, which is slightly disappointing, but not surprising considering their roles on the ship. The three original crewmembers also seem to get a kick out of being on an Enterprise bridge again, with Shatner having a ball being Kirk once more.

Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition
Those who are new to ‘Star Trek’ will also have a good time as there is appropriate development for newcomers to catch up without it being repetitive (a virtue that will hopefully be seen in the ‘Firefly’ movie). The fact that there are more emphasis on action and special effects will also help newcomers adjust.

This seventh entry in the series is better than the six that preceded it, but the films that followed each out-did this one. That’s not to say this is at all bad, in fact it is a brilliant film with a fantastic sci-fi storyline and some wonderful character development and themes. If that’s not what you want, there is lots of action and further still, if you are a fan you will get more than a little thrill out of seeing the two Captains fight together side by side.

Video
Generations is presented in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. Before I  go on I have to say I read lots of negative reviews of this transfer so had this in mind before looking at it. In my opinion, it’s not that bad. There is lots of truth in what other critics have been saying; there are some very noticeable issues with film artefacts, which are present throughout the film. Considering this was not an issue in previous Special Editions in the ‘Trek’ series, this is disappointing as this should look so much better than the others as it is much newer. There is also some poor edge enhancement causing some mild video interference such as blurriness and inconsistent shimmering. Anyway, now that I have the negatives out of the way it’s on to the good stuff.

The good news is grain was never an issue here, which is fantastic as the film has a nice visual style which is not interfered with. The colours are also very nice with uniforms, ships, planets and even some special effects displaying various colours in wonderful clarity. Skin tones for the most part are also quite nice, except mainly for Data, whose forehead seems to suffer from the blurriness mentioned before when he wrinkles it. The dark style also brings out many shadows, all of which are in fine detail.

Although there are some mildly irritating problems in the transfer, it’s not as bad as some critics are making it out to be and should please viewers. (P.S. if I didn’t already know what the errors were, chances are I would have hardly noticed)

Audio
Fans rejoice! Here we are treated to three tracks. A Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track, a Dolby Surround commentary track and, for the first time ever on a ‘Star Trek’ DVD, a DTS 5.1 Surround option (all in English). It is very exciting to see that the most spectacular ‘Trek’ film so far comes with DTS and here’s hoping the others come with it too. The DTS track was listened to in full with selected scenes listened to with the Dolby track.

Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition
As is the case for most DTS tracks, it is far superior. Dialogue and ambience are fine in both tracks but it is in the many action and special effects scenes that the DTS really proves its worth. The surrounds and the subwoofer come roaring to life with a wide variety of thunderous explosions, great directional effects with weapons and ship fly-bys and a really big kick by the subwoofer where it counts. Although the Dolby track offers this too, the DTS just brings it with so much more power and clarity, with more noticeable separation between the speakers. I have never felt so excited in front of my television than I was during the crash scene. It sends tingles down the spine. Fantastic, keep up the DTS for the remaining Special Editions!

Extras
Those of you who’ve seen previous SE’s of ‘Trek’ movies will have a good idea of what to expect. This follows the same set up.

Disc 1:

There are two commentaries. One is an Audio Commentary by writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, the other is a Text Commentary by ‘Star Trek’ experts Michael and Denise Okuda. The audio commentary is totally decent. The Moore ad Braga are very different people but still have some good things to say about development of the movie with some interesting anecdotes. However, the absence of director David Carson is conspicuous, as this is the first ‘Trek Special Edition’ without the director taking part in the commentary. Let’s hope Jonathon Frakes is more involved in the next one. The Text Commentary is the same as all the others: Displayed as subtitles throughout the film and filed with lots of Trekkie info. It’s quite good, but are these two scared of lending their voice to the movies?

Disc 2:

Once again the ‘Star Trek Universe’ section provides us with some background information about the world of ‘Star Trek.’ There are four featurettes here. There is ‘A Tribute to Matt Jefferies,’ the man who designed the original Enterprise. Lots of interview footage from various people involved with ‘Star Trek.’ This is longer than the others but never boring. Next up is ‘The Enterprise Lineage’ which looks at the history of the Enterprise from the early sailing ships to the Enterprise-E as seen in the remaining films. There is a lot of focus on the space shuttle Enterprise. Good show. Next is ‘Captain Picard’s Family Album’ which has Art Director Penny Juday looking through the most detailed prop in the film. This is interesting, but seemingly irrelevant. Last is ‘Creating 24th Century Weapons’ which I was hoping would be about Phasers and Torpedos ect. Instead it is knife maker Gil Hibben talking about the many knives and swords he has designed for ‘Star Trek’ and other movies (mainly Klingon weapons).

Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition
The ‘Scene Deconstruction’ section takes three sequences from the film and has the special effects team talk about how they were done. The first featurette has special effects supervisor Dan Curry talking about the main titles, which feature a Champaign bottle drifting through space and eventually smashing into a starship. The second talks about the CGI required for the Nexus Energy Ribbon. The third is one of two featurettes on the crash scene.

The ‘Visual Effects’ section is exactly that. There are two ten-minute featurettes here. The first is ‘ILM - Models and Miniatures’ looks at the mini Enterprise models. ‘Crashing the Enterprise’ looks at the very large miniatures which were used for the crash scene. Both are quite good providing some nice on-set footage.

The ‘Production’ section provides three featurettes, each about different things. ‘Uniting Two Legends’ is a more general documentary with lots of interviews and behind the scenes footage. It covers several areas such as the premiere, thoughts by cast and crew alike and people praising the work of others. The best part of this is Shatner talking about how weird it felt when he was treated as a ‘guest’ on the set after being with the show for so long. ‘Stella Cartography - Creating the Illusion’ looks at the best set in the movie and how it made the plot easier to follow. ‘Strange New Worlds - The Valley of Fire’ is about the setting where the films climactic fight scenes took place. The summary is that it was hot, everyone got on really well and there had to be some re-shoots.

Four lengthy deleted scenes are included. First is the original opening, which saw Scotty and Chekhov trying to convince Kirk to go on Enterprise-B’s maiden voyage after a skydiving scene. The next two are ‘Walking the Plank’ and ‘Christmas with the Picards.’ Both are pretty boring and irrelevant. The final is the alternate ending. This ending was re-shot after poor response from test audiences (spoilers ahead). It is the original ending where Kirk’s death had him being shot in the back by Soren. A more heroic death as well as more suspenseful fights replaced it. Although these are good to see, they are poorly transferred and often have black screen where special effects should be, which is a little disappointing.

Finishing the package is an ‘Achieves’ section which features stills from the shooting of the movie and storyboards for the Worf promotion, Enterprise-B and two captains scenes.

This is a very extensive lot of extras here that will please anyone who buys the DVD. Although it does look like significantly less effort was put into this as the previous films by lack of director’s commentary and more recent interviews. It is also a shame that copyright issues prevented the trailers from being included. But still, will keep owner busy and happy.

Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition
Overall
Although better than all that preceded it, this is still not the best ‘Trek’ film. It is still fantastic, providing great story, great acting, some good humour and a truckload of action and special effects. It also includes the most memorable ‘Star Trek’ scene to date. It is given a satisfying DVD with an acceptable video transfer and a knockout DTS track on top of a fantastic Dolby 5.1 track. Extras are also aplenty so there is more than value for money here.


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