Even though Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country effectively passed the torch to the Next Generation cast, the powers that be at Paramount apparently decided that the torch needed even more passing.
My guess is that Rick Berman lacked the faith that the new cast could carry a film franchise without an assist from the original show. Whether that position has any merit is debatable, but the end result was Star Trek: Generations, whose merit is equally debatable.
Generations starts with Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) attending the launching of the Enterprise “B”, the successor to Kirk’s ship. Starfleet seems to go through Enterprises like Liz Taylor went through husbands. The shakedown cruise becomes other than routine when they receive a distress call from a ship in trouble. They find a crippled transport threatened by a giant glowing worm-like….um…space thing. They manage to rescue the passengers from the ship, which include future Enterprise bartender Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and Soran (Malcolm McDowell), but in the process, the Enterprise is hit by the alien worm-thing and Kirk vanishes and is presumed killed.
We jump forward to the Next Generation cast, promoting Worf (Michael Dorn) to Lieutenant Commander in a bit of holodeck tom-foolery that is as unnecessary as it is annoying. It should be noted that the only Next Generation film that managed to introduce our intrepid crew without some pointlessly silly piece of business was the superior First Contact. Coincidence? Probably not.
Anyway, the Enterprise gets a distress call of its own from a space station near a star that is about to go prematurely kablooie. There they find the same Soran who was rescued by the other Enterprise. Only this time, Soran is in no mood to get rescued. He’s in league with the Klingons to carry out a plan that only makes sense in mediocre Star Trek episodes.
Apparently, the giant space-worm-thing is the gateway to a happy, happy place called the Nexus, where you live forever and all your dreams come true without you ever having to file a 1040 with the IRS. When the first Enterprise rescued the other ship, the passengers were pulled out of the Nexus and Soran really, really wants to go back, so much that he’s blowing up stars to divert the worm-thingy to a planet where he can meet it and be sucked back into the happy place. Why he couldn’t just get a ship and fly into it is a question you’re apparently not supposed to ask.
Anyway, Soran at first succeeds with his plan and both he and Picard (Patrick Stewart) get sucked into Happyland. Picard enjoys Christmas at home with the family he never had until Guinan shows up to remind him he has a job to do (don’t ask). Picard hunts up one Jim Kirk, who was really pulled into the Nexus when everyone thought he was killed, and tries to enlist his aid. At first, true to character, Kirk is more interested in getting laid than saving the galaxy again, but quickly finds the happy place at little tame for his tastes. What’s the fun in banging the green alien chick if there’s no challege to it, right? Together, the two captains return to our less-happy universe a few minutes before the worm-thing arrives and race against time to stop Soran. Why they couldn’t have returned a few days before then is another question you probably shouldn’t ask.
Like three out of the four Next Generation movies, First Contact excepted, Generations plays like run-of-the-mill TV episode with a feature budget. It has its moments, but these are more than offset by things like the holodeck introduction scene or an exasperating sub-plot that has Data (Brent Spiner) install an “emotion chip” and spend the rest of the film acting like a moronic goofball. The movie’s main redeeming features are the presence of Malcolm McDowell and his scenes opposite Patrick Stewart. Even with a sub-par script, these two veterans still manage to show ’em how it’s done.