Captain James T. Kirk: “I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim.”
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “You could say that.”
Captain James T. Kirk: “Sounds like fun.”
Casual conversation between two starship captains on horseback
“It was…fun. Oh my…”
Captain James T. Kirk’s last words
The Star Trek franchise was at its high peak in 1994. Later that year came Star Trek Generations, which was supposed to be the start of a new film era starring the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), but instead signaled the long, slow decline of the franchise.
Let’s get to the point and have it known that the only great thing about the seventh Star Trek film was Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). By himself he nearly saved the film. That is because Star Trek Generations only seemed to come to life whenever he appeared, which was to bookend the film.
It begins with the christening of a new Federation starship: the Enterprise-B. Joining the celebration are former crewmembers of the Enterprise-A, Kirk, Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scottie” Scott (James Doohan) and Commander Chekov (Walter Koenig).
Kirk is clearly uncomfortable being at this Enterprise, since he isn’t in command and is reminded of how empty his life has become. These are magnificent scenes with superb acting by William Shatner. He doesn’t have many lines but you could see on his face that longing to sit in the captain’s chair again. Clearly, retirement doesn’t suit him well. The captain of the vessel is John Harriman (Alan Ruck), who seems a bit like a dweeb. He isn’t a bad person, just too cautious and inexperienced. How did he get this prestigious assignment? Perhaps he’s related to someone important.
The Enterprise-B is officially launched from Earth orbit for a quick tour of the solar system and back. But the ship receives a distress call from ships with El-Aurian refugees. Harriman is hesitant to commit the ship, but as with your typical Star Trek plot inconvenience, even though they’re in Earth’s solar system, there aren’t any nearby ships that can help. Reluctantly, Harriman orders the ship to warp over to the refugees’ location.
Upon arrival, they find two ships caught in the gravity field of the nexus ribbon. It’s a swirling, flaming band of energy that oscillates and spews out tendrils of energy, which destroys one transport ship. Harriman is clearly out of his depth and asks Kirk for help. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov spring into action. Scotty manages to beam aboard some refugees before the last ship explodes. Chekov assembles a makeshift medic crew to help the survivors. One of them is a hysterical mad man (Malcolm McDowell) who is begging to go back to the nexus. Chekov helps another refugee who turns out to be Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), the ancient bartender seen on TNG.
The Enterprise-B becomes trapped in the same gravity field. The only means of escape is to fire an energy pulse from its deflector array located in the engineering hull. Harriman volunteers to modify the array but Kirk realizes that the Enterprise-B isn’t his ship. He tells Harriman to remain on the bridge and leaves to work on the array. Kirk makes the modifications and the ship pulls free, but not before an energy tendril strikes the engineering hull, which causes a hull breach.
Once it’s realized that Kirk was in the area of the breach, Scotty, Harriman and Chekov rush down to the engineering section and can only stare horrifically at the remains of the area Kirk was on. Only outer space held back by a force field greets them as they grasp that Starfleet’s greatest legend is gone…
The film jumps ahead 78 years later from outer space to tranquil ocean waters and a quaint sailing ship named Enterprise commandeered by officers in old-fashioned naval uniforms. The entire thing is a simulation on the Enterprise-D’s holodeck. The senior Enterprise-D crew members including Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) are celebrating the promotion of their Klingon crewmate Worf (Michael Dorn), who is dunked into the water. Data is perplexed by the humor of the situation especially after his attempt at humor fails to produce laughs.
Captain Picard then receives a personal message from Earth and becomes gloomy for most of the film. Moments later, the ship gets a distress call from the Armagosa Observatory. The Enterprise-D heads to the Armagosa system and the floating observatory, which was attacked. The crew find a survivor in the observatory, a scientist, Dr. Tolian Soran, who happens to be the same lunatic rescued on the Enterprise-B.
Meanwhile, Data tells his friend Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) that he feels stunted regarding his attempt to grow as a sentient being. He wants to experience emotions and has Geordi implant an emotion chip into his brain. Later at the Ten Forward lounge, Data begins to experience emotions after sampling a drink offered by Guinan. Data then acts like a buffoon for most of the film.
Investigations uncover that the Romulans attacked the observatory because they were looking for trilithium. It’s an unstable compound developed by them that can stop nuclear fusion in a star. It’s revealed that Soran is building solar probes with the compound to collapse stars because he wants the shockwaves to alter the course of the nexus towards a planetary body.
After failing to convince Picard to let him return to the observatory, Soran goes anyway there and kidnaps Geordi, who was there to investigate the attack. Data was with Geordi but is so overcome with his new emotions that he can only cower in fear when confronted by Soran. The scientist then launches a solar probe with the trilithium at the Armagosa star.
In his quarters, Picard tells Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) why he is so morose. His brother and nephew died on Earth and he is despondent over that and the realization that he is without any family. Before the scene can devolve into an intergalactic episode of Dr. Phil, they witness the collapse of the Armagosa star. The Enterprise-D crew manages to rescue Data and leave the system, but Geordi and Soran are beamed aboard a Klingon bird-of-prey ship.
Soran is working with the commanders of the ship, the ugly and annoying Duras sisters Lursa (Barbara March) and B’Etor (Gwynyth Walsh) who appeared on TNG. They stole the trilithium from the Romulans and gave it to Soran to develop a weapon for them. The Klingon ship leaves for the Veridian system, where Soran can continue his work.
Back on the Enterprise-D, Picard learns about Soran and his plan for the nexus. It’s made of temporal energy (don’t ask) and is actually an interdimensional realm where time has no meaning and you can live out your fantasies. Soran was briefly there before his rescue by the Enterprise-B and desperately wants to return. Picard and Data deduce that with the nexus will now travel to the Veridian system. If that star is collapsed, the shockwave will push the nexus towards a nearby planet Veridian III. Picard orders the ship to head to that planet.