Star Trek: Generations: Special Edition (1994)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Star Trek Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Brannon Braga And Ron Moore
Informational Subtitles-Text Commentary By Michael Okuda And Denise Okuda
Featurette-Scene Deconstruction
Featurette-A Tribute To Matt Jefferies
Featurette-The Enterprise Lineage
Featurette-Captain Picard's Family Album
Featurette-Creating 24th Century Weapons
Featurette-Inside ILM: Models And Miniatures
Featurette-Crashing The Enterprise
Gallery-Production Gallery
Storyboards-3
Featurette-Uniting Two Legends
Featurette-Stellar Cartography: Creating The Illusion
Featurette-Strange New Worlds: The Valley Of Fire
Deleted Scenes-4
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 113:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:56)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Carson
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner
Levar Burton
Michael Dorn
Gates McFadden
Marina Sirtis
Malcolm McDowell
James Doohan
Walter Koenig
William Shatner
Alan Ruck
Jacqueline Kim
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Dennis McCarthy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Greek
English
Hebrew
Croatian
Icelandic
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Slovenian
Serbian
Finnish
Swedish
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Text Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    In the mid 1980s, Gene Rodenberry decided it was time to revive his classic science fiction show for a new audience. However, instead of bringing back the original crew to the small screen, he had a grander idea. Spurned by the neo-liberal ideas and pure science that he saw as elevating mankind to a better place, he aimed to set this new series a hundred years in the future from the first series and depict a crew adept in the art of diplomacy and finding peaceful solutions to the problems facing them in their exploration of the galaxy.

    The result of his endeavours with the studio executives was Star Trek: The Next Generation and a pilot episode called Encounter At Farpoint, which first aired in the US in September 1987. This pilot introduced a number of new characters to the Star Trek universe, and would pave the way for two spin-off series – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager – set in the same time period. Eventually, the Star Trek franchise would give birth to a new series, Star Trek: Enterprise, which is set years before the original when mankind is just beginning its exploration of the galaxy.

    After seven successful seasons and 178 episodes, Star Trek: The Next Generation came to a conclusion in May 1994. During the sixth season of the show, long-term Star Trek writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore were called into a meeting with studio executives to discuss the future of The Next Generation, and whether or not it could be adapted for the big screen. The result of that meeting was plans to produce this movie, Star Trek: Generations, which went into production shortly after the finish of the series and reached cinemas in November 1994 in the US (it did not come out in cinemas in Australia until March 1995).

    Star Trek: Generations is effectively the passing of the torch from the characters of Star Trek: The Original Series to the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, it was meant to be primarily a Next Generation affair, given that the crew of The Original Series had already been given a spectacular farewell in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. For this reason, only three of the cast members of The Original Series – Kirk (William Shatner), Scotty (James Doohan) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) – feature in Star Trek: Generations, and only for the first twenty-five minutes or so, although Kirk does return for the final act.

    The plot of Generations revolves around a temporal nexus that traps a group of Aurelian refugees, escaping the destruction of their planet by the Borg. While on a promotional run out of spacedock, the Enterprise NCC-1701B intercepts the distress call and comes to their aid. While some of the refugees are rescued, Captain Kirk is seemingly lost.

    Seventy-eight years later, one of those Aurelian survivors, a scientist named Dr. Soren (Malcolm McDowell), crops up on a Federation science station that has been attacked by the Romulans. The Next Generation crew are sent to investigate, and soon uncover a plot by Dr. Soren to commit mass murder in the name of an obsession.

    Star Trek: Generations is a film with a grand scope that nevertheless seems to be still rooted in its small screen origin. Unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where the cast of The Original Series made a smooth transition from the small screen to the big screen, the Next Generation cast do not manage to uproot themselves from their TV origins to make Star Trek: Generations a truly big screen epic. This does not mean that they do not try, and thematically speaking there is a lot on offer in this film; issues about the passage of time and our place within that passage – family, friends and opportunities – and the need to leave the past behind us and do what we can with the present. However, the extremely short gap between the production of the series and the production of the movie meant that there was little adjustment time for the cast to come to terms with the transition from small screen to big screen, and this was reflected in the movie.

    The performances are nevertheless quite good, although much of the screen time goes to Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data, who dominates the film’s only real subplot which involves the integration of an emotion chip. The remainder of the crew – Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton), Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), and Counsellor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) – wind up somewhat marginalised, with several scenes removed for pacing and censorship reasons, which is unfortunate as the film suffers noticeably from these deletions.

    My major criticism of the film is that it just doesn’t sit right, metaphysically speaking. The central premise of the film is far too open as a gaping plot hole that does not really make sense. There were definitely better ways to achieve a passing of the torch between the two crews that would have achieved a more satisfying and more plausible (even within the realm of science fiction/fantasy) conclusion without mixing things up so dramatically.

    Despite these faults, Star Trek: Generations is a visually spectacular debut for the Next Generation crew, and set a good start for an impressive series of big screen adventures that would only get better as the cast became more experienced and the writing more developed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Transferred here in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, I recall this having a much wider aspect ratio when I first saw this on the big screen at the Russell Street cinemas, and being awed by that enormous canvas which was almost too much to look at in one go. The IMDb now has the aspect ratio of this movie at 2.35:1, in which case the 2.40:1 is a broadening out of that ratio. Any which way, it’s widescreen, and it’s pretty big, so I guess that’s the most important thing.

    First up, though, let’s talk about the things that are good about this transfer. For starters, the image is intensely sharp, resulting in a spectacular amount of detail. The colours are excellent, with good balance, despite the sometimes awkward colour schemes created by proximity to a star during several sequences. While I felt there could perhaps have been a little more saturation of colour overall, I did not feel that the image was grossly washed out.

    Shadow detail is also very good, with minimal grain in low-level light scenes, and a generally smooth picture in terms of grain overall. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    However, aliasing and moire were a real problem here, as if the transfer were poorly done from an NTSC source. You can see aliasing in people’s teeth, closely grouped lines and wrinkles on their faces, on any straight edge moving at an angle to the camera, and on all the little fissures in the rocks during Picard’s confrontation with Soren. There is also bad moire on any collection of closely grouped lines, such as the grille plating skirting the roof of the bridge on the Enterprise-D and the ribbed ‘neck’ of the Enterprise-B. For an example of just about everything I’ve described, check out the scene in stellar cartography from 44:49 - 55:16. Better yet, put that scene on pause and go frame by frame and just watch those lines shimmy and shake. While you cannot see it on a smaller screen or a computer monitor, put it up on a big enough screen and it is really quite distracting.

    There is an unusual amount of dirt on the print for a film of this era, and several noticeable white hairs or scratches in the top left of the screen – two more noticeable instances of this are at 53:30 and 71:36.

    Subtitles are available in Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Greek, English, Hebrew, Croatian, Icelandic, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Serbian, Finnish, Swedish, and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are also available in English for the Audio Commentary and Text Commentary. They appear as white with a grey border, are clear and easy to read, and although there are some subtle differences, they convey the general meaning of what is being said.

    The dual-layer pause is at 61:56. It occurs in the middle of a scene, just after a sound effect, and is reasonably well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is available in the original English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround (448Kb/s) and also in a new English 5.1 DTS track (768Kb/s).

    Dialogue is faithfully reproduced, with no audio sync faults I could detect. The clarity is good on both the Dolby Digital track and the DTS track.

    Both tracks also had an amazing use of the surrounds, with plenty of directional cues coming from all directions. A couple of stand out scenes include the first encounter with the nexus, the shoot-out at and destruction of the space station, and the extensive crash landing sequence. The DTS track wins slightly on ambient noises during this sequence, but they are about even on surround use.

    The powerful and orchestral score by long-time Star Trek: Deep Space Nine composer Dennis McCarthy is one of the best of the movie franchise, and is brought to new life on this DTS track, which captures some of the deeper bass and finer treble nuances that are slightly missing from the Dolby Digital track. While the differences are not huge, they are noticeable.

    The DTS really wins through in the bass race, though, with superb subwoofer use during the various space battle and shoot-out sequences that employ lots of loud explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     This Special Edition comes with a whole raft of extras to keep you amused after the crew once more avert disaster:

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menus have a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track, with the track on Disc 1 containing an image of the NSS-10701B facing off against the rift, and the track on Disc 2 containing noises from stellar cartography. The other menus are generally static and silent.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary – Brannon Braga (writer) and Ronald D. Moore (writer)

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, these long time stalwarts of the new series have plenty to say about the movie and about the series, and make for fairly enjoyable listening. While not quite riveting, there is some interesting stuff here.

Text Commentary – Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda

    Another outstanding text commentary by these two, full of crazy anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information that only they seem privy to.

Disc 2

All special features on Disc 2 are presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, with interviews in 1.85:1 letterbox, 2.0 Dolby Surround audio unless otherwise noted.

Scene Deconstruction

    This is a look at the making of three key special effects sequences:

Visual Effects

    There are two featurettes here:

The Star Trek Universe

    There are four featurettes here:

Archives

    As with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, this is divided into two categories:

Production

    There are three featurettes here:

Deleted Scenes

    There are four deleted/alternate scenes here:

    Most of these scenes are incomplete and were removed or re-shot for the theatrical release.

    Sadly, these are but a handful of the scenes that were cut from the film, and without the other reintroduced into the movie, it seems somewhat lacking as a result, particularly when plot threads ring hollow or just don’t match up.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is an identical version to this one released in R1. I can only hope that the R1 release does not exhibit such gross aliasing and moire.

    As to whether this is better than the original R4 release, I believe the picture on the original release was better, and although the DTS track on the new release does add a bit more, the distraction of the image is not compensated for by this addition.

    I am still waiting, ever hopeful, for a director’s cut that incorporates all the deleted scenes and allows this film to make more sense.

Summary

    Star Trek: Generations is a worthy debut for the Next Generation crew. While certainly imperfect, there is quite a lot here that is good, and this film will always have a certain nostalgic place in my collection. I'm still waiting for an uncut version, though.

    The video would be amazing, however, when put on a big screen, it is marred by aliasing and moire effects that gets quite distracting.

    The 5.1 DTS track adds much to the enjoyment of the film, but is not enough to compensate for the video faults.

    The extras are good, but we are missing a full list of deleted scenes, and none of the promotional material has been reproduced.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Promo Material - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
"Must have cut his heart out, eh?" - Malcolm Tent, UK
Region 1 - Anonymous
Biggest 'special edition' disappointment of the year - John
Curmudgeon's Corner - Neil
Some answers... - Malcolm Tent, UK
Is it different from the previous release? - Dimitris
I changed my mind! - Neil