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March 10, 2014

Reggie’s Take Movie Franchise Countdown #20

by Reggie
Reggies Take Top 20 FI2

At #20 in our Movie Franchise countdown, Star Trek The Next Generation movies. Created by Gene Roddenberry in 1987 as just the second Star Trek crew ever.

Star Trek Next Generation or TNG began airing on television in first-run syndication in September of 1987. The series ended it’s run in May of 1994, before moving on to the big screen later that year.

The Next Generation crew would make a total of four movies over the course of eight years, beginning with Generations in 1994 and ending with Nemesis in 2002. The four movies in total would gross over $281,141,080 in the U.S. alone and like the movies with the original cast the TNG crew saw its ups and downs at the box office as well.

Star Trek Generations

Star Trek Generations / 1994

Star Trek Generations was made with the idea of passing the baton from the original crew to the TNG crew. The original crew having made their last movie in 1991 with “The Undiscovered Country” and the TNG crew was now taking over the big screen duties. Paramount, wanting to give the fans something to talk about decided to start the movie off with three of the actors from the original crew the biggest one of course being William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself.

“Generations” began the movie with Kirk and company attending the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B. While on that voyage, Kirk helps save the ship and in doing so is presumed killed. Skip ahead nearly 80 years to the crew of the Enterprise-D as Captain Picard and crew try stopping a deranged Doctor Tolian Soran, Picard discovers that Kirk really hasn’t died, he’s been caught up an energy ribbon called the Nexus.

Picard talks Kirk into coming with him to the 24th century where Kirk and Picard stop Soran, but in doing so Kirk is Killed for real this time. The whole idea of supposedly killing Kirk twice is what I think upset a lot of the fans, not to mention the idea of killing Kirk at all.

I can see or at least understand to a point the whole idea of killing Kirk off when he comes back to help Picard. Paramount obviously didn’t want to give the fans something they could use against them if the next one or two TNG movies didn’t do so well you would have everyone calling for Paramount to bring Kirk back and they didn’t want that.

I never liked how they lit the interiors of the Enterprise-D for this movie, it always made me think the Enterprise forgot to pay it’s light bill. They also should of left Data’s emotion chip alone. I realize your always wanting to move your characters forward, but in some ways they set Data back.

Paramount’s big issue with this movie was they rushed everything about it so it would be ready for release before 1994 was over. Paramount should have taken it’s time and released it sometime in 1995.

As a whole “Generations” is not the worst Trek movie ever made, but if they had taken some time it could of been a lot better.

Star Trek First Contact

Star Trek First Contact / 1996

“First Contact”, released in 1996 and widely considered the best TNG movie made. “First Contact” is the TNG’s “Wrath of Kahn” in a sense. We get to see Picard and the Enterprise-D crew travel back to the 21st century and fight the Borg, in order to save Earth. In one way it was a continuation of the two part episode “Best of Both Worlds” as we see Picard still having some unresolved issues when it comes to the Borg.

James Cromwell was an excellent choice to play Zefram Cochrane the man responsible for warp drive and Alfre Woodard made an intriguing almost love interest and voice of reason for Picard.

“First Contact” was the first Star Trek movie to feature no one from the original cast. It got high marks, even from movie critics. “First Contact” also became the highest grossing of the four movies done by the TNG cast.

Star Trek Insurrection

Star Trek Insurrection / 1998

Star Trek: Insurrection a 1998 film the third film in the Star Trek TNG franchise. The crew of the USS Enterprise-E rebel against Starfleet after they discover a conspiracy with the Son’a to steal the peaceful Ba’ku’s planet for its rejuvenating properties.

To be honest this film was really more of TNG episode then it was a film and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you go the theater you kinda want more than a glorified television episode. The story line was good and the humor wasn’t over the top, but after “First Contact” it felt like a bit of a let down.

Star Trek Nemesis

Star Trek Nemesis / 2002

Star Trek: Nemesis released in 2002 and was the fourth and final film to feature the Next Generation crew. The crew of the USS Enterprise-E are forced to deal with a threat to the Federation from a Reman clone of Captain Picard named Shinzon who has taken control of the Romulan Empire in a coup d’état.

If you’re a TNG fan or a Trek fan in general, most would consider Nemesis the worst of the four movies if not one of the worst ever. Yes Nemesis has its issues, but I think this film was hurt worse from another movie that was released shortly after Nemesis then from its own faults.

Nemesis was released on December 13, 2002 and just five days later on December 18th a little movie called “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, you may have heard of it, also hit the theaters. I was in line and bought tickets to go see “Nemesis” with my father-in law on the 13th. I noticed while in line, that for every ticket that was being solid for “Nemesis” at least five tickets were being purchased in advanced for “The Two Towers”.

Now that does not excuse “Nemesis” for some of its story line issues it had. “Nemesis” tried way to hard in being something it wasn’t. The parallel story lines with Picard and Data, both dealing with issues. Picard trying to understand and wanting to at first help Shinzon and Data wanting to help B4 be more like him.

The B4 story line I probably could have done with out. It was a little to obvious for me they were trying to leave them self’s a way to reset Data’s character on the off-chance Nemesis succeeded and there would have been a fifth movie with the TNG cast. I say that because it’s an easy way of killing a character, like Data did saving the Enterprise-E and then be able to say the download of Data’s knowledge and memories had successfully taken hold at the beginning of a fifth movie thus restoring Data back to more like he was during the show it self. It’s been done before in a way if you remember how they brought Spock back in Star Trek III.

The bigger impact for Nemesis would have been having Picard sacrifice himself in saving Data and the Enterprise.

“Nemesis” tried to be a serious Trek movie and in a way suffered for it. That and being released so close to when “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” was also being brought out hurt its overall performance. “Nemesis” might have performed better at the box office if Paramount had released it a month earlier in November or waited until like March of 2003 when you don’t get a lot of good movies worth seeing.

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Reggie’s Take:

Star Trek The Next Generation Films as a whole were okay as a franchise. They really only had one hit with “First Contact” and moderate success with “Generations” and “Insurrection”. “Nemesis” had its faults in story and timing of release, but could have been a much better film if this was to have been the TNG’s cast final film all along.

I feel the #20 position in my Movie Franchise countdown is appropriate not only as a Star Trek fan, but when you see where the other movie franchises also finished, it’s a fair ranking.

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