The following is a posting that I made to the Star Trek special interest group of the National Capital Freenet, not long after the release of Star Trek VII: Generations.
A while ago there was some discussion on this SIG about "Generations," and I wanted to post some of my own commentary, but being short on time, I had to set the task aside. Now, having more time on my hands, and having seen the film one more time on video, I feel prepared to "re-review" the film.
Overall, my feeling is that "Generations" is the worst Star Trek film ever. Is this harsh? Perhaps. Even worse than "Final Frontier?" you ask. Yes.
The biggest problem with the movie is that the main conflict around which it revolves - the conflict between Picard and Soran - is not personal. Replace Picard with any other starship captain, and the nature of the conflict remains unchanged.
With any good film, the conflict between the hero and the villain is personal. In ST:TWOK, Khan had a personal vendetta against Kirk; Kirk was the one who left him on Ceti Alpha V. In ST:TSFS, Kruge made the conflict personal by killing Kirk's son. Even in ST:TFF, Sybok was related to Spock in a very personal way.
But in Generations, Soran comes across as a "Nexus junkie" who's bent on getting his fix, and Picard is just some honourable guy who's trying to save millions of people. The hero could just as easily have been Sulu, Janeway, Sisko… anyone! At the very least, we should have had a glimpse of the people and culture that was about to be destroyed.
It would have made a better story if we found out more about Soran. For example, what was Soran's world in the Nexus?? Exactly what was it that he was yearning for?
Even better would have been, if Soran had actually crossed Picard's path somehow; for example, if he had been responsible (perhaps unknowingly) for the deaths in Picard's family. Then, Soran's point about Picard's own mortality would have had much more bite, and would have made the conflict personal.
This would also have tied in the Picard subplot (the death of his nephew) with the rest of the film. As it was, the only relevance the subplot had was the dreamland Picard created for himself in the Nexus.
Speaking of the Nexus, Picard and Kirk should not have found it so easy to escape it. Even Guinan, whom we can't consider as any weak - minded flake, said, "If you go there, you won't ever want to leave." But within a few minutes of his arriving there, Picard has already come to his senses, and is even persuading someone else to leave with him.
IMHO, the struggle to leave the Nexus should have been the real climax in the film. After all, there was no reason why Picard couldn't meet Soran in the Nexus, and had their final confrontation right there. Suppose that Soran had learned to control the Nexus, to some extent. Then, the final confrontation would have been a battle of will and wits. Soran, an "illusionist," of sorts, could conjure up any image he liked to persuade Picard to stay. Picard's struggle would not only have been against Soran, who would do his best to keep Picard in the Nexus, but also against himself - his very own desire to remain.
As it was, the final battle was a simple battle of fists and muscles - not very satisfying. And Soran's demise (launching the rocket with the clamps engaged) was a kind of parlour trick on Picard's part. Did you feel cheated when Soran died?
The conflict should have been personal for Kirk as well as for Picard. Kirk had nothing to gain and everything to lose by following Picard. Wouldn't Kirk have wanted to return to his own time and prevent his own disappearance? Why run off with Picard and help him save a future that might not come about at all, anyway?
On a different track, Lursa and B'Etor should not have been killed off half way through the movie. They and the Enterprise should have been locked in heated battle when the shock wave destroyed them. Then, the sub-conflict would have added more tension at the end of the film. My personal feeling is that there was no need for Lursa and B'Etor to die at all, and there was certainly no need for the Enterprise to be destroyed. Lursa and B'Etor would have provided so much material for future stories involving the Klingon Empire. And as to the Enterprise, my question is WHY?? Why did the E-D have to go? Did its destruction add something to the story?
Also, the conflict between the Enterprise and the Klingons could have been enhanced in many ways. For example, what if Veridian IV didn't have a pre-industrial society, but a space-faring society? Contact with Veridian IV could have added a third player in the space battle, and much more drama. We would also have had a chance to get to know the player in this game that's caught in the middle - this would also have made the conflict more "personal."
Finally, the last major subplot in the film: Data's emotions. Frankly, I don't see how this subplot ties in with anything else that happens in the film. IMHO, the subplot should not have been in ST:G at all. Data acquiring emotions is a significant enough event that a whole movie could be made just on that one premise.