It was not a mistake to make the move to the big screen for TNG. I would even argue that it wasn't a question of whether or not it was the right time. What bugs me about all the TNG films (even First Contact, which I love), is that the characters aren't who they were on the show.
Picard was never a gung-ho action hero, and the dynamic between him and Dr. Crusher is eliminated completely. Hell, we barely see much of Dr. Crusher at all through four movies. Data should NEVER have been given his emotion chip. He was much more fun as the emotionless android constantly trying to understand what it is to be human. And whose idea was it to ignore the team of Data and Geordi, one of the best friendships of the TV series? Generations is the only one of the four movies that really acknowledges it! Meanwhile, TNG movie era Troi is no longer the Counselor Troi from the TV show. Now she's just.... Marina Sirtis.
About the only main character the movies get right is Worf.... and he'd moved on to be a crew member aboard Deep Space Nine by the time of First Contact, the only one of the post-Generations sequels to give a rational explanation for why he'd still be tagging along. Well, Riker pretty much seems like Riker, so I guess he'll do also. But only getting two characters right? That's bad.
Even when the original six TOS films were at their least impressive, I thought the main cast always felt true to who their charcters were.
I agree with some of what you are saying. It was the Picard and Data show and every other relationship is missing, with exeception to small moments. However, I think it was a good thing, not the impetus of getting the chip, for Data's character to experience emotion. It made everything new again. For instance, he talks in Devil's Due
about not knowing fear for his performance as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
. Juxtapose that conversation with Data telling Picard about the fear he felt as they encountered the Borg in First Contact
Geordi and Data have small moments.
-- In Insurrection
, when they talk about destroying Data, Geordi, sitting at the Helm station, turns to Picard and looks completely terrified.
-- When Data awakens in Insurrection
after being captured by Picard and fixed by LaForge, he doesn't say "Commander LaForge? Captain?" He says "Geordi? Captain?"
-- In Nemesis,
after they divert to the Kolaris (Sp?) system, Geordi turns to Data and says "What do you think, Data? Long lost relative?"
, Geordi discusses with Data what B-4 would become if Data went ahead with a memory download.
-- Data says "Counselor Troi, please assume command. Geordi, come with me," just before Data leaves the Enterprise. There is a look between Geordi and Data that wouldn't be there if they weren't friends.
As for Picard and Crusher, outside of Picard talking about Shinzon and his younger self in Nemesis
, you are on point, they don't resemble the same characters.
Riker and Troi have good moments in re-igniting their romance. Troi is used to know what Shinzon is thinking in Nemesis
You are on-point about Picard, however. He's Bruce Willis in these movies, especially First Contact, which is part of the reason why I don't like the film. Insurrection
is my favorite of the Picard movies. He uses his mouth, and not shouting across a force-field laced rock-face, to get Golna to help him. He uses his brain to realize he needs another way in to get ahold of Data. "He can fly a ship. He can anticipate tactical strategies. Clearly, his brain is functioning. We've seen how he would respond to threats, I wonder how he would repond to...Mr. Worf do you know Gilbert and Sullivan? Data was rehearsing a performance of HMS Pinafore right before he left."
Generations was right after the 7th season, and that's where the characters were at the time. There was no lag, no room for growth, between the movies.
I think people pick at these movies too much. I think pushing Picard as an action-hero was a mistake. Kirk didn't do as much action as Picard did. He personally stopped Soran, fought the Borg by himself, killed Ru'afo with a phaser rifle in his hand, and stabbed Shinzon to death. Data had something to do with the end of First Contact
, as well. But Picard is the one in sweat, blood, and tears throughout these films.