TNG was a great TV series from the 2nd season onwards to the end. However it was a very lackluster movie franchise. The TV series was an ensemble show and the movies changed the characters and it turned to Picard and Data and Picard going from the dignified diplomat to the rule breaking action hero. Everything set up about Data from the TV series into Generations was suddenly forgot about after that. The writers wanted early TNG curious and innocent Data back and it just felt weird. Plus a lot of stuff happened in that first movie GEN which was huge for the TNG universe. The E-D was destroyed, Data got emotions, Worf was promoted, the Duras sisters were killed, and ofcourse Picard meets James. T. Kirk. All of these plots are big events for TNG and would have been a 2 or 3 parter of the TV series, but instead they got crammed into the 1st movie.
Now First Contact did work b/c we were able to accept Picard as an action hero in that movie b/c of his utter hatred for the Borg, which does have it's roots in the TNG TV series. There's another problem with the TNG movies, not enough good villains from the TV show could be used in a movie. The Romulans are interesting to Trekkers, but otherwise they are big shoulder pad wearing bores.
Sometimes I wonder if it was actually First Contact
which torpedoed the Picard character we knew and loved from TV. GENS
clearly shows us TV Picard, a man who tries to reason
with Soran, and who tries to use brute force only once all other options are extinguished. FC
, as you rightly say, still feels 'correct' with TV Picard, but only because the Borg situation opens up an old wound that he never truly healed. The kicker comes in Insurrection
, where the relative success of FC
seems to have resulted in the writer saying "Okay, so Picard is now an action hero". The unique qualities which made him stand out on TNG when compared opposite Shatner's Kirk were abandoned, and in the remaining two movies we got a very
different interpretation of Picard. What the writers forgot is that his character transformation in FC
was driven by the situation. The Borg were a wild card. His character transformation in INS
on the other hand is driven by nothing
. It just seems so out of left field, and ends up looking bizarre to those of us who have watched this character for 7+ years on television.