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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old February 19 2013, 10:53 PM   #1
Lance
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Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Now, I should start by pointing out that I know from a business perspective it certainly wasn't a bad idea. The buzz around Star Trek in 1994 was huge, and the franchise was (arguably) at it's pop culture zenith. From a dollars and cents point-of-view, shifting the TNG cast to the big screen was a no brainer.

However, with the benefit of hindsight... I suppose as long as they were profitable (the bottom line) then there was no harm in it. By most accounts Generations, First Contact and Insurrection were all achievers. Nemesis didn't do so well at the box office (so by most measures that one was a failure), but has probably long since broke even on DVD and rebroadcast deals.

But is it really? Certainly, it took the TOS crew coming back (albeit with different actors in the roles) to revitalise the franchise as a movie series after Nemesis nearly killed it stone dead. One can't help but wonder if the movies should always have been about Kirk, Spock, and the rest. Harve Bennett famously had a plan inthe early 1990s to circumvent the aging original cast while still keeping the classic original characters on the big screen, but the time just wasn't right for such beloved characters and institutions to be recast in such a way. We wouldn't blink an eye-lid at it now, of course, but the potential uproar in fandom at the idea back then was enough to scare Paramount executives away from Bennett's plan.

From the viewpoint of a fan of TNG, we've also got the factor of the TNG series ending on the perfect note, and the four films effectively undoing the good will that All Good Things... was built on. If TNG had ended with that episode and then disappeared into reruns, I think it'd be more fondly remembered than it is by the general public. We as fans still give it the thumbsup, but there's a perception, rightly or wrongly, that a string of moderate films followed by one that bombed horribly at the box office effectively (and retrospectively) taints TNG forevermore. After those movies, TNG didn't have nearly as much integrity as it did on tv.

There's another factor, too. Between 1987 and 1991, there were two Star Trek production teams. The Movie Guys (Bennett, Ralph Winter, et al) who supervised movies based around the 23rd century and the original series characters; and The TV Guys (Berman, Piller, et al) who were focused on TNG Trek within the realm of television. Now, it had been proven that Star Trek could co-exist with itself this way, with one team working on movies and another on tv. But in 1994 with the elevation of the TNG cast to the big screen, the two dovetailed. Rick Berman was now chief of 'the Star Trek brand' in general, both movies and on television. One man can not supervised three television productions plus a series of bi-annual movies without spreading himself a little thin, and I think this is exactly what happened. Berman was over-stretched, and the overall quality of Star Trek took a dip as a result. Certainly I am of the belief that one of the reasons the 2009 movie was so strong was because all energies were focused towards it. There is no television Trek to suckle away from interest in the movies. It's like the early 1980s all over again, when TOS was hugely profitable on movie screens because it was alone and the only ticket in town for fans of Star Trek.

I'm in two minds. I love TNG, I love that cast. I just don't think they were adaptable for the big screen. TNG was cut from a different cloth to TOS, and in order to tell TNG movies they had to essentially sacrifice a great deal of what made tv TNG so unique within and of itself.
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Old February 19 2013, 11:11 PM   #2
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Star Trek is one of the best things to happen to television. TOS, TNG and DS9 are 3 of the greatest TV shows you could ever watch.


..but the films, whether TOS or TNG, are mediocre apart from a tiny select few of them. The film series is a dumbed down, frequently half-arsed parody of Star Trek and while I'm glad it exists so we get gems like Wrath of Khan or Undiscovered Country, I have little time for most of them in comparison to the far, far superior TV incarnation.

DS9 is my favourite Trek and I'm grateful it never made it to the big screen. A committee led Hollywood continuation would have pissed all over the finale.

I do think First Contact is fun action shlock but considering TNG is the show that gave us beautiful TV sci-fi like The Inner Light, it just isn't good enough. On a similar note, Search for Spock and The Voyage Home are fairly bland compared to the 15 or so best TOS episodes.

It isn't a question of whether TNG is suitable for action blockbusters. It's a question of whether any Star Trek generation is suitable for that.
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Old February 19 2013, 11:13 PM   #3
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Short answer? Yes.

TNG's "sophistication" (for lack of a better term) was just too heavy for the cinematic world. TPTB were force to reinvent the series to be like the swashbuckling adventure TOS was and it just didn't work. I've often said that most of TNG's action scenes (or at least FC, INS, NEM) literally looked like grown men in the backyard playing astronauts and aliens with their ray-gun toys. It was just too hard to take seriously, which is why I think GEN, even with all its problems, is the best of the lot.

Somethings have no business on the big screen. Because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing. Or something. I'm sure that, throughout TV history, there have been countless series where someone said "Let's make a movie!" and everyone else in the room facepalmed. TNG should have been one such series.

And your point about Berman is also a good one. I tend to defend him more than most and think he is capable of many good things. Film making is not one of them. Paramount should have insisted on bringing in new talent. And when I say "talent" I actually mean talent and not names to drop.
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Old February 19 2013, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

I'm not sure moving to the big screen was a mistake. But going straight to the big screen was. There was no time for general audiences to 'miss' the characters plus they were still competing with weekly adventures of two series.

Voyager should have been delayed til DS9 ended and the TNG movies shouldn't have premiered until 24-36 months after "All Good Things..."
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Old February 19 2013, 11:59 PM   #5
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

IMO, the best TNG movie was "Best of Both Worlds" (how ironic that CBS plans to release it in limited theatrical release in April).
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Old February 20 2013, 12:15 AM   #6
dub
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

I did like Generations and I LOVED First Contact... I just really wish they waited for about 10 years before trying TNG on the big screen, and put the franchise in fresh hands -- the way they did with TOS. Even though I know they didn't plan the TOS movies with that timetable in mind, it worked really well and visual effects improved so much and the cast was obviously older, TMP just felt epic regardless of the dry points of the movie. And that led to the successful sequels which were mostly awesome in my opinion.

Since the TNG movies started immediately after the finale, there was a sense that we were just watching the TV show on the big screen which cheapened the experience to a degree. Every aspect of Generations, from the writers to the music to the ship itself (with small variations), was all too familiar and really made the film seem smaller even though it was on the big screen. Plus very little time passed and there was no nostalgia about it. Not sure if that makes any sense.

Obviously given the success they were having at the time, if I was in charge and I asked to delay the first TNG movie 10 years and then place the franchise in new hands, I would have been laughed out of the studio never to return.
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Old February 20 2013, 12:55 AM   #7
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
Short answer? Yes.

TNG's "sophistication" (for lack of a better term) was just too heavy for the cinematic world. TPTB were force to reinvent the series to be like the swashbuckling adventure TOS was and it just didn't work. I've often said that most of TNG's action scenes (or at least FC, INS, NEM) literally looked like grown men in the backyard playing astronauts and aliens with their ray-gun toys. It was just too hard to take seriously, which is why I think GEN, even with all its problems, is the best of the lot.

Somethings have no business on the big screen. Because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing. Or something. I'm sure that, throughout TV history, there have been countless series where someone said "Let's make a movie!" and everyone else in the room facepalmed. TNG should have been one such series.

And your point about Berman is also a good one. I tend to defend him more than most and think he is capable of many good things. Film making is not one of them. Paramount should have insisted on bringing in new talent. And when I say "talent" I actually mean talent and not names to drop.
This sounds about right to me.

Plus, I think TOS had a greater range, enabling TOS to make a variety of movies. TOS can do action, comedy, drama, melodrama, adventure, high concept sci-fi, and so on.

I don't think TNG had that range, and by that point TNG was being reduced to space action films every time anyway.

It's too bad, because I think a TNG movie like "The Measure of a Man" would have been refreshing and great. But the movies require super-villain evil bad guy and kewl space battles and fisticuff actions. Oh well.
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Old February 20 2013, 01:30 AM   #8
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
And your point about Berman is also a good one. I tend to defend him more than most and think he is capable of many good things. Film making is not one of them. Paramount should have insisted on bringing in new talent. And when I say "talent" I actually mean talent and not names to drop.
They've done that with J.J. Abrams and people still complain!
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Old February 20 2013, 01:35 AM   #9
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

I wish they had done films while TNG continued to run. The argument the studio made for ending TNG was that they wanted to move that cast into films and nobody would pay to see them if they could watch them for free on TV. I thought they should use the TV show to advance the story towards a big budget feature every other summer. X-Files did this rather effectively. They built a story and climaxed it with a film that did rather well before returning the following fall for more TV show.
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Old February 20 2013, 03:10 AM   #10
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

BillJ wrote: View Post
I'm not sure moving to the big screen was a mistake. But going straight to the big screen was. There was no time for general audiences to 'miss' the characters
Very true. With many things, not just Trek, you need a break from time to time to then rediscover why you love it.
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Old February 20 2013, 03:28 AM   #11
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

They've done that with J.J. Abrams and people still complain!
Talent is subjective.
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Old February 20 2013, 04:20 AM   #12
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

No, it was not a mistake to take TNG to the big screen, but it was a mistake as to how they were done. All three movies seemed rushed and it seemed to me that no one, especially the actors, took the films seriously. They all assumed because it was Star Trek it was going to be an automatic hit and there was no reason to put forth any effort in the acting, directing or writing of the productions.
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Old February 20 2013, 06:51 AM   #13
Argus Skyhawk
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Anji wrote: View Post
... All three movies seemed rushed and it seemed to me that...
All three? Which of the movies have you decided to ignore? From your avatar, I assume it's not Insurrection

Seriously, I don't think it was a mistake to move TNG over to the movies at the time they did. I simply wish the movies they made had been more memorable. And for the record, I happened to like all of the TNG movies.
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Old February 20 2013, 07:51 AM   #14
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

The "feel" of the TNG movies was too different from the TV shows

I don't like it when things are different.
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Old February 20 2013, 07:54 AM   #15
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

I think it was the logical choice. They went as far as they could with the TV series. Movies allowed to expand and tell a different story without the constraints of Television. I think it didn't try hard enough to take advantage of what they could do in a movie opposed to the TV series. Insurrection felt like one of TNGs less interesting episodes. First Contact like the most exciting. Nemesis was just trying to do TWOK again.
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