The battle sequence in GENS

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Lance, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There's been some discussion between a few of us in a recent thread about this and I thought it'd be an interesting topic to open up.

    My view is that the destruction of the D in the movie feels arbitrary and a little disappointing, and while it always felt like that it wasn't til recently I started to understand why.

    My big revelation came a couple years ago when I was making my own edit of Generations to turn it into a TV episode. This little pet project included me tracking down a 'full frame' pan and scan VHS copy of the movie as a source (so as to easier replicate the screen ratio of the TV show without cutting important things out which a simple '4:3 zoom' on the DVD or Blu Ray picture would do), using audio and resources of the actors from the Generations videogame to overdub and provide some unique linking sequences, adding screen titles and credits in the correct font to match the TV episodes, commercial break fadeouts, etc etc

    Anyway I digress ;) My point is that in starting to compile this thing together for my own amusement, I discovered a major problem with the movie as put together in its original form:

    A lack of optical shots of the Enterprise D

    In general, and certainly by comparison with any average TV episode where a stock shot of the ship in orbit or whatever would be used as a bridge between different scenes, the movie is *severely* lacking in establishing shots. This made my task more difficult as for my 'Generations as a TV episode' to feel legitimate I needed to raid all three 24th century shows for suitable shots of the Enterprise to bridge scenes and cover narrative gaps. Look at the movie alone, and all we get is one shot of the ship approaching Armagosa (which we only see the D from behind and never a full shot of the ship), then the next time we see the Enterprise is nearly 20 minutes later when the star goes supernova and we get a fantastic shot of the Enterprise warping away from the shock wave. Every scene between these events flows directly one from the other. The next shot we see is just before the Stellar Cart sequence (a recycled shot from TV of the Enterprise at warp).

    And then we get to the fight scene.

    Yes, the fight scene. Where we get lots of indications that the Bird of Prey is pasting the ship with strafing shots, but it's all from *inside the ship* (shaking the sets etc), and we only get one or two exterior shots of Enterprise lumbering around and firing off a single shot even though Riker orders a 'full spread' be fired. :wtf:

    Now, there are stock shots of Enterprise firing a full spread on TV, and I cleverly used those shots in my re-edit.

    But it does underline what I think is a fundamental problem of the movie that ultimately drags that battle scene down more than anything. It feels like there's a disconnect between the special effects house and the filmmakers. Either they wouldn't spend the money required to shoot a few extra shots of the Enterprise model to really make that battle sequence spark, or something went wrong in the process? I've seen storyboards of the battle showing a lot of action between the BOP and the Enterprise that never made it to screen, including a few which show the BOP taking out the phaser arrays, and I'll be damned why it wasn't shot because the sequence really needs a few extra opticals to really hammer home how the BOP is running rings around the flagship of the Federation. As it is, the sequence feels weak and the destruction of the ship feels like it comes out of nowhere precisely because we don't really get a feel for the battle. It mostly happens 'off stage', and that feels unforgivable for something being made for a big screen, if ever there was a time and place to give us optical shots of the D we never would've seen on TV this was it but they blew it. Heck, even Star Trek V: The Final Frontier manages to produce enough new optical shots to make the movie coherent even though they look like crap, Generations honestly has zero excuse for this kind of tight ass penny pinching. I've heard others say it was because they spent a lot of money building the expansive Stellar Cart set, but again I'd say that shows a generally poor idea of budgetary priorities: a set seen for a couple of minutes vs a battle sequence that would be a watermark of the movie, with the destruction of a much loved ship from 7 years of TV adventures, I know where I'd have spent the cash. ;)

    Thoughts? :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I've never seen the storyboards you refer to/ Where did you see them? And are you certain they're genuine and not fan-made?
     
  3. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One of the contemporary Pocket Books non fiction, possibly Art of Star Trek, Where No One Has Gone Before, or the TNG Movie Sketchbook. But definitely an official source ;) The storyboards depict shots not included in the movie, of the BOP inflicting further damage on the Enterprise

    EDIT: I feel like the film needed more optical shots overall. But the battle sequence is particularly affected by their scarcity, as their not being there contributes to the overall impression of the BOP taking down the Enterprise D too easily
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  4. SpyOne

    SpyOne Captain Captain

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    Well, a lot of decisions in Generations came down to "it looked good on tv, but it won't look good in theaters."
    That was why they wanted to change the uniforms, for example.
    And I have heard that the destruction of the Enterprise-D was because the bridge set would need to be rebuilt from scratch, which never really worked for me (I mean, they could easily have told us they upgraded to a new bridge).
    But what if the problem with the ship wasn't just the sets, but also the model itself. What if for some reason none of the existing models of a Galaxy Class ship looked good when shown on a screen the size of a soccer field?
    So you go to the boss and say, "if we're gonna be making movies, we need a new model. Maybe a CGI one, but maybe not."
    "Look, I see your point, but we've already spent too much money. I just had to say no to new costumes."
    "Okay, how about this: we use as few exterior shots of the ship as possible, and if they greenlight a sequel I get a new model".
    "I can't justify a new model when the existing one is still fine for tv. But .... if we design a whole new ship, that would get us a whole new ship to use on the tv shows at the same time as giving us a movie-quality model. So we blow up the ship during this movie."
    "Works for me."

    Of course, they never did use a Sovereign Class on tv, but that's how they justified it at the time.
    (I'm guessing.)
     
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  5. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In terms of standing sets then yes, I can *half* understand the need to destroy them, because the existing standing sets were all (mostly) going to be converted into sets for Voyager. Or at least the studio place for all the new standing sets was where TNG's had been for 7 years.

    However

    The Enterprise E had all new sets built. Those were simply put in storage and reconstructed every few years when needed, so realistically there's no reason the D sets couldn't have been likewise packed away in storage.

    In terms of the model, I'd agree with that proposition (and it would certainly explain the stiffling lack of optical shots in the movie) if it weren't for the fact that the couple of times they did shoot new material with the model it looked fantastic on the big screen. The shot of her warping away from Armagosa and the shots of her in orbit of Veridian are almost the best the 1701-D ever looked. There just aren't enough of those shots in the movie. ;)
     
  6. Turd Ferguson

    Turd Ferguson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I can't find it right off, but in the novelization to Generations, specifically the "Making of" portion, Rick Berman is pretty much proud of the fact that only he could have made this movie this cheap, with his penny pinching.
     
  7. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    I thought that the Enterprise looked great in Generations,and I loved the new bridge.
     
  8. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I remember reading that the four foot model could not be used. The six footer was dragged out but after four years in storage (it had been replaced by the four footer in season 3) it was pretty battered and the big screen picked up all the flaws.

    So they basically blew it up to build a new model that would film better. Simple as that really. Although I don't know why they couldn't just build a new "D" - the ship looks gorgeous in ST:O or ST: Timelines.
     
  9. Search4

    Search4 Captain Captain

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    I think its clear they did not want to follow the TOS Enterprise being destroyed, and being replace by the exact same ship. The "D" model was remarked "E" (there are photos) and was available for the next movie, but I suspect they simply needed to distinguish themselves from the TOS Enterprise "surprise, it's back".

    The 6 foot model looked great on screen but a lot of that is due to ILM's work repainting and fixing it up. And yes - yes - they badly needed an establishing shot.
     
  10. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Enterprise-D 6-foot model was definitely beautiful, and was absolutely worthy of the big screen. The 3-foot model was awful, and wasn't even worthy of the small screen.
     
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  11. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not a huge fan of the Galaxy-Class but I have to say that the shots of her in GEN made me sit up and notice. There is something about her that feels more 'substantial' in the film compared to the show. As for the battle sequence, its one of the elements I love about the film (up until the recycled BoP blowing up shot), as its far more visceral than any of the battles from the show with a far greater sense of desperation from the crew (who, lets face it, will be pretty complacent being in the Federation flagship facing off against an outdated BoP) as they scramble to fight back and regain their advantage. Whilst the exterior shots of space battles are always meant to be exciting, I'd rather see more of the crew that I've watched and loved for seven years in this situation.
     
  12. SpyOne

    SpyOne Captain Captain

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    I don't think anyone has proposed having another Galaxy-Class Enterprise replace the Enterprise-D.
    Rather, the rationale expressed for destroying the D (and replacing it with an E) is that sets and models (and uniforms) made for the TV show were unsuited for use in a movie, and would need to be replaced.
    While none of us disagree with their expert opinions on that last bit, we don't all agree that it drives the first bit.
    They could have built a film-quality model of the Galaxy Class. They could have built new sets and told us the ship had been remodeled.
    And while the Enterprise-E is an attractive vessel, the destruction of the Enterprise-D feels like something that someone shoe-horned into the film. It doesn't really seem to be an organic development of the story; it feels like Kevin Smith's story about Superman fighting a giant spider - something the producer insisted on so the writer included it.
     
  13. BigDaveX

    BigDaveX Captain Captain

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    They could probably have made it for even less money if they hadn't blown a ton of money on the holodeck scene, the astrometrics lab, the uniforms that never got used, and the refilmed ending.
     
  14. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What the destruction of the E-D, and the death of Kirk, felt like to me was a deliberate attempt to eliminate every possible last vestige of GR's direct contributions to Star Trek, in favor of B&B's. How accurate this feeling is has been open for debate, especially here, for years.
     
  15. BigDaveX

    BigDaveX Captain Captain

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    I kinda doubt that was the case. For one thing, Berman was one of the biggest Roddenberry purists among the 1987-2005 production team. And for another, even without the E-D, Roddenberry's fingerprints were still on all of the regular TNG characters as well, even if they had been shaped by other writers in the years since.
     
  16. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It was simply about creating a new visual identity for the TNG film franchise to differentiate it from the television franchise, just like the TOS movies did. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
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  17. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. There was no ‘conspiracy’ to overthrow ‘Gene’s vision.’ The big screen has a bigger budget than the small screen, and things had to look better accordingly.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I suspect the trouble was twofold. First, many of the sets were 15 years old, having been put up initially for the Star Trek [Phase] II show, which then became the movie sets which then became the TNG sets. also, sets for TV series are routinely built to be more robust than many film sets, as the latter are sometimes only used for days or weeks whereas the former are built to stand up to potentially years of shooting. So the sets were likely a) beat up and b) not designed to be flattened and stored in the studio scenery dock.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  19. BigDaveX

    BigDaveX Captain Captain

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    A bunch of TNG's sets were heavily refitted and turned into sets for Voyager once Generations had finished filming, so that was probably a factor too.
     
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  20. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I guess my point is really that even if the literal TNG sets were too flimsy or whatever to be kept around, they could've been built anew, eg the bridge, and the new versions stored like the 1701-E versions were. They could therefore have kept the Enterprise D if they'd *wanted* to ;) Although naturally, there's an equally valid case, I guess ( :D ), that if they're gonna have to rebuild the sets completely then they might as well destroy this ship and build brand new ones... :lol:

    My feeling, maybe retrospectively, is that a lot of the problem with the post-Generations movies is none of them quite feel true to the TV series in various ways... certainly visually, I've come to feel that after 7 years of viewer attachment to the D, the E feels like a huge visual change in one leap, alongside the uniforms, to me the E feels like a generic cool sci fi spaceship and doesn't retain the affection from it's predecessor. I loved it as a high schooler back in 1996, but 22 years later me feels an irreplaceable loss of the D in those three remaining TNG features. The E feels to me like a placeholder replacement for the much more iconic TV version. Which is weird, because I don't feel even remotely the same way about the refit Enterprise's replacing the 1960s model... :shrug: