TOS vs. TNG - adaptability to the big screen

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by NewHeavensNewEarth, May 25, 2019.

  1. Sarachan

    Sarachan Ensign Red Shirt

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    Whether he did it intentionally or not, I think a lot of credit for why the TOS movies worked so much better has to go to Gene Roddenberry. He wanted the visuals updated to what was possible with the current tech to show what he had wanted to show with TOS, and had NEW story ideas and characters that he wanted to play with. TMP didn't end up being exactly what was wanted, with TWOK bringing in the monster maroons and even more change, but, if nothing else it created a kind of reset to tell new, bigger-feeling stories.

    The TNG movies really just tried to continue TNG. "They like this, give them more of the same." Bad idea. They should have gone ahead with the AGT refit to the -D, but also gone a little beyond that and made it really look like a movie ship to the same degree that the TMP Enterprise was more detailed and "real-looking" over the TOS ship. Starting with a throwaway line, maybe mentioning that he voluntarily took himself out of the chain of command when he installed it, they could have started Data with the emotion chip, given him some new abilities (built-in phaser and tricorder, a new eye piece that looks vaguely Borg with expanded capabilities) and an attitude that reflects that maybe his emotions have pulled him toward being more like Lore and having a certain amount of admiration for the Borg. Make him a little unsettling to the crew, and ramp up concern about what he will or won't do for the inevitable Borg movie. Make Troi just a touch more alien, with maybe a hint of gills that might not have been visible on the small screen.

    And then if we're still doing the basic plot of Generations - Give the Duras Sisters a REAL ship worthy of fighting the -D. Have Picard and Beverly leave after Picard's brother and nephew are killed, for an investigative b plot that leads to uncovering a threat on Earth, setting up the next movie, and leave Riker in command. His fantasy world in the Nexus is his own command, with fantasy Troi there, but he isn't quite confident in himself and happy there, even in his own fantasy, so he's able to go find Guinan. Earlier, Soran's speech to him about "Time is the fire in which we burn" could have been in a conversation about where the "real captain" was, and digging at Riker about him letting what might be his last chance for a promotion to command his own ship pass by. Don't let Shatner dictate the details of his fantasy-world in the Nexus, and make it a sequence that would work for KIRK, not Shatner - and his conversation to Riker about the chair being where you can make a difference is inspirational to Riker, not trying to tell the much different man that Picard is how to live his life. They come back out on the planet with Soran. Troi is in command on the -D.

    Also, have Pulaski in sickbay, and it turns out she's been there the whole time, just on a different duty shift or off-screen whenever anything was going on from the time Crusher got back. I don't think they ever explicitly said she was gone permanently in the series. :)
     
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  2. Khan 2.0

    Khan 2.0 Commodore Commodore

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    they def could've made Gen more 'TMP'alike - they really needed like a year or 2 to transition it to the big screen..but they just wouldn't wait
     
  3. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like the TNG movies on the whole more than most (with the exception of INS, which really is an embarrassment to the franchise), but they don't compare to the TOS films.

    Another issue: Stewart is obviously a very good actor, but Shatner just kills it as a magnetic presence in the TOS movies.
     
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  4. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Commodore Commodore

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    ^^What Armus said.

    Also, TNG TV was more small scale and in a format that allowed more people to stand and talk details whereas a big screen is usually perceived as having BIG EPIC ADVENTURE!!!!!!!!(tm).

    TOS movies definitely felt larger than life, even in a way the 1960s series couldn't be. It's a feeling the TNG movies never quite did right, to go above and beyond its TV origins - never mind TNG, at the time, often felt like "big screen epics on the small screen" week after week.

    TOS movies also had a loose continuing saga or running arc (II-IV, VI). TNG did not. TNG movies all felt like one-offs.

    TOS movies felt like connecting with the audience. TNG movies felt like cast reunion parties where the audience was more "just there", throwing out some token fanservice or loose associations on a whim to compensate but not really telling any stories of depth in the way the TV show had. Are we really there to squeal like oiled bacon strips in a hot pan when a callback is waved around? Or do we want to be engrossed in the experiences of the characters on screen and making a scene their own and not be distracted with "Look at me, hey there, we're referencing what they did so that means we're just better!"

    But to be fair, TNG movies were riding off the recently ended TV show and had the same production staff trying to do (multiple Trek) TV shows and big screen epic adventures at the same time.

    (And DS9 definitely showed where the time was being used at since its running them ended up being more epic than any movie.)

    TOS had more than a decade as hiatus (initially canceled) and new talented staff brought in that sat through the original TOS material and extended it, rather then overwriting it with any generic ol' action fluff. At least prior to 2009. TNG was pretty much generic action fluff.

    TOS simply had more thoughtful scripts.

    TNG, along with fluffy bunny action and retconning, did squat with the Borg (great premise with Picard breaking down but STFC was loaded with so much else that the premise got watered down, on some kind of star trek...) How many episodes reminded us of how fast Borg adapt... so what do they do in the yet-latest invasion? Just one cube, destroyed much easier than the one at Wolf359... and nothing more as a plot point to hopscotch over. That 20 minutes alone could have made a movie but instead comes fanservice for something that didn't need to be told in anywhere other than en expanded universe novel and everyone knew they'd make it back to the future in the end, just don't ask how because the Borg didn't beam on over to the Enterprise with the time travel doohickey the Enterprise rode the wave on...

    Even the weaker TOS movie outing's strongest moments vastly outshine TNG movies' most glorious moments. Yep, look at Kirk doing everything to save his friends. That's a bit more potent than "Oh, to hell with our orders because Starfleet doesn't want you there but once we get there everyone will listen to you without a second thought because you're fleet commander now for no reason and even Worf can't do anything right in command of the Defiant (great way to encourage people to see that DS9 show by making Worf the fool) and where the heck are the other Federations officers with their command skills to be there but at least Riker can make a cornball comedy line in jest while DS9 took it all appropriately and seriously?" I'll spare the ramblings for Insurrection and Nemesis as they're even worse (both the stories and my ramblings, yes, and rest assured both those movies had individual scenes that were cool but none of them compares to Kirk commandeering his own ship!)

    Or side characters - Federation President knew of Kirk and crew saving Earth. Where are the side characters praising Picard? We get both show and tell reminding us Kirk is badass. What did Picard get? Admiral Janeway, I suppose.

    That's the other thing, the TNG movies often used way too much humor forced in - a thorn in the side ever since TVH, which also ruined characters in TFF and TUC as being the butt of some lame jokes that would only work if you're under the age of 20. Navigator and helmsman can't find their way around? Check. Communications Officer has to misread a book and look dumb for a ha-ha moment? Check. "I know this ship like the back of my-" (bashes head into thick metal pipe that hopefully doesn't have scalding hot fluid running through it, yeehaw...) --

    --In other words, at least TNG characters never got anything as woeful as that but Data's "too hell with our orders" as a joke followed by stern seriousness in the next movie, the talk about bewbs not being important in the 24th century and acted with so little conviction, and so on... "Nemesis" at least tried to restoring a gritty, epic feel, a bit too much by the numbers, the build-up has no in-universe plausibility (a lab experiment discarded as a slave on Reman planet manages to build end-all of all ships to hunt down somebody who's got absolutely nothing to do with his plight and nobody notices even a tiny power fluctuation...), and lifted too much dialogue directly from II and III (callbacks just don't impress.)

    TOS movies just felt cinematic, and generally had better build-up (even if Khan recognized Chekov or other nitpicks, the worst TOS one doesn't begin to compare to TNG's) even despite lesser budget for effects and technology used to create the effects. At best, TNG movies felt like "Starship Mine" on the big screen but being just as ineffectual given Picard is so out of character that it's not that believable.

    TFF wasn't perfect but the budget cuts and mandated comedy routines did more to ruin the effect and TFF's serious scenes are actually quite good at times, which made the comedy even more jarring...

    Having said that, for all its issues and overextending tie-ins to bring in Kirk, "Generations" is the one TNG movie that feels closest to a cinematic experience. It's big. Few cliche things happen. Big things happen. Big risk. Big decisions. Big actions. And not by a cliche villain at the center of it all. The Borg were watered down with silly magical abilities. The Son'a deserved the sympathy once it was revealed their kids were just selfish jerks of a high order as the kids weren't wronged in any way... oops... and Shinzon couldn't be any more contrived and under any more implausibly impossible (and lame) conditions. To the point that in the theater, the only time audience reacted in any way was when Riker uttered the word "Kirk", which is also a shame because it's a sappy callback for no reason (even season 1 did it better, but it was made in a different time and set of circumstances...) The movie posters talking about the final voyage must have guessed NEM was not that good a script and had little faith in it.

    Or, in other words, "whine whine whine whine whine." TNG movies were fun but they're not rewatchable, apart from plot deconstruction. Maybe "Generations"... or turn "All Good Things" into a movie - that is a cinematic-worthy story...
     
  5. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Captain Captain

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    There do seem to be some actors & shows that come off as better suited to TV than movies, regardless. I know it was never even a remote consideration to put VOY, DS9 or ENT on the big screen, but I can't say that I could even picture it even if they'd wanted to do it. None of those shows or actors would translate well to that format, in my opinion.

    It still ultimately comes down to things like writing, but it's interesting that the TOS actors were so well-suited for the switch to the big screen.
     
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  6. Damian

    Damian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think part of the reason the original movies translated better is because from the first film, TMP, they immediately updated the production design, and of course TMP was the only Star Trek film until Star Trek (2009) given a big budget, and they used every penny of it. I love TMP, and I recognize some don't, but I think most people agree, even if they didn't like it, it definitely had a big budget feel and was a meant to be a motion picture (forgive the pun). 2-3-4 all had a big picture feel as well, partly because they used the same production design largely (or modified from TMP) so even though they had smaller budgets, they benefited from TMP's bigger budget. V-VI were a bit different but they still managed to feel like films (except the God-awful special effects from V--I swear the special effects from the original TV series (pre-remastered) were better, but I digress.

    The problem I think with Generations is it basically takes place a few months after TNG ended and as a result used most of the same sets with some modifications. So it looked like TNG, just with some better special effects.

    So I think production design had a lot to do with it.

    Now First Contact is one of my favorite Star Trek films. To me that had a big budget-blockbuster feel to it. New ship, bigger story. Insurrection takes us back to the TV series--though the ship remained the same, the rest of the movie felt like a so-so episode of TNG. It's second to last in my Star Trek films list (beating out only TFF---again because of the embarrassing special effects of TFF, they were that bad).

    Nemesis, well, I liked Nemesis. And that was the other TNG that felt like a 'motion picture' to me with First Contact. Along with FC I can't visualize Nemesis as an episode of TNG. And Nemesis didn't really involve writers from the TV series, except for Rick Berman. Though Nemesis did include a lot of the same production design people.

    So for me, there were 2 TNG films that felt more TV like in scope and 2 that felt like legit theatrical movies.

    I remember reading somewhere that originally the plan for Enterprise was 7 years, then if it did well to make movies that followed Enterprise.

    And of course before Bob Orci was contacted about writing what would become Star Trek (2009) a draft was written for a Romulan War film that would take place after Enterprise---though it wouldn't feature the Enterprise crew (though it was planned to include some characters from Enterprise like Shran in some fashion). Of course it never got past the 1st draft so we have no way of knowing how that might have changed had it been given the go ahead.
     
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  7. Khan 2.0

    Khan 2.0 Commodore Commodore

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    yes TOS movies actually felt/looked/sounded like proper 'Movies' that could go up against anything Spielberg & Lucas were doing at the time...most of all I-IV but even V was part of that famous Film 89 crowd (Batman, Indy, LW2, GB2, BTTF2, Bond) - and VI genuinely felt like an 'event' too (think mostly due to ILM as the FX were just incredible at the time)...all those movies just dripped with the cinema experience and everything they encompassed just seemed so 'star trek movie' like - the uniforms/field jackets/engineering suits, all the set designs, the model design of the ships/nacelles, the mushroom space dock with the massive blue lit interior, the FX rainbow warp trails/blu beaming, orange star photons, 'movie' characters like Terrel, Saavik, David, Kruge, cartwright, the scores (specifically Horner), the whole Genesis/apocalyptic planets/resurrection stuff which lent an almost epic biblical element, certain epic SF imagery that felt like it came from the cover of SF Fantasy novel (Genesis cave, approaching spacedock, the Ent falling from the heavens, Kirk fighting kruge amongst the biblical level apocalypse/beaming away with spock, BOP landing on Vulcan) the handphasers, the bob peak posters and the [Star Trek] movie font used on the posters/promo, even dark curly haired Kirk and the mature 'look' he and the rest had…

    whereas TNG felt abit like the Spiderman/Hulk/BSG episodes they doubled up and put out on the big screen in Europe back in the 70s - like 'hey trekkies.. heres an special double episode of Bermans Next Gen Treknobabble on the big screen for 3 weeks only!' ok FC is an exception and maybe Nemesis as you say.. but everything in Gen had the TNG look (ok done big), the uniforms, sets, FX, score, the general look/feel .. and it was also abit hard to envision it being the Admiral Kirk of I-IV (& VI) interacting with Picard (it seems more Trek V horseriding/rock climbing Captain Shatner)
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  8. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    GEN felt like a TV movie of the week.

    Kor
     
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  9. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    Agree with this, and FC as the outlier. Even it looked a little cheap but better than Gen and much better than what came later. They got a lot out of that small budget. FC with a 2009 budget would have been a blockbuster.
     
  10. Smellmet

    Smellmet Commodore Commodore

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    I thought it was the most cinematic-looking of all four personally, along with Nemesis.
     
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  11. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Same feeling here. Generations really benefits from cinematographer John Alonzo. It always looks good.
     
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  12. Smellmet

    Smellmet Commodore Commodore

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    I think it's by far the best looking trek film since TMP until the reboots. The FX are excellent too.
     
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  13. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Captain Captain

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    Nemesis looked fine for the most part, but when the Enterprise rammed the Scimitar, the CGI shot of the 2 ships stuck together looked like it had been done on someone's home computer.

    For TOS movies, I feel like they got very good at utilizing models, but when TNG films tried to utilize CGI, it still didn't compare with the realism of models. Pros and cons to both, but the digital look took me out of some of the TNG scenes.
     
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  14. Smellmet

    Smellmet Commodore Commodore

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    I thought it looked ok to be honest but I can see why someone would think it looked a little fake. It did the job for me. I liked the visuals in nemesis. It's the interior of the scimitar I take issue with - that looked really low rent.
     
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  15. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Agree, that the story felt like a TV movie or two part NG.

    Agree, Generations cinematic beauty makes it NG's TMP . The Galaxy class 1701-D never looked better than in Generations as the Constitution class Refit looked amazing in TMP.
     
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  16. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Apples and oranges. TNG is character-driven, meditative, forced into action sequences. The Original Series movies are literate, but less about characters and more about drama. TNG needed better stunt coordinators. They needed directors who spoke through the symbolism of fight sequences.

    All in all, TNG told different stories, not worse ones.
     
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  17. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed. The 80s TOS movies got the benefit of a big bolus of money being spent on TMP to update the look, which allowed them to cruise on much lower budgets than might have needed to be spent otherwise. Plus, it also helped the that most 80s SciFi was pretty low-budget, so those 80s Trek films don't seem notably lacking for the era. Whereas, the TNG movies have the double whammy of looking the same as the TV show and looking cheap compared to their higher-budgeted contemporaries.
     
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  18. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The TOS movies took a TV show which was episodic, and recognized that to make a transition to the big screen worthwhile you have to be theatrical. The movies embrace that. They grow the characters, they age the characters, they don't sit in a puddle and present us something pretending to be the TV show. They've got ambition. Even the most maligned of them, TFF, has more ambition conceptually and theatrically, even if the end results falls short of those aims. The TOS movies are textbook examples of how to take a franchise and, create exciting adventures for the same characters while still moving them (and their universe) forward. Each movie adds something more to the ongoing story arcs. When Paramount decided to cancel the Phase II series and make movies instead, it was akin to taking a seed (TOS) and watering it and nurturing it and seeing it flower.

    The TNG television show was the opposite. Despite claims, the show was not as episodic as it's reputation suggests. While its stories were seldom directly linked, characters on TNG grew as time went on. Things like the Klingon arc introduced recurring guest characters and themes that built up and built up over 7 seasons. That was a part of it's appeal compared to TOS. It wasn't serialized, but it did have story arcs, and the characters and universe felt like they grew. This reaches its peak in the series finale, "All Good Things", which was both a payoff but also a very impressive expanding of the characters again. That final scene still implies so much to come. And then the movies did the opposite of TOS: they took a show that was comfortable with a kind of open format, and crammed it within episodic movies that seldom grew the characters at all. The TNG movies were so risk adverse. The complete opposite of the TV show. And that notion of not having the movies grow and develop and carry arc plots across them led to the stagnation of them. Even the most praised of them, FC, exhibits these traits, although it was (like TWOK) at least not afraid of using an ongoing character drama from the TV show (the Borg/Picard's rape by them) as a springboard for bigger things. But the movie still stands alone. All of the TNG movies stand alone from each other. There are no big stakes. No major character change. Just events happening to these characters. Everything which happens in the TOS movies is meaningful. Everything that happens in the TNG movies is meaningless.
     
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  19. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I disagree. I have written as nauseum on this subject. The TNG Movies we're about the character Jean-Luc Picard, and disseminating the character through Data, as a mirror, and using antagonists and species, to reflect who Picard, is. That lent to great writing, much to say, about Picard. But, the action-adventure expectation led to bad action scenes and comprehension problems, from the audience. I, believe, as a culture, we tend to put ourselves on the level of professionals--sports, politicians and leaders, professional writers, and actors. If you accept the premise these people are skilled, more than us, it tends to lend to humility, and analysis, that is more than paper-thin cyncism and snarky comments. It means we can try and understand their concepts, expression through art and oratory.

    The TNG films begin with an older version of a great Captain asking himself "how can I find fulfillment in the later stages of my life?" He isn't doing this for reputation, which is his why the cameras and reporters grind on him. He is presented with a timid Captain, someone he wants to guide, or replace. "Risk is apart of the game, if you want to sit in that chair." He has to withdraw from the chair, but he enjoys it, wants it back.

    As we move forward through the story, Picard, the protagonist, loses Robert and Rene. He is in the beginning stages of old age, accomplished, but aging. The death of Rene makes Picard long for family, off the Enterprise. Picard mopes around the Enterprise, neglecting his duty. He is so overwhelmed with emotions, he doesn't want to be on the Enterprise. He is wondering what his life would be like if he had a family, and didn't look to the stars, as Rene did. Robert stirs his feelings around the damage of the Borg, his last conversations with his brother, about being damaged by them.

    Data is overwhelmed with emotion after having the chip installed. He bites off more than he can chew, and Picard lectures Data, and himself, about duty. He is scared, timid, when Geordi, his friend is kidnapped, indicating Picard feels some responsibility in Robert and Rene dying.

    Soran reflects all of this. "Let me go back!" Is Kirk in the chair, Picard finding a family. He's an El Aurian, the same as Guinan. And in manipulating an overwhelmed Picard, he references the way Robert and Rene die, talking about Picard's central issue--age. "They say time is the fire in which we burn. We leave so many things unfinished in our lives. I know you understand." Guinan has a dark mirror. While she has guided the crew, Soran uses his abilities for personal gain.

    Robert guides Picard over the Borg. Soran, not having a Robert, becomes nihilistic, a historical reference to postwar Europe and "the only truth is death." Soran is able to kill millions because of his family dying, by the Borg. If Picard isn't in space, something seen when he wants off the ship and neglects this threat, the Borg could've done this to Earth. He "made a difference."

    So, the Enterprise, without her captain, is destroyed. The ship, planet, and millions die before Picard is shown his life without Starfleet, in the Nexus.

    He comes to his senses, sees his same conflict play out in Kirk's life, and basically is told to die in the chair "to make a difference." With two versus one, Kirk helps defeat Soran, and Picard embraces the passage of time, working through his problems with age and death.

    The next movie introduced the Star Trek philosophy and universe while there is a cultural exchange with the Borg and Data. Picard, still damaged, relives his experiences, the nightmares return, he can hear them, orders his crew to kill anyone assimilated, kills them with holographic bullets and denies there's anything wrong. He turns Ahab on the Borg, and has no Vineyards upon which to return. The Borg hurt him, again, taking away all people who dreamed after Zephram Cochrane created Warp Drive, again, proving his worth, and showing what the Borg did to him--kill his innocence over what he would find, in space; his dreams.

    The third movie is deeply misunderstood. The Borg and The Dominion are powers of the respective Quadrants trying to conquer the Alpha, and Earth, both in a short timeframe. Picard is stressed to the nines, and has no Robert. He finds one in the Ba'ku, but the Federation has found a fountain of youth it wants to exploit for new science, destroying his place of peace--exploration, and exploring mindfulness, falling in love--by betraying everything he fought to preserve. Why is he out here, if Starfleet's is going to kill his dreams in the stars, too? He puts down the uniform to save these people, and to stop the Federation from betraying itself.

    The fourth puts Picard at-peace amidst a changing family--empty nest syndrome. Picard is then given exactly what he wanted--another Picard, a younger version of him to season. And, he fails. All this damaged version of him does, is question if he is a good man. After Shinzon dies, Picard freezes, and puts this Enterprise in jeopardy because of his strong emotions. Data, an observer of human behavior, knows Picard well enough to save his butt, and everyone on the ship. He graduates to full-blown human, and dies while doing it. Picard, in guilt, eulogized Data to B-4.

    See? The expectations of Action Adventure don't lend to this character mediation. It matters, it disassembles Picard, piece by piece. But, I don't see this in Terminator or Die Hard movies. They are plot driven. TNG is about one character.
     
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  20. BillJ

    BillJ History’s Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    I think one of the big flaws of the TNG movie run was that we were never given the chance to "miss them" the way we were with TOS.