My thoughts on the latest film within the Harry Potter universe were complex well before I ever ended up sitting down in the theater to see it. Like most members of my generation, I was a huge fan of the series that preceded it. So when they announced that they were doing a new film set in America during the 20s, I was excited. There seemed so much potential there to expand the scope of the series and tell some really fantastic stories within it.
But then the reviews came out. And they were not encouraging. One went so far as to call it the Phantom Menace of the Harry Potter films. And yet, the people I’d talked to who’d seen it seemed to by and large enjoy the film. I had no idea what to make of it, so I decided I’d just have to see it to figure out which side was correct.
I never expected to find that both were. Spoiler free thoughts to come after the break.
This is actually a pretty hard one for me not to break my own rules on. As you may or may not know, part of the idea of this series is to look at how a story can be fixed rather than rebuilt. The Phantom Menace series, for instance, stuck with more or less the same plot while tinkering with the characters in such a way that would have allowed for more audience investment in it. And that worked because while Phantom Menace was bloated and at times meandering, there were good ideas behind all of its scenes that just failed to materialize due to poor direction and dialog.
Star Trek Generations, on the other hand, does not have quite the same weight in its core ideas. The film is ostensibly about coming to terms with the passage of time and the change it brings. We know this because characters often stop the movie in its tracks to tell us all about it. But for a movie in this particular franchise, I honestly feel it’s too small of a concept to build an entire film around on its own.
Wrath of Khan had arguably the same arc for Kirk. But that wasn’t the entirety of what the film was either. You had Khan’s revenge, the Genesis program, the trainees, and I could go on but won’t because there are still one or two people who haven’t seen the film yet (and the rest don’t need me to.) Not to mention having what are still the best scenes of starship battles the franchise has produced. It was a pretty full movie. Generations though… Well, it could have been a great episode, but as a film it’s hard for me to get excited about the idea of Picard being worried that he’s too old to be interesting anymore.
So this leaves me with a problem: how do I take a script whose biggest problem may be that it’s just too small for the big screen and broaden its scope without replacing the ideas that form its core identity?
There’s no question that among Science Fiction fandoms, the Star Trek contingent is a force unto themselves. They are frighteningly passionate, opinionated, and fractious. And yet there are a few things that they can agree on. Namely: that some of the movies are pretty bad. And among the bad, there is one that stands out. One which, as a followup to the previous masterful film, was disappointing enough to dash the hopes of everyone who went to watch. And that film is: