Thursday, February 12, 2009

Movie Plot Arguments: Star Trek: Generations

Sometimes I hear people criticize a movie for a plot problem, and it just gets in my head that I want to argue about it. If it is a criticism I hear in person, then I will argue it in person. Sometimes the thoughts linger for years. So it was with Star Trek: Generations. Many did not like this movie. I did. I didn't think it was the greatest movie or even a great Star Trek movie, but it was still fun and I enjoyed it.

After it came out, a friend of mine, who is very smart, had a scathing criticism of the movie, one that I thought was undeserved.

His problem was that the Nexus was made out to be this fabulous thing, this thing that was so fabulous you never want to leave and you will be haunted by it for the rest of your life if you get into it - and yet Picard is only in it for a few minutes and already he's ready to leave.

As a side note, he also wondered why the Nexus wouldn't just trick Picard into thinking he left and stopped Soran. That was an easy one to pick apart, though. It isn't like the Nexus was made out to be some sort of twisted "wish" spell from Dungeons and Dragons. It gives you exactly what you want - if it tricked you, you'd not be getting what you wanted.

But to the main complaint - that one wasn't really that much harder to address. The Nexus was made out to be the way it was really through two characters: Soran and Guinan. And both of them were in the Nexus just after their entire civilization was wiped out by the Borg - families killed, rather serious genocide there. In other words, they had nothing in the "real" world and no particular reason not to want to stay in the Nexus forever. So from their point of view, it probably would feel like the worst thing in the world to be yanked out of it - sort of like going from personal tragedy to a happy dream, only to wake up and find out that the happiness was dream and the tragedy was real.

But then Picard had a tragedy of his own. His brother and nephew were killed in a fire just before he went into the Nexus. So he also had a personal reason to really want to be there. Yet that wasn't as bad as what happened to Guinan and Soran. Still, it was a reason for him to stay. And he did seem happy to stay.

But then he sees the Xmas tree ornament. The one with the star burst inside. And that obviously reminds him of the star that was destroyed that allowed him to enter the Nexus. A star that then killed hundreds of millions of people. It also killed his whole crew, but he didn't know that. Not that it would make any difference for Picard. The hundreds of millions would be enough. No way Picard could live with the guilt of all those deaths on his head. Even absent that, he had such a strong sense of duty (a duty you saw in action in someone else in The Perfect Mate - an episode of the TV series). So of course Picard got out of there. And it made perfect sense. Kirk is of the same mold, and he did not face any personal tragedy before going in. Both of them also probably would not be content to live in a fantasy world when there was a "real" world that needed them.

So take that, friend from the past. Maybe almost no one would agree with my friend anyway, so maybe this whole exercise is just me feeling too clever with myself, but I've wanted to get this off my chest for a while now, and thankfully, there's this new invention called "blogs."

Maybe I'll have to write about C-3PO and Darth Vader next.

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