Picard or Kirk? The age old Star Trek debate. Who is the better Captain of the USS Enterprise? This debate can send fans of the franchise into a full-blooded rage, but in 1994 they got to experience both Captains together in the same film, Star Trek: Generations. It represents William Shatner’s last official portrayal of the iconic Captain Kirk and Patrick Stewart’s first foray into the film franchise acting as the bridge in the films between the Original Series crew and the Next Generation.
During the maiden voyage of the USS Enterprise-B, a strange ˜ribbon-like’ wave of energy strikes, transporting those unfortunate enough not to escape, including former Captain James T. Kirk (Shatner) into the ˜nexus,’ an endless time-loop reality. In the future, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) is alerted to an attack by Romulans on a research facility and must find scientist Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a survivor of the Enterprise-B, who is planning to destroy several stars, thus diverting the path of the ˜Nexus’ and allowing him to finally achieve his goal of entering.
For a film sold on the premise of having both iconic Captains in the same film, Star Trek: Generations does deliver. It takes around an hour and half for them to actually share the screen, but both men give a good account of themselves and no doubt send some Trekkies into a mild delirium. It’s an interesting dynamic of the stoic, duty-bound Picard and the passionate, veteran Kirk and provides the true highlight of the narrative. Resident android Data (Brent Spiner) gets a chip implant that gives him human emotions, which proves to be a mixed bag in terms of success, while Soran is about as cardboard cutout a villain as you can get, given some life by veteran character actor McDowell.
The rest of the film is concerned with macguffins and pseudo-scientific speak that basically builds to a fist fight on a steel rig. But fans wanted Kirk and Picard in the same film and that’s exactly what they got if not a lot else. It’s a real shame that the combination of the two captains, while excellently teased, hinders what could have been one of the strongest entries in the entire canon of Star Trek films. Instead, Star Trek: Generations continued the rule that odd numbered installments were far lesser than their even counterparts.
As for who ˜wins’ between Kirk and Picard, the film-makers fudge any significant showdown, presenting both Captains as ˜good’ and the result is neither are ˜great.’ Stewart may just edge it in terms of acting performance, but there’s plenty of scenery-chewing Kirk goodness to satisfy his fans too. In the end, it doesn’t matter who the better Captain is, because fans of the series will continue to debate the answer regardless of the events of Star Trek: Generations and then all we are left with, is a wholly unsatisfying film that is better left forgotten. Picard is the best though.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)¦ Coming Soon